Why Fake Authenticity is a Road to Disaster for Your Brand

Authenticity is a critical driver of modern marketing. 

When a brand makes an effort to be transparent in everything it does, people notice. They appreciate a business that they feel they can trust, and direct their spending and loyalty accordingly. By that same vein, if it turns out that authenticity is in any way not genuine? 

There will be backlash, and it will be significant.

As noted in the 2020 Gustavson Brand Trust Index, consumer trust in brands is now at an all-time low. People are more skeptical than they’ve ever been. They simply do not believe that businesses have their best interests in mind any longer.

Trust, in other words, is hard one. And once lost, it’s nearly impossible to regain. This is in no way helped by the constant barrage of high-profile data breaches and privacy violations in the media – from questionable data management practices to downright unethical activities, many businesses are being cast in an extremely unflattering light.

The good news is that it’s not difficult for your brand to differentiate itself. 

Own up to your mistakes. Be honest, be humble, and be proactive in fixing the things you’ve done wrong. Even if you’ve done something wrong, people will notice that you’re making a genuine attempt to fix it. Your sincerity will shine through, and prospective customers will notice.

If, on the other hand, you attempt to cover up your mistakes or shift the blame? People are going to notice that, too. Unless your business provides an absolutely essential product or service for which there’s no feasible competition, they’re going to cast you aside in favor of a competitor they believe to be more trustworthy.

Online reviews are the area in which you can most frequently put this into practice. Offer customers genuine thanks for any positive reviews of your products and services, highlighting them on your website and social media channels where appropriate. Demonstrate to them that you appreciate their business, and moreover, that you appreciate them. 

As for negative reviews, reach out to the people who left them. Respond by offering them an olive branch – a chance to fix whatever issues they had with your brand. By reacting with haste and making a real effort to address people’s complaints, you can easily transform a negative review into a positive one, potentially even turning a dissatisfied customer into a brand advocate.

There are a few things you should remember when responding, however.

  • Listen to what they have to say. Read between the lines, and make an effort to understand every facet of their complaint. 
  • Acknowledge that there is a problem. Apologize. Do not attempt to pretend the fault lies with the customer, and do not attempt to deflect blame. 
  • Ask the customer what you can do to fix their issue. Provide them several options through which they might reach out to you. 
  • Do not get defensive. 

As an addendum to the above, it should go without saying that you should never pay for reviews, nor should you attempt to bolster your product listing with fake reviews. Customers are increasingly savvy, and most people are able to tell the difference between a real person and a paid shill. They know the difference between genuine and misleading tactics. 

It’s not always easy to connect to your customers. Authenticity and sincerity are at the core of your brand’s marketing, and should be reflected in every facet of your business. Show people that you have integrity, and that you care about more than just making a sale.

3 Marketing Mistakes You Need to Avoid During COVID-19

The coronavirus has changed the world in unprecedented ways. Schools have closed. Graduation ceremonies are canceled. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, homes, and even loved ones. The global economy sits in an uncertain, and unpredictable place

Even if you believe the pandemic is over and we can begin reopening, we’re still going to be recovering from the financial and emotional impact of the pandemic for a very long time. That, more than anything, seems to be the thing businesses are forgetting. As a result, many marketing campaigns are reacting to 

We’re seeing too many otherwise well-meaning brands are treating the pandemic as more of a marketing opportunity than a global crisis. Each one is, in broad strokes, making similar mistakes both in their messaging and their overall approach. These are the mistakes your organization cannot afford to make itself.

Lack of Sincerity

Take a look at your inbox. How many emails have you received from businesses that claim they ‘care about you’ and are ‘sticking with you during this difficult time?’ If you’re like most of us, the answer is too many. 

Brands are attempting to hop on the bandwagon and demonstrate to customers that they care, but they’re doing so in a way that comes off as completely insincere. Instead of actually focusing on empathy and understanding and making an effort to provide customers with the things they need, they spout empty platitudes.

You need to demonstrate that you’re addressing the developing situation responsibly. Create an interim landing page for your business. Provide special offers like free trials and discounts to help people along.

Don’t just say you care, show it. 

And if you do decide to release messaging about the pandemic, whether it’s a blog post, an email, or an update to your site copy, review it with other people in your organization. Your goal here is to answer two questions as directly and concisely as you can: 

  • What is your response to the pandemic? 
  • How will you allocate your people and resources to help others? 

Trying to Force Business as Usual

On the opposite end of the spectrum, too many businesses are trying to pretend nothing’s wrong at all. Customers are receiving flashy ads about hot summer sales, all-inclusive resort deals, and cheap flight offers. These are, to be blunt, utterly tone-deaf, and have the potential to cause significant damage to your brand’s reputation.

Just as people don’t want to be flooded with messaging about COVID-19, they also don’t want businesses to act like things are completely normal. They aren’t. Maybe they never will be again.

People are looking for the care of neighbors, the comfort of family, and the support of friends and colleagues. Your simple, essential job, is to respond to the crisis at hand. Take what business you can into the digital realm, scale back your marketing, and focus on helping your own employees get through their day-to-day. 

Trying to Be an Authority

Unless you are an infectious disease expert, government authority, or representative of a public health organization, don’t go overboard with details about COVID-19. Stick to your wheelhouse, and link only to trusted sources for details and updates. Larger brands especially hold some degree of moral authority in the public eye, so it’s important that you don’t use your reach to spread misinformation. 

Do not try to mandate how people should be spending their time during the pandemic. Do not guilt people about struggling, and don’t try to come across as a medical expert if you aren’t one. Be supportive, not overbearing. 

You need to be more than a public face for your business. Listen. Reassure. Respond.

Most importantly, acknowledge that these are difficult and uncertain times. Marketing plays an important role in helping customers get through them. Understand that, and do your part, even if it may not be immediately profitable. 

Here’s What You Need to Know About Featured Snippets

Small boxes of text that appear at the top of the search engine results page, featured snippets are an effort by Google to provide users with a clear, concise answer to their questions – one that doesn’t require them to click through to the result.

On the surface, that may seem a bit counterproductive. After all, isn’t getting people to access your website the whole reason for doing search engine optimization? If someone doesn’t even click on your site, how does having a featured snippet help you? 

In a few ways.

First, featured snippets appear in what’s known as position zero on the SERP.  They always precede the first link on the page, meaning they’re the first thing a user sees. This goes an incredibly long way towards building brand recognition.

Second, featured snippets actually can lead to clicks if you use them effectively. See, snippets generally comprise only a small portion of a page’s content. If the question you’re answering requires more than a few sentences, people will have to click to see the rest of it.

In fact, according to Search Engine Land, featured snippets are actually known to reduce the click-through rate for the first organic to below 20 percentBasically, featured snippets represent an invaluable component of any SEO strategy. Let’s talk about how you can leverage them. 

  • Create exceptional content. For content to be selected by Google’s algorithms for a featured snippet, it needs to have ranked high on the SERP in the first place. With that in mind, you need a solid understanding of both SEO and of what your audience is looking for with your content. 
  • Find questions to answer. Figure out what people in your specific niche want to know. What questions is your audience likely to ask about your area of expertise, and how can you best answer them? You might consider using a tool like Answer the Public or AlsoAsked. 
  • Look at competitor’s snippets. Figure out what other businesses in your niche are doing to rank for featured snippets, and see how you can outdo them. 
  • Be thorough, yet direct. When answering a question, do so as thoroughly as possible while also remaining concise with your wording. 
  • Consider answering multiple questions per article. A solid article that answers several questions in one piece of content can be a powerful tool where featured snippets are concerned. 
  • Use high-quality media. High-quality video and images, particularly infographics, can go a long way towards making content more compelling. 
  • Understand the basics of SEO. Headers. Optimal content length. Keyword optimization. These are all essential to creating a page that ranks high enough for featured snippets.

Featured snippets are a powerful tool in any website’s marketing arsenal. Understanding how they work is at the core of effective SEO. Arm yourself with the knowledge above, and you’re well-equipped to bring in more traffic and reach a greater audience than ever before.

3 Signs Your Company’s Efforts on Social Media are Failing (And How To Fix It)

Social media is the most powerful marketing tool in your arsenal. With minimal investment, it allows you to better understand your audience, promote your business and brand, and engage with new and existing customers. To succeed in this arena, it’s imperative that you pay attention to the needs of each specific demographic your social strategy targets.

Social media, at its core, is about relationship-building. About conversations with your customers. With that in mind, listening to and understanding audience feedback can make or break your brand.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of brands that don’t quite grasp that. As a result, they end up doing social media woefully wrong. We’ve compiled a few of their most common gaffes here, along with warning signs that your social marketing efforts might not be bearing fruit. 

Shameless Self-Promotion

The newsfeed of your brand should not feel tedious or overly sales-y. People love content that entertains, informs, and engages. Shamelessly self-promotional posts achieve none of this.

If every single piece of content you publish on social is a bland advertising spot, your audience will ultimately tune out.

For generating direct sales, you have paid social ads. The content you post on your feed should provide value. This can take a few different forms, depending on what sort of relationship you want to establish with your audience:

  • Q&A sessions that allow the audience to share details about themselves.
  • Invitations to post user-created content such as photos, videos, or stories. 
  • Opportunities for discounts and special offers. 
  • Content that’s designed to provide entertainment, such as through humor.
  • Informative content, such as how-to’s or white papers. 

For everything you share, add a personal touch – allow your brand’s personality to shine through. Be unashamed of what your business stands for, what it values, and what causes you represent. People are watching how your company conducts itself now more than ever, so it’s imperative that you demonstrate empathy and care for your customers.

Because if you treat people like little more than walking wallets, they’ll know. 

Digital Over- or Under-Saturation

You might think it’s better to post and advertise as much as possible. Unfortunately, you’d be incorrect. Whether you’re posting on social or maintaining a mailing list, there’s a ‘sweet spot’ in terms of content volume.

Post too much, and people will rapidly become annoyed with your business, classify you as a spammer, and either unfollow or ignore your content. Post too little, and people will inevitably start to forget you exist. Fortunately, the fix to this is relatively simple.

As noted by social media expert Louise Myers

  • You should post on Facebook a minimum of three times per week and a maximum of once per day.
  • Your Twitter feed should, at most, have 15 posts a day. 
  • Post 11 times on Pinterest each day. 
  • For Instagram, post a maximum of twice daily. 
  • On LinkedIn, one post a day is ideal. 

No Engagement

If your audience is not interacting with your content at all – if you’re receiving no likes or shares – that’s a clear sign you need to go back to the planning table to rethink your social media strategy. Go back to the beginning and identify the following:

  • Who is your customer base? 
  • What balance do you want to strike between engagement and direct sales?
  • What type of content do you want to publish, and what expertise do you need to publish it? 
  • What do you want to accomplish in the long-term?
  • What do you want to accomplish in the short-term?
  • What time should you post each day? 
  • What is your brand’s identity? 

By creating this outline of what you want to accomplish and establishing a content schedule, you set yourself up for success. 

In Closing

Moreover, by scheduling posts in advance, you give yourself time to make any last-minute edits, react to current events, and focus on engagement rather than development.  Social media is all about building relationships. By understanding who your audience is and why they’ve engaged with your brand, you can do exactly that. 

What You Need To Know About Marketing For a Healthcare Organization

With so much information freely available online, modern patients are more educated than they’ve ever been.  Many no longer feel the need to visit a hospital, urgent care center, or clinician’s office unless treatment or testing is necessary. Moreover, competition amongst healthcare organizations has never been higher, particularly with the rise of telehealth and digital care options.

With this in mind, it’s incredibly important that your organization has a properly-budgeted marketing plan. Even if you’re happy with your current patient volumes, you’ll need a strategy that helps you reach out to both new and returning patients. Success in this regard starts, as it often does, with outreach.

Evaluate The Patient Experience

First, consider why someone might switch their care provider – changes in services offered, relocation, wait times, or even a slightly negative experience. Ensure patients have plenty of ways to reach out to your clinic’s customer service representatives, including via phone, chat, and email. You may also want to consider commissioning a mobile application that allows patients to manage their care and putting automation in place that keeps people up-to-date about upcoming appointments.

You might even consider having your physicians directly reach out to their patients after an appointment.

Speaking of user experience, your website needs to be designed with it in mind as well. Many designers have a tendency to lean towards aesthetics over functionality. This is a mistake.

Your website needs to be both fast and intuitive, as it’s the first thing most potential new patients will see. It’s the face of your practice, a representation of what you can offer as a care provider. A site that’s optimized to load quickly across a wide range of devices and form factors is essential.

From your site, patients should be able to find information about your practice, location, hours of operation, and appointment booking.

Since Google focuses primarily on readable content and the user experience, it prioritizes sites optimized for mobile devices. 

Stay Consistent With Your Advertising

What sort of brand are you trying to build with your clinic? 

As with any business, there will be certain things that set you apart from your competition. Maybe it’s your luxurious offices, with padded armchairs and a quiet, spa-like ambiance. Maybe it’s that your professionals are focused on family-friendliness, and stock your clinic with plenty of toys for kids. Or maybe it’s simply that you always go the extra mile for your patients, treating them as valued friends first and clients second. 

Highlight your unique attributes. Your advertising should make it absolutely clear what services you offer and who can benefit, while also highlighting why someone might choose you over your competition.  For digital ads, make sure you’re targeting the right keywords, which can also be applied to your search engine optimization efforts. 

Although it’s a bit dated, this guide published by digital advertising specialist Wordstream provides a good overview of how you can research your pay-per-click keywords effectively.  Paid advertising can be blended with organic social marketing to extend your reach across multiple platforms, as well.  At a minimum, your firm should maintain a Facebook Business Page, which can be used for reviews, clinic updates, and informative, interactive posts. 

Look Into Search Engine Optimization

Speaking of SEO, figure out what patients looking for your clinic tend to search for. 

Generally speaking, local SEO is going to be your area of focus. Someone in Chicago, for instance, isn’t going to be looking for a dentist’s office in Wyoming. They’re going to be searching for a clinic located in their city or neighborhood. 

With that in mind, it’s important that you not only maintain a website but also set up a Google My Business listing. Provide patients with as much information as possible, including hours of operation, location, contact details, and photos of the clinic.  As for your website, a tool like Google Analytics, Moz, or Yoast can help you sort through the search terms that bring people to your website and target the most effective ones. 

Consider In-Office Automation

By providing visitors with a tablet at the office, you can allow them to not only manage their appointments and care, but also provide them with an opportunity to review the care they’ve received. Positive reviews can be used on your Google My Business or Facebook to bring in more patients. Poor scores, meanwhile, can be reviewed by medical team representatives as an opportunity to improve the care you offer.It is vital to follow up on these reviews, and also consider checking independent review sites like Yelp. Reputation management is a critical aspect of your marketing strategy. Not only can it turn a negative patient experience back towards the positive, but it can also be used as a means of improving both equipment and process.

What You Need to Know About Marketing Your Business During (And After) COVID-19

No one could have predicted this.

In just a few short months, the coronavirus has changed society. Distributed work and delivery services have never been more important, and all over the world, people struggle to cope with an uncertain future, one marked by isolation, unstable finances, and a spreading pandemic. Businesses have either suspended their marketing or pivoted hard. 

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How Infinite Scroll Impacts Search Engine Optimization

Infinite scroll and search engine optimization don’t play nice together. Given that infinitely-scrolling websites aren’t exactly a new thing on the web, that’s something we’ve known for at least a decade. The problem, as noted by search engine marketing expert Moz, is that many sites implement infinite scrolling via JavaScript, which Google can’t really crawl effectively. 

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International SEO vs Local SEO – What’s the Difference?

Generally, search engine optimization is largely location-agnostic. It’s about creating compelling content, targeting the right keywords, and increasing the scope and reach of your brand through an understanding of Google’s algorithms. That said, location targeting can be an extremely powerful tool.

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