Social Media Marketing vs. Other Types of Digital Marketing

Social Media Marketing vs. Other Types of Digital Marketing

When working with your marketing agency to strategize a new marketing campaign for your small to medium sized business, chances are the campaign will include some type of digital and/or social media marketing. One common mistake in developing digital marketing strategies is assuming that all types of digital marketing are fairly equivalent. In this article we will focus on the key differences between social media marketing and other types of digital marketing.

We will start this article with a brief description of each of the types of digital marketing:

  •   SEO
  •   Paid search (PPC or pay per click)
  •   Email marketing
  •   Display
  •   Geo-fencing
  •   Social media marketing – Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn

Then we will follow with:

  •   Differences between social media marketing and other digital marketing channels.
  •   Key aspects of social media marketing where it is significantly different from other types of digital marketing.

Types of Digital Marketing

SEO

SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is focused on improving where your business’s website appears in the list of search results when people search online for terms relevant to your business. For example, if you own a local dress shop, you want Google to show people your store’s website as high as possible on the search engine results page (SERP) when they search for “dress shops in Lancaster PA”. Ideally, you’d want the search engine (Google, Bing, or other) to show your store’s website in the first position at the top of the first page of results.

Using SEO to improve the visibility of your business’s website on those search results pages is important because most people click on the first several websites listed on page 1 of Google search results, and the same applies to Bing, Duck Duck Go, or any other search engine results page.

SEO is a strategy that takes a significant time commitment to yield results. Six months would be the minimum time to dedicate to SEO and successful companies consider SEO to be a continual, on-going part of their marketing operations. There are three basic types of SEO work:

  •   On-page SEO – Adding relevant content to your site such as informative blogs, detailed product copy, images, videos, interlinking across internal pages, use of relevant keywords in the copy, easy navigation, etc.
  •   Off-page SEO – Adding links to your site from other reputable sites and building a solid social media presence that has engagement from your audience.
  •   Technical SEO – Ensuring that all the back-end functionality and code of the site is optimized, including responsive design, schema markup, robots.txt, H1 tags, secure https, sitemap, etc.

Properly executed SEO will, over the long term, improve both the quality and quantity of your website’s organic traffic from search engines. SEO is an important investment because it creates a sustainable increase in traffic to your site, which should also drive more revenue for your business. This is different from paid digital marketing campaigns where the traffic will stop when the campaigns stop.

The data that is collected on your site because of SEO work can be used to understand your audience’s shared demographics, how they use your site, and how to optimize paid digital campaigns. Optimized digital campaigns will do a better job of increasing online traffic and elevating campaign ROI (Return on Investment).

Paid Search (PPC or pay per click)

This is a digital strategy used to quickly increase traffic and leads to your site. PPC stands for “pay per click” which means that every time someone clicks on your paid search ad, you get charged for that click but you do not get charged for the impressions from ads that weren’t clicked. Paid search ads are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs). Google Ads is the platform used to deliver paid search ads, and it offers three basic types of paid search ad campaigns:

  •   Text ads
  •   Shopping ads
  •   Local services ads

Each of these ad types appear in different positions (and in different formats) on SERPs. A properly set up paid search campaign will result in a relevant ad for your business appearing when a consumer is searching for a product or service that you offer.

Benefits of paid search include but are not limited to: immediate online product sales, increased website traffic, and increased lead generation. The amount you pay per click is based on how much you bid for that ad space.

One of the most important factors in successful paid search advertising is the use of keywords. Keywords are entered during the ad creation process to help Google, Bing, or other search engines determine which of your ads are most relevant to serve on the SERP.

For example, if your company wants to reach people searching for low-cost family vacation ideas, you will want to bid on keywords such as “low-cost family vacations” or “family vacation on a budget”. This way, when someone enters “low-cost family vacations” into Google, Google Ads will serve your ad and bid for the top spot on the SERP. To learn more about PPC advertising and keyword targeting, read through our Beginners Guide to Digital Campaign Targeting.

Display

Display ads are the typical rectangular and square ads you see when you are browsing news websites. Display ads can be designed as animated gifs, which convey more information about your business than a static jpg or png ad. Targeting for display ads includes interests, placements, keywords, and demographics. Display ads are best for raising awareness of your business’s brand. The old “rule of seven” in marketing is that a person must see an ad at least seven times to retain awareness of your business’s brand.

Building brand awareness is an essential ingredient in your business’s marketing mix. Research shows that consumers are roughly 70% more likely to take an action, such as making a purchase, when they are already familiar with a brand’s name, which means that digital display campaigns should be part of your on-going digital marketing strategy because they set the stage for other campaigns that directly drive online shopping sales.

Geo-fencing

Geo-fencing is all about location. To run a geo-fenced ad campaign you specify, using GPS coordinates, a location with a minimum radius of 50 meters. This location could be a school, a competitor, your own business’s location, or an event venue – basically any location where you know that your target audience will be present. When someone enters the fenced area with their location-enabled mobile device, their device is tagged so that your ads will be delivered to that person the next time they are on a website or app that is in the ad network. Geo-fencing tends to produce a smaller number of leads than other types of digital marketing, but these leads tend to be highly qualified.

The key caveat with geo-fencing is that you must be very confident that the people you want to reach are, in fact, present at a particular location. For example, if you wanted to fence the offices of one of your competitors to try and attract their workers for a job opening at your company, you’d need to be sure those workers are still coming to the office. With the rise in remote working during the Covid-19 pandemic it is now harder to be confident that office workers are actually in a company’s office space.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is not only a form of digital marketing, but also a form of direct marketing, meaning that you are communicating directly with an individual consumer. Email marketing must be compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act, which requires that email campaigns have an unsubscribe link, be sent to people who have opted-in, have clear subject lines, and clearly indicate who the email is from.

Email marketing campaigns can be sent to your own list of customers and prospects or can be sent to email lists from proprietary databases of opted-in email addresses. These large email databases offer selection criteria by age, interest, occupation, intent to purchase, and much more.

After your email marketing campaign has been sent out, you can target digital ads to people who have clicked on a link in the campaign. Email marketing is a good choice to keep your audience engaged with new information about your products, brand, offers, and events. Email marketing is a more personal approach than paid search, geo-fencing, or display marketing.

Social Media Marketing

Social media is a huge presence in digital marketing with billions of users across the main platforms. Below are the approximate number of users for each platform as-of 2022:

  •   Facebook – 2.9 billion users
  •   YouTube – 2 billion users
  •   Instagram – 1.8 billion users
  •   TikTok – 1 billion users
  •   LinkedIn – 774 million users
  •   Pinterest – 459 million users
  •   Twitter – 319 million users
  •   Snapchat – 300 million users

Source: Hubspot State of Marketing 2021.

As a result of the dominance of social media as a communications channel, some companies, like Spotify, have decided to exclusively use social media for outbound communications to their users. Spotify uses Twitter messaging as their only form of customer assistance because it is so accessible and easy to use.

There are two fundamental ways to approach social media marketing: 1) posting organically about your business (and sometimes boosting those posts), and 2) running ad campaigns on social media platforms. For ad campaigns, each social media platform has its own setup process, ad formatting requirements, targeting options, boosting options, and unique demographics. Like email marketing, social media marketing can help your company engage with your audience in a more personalized way than SEO, paid search, geo-fencing, or display.

Using Facebook as an example, the big limitation in using organic posting to promote your business is that organic Facebook posts only reach about 6% of your fans. So, if you put a lot of time and effort into organic posts you are, unfortunately, wasting your time because a large portion of your audience will not see what you have posted. A business can choose to pay to boost its organic posts, which will reach a somewhat larger audience, but boosted posts don’t offer the full power of paid social media ad campaigns. The limitations to boosted posts on Facebook include:

  •   No option to A/B split test a campaign. A/B split testing provides important data so that you can learn what types of posts perform better.
  •   Limited targeting options. With boosting, you can only select one of these options: people who like your page, friends of people who like your page, targeted audience. Note that the “targeted audience” option within a boosted post only offers a fraction of the targeting options available in an ad campaign.
  •   Optimization is only available for engagement (likes, comments, shares). You cannot optimize for web traffic, video views or conversions.

Because of these limitations, which are similar on all social media platforms, we recommend that businesses post once or twice a month to let people know that the business is still open. Then take that time you would have put into organic posts and instead work with your digital marketing agency to develop highly effective social media ad campaigns.

Next let’s review the key differences between social media marketing and other types of digital marketing.

Key aspects where social media marketing is better than other types of digital marketing

1 – Social media is powerful for both brand awareness and online sales/lead generation.

Traditionally, social media was considered better for brand awareness than for generation of leads or online product sales. Social media’s strength in brand awareness rests on its ability to personally connect your business with people who are interested in your brand. Your brand’s organic social media posts and ads can be intimate, funny, storytelling, or candid in a way that is difficult to replicate through other digital platforms.

Social media ad campaigns can be displayed in users’ feeds, thus appearing naturally alongside organic posts. And, even though organic posting is an inefficient use of your time, your brand can post organically at no charge. Plus, your brand’s social media followers can like and share your organic posts and your ad campaigns, thus giving you free help to reach more people. All these aspects mean that social media remains a brand awareness powerhouse.

For online product sales and lead generation, paid search campaigns have long been considered more effective than social media. More recently, this conventional wisdom has been changing as social media marketing has been proving that it can be very effective for lead generation, selling products online, and even hiring for open positions. Insider Intelligence estimates that half of all U.S. adults made a purchase via social media in 2021. The revenue from online purchases via social media ad campaigns in 2021 amounted to $492 billion dollars and this number is predicted to more than double by 2025. Selling products online through social media channels now even has its own name: social commerce.

While social media has is now considered a highly effective channel for both brand awareness and online sales/lead generation, paid search remains more one-dimensional as a great choice for online sales/lead generation, but a poor choice for brand awareness due to the fact that paid search ads reach a narrow audience that is actively searching for specific products, services, or information.

2 – Social media has the most interest-based targeting of any digital platform.

If you think about all the things Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest or TikTok know about your habits, likes, and interests, you realize that those platforms have a lot of data about who you are and what you like. The benefit for a business in Lancaster County is that you can work with your digital marketing agency to leverage this interest information to craft audiences of people who are highly likely to want to purchase your products, services, or apply for your open positions.

The different types of targeting available in social media platforms perform best at different points in the marketing funnel, according to Hubspot:

  •   Social media demographic targeting is most effective at driving brand awareness.
  •   Social media interest targeting is most effective at driving purchase intent and consideration, if the size of the interest-based target audience is comparable to the size of a demographic-based target audience. Meaning, you want to be careful not to create an overly narrow target audience using interests because if the audience size is too small it could reduce the effectiveness of the campaign.

Below is a partial list of interest-based targeting options just for Facebook. As you can see, the options are extensive and detailed. The complete list can be found here on page 9, but beware, targeting options on all social media platforms change constantly. While the interest options below are for Facebook, every other social media platform has as many or more detailed lists of interest-based targeting available. The options are truly staggering and are all derived from users’ real, tracked behaviors, making these interests very accurate.

  • Hobbies and activities:
    •   Political and social issues (e.g. law, environmentalism, volunteering)
    •   Home and garden (e.g. furniture, home appliances, gardening)
    •   Arts and music (e.g. fine art, guitar, singing, dance)
    •   Pets (e.g. dogs, cats, reptiles)
    •   Travel (e.g. adventure, air, vacations, nature)
    •   Vehicles (e.g. SUVs, RVs, trucks, boats)
  • Business and industry:
    •   Real estate, architecture, nursing, higher education, construction, and more.
    •   Design (e.g. fashion, graphic, interior)
    •   Online (e.g. digital marketing, web development, search engine optimization)
    •   Personal finance (e.g. credit cards, insurance, investment)
    •   Banking (e.g. investment, personal, online)
  • Shopping and fashion:
    •   Beauty (e.g. cosmetics, tattoos, spas, hair products)
    •   Clothing (e.g. children’s, men’s, shoes, women’s)
    •   Fashion accessories (e.g. dresses, handbags, jewelry)
    •   Shopping (e.g. boutiques, coupons, luxury, discount)
  • Fitness and wellness: dieting, running, yoga, Zumba and more
  • Family and relationships: fatherhood, motherhood, weddings and more
  • Technology:
    •   Computers (e.g. hard drives, network storage, software,)
    •   Consumer electronics (e.g. cameras, TVs, game consoles, smart phones)
  • Entertainment:
    •   Live events (e.g. theater, concerts, nightclubs)
    •   Games (e.g. card, board, online, video)
    •   Movies (e.g. drama, fantasy, anime)
    •   Reading (e.g. e-books, magazines, manga, non-fiction, newspapers)
    •   TV (e.g. game shows, reality, talk shows)
    •   Music (e.g. hip hop, pop, rock, soul)
  • Sports and outdoors:
    •   Sports (e.g. soccer, tennis, golf)
    •   Outdoor activities (e.g. hiking, hunting, fishing)
  • Food and drink:
    •   Alcoholic beverages (e.g. beer, wine, distilled beverages)
    •   Cooking (e.g. baking, recipes, beverages)
    •   Cuisine (e.g. Japanese, Thai, French)
    •   Food (e.g. barbecue, vegetarian, organic)
    •   Restaurants (e.g. diners, coffee houses, fast casual)

Note that there are even more options for demographic and behavior-based targeting which are not listed above because the focus of this article is how social media channels are different from other digital channels, and interest targeting is a key difference.

3 – Social media offers better creative space compared to other digital channels.

Ads in social media platforms are larger, more dynamic, and can use video at no extra cost. By contrast, the most dynamic ad format on a display campaign is an animated gif, which is nowhere near as engaging as ads on social media. Social media ads can be short videos (like speeded up cooking videos), or testimonials from users, or shots of products being used/modeled in action, or drone flythroughs of an event space, and on and on.

Of the different social media platforms, TikTok is, of course, 100% video while Facebook and Instagram can utilize either video or photos. Facebook and Instagram include more room for copy than TikTok does. Ad formats are shown in social media alongside organic content which only heightens the authenticity of the social media ads themselves.

4 – Social media is memorable.

People remember that they saw your business on social media. We often hear our advertisers say that their customers tell them “I saw you on Facebook”. This is because users are highly engaged when they are scrolling through the feed of their favorite social media platform. Your business’s ads will be shown to social media users while they are in that highly engaged moment. Using the professional design capabilities of a digital marketing agency, your ads will flow naturally within the social media feed, thus increasing the perception that the ads are part of the overall engagement experience. In this way, social media advertising is much less passive than other forms of digital advertising.

5 – Social media platforms offer a diverse array of dedicated fan bases.

Each social media platform has its own core group of dedicated users with distinct generational and interest attributes. Because each platform has its own fan base, you’ll need to consider which type of social media fans are most aligned with your brand and campaign goals.

Researchers at Brigham Young University identified four basic categories of Facebook users:  relationship builders, town criers, selfies, and window shoppers. While this type of research has not yet been applied to TikTok, we do know that 47.4% of TikTok users are under age 30. Facebook, predictably, skews toward an older audience, with only 24.9% of users under age 30.

Researchers at Lahore University have identified six types of Twitter users: professional users, personal users, business users, spam users, feed/news users, and viral/marketing users.

The lists of various user types for each social media platform are almost endless, but you get the idea. You digital marketing agency experts can help you dig into the details of which social media audience is right for your business’s campaign.

Conclusion

Having a strong social media strategy will maximize your business’s overall online performance. Working with a digital marketing agency to develop savvy social media campaigns will boost your company’s brand awareness and increase your online sales and lead generation. Social media marketing stands apart from other digital marketing channels because of its extensive interest targeting options, cost effectiveness, and generous amount of space for visual assets and ad copy.

Whether your business wants to reach people in Lancaster County or anywhere in the U.S., the digital marketing experts at LNP Media Group will help you to achieve your business’s goals. We work closely with your team and provide full transparency into the performance of every campaign. We are social media enthusiasts who can select the most appropriate social media platform for your business goals and develop the optimum combination of demographic and interest targeting. Plus, we provide digital creatives at no additional charge. Contact us to today for a completely free, no commitment marketing strategy conversation.

A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Campaign Targeting

A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Campaign Targeting

Do you feel like your digital advertising campaigns need a boost but you don’t know where to start? Are your social media campaigns struggling to bring in the results and reach your local small to medium sized business’s needs? Before your ads miss any more valuable views, clicks, and conversions, consider reading through this digital campaign targeting guide provided by your local media agency. This guide, written by the digital marketing experts at LNP Media Group, will help you to get a better understanding of how to efficiently reach, engage, and inform your target market.

 

Digital Campaign Targeting Basics

Before choosing an online campaign strategy and running your campaign, it is essential to know which people, and how many of them, you need to reach in order to drive revenue for your business. Targeting the right audience demographics will help ensure that you’re choosing to spend your money in the right places. One factor to consider is how long it may take someone to decide to buy your product. For example, if you’re selling an impulse buy like discount priced clothing or shoes, your target audience will probably be larger and broader than if your product is a more expensive item like a dishwasher. This is because a household appliance is a “considered purchase”, meaning potential buyers will take the time to research which dishwasher brand is known to last the longest, and which brand is best for their price range. Campaigns for considered purchases should target an audience that is more tightly defined because you want to reach people who are actively researching dishwashers.

To get an idea of the right location targeting for your ads, think about how far your customers are willing to travel to obtain your product or service. If you provide a specialty service that specific people would seek out, like physical therapy for severe scoliosis, you may want to set your location targeting to a 50-mile radius of your address, if that is a reasonable drive time to your practice. If you own a local pharmacy downtown, you may want to keep your location targeting to a 15-20-mile radius around your pharmacy, since people normally don’t want to travel too far to pick up their prescriptions. This type of thought process will help you avoid wasting money on mis-targeted impressions and will present your ads to people in the right geographic areas.

It is also important to know your audience personally. What are their interests and hobbies? How old are they? What social media do they participate in the most? Let’s say you’re promoting a new skate shop downtown. You may want to target an audience in the age range of 13-25 and serve your ads on TikTok and Instagram since younger people spend the most time on those two platforms.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to market your assisted living in-home care service, you may want to serve your ads on mainly Facebook because most of those users are in the age range of 30-99+. Once you know your target audience a bit more personally, you will be able to define the exact type of people who would benefit from seeing your online ads.

Circling a group of people on a whiteboard

Google Ads Overview

One of the most utilized online advertising platforms at LNP Media Group is Google Ads. Advertising on Google is one of the most cost effective and viable online marketing strategies that a business owner can choose. Google Ads is also fully transparent with regard to results because it uses a UTM tracking string within the URL of each ad that you create. When you create a campaign with Google Ads, your campaign’s report will show you exactly how many clicks, impressions, and phone calls your ad generated. You can also clearly see the effectiveness of your ad by looking at the click through rate percentage (CTR) and your cost per click (CPC). Once you decide how much you’re willing to spend for each possible lead, you can set a more refined budget for Google Ads and start seeing a better conversion rate.

Within Google Ads, you can target your ads to your preferred audience by choosing which audience segment you think your business attracts the most. An audience segment is a group of people with similar interests and demographics. Google will allow you to select the gender, age, household income, and parental status of your audience. You can also restrict your ads from serving to certain audience demographics as well. After your ads have been serving, Google Ads will show you the demographic data obtained from the ad’s actual clicks and views. Now that you can clearly see the success rate of the ads within your chosen demographics, you have a better idea of exactly who in your targeted audience is seeking out your product or service. With this valuable information in hand, you can narrow your targeting to that same type of audience that is already responding and thus improve your campaign’s performance. Remember that different campaign types within Google Ads will have different success rates based on the types of audience targeting that best fits each campaign.

Google Ads – Paid Search

Google Ads offers an array of different campaign options and one of their most popular choices is the pay per click search campaign (PPC or paid search). The targeting options that work best for a paid search campaign are location, keywords, in-market audiences, and remarketing list targeting. It is important to target your paid search ads to locations where it makes sense to sell or deliver your product. It is also essential to include only relevant keywords in your paid search ad’s heading, since this is what Google uses to serve your ads based on the search terms entered by a user. Many advertisers are focused exclusively on finding new customers, but using a remarketing list is an effective way to reach people who have already visited your site or app and interacted with your ads. You can also use the same demographic profile as your remarketing list to target people actively searching for your product or service, otherwise known as an in-market audience.

Google Ads – Display

If you would like to take a more creative approach, and provide a visual of your product or service, Google Ads offers the ability to upload image ads and GIFs. Unlike the paid search ads mentioned above, display ad campaigns allow your image ads to be presented across the Google Display Network, which is “a collection of over two million websites that reach over 90% of Internet users across the globe”, according to Google. Of course if there are Google-owned sites that you would rather not have your ad shown on, you can restrict your ads from showing on those sites by excluding them in the Placements tab in your Google Ads menu.

The best targeting methods to use for display campaigns are location, demographics, topic placement, keywords, affinity audiences, and custom audience segmentation. Before defining these types of targeting strategies, we first recommend that you categorize your ads into ad groups based on which goal you’re setting for each group. Maybe you want to run a group of display ads to target Lancaster, Lititz, Ephrata, New Holland, Elizabethtown, Quarryville and Strasburg, but also want to try an ad group targeted to Philadelphia to gain brand awareness and reach. Within your ad groups, you can also assign location, audience segments, demographics, and keywords to each group.

Google Ads – Topic Placement, Affinity, and Custom Audiences

A targeting strategy that is unique to display campaigns is Topic Placement targeting. With Topic Placement, Google Ads will serve your display ad on any Google Display Network site that relates to the topic of your advertised product. As mentioned before, Affinity audiences are pre-made audience segments provided by Google that match your ideal target audience based off your previous ad demographics. The difference between Affinity and Custom audience segmentation is that Affinity audiences are pre-made segments of people created by Google based on their demographics, while Custom audiences are audience segments created by you. To create Custom audiences, you can enter websites, keywords, and different topics of interest, which Google will use to generate an audience of people that match those attributes.

Google Ads – Shopping

Like display ad campaigns, Google Ads also offers users the ability to create a shopping ad campaign that shows ads with product images. This best utilized to target people who are searching for a specific product to buy. For example, if your business sells skis and you want to increase your ski pole sales during the winter months, your business could benefit from creating a shopping campaign. Just upload a picture of the product you want to sell, enter the price, and then the display link. This helps the viewer know exactly where the shopping ad will take them if they click it. Because this is a campaign that will have a very specific audience, the targeting methods that we suggest for this type of campaign are remarketing list, location targeting, and remarketing audiences. Shopping campaign ads can appear anywhere in the shopping tab in Google, YouTube, Gmail, and the Google Display Network.

There is much more that Google Ads offers outside of the basics we’ve covered, so if you are considering starting some online ad campaigns using Google Ads, we recommend that you work with a Google Partner, such as LNP Media Group, to optimize your spend on Google Ads and reach your digital campaign goals.

Graphic representing a guy shopping online

Social Media

One of the most popular strategies for online advertising is social media platforms. Depending on their campaign goals, many companies will advertise on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, or YouTube. The trick to advertising on social media is first setting a goal for your online ads. Are you trying to raise awareness of your brand? Do you offer specialty services that are difficult to find? Do you need to increase sales for specific products? It is helpful to work with social media experts, like LNP Media Group, to ensure that your social media ad spend is targeted correctly to ensure best possible results.

Social Media – Facebook and Instagram

If your business’s goal is to gain brand awareness, Facebook and Instagram are known to have huge success rates for branding campaigns. Facebook and Instagram are a package deal when it comes to social media advertising. You can structure the exact same look and targeting method for each campaign and it will post on both Instagram and Facebook. According to Facebook, there is an “80% greater discovery for new brands or products on Facebook than on brand or retailer websites”. Facebook and Instagram are great choices not only for large businesses to expand their reach, but also for small to medium-sized businesses that want to target a local area. Another statistic from Facebook informs us “Over 10 million businesses have used Facebook advertising, the majority of which are small to medium-sized businesses”.

Facebook and Instagram give advertisers the ability to reach what they call “Core Audiences” which are audiences based on interests, age, and geography. You also have the option to use their Custom Audience targeting method, which is similar to the remarketing lists in Google Ads. This method allows you to reconnect with people who have visited your site or engaged with your business on or offline. You can also target what Facebook calls a “Lookalike” audience. This method targets people who have similar demographics as your current best and most engaged customers. From this selection of audience targeting, it is clear that if you’re looking to give your business more reach, Facebook is a great platform to explore.

Social Media – LinkedIn

If your business is advertising to fill open positions, consider LinkedIn’s targeting abilities and transparent reach. LinkedIn has stated that their platform has the ability to “combine targeting criteria to build your ideal persona: IT decision makers, C-level executives, prospective students, small business owners, and more.” With LinkedIn you can post an ad for open positions and review potential candidate’s profiles. LinkedIn is so transparent that you can see proof of people’s qualifications in their profile and make an informed decision on whether you should reach out to them.

Social Media – YouTube

For businesses that are trying to expand their reach, we suggest leveraging video ads on YouTube. Businesses advertise on YouTube to connect with their audience on a more personal level. When you can convey the story of your business and show your product, you can build a better connection with your audience by captivating their attention. The targeting methods used by YouTube are demographic grouping, interests, placements, and remarketing. You can even choose specific audiences based on what content they are currently viewing on YouTube. YouTube provides an array of different video ad formats, such as skippable ads, non-skippable ads, in-feed video ads, and bumper ads. You can manage your YouTube video campaign through the Google Ads platform. Within Google Ads, you can upload the desired video ad and monitor how it is performing.

SOCIAL MEDIA – TikTok

The most recent social media platform that advertisers have started utilizing is TikTok. TikTok is an app where users upload 15-60 second videos, and which allows for the placement of video ads. With an audience that spans across 150 countries, TikTok is a great tool to use for gaining reach and engagement from your target audience. Similar to the previously mentioned Google Ads platform, TikTok allows businesses to create ad groups with specific target audiences for each. Like Facebook, you can also create Custom and Lookalike audiences within TikTok. TikTok includes a wide variety of targeting options such as gender, age, location, interests, internet connection type, device model, phone carriers, and even the price of the user’s device.

One unique aspect of TikTok’s targeting is its ability to track user behaviors. Behaviors are user interactions with TikTok creators and videos such as liking, commenting, watching, following creators, and viewing creator’s profiles. TikTok even focuses on the interest categories that each user interacts with the most within the app to drive ads and additional videos of the like to the viewer’s device. The user behavior tracking and interest category algorithms are so precise, that you shouldn’t be surprised that if you like a TikTok with cute and fluffy kittens, your TikTok feed becomes populated with kittens of all kinds.

One important factor to keep in mind is that TikTok’s audience consists of 47% of users between the ages of 10-29 and 42% of users between the ages of 30-49. Statista.com states that this leaves only 11% of TikTok’s audience in the 50+ age category. Based on these statistics, advertising on TikTok is not for every business’s target market, so if your product or service would not be of interest to the Gen Z and Millennial audience, you may want to consider advertising on a different social platform.

Although there are other social media platforms to advertise on, these five are the most popular. No matter which platform you pick, remember that you can save time and money by working with a Lancaster digital agency that is experienced in all the nuance and detail of social media marketing.

LancasterOnline.com and LancasterFarming.com

If you are interested in advertising your small to medium sized business to a strictly local audience, we suggest advertising on LancasterOnline or LancasterFarming. We have a wide variety of targeting options provided by Google Ad Manager 360. These options include targeting by IP address, by device type, by zip code, radius, browser language, or browser type. You have the option of choosing display ads, which only show on browsers, or on the LancasterOnline or LancasterFarming mobile app.

Targeting people by their IP address is similar to targeting people by location because an IP address identifies a device on the internet. If you want to target by zip code, Google Ads 360 will give you an estimated radius of how far your ads will reach based on that location. If you would rather save money on ads and only serve them on certain devices, you can restrict your ads from serving on certain device types. For example, if you are trying to run a campaign for your business’s new app, you may want to only target your ads to phones and tablets because these devices can download apps. If you find that most of your customers prefer Google Chrome to Microsoft Edge, or if you prefer how your ads render on Google Chrome rather than Safari, you can restrict your ads to serve on only on specific browsers.

In addition to targeting by audience attributes, LancasterOnline and LancasterFarming also offer the option of targeting by content type. LancasterOnline is the largest news website in Lancaster County, reaching over 1 million unique users per month. LancasterFarming is the largest agricultural news site in the mid-Atlantic region with over 100,000 unique users per month. For both of these sites you can target users based on the type of content they read. For LancasterOnline, key topics are sports, entertainment, breaking news, crime, food, business, home & garden, and health. For LancasterFarming, key topics are dairy, equine, crops, beef, recipes, antiques, history, livestock, and farm life. On both of these sites you can also target based on ad position. For example, the large ad at the top of the page is a premium position called the reveal ad, while the small ad at the bottom of each page is called the sticky anchor.

Because of our digital campaign targeting expertise, Lancaster’s local recruitment company known as PA Career Link chose to advertise their upcoming job fair with LNP Media Group. Our digital marketing team created and sent out email blasts, posted and maintained PA Career Link’s online advertisements on Facebook, and featured ads on LancasterOnline to raise local awareness about their job fair. Because of our integrated, multi-channel marketing campaign, our team attracted 350 local job seekers to the job fair, while other job fairs in the same year had struggled to bring in even 50. Click here to learn more about PA Career Link’s success with LNP Media Group.

OTT, CTV and Video

Digital advertising media that are often overlooked are OTT, CTV, and video ads. OTT stands for Over the Top because this type of ad placement only shows on top of streaming networks such as Hulu, Netflix, and Disney Plus, served via the internet. The targeting options available with OTT advertising are home demographics, state, designated market area (a broad metro area designation) and zip code. CTV advertising is a type of OTT that serves video ads on TVs connected to the internet, like smart TVs. These ads will serve on networks such as Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, and PlayStation. However, CTV does not allow specific household targeting options. Video ads are 15-30 second videos that serve on websites and apps, like ads on YouTube as discussed previously. These can be viewed on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. With video ads, you can target a wide variety of users. You can target people by their behaviors and interests, zip code, age range, gender, education, parenting status, household income, and annual income.

Conclusion

Are you ready for your small to medium sized local business to try digital advertising? Or are you already using digital ad campaigns but have been disappointed with the results? Whether your business is focused strictly on Lancaster County or anywhere in the U.S., the digital marketing experts at LNP Media Group will help you achieve your digital campaign goals. We work closely with your team and we are fully transparent every step of the way. Whether your goal is to raise your brand awareness or generate more leads and more product sales, you’ll find that our deep experience will drive campaign results that are better than any other digital agency in the area. Contact us to today for an absolutely free, no commitment marketing strategy session.

E-commerce: Now Your Business is Always Open

E-commerce: Now Your Business is Always Open

Many small businesses are limited by their location. They are limited to the customers that live or work near them. They are limited by the hours in a business day.

The cost of additional staff and additional operating expenses may make extended hours undesirable. Even their geography can make all night operations unpractical, unprofitable, or unsafe. For many small organizations with finite resources, 24/7 business hours are impossible.

However, with e-commerce sites, many types of businesses can allow customers to shop and learn about their products and services at any time of day. e-commerce enables the company to take orders and send communications, even when the shop is closed. No wonder so many small businesses have started making e-commerce sites part of their strategic plans.

In March of 2020, many small businesses became more interested in e-commerce solutions. The COVID-19 crisis mandated the shut-down of many types of brick and mortar businesses. While many of those enterprises were able to bounce back after all the restrictions were finally lifted, many companies found they had to shut their doors forever. For other organizations, an E-commerce site helped defray or eliminate losses while Americans stayed at home and social distanced.

For many firms, the pandemic accelerated the need for a strong e-commerce site. However, the argument for websites that handled shopping or transactions was already well developed. In fact, the use of e-commerce sites has been growing in importance over the last ten years. And it’s easy to see why.

E-commerce sites have become easy to use. Online transactions have become more secure. Customer shipping options have become more affordable or even free. As a result, online sales increased by nearly 15% in 2019 alone, and that growth is predicted to continue or accelerate over the next five years. That means that for anyone selling products or offering services, e-commerce may become a viable way to increase revenues and expand reach without opening more locations.

On April 24, 2020, Emarketer reported,

“Whether by desire or by necessity, consumers are moving their spending online. And some of these consumers, who rarely or never bought online, may not go back to shopping like they used to. As a result, brands are increasingly pivoting to a direct-to-consumer business model and many e-commerce businesses are experiencing sizable growth. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce sales represented the bulk of overall retail sales growth in the US—$600 billion in online sales accounted for 56% of overall retail growth last year. And projections say e-commerce sales may go as high as $6.5 trillion in 2023.”

While online shopping used to be a novelty limited to tech-savvy Millennials, today it’s the norm. From tweens to retirees, all ages have become more enthusiastic about online shopping. With grocery purchases, apparel shopping, and even car sales happening online, e-commerce has become a necessity that shows no signs of slowing down.

It’s easy to see why. e-commerce sites allow consumers to shop when it’s convenient for them. Busy parents can order necessities at any time of night or day. Third-shift employees can buy on their schedule. At the end of a workday, Americans can now relax in an easy chair and take care of shopping needs from the comfort of their living room. Compare that with rushed trips to stores in rainy weather, and the appeal of e-commerce is clear.

While some people avoided online shopping for years, 2020 changed all that. A tsunami of people began learning how to use e-commerce sites out of necessity. This need to get comfortable with online shopping fast, regardless of your aversion to websites in the past, made transactional websites even more popular. Unprecedented world events combined with technology trends to create unexpectedly strong demand.

Retailers who were undecided about adding online shopping to the mix became more motivated to create an online presence with e-commerce functionality. Technological advancements made it easier than ever for all sizes of companies to develop scalable, sustainable revenue streams that expanded a business’s geography beyond a neighborhood or township. In theory, a small shop with one location could now have a worldwide presence in a matter of weeks. But best of all, once an e-commerce site gains traction, it can serve as a buffer from the idiosyncrasies of the market. Businesses with online components and options are better positioned to weather recessions, pandemics, or other world events that can impact face-to-face sales.

But even without factoring in major disruptions, e-commerce makes good business sense. After all, more and more consumers say e-commerce is their preferred way to buy. In a recent UPS study, almost 70 percent of participants reported that they preferred shopping online.

On April 24, 2020, in The Washington Post, Sindya N. Bahnoo reported,

“The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the die-off of America’s storefront retail at a frightening speed, forcing independent stores to close on short notice and deepening the advantage of online behemoths like Amazon and Walmart. But a few independent retailers have rapidly pivoted toward e-commerce, in some cases using strikingly low-tech analog systems to retaliate against Amazon, which itself went live as a small online retailer of books 25 years ago. These businesses may not beat Amazon at its own game, but with some creativity and customer goodwill, they might survive the crisis and come out with some much-needed upgrades.”

While COVID-19 wreaked havoc, it also created new opportunities for small businesses. While building an e-commerce site can feel like an intimidating undertaking, following LNP Media Group’s step-by-step guide may simplify the process. For many companies, it’s easy to start small and scale up as demand increases. Over time, your e-commerce website may rival your bricks and mortar locations for sales and profitability.

But how to get started? We’ve outlined several e-commerce development steps to help small businesses think through the process and prepare for the world on online commerce.

Step 1: Define Your E-commerce Niche

While Amazon makes money selling everything, most retailers do better by sticking to a specialty or niche. Customers are more likely to choose you over big brands if you’re an expert in your field and offer specialized products and services developed for a narrow audience.

While it’s tempting to be all things to all people, it’s smart to start as a specialized business, with a limited product line. Once your online model is up and running, and profitable, you can expand into other areas with confidence.

Step 2: Research E-commerce Models

Before you get started on your new website, make sure you know what kind of sites are already out there. Start your journey with research. Spend time online. Look at what your competitors are doing. Explore what e-commerce looks like for other industries.

After all, growing any online business is an investment, and will require your time and your treasure. Research will increase your understanding of what works and reduce the chance that you choose a problematic model or one that discourages customer interaction.

It’s also important to remember that no one structure or type of e-commerce works for everyone. A store selling lamps will operate differently than an IT consulting service. Pizza shops have different needs than furniture stores. Pharmacies have specialized transactional requirements, while floral shops may have delivery restrictions.

The good news is that today’s e-commerce platforms provide customizable software that empowers almost any type of enterprise to offer complex online shopping functions. A decade ago, e-commerce solutions were generally costly and required the help of an experienced IT team and maintenance by an in-house development team. The old platforms were hard to scale and difficult to integrate with other marketing platforms like your existing website, your email programs, or your social media.

However, today’s platforms are flexible, intuitive, and comparatively inexpensive. Even the most basic e-commerce platforms allow users to customize products, pricing, inventory management, and promotions. And most come with easy-to-access reporting systems that can enable real-time monitoring of sales and inventory

It’s also wise to think through your customers’ payment preferences. Some platforms exclude payments from third-party vendors such as PayPal, which could slow sales.

Subscriptions provide a steady revenue each week or each month. For example, it may make sense for a lawn service to offer subscription rates, with services delivered in pre-determined intervals. Medical or health care products are also good choices for subscription deliveries.

Step 3: Choose an Online Shopping Program

E-commerce is defined by the inclusion of payments online. There are many online payment and e-commerce platforms out there that can be used to create a new site or to integrate into an existing company website. Some of the most popular names in e-commerce include Shopify, Woo Commerce, Big Commerce, Ecwid, Jimdo, Weebly, and Volusion. CRM programs like Squarespace and Wix also offer e-commerce programs. Even Square, the iPad-based cash register program, offers sleek integrations that allow businesses to create online stores or online ordering for in-store pickup.

Most of these platforms operate on a monthly fee basis. However, just reviewing flat rates can be deceptive. That’s because costs may depend on whether your site is self-hosted vs. hosted, and the estimated traffic and number of transactions. Most of these platforms charge a processing fee that can add up quickly. Conversely, other platforms are too simple and limited to just a few functions. Others may charge for bells and whistles that you won’t need to meet your online shopping goals.

Almost all online shopping platforms offer basic features such as a shopping cart, a search bar, and a customer login. They will allow you to use your company’s logo and brand colors. They will have data encryptions features that ensure your customers’ data is secure and to make hacking very difficult. Most platforms allow you to group products into categories and add images for each product or service. You should also be able to set prices, offer promotions, and manage your email lists within the platform.

Good e-commerce platforms also give you many ways to manage your database, grouping it into pre-selected segments such as regular customers, people who have not purchased for a while, and people who began to order something, but then abandoned their online cart without purchasing.

Most platforms also offer automated email follow up or integrations into email programs such as Constant Contact or MailChimp. That means you can use the programs together to create a robust shopping, purchasing, and follow-up program.

It may sound complicated, but all it takes is time online, investigating how similar businesses operate, and thinking about what you do and don’t want to offer online.

It’s also critical to ensure that the e-commerce platform you choose will integrate with your website. Most online shopping platforms feature a wide range of tools and integrations that allow you to customize the shopping experience.

Other plugins are available to handle accounting need such as sales reporting, estimated taxes, and P&L reports.

Some programs offer robust email marketing tools as well as sophisticated list management features. Others offer shipping add-ons or customer loyalty widgets.

Before you make your decision, make sure you understand all the ways you can use the platform to manage your e-commerce business.

Step 4. Make Sure Your E-commerce Site is SEO Friendly

Traffic from search engines will become your site’s most significant source of new customers. That’s why many e-commerce businesses live and die by how well they manage their Search Engine Optimization or SEO. A site with strong SEO will rank high on search engines against selected keywords. Ranking higher on search engines means that customers can find your business when they’re searching for products or services like yours.

While that sounds simple enough, SEO is actually relatively complex and can take up a lot of time. But because top-ranking sites consistently attract more click-throughs than lower-ranking sites, SEO is well worth the time and effort.

Google’s Free SEO Tools

While SEO should be a long-term business strategy, newcomers to e-commerce can get started by using simple strategies and following best practices. For example, Google offers many free tools to help websites improve their SEO. Setting up Google Analytics and a Google Search Console is relatively simple and free. These tools will help you track traffic to your website and understand how to improve your site so it can rank higher against your chosen keywords.

Google recommends you submit your sitemap to Google through your Search Console account. Most e-commerce platforms, such as Woo Commerce or Shopify, and CRMs like WordPress or Square Space, automatically generate sitemap files. These list your website’s individual pages. These site maps help search engines index all the pages on your site, which is one way to improve SEO.

Google Search Console also reports crawling errors. Search engines like Google index websites using programming bots which “crawl” the website and its pages. When a bot attempts to reach a page or website but fails, it reports a crawling error. Crawling errors hurt your SEO, so it’s smart to fix broken links, missing pages, or other crawling errors immediately.

Follow Google’s official recommended practices to help you avoid the e-commerce and website practices that may end up hurting your site’s SEO.

E-commerce SEO Starts With Keywords

Keywords are the building blocks of any SEO effort. To rank on search engines, you start by choosing the words or phrases you want to rank against. For example, if you’re a salon, you might want to rank for “Best Lancaster Salons” and “Lancaster County Beauty Salons.”

How do you know which words and phrases to use? Google’s Keyword Planner is an excellent place to start. This tool will show you the search volume for any keyword or keyword phrases you submit, so you get an idea of whether the keywords are used regularly, or if they’re too generic and used too frequently for unrelated topics. For example, while “cars” might seem like a good keyword for your business, people searching for cars might be looking for automobiles, Disney movies, or 80’s pop bands. Using terms like “Used Buick in Lancaster” might be a more specific and relevant term for your business.

Spending time with Google’s Keyword Planner helps marketers understand how people search for products and services and will allow you to get more targeted in your keyword choices.

A Word About E-commerce Page Optimizations

Website platforms have many tools that can make it easier for search engines’ bots to find and index your site.  H1 tags are one of these tools. Use one H1 tag on each page to serve as the main headline. Preferably the page’s H1 tag will also contain at least one the site’s main keywords or keyword phrases.

Another way to boost SEO is to keep page titles under 60 characters to prevent them from being truncated or cut off in the search results.

A meta description is the preview text that appears when your site shows up in a search. Having the right meta description in place can increase your click-through rates. While Google has reported that there is no official limit on characters for meta descriptions, most experts say that using 155-160 characters is optimal.

While some sites automatically generate URLs, they can also be customized. To boost your e-commerce site’s SEO, be sure to include some keywords or keyword phrases in each page’s URL.

Google Image searches account for nearly 23% of all web searches. Each time you add an image to your site, you can create alt tags and file names for each image. Make sure each of your file names and alt tags have descriptive names and try to include keywords or keyword phrases.

Step 5: Create Relevant Content

A well-planned content marketing strategy not only helps your site become more visible to search engines, but it also makes the site more relevant and engaging for your customers.

Content can describe your products and services, but it can also show customers how to use your products in new or unusual ways. For example, grocery stores can include recipes and storage tips. An auto repair shop can include tutorials on checking oil or putting air in tires.

Answering Frequently Asked Questions or FAQs is another way to boost SEO while meeting your customers’ needs. And all content should be developed with keywords and SEO in mind.

In G2, Andrej Kovacevic emphasized,

“…a whopping 70% of marketers are currently investing in content strategies, and 72% cite having a good content strategy as a major key to their success. For small businesses, content marketing is arguably even more vital. That’s because smaller companies often don’t have the marketing resources that larger firms do, and content marketing delivers some of the highest overall ROI for every marketing dollar spent. It’s also a long-term strategy that can continue to pay dividends for a long time after it’s put into effect.”

As a rule of thumb, blocks of content and blog posts should aim for 500 words and up. While quality trumps quantity every time, this is not the place for short, snappy prose. Take your time to describe and explain everything thoroughly, so you give search engines and consumers plenty of time to understand who you are and what you sell.

Google penalizes you for plagiarism or duplicate text among websites or webpages, so make sure your text, product descriptions, and blogs are your own. If the text lives anywhere else online, even on your company’s other websites, social media, or other websites or social media, consider rewriting it. Google and other search engines won’t index duplicate copy, which means repeated descriptions could hurt your SEO.

If a page on your e-commerce site becomes inactive or products are removed, it’s smart to add a redirect that page, which will send users to a different but still relevant page. Not only are inactive pages frustrating for consumers, but they also make your site look uncared for, and hurt your SEO.

Step 7: Make Sure Your E-commerce Site is Mobile Friendly

Almost 60% of searches are completed on smartphones. Much of e-commerce also happens on a mobile device. Because mobile is becoming the dominant tool for accessing the internet, it’s more important than ever to make your site completely accessible on mobile devices. Many e-commerce programs and CRMs such as WordPress offer responsive or adaptive templates that automatically reconfigure to meet the needs of the device.

As you create your e-commerce site, remember that many of your images will be seen in smaller dimensions on a smartphone, so keeping images simple makes sense.

Your site should also download quickly. Site download speed is a significant ranking factor, for both desktop and mobile searches. Google offers PageSpeed Insights to measure your site’s download speed and can provide advice on improving speed.

Step 8: Think Through Customer Service

While many business owners understand how customer service works face-to-face, online customer service can be more complicated.

E-commerce offers a new set of customer service challenges, including service issues, software glitches, and other things that are often out of your control.  E-commerce platforms with 24/7 service reps are worth the extra cost when you need answers immediately (and not three days from now.) Make sure you understand what kind of customer service is offered with any e-commerce platform you’re considering.

You may also want to consider amping up your own online customer service with pop-up chat options, chat agents, and other ways to contact your team (or outsourced customer service reps) with questions or concerns.

Step 9: Don’t Skimp on E-commerce Site Security

Online security and data security is one of the hottest issues in online commerce today. As a result, most e-commerce platforms and CRM programs include robust security standards. However, it’s also essential to make sure that any site that allows consumers to input any type of data, whether it’s an email or a credit card, uses HTTPS encryption to ensure a safe and secure checkout experience.

According to Google,

“HTTPS helps keep your browsing safe by securely connecting your browser or app with the websites you visit. HTTPS relies on encryption technology—SSL or TLS—to secure these connections… HTTPS web connections protect against eavesdroppers, man-in-the-middle attacks, and hijackers who attempt to spoof a trusted website. In other words, encryption thwarts interception of your information and ensures the integrity of information that you send and receive. Because older hardware and software often don’t support modern encryption technologies, users of these devices may be more vulnerable to security threats.”

It’s also important to make sure that any e-commerce platform you choose is PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. The PCI Security Standards Council recently updated standards, as noted in this June 2020 press release,

“Established to protect PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) and the cardholder data stored on the card (on magnetic stripe or the chip of an EMV card) or used in conjunction with a mobile device, PTS POI Version 6.0 reorganizes the requirements and introduces changes that include:

  • Restructuring modules into Physical and Logical, Integration, Communications and Interfaces, and Life Cycle to reflect the diversity of devices supported under the standard and the application of requirements based upon their individual characteristics and functionalities.
  • Limiting firmware approval timeframes to three years to help ensure ongoing protection against evolving vulnerabilities.
  • Requiring devices that accept EMV enabled cards to support Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) to help facilitate the EMV migration to a more robust level of cryptography.
  • Enhancing support for the acceptance of magnetic stripe cards in mobile payments using solutions that follow the Software-Based PIN Entry on COTS (SPoC) Standard.”

Step 10: Get Ready to Ship

For e-commerce sites that ship their products, this step is critical. Your ability to sell or get repeat business may hinge on the decisions you make about shipping.

Free Shipping Pros and Cons

Free shipping has become standard on many e-commerce sites. That’s because free shipping is one of the most effective ways to drive purchases and reduce shopping cart abandonment. However, while you may offer free shipping, as any online merchant will tell you, shipping is not free for the merchant. If you want to offer free shipping, you’ll need to factor those costs into your e-commerce pricing strategy. How do you do that?

  • Increase product prices to cover costs for shipping to keep healthy margins.
  • Cover the full price of shipping, thereby reducing your margins.
  • Bump up the product price enough to partially cover shipping costs which means the customer will pay for a part of it, and you will pay for part of shipping.
  • Offer free shipping based on a minimum order amount. Not only is it easier to cover the cost of shipping for larger orders, but this strategy can also help you increase your average order size.

Flat Rate Shipping

Some e-commerce sites charge one rate per order, regardless of order size. This makes sense when your product line is made up of items of similar sizes and weights.

Real-Time Carrier Rates

Many e-commerce platforms, such as Woo Commerce, offer real-time integrations with carriers like UPS and the USPS to automatically calculate shipping based on their order. Small, light packages cost less. Big, bulky packages cost more.

Local Delivery

When your customer base is local, and your products are expensive to ship, local delivery is a smart option. Many e-commerce retailers use their own delivery trucks and employees to offer free local delivery for larger orders such as mattresses, appliances, boxes of office paper, or other heavy, hard-to-ship items.

Step 11: ABC…E (Always be Collecting Emails)

Opt-in forms and email database management is at the heart of any successful e-commerce site. Collecting emails and sending out proactive messages via email is one of the most effective ways to gain new customers, nurture existing clients, and find new prospects.

The best way to grow your email list is to include opt-in forms throughout your e-commerce site. Why not ask them to sign up for your news, deals, and information at a time when they’re already engaged on your e-commerce site?

Opt-in forms don’t need to be pushy or unattractive. With a little effort, you should be able to create forms that look great, support your brand, and drive opt-ins. Here are a few hints for creating hard-working opt-in forms.

  • Place them in the site’s header, footer, and in the navigation bar. While these locations may have lower conversion rates compared to a dedicated landing page, consistent placement on every page is a good long-term strategy. Over time, the number of subscribers these locations generate adds up.
  • Create an opt-in pop-up form. When you set pop-ups to trigger based on exit cues, you can catch your visitor before they leave, without slowing down the purchasing process. These are called exit-intent pop-ups and are usually triggered when a visitor moves their cursor off your website to a search bar or back button. Most e-commerce platforms have simple plugins and add-ons that can help you find the best way to create effective pop-up opt-in programs.
  • Include opt-ins on blogs.While your content may have been developed to educate your customers, it’s also a common place for newbies to enter your e-commerce site. Why not capture their emails and try to convert them into customers in the future?
  • Offer high-value lead magnets. Instead of promising “news and deals,” why not create a special piece of content designed to attract new customers? If you’re a florist, create a video about how to select flowers for weddings. Bike shops can create pdfs with maintenance checklists. Grocery stores can send out mini cookbooks with valuable coupons included. The idea is to offer specific, high-value information designed to appeal to your best customers and prospects.

Step 12: Leverage Email

Once the visitor has left the site, email is one of the best ways to reach out to them to continue the conversation. If you have captured their information via opt-in forms or received their email as part of an order, now is the time to ramp up your email marketing efforts.

Make the Most of Emailed Order Confirmations and Receipts

Order confirmation emails or emailed receipts have some of the highest open rates. The open rates can be as high as 90 percent, depending on the industry. Why not take advantage of this high attention rate to start making your next sale?

Of course, the content your email receipts must tick all the usual boxes; what was ordered, cost, shipping address, and expected delivery time, but after these are taken care of, try suggestive selling.

  • Upsell related or companion products.
  • Send out an offer to get a second item at a discount.
  • Offer an ongoing discount if they establish a subscription purchase.
  • Give them a discount code or coupon to use toward a future purchase, preferably to be redeemed within a limited time frame. Bounce-back offers are proven ways to build customer loyalty.
  • Offer them the chance to send the same item as a gift purchase, at a discount.

Improve Your Shipping Confirmation Emails

Shipping confirmation emails also have high open rates, so make sure you’re setting them up to work as hard as possible.

  • Make it easy for your customers to track their orders. Include the expected delivery date and tracking number linked to the shipping company so people can click once to see exactly where their order is in the delivery process.
  • Suggest the customer refer a friend by forwarding a link to the product they purchased. Incentivize word-of-mouth marketing by implementing a referral program with rewards.
  • Include product suggestions that match a customer’s purchase. Make sure you’re asking shoppers to purchase something they’ll actually be interested in.

Email Marketing Boosts E-commerce Sales

While email receipts and shipping orders are valuable communication opportunities, email marketing can address your consumer in every part of the marketing funnel. Developing an email list, setting up a cart abandonment campaign, developing bounce back offers, and sending nurture emails will help you drive consistent, qualified traffic to your site that will boost sales.

Digital Marketing to Promote Your E-commerce Site

In addition to SEO and email, today’s e-commerce website has a wide range of marketing tools from which to choose. Google ads and Google display ads are an effective way to identify your site traffic and send ads to them based on their viewing habits. Known as retargeting, this marketing strategy uses automation and pre-programmed logic chains to send the right information to the right person at the right time.

Social media ads on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are also cost-effective strategies to help you find customers and increase online sales.

Paid search engine listings are another way to ensure your site shows up in front of people who are searching for products and services like yours.

Video marketing is another way to get people excited about your products. Once you create product and service videos, you can place them on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn as posts or as paid advertising.

And don’t forget to promote your e-commerce site in all of your traditional marketing programs. Promote it in-store signage, in print and broadcast ads, on your business cards, and even on your delivery trucks. Make sure all your existing customers know they now have a new way to order.

The Takeaway

Starting any business is challenging. Keeping an existing company profitable can also be a real challenge.  E-commerce is intimidating to many business owners because it has many hidden problems that can be hard to identify. While e-commerce can be scary, it’s a smart move if your firm teams up with an experienced online shopping expert that can help you avoid the pitfalls and take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

If you’re considering moving away from the traditional storefront model, or diversifying your business with an e-commerce site, or want to offer your customers more ways to buy, choose a digital marketing partner and an e-commerce platform that makes sense with your products, service, goals, and budget. LNP Media Group is an experienced e-commerce marketing partner. We’re here to help you map out your path to online success. Contact us today for more details.

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What You Don’t Know About Advertising on LancasterOnline

What You Don’t Know About Advertising on LancasterOnline

5Lots of people are confused by the array of online advertising options. And it seems like a new one pops up every month. Even experienced digital marketing experts can get overwhelmed trying to keep up with all the changes in online platforms and advertising tools. In the past ten years, businesses have had to learn about Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, SnapChat, Waze, Google, and Pinterest, just to name a few.

With so many digital marketing opportunities available, the choices can be overwhelming. And with so much online activity, it’s easy to overlook local digital options. However, there is one online advertising option in Lancaster County that you won’t want to overlook.

Many businesses and organizations know that LancasterOnline is the digital companion to LNP, Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s daily newspaper. But fewer people realize that this digital arm of LNP can offer more news, information, and lifestyle reporting than any other website in the area.

Others are surprised to learn that, just like the LNP newspaper, LancasterOnline features reliable reporting on local and national news and issues. Like the print edition, it also includes home and lifestyle features.

Not only does LancasterOnline offer both subscribers and non-subscribers access to hundreds of informational videos and exclusive, online-only content, but it also provides an entire suite of innovative advertising tools.

Remember This One Thing

Even if you find that all of the tools and strategies we discuss in this article are hard to commit to memory, there is one thing that you make sure you remember:

We guarantee that your ads will be shown alongside compelling, credible content that you (and your potential customers) can trust. LancasterOnline maintains the same publishing standards as our print edition.

And unlike many of the other digital options bumping around, only LancasterOnline is backed with over 225 years of experience growing local businesses.

If you’re a business in Central PA, you should know that when you choose to advertise on LancasterOnline, our experienced media solutions strategists will help you create a digital marketing program designed to reach your best customers right here, right now.

Request a free consultation with our digital marketing experts.

Do You Know Who Reads LancasterOnline?

LancasterOnline is the most popular and well-read website and app in the area. In fact, LancasterOnline attracts over a million individual users every month, which includes more than 15,000 paid “all-access” premium subscriptions and over 50,000 downloads of our app.

Did You Know that Young Lancastrians Love LancasterOnline?

Yep, it’s true. 42 percent of our readers are ages 25-45. While the average age of people who consume print and broadcast news is getting older and older, LancasterOnline continues to attract younger readers.

More than a fifth of our readers are 25-34. Another fifth is 35-45. That means that no matter which age is most important to your business, you can reach them on LancasterOnline.

Marketing Secret: Get More Lancaster County Customers To Your Door With Our Mobile Advertising

It’s no secret that mobile marketing is more important than ever. In fact, in 2019, Google reported that

“Mobile searches for ‘store open near me’ (such as ‘grocery store open near me’ and ‘auto parts store open near me’) have grown by over 250% in the last two years.”

Mobile devices in Lancaster, and all over the world, have become more than cameras and social media portals (and, oh yeah, phones.) Nowadays, these little pocket computers are referred to as smartphones. In fact, if you have an iPhone8 or better, you have more than 10x the computing power at your fingertips than the Cray-1 Supercomputer offered in 1976 (and the Cray-1 cost 8 million dollars.)

Our smartphones also feature location services that, when combined with the sophisticated algorithms of Google Business, make it simple for people to find businesses and restaurants in seconds. Smartphones are now the number one way shoppers find business locations near them.

With so many people spending time on their smartphones, it’s no surprise that more than 75 percent of LancasterOnline readers access our site via mobile. We make sure all of our ads and content are formatted to be mobile-friendly. That means it’s easy for people to read our information and click on our ads. All this comes together to make LancasterOnline an excellent advertising platform for retailers, restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, car washes, auto repair shops, auto dealers, health services, salons, health clubs, travel destinations, and much more.

Did You Know We Can Help You Build Your Databases?

If you’re a business that wants to build a qualified email or mailing list, LancasterOnline can help. Our media solutions specialists can help you develop online contests, digital sweepstakes, or interactive quizzes that will motivate potential customers to trade an email address for a chance to win a prize.

We’ve helped dozens of local businesses create quizzes and contests that drive opt-ins. And when your company offers your product or service as the prize or giveaway, you know that people who enter want what you’re selling. Your award acts as a lead qualifier, so every person who registers is a good potential customer. And, we handle opt-ins in a fully transparent manner. We are compliant with all privacy rules and regulations.

Did You Know All of Our Innovative Ads are Designed for Maximum Impact?

Every ad space we offer on LancasterOnline is designed to be visible and attractive. We’ve developed ads and promotions that make people want to click on the ads and find out more about your business.

One of these unique ad offerings is the Homepage Takeover. If you’re looking to wow your customers and create a message that can’t be ignored, the Homepage Takeover ad package is for you. This exciting format places your ads in four different spots on the first page they see.

Ads are in four different sizes to add visual interest and excitement. Every ad is clickable so that it can link to your website or landing page. And you can use animation or insert video to add even more sizzle to your commanding ad presence.

Reveal ads are another interactive element that is highly visible and engaging. Reveals live at the top of the page, and you get full share of voice for that spot for 24 hours. Again, animation or video can be used. The reader sees your ad immediately on every page of the site.

However, some businesses have a story to tell and need more space to explain. If you want to go deep and give your customers a chance to learn all about your business, then Collaborative Content might be right for you. Our media specialist will recommend topics, or you can choose your subject. Our writing and design team then works to create professional articles that relate to your business or your newest offering. When you choose this type of advertising on LancasterOnline, you get a long-format, high-impact article that people all over Lancaster County will want to read.

Have you Tried Auto Marketing on LancasterOnline?

When you list in LancasterOnline’s Auto Section, your inventory will move quickly. We make it easy for users to find the car, truck, or SUV of their dreams. Motor Monday is a favorite of our print edition, and we also run it on LancasterOnline. When you combine print and digital publications, you get twice the exposure.

This is Not Your Father’s Recruitment Ad

Digital marketing has made it easier than ever to find the right people for employment needs. Our experienced recruitment media specialist marries our multimedia platforms with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find people locally or nationally. The LancasterOnline team can also use geofencing, search engine optimization, email campaigns, and more to get you hard-to-find applicants. Before you start your next hiring campaign, make sure to discover our full list of unique recruitment services here.

Do You Know How to Tap Into the Power of Digital Sponsorships?

Work with one of our media solutions specialists to find out if an online sponsorship with a prominent digital presence is right for your business. LancasterOnline regularly offers opportunities for a company or organization to become the sponsor of a page, event, or contest. In many cases, you can request to be the only sponsor in your category. With other opportunities, you may be able to secure sole sponsorship. Sponsorship features may include prominent logo placement, co-branded sponsorship name, your brand in ads promoting the page, event, or contest, ads on LancasterOnline, and more.

Our media solutions strategists will help you create a customized approach that makes sense for your business. When you become a LancasterOnline sponsor, you’re able to link your brand with credible content that people trust. And that’s good for business.

Reach Targeted Audiences With Our E-Newsletters

When you choose to run a sponsorship ad in one of LancasterOnline‘s e-newsletter, you get to choose among a selection of highly-targeted interests. LancasterOnline sends out daily or weekly emails to audiences who have requested email updates on breaking news, business, sports, food, entertainment, politics, obituaries, restaurant inspections, and more.

An e-newsletter sponsorship offers clickable ads that can lead to an offer or to any page on your website. It’s an affordable and targeted way to reach people who have already told you what kind of information is most valuable to them. Our media solution strategists are ready to help you develop an advertising program that will ensure your brand and ads are seen in the places that matter most.

Are You Part of the LancasterOnline Business Directory Yet?

When you list your business on the LancasterOnline Business Directory, you can help your business’s digital presence grow in more ways than one. Not only will you become part of the Directory, but you’ll also create a complete business profile that could include business hours of operation, a list of payments your business accepts, social media links, events, images, Youtube video player, awards, and testimonials.

Links on LancasterOnline can also be a part of a good search engine marketing plan. Links from our website to your website are also a way to boost your SEO, which means your site may show up higher on Google searches.

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, Imagine What a Video is Worth

If you want to stand out online, nothing works better than video. Media studies report that 85% of the US online audience watches videos. And if you want to reach young audiences, you should know that millennials watch more videos than other demographic groups.

But does video really persuade people to buy? Short answer: yes. About 64% of consumers say they have purchased after watching a branded social video.

Videos are great for entertainment, but they can also be an excellent way to show off properties, teach people how to use your products, position you as an expert, and even show people your retail space.

LNP Media Group, Inc. can help you write and produce high-quality videos designed to sell. And they are surprisingly affordable. Just talk with one of our media solutions strategists to get started.

Or try sponsoring one of LancasterOnline’s popular news videos. Not only are they placed on LancasterOnline, but they’re also shared on our Facebook and Twitter feeds, reaching 140K followers.

What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You.

What you don’t know about LancasterOnline can hurt you, and it can hurt your business. If you’re not investing in LancasterOnline’s unique set of digital marketing advertising and sponsorship options, you may be missing out on the local audiences you need most.

Now that you know a little more about LancasterOnline’s wide range of advertising options, it’s time to set up a free strategy consultation to talk about your business needs and to find a tool that will help you boost your business sales. While we already attract over a million unique users each month, as digital news becomes more and more popular, LancasterOnline continues to gain readers, visitors, subscribers, followers, and clout.

Let our team help you find ways to help you educate, persuade, or share. We can help you meet your marketing goals and reach your customers.

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Content Marketing: How To Utilize This Increasingly Effective Marketing Strategy

Content Marketing: How To Utilize This Increasingly Effective Marketing Strategy

Content marketing is steadily becoming one of the most effective forms of digital marketing. With lower costs and higher rates of effectiveness, content marketing has become a staple of many advertising campaigns. Content marketing comes in many forms including video, blog-style posts, social media posts, how-to’s, tips, and more:

  • The purpose is to provide consumers with valuable information and engaging content with the objective of driving consumers towards a purchase and increasing brand awareness while building trust.
  • Consumers have become increasingly responsive to alternative forms of advertising.

Content marketing indicates to consumers that your business is a credible and trusted source, while providing transparent information that consumers find useful.

More than just information

Google’s most recent algorithm update maintained the already established standard that content marketing is heavily favored in search engine optimization (SEO):

  • With SEO becoming increasingly important, being able to provide quality, useful content has become one of the most important factors in search results pages rankings.
  • Compelling and useful content marketing can create consumer enthusiasm for your brand or a product or service.

Content marketing is a great way to attract new customers to your site and build trusting relationships with them. Increasing your website’s search results pages rankings is an added bonus.

The power of blog posts

One of the easiest, most effective types of content marketing are blog posts. Nearly any business can utilize these, relating them to their respective industry:

  • Blog posts inform consumers of useful information, tackle a problem, or discuss an issue while providing a solution through your business.
  • According to the Content Marketing Institute, small businesses with blog-style content marketing receive 126% more lead growth than those without.
  • Content marketing also has low up-front costs and deep long-term benefits allowing businesses to get the most out of their advertising dollars.
  • LNP Media Group offers collaborative content articles personalized to any business and industry, creating brand advertising that is seamlessly integrated into informative articles, sponsored by your business.
  • LNP Media Group also has skilled marketing copywriters on staff who can create custom blogs for your website.

Blog posts convey credibility and build trust through providing interesting and beneficial information to consumers. The affordability of blog posts allows businesses to stretch their advertising budgets while maximizing their marketing benefits.

Don’t forget about video

Video provides a different medium for content marketing and is an excellent channel for diversifying a marketing strategy. Video marketing goes hand in hand with content marketing:

Stay ahead of the curve

Consumers are growing tired of repeatedly seeing the same ads. Diversify your marketing strategy with the addition of content marketing to build trusting relationships with customers and boost your overall marketing ROI. Contact LNP Media Group today to learn more about how our content marketing team can help your business grow!

LNP Media Group is committed to delivering exceptional experiences to our audiences, our customers, our vendors and our employees throughout Lancaster County and Central Pennsylvania. We provide value to our marketing and advertising partners by building effective and innovative solutions and by delivering exemplary customer experiences.

LNP Media Group is a division of Steinman Communications, one of the largest and most experienced communications companies in the Mid-Atlantic. Steinman Communications is an innovative, multi-channel communications company that delivers high quality news, information and entertainment to diverse audiences

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