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!





Benefits of a Summer Internship


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!

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!


True –ly Thankful

The older I get the more I appreciate and realize how much I love Thanksgiving Day and the holiday season that follows. It’s not about the physical gifts we give and receive on Christmas and Hanukkah. It’s about the gifts that people give of themselves, their skills, their time and their experience every day.

Personally, giving is very important to me. A kind word, a helping hand and yes, financial support can make all of the difference. It is also part of our culture at True Digital Communications. It’s how we work together and with our clients. It’s also why one of our core areas of expertise is working with not-for-profits. We help them embrace and understand digital communications so they can be successful in supporting their missions. We celebrate in their success too.

I have so much to be thankful for when I look at our team and the success we have enjoyed over the past 12 months and the previous five years. I firmly believe success doesn’t happen by accident and that you often create your own luck. I am very thankful to be surrounded by a team of talented, like-minded individuals who make me a better person and leader every day. I couldn’t do it without them.

Rarely are you lucky enough to work with a great team. It is even rarer to work with a partnership of people found all over the world. I am very thankful for our bigger team of partners in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. This partnership of 143 independent agencies, in 115 cities with more than 2,000 communications professionals working around the world is a big part of our success today and tomorrow. Through Worldcom, we help our clients and support them with services and intelligence we wouldn’t have otherwise. In return, we get to work with topnotch individuals who love what they do as much as we do. I don’t know of another business organization where everyone is so willing to pitch in and help one another or as appreciative for the help we give each other.

My goal for today and to every one who reads my thoughts is to make every day Thanksgiving. Be thankful for what you have. Be thankful for the friends and family in your life. It’s these relationships that truly define who you are and if you’re truly lucky, they will be just as thankful for you and you are for them.




Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down for Facebook’s New “Dislike” Button?

If a group of friends get together for drinks and laughs and never post a picture of themselves on Facebook, did it actually ever happen? In its relatively short existence Facebook has redefined social norms, privacy and even the term “friend.”

Facebook is at it again. Or at least Mark Zuckerberg is. He confirmed that Facebook is finally working on a “dislike” button. While marketers and brands are assessing the treasure trove of analytics and insights this will produce, as a society, I don’t believe we are ready for it. While Facebook is a wonderful channel for connecting with old and new friends, I’m not sure we’re ready for the responsibility a “dislike” button will bring.

When I was a young boy, I remember my father telling me not to ask others about religion, money, politics or even sex because, “That was too personal.” That advice has always stuck with me but what was once private and not discussed openly among friends is now common posts on Facebook and other social networks.

There used to be topics that were off limits for discussion, but not anymore.

And what started as a Facebook friend purge during election years because of hate speech and political rhetoric, now happens weekly for me. I no longer can keep quiet as friends draw their social and political battle lines.

So what happens now as Facebook introduces an actual button to “dislike” something? I pray they don’t actually call it that. By giving us a tool to publically tell someone we don’t like a comment, picture, news story or other post, are we prepared to talk about our differences in a civil manner? I doubt it.

Furthermore, at True Digital Communication we counsel brands and companies on how to engage and connect via social media. Add a “dislike” button and it will add another dimension to online customer service. I’m not sure most brands are ready for this.

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

The CMW Food and Drink Guide to Cleveland

If you’re anything like me, the first step in planning a trip is deciding where to eat. So if you haven’t already developed your Content Marketing World eating agenda, you’re already behind schedule. But it’s ok. I’m here to help.

When Cleveland started to shake off its worn-out rest belt ruins image a few years ago, food was a big part of the transition. In fact, one of our best restaurant neighborhoods only happened because it was a place where chefs could get cheap rent in the early 2000s.

Our restaurant scene rivals any city out there and we have Iron Chef Michael Simon and recent James Beard Award winner Jonathon Sawyer to prove it.

Now that you’re convinced, let’s talk about some of True’s favorite spots. Let me start by saying, just because something isn’t on the list doesn’t mean we don’t like it. We can only cover so much, so these are just our favorites by proximity to the Convention Center. From near to far, wherever you are – whether you want 4-stars or a cozy bar:

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Downtown/Gateway/Civic Center District – 5 minutes walk south of convention center

This is the heart of downtown. This is where you will see people coming to/from Indians games, shopping, headed to concerts. Make sure you walk around a little bit. See the casino. Check out Tower City.

Nice dinner | East 4th

There are a several great restaurants on East 4th St. This short pedestrian street is as far as a lot of tourists dive into Cleveland’s food scene. All great spots, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. If you’re eating here, my favorites are:

  • Chinato – Outstanding Italian – Far beyond meatballs and red sauce. See what I mean . Chef Zach Bruell is among the best in the city. Of his eight restaurants in Cleveland, this is definitely my favorite.
  • Butcher and the Brewer – Unique setting, great brewery, lots of meat. Think bone marrow apps, lamb ribs and dry-aged beef.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | Barrio

Barrio started as a little taco shop a couple years ago. Now, they have three shops across the city with the recent addition of a downtown location. The big idea: tacos your way. You choose the meats, toppings and sauces on a tear-off ticket and turn it over to the waitress. The only possible mistake is a burst shell due to overstuffing. Recommendation: Opt for the stoner shell. It’s a hard shell fastened to a soft shell with chorizo and queso.

Dessert | Colossal Cupcakes

There are cupcakeries all over this city, but this one stands out. For two reasons: One, amazing cupcakes inventions like s’mores and strawberry french toast. Two, it’s in the 5th St. Arcades – a historic hotel/shopping center hybrid you have to see to believe.

Downtown/Flats – 5 minutes walk west of convention center

Full-disclosure. This is the part of town I eat the least often. There’s a lot of new stuff going in to this part of town right now. There’s also a certain amount of construction. More stuff is constantly opening up so I’m not fully up to date on what’s good here. Please… don’t hold it against me.

Nice Dinner | The Willeyville

This place has a really unique menu. Something for everyone – from a burger to ramen bowls with house-made noodles. They describe their food as “handcrafted” and they mean it. If it can be made in-house, it is.

Drinks | Portside Distillery

This place is becoming one of my favorite breweries in Cleveland. You can find a few of their beers throughout the city, but the pub-exclusives are top-notch. Not the type of place to rage until 2 a.m., but a great place for a quiet beer.

Ohio City – $5 Uber West

This is still Cleveland. I only state this because the question always comes up. Ohio City is a little walkable neighborhood just west of downtown with some of the best bars and nightlife in the city. If that’s not enough, there are three breweries less than a 5-minute stumble apart. But on the food side, there are a few standouts.

Nice dinner | Black Pig

Expertly prepared French-inspired food. I have never had a bad meal at the place. From daily pastas to short ribs to some of the most adventurous charcuterie in the city. As one of the better seasonal menus in the city, you can pretty much shut your eyes and point and end up with an amazing meal.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | ABC the Tavern

Don’t be alarmed by The Misfits playing on the jukebox. This is some of Cleveland’s best food served out of paper boats. Daily specials, lamb quesadillas and atomic dogs (split hotdog, stuffed with jalapenos, wrapped in bacon, deep-fried, finished with Sriracha aioli – enough said).

Drinks | Nano Brew

Originally it was a pretty small space, but “Nano” brew has taken over adjoining real estate. They still specialize in nano (smaller than micro) batches of beer. Beyond house beers, there’s a great selection of crafts. Also, the rooftop patio has an unbeatable view of downtown.

Dessert | Mitchell’s

The word’s “Mitchell’s” and “ice cream” are synonymous to a lot of Clevelanders. Great seasonal flavors. Plus, the Ohio City shop has a full view of their state-of-the-art kitchen so you can see where the magic happens.

Tremont | $5 Uber South

Remember that thing I mentioned about the food neighborhood with the cheap rent? This is it. It is nearly impossible to have a bad meal in Tremont. In its rise to Cleveland food stardom, the cheap rent thing is no longer true, but it is chalk full of great restaurants.

Nice dinner | Lolita

A lot of people would disapprove of leaving Iron Chef Micheal Simon’s Lola out of the Downtown East 4th section, but I’m a big fan of his original place in Tremont. Much more intimate and laid back. All great food, but he has the best prosciutto in the city and his fried Brussels sprouts are always a crowd pleaser.

Cheap yet delicious dinner | Edison’s Pub and Pizza

Cleveland is not a city known for its pizza. That said, this place makes the meanest, greasiest, tastiest slice of pizza in the city. Sometimes I go out to dinner in Tremont and end up at Edison’s having pizza and a beer for dessert. Yes, I know I have a problem.

Drinks | The Spotted Owl

I’m not a huge fan of craft cocktails, but this place does it right. It’s in the basement of an old university turned swanky apartments. We’re talking exposed brick, stained glass and a classic lounge feel. A craft cocktail is mandatory in a place like this. These guys go far beyond your standard sazerac and old fashioned for some truly unique cocktails.

You can’t go wrong with any of the above choices. And as always, if you have any questions, or need more recommendations of what to do during your time in Cleveland, tweet us @TrueDigitalCom and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction!



Tips for Working Remotely

IMG_7404One of the biggest advantages of working in marketing can also be one of the biggest disadvantages. With today’s technological capabilities, we marketers can pretty much work wherever the Wi-Fi takes us. The capability of working remotely has its obvious advantages, which is very convenient for a person like me who now works from home most days of the week, however there are some definite hurdles that can be hard to overcome. The disadvantages of this luxury come into play when you’re working from home and that productive energy cultivated in the office environment is missing or your mid-day errand runs longer than it probably should have. Over the course of my young professional career, I’ve developed some helpful tips to stay motivated and on-task in a remote-location environment.

  1. Set a strict, reasonable to-do list of tasks you want to get done before the end of the day and don’t let yourself finish working until you’ve checked everything off your to-do list.
  2. Create a designated workspace at home to help separate your work life from your personal life.
  3. If you’re feeling tired and unmotivated, get up and walk around your house. Take 15 minutes to jumpstart your brain with physical exercise and then get back to it.
  4. If or when cabin fever sets in working from home, take that opportunity to work from a local coffee shop or food spot with free Wi-Fi. If noise is an issue, local libraries work as well.
  5. Leave personal, non-urgent calls and visits for after-work hours. It’s easy for family and friends to assume you’re available if you’re home, so set a designated work and social time for them.
  6. Make an effort to stay up-to-date on local current events. It’s effortless to live in a bubble at your home-office, but staying up-to-date on current events will keep you in the loop with your coworkers.
  7. Continue to push yourself, grow and learn. Referring back to the home-office bubble from #6, don’t let the comfort of your remote location make you complacent in your career goals.

So, there you have it! My helpful tips to keep you motivated while working remotely. And appropriately, I wrote this post from my local Starbucks. Happy Home-Working!

Metrics that Matter: How to Affect the Bottom Line


Remember the days when we judged marketing campaigns based on impressions, circulation and audience viewership numbers? Yes, I’m that old, and wow, we really have come a long way. Now because of Google Analytics and other performance tracking dashboards, we have real numbers to judge the success of our advertising, public relations, email and social media programs. But are you using the correct analytics data points to judge the health of your program?

Too often we find brands and other marketers are only concerned about new website visitors, bounce rates, time-on-site and page views. While these are important metrics to gauge the success of offsite awareness, they really don’t tell you if you were successful.

From our experience, the performance metrics that really matter are acquisition rate and cost per acquisition. Some very simple math will give you real numbers to see how your work is producing revenue or not. Here’s how it works:

A media website includes your product in a story with a link back to your website. Your analytics software shows that 100 visitors came from the story to your website. Ten of those website visitors purchased your product. The product sells for $100 so you made $1,000.

Your acquisition rate is the number of customers who purchased a product divided by the number of visitors who came from the channel. In this example, the answer is 10/100 or 10 percent. So for every 100 people who saw the story and came to your company’s website, 10 people or 10 percent purchased your product. This is an acquisition rate of 10 percent.

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The cost per acquisition is a little different. We know we had 10 customers. Let’s say your company spent $500 in time to discuss the product with the media and/or to send a product for testing. Other factors may include shipping, literature, etc. The cost per acquisition is determined by taking the money spent (ad spend, email distribution charges, time for PR, media relations) and dividing it by the number of customers. In this example, 500/10 for a cost per acquisition of $50 per customer.

By determining the production cost of the goods sold, the number of customers and the number of website visitors, you will begin to understand exactly how much a lead is really worth and how to gauge marketing investments. You can also gauge the success of individual marketing campaigns like advertising, PR, social media, etc.


Collin’s Senior Project at True

image2For the past two weeks, True hosted a high school student for his senior mentorship project. Here’s a recap from Collin about his time at True! 

My first impression of True Digital Communications was not one of nervousness or intimidation. As I walked through the door and looked around I thought I would see a stereotypical office environment. I saw the exact opposite. Right away I felt welcomed and that my thoughts and ideas were going to be considered. True Digital Communications was the perfect place to do my Senior Mentorship Project. Before I started my work week I had a variety of criteria I was hoping to reach by the end of my two weeks. I reached and exceeded the goals I had established and took away much more information than I could have ever imagined.

At my first day at True Digital Communications customer service was a huge factor. The members of True are constantly thinking of the absolute best way to market or launch their client’s products or services. Constant monitoring of website analytics and client websites keep the members of True busy. Being exposed to a variety of different marketing techniques gave me a full range of different ideas and concepts that I had never been exposed to.

The moment for me to declare my degree is rapidly approaching. I was already going to decide on marketing as my field of study, but after this mentorship I am sure this is the type of field I want to be involved with. I aspire to work at a company like True for a variety of reasons. The first being that these team members give the utmost respect to their clients. Another reason is how the company will change its approach to fit the customer’s wants and needs. The last is that every day isn’t the same work day. It is always changing and the companies that are successful are changing as well. All of these points are just some of the reasons why I would like to get into marketing. My excellent experience at True has made me excited for what the future holds. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity Chris Baldwin and his team gave to me and I have absorbed as much of the information as I could.

Thank you True for making my Senior Project an exciting and pleasurable learning experience.