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Building your badass digital marketing strategy

(BUSINESS NEWS) Email, blogging, social media, PPC, SEO — where to start? What’s really important when it comes to digital marketing?

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We are living in a digital world

Marketing is so many things but few are more important right now than digital marketing. Email, blogging, social media, PPC, SEO — and the list goes on. Where to start? What’s really important?

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Digital marketing is important for the obvious reasons – everyone has their phone on them literally all. the. time. According to a 2015 Verizon survey, nearly 90% of people admit to using their phones in the bathroom. Talk about opportunity.

But the real question isn’t how to reach your audience, but instead, how do you reach your audience effectively? Clearly, digital isn’t a new landscape – so how can you become something that resonates, is relatable… without becoming ‘noise’?

Step one – bring on the right people. Is it important to know everything about marketing? No – because marketing, particularly digital marketing, changes almost hourly.

Instead, bring on people who are hungry. People who are motivated. People who love what they do.

The rest is smooth sailing…at least, in theory.

Know your audience, find your voice

Hello, obvious.

Yeah, it’s like Marketing 101. But after recently attending a digital marketing conference, it was surprising how often the speakers mentioned this point. Do you really know who you’re trying to reach? Have you spent real time putting yourself in the shoes of your customers?

Stop trying generic marketing tactics, and instead spend time talking to and researching your customer’s pain points and evaluating what they actually need. It’s OK to be specialized.

Let me say that again.

It’s OK to be specialized.

Your product isn’t for everyone. Focus, instead, on who it is for and market the hell out of those people.

Once you identify who those people are, who those people really are and what they really need, determine your company’s voice. Who are you? Are you funny? Informative? Tactical? Find your voice and own it.

Content is king

There’s no getting around it. People want stuff.

If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes on Facebook, you’ll notice the crazy amount of sharing and liking of posted content. Viral videos are gold, and if you’ve managed to successfully infiltrate a ‘trending topic”, then you deserve that after work beer.

The thing we all need to understand (because I’m still guilty of it — even when I’m aware of the issue) is that no one – no one – wants to be sold to. We’re absolutely railroaded with sales pitches. On TV, on the radio, on every site or social media platform I go to, in my inbox. I’m surrounded.

Stop it.

Start, instead, by giving your audience something they can use. Something they value. Something for free.

*Insert screeching brakes sound here*

Yeah, free.

You cannot ask your customer for their hand in marriage when you’ve never even bought them a drink.

Give them a little, prove you’re “the one”. Become the resource in your industry. You know your audience, and you know their pain points – help them with those…even if it’s not what you sell.

Believe it or not, becoming a resource helps your brand and your business, even when you’re giving things away.

Use technology to your advantage

You HAVE to be on top of the trends. You just have to. There’s no getting around it. Which brings me back to the whole hungry thing. If your team truly loves what they do and are looking for new resources and ways to improve, then you’ve chosen the right people.

Back to the buzzword game – SEO, PPC, analytics, boosted posts, sponsored ads, influencer campaigns, viral videos. There’s something new everyday, you have to be on top of it.

By constantly using the tools at your fingertips to evaluate then reevaluate what works and what doesn’t can help fine tune your marketing plan. Be advised that this isn’t a one time effort, but instead something that will need continuous assessment and modification.

Tools like Facebook Insights and Google Analytics can paint a good picture of the success of a campaign. Open and click rates combined with unsubscribes on email campaigns can also give valuable date regarding the effectiveness of your marketing.

You can’t afford not to

Marketing is both incredibly simple and incredibly complicated at the same time. Aligning your offerings with the needs of your audience, while marketing to their heads AND their hearts will build a sense of resourcefulness while expanding your reach to new markets.

#DigitalMarketing

Megan Noel, a veteran ex-educator with a PhD in Early Childhood Education, enjoys researching life through the eyes of her two young children, while writing about her family’s adventures on IndywithKids.com. With a nearly a decade in small business and marketing, this freelance writer spends most evenings pouring over new ideas and writing articles, while indulging in good food and better wine.

Business Marketing

Google Analytics will now filter out bot traffic

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bender won’t be happy that Google Analytics will now automatically remove bot traffic from your results, but it’ll help your business.

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In the competitive, busy world of online content, Google Analytics can help businesses and online publications deliver what their audience and consumers want. Now Google is finally taking the step of filtering out bot traffic in your Google Analytics reporting. This is excellent news!

In the world of websites, online news sites, blogs, and social media, bots are the bane of our existence. In their finest form, they are the electronic equivalent of junk mail. At their worst, they can carry malicious malware and viruses to your site and computer. They can even flood the internet with unfounded rumors that can have an impact on people’s opinions–stirring the political pot or lending misleading numbers to drive unfounded rumors, such as wearing a mask is dangerous. No it’s not! Chalk that nonsense up to bots and crackpots.

For businesses that rely on Google Analytics to determine what content is not only reaching but also resonating with potential customers, filtering out the bot traffic is crucial to determining the best course of action. Bots skew the data and therefore, end up costing businesses money.

Bots set up for malicious purposes crawl the internet looking for certain information or user behaviors. Bad bots can steal copyrighted content and give it to a competitor. Having identical copies on two sites hurts your site and can dink your SEO ranking. However, good bots can seek out duplicate content and other copyright infringements, so the original content creator can report them.

However, it is important for companies and content creators to know if their content is actually reaching real live humans. To this end, Google will start filtering out bot traffic automatically. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) actually provides an International Spiders and Bots list, through which Google can more easily identify bots. They use the list and their own internal research to seek out bots in action, crawling through the internet and confusing things.

Google says the bot traffic will be automatically filtered out of the Google Analytics results–users don’t have the choice. Some may argue there is a good reason to see all of the data, including bots. Many businesses and online publications, though, will be relieved to have a much clearer vision of what content genuinely appeals to humans, to readers and potential customers. It is a welcomed advancement.

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Business Marketing

Opportunity Zones: A chance to do good

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Opportunity zones offer a chance to breathe new life into economically-distressed communities.

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Opportunity Zones are a beautiful mechanism for growing communities that are struggling, but some critics have put this process in a negative light. The following is an expert’s perspective on just this topic.

Jim White, PhD is Chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc. and Growers Ice Company, Inc., Founder and CEO of PHT Opportunity Fund LP, and Founder and President of JL White International, LLC. His new book is a heartfelt rallying cry for investors: Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds, launched March 31, 2020.

Dr. White holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an MBA, and a doctorate in psychology and organizational behavior. He acquires struggling businesses to revive and develop them into profitable enterprises using his business turnaround strategy.

In his own words below:

BY JIM WHITE, PHD

Every investment vehicle has a twist some folks don’t like. Real estate, stock options, offshore tax havens, and even charitable gifting can be criticized for certain loopholes.

Likewise, some detractors have pointed to opportunity zones, a newer investment vehicle unveiled in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017. This bold, bipartisan plan allows for private investment capital to be channeled into some of the most distressed communities in the nation, serving the struggling residents and the investors alike.

Personally, I believe it is one of the noblest initiatives to emerge from Washington in years.

I grew up in a sharecropper cabin in what would have been an opportunity zone in Salem, South Carolina. What would an influx of investment dollars have meant to my low-income community? More and better-paying jobs to offset unemployment. People relocating to my town for those jobs, reversing population decline and increasing real estate values. New life breathed into local businesses. The increased tax revenues could have helped improve failing infrastructure. Social challenges, like crime and drug use, could have decreased. Better resources for my family and our neighbors, such as health care and education, would have emerged.

Today, there are nearly 8,800 distressed communities dotting the country that have been identified as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). These neighborhoods were designated from census tracks, treasury, and state leaders as communities that would benefit from an influx of investment dollars directed through Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) to reinvigorate businesses, rebuild infrastructure and bolster residents.

As our economy continues to falter, more and more businesses file Chapter 11 and unemployment soars under COVID-19, I believe we are heading toward a painful expansion in designated opportunity zones. Even with the latest round of CARES stimulus money many people will have no way to rebound from this crisis.

One of the unexpected consequences of the coronavirus quarantine is that many businesses are discovering that, in reality, they can succeed through working remotely. This success is a double edged sword, meaning that if a business can thrive with employees working offsite then commercial real estate will suffer. And when companies no longer require brick-and-mortar locations, a local domino effect ensues; ancillary businesses, from cafés to gyms to print shops in and around a commercial office environment will subsequently close. The ripples will be felt through many other industries, including construction, transportation, energy, and retail.

Qualified Opportunity Zones and Qualified Opportunity Funds are instruments that can help stop a downward spiral. When a sponsor is able to present a project that meets the objectives of the QOZ initiative, both the QOZ and the investors benefit. That’s a win!

And, it’s not only urban centers that benefit from investment dollars. Forty percent of opportunity zones are rural. Even with often plentiful food, water, energy and other natural resources, deep poverty exists, and too many of America’s 60 million rural residents lack access to education and healthcare. A declining population often goes hand in hand with failing infrastructure as tax money for repairs dwindles. Many households lack broadband, something the vast majority of Americans take for granted.

Despite the challenges, rural residents are often surprisingly resilient and resourceful. According to The Hill (“Rural America has opportunity zones too”), rural residents create self-employment opportunities at a slightly higher rate than the national average. Their challenge is to connect with investors and access funding, more of which is directed to small business investment on the coasts.

In fact, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know about Qualified Opportunity Funds. If a business is located in an opportunity zone it is eligible for direct funding by reaching out to the QOFs with a specific request for funding.

More than any investment plan that’s come before, I believe opportunity zones have the greatest capacity for positive social and economic impact. Spread out over many communities, these investments can help our nation flourish as a whole.

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Business Marketing

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.

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Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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