How to Create an eCommerce Strategy

The buying world has changed. You don’t need us to tell you that. Consumers think and act differently than they did even just 10 years ago. Humans are a constantly evolving species that develop new trends — and ride them. Currently, online shopping is the way of the foreseeable future. eCommerce sites are providing a new shopping experience that can’t be matched by in-person stores. The power of the web has allowed these sites to play to numerous strengthens, which have caused the downfall of the “American mall.” 

 

Today, eCommerce sites are putting brick and mortar stores out of business because they provide a 21st-century shopping experience. Now customers can: 

 

  • Shop remotely 
  • Have full access to a store’s inventory 
  • See product reviews and information 

 

Just these three elements alone, have changed how shopping is done by the average American consumer. It is estimated that 80 percent of Americans have made an online purchase in the last 30 days. This stat underscores two things: 

 

  • Americans like shopping online 
  • Competition in the eCommerce world is intense 

The Strategy For Your eCommerce Site 

In order to create an effective strategy, you need to break it down into phases. 

 

  • Research 
  • Product Care
  • User Experience
  • Advertisement 
  • Consumer Nurturing 

 

What makes a successful eCommerce site is consistent traffic, followed by consistent sales. This process isn’t always linear, and it will require continued readjustment as you test out your finalized strategy. 

Research Phase 

An eCommerce site needs to have their target audience nailed down. The only way to make sales is to connect with the right people. During this phase, market analysis needs to be conducted on what your ideal customer looks like, thinks like, and acts like. Other evidence that needs to be found includes: 

 

  • Who are your competitors targeting? 
  • How are other websites providing a good user experience? 
  • What are our key selling propositions? 

 

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This phase is critical to truly understanding who your business is, and who you’re trying to sell to. Don’t just assume you know your audience, because, without serious hyper-targeting of the right people, you’re going to blow your marketing budget. 

Product Care Phase

Something a lot of eCommerce stores get wrong is that they try and do too much too quickly. It is important to do one thing really well first — then move onto the next. In this phase, you need to decide what product you want to run with and then iron out any wrinkles. Ultimately, your product is what people are looking for and will judge you upon (if they buy). Therefore, know your market and plan to get traction with one product line before you diversify. In the meantime, be thinking about how you will deploy and support your future products as you see positive results.  

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User Experience Phase

An eCommerce site won’t stay afloat if page visitors hate it. From navigation to content — your site needs to be tailored to stimulate your audience from the second they arrive on your domain. It’s going to be hard to convert visitors into customers if your website doesn’t provide them with a favorable shopping experience. 

 

People want: 

 

  • Easy and fast navigation 
  • High-quality product images/videos 
  • Quick and simple checkout process 

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Advertisement Phase 

Now is the time to get the word out — your site is up and running, you’re ready to sell. But how? Initially, it might be best to put all your eggs in one basket with advertising your product(s). Typically, you’re going to want visual aids to accompany your ads if you’re a new, up and coming business. Facebook ads might be a good place to start. It allows for good target filtering in order to funnel in the right type of audience member, and is offers a large starting pool of consumers to draw from. 

 

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In addition, this phase needs to highlight your key selling propositions. There are a million and one clothing companies, why do you deserve someone’s business? Your ads need to quickly and succinctly catch and motivate a viewer’s attention. This boils down to good copywriting and design/product imagery. 

Consumer Nurturing Phase

So let’s assume you got someone to your site, and they like your product(s). They want to buy. How can you push them over the top? It is important to not just assume that your product is going to “wow” every potential buyer and that’s enough to close the deal. You need to be conscious of nurturing your buyer into believing that purchasing this product is indeed a good decision.

 

Ways you can continue to support a consumer’s buying decision: 

 

  • Checkout add-ins (free shipping, additional goodie, next sale discount, etc.) 
  • Newsletter sign-ups 
  • Social media links 
  • Customer review pop-ups 
  • Chatbot functionality  

 

Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses in 2020

Marketing is a daunting task. There is no magic formula that leads to instant success. Like most things in life, marketing is a marathon. A slow jog that ends at a predetermined goal. But most runners can’t just start a marathon without training beforehand — it ends in them most often not reaching the finish line. So to bring this analogy full circle, testing and implementing various marketing strategies is the business equivalent to training for the (marketing) marathon. 

 

But when it comes to small businesses, marketing isn’t always an area they are able to allocate a lot of resources. Small business marketing is concerned with effectiveness and budget control. Therefore, when business owners weigh their marketing efforts, they are cognizant of what type of return they will see in both the short and long-term. 

 

We’ve broken down this blog into two segments: essential and experimental.  

 

Our essential category entails marketing avenues and strategies that we believe are mandatory to the marketing and financial success of a small business in 2020. The experimental group showcases ideas and methods that small businesses may be hesitant to try due to budget concerns, ROI questions, and overall effectiveness. However, some of these strategies are producing the best results within the marketing space. 

Essential Marketing Strategies

Without question, your small business needs to implement these strategies in your everyday marketing in order to build, grow, and retain a positive lead flow. Ignoring these strategies will most likely further delay or complicate the scaling and selling of your products and/or services. 

Website

While a website isn’t a marketing strategy, it does serve as the central hub of your business. Your website is the equivalent to a 21st-century business card — plus a lot more. To provide the best consumer experience, a well-designed, functioning website is necessary. Additionally, almost all other marketing strategies need to be intertwined with a website in order to funnel your leads. 

Google My Business 

While also not necessarily a marketing strategy, setting up and maintaining a Google My Business profile is critical to establishing your online presence. Google is the largest search engine in the world, and every second, billions of searches are conducted on the platform for things like restaurants, hardware stores, beauty salons, doctor offices, and more. Building your Google My Business profile helps customers find your website, physical store location, contact information, customer reviews, and more. Without this setup, you’re going to struggle to catch potential customers looking for a business like yours. 

SEO 

Search engine optimization is a low-budget, high return marketing strategy. An SEO marketing strategy helps build elevate your website and online authority. Through optimizing the technical and content side of your website, you provide a better consumer experience and also cater to search engine preferences — helping improve your ranking position. 

Organic Social Media 

Social media has quickly transformed from a fun networking space for friends and family — now into a serious advertising environment for businesses. Organic social media requires little financial investment but can render a large and steady following. Organic social media continues to prove how there are fewer better brand awareness tactics than itself. 

Experimental Marketing Strategies 

These marketing tactics provide small businesses with the possibility of fast rewards and bigger direct reach. However, they present a large upfront cost and are more experimental in their method compared to previously listed strategies. 

Influencer Marketing 

Take the power of social media and then double it. Influencer marketing has just caught on in the last few years but quickly has become a fan favorite for many advertisers and businesses. This marketing strategy leverages the popularity of individuals on various social platforms and compensates them for promoting your product or service to their audience. This enables businesses to speak directly to large audiences that they believe align with their target audience description. 

Programmatic Advertising 

In just a year or two, programmatic advertising might be the only way we advertise. Of course, that is hyperbole, but the upcoming paid tactic is producing some of the best ROI seen — and with increased hyper-targeting possibilities. Through real-time bidding, you can place paid ads where you believe your target audience lives — from streaming services like Hulu to private websites like The New York Times. The beauty with programmatic is that almost nothing is off-limits. If ad space exists, you can probably place an ad. 

Video 

 It feels unfair to call video marketing experimental because it’s not. The method has been tried and tested — and video ads produce the highest rate of engagement of any ad type. However, video can be hard to perfect based on a company’s product or service, therefore proper storytelling needs to be thought out. Additionally, video production can be pricy, but it often yields evergreen content that will be valuable for years to come. 

When is The Best Time to Send Marketing Emails?

Email marketing, however old, is still one of the easiest and most effective forms of marketing today. Nearly everyone has an email address that has access to the internet. The overwhelming majority of email users are willing to subscribe or sign up for mailing lists, giving advertisers a direct line to potential customers — the dream. 

 

However, getting these leads to open and respond to these emails is a different story. Numerous factors go into what makes a mailing list recipient click, open, and respond — and timing is part of it. Now this question of, “when is the best time to send marketing emails,” is anything but clear cut. If it were, this blog post wouldn’t be longer than a single sentence. 

 

So why is there so much ambiguity? 

 

No two consumers are alike. This is what makes marketing such a difficult aspect of business. For one company, their mailing list may like receiving emails at 7 AM on Wednesday mornings, and another company’s mailing list may prefer 6 PM on Sunday nights. The timing preferences between audiences can vary between industries and even between competitors — making it a difficult factor to pinpoint. 

 

So is there a perfect time to send emails or not? 

 

Depending on the link you click on, or the graph you’re looking at, you’ll find data that says XYZ is the optimum time, but then another set of data with say ABC is the best time to hit send. The best advice is to TEST, TEST, TEST. Play around with times and days and see how your audience responds. Additionally, your open rate is not directly tied to the day and time — the biggest component is your subject line. If you can concoct an interesting, brief subject line people will open it, no matter the day or time — after all, an email isn’t going to disappear within a certain amount of time. 

 

Moral of the story: play with your send times and days. Focus on your subject lines, and don’t bombard your readers with too many emails. 

 

 

3 Online Marketing Strategies Working Right Now

Online marketing is a dog eat dog world. Only the tough survive in the competitive market of digital advertising. Therefore, it requires innovative strategy and precise implementation to successfully meet the end goal: sales. 

 

However, the online marketing world is continually changing and evolving with new methods and tactics that shift the effectiveness of former strategies. What is working today might not work tomorrow. This is being said to encourage out-of-the-box thinking. Today’s consumers are constantly seeking more entertainment and engagement from marketing materials and ads. This translates into businesses needing dynamic marketing strategies that prioritize the consumer experience, compared to just pushing their product or service. 

 

The advancements of technology have allowed marketers to create an everyday arsenal of marketing strategies that push forward both the advertising experience, but also the ROI with each tactic. Now, more than ever, marketing strategies can be labeled with a success rate and an exact cost with each business — making marketing just as much about analytics as it is about creatives. 

 

“Marketing is no longer just good design and placement. Consumers are smart and picky. They buy because they have received some type of experience with an ad, which could be education, entertainment, or enjoyment-related. These motivators lead to sales. This means that marketing strategies in 2020 and beyond must deliver an ad experience, not just an ad impression. Consumers can tell the difference.” 

 

 

– Zach Shaw, Venta Marketing Content Creation Specialist

 

 

Here are three online marketing strategies (broadly) working right now. 

Programmatic Advertising 

Programmatic advertising has quickly risen through the ranks of the marketing world and is now considered the golden child. Programmatic is inventive, intuitive, and flexible. It allows marketers to meet consumers wherever they digitally live. From streaming services like Hulu to Instagram Feeds to specific website domains like The New York Times — buying ad space that gets in front of your target audience has never been easier. With the ability to act like a filter, programmatic advertising only displays your ads to people who fit your specified consumer profile — thus, in theory, increasing your ROI. 

Organic Social Media 

Instagram reigns king of social media, especially in terms of younger generations. The Facebook-owned platform capitalizes on two important components in today’s marketing environment: photos and video. People LOVE attractive, sexy, interesting imagery. It’s almost an addiction that today’s consumer market has. People will follow and engage with brands strictly for their social media presence whether that is for education, entertainment, or enjoyment. Look, organic social media is a slow burn — success and sales aren’t going to bloom overnight. However, the strategy does possess the “snowball effect” where traction compounds and once growth starts it builds on top of itself. Organic social media channels on Instagram and Facebook can become sizable avenues for lead generation and sales. Organic social media best shines as a leader in brand awareness campaigns and expanding your company reach. Due to the lack of cost, this marketing strategy produces a high ROI and accomplishes important aspects of any marketing campaign. 

Video Ads 

At this point, it is no secret that video marketing receives the highest rate of engagement of any other type of content marketing. There is something about video that clicks with consumers, whether it is the passive nature of absorbing the information or the enhanced degree of viewer engagement. Video ads can work on nearly any platform, social media, emails, programmatic, etc. The versatility of this method gives marketers the ability to create ads for the right audiences on the right mediums. Due to the high rate of engagement, video ads see more likes, comments, and shares — leading to more impressions. Video is dynamic and helps move leads through the sales funnels from generation to nurturing to closure. 

 

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Website?

That’s a loaded question — with a lot of answers. Today, your online presence is everything, and that starts with your website. A company’s website is like the modern-day business card. It is often the first impression consumers have with your business… It is where they gain the answers to who, what, where, why, and how. A website can act as both a recruiting and sales tool. Nothing gets more everyday use from a consumer-facing side than your website, and due to the necessity for positive consumer experiences, it is imperative that you make a real investment in your website. 

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Unfortunately, it is too difficult to give a hard and fast number on what it will cost to build a website. Countless factors go into the final dollar amount: the biggest two being website size and functionality. Additionally, are you looking to hire an agency to construct the site for you, or are you open to building it yourself? Hiring a coder can cost anywhere from $20 to $200 an hour, not including the cost of designers. But if you take up a website as a DIY project, you run the risk of mishandling backend setup, limiting functionality, and producing a less attractive site. 

Each option has its pros and cons, but if you are looking for a ballpark figure a website build can cost anywhere from $500 to over $30,000. It just all depends on your specific business needs and wants. 

 

With the importance attached to websites today, its best to invest early. Subpar websites can drive away potential leads and customers with erratic design, poor navigation, and limited capabilities. In addition, eventually, everyone has to pay the piper. If you decide to minimize your website budget early on you’re more than likely going to have to pay the needed costs later on to build an efficient and effective site.

 

How to Get More Instagram Followers for Free in 2020

We recently just unrolled a blog titled, “ How to Get Real Instagram Followers in 2020” that broke down five steps to take in order to grow your Instagram community. Today’s blog is a sister blog to the original, which doubles down on to organically grow your audience in 2020. 

 

There is no magic bullet to growth on social media. It requires hard work, creative development, and plenty of time. Seeing an overnight jump from 2,000 followers to 20,000 just isn’t a real possibility. However, with the right strategies and consistency, your brand can see sizable growth within the competitive Instagram landscape. 

5 (More) Organic Tips to Help Grow Your Instagram Followers 

Ready. Set. Go. 

Unique, Different Content 

Content is king. It runs the world. The best content gets the most attention, likes, and followers. You’re not going to grow your Instagram community if your content is sub-par. You need to be producing eye-catching, high-quality images, and videos in order to see your follower count go up. This requires you to look at your competitors and see what type of content they are producing and then putting your unique spin on it. How can you advertise l the same product or service, but in a more engaging way? Brainstorm. 

 

An easy test for this is to create an Instagram post and then pull a similar Instagram post by one of your competitors. In a blinded test, show the two purposed posts to a team member and ask them which one they find more appealing. If it’s not yours… get back to the drawing board and start again. Unique content is the engine of your online growth. 

Engage Within The Community Space 

Part of Instagram growth is being active on your account. This means going past posting a new image or throwing up an Instagram story. You need to engage in real conversations with your audience through their comments on your content. Doing so will help improve your public relations with your buyers and fans, but also help increase your reach within your market space. Don’t be afraid to go to some of your fans’ pages and comment on their posts, or comment on competitor’s posts saying positive, encouraging things. This aids in getting your name in front of people who may not know about your brand. 

Use Story Highlights 

We don’t need to dive into the importance of Instragam stories, at this point in their lifecycle, it’s a given. However, some of the content you will produce on your story will be the most original and insightful content to date. Therefore, it is critical that you leverage that content for continued use. By creating story highlights, you can document and backlog this content for the consumption of current and future followers. 

 

These highlights can also be segmented into categories that serve specific purposes. For example, you can have one story highlight category that talks specifically about your company — think “Who We Are.” Another could discuss your product line and another could be a FAQ section. These categorized story highlights help quickly introduce individuals into your company and what makes you special. 

Post At The Right Times 

You’re going to want to post at specific times on specific days. This is totally dependent upon your audience and their consumer habits. You can find in the “business insights” section of your Instagram business profile your entire analytic breakdown, from biggest audience locations to optimal engagement time. By posting at times when your audience will see and engage with your content at its highest rate, you are helping increase your reach — as your content is more likely to show through the Discover Page on Instagram to your followers, followers. Did that make sense? 

Get Tagged and Create a Custom Hashtag 

Encourage your followers to tag you in their posts when they are using your product or service! This is self-explanatory, but it helps introduce your followers’ audience to you — similar to how the Discover Page works. Additionally, come up with a custom hashtag that will be used for all your posts. This hashtag should encapsulate your brand and mission. It creates a tight-knit community for your followers and as the community grows, the hashtag becomes a micro-brand awareness campaign that is continuously ongoing through your posts and the related posts of your followers.  

 

9 Tips for Building a Website From Scratch

It only takes 50 milliseconds for a website visitor to form a first impression about your site. That is scary. The value of your website can’t be formulated — it is in fact priceless. This is because your website is more than just a website — it is your brand, your voice, your mission, your everything. Today’s websites hold more than some paragraph blurbs and photos. They are filled with intrinsic value that goes beyond what meets the eye. 

 

Therefore, a website must put your best foot forward. It is an everyday tool used to connect with potential customers and expand your industry reach. So if you’re building a website from scratch, it is critical to your success that you do right. Here are nine tips to help you build an effective website from the ground up. 

1. Pick The Right Platform 

The platform is the foundation of your website. Picking a platform that enables you to design, customize, and provide the necessary functionality is key to having an effective website. Every business has different needs which will lead to different choices between WordPress, Squarespace, Magneto, etc. Just keep in mind that your business needs will grow over time, so don’t pigeon hole yourself with a platform that doesn’t offer the right scalability. 

2. Make Your Goal Clear 

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When planning and building your website, you need to keep your singular goal in mind. That could be to sell product XYZ, receive newsletter sign-ups, gain demo requests, etc. No matter the main goal your website tries to achieve, it should be consistent and laser-focused. Every part of your website should support the action you wish visitors to take — because sometimes it is best to spell out the next steps. 

3. What is Your Target Audience Seeking? 

During the planning stage, you should assess why someone would visit your website. It sounds like a straightforward answer, but believe it or not, many websites lack a positive user experience. Websites are littered with jumbled information, inconclusive answers, and irrelevant material that lead consumers on a wild goose chase. Be sure to plan out your website that it provides a positive user experience, not letting your website visitor leave your digital environment. 

4. Don’t Rush It. Wireframe It. 

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It is easy to fall into the rush of building a website and getting it launched. However, a website isn’t a sprint, but a marathon. It takes considerable planning, editing, and beta testing. Wireframe your website to get a visual layout of all pages, content, and navigation. This helps eliminate future issues as you start to develop and piece together the project. 

5.  Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)

We’ve all heard the saying… keep it simple stupid (KISS). This applies to your website. As the main touchpoint for customers, your website needs to execute its job effectively and efficiently. Provide website visitors with the right information and make it easy to find. Don’t overcomplicate the use of your website. People like when things work the first time. If your website is too confusing or poorly designed, you’re going to see high bounce rates and low conversions. 

6. Prioritize The Mobile Experience 

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The majority of search engine queries are done via a smartphone or tablet. This REQUIRES that websites are not only optimized for mobile — but built to provide an excellent handheld experience. Without this prioritization, your web presence is going to flounder. 

7. Make Navigation Easy 

When designing the layout and workflows of your site, make it a point that navigation is quick and straightforward. Don’t buildout countless pages, megamenus, and endless scrolling — it makes users want to pull their hair out… Easy navigation ensures that you help visitors get from point A to point B in a timely manner — good UX is always a good choice. 

8. Consistent Design & Theme 

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Half the battle of attractive web design is consistency. Humans are oddly satisfied with consistent harmony, in all things, — nature, art, work, and even website design. When building your site make sure you pick only a few colors, one or two font styles, the same shapes and content placement, consistent CTA themes, etc. Pick and choose elements from across the internet from other websites to take inspiration from and blend it into your own original, eye-catching web design.

9. Include High-Quality Content & Media 

Lastly, a website needs to be filled with high-quality content in order to attract and retain website visitors. A content plan is never-ending. As you build out your site, you will continuously need to brainstorm, develop, and implement this content. In the end, a website is just the house that holds service pages, blogs, videos, images, and all the other pertinent content consumers are seeking. 

 

Best SEO Practices For 2020

Listen up. SEO is still as important as ever. Don’t get dissuaded by influencer marketing or programmatic ad buying — search engine optimization is still a juggernaut within the marketing space. However, SEO best practices are changing year to year, and even month to month. As search engines tinker with their algorithms, what gets valued changes. 

 

This leaves SEO specialists and content creation specialists in a place of constant limbo. They need to stay updated on the latest trends and updates put out by Google and Bing. Then they must implement these guidelines into the technical and content sides of their SEO practices. 

 

“There will no doubt be a lot of new and exciting SEO trends in 2020 and beyond, but it’s important to note that many of the new SEO algorithms (such as Google’s BERT) are mainly focused on user intent and providing said user a great experience. Therefore, no matter how the SEO landscape changes, you can’t go wrong if you focus on creating relevant, useful content that is written with the end-user in mind – not search engines.” 

 

–  Chris Winters, Venta Marketing Senior Campaign Manager

 

 

At the most basic level, the best SEO practices remain the same: exceptional content creation and sound technical maintenance. However, we have identified five critical SEO trends for 2020 that you need to start using in your strategy. We all love the power of Google, but when SEO guidelines shift, it’s time to pay the piper. 

Landing in Position Zero 

Position zero or the zero-click search ranking has quickly become the utopia of SERPs. Since its inception a few years ago, the value of placing as one of the top three organic links has quickly become devalued. People are getting the information they need without having to click on any links or if they are, a large portion of the clicks are going to the content in position zero.

 

These selected snippets by Google — directly, accurately, and clearly answer the stated query. Aiming to land in position zero requires content that focuses on understandable, expert information that solves the question of the user. 

Content and Voice Search: A Loving Relationship 

Mobile searches surpassed desktop searches a few years ago. With smart technology, voice searches are carving out a large chunk of everyday internet queries. Voice search is here, and here to stay. As more people ask questions to their speaker or smartphone, content needs to keep that in mind. This translates to blogs, services pages, videos, etc. needing to be crafted in a way that centers around questions that focus on “what” or “how” — as those are the two biggest trigger words in current voice searches.  

Video, Video, Video 

Video content receives the best engagement rates of any form of content. At its heart, SEO is seeking to connect users with the right information — and information that the user finds useful or entertaining. Incorporating video content in your SEO strategy is no longer a good suggestion, but instead a requirement. In order to climb the SERP rankings, producing dynamic content is essential. Users engage at a higher rate, spend more time on the page, and are more likely to navigate through a website. 

Prioritize Mobile UX

As mentioned, mobile searches garner the majority of search engine queries. This requires that your pages, and website as a whole, prioritize the mobile user experience. Therefore, technical SEO needs to be perfected. From fast loading times to ensuring no-redirects occur, these backend aspects need to be in order to provide a good experience for page visitors. 

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ABO: Always Be Optimizing 

Content quickly becomes outdated. The information you produce has a lifespan in relevancy, whether that is determined by new information or competitors that produce it in a better way. In an effort to maintain the value your content has to users, you should refresh, edit, and add to your old content in a six-month cycle. In doing so, you can protect and improve the rankings of your already existing content.

 

How to Get Real Instagram Followers in 2020

It seems that every year the Instagram standards get more intense. The captions get longer, photos have more filters, and standing out gets harder. Instagram has over 1 billion users but businesses often struggle to gain any traction with new followers. 

 

Whether they admit it or not, Instagram users take notice of how many followers an account has. This number, either consciously or unconsciously, affects their immediate opinion of your business — and can change the likelihood of them pressing the follow button. It is just instinctual fact, people like to follow the crowd. The more followers you have, the easier it will be to gain additional followers. 

 

In the age of social media where this number is important, you see businesses and individuals using shortcuts to inflating their follower count. One popular method of doing this is buying bot accounts. However, this route is viewed negatively by the public and lacks the true value of a new follower. Social media users have strong opinions about bots and vehemently oppose the use of farmed accounts to artificially boost the perception of your community. Additionally, bot accounts lack the ability to positively engage with your content and fellow followers.  

 

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The value of one real human follower can’t be overstated. So we have outlined some realistic, actionable tactics you can use to start gaining real Instagram followers this year. 

Steps To Take… 

Growing organically isn’t easy, nor is it an overnight panacea. It requires patience — but it produces results that can snowball into greater business success. Here are five tips you can start implementing today that will help you grow your account. 

Develop and Execute a Consistent Theme 

Instagram is a visual social media platform first and foremost. There is no escaping the blunt fact that your account needs to feature images that are in the highest quality, while also posting images that are not so “cookie cutter.” Present an everyday product or service in a new way. 

 

But in regards to your Instagram feed, your account needs to decide on a theme — meaning: colors, presets, photo design, etc. One of the biggest factors in seeing follower growth is the consistency in your content. People enjoy content that matches and is aesthetically pleasing. It’s best to gather some ideas from other accounts and then blend your own style — and then stick to it. 

Relevant #Hashtags   

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Hashtags are still important, especially for businesses looking to really get their social media brand off the ground (once you’ve developed a solid follower base, growing without the need for hashtags becomes easier). A great way to find relevant hashtags is to look at your competitors and see what keywords they are using. Additionally, you can use the search feature in Instagram to find high and low volume hashtags that may fit in line with your target audience. Side note: have a group rotation for hashtags, three groups are a good starting point. Group together 8 to 15 keywords per hashtag group and rotate these groups with each new post.  

Start an IGTV Series 

When IGTV came out, everyone roasted it. No mercy was shown for Instagram’s in-house version of YouTube videos. However, now almost two years later the content tool has become a fan favorite, and a great way to reach and engage with possible Instagram followers. Video content sees more engagement in today’s current digital environment more than any other form. Crafting unique video content will help attract new followers as they want to stay in the loop for your various video series. 

Longer Caption Posts 

As hinted at in the opening paragraphs of this blog, image captions are getting longer — almost like a microblog… and people are liking it. Longer captions increase user engagement, which boosts potential reach through the “Discover Page.” So nows the time to start adding in-depth analysis and insight into your posts.  

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Optimize Your Bio 

Don’t overlook the importance of including relevant keywords that relate to your business. Your Instagram bio is the equivalent to a website’s meta description and title tag. The optimization of the bio helps Instagram suggest your content and profile to possible users who would want to follow your account.  

How to Compose a Digital Marketing Strategy

Building a digital marketing strategy isn’t done overnight, nor is there a one size fits all plan. So strap on your seatbelt as we lay out the road map to composing a digital marketing strategy for you. To kick-off, digital marketing is a fluid business. Consumer habits change and so do effective digital tactics. The biggest piece of information to keep in mind is that when creating a digital marketing plan: don’t write it in ink. 

 

The second biggest tidbit of advice, don’t be afraid of failure. Your marketing strategy doesn’t produce a final grade, it’s a working project that helps outline better future decisions. But before we break down the aspects of a digital marketing strategy, let’s identify what term means. Simply put, it’s the broad plan you govern by, in order to reach your desired goals. A digital marketing strategy is built around research, creative product, and implementation — with all three phases being equally important in the end goal: attracting consumers. 

 

So now that we’ve got that all squared away, let’s look at the individual pieces you’re going to need to bring together in order to craft a fully-fledged marketing strategy.  

Getting Started: Goal-Setting 

You can’t successfully plan anything if you don’t know where you’re trying to go. From the outset, this phase is aimed at doing some in-depth soul searching. 

 

  • What is my end goal? 
  • What are my sub-goals?
  • What timeline do I want to attach? 
  • What resources do I need?
  • Are my goals realistic and achievable? 

 

The goal-setting phase sets the tone for the rest of the marketing strategy. Write out in detail what you are trying to achieve and how you believe those goals can be met. This will lead to step number two: understanding your sales funnel. 

Knowing Your Sales Funnel From Top To Bottom 

At the end of the day, you’re probably trying to sell a good or service to your desired consumers. But making that happen involves the construction of a well-designed sales funnel. A misconception is that all sales funnels are linear: step 1, step 2, step 3, etc. Except, that isn’t the case. Many sales funnels must feature loops and switchbacks to former steps in order to properly win over a consumer. Today’s buyers are smarter than ever before. In addition, they are presented with more options than at any other time in history. These two factors call for sales funnels to be customer-focused and malleable. 

 

When developing your funnel, think back to the questions you answered in your goal-setting process. How are the individual steps in your funnel going to support your goals? Just remember most sales are not done in a spirit, but a marathon. 

Identifying Your Target Audience 

This part is critical to seeing positive results with your digital marketing campaigns. Even with the right goals, the right sales funnel, and the right creative assets, your strategy will flop if the right consumer types are not identified. Marketing is half good product/service, and half connecting with the right audience. Therefore, in this phase, deep market research is needed. Questions must be answered and backed up by data. 

 

  • What does my ideal consumer look like?
  • Who are my competitors targeting? 
  • Where do they live? 
  • How do they buy?
  • When do they shop? 
  • What do they care about? 

 

Proper audience identification isn’t easy, and more than likely it will evolve over time, but hitting the nail as close to the head as possible — is mandatory. 

Get Creative: Developing Good Advertising 

This is the part of a digital marketing strategy that most of us immediately think of — ads. Good design, copywriting, and placement can’t be overstated. Sometimes this portion of a strategy can make up for the lesser developed areas within the plan. But good ads go beyond catch headlines and pretty photoshop pictures. It involves knowing what advertising avenues fit with your customers and your ad types. Will SEO help meet your goals? Or is PPC a better tactic? What about programmatic advertising or influencer marketing? 

 

Critical thinking is a key component to developing attractive, and effective, ads. Once you have ironed out the wrinkles in your design, messaging, and avenue channels, it’s time to launch your digital marketing strategy into the real world. 

Last Step: Refine, Adjust & Repeat 

At this point, all the research, planning, and creating is done. Your strategy is playing the game and results start to trickle in. You begin to assess, both micro and macro views of the strategy. What seems to work and what doesn’t… Now comes the hard part — being a chemist.

 

Like we mentioned at the start, a digital marketing strategy is fluid and ever-changing. Now is the time when you have to decide what to alter and what to keep. A-la-carte your strategy and begin to refine and adjust specific areas that are leading to high CPAs, poor close rates, slowed timelines, etc. Digital marketing, much like a sales funnel often isn’t a linear path, but instead a winding path to the finish line… and then you repeat the process.