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.

Belief in business: 2019 is the year of woke advertising

You’ve likely seen and heard about Gillette’s ‘The Best Men Can Be’ ad. This ad reignited the debate on whether or not there’s a place for advertisers to take a moral, ethical, or political stance in their marketing. While the Gillette ad is the latest ad to provoke this debate, it certainly isn’t the first of its kind. Cause marketing ads have been around for some time – for example, Procter & Gamble’s ‘The Talk ’and Nike’s ‘Dream Crazier' promos.

 

What is woke advertising?

Woke storefront art, anyone?

Woke storefront art, anyone?

The slang term ‘woke’ refers to awareness around “important facts and issues - especially issues of racial and social justice.” Woke advertising doesn’t promote a product, instead, it focuses on real-life, political or moral topics.

Historically, brands have avoided contentious topics for fear of upsetting, disgruntling, or outright alienating their audience. But, in an increasingly polarized political climate, playing on identity and political belief can lead to a big buy-in. 

And, as a rule, we’ve seen it works. 

After Nike’s use of Colin Kaepernick in their ‘Just Do It’ ad, the company reported a 6.25 per cent increase in their stock post-campaign, which equated to a healthy $6.38 billion boost to the business’ overall value. 

It’s not always rosy though. Let’s take a look at Pepsi’s attempt to get in on the social justice action with their 2017 ad featuring Kendall Jenner, which took place against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement. The soda company was criticized for trivializing such a sensitive subject, and they received some very frank feedback on social media as a result. 


Is there a place for it? 

When it comes to whether or not there’s a place for woke advertising, opinions are split. Personally, we see brands taking a stand on something as a positive step… but only if they back up their words and advertisements with their actions.

While consumers are practically demanding companies believe in something other than boosting their sales, promoting a political agenda in a country that thrives on call out culture is risky business. While relating to your consumers on a value level is a great way to stand out, if you don’t back your beliefs up with brand culture and moral business activity, you risk consumers writing you off forever. 

To us, successful woke advertising means aligning your beliefs to your brand’s culture and ethos, and going out of your way to support the cause you’re rallying around. It’s not enough to take an empty stand on a talked-about political topic for the sole purpose of boosting brand awareness. It’s transparent and empty. Most customers are attuned to the fact that woke advertising is a strategic plan to support sales, and it’s unlikely they’ll be easily fooled by hollow words.

Here’s a few examples of companies that put their money where their mouth is --

Belief in business: 2019 is the year of woke advertising  |  Hue & Tone Creative
  • TOMS: One for one. For every TOMS product that’s purchased, the company helps a person in need. You can find out more about their model here.

  • Cora: Cora’s an organic tampon company, and they put aside a percentage of their monthly revenue to provide people in India with sustainable period management solutions.

  • Patagonia: One of the first defenders of environmental ethics, Patagonia uses recycled materials and organic cotton, and, working with Fair Trade Certified factories in India, Sri Lanka and Los Angeles, is an advocate of labor ethics too. 

  • IKEA: For starters, IKEA sources 50% of their wood from sustainable foresters and 100% of their cotton from farms that meet Better Cotton standards. Secondly, they use hundreds and thousands of solar panels to power their stores, and strive to be powered by 100% renewables by 2020.

It’s not for the faint hearted

Keep in mind it’s impossible to please everyone - even the woke ads that positively boosted business revenue received negative backlash. 

They used to say there’s no such thing as bad publicity – but in the age of social media, that’s obviously not true. If you’re thinking about taking a bold political stance, make sure you’re fully educated on the issue and that you actually consult with the group or cause you’re talking about.

Don’t assume you know how others will feel or react – and don’t make your marketing choices in an echo chamber of homogenous decision makers. If you look around the room, and you’re staring at all white men, you probably shouldn’t put out an ad about the black community. If you do, we would suggest brushing up your crisis communication plan.  

Speaking of crisis communication plans, let’s see what happened when Pepsi decided to release their ad with Kendall Jenner… 

“Lmao Pepsi’s new ad Kendall Jenner ‘end racism’ by handing police men a Pepsi - way to degrade 50 yrs of black/minority struggle” @HanorahHardy tweeted.

And another Twitter user posted:

Once Pepsi realized the errors of their ways, they soon pulled the ad and released a statement explaining their intentions and apologizing for the damage done: 

“Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding,” they commented to the Associated Press. “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize.” 

There was nothing published to suggest the soda company suffered long-term financial repercussions, but there’s also good chance that kind of intel would be kept behind closed doors. 

Big brand names like Nike, Gillette and Pepsi can afford to take a gamble. If things don’t go as planned and their sales take a hit, they won’t go out of business. But is this true for you? Before you make a bold proclamation about the beliefs of your business, make sure you have a solid fall back strategy in place. 

What’s your opinion when it comes to woke advertising? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook and  Twitter pages!


Hue & Tone: Your Marketing Partners

Whether you’re looking to make a big splash or just build your online community, we would love to help you fine tune your digital presence. If you need a fresh set of social templates, help with your general messaging, or a full-time community manager, we believe Hue & Tone Creative might be a good fit for you.

Real Estate: How to effectively use social media to market your listings

How to Effectively Use Social Media to Market Your Listings  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Most real estate agents have a social media presence – but having an account and using it effectively are two totally different things. 

If used properly, social media can help you create connections with potential buyers or sellers, help you share your expertise, and let people get a sense of your personality. It’s also a great way for new realtors to let buyers, sellers, renters, and other realtors know you’re joining in the game. 

Whether you specialize in working with first time buyers or seasoned investors, defining and refining your social media strategy will always benefit your business. From stories to geo-targeting and anti-spamming, we’ve got five on-trend tactics to help you give your presence a boost.

 

Use pictures to pique interest

Our pet peeve? Realtors who put the property listing link in their Instagram caption! That link isn’t clickable – and including it there not only annoys your followers, it makes it obvious you don’t know best social media practices. Need to include a lot of links? Check out Linktree 

Golden rule number one: don’t just post the link to your listing and expect people to click it. But equally, don’t forget to include the link altogether! If there’s one way to irritate your followers, it’s to post an awesome looking property, without a link, and expect them to trawl through your site to find it themselves.

To really catch peoples’ eye, get creative with your photography and consider venturing into the realm of videos. Instead of just sharing the property’s location and price, share your personality, throw in fun community facts, and highlight what’s unique about the house. 

 

Start sharing social stories 

Social stories are big no matter what business sector you’re in -- but in real estate, they provide the perfect platform to bring your properties and brand to life, give exclusive behind the scenes insights, and drive both engagement and authenticity with real-time content. 

The beauty of social stories is that they needn’t require cutting edge technology or editing skills, either. Raw footage can often be more relatable, so next time you’re checking out a property, why not grab some footage on-the-go and give your followers a bit of a teaser?

 

Don’t be a social spammer

This might seem contradictory given this article is all about marketing your listings, but don’t justpost about your listings on social media. If you do, you run the risk of overbearing your followers with relentless sales-lead content, which could result in them hitting that dreaded unfollow button.

Instead, mix up your feeds with a blend of listings, blogs, tips, advice, guidance, fun facts, ideas, and testimonials. It’ll ensure your feed doesn’t start looking stale, and will allow you to provide your audience with a variety of genuinely useful content.

 

Don’t forget to be…social

Social engagement is a two-way street. Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest - and every other platform in between, if someone’s made the effort to comment on one of your posts or send you a message, always reply - promptly.

Replying is especially important if you’ve received a negative comment – instead of ignoring the question, engage and stop a negative interaction in it’s tracks. Thoughtful feedback can often clear up a misunderstanding – and if nothing else, it will show that you’re responsive and reasonable. 

 

Tap into geo-targeting

If you’re looking to promote posts and you operate across a wide geographic area, be sure to utilize geotargeting with your ads. Instead of bombarding your entire base with listings that aren’t in the same city, take a strategic approach and target your audience based on their location. 

 It’ll increase your engagement ratio on the posts, and ensure you don’t become a nuisance by sharing irrelevant content. If you’re new to the world of geo targetinghere is a simple guide talking you through how to do the doing.


Hue & Tone Creative: Serving Greensboro and beyond

If you’re not sure where to start or simply don’t have the time to execute your business’ social media strategy, then we’re here to help. Contact us today at (336) 365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com to see where we can fit into your business strategy.

Free Download: Valentine's Day Cards

We’re posting our blog a day early this week to help you prepare for Valentine’s Day!

 If you’re short on time – or if you’re just looking for something a little more creative than what you can buy in the store — than we’ve got three bright and bold designs for you to select from.

All cards can be printed on standard 8.5 x 11 paper so you can easily print them at home or in your office! No email is required, just click on your favorite card, print it out, and give it to your sweetie.

Happy downloading!

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Hue & Tone Creative: Your Design partner

Looking for your own custom designs? Whether it’s a greeting card or an entire rebrand, we love working on all things type, color, and design related. Let’s discuss how we can work together — contact us here.

Back to basics: Google My Business

Back to basics: Google My Business | Hue & Tone Creative

Need a new way to aid your organic traffic efforts? Then look no further. Google My Business is a free, easy, and proven method that will help improve your site’s visibility in search results, make key information more accessible, and enable your company to cut through the crowd with a competitive edge.

The proof is in the results — for example, websites with a business listing get 25-35 percent more clicks than those without? If you’re sold by the stats and want to get the wheels in motion, read on for the all-important ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business lets you take control of how your business appears in Google search and maps, by letting you specify things like your name, description, location, opening hours and busy periods.

In addition, it enables you to monitor and reply to your customers’ reviews, add photos, and get more intel into how and where visitors are searching for you.

This is what Google My Business looks like in search results:

Back to basics: Google My Business | Hue & Tone Creative

And here’s how it looks in maps:

Back to basics: Google My Business | Hue & Tone Creative


Google My Business: the benefits

There are endless benefits to making the most of Google My Business, but here are our top seven:

  1. It’s free - so what’s there to lose?! 

  2. It helps your current and prospective customers find your physical location more easily

  3. It enhances your search visibility

  4. It makes genuinely useful information more accessible

  5. Your Google My Business profile opens another communication channel to talk with customers

  6. It equips you with useful analytics and insights into your visibility, engagement and audience, which can be used to shape future strategies

  7. Reviews are relied upon by many, so getting customers to leave them is key. Fortunately, Google My Business makes this easy, allowing customers to rate your business by simply googling your name (they must have a profile themselves, though)

How to create your Google My Business listing


Step 1: create your profile

First things first, you need to set your business’ listing up. To do this, either create a new Google account, or, if you already have an account you’re happy associating with your company, log in using that.

Step 2: Fill out key information

Then head to google.com/business and hit the “Start now” button towards the top right corner of the page. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be prompted to fill in all the details of your business. Be prepared to fill out the following:

  • Your name

  • Address - there are two additional options with this one:

    • You can hide your address if you don’t have a physical store

    • If you deliver your product or service to your customers rather than them coming to you, you can check a box to tell people this

  • Next you need to give delivery details by either telling Google you deliver within a region, city or postcode, or by pre-setting a specific number of miles from your business. The two choices will look like this:

 
Back to basics: Google My Business | Hue & Tone Creative
 

Step 3: Pick a business category

You’ll be asked to specify your business’ category. Your response to this will help determine who Google displays your listing to, so it’s really important your category closely reflects your offering.

Step 4: Contact info

The penultimate step is dropping in your phone number or website URL.

Step 5: account verification

And last but not least, you’ll need to pick how you want to verify your account (if you’re not quite ready to verify, you can opt to do this at a later date). Whether it’s now or later though, your options are:

  • Postcard: To verify your business listing by mail, enter your business address in Google My Business. They’ll send you a postcard with a verification code. 

  • Phone: If your business is eligible to get a verification code by phone, you'll see the Verify by phone option when you request verification. If you don't see it, verify your listing by mail instead.

  • Email: Not all businesses can verify their listing by email. If you don't see this option, try another verification method. Before trying to verify your listing by email, make sure you can access the email address shown in the verification screen.

  • Instant verification: If you’ve already verified your business’s website with Google Search Console, you may be able to verify your listing instantly.

  • Bulk verification: If you manage 10 or more locations of the same business, your business listings may be eligible for bulk verification. 

For more information on how to navigate your way through each verification method, head here.

 

Making the most of your account

To optimize your profile and make the most of all the fancy features we listed at the beginning of this article (like opening hours, reviews and photos), once you’ve verified your account, make your way to your Google My Business dashboard and select “Info.”

 You should then be presented with a screen that looks like this, for you to work your way through and edit the relevant sections:

Back to basics: Google My Business | Hue & Tone Creative

Hue & Tone Creative: All things marketing in Greensboro, NC

Whether you’re looking for help with branding, design, social media management, or email campaigns — or you just want to learn how our experts can help with your Google My Business listing — give us a call (336) 365-8559. We’re ready to connect and learn more about how we can help support you and your business.

Expand your sales by selling on Instagram

Expand your sales by selling on Instagram  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Sales are down, and you’re looking for creative marketing strategies to help boost them. Enter shoppable posts.

As Instagram’s grown in influence, so has the sophistication of its sales funnel. Shoppable posts take Instagram’s selling cycle one step further, streamline the user’s journey, and boost your business’ odds of converting followers into customers. 

With around 90 million Instagram accounts tapping on a shoppable post every month, they might just be that sweet spot your business has been missing.

Not sure how or where to start? Not to worry. We’ve covered the A to Z of everything you need to know to get going.


What are shoppable posts?


In a nutshell, shoppable posts enable Instagram users to complete the entire purchase journey - from discovery all the way through to checkout - without ever leaving the app. The benefit to you? Less steps. Less chance of distraction. Less chance of losing customers.

On or off Instagram, your customer journey is crucial. For starters, almost three quarters (76%) of consumers cite it as an important pre-purchase factor. But did you also know, 86% of customers say they’re actually willing to pay more for a great user experience?

Looking at Instagram alone, here are some successful case studies from brands who use shoppable posts as part of there social strategy:

  • Spearmint LOVE witnessed a 25% increase in traffic and 8% uplift in revenue

  • Tyme saw their web traffic rise by 44%

  • Lulus attributes more than 100,000 site visits and 1,200 product orders to shoppers who started on Instagram

Here’s what it looks like in practice:

 
 

With more than 200 million Instagram accounts viewing at least one business profile per day, shoppable posts unlock the door to a whole load of opportunities.

A few quick-fire facts:

  • You can tag up to five products per image or video

  • A maximum of 20 products can be tagged per carousel

  • When you tag products in Instagram, they’re shared on the explore section (where 200 million accounts visit daily) as well as with your immediate audience

  • Products can be tagged within stories too, by using what’s called a ‘product sticker’. We’ll delve into the detail of how this differs a little later on, but below’s a snapshot of how product stickers vary from shoppable posts

A step-by-step guide

So, let’s get started with the details of how to actually create your own shoppable Instagram posts. 

 

1.  Account requirements 

To be able to make the most of shoppable posts, there are a few boxes you need to tick:

  • Your business must be located in certain countries (if you’re in the US, don’t worry, you’re covered). For a full list of countries that are and aren’t included, head here

  • Your Instagram account must primarily sell physical goods

  • You must convert your account to a business profile

  • You must comply with Instagram’s commerce policies

  • Your Instagram business profile must be hooked up to a Facebook catalog

  • Your Facebook profile (which must also be a business page) can’t have any country or age restrictions attached to it

 

2. Facebook catalogs

As we just touched on, to enable shoppable posts, your Instagram account must be associated with a Facebook catalog. In its simplest form, a Facebook catalog is a hub containing information on each of the items you want to sell - like their name, price, condition and category, and looks like this:

Image via    facebook.com

Image via facebook.com

Now, there are one of two ways you can go about setting your Facebook catalog up:

  • Option A: Add a shop to your Facebook page. Find out how to do this in five simple steps here.

  • Option B: Use a catalog on Business Manager. This guide will walk you through the set-up process.

3. Account review

Once you’ve hooked your Instagram profile up to a Facebook catalog it’s a bit of a waiting game because, before you can start exploring Instagram’s shopping feature, your account has to be reviewed - this’ll happen automatically. Typically, it takes a few days for the review to complete, however, it may take longer if your account needs to be reviewed in more detail.

It’s worth noting that if you’re creating your very first Facebook catalog, the catalog itself will need to be reviewed before your automatic review can commence.

 

4. Start adding tags and/or stickers

The penultimate step revolves around actually adding your product tags and/or stickers on Instagram. Before you get going, here are a couple of points to bear in mind:

  • Before you can add tags or stickers, your Instagram account must be approved for shopping. If it’s not, you’ll hit a dead end; and

  • Make sure you’re using the latest version of Instagram’s app to ensure you’re utilizing all its latest updates.

If you’re up to speed with everything you ought to be at this point, then you’re ready to turn on your product tags. To do this, just work your way through these easy-to-follow steps:

 

1.  Head to your Instagram business profile

2. At the top right of your screen, you should see an ellipsis (…) - click on it

3. Look out for the ‘Shopping’ option under the ‘Business settings’ tab and tap into it

4. Hit ‘Continue’

5. See which product catalog you want to use within your shoppable posts and select it

6. Voila. You’re set-up and ready to start tagging products in your posts and/or stories.

 

5. Creating the actual post

So, you’ve got all the ingredients you need to create a shoppable post or story, now it’s time to pull the final concoction together. 

Shoppable posts 

As we touched on earlier, you can tag up to a maximum of five products per single picture and 20 products per carousel (i.e. a series of images within one post). 

Each tag will show the name and price of the item in question, and if you want, you have the option to go back and add tags into old posts, too.

Shoppable stories

Instagram stories work slightly differently. For starters, you use what’s called a ‘product sticker’ which showcases the product’s name - but not the price. You are, however, given a bit more personalization flexibility with stickers, in that you can edit their color and text. 

Unlike with shoppable posts, you can’tadd product stickers to already published stories. If you want to add a sticker to an already-published story, you’ll have to delete and re-publish it with the product sticker.

 

The creation process: 

1.   Create your Instagram post or story as you normally would.

2a. If you’re pulling a post together, click ‘Tag products’ on the ‘Share’ screen.

2b. If you’re making a story, tap the sticker icon and then hit the product sticker option.

3. Whether you’re following the instructions for a post or a story, you’ll be presented with your product catalog - choose which one you want to tag and drop it on or close to the item you want to promote.

4. Share your post or story and prepare to monitor the traction you get from your product tags or stickers - you can do this by heading to the ‘Insights’ section of the app (for posts, tap ‘View Insights’ on your chosen shopping post, and for stories just swipe up once you’re in the story).


Hue & Tone: Your Social Media Partners

Overwhelmed just reading this guide? Ready to see your business' Instagram sales shoot up? See how we can help amplify your efforts today by getting in touch with the team at (336) 365-8559.