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Inbound marketing: 8 tips for design that converts

Inbound marketing: 8 tips for design that converts  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Are your inbound marketing efforts failing to secure the numbers you projected? Are you confident in your concept and scratching your head to figure out where it’s going wrong? Well, perhaps it’s time to look in the direction of your design. 

Design possesses the power to convert spectators into engaged customers. It’s the first and last thing people see when engaging with your business. And it should be a key focus when working to increase your conversions.

So, without further ado, here are eight design tips to give your inbound conversion rate a nudge in the right direction.

1. Hick’s Law

Hick’s Law is a popular theory that suggests the time it takes someone to make a decision is directly proportionate to the number of possible choices they have. So, in layman’s terms, the more options you give your visitors, the less likely they are to perform the desired action.

To implement this theory, take a look at your site’s design and structure and ask yourself (and honestly answer!) whether you’ve got too much going on. If the answer’s yes, see how you can hone things down to give consumers one or two key choices. 

 

2. Don’t be afraid of white space

To a degree, the phrase “less is more” couldn’t be truer. Don’t cram your designs with color, text, and imagery out of the fear of being ‘bland’. White space can contribute to clean and clear designs that emphasize the content you want visitors to focus on… which, in turn, increases conversions. 

 

3. Choose your colors carefully

Color can evoke emotion. Emotion can result in action. Action can result in conversion. Use contrast to ensure your text, headlines and call to actions stand out, and experiment with your color choices to see which returns the best results.

 

4. Remember the 8-second rule 

It’s true what they say, the human attention span is less than that of a goldfish - a mere eight seconds, in fact. That means you’ve got limited time to grab a visitor’s attention.

Think about using: 

  • Large and snappy headlines

  • Eye-catching imagery

  • Clear call to actions

  • Power words

 

5. Use real faces

Using natural imagery and real people can improve your brand’s authenticity and in turn portray you as more trustworthy, human, and familiar. 

If you’ve got an ‘About us’ section with a breakdown of your employees, put a photo of them next to their bio. And, instead of buying stock photos for everything, consider organizing a photoshoot that shows off your product or office. 

 

6. Quality is key

Poor quality pictures don’t make a good first impression. They reflect badly on your brand and lead onlookers to associate the quality of your imagery with the quality of your product or service - after all, if you can’t master your pictures, how can you follow through on the other things your website promises? Now we know that’s not necessarily true, but it’s a conclusion people can jump to.

If you’ve got pictures on your site that are pixelated, distorted or just plain tacky, it’s time to go ahead and replace them.

 

7. Optimize your forms

Having trouble designing a form that converts? We can help with that

When it comes to conversions, your forms are key – because it’s where the action takes place. So, don’t let yourself fall flat at the final hurdle. Keep your form simple and concise, include a clear CTA, make sure the fields are clearly labelled, and use a large submit button. 

To see where there’s room for improvement, we suggest trying out some A/B testing (more on that here).

  

8. Don’t leave out your logo

This one might seem obvious, but it’s not unheard of for people to overlook the most obvious element of their website.   

Whether it’s a landing page, flyer, brochure, business card or online ad, you need to always include your logo. That’s how you reinforce your branding for people – and while it doesn’t have to be the focal point of your page, it does need to be strategically placed so people know where they are and who’s talking to them.


Hue & Tone Creative: Marketing in Greensboro

Don’t have the magic touch when it comes to design? Not need to worry, that’s where our creative team comes in. To see what we can do for you, get in touch today at (336) 365-8559.

4 free welcome email templates

According to Salesforce’s benchmark study, welcome emails (42%) are the third most popular type of email sent by businesses, trailing only to newsletters (66%) and promotional content (54%). Of the marketers who send them, three quarters rated them as highly effective.

But why are they so important, we hear you wonder? If done right, they engage new customers straight away by prompting recipients to start the next stage in their customer journey -- and they also provide a means for you to follow up on any value propositions you promised (a new customer discount, for example). 

young-woman-using-mobile-phone_t20_ZVNKKR.jpg

One last important thing to note before we dive right in with our templates, are these six golden rules: 

  1. Send your welcome email ASAP

  2. Remember to stamp your branding on it

  3. Include social links to encourage further engagement

  4. Track your email analytics and act on any concerning metrics

  5. Keep them short and to the point

  6. Only use personalization if you’re 100% confident your data is correct

Now, on to what you came for, the all-important templates to get you going…


Example 1: Product Purchase

Hi [insert name]

Thanks for choosing Company X for your Product Y needs - we’re so happy you chose us!

We’ve been delivering our goods to customers - like you - for X years now, and we can’t wait for you to see what all the fuss is about.

As our welcome gift to you, we’d like to offer you 15% off your next purchase with us. To claim your discount, simply enter the code WELCOME19 at checkout.

And if you want to keep up-to-date with our activity (including exciting giveaways!), don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Thanks again, 

[Company X] team


4 Free Welcome Email Templates  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Example 2: Service Sign-Up 

Hi [insert name],

Welcome to the team!

We’re delighted to have you on board and we can’t wait to start supporting you with our [insert service name].

The next steps are super simple:

  1. Your dedicated service manager will be in touch soon to talk you through the set-up process.

  2. Our Finance Team will invoice you on every [insert date] of the month.

  3. If you have any questions, our customer service team will be available on [insert phone number] between [insert hours and days].

It really is that easy. 

For regular updates, news, hints and tips off our experts, don’t forget to check into our blog every now and then, and if you’re feeling social, why not hit us up on FacebookLinkedIn or Instagram

Thanks again, 

[Company X] team


Example 3: Newsletter Sign-up

Hi [insert name],

Thank you for signing up to our monthly newsletter.

It’ll land in your inbox on the second Tuesday of every month, and it’ll be brimming with useful tips, guides, videos, resources, and more.

If, at any point, you have any feedback on our newsletters, we’d love to know what you think at [insert email address].

To hear more from us, head over to our social profiles and give us a follow:

[Social media icons]

Thanks again,

[Company X] team


Example 4: Event Registration

Hi [insert name],

Congratulations, you’ve successfully signed up to our [insert event name] event - we already can’t wait for you to join us on the big day!

Just so you have them handy, here are the details:  

  • Date:

  • Time:

  • Location: 

Don’t worry, we’ll send a reminder email over a few days before, just to be safe. 

If you have any questions between now and then, you can reach the team on [insert number] or [insert email address].

And so the countdown begins!

See you soon,

[Company X] team


Hue & Tone Creative: Marketing in Greensboro and Beyond

Need a hand writing or designing your very own welcome email? Then look no further - we’ve got you covered. To discuss our email services and more, contact us on (336) 365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com.

19 marketing terms you need to know

Let’s be honest. We’ve all been sat in a meeting at one point or another, heard a term we’ve never come across before, not wanted to put our hand up to ask what it means, and instead sat there nodding along, not entirely sure what’s going on... hey, it happens to the best of us.

So, to help you bridge that gap and wave goodbye to your unknowing head nods, we’ve put together a glossary of 19 common marketing terms and what they mean - without the jargon. 

19 Marketing Terms You Need to Know  |  Hue & Tone Creative

1. A/B testing

A/B testing involves creating two variations of one element and running tests to compare which version works best. A few examples of when you would use A/B testing:

  • Email subject line text

  • Colors used for call-to-action (CTA) buttons

  • Content placed on landing pages

  • Imagery used in social media ads

The end goal of A/B testing is to figure out which assets are most successful and, ultimately, improve conversions.

2. Bounce rate

This number can be found in Google Analytics and it represents the percentage of visitors who land on any given page of your website, but then leave without clicking through to any other areas of your site. 
 

3. Buyer personas

buyer persona is a breakdown of what characteristics are typically present within certain clusters of your customer base, for example their:

  • Age, gender and geographic location

  • Professional and/or education status

  • Personality traits - i.e. comfort seekers, impulse buyers, worriers, confident, highly skilled, etc.

It’s worth noting that you can have several different types of buyer personas for a single product or service.

 

4. Click-through rate (CTR)

This is the number of visitors who visit a webpage and proceed to the next desired step - i.e. they click from your homepage through to a marketing advertisement. Or, they open your email and click through to your landing page.

5. Content management system (CMS)

The majority of us aren’t able to build a website from scratch, which is where CMS’ come in. Quite simply, a CMS is a facility created by web development experts, that allows non-technical users to create, edit and manage their very own site.  

It also helps with things like:

  • Making content SEO-friendly

  • Ensuring content is indexable

  • Automatically generating navigational elements

  • Setting up user permissions


6. Conversion rate

What defines a conversion can vary. For some businesses it might be a newsletter sign-up, for others it’s filling in a form, and for another it could be completing a purchase. So, your conversion rate is the percentage of people who follow through and complete yourdesired action.

A page with a high conversion rate can be classed as well-performing, while pages with a poor conversion rate might be an indication that work needs to be done to improve your numbers.

7. Dynamic content

Dynamic content enables you to present visitors with different content, based on what information you already have on them. 

For example, in the email world, this could be sending the same email to your entire customer base, but sending one cluster to a landing page promoting product X, another to product Y, and another again to product Z, because each item is best suited to their needs and spending history.

8. Evergreen content

Unlike things like news articles and seasonal blogs, evergreen content doesn’t have a sell-by date. It infinitely provides rich, useful information to its readers, and, if done well, it can add a great deal of SEO value to your site. 

For a flavor of what evergreen content looks like, here are a few great examples: 

9. HTML

Short for HyperText Markup Language, HTML is a type of language used to build webpages. It’s the foundation of every single site - regardless of its complexity, and works in conjunction with things like CSS and JavaScript.

11. Landing page

Landing pages are designated pages that are designed for lead generation purposes. Their content will vary from business-to-business, but some examples include offering an ebook, webinar, white paper or event. One element that tends to remain consistent though, is the presence of a form to capture important lead-generating information - like names, job titles, company information and contact details.

12. Microsite

You could say a microsite is a halfway house between a regular website and a landing page. They’re commonly used when companies want to create a unique experience for their audience, and one that’s distinct from their typical style. Because of this, microsites typically have their own domain name and a whole new look and feel design-wise.

13. On-page optimization

This is one of your site’s SEO elements, and it refers to things like your content, title tags, URL and image tags. Basically, it’s the practice of ensuring all the aforementioned areas are optimized for your desired keywords, to help bolster your organic rankings. 

14. Off-page optimization

Another segment that makes up your SEO efforts. Off-page optimization is often much more difficult to obtain success in because it’s usually out of your control, but if you master it, it can be incredibly fruitful.

A few ways to optimize your website off-page include:

  • Link building

  • Social media engagement

  • Social bookmarking

  • Guest blogging

15. PPC

PPC is short for pay-per-click. Quite simply, it involves paying a publisher (like a search engine, social media site or website owner) each time your ad is clicked on. 

19 Marketing Terms You Need to Know  |  Hue & Tone Creative


16. Responsive design

This refers to websites that are built to mould around the device they're being viewed on. So, for example, if you go to a website on your desktop and then again on your mobile, the content will automatically be optimized for both screens’ dimensions, ensuring ease of readability and accessibility.

17. User experience (UX)

UX encompasses everything your organization does from a prospect’s discovery all the way through to an existing customer’s renewal. A good UX can aid your conversions and a bad UX can do quite the opposite. To really get under the skin of a customer’s experience, you have to put yourself in their shoes and bethe customer - market research (like focus groups) can help with this.

18. Viral content

Viral content is the ultimate goal for most. It’s a piece of content that takes the internet by storm and spreads like wildfire through social sharing and re-publishing. Check out these examples for some inspiration. 

19. XML sitemap

Last but certainly not least, an XML sitemap is a file that hosts all your website’s relevant URLs. It helps search engines a) get to grips with your site’s structure, and b) crawl your pages more efficiently.

Although XML sitemaps don’t guarantee your pages will be indexed, they are still the best way to put your website out there and in front of search bots. 

Keywords form an important part of your SEO strategy and they play a key role in getting your pages ranked in search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

The keywords you target should be relevant to your product or service, in sync with what your target audience are likely to search for, and optimized both on-page (i.e. within a blog post or on a product page) and off-page (i.e. in your meta descriptions).


Hue & Tone Creative: Your marketing partners

So now you’ve come to grips with the jargon – but do you know how to truly utilize some of these tactics and trends If you don’t, don’t stress – that’s where we come in! To see how we can fulfill everything from your design and branding to social media and blogging needs, contact us today at (336) 365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com

6 reasons to send a company newsletter

“For years, in large part thanks to the newsletter I think, I’ve never had trouble attracting new clients and the right kinds of clients. People will read my newsletter and be able to tell if I’m the right person for the project before they even call me.”

Tom Ahern, Small Business Owner


6 reasons to send a company newsletter  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Sold already? 

Newsletters can, and should be, a staple lead-generating part of your marketing activity. They add credibility. They add value. And, most importantly, they add revenue to your books.

In fact, you could say the proof’s already in the pudding. According to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 83% of B2B marketers already send out email newsletters. And let’s be honest, the majority of organizations wouldn’t be willingly pouring their time and resources into them if the investment wasn’t worthwhile…right? 

Whether you’re already sending newsletters or are new to the scene, here’s a reminder of their six core benefits:

 

1. Constant communication

Sending a regular newsletter to prospective, current and past customers (providing they’ve asked for it, of course) opens up a non-invasive, continual line of communication. It might be one-sided, but it enables you to keep talking to your target market in a way that doesn’t leave them feeling bombarded. 



2. Gentle reminders

Whether you opt to send your newsletter weekly, biweekly, monthly or biannually, it serves as a reminder of your business to the recipients and ensures your name remains at the forefront of their mind. The benefit to you? It means they’re morelikely to turn to you when they’re in need of your product or service.

3. Add value

If your newsletter is packed with genuinely useful hints, tips, guides and videos, you’ll be giving something back to people for free - and they’ll appreciate that. But (and this is a big but) you’ll only reap the rewards of this if your newsletter content’s rich and relevant, which is where we can’t stress the importance of quality content enough. 

 

4. Increase sales

If you plan and pick your content smartly, your newsletter could help build your business’ bottom line. By using it as a platform to subtly sell as well as educate and inform, you can give both prospects and existing customers a polite nudge in the direction of a new sale.

For example, if you’re a social media management company and, say, 30% of your customers have only signed up for your Facebook services, why not include an article in their newsletter around the benefits of your Instagram and/or LinkedIn expertise? If not immediately, it could spark a sale down the line.

6 reasons to send a company newsletter  |  Hue & Tone Creative


5. Bolster your social following

More social media followers = more engagement = more reach. It’s as simple as that. As an added bonus, several studies indicate social signals can contribute to how search engines rank pages, so it could aid your SEO efforts too.

To maximize the benefits of this one, just make sure you remember to include links to all your profiles and in a place where they’re easily seen. 


6. Make your content go further 

If you’re investing time, money and resource into producing great content, it just makes business sense to make it go further, right? And your newsletter’s certainly one extra outlet for that. 


Now we’re not suggesting you start churning out generic content and pushing it out through every medium just for the sake of it. It’s important to tailor your content to each platform, audience and end goal -- but if you’ve got a bank of dormant articles, why not tweak and recycle them to boost their value and reach? 


Hue & Tone: all things creative marketing

If you’re sold but just don’t know where to start, we can help you with everything from your content and layout to design and social media. To get the wheels in motion, get in touch with the team at (336) 365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com

4 types of emails you need to be sending

Want to learn more about our favorite email marketing platform? Check out this post.

Email marketing can help you engage new customers – in addition to helping you sell your products; email marketing will help you enhance your brand awareness and build trust with new prospects. Once you’ve engaged a customer, it can even help you build brand loyalty.

For businesses of any size, email marketing is a no brainer. If you have a small marketing budget, it’s an easy way to connect with a lot of customers at once. In addition to being low investment, it drives traffic to your website and it’s the channel most customer prefer. 

As your company grows you can also scale your email marketing efforts – making it a useful tool no matter what stage of growth your business is at. 

4 types of emails you need to be sending  |  Hue & Tone Creative


One study from Marketing Sherpa reports that 72% of consumers prefer to receive promotional messages through email (source).


You can send a wide variety of different emails to your marketing list, but if you’re just getting started with email marketing, there’s a few types of emails we suggest you start with. These four types are all great to engage both new customers and old leads. 


1. Welcome email

This is your first chance to get your newfound relationship off on the right foot. Your welcome email should include key components like:

  • A thank you message for choosing your brand

  • Links to your social media channels to encourage additional engagement

  • A discount or deal that’s exclusive to new customers (this not only demonstrate a token of appreciation, but it will give them a nudge to browse your products or services again)

As with any type of email, your welcome email should be kept short and sweet to ensure the recipient isn’t overwhelmed with information. We suggest sending this initial email within 48 hours of signing up or making a purchase - the sooner the better though. Often, people will actively check for your name in their inbox after a sale’s been processed, so any later can look a little lazy!


2. Regular newsletters

Newsletters are an excellent way to naturally maintain contact with customers – it’s a great way to share useful information while also ensuring your brand remains at the forefront of their mind.

Your newsletter could include content like:

  • Blogs relevant to the product/service they took out

  • Company updates

  • Competitions/giveaways

  • Teasers: if you’ve got something new coming out

  • Testimonials: to reaffirm you’re a good brand to be with

Your newsletters should be consistent. Don’t send three in one month and then go silent for the next four. Decide how regular you want to start sending them - weekly, biweekly, monthly or quarterly. Try to stick to the same date and time too, that way people can start to expect (and hopefully look forward to) your updates.


3. Promote your products 

Existing customers present a potential gold mine of up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. If they’ve already purchased from you there’s a good chance they already enjoy your brand, so it’s a waste not to play on that.

It’s really important you don’t go overboard with these kind of emails though. If you do, you run the risk of recipients unsubscribing and losing all chances of reaching out to them. 

Your promotional emails should:

 a)     Be clearly targeted
b)     Focus on quality, rather than quantity
c)     Outline why this product is suited to them
d)     If possible, offer an additional incentive - i.e. a discount

4 types of emails you need to be sending  |  Hue & Tone Creative


4. Ask for a review

If you never ask there’s no chance you’ll get what you want, right? 

Reviews are key to your success. The majority of prospects will peruse your reviews before making their final decision, so the more high-quality testimonials you have to your name, the more chance you have of attaining new leads. 

For existing customers, reviews provide an open platform to air opinions, and show that you a) care what they think, and b) are looking to continually improve and evolve your offering for them.

 Don’t be too keen with your review request though. To make sure it’s meaningful, give the customer chance to actually use your product or service first. Equally though, make sure you don’t leave it too long, if you do, you might slip off their radar before you land in their inbox. We suggest waiting a minimum of about 2-3 weeks before prompting someone for a product review, but no more than 2 months. 


Hue & Tone Creative: Email Marketing in Greensboro, NC

Whether you need help building your overarching email strategy, putting words together, or branding your template, we’re your go to experts. To start or improve your email strategy today, get in touch with our team at (336) 365-8550 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com.

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO (Part 2)

Just a note: Because of the length of this post, we decided to publish it in two parts. You can find Part 1 of the series here.


Lead the way for your customers.

Lead the way for your customers.

In Part 1 of our SEO Improvement Guide, we reviewed how to run a technical audit, conduct keyword research, and verify that your site is mobile-friendly. Now that you’ve gotten those three things under your belt, it’s time to start curating high quality content and improving your links.

Continue your SEO improvement journey below — you can pace these steps out, or you can do them all at once if you’re looking to super charge your SEO strategy as soon as possible.

July: Curate a content calendar

Regularly producing SEO-optimized content is critical to your organic strategy. In Google’s own words, your content needs to be:

  • Useful and informative

  • More valuable and useful than other sites

  • Credible

  • High-quality

  • Engaging

When searchers type in their query, Google scours the web to find the most useful and relevant results. If you don’t have anything on your site that fits the bill, quite simply, you won’t rank. That means less visibility, missed traffic, and lost visitors. 

When we say content we don’t just mean the regular old blog post, either. Be creative. Test to see what works best with your audience. And don’t be afraid to experiment. Here are a few suggestions to get you going:

  • Articles

  • Guides

  • Videos

  • Webinars

  • Whitepapers

  • E-books

  • Case studies

  • Calculators

  • Infographics

  • Tutorials

  • News

How to create optimized content 

1. Keywords

Using the keywords you collected in April, brainstorm content topics that’ll be picked up in search engines. When putting this list together, try to focus on long-tail keywords, avoid highly competitive terms, and remember to match your topic to your keyword. 

It’s also important to take an audience-centric approach when spitballing your content titles. By this, we mean identifying your audience andthencreating the kind of content you know they wantto see. 

 

2. Put it in a calendar 

content calendar itself won’t aid your rankings, however, we’d recommend creating one to save you time and to help you get in a groove of posting regularly. It doesn’t needn’t be anything fancy, dumping it in a Word or Excel document will do.

 

3. Friendly formatting 

Make sure you lay your content out in a way that’s easy on the eye to ensure its readability and engagement. For example…

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

The good: This page is clearly divided with subheadings, the content is broken up with bullet points, and the paragraphs are short and digestible. It also has easy to see links. 

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

The bad: These paragraphs, on the other hand, are overwhelming long and the lines are very close together. Combined, it’s quite a strain on the reader’s eye.

4. The technical stuff

A few best practices for the technical side of content creation include:

  • Don’t go overboard on keyword insertion - it’ll look spammy

  • Remember to include meta titles and descriptions - they’ll help to improve the number of people who click through from search results

  • Make sure your URL’s reflective of the content’s title

  • Link to other useful and relevant internal pages to improve your site’s architecture and encourage visitors to keep exploring 


The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

August: Implement a link-building plan

Link-building is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of SEO. But it can also be one of the most beneficial. It requires creativity, time, persistence and, more often than not, money.

There are several benefits that come hand-in-hand with link-building, like: 

  • Improve your domain and page authority

  • Earn extra referral traffic

  • Give your brand’s visibility and authority a boost

  • Increase your exposure to other industry leaders

  • Raise your trust and credibility profile

  • And, of course, aid your rankings

 

Link-building tactics 

If you’re new to the world of link-building and don’t know how to get your foot in the door, here are a few sample strategies to get you started: 

1. Ask your network: If you’ve got a pool of customers, partners or suppliers who have an online presence, start close to home and ask them to promote you on their site. Something as simple as a partnership badge linking back to your website would do.

2. Build your blog: Your content strategy is a gold mine for links. Once you’ve established yourself as a reliable, industry authority, it’ll become a link-bait hub, and naturally earn you evergreen links by itself.

3. Go viral: Easier said than done, we know, but creating a piece of shareable content (like a meme or funny video, for example) is a sure fire way to bank yourself a bunch of backlinks.

4. Be newsworthy: Whether it’s commenting on something in the headlines or creating your own news - like commissioning a study or sharing a company announcement, jumping on something time sensitive will point the press and bloggers in your direction, and boost your odds of coverage in their publication.


September: Enhance your appearance in SERPS

There are a number of ways you can improve how you display in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), but here are just a handful:

 

Optimize your meta data

Make sure your page titles and meta descriptions are a) relevant, b) include keywords, and c) written in a way that entice searchers to click through. Remember to stick to the recommended character counts too, so that your text doesn’t get chopped off sooner than it should:

  • Page titles should be within 50 to 60 characters, and

  • Meta descriptions should sit between 150 and 170 characters

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Add schema markup

In its simplest form, schema markup is micro data that can be added to your site’s HTML to enhance how search engines read and subsequently display your page in their results.

Correctly applying schema data can give you a competitive edge in SERPS by giving searchers more, useful information about your company, which can result in a greater number of click throughs. Some popular types of schema markup include:

Ratings and Reviews:

Image via    moz.com

Image via moz.com

Organization markup:

Site navigation:

Video and media:

Adding schema markup might sound complicated, but you don’t actually need any coding skills to do it yourself. For step-by-step instructions on how to get started using Google Tag Manager, head over to this guide

Alternatively, if you’re not entirely comfortable dabbling in schema markup yourself, employing the services of an SEO specialist or web developer is another option.


Hue & Tone Creative: Your Greensboro Marketing Solution  

To see how we can fit into your SEO strategy and support your organic efforts, get in touch with our team at (336) 365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com today. 

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO (Part 1)

Just a note: Because of the length of this post, we decided to publish it in two parts, and Part 2 will be published next Wednesday, April 3.


Get your content in front of the right eyes.

Get your content in front of the right eyes.

There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your site featured in one of Google’s hotspots. It’s a coveted place to be. It’s a financially fruitful place to be. But it’s also a very difficult place to get.

Stiff competition and Google’s constantly evolving algorithms make mastering your SEO strategy an ongoing uphill battle. There’s no denying that making the investment in high quality SEO is worth it though. Here’s a few stats to back that up: 

  • Three in four people never scroll past the first page of search results?

  • 93% of visitors begin their online experience with a search engine?

  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, compared to 1.7% for outbound leads (like cold calling, email campaigns and radio ads)?

If you’re an SEO novice, we would suggest starting with a few of our articles geared to beginners (here and here).

But, if you have some experience with SEO and are familiar with basic terms, then this six-month guide is for you. From technical audits and content calendars to schema markup and link-building, this six-month plan will give you one simple objective to focus on each month. In no time at all, you’ll be armed with the information you need to give your organic rankings, traffic, and revenue a healthy boost.


The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

April: Run a technical audit

Poor technical SEO practices can harm your rankings. It’s as simple as that. It can make your site uncrawlable, unindexable, and inaccessible, all of which affect how search engines view and place your website.

While there’s no such thing as a perfect website, there isa whole host of errors you can look to correct, all of which will help give your SEO metrics a boost. 

Crawl reports: Carrying out a crawl report will help to identify things like: 

  • Broken links 

  • Faulty redirects

  • Meta descriptions and page titles that are either too long or short

  • Meta descriptions and page titles that are missing or duplicate

  • Matching URLs and on-page content

Hint: if you’re new to the world of crawl reports, Screaming Frog is a reputable tool and offers a comprehensive free version.

HTTPS status codes: Studies have shown that HTTPS is now a very strong ranking factor which, suffice to say, makes it a must. So, if you haven’t already made the switch, there’s no time like the present - here’s a checklist to help you through the stages.

Page speed: The time it takes for your pages to load is another important SEO metric. As well as harming your rankings, slow load times can lead to a poor user experience and increase your site’s overall bounce rate, too.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool can be used to analyze your URLs. Within this, you’ll get a score (fast, average or slow), along with a list of issues that are dragging your page speed down. It’s worth noting some of these problems might be quite technical (like deferring unused CSS and eliminating render-blocking resources, for example) and may require input from a web developer or SEO specialist. 

XML sitemap: A Sitemap is an XML file that lists the URLs for a site. Your XML sitemap is how Google and other search engines get around your website, discover your pages and subsequently rank them - if you don’t have one, you need one. 

Your XML sitemap must be properly formatted in an XML document, follow XML sitemap protocol, include all your website’s pages, and be submitted to your Google Search Console (GSC). 

To help you visualize the end product, here’s a snippet from one. And don’t be put off if you think it looks scary, in reality, it’s just a list of your page’s URLs along with the date they were last modified. Like this:

Image via    wordpress.org

Image via wordpress.org

Most popular CMS’ have plugins that’ll create your XML sitemap for you. If yours doesn't, you may have to build it manually - check out this guide to find out how, and this one for a step-by-step look at uploading your sitemap to GSC.

For example, you know we’re always recommending Squarespace – and your sitemap is something else they help with. “Your Squarespace site comes with a site map using the .xml format, so you don't need to create one manually. It includes the URLs for all pages on your site and image metadata for SEO-friendly indexing. We automatically update it with any pages you add or remove.” (via Squarespace) 


May: Conduct keyword research

Find the right keywords… they’re out there!

Find the right keywords… they’re out there!

There’s no denying keyword research can be laborious at times, but the more you invest in this stage at the beginning, the greater return you’ll likely get in the long run - so don’t rush it.

Your keyword research lays the foundation for your future content strategy. It’ll help you optimize existing pages, identify opportunities for new pages, and construct a well thought-out content calendar.

 In addition, having a comprehensive list of long and short tail keywords - along with their monthly search volumes, ideally - will enable you to set-up your ranking reports, which play a pivotal part in monitoring your organic efforts. 

What’s a long-tail keyword? A phrase containing at least three words that’s used to target specific demographics opposed to mass audiences. Long-tail keywords are more niche, have a lower search volume, and are less competitive.

What’s a short-tail keyword? A phrase including one or two words that’s used to capture large volumes of search traffic. For example, “social media” is a short-tail keyword, and “improve social media engagement” is a long-tail one.

How to conduct keyword research

There are lots of different ways you can go about gathering keywords relevant to your business, but the most complete approach is amalgamating several different methods.  

Step #1: Brainstorm a handful or two of key topics related to your product or service. Using ourselves as an example, this might be phrases like ‘digital marketing’, ‘web design’, ‘social media management’, ‘email campaigns’ and ‘personal branding’.

Step #2: Get a few heads around a table and start to fill in some of the blanks based on what you think/know your customers are searching for. Using ‘web design’ as an example, this might be:

  • What is web design?

  • How does web design improve revenue?

  • Web design agencies in Greensboro, NC

  • How to find a quality graphic designer

  • Web design cost

  • How to do web design myself


Step #3
: For more inspiration, drop the phrases you’ve accumulated from steps one and two into Google and see what comes up in their related search terms section:

The 6-month guide to improving your SEO  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Step #4: Scour your competitors’ sites and see what terms are trending throughout their pages. If they’re tapping into words you’re not and they’re relevant, you could be missing out and so they might be worth throwing into the mix. 


Step #5:
Make the most of free tools. For starters, you can see which phrases are already leading visitors to your site in Google Analytics, and then there are resources like SEMrush, Moz Keyword Explorer, Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool, Google Trends, Microsoft Bing Ads Intelligence or Wordtracker’s Free Basic Keyword Demand.


June: Make sure you're mobile friendly 

It’s perhaps no surprise that mobile’s now the predominant platform used for searches. In 2018, the split sat at: mobile (49.06%), desktop (47.2%) and tablet (3.74%).

All’s not lost if your site isn’t mobile friendly- your desktop version can and will still be indexed. That said, if you’re providing a less user friendly experience to visitors, it couldnegatively impact your mobile rankings. Equally, organizations with streamlined mobile sites could potentially see an uplift in their rankings - and that includes desktop searches, too.

If you’re not sure whether your site’s mobile friendly, you can easily find out by using this tool. And if the outcome’s that you’re not already on the mobile-friendly bandwagon, here are 10 steps to help you make the move


Hue & Tone Creative: Your Greensboro Marketing Solution  

To see how we can fit into your SEO strategy and support your organic efforts, get in touch with our team at (336) 365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com today. 

Inbound marketing: 8 tips for design that converts

Inbound marketing: 8 tips for design that converts  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Are your inbound marketing efforts failing to secure the numbers you projected? Are you confident in your concept and scratching your head to figure out where it’s going wrong? Well, perhaps it’s time to look in the direction of your design.  

Design possesses the power to convert spectators into engaged customers. It’s the first and last thing people see when engaging with your business. And it should be a key focus when working to increase your conversions.

So, without further ado, here are eight design tips to give your numbers a nudge in the right direction.

 

1. Hick’s Law

Hick’s Law is a popular theory that suggests the time it takes someone to make a decision is directly proportionate to the number of possible choices they have. So, in Layman’s terms, the more options you give your visitors, the less likely they are to perform the desired action.

To implement this theory, take a look at your site’s design and structure and ask yourself (and honestly answer!) whether you’ve got too much going on. If the answer’s yes, see how you can hone things down to give consumers one or two key choices. 

 

2. Don’t be afraid of white space 

To a degree, the phrase “less is more” couldn’t be truer. Don’t cram your designs with color, text, and imagery out of the fear of being ‘bland’. White space can contribute to clean and clear designs that emphasize the content you want visitors to focus on… which, in turn, increases conversions. 

 

3. Choose your colors carefully

Color can evoke emotion. Emotion can result in action. Action can result in conversion. Use contrast to ensure your text, headlines and call to actions stand out, and experiment with your color choices to see which returns the best results.

 

4. Remember the 8-second rule

It’s true what they say, the human attention span is less than that of a gold fish - a mere eight seconds, in fact. That means you’ve got limited time to grab a visitor’s attention. 

Think about using: 

  • Large and snappy headlines

  • Eye-catching imagery

  • Clear call to actions

  • Power words

  

5. Use real faces

Using natural imagery and real people can improve your brand’s authenticity and in turn portray you as more trustworthy, human, and familiar. 

If you’ve got an ‘About us’ section with a breakdown of your employees, put a photo of them next to their bio. And, instead of buying stock photos for everything, consider organizing a photoshoot that shows off your product or office. 

 

6. Quality is key

Poor quality pictures don’t make a good first impression. They reflect badly on your brand and lead onlookers to associate the quality of your imagery with the quality of your product or service - after all, if you can’t master your pictures, how can you follow through on the other things your website promises? Now we know that’s not necessarily true, but it’s a conclusion people can jump to.

If you’ve got pictures on your site that are pixelated, distorted or just plain tacky, it’s time to go ahead and replace them.

 

7. Optimize your forms

Having trouble designing a form that converts? We can help with that

When it comes to conversions, your formsare key – because it’s where the action takes place. So, don’t let yourself fall flat at the final hurdle. Keep your form simple and concise, include a clear CTA, make sure the fields are clearly labelled, and use a large submit button.

To see where there’s room for improvement, we suggest trying out some A/B testing (more on that here).

  

8. Don’t leave out your logo

This one might seem obvious, but it’s not unheard of for people to overlook the most obvious element of their website.  

Whether it’s a landing page, flyer, brochure, business card or online ad, you need to always include your logo. That’s how you reinforce your branding for people – and while it doesn’t have to be the focal point of your page, it does need to be strategically placed so people know where they are and who’s talking to them.


Hue & Tone Creative:

Feeling like these design changes are outside of your expertise? Not to worry, that’s where our creative team comes in! To see what we can do for you, get in touch today at hannah@hueandtonecreative.com

12 tips for picking a good URL

Lead your website visitors right where they need to go…

Lead your website visitors right where they need to go…

Picking the perfect URL is a pretty big deal. It’s your online identity, it’s got to fit your business, and it’s got to be easy to find and promote. Not to mention, if you change your mind down the road it’s going to be a pain to go back and undo.

So, to make your future easier, here are 12 tips to help you settle on a good URL the first time around:

 

1. Make it easy to type

You want it to be as easy as possible for people to type your domain name into their browser, hit enter and land on your site. If it isn’t, you run the risk of losing potential visitors. So, try to avoid the use of slang (using ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ for example) or words with various spellings (like express and xpress).

 

2. Keep it short

Tying in with tip number one, keeping your domain name short reduces the chances of people mis-typing or mis-spelling it. Plus, long and complex URLs can be hard to remember, and you want people to remember you, right?

 

3. Watch out for bloopers

Here’s a prime example for you: penisland.net. The company’s called Pen Island, but we don’t need to tell you what the domain name can be interpreted as… 

The moral of the story: always check for embarrassing double meanings before you buy your domain.

 

4. Insert keywords

Try to include keywords relevant to your business. For example, if you’re a door repair company, you might want to register for a domain along the lines of doorrepair.com or doorreplacements.com. Keywords not only aid your organic efforts, but they just make sense to your customers.

 

5. Geographic targeting

If your product or service operates on a local basis, consider tying this into your domain name too. Sticking with the door repair example, this could mean having a domain like: vegasdoorrepair.com or doorrepair.vegas. Again, this makes your domain easier for people to find and remember.

 

6. Avoid numbers

Numbers can be easily misunderstood. For example, a numeral number 5 could be misplaced with a spelled out number five, and vice versa. 

woman-using-smartphone_t20_AeLxr0.jpg

 7. Skip the hyphen

Try to stay away from using hyphens, too. They can be forgotten about which, you guessed it, makes your website more difficult to be found. 

 

8. Do your research

The last thing you want is a legal battle on your hands, so make sure you research your chosen domain name to make sure it isn’t trademarked, copyrighted or being used by another company.

 

9. Don’t gloss over your extension

When we say ‘extension’, we mean the end bit of the url, like .com, .net, .org and .info, for example. Here’s a breakdown of how each is typically used:

  • .co - an abbreviation for company, commerce and community

  • .info - informational sites

  • .net - technical, internet infrastructure sites

  • .org - non-commercial organizations and non-profits

  • .biz - business or commercial sites

  • .me - blogs, resumes or personal spaces

Don’t be afraid of straying from the standard .com. It’s by far the most popular, but because of this, it can be tough to get your hands on a short and memorable URL that isn’t already taken. The key to choosing one that’s right, is making sure it’s relevant.

For example, if you’re a non-profit organization, it wouldn’t make sense to opt for a .biz extension. It might throw visitors off the scent and make them less likely to remember your link.

 

10. Buy back-ups

Everything up until now has been centered around building a URL that’s sheltered from being misspelled. But, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so it could be worth registering misspelled versions of your domain too, so people still make their way to your site anyway.

 

11. Bat off your competitors

Stop your competitors from stepping on your toes by purchasing similar domains to your own and redirecting them to your primary URL. For example, if your domain is doorrepair.com, you might also want to consider owning:

  • doorrepairs.com

  • doorrepair.biz

  • doorrepair.net

  • doorrepair.co.uk

 

12. Check its history

And finally, using sites like who.is and WaybackMachine, check out the domain’s history. After all, you don’t want to be associated with something that has a shady past.


Hue & Tone: Let us help you with your website

Brainstorming, agreeing on, and purchasing your domain name is the first half of the battle... building a website that converts is the other - and that’s where we come in. To see how we can help, contact our team at (336) 365-8559.

Data trends: 7 metrics you need to be measuring

Your data’s essentially the backbone of your marketing efforts. It tells you what is and (perhaps more importantly) isn’t working. It shapes strategic decisions. It funnels your money into the marketing channels that give the greatest return. It helps you prevent dead time, maximize resources, and effectively utilize your budget. 

Knowing which numbers to monitor, and what they mean, is key to properly utilizing the data you’re collecting. Here are seven key marketing metrics you need to be measuring: 

 

1. Total visits

Your totals visits refer to the number of people who check out your website. You can monitor your total visits on Google Analytics for things like:

  • Your entire website

  • Specific pages of your site

  • Campaign landing pages

 Keeping an eye on this type of data is important when you’re trying to gain an understanding of the effectiveness of your overall marketing efforts or the effectiveness of a specific campaign.

Data trends: 7 metrics you need to be measuring  |  Hue & Tone Creative

2. Acquisition type

Looking for different ways to measure your traffic? Here’s our top four methods.

Acquisition is where your traffic comes from – for example is it direct, referral, email, organic, paid or social? This is a key metric to stay on top of, because it tells you which channels are top performers and which may need to be revisited. Either way, it helps you put your efforts into the areas that actually generate a return for you.

 

3. Bounce rate

Bounce rates tell you how many visitors enter your website and leave before exploring any other pages. For example, are people making it to your ‘About us’ page and then heading off the website without clicking on any internal links? 

Generally speaking, the lower your bounce rate the better. High bounce rates canbe associated with people not finding the content on your page useful, and low bounce rates are more likely to convert and perform meaningful actions.

Bounce rates can be measured on your overall site or for specific pages.

 

4. Conversions

 This is arguably one of your most important metrics. A conversion can mean different things depending on what your goals are -- for example, it might be a newsletter sign up, filling out a lead form, and or completing a checkout.  

Your conversion numbers help you measure the profitability of your marketing efforts and they can be tracked either directly on your site (depending on how it’s built) or by setting up goals in Google Analytics. If your conversion numbers are looking pretty low, it might be worth looking at your design, content, user experience or product/service.

 

5. Cost per lead

Quite simply, this is the amount it costs you to turn a prospect into a customer. Your cost per lead should be calculated on a channel-specific basis, and the numbers you retrieve will give you a good idea of which channels are most profitable.

To calculate your cost per lead, simply work out how much you’ve spent on each medium and compare it to how many conversions it’s earned you. For example, if you invested $1,000 into a PPC campaign and got 15 conversions out of it, your cost per lead would be $66.66. 

This cost per lead needs to be weighed against the cost of creating or delivering your product. If closing a customer costs $100 and it takes $400 to manufacture your product, you need to seriously revisit your marketing efforts. 

 

6. Open rate

Open rates tell you how many of the emails you’ve successfully sent are actually being opened. For example, if you send 600 emails to prospects and 75 of them are opened, your open rate would be 12.5%.

It’s important to keep track of your open rates to understand how a) far your email campaigns are reaching, and b) you can improve your subject lines. Low open rates mean your emails aren’t being read, which results in missed opportunities. 

 

7. Customer value

twenty20_34643184-b92e-4852-ba8c-d79fae59854a.jpg

Last but certainly not least, is customer value. This is how much a customer is likely to generate you per year (or whichever cycle is most relevant to you) and can help you determine your overall return on investment. 

If you’re a start-up this figure will be more of a forecast. If you’ve been in business for some years, you can use the past few years’ sales numbers to calculate out the average number of yearly sales, along with the value of those purchases.

You can work your customer value out as an overall average or based on clusters – and your clusters could be anything from age and geography to persona and profession. Knowing your customer value helps you set organizational goals and expectations. 


Hue & Tone: Greensboro Marketing firm

When it comes to your business’ numbers, everything from your design to your social media management plays a part in your success. To see how we can help give your bottomline a healthy boost, get in touch with our team today at (336) 365-8559.