More to Come

SEO and Small Business – How Small Tactics Can Help Your Business

Members of True’s analytics team got the opportunity to speak to small business owners at LaunchHouse, a local co-working space and community for business owners, about paid and organic search to help their business goals. The presentation was about the basics of organic and paid search and how to execute properly. Until we create or talk through one of these presentations, we often forget that when done correctly, small (but not always simple) tactics can make a big impact for small and local business owners. So, what are some of these tactics?

Get Your Website in Order

It’s important that your website showcases what you do and the answer to what problem you solve for your audience (more on that later…) is easily available. Be sure that keyword use is consistent and strategic on all site pages including: title tag, header tag, body text, link text, alt tags and file names. Also, continuing to create fresh content that talks about your services is important for showing up in organic searches.

Pinpoint Your Audience

When done strategically, paid and organic search can drive traffic to your website, increasing business and exposure. But before you begin sending your key messages out through paid search, the first step is to realize who your audience is. Sure, we would all love to think the entire world is our audience – but it’s not. To get the best leads and results, figure out who the right audience or client is that your business needs to target.

Ask yourself “who is my client?” Then, start to narrow it down by demographics: How old are they? What gender? Where are they located? Write down all the qualifiers you know about them and their interests. These questions are all vital to finding the right target audience to bring in the correct qualified people.

Solving a Problem

After figuring out your key demographic, get into more qualitative questions. This can be as easy or difficult as asking, “what problem is my client trying to solve?” Once you find out what problem they are trying to solve, think through how your audience would search to solve the problem. From there, you can position your product or service as the solution to that problem or issue. It’s also important to understand where they are in the process and what words they will be using to search.

Know Your Customer’s Habits

Pay attention to your audience’s purchasing behavior. Do they do a lot of research prior to buying? Are they impulse buyers? Are they one-time buyers or will they make another purchase? When will they do their purchasing? Will they purchase online, or is a phone call or meeting needed? Your target is the group that is ready to buy RIGHT now. Have a leaky pipe? They need a plumber now. Not in a month. They want this and need that, and they don’t want to wait.

Create an Ultimate Strategy

After determining the answers to all those questions, your business can begin to develop a strategy to reach your target audience or client through paid and organic search. A/B testing headlines and copy on ads is important, as well as adjusting your artwork. Using a strong strategy and call to action can create a successful paid ad campaign.

If you get all your ducks in a row and continue understanding how your audience is evolving, it will help you get the help you need from Google!

 

 

 

 

My Experience at the Republican National Convention

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend the Republican National Convention in Cleveland as a part of my on-campus job as a Marketing Assistant at Kent State University’s College of Communication and Information. When first presented with this opportunity I was hesitant, but I knew this opportunity would be a once in a lifetime experience. I don’t consider myself politically involved, I watch the news and stay informed, but you will not catch me debating with others about immigration or the economy.

CCI partnered with Purple America, an organization focused on bringing forth more civil, respectful conversations about political issues, something that is lacking in the recent election. Some of the great speakers were Matthew Dowd, political analyst for ABC News, Katie Harbath, Global Politics and Government Outreach Director for Facebook, and Dr. Ben Carson, former Republican presidential candidate. The discussions between the wide variety of panelists was eye-opening, specifically the conversation on civility between presidential candidates.

Since I am a public relations major at Kent State, I think back to what we’ve learned in classes about how to address the media, plus what I’ve learned while at True. We’ve seen even more in this election how comments can be made and then magnified on social media. Anything Donald Trump says or tweets are retweeted or posted about millions of times.

Dowd talked about comments Senator Marco Rubio made about Trump having small hands and how Rubio became a trending topic on Twitter. All for making comments about Donald Trump’s hands, nothing politically related. A candidate can make a stupid comment at an event with no research to back it up, and reporters and attendees can instantly tweet it for the world to know. The news cycle is constant now, and we don’t have to wait to hear about it on the nightly news or read about it in the morning paper.

All the panelists agreed the days of being civil with the opposition are over. It’s now a more popular tactic for candidates to focus on tearing each other apart, rather than focusing on what they can do for the country. The media covers candidates attacking each other because it’s “entertainment” verses covering the candidates’ policies or plans for the presidency. It’s the new reality of presidential elections.

No matter your political beliefs and opinions, I think anyone could benefit from attending an event like this, where the diverse panels bring forward good thought-provoking points. It made me curious about how public relations and media relations will change throughout this election with social media being such a big player. It truly opened my eyes to how these political issues captivate our country, and I walked away a more informed citizen. Getting the opportunity to see Cleveland on the “big stage” first hand, gave me an experience I won’t forget!

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Rio Olympics 2016 – How do they beat the bad press?

The countdown is on. Behind the FIFA World Cup, my favorite sporting event is almost here! Leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympics, the talk from the media across the world has been about how big of a disaster the outcome of the Olympics could be. We all remember the tweets from the Sochi Olympics in Russia about gross water and rooms falling apart…

It’s always amazing to me how the event draws millions or billions of tweets and viewers, regardless of the background issues. The Olympics are a time that countries get together and cheer with huge amounts of pride – it’s not often whole countries can get behind one team all together. Social media has been abuzz of names we all know when it comes to Olympics time: Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and Kerri Walsh Jennings. The story of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team going for the first ever gold medal as the reigning FIFA World Cup Champion has been a constant on the soccer sites.

The stories of these athletes beat the bad press with a one-two punch. Rewind to 2012, Phelps was at the end of his career, over swimming and clearly unhappy. Four years later he is on the other side of a DUI arrest, rehab stint and the birth of his son, plus he loves swimming again. What a story, right? The Today Show on NBC has been using clips of his one-on-one with Matt Lauer for months leading up to the Olympics. These athletes become role models for people of all ages in sports like gymnastics, track and field, swimming and more.

The advertising dollars spent on product or service advertising goes through the roof. AdWeek has dedicated a whole page to advertising during the Olympics. The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) released the stringent rules for the Olympics’ intellectual property. Businesses and brands need to carefully watch how they use trademarked words or phrases like: Olympic, Team USA, Road to Rio. Even if a company sponsors an athlete but is not an Olympic sponsor, they could be served a cease and desist as soon as that tweet goes out. These brands can’t even wish athletes luck.

This has always been interesting to me since the nature of social media is to use hashtags and retweet things to create buzz, but I suppose the Olympics have plenty of buzz without these brand mentions. The last factor is also the locked down security measures due to the threat of terrorist attacks. It’s sadly become a fact of hosting a huge event, one that Brazil and Rio have taken into account. The New York Times did a good job of covering this issue more in depth.

Regardless of these PR issues, I’m sure in a few weeks we will look back on the event with pride and excitement of what these athletes and teams all accomplished. I’ll be watching as they make history and bring those medals home to the United States!

Benefits of a Summer Internship

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Meet Maggie: True’s summer intern!

It’s really easy for college professors to throw information at you. You sit through two or three classes a day, click through a bunch of power points, take notes and try to internalize everything you hear. You take a quiz or two and get decent grades. But given the opportunity, could you actually apply what you’ve learned?

As a public relations major at Kent State University, I know I am learning a lot. My professors are great and I know they want nothing more than for students to succeed and live up to their potential.

I hear non-stop from my professors about how one day I will have to apply all of this information I was copying down in my notes. One day I was going to have a real job where I would be expected to know all about objectives, strategies, tactics, SEO, media relations and so on. I knew the definitions for those terms, but I don’t think I actually understood them. I was assigned countless projects with scenarios designed to test what I was learning. I struggled, I had no idea where to start. I was just waiting and waiting for the moment when the lightbulb would go off and everything would click. After a while, I knew it was going to take working in a real-world setting to figure it all out.

Doing an internship is so important to me because it presents that real-world opportunity I have been looking for. I can finally apply everything I’ve learned in somewhere other than a classroom or on some made up project. I have come to realize that acing all those PR vocabulary quizzes didn’t matter, taking great notes didn’t matter, none of it matters until that lightbulb goes off and everything clicks.

I am so thankful to have the opportunity to intern at True Digital Communications this summer. I know I will walk away with a better understanding of PR and what it takes to work in an agency setting. I look forward to sharing all the new things I learn along the way!

Tips for Becoming Google Analytics and Adwords Certified: Part 2

In the last blog post, I gave you the run down and tips for taking the Google Analytics certification exam. This post will give you an overview of the Google Adwords exams and my tips for studying and passing them.

As I said in the previous post, before you can take the exams, you are required to sign up for Google Partners. Google Partners is Google’s free program for agencies and other digital professionals designed to give you access to special events, Adwords and Analytics updates and free certification exams. Once you have registered, you will have access to a copious amount of study materials for both the Adwords and Analytics.

The Google Adwords Certification

Overview:

  • Must pass 2 out of 6 exams
  • Exam times span between 90 and 120 minutes
  • Exam questions range from 63 to 100
  • Must have 80% passing score
  • Valid for 12 months

Between the Analytics and Adwords certifications, the Adwords certification is more challenging and time consuming to obtain, but extremely beneficial if you manage PPC accounts. In order to become certified, you have to pass two of the six exams offered. You are required to take the Adwords Fundamentals exam and then you get to choose the other. The other exams include advanced search, display, video, shopping and mobile.

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Since I manage shopping accounts at True, I chose to get Google Shopping certified as my second exam. Like the Analytics exam, once you start, you cannot pause or skip questions so allow yourself enough time for completion.

Each exam includes a study guide with various lessons and videos to prepare. There are many online resources at your disposal, but Google’s study guides proved most effective. What sets apart the Adwords study guides from the Analytics study guides is there are no practice questions associated with the Adwords study material. Going into the Adwords exams, I felt a little less prepared not knowing what the questions were going to be like. However, Google provides so much information for you to read and study so passing is still very achievable. Once I completed the exam, it instantly told me I passed, but Google says it can take up to 48 hours for exam results to appear.

Tips

The Adwords Fundamentals exam is 100 questions in 120 minutes. You will not have enough time to look up every question in the study material as the exam goes on, so I definitely suggest studying as you would in college for an important exam. However, you do have enough time to think about the hard questions, when easier questions become faster to answer.

Adwords-exam-02

The questions span the contents of every lesson, but I would focus on the overall concepts instead of intricate facts and details. Many questions in the exam take a concept you learned and asks you to apply it to a potential client situation

The Google Shopping exam is 63 questions in 90 minutes. Of the two exams that I took to become Adwords certified, this one was definitely the easier of the two. Google provides plenty of information in their study guides for you to adequately prepare for the exam.

The questions primarily focus on the “do’s and don’ts” of the Google Shopping platform. Since there are a lot of requirements and rules to be qualified for Google Shopping, the exam places heavy emphasis on the fundamentals and building high-quality data feeds.

Are You Ready?

Go through all of the reading supplements and videos Google provides for each exam and you should have no problem passing. Remember, the majority of the Fundamentals exam questions are on high-level concepts based on the structure, targeting, bids and budget parameters of Google Adwords. Once you pass your exams, you will have the opportunity to print your certifications and display them loud and proud. Good luck!

 

Tips for Becoming Google Analytics and Adwords Certified: Part 1

*Note: This is part 1 of a 2 part series

Dust off your college pants and put those puppies back on because you are getting ready to take exams to become Google Analytics and Adwords certified. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been in the industry very long, but I thought my days of taking exams ended when college did. However, becoming Google Analytics and Adwords certified is a great solution for brushing up on your digital advertising skill set. Analytics and Adwords certifications denote credibility for yourself as a digital marketer and instill client trust in your agency. In this two-part blog post I will go through an overview of taking both exams and my tips for passing them.

Before you can take the exams, you are required to sign up for Google Partners. Google Partners is Google’s free program for agencies and other digital professionals designed to give you access to special events, Adwords and Analytics updates and free certification exams. Once you have registered, you will have access to a copious amount of study materials for both the Adwords and Analytics exams.

The Google Analytics Certification 

Overview:

  • One exam
  • 90 minutes
  • 70 questions
  • 80% passing score
  • Valid for 18 months

There are plenty of online resources at your disposal for this exam, but I highly recommend following Google’s study guide. Google provides a four-unit study guide called “Analytics Academy” with multiple lessons, videos, practice questions and they even walk you through creating an analytics account. The lessons go through every stage of Google Analytics:

  1. Planning and principles
  2. Implementation and data collection
  3. Configuration and administration
  4. Conversion and attribution
  5. Reports, metrics and dimensions

Analytics-exam-01

Tips

The questions span the five stages, with an emphasis on implementation and analytics reports and metrics. Pay close attention to how to set up different views within your analytics profile and what each report represents and how to analyze the provided metrics. Many question focus on platform principles and learning how each component works together to collect and organize data.

Analytics-exam-02

Once you start the exam, you cannot pause or skip questions. When you’re ready to take the exam, allow yourself the full 90 minutes, in an uninterrupted environment. Take your time on the questions that require it, as some will be easier and faster to answer than others. As I was taking the exam, I found I had more time than I anticipated answering the challenging questions. Once I completed the exam, it instantly told me I passed, but Google says it can take up to 48 hours for exam results to appear.

Are You Ready?

Whether you’re good at taking exams or not, Google provides ample information for you to get certified in important business practices in today’s digital world. Google will not try to trick you on any of the questions so if a guess is absolutely necessary, using common sense will be your best bet. Stay tuned for True’s next blog post on taking the Google Adwords certification exam.

Good luck and stayed tuned for part two of this series on becoming certified in Google Adwords.

 

Where Do You Belong?

image1 (9)Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of heading back to Kent State University (my alma mater) to speak on a panel for PRSSA. Even though I graduated four years ago, it still feels like I was a student yesterday! The topic of the panel was “Where do you belong? Exploring the three different types of PR- agency, corporate and non-profit.” Much to my surprise, the room was packed with students, which was great to see.

While I was only one of the three professionals on the panel, I wanted to recap my main points since I’ve found they keep coming up each time I speak with students and young professionals.

  1. Networking: Networking doesn’t just begin when you start your first real-world job, it starts the moment you step foot on campus. Your professors and fellow classmates are invaluable resources you should treasure.  Get to know them, tell them what you’re looking for and don’t be too embarrassed to ask for help. Attending special events on campus and joining student groups is also one of the best things you can do for your future career. Stand out. Make an impression. And most importantly, get involved!
  1. Internships: PR Kent requires an internship as part of the curriculum, which is fantastic! However, if you have the time, I say go for as many internships as you can. Especially if you don’t know what segment of PR you’d like to work in. I think it’s so important to get a well-rounded internship experience in the different segments. That way, you can truly find what you’re most passionate about!
  1. Be You: Several students came up to me after the panel was over and asked more questions about agency PR and internships. But what really stood out was when I asked them to talk about their passions, where they see themselves in the future and their summer internship plans. Several students also sent thank you emails and followed-up with personalized LinkedIn requests. These things don’t go unnoticed!

I truly love going back to Kent State- it’s definitely still my home away from home. Plus, speaking with students is so rewarding. Do you have any other tips to share? I’d love to hear them.

Sometimes Subtracting Gives You More

When we take over an existing paid search campaign and begin making changes to optimize performance, one of the first things we typically hear from a client is, “But I got more clicks before you optimized!” And a lot of times, they’re absolutely right. So why are we trying to get fewer clicks? Simple: We’re aiming for quality over quantity.

As an example, say you’re a B2B manufacturer that specializes in high speed metal stamping and rapid prototyping. (Yes, that really is a thing. And yes, we’ve developed paid search campaigns for it.) If you use Google Adwords’ keyword tool, you’ll find “metal stamping” has a high volume of monthly searches. If your ad copy and landing page copy contains the phrase “metal stamping” in all the right places, you’ll probably get a decent quality score for that term and begin seeing high impressions and clicks.

But unless you look at the other ad group suggestions Google comes up with related to “metal stamping” or dig through your matched search queries once your ads begin running, you may not realize those impressions and clicks could be coming from searchers looking for:

  • metal letter stamps
  • metal alphabet stamps
  • stamped metal jewelry
  • metal stamping supplies
  • hand stamped jewelry supplies

Google considers all of these to be related search terms for “metal stamping.” Because both are consumer-oriented terms, some of them have high search volume. But the searchers who clicked on your ad without really reading the copy are not at all interested in “metal stamping” as your company defines it. You’ll be generating – and paying for – more clicks but driving fewer qualified visits.

This is where subtracting to get more comes into play. By eliminating not-really-related related terms through the use of phrase match keywords and negative keywords, your campaign will generate fewer impressions and clicks. But the searchers who see your ads will be looking for your version of “metal stamping,” and they’ll spend more time reading your site content, and they’re more likely to become potential customers.

So take a look at your current campaigns and their performance. Are you concentrating on impressions, or generating qualified visits?

Be Our Valentine!

hearWhile Valentine’s Day is still a week away, this blog post is a love letter. It’s not just to one person though; it’s actually to several. And they’re not all in one place either. They’re all over the U.S. and the world.

My love letter is to my partners and friends in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. Business today is more competitive than ever before and in this age of specialization, it’s no longer good business to be a generalist. That’s why having a network of outstanding public relations and marketing communication specialists to call on makes so much sense.

Within Worldcom, we can pull on firms with deep category and industry experience, geography knowledge and relationships and specific skill sets and talents. Worldcom has become a valuable resource for me and my True team members. We work with our Worldcom partners every week as we help our clients in North America and around the world.

So why am I writing a love letter to our Worldcom partners? True Digital Communications turned five years old on February 1. We have come a long way. This is a milestone and is very important to me. We wouldn’t have reached this point if we didn’t have such a great team and clients. I also owe a good deal of support to the other agency principals and management teams at our Worldcom partners who provide me with so much support and assistance as I’ve put together my team and processes at True.

So my Valentine’s wishes go to my Worldcom friends. They have been an important part of our growth and I know we’ll continue to work together into the future. I encourage you to learn more about their firms, or give us a call and we can tell you more about them and why they could be a great asset for your public relations and marketing communications needs.

Happy Valentine’s Day to Stefan, Will and Noemi at the Pollack PR & Marketing Group in Los Angeles; Jill, Craig, Pamela, Johnathon, Grant and the team at Public Communications Inc. in Chicago; Jon at McGrath Power in San Jose; Bill at Nuffer Smith Tucker in San Diego; Melissa at Standing Partnership in St. Louis; Dawn and Sharon at Linhart PR in Denver; John and Chris at Deveney in New Orleans; Amy and Greg at Corporateink in Boston; Hal at Cerrell in Los Angeles; Stephanie and Helen at Phillips Group in Brisbane, Australia; Elizabeth at Bliss Integrated Communications in New York; Scott, Gary and Dave at Dix & Eaton in Cleveland; Scott and Sean at Dick Jones Communications in Pittsburgh; Lisa at Simon PR in Philadelphia; Tim at MorganMyers in Milwaukee; Patrik at PRAM Consulting in Prague, Czech Republic; and Todd and Terry at Worldcom’s HQ.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

 

3 Simple Steps to Up Your Insta Game

Aquicon-InstagramOf all the social media channels, Instagram is hands down my favorite. I’ve used it personally since 2012 and it’s been my go-to app since. This is probably because photos make me really happy- but it’s also a great marketing tool that our clients are starting to add into the mix. Below are three of my Instagram 101 tips to start your account off on the right foot.

1. Take great photos: This may sound like a no-brainer- but it’s crucial! Whether you’re using a professional camera or simply using your phone, picking a great backdrop that’s clean and visually appealing will go a long way. And if you don’t know what type of photos you should take, spend some time thinking about your audience on Instagram and what your brand should look like in photos. What would your audience want to see? Once you have that squared away, you can start taking photos that will resonate with your audience.

2. Use hashtags to your advantage: Hashtags will be your new best friend, but only if you use them appropriately. One thing I’m telling you to NOT do is randomly hashtag words that will provide you with little return. #Some #words #should #never #be #hashtags. Get my drift? Instead, do your research like you would for any other client account. While you’re searching for the most-used hashtags, make sure you check the related hashtags as well. You never know what hashtags you aren’t thinking of!

Tip: For the hashtags you use on a regular basis, make a note in you phone and simply copy and paste them into the first comment under your photo. Not only will the note trick save you time, but putting the list of hashtags in the first comment will make your feed look more clean and will be hidden after you receive several comments!

3. Be social!: Like any social network, don’t just post your own content– engage with others! I try to comment on at least 5-10 photos a day. This will help you build your following and allows you to connect with other accounts that are similar to yours. Also, take the time to respond if one of your followers comments on your photo.

With these three tips, you’ll be an Instagram expert in no time!