Free Online Marketing Advice from an Expert

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Let me start this by saying I hate the term expert, especially when used to describe one's self, but "Free Online Marketing Advice" is likely one of the most common headlines in the business world, and I wanted you to know that I have some experience under my belt. For our purposes, I'll define expert as a person who take their craft seriously, has a proven track record of success, and when engaged in a conversation about a topic, that person can always contribute positively. Now, for the free advice ...

I'm always hearing businesspeople say they can't get a good gauge or ROI from online marketing. My advice is to stop saying that, and just start putting in the work. Here's why.

  1. Online marketing and real world marketing function under the same logic. Reach is the number of people that picked up the magazine, drove past the billboard, or had the TV on. Views are the number of people that actually looked inside the magazine and saw your ad, looked at your billboard, or sat through the commercial. Interaction is the number of people that tore out that page in the magazine so they could take action, told Siri the website on the billboard, or showed appreciation in some way for the creativity in your commercial. Sales, are the people that bought as a result of the marketing and advertising above.
  2. Let's look at billboards. Reach is fairly easy to guesstimate, but never 100% accurate. Views are impossible to calculate without tracking eye contact. Interaction is also impossible to calculate, and there's a chance that the person will get the reminder from Siri to check out your product or service at an inopportune time, thus forgetting about you forever. Sales; this is the most trackable piece of the puzzle IF your customers learned of you from a single source, your staff always ask "How did you hear of us?", and if you actually record that information centrally. Online, that information is readily available and catalogued for life as long as you know what you're doing. Plus, you don't need a potential customer to remember anything, you just need them to click.
  3. The point of advertising and marketing is to reach as many people as possible within your customer base. In the real world, you can manipulate that data to a degree. In the online world, you can zero in on that data in deeper ways than ever in history.

So here's the second piece of my free tip—stop saying you can't get a good gauge on your online ROI because it's not the marketing principals that are flawed, it's the marketing itself.

One of the most important notes I give clients at Sync is to make sure they give their customers a reason to get excited. Now, this means different strokes for different blokes but ultimately if you're marketing doesn't rev up the potential customer in some way, then the marketing has failed. This is assuming you have a good product or service, of course. If not, there are larger problems than your marketing.

I've seen this time and again; a promotion goes out with very little thought, planning, creativity, and excitement, only to be a colossal waste of resources. The people behind it blame Facebook, or Google, or Cosmo. Then in more cases than not, a well thought out, thoroughly planned, creative, and energetic campaign hits to produce the desired ROI. Those behind the campaign pat themselves on the back for a job well done, but rarely thank Facebook, Google, or Cosmo.

It can take time to find the magic formula but the takeaway is that online marketing is never the problem—you will reach the people if you're doing it right because they're all online ... rather it's the idea that needs to be refined.

So, next time someone asks you if online marketing works, repeat after me, "If you're willing to do it right, then yes, it absolutely does."

Written by Jay Hall, Chief Strategist

It's Hard Being a Woman in Business. - Written by a Man Who is Not a Feminist

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We always hear how hard it can be to function as a woman in business. But, most men discount this idea because they just don't experience what a woman goes through. At Sync, we service and help optimize a lot of LinkedIn accounts and here's what I've noticed.

By and large, men suck as disconnecting personal and professional. I can't tell you how often men InMail or message the female LinkedIn profiles we assist with, starting the conversation by saying, "Hey gorgeous" or "Hello hunny". 

Meanwhile, not one woman has ever messaged a man on the profiles we assist on with similar greetings. They are professional and courteous. This is already an indication of how men choose to treat the females they do business with. But, there's more ...

You have guys asking the women in business out on dates, and frivolous questions like, "What's your favorite flower?" There's also guys who try to covertly get lunch meetings, however can't help themselves but to drop small indicators that they are treating this more like a date. Guys, you may think you're cunning but women are far more seasoned in the game of flirtation than we are.

Here's the thing; regardless of whether you agree that the wage gap is real, or if women have to work that much harder to get to the same position as a man, I am offering first hand perspective how just one aspect is so much harder for a woman in business. Of the women whom we help on LinkedIn, they are are all deeply frustrated by the messages they get.

You know it is possible to see a beautiful woman and not react like a horny comic book fan, right? Physical characteristics should never play into the decision to do business with someone. Now, if you do business together and an obvious connection is there, then perhaps it's worth exploring, BUT ...

"I hope when I go on my LinkedIn or into the office today, that a bunch guys hit on me," is something that's been said by no woman ever. 

Think before you message, and treat your female colleges with the same respect you treat the males.

Written by Jay Hall, Chief Strategist

2018 Better Be the Year You Invest in Video Marketing

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2017 is coming to a close. Can you believe it? We're just months away from shutting down a very strange year in business, politics, sports, and pretty much any other subject. I'll make this short; at the end of 2016 I posted an article about needing to invest in video for marketing. That was based on the graphic below and internal polling.

Many companies still haven't jumped on the marketing trend. I know why. It can be pretty expensive when done right, there's a lot of uncontrollable factors, and it takes time to build great videos.

That's why you need a team like Sync to help you out, and catapult you into the marketing stratosphere. Video requires a long-term commitment, so don't even think about it if you can't commit to a plan and stick with it through the good, the bad, and the ugly. For our clients, the one's that took video strategy seriously, they saw definitive ROI. I mean, internet ROI (interaction such as likes) and actual ROI. Video posts clicked through to carts or reservation pages 38% more than graphics.

The moral of the story is, provide the world with engaging, entertaining, informative, and original content for your chance to relate to a potential customer. That was the moral of the story last year at this time, and I just thought it would be prudent to remind you.

Do you really want to be over 2 years behind on a trend that's creating revenue?

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Business Video Stats That Will Have You Pressing REC

Everyone knows by now that video has taken over as a top performing post type on social media. While you may have thought that video was a fad and everyone would return to reading, these stats prove otherwise. In comparison, these numbers were cut in half just 5 years ago.

This isn't a fad. Your business needs video, and you need it now to stay competitive. Take a look at these jaw dropping numbers.

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What I've Learn After a Year of Putting My Phone Down

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While I write this post I am wearing a Facebook shirt, working on my MacBook Pro which is in a room filled with Apple products. I run an online marketing agency and online ticket portal, amongst other online properties. My staff work remotely for the most part, meaning digital comms are the only way to reach each other 90% of the time. I'm 6'4" and I leave a mighty impactful digital footprint wherever I go.

The iProblem

That said, about a year ago one of the reasons my relationship failed was because I was never putting my phone down. My iPhone was essentially another limb. When a text would chime I would answer within seconds no matter what was happening. You could reach me at 4pm and 4am (I never sleep so I was okay with it).

In short, my phone was controlling me. But let's be honest, "phone" is an underwhelming term for the smart devices in our pockets. My iPhone has over 700 apps and connects me with the world. Truly, I could never talk to another living soul again, and I'd still know everything I need to know.

The iSolution

Enough was enough, and it was time for a change. I consciously made a few decisions and then built on them. The first was that just because I'm awake doesn't mean I need to be reachable. So, I put my phone on do not disturb mode after 7pm and only allowed family and my GM to have settings that would slip past it. Then, most days I turned the sounds off on my phone during the day. Those two decisions changed my life.

No longer can you always get a response from me within seconds, and the digital anxiety (I guess you could call it) brought on by a chime that I just had to get to, melted away. Then I noticed something interesting. I kept forgetting my phone at home when I was going out with family. This is something I would have never done a year ago, because it was always top of mind.

Through all of this, you know what I learned?

My businesses still run just as smoothly as they did before. My time with those I care about is so much more intimate now. My clients are happy. My friends and family are happy ... I am happy.

Basically, the work still gets done, but somehow in less time with less contact. Of course there are still plenty of days when emergencies pop-up and I have that phone stuck to me like guerrilla glue, but once those emergencies pass I'm back to being content without my mechanical appendage.

Life is just better. I hope you can do it too.

Written by Jay Hall, Chief Strategist

The Argument for Less Privacy

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In this ever evolving world you can go to sleep with one understanding and wake up in the morning needing to learn the "new way of things". With the digital innovations that fly at us at a rapid pace, it is an exciting time to be alive. However, as we innovate the public becomes more concerned about privacy.

Everyday on my feeds I see someone with real concerns about social sites and the use of their data, the government watching our every move, and other privacy related concerns. I get why you're so worried, but what you may not have noticed while sharing articles about the evil intentions of Facebook is that less privacy has actually made for a better life.

Now, I'm not saying we should give away our rights and allow everyone to know everything about us, but the current use of information is actually pretty constructive. If 9/11 proved anything, it's that the unexpected can happen at any moment. Data sharing and a more open society have helped aid agencies in preventing many different terrorist attacks around the globe.

Outside of a little less privacy keeping us safe, it's also keeping us sane. Remember the days before PVR when you'd actually have to watch TV commercials? It feels like the times of cavemen and striking sticks and stones to build a fire.

The reason we hated advertising so much is because it wasn't catered to us. Now, with a little less privacy and a technology called retargeting, ads are being served up to us based on our activities and interests. This means that while there are more ads popping up online, they are more relevant.

Letting go of some data through what is called a pixel is what we needed to make this future possible. The pixel installs a tiny scrap of data known as a cookie in your browser. It's hard at work around the clock so that if you're looking for a car, but not a house, you're not seeing a ton of ads from real estate agents. Instead, car ads will be popping up around the web (wherever you surf) and the Internet Gods will help you find that new vehicle you're dreaming about all day long.

I see this as a good thing. Not being a parent, I don't care about formula or diapers and I don't want ads for those items popping up all over the internet. Instead, I get ads for digital tech, accessories for my car, items I could buy for date night, and trips. That's what I want to see, and that is why advertising online is superior to real world advertising.

Now of course, in a perfect world there would be no terrorism and no advertising, but this less than perfect world of ours has both so we need to figure out how we co-exist with those realities. Let's face it, you're not doing anything wrong online and the only data that sites like Facebook, Google, and Bing can pull is the data you're putting out there into the world anyway. It's simple to keep your privacy in tact if you'd like, just unplug. Short of that, you'll have to make what some might call compromises, and what I call adjustments.

Absolute privacy can only exist if we share absolutely nothing, which isn't happening so instead of fighting it, look at the revolution of personalized ads and identification profiles within government agencies as progressive. Then, if any person or company steps over the lines of acceptable limits then punish them by taking them to task.

Domain Renewal Scams: iDNS Canada

You may or may not have gotten a letter from a company called iDNS Canada (also known as Internet Domain Name Services). iDNS is a company that preys on people who don’t fully understand the domain registration service by sending letters in the mail about their expiring domain and requests payment. This scam is very similar to the one that went a couple of years ago by the Domain Registry of Canada (DROC).

What this company is actually doing is scamming money from you and trying to transfer your domain away from your current provider, in order to try and scam more money from you later on. Here are some important things to note so you can avoid being scammed when it comes to your domain:

  • Real domain registration providers will never send you a letter in the mail.
  • Report any letters you receive to ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers)
  • Report all letters you receive for all domains to the Canadian Spam Reporting Centre

iDNS is not the first, or last, company to try doing this. If you are ever unsure about something, always ask your web provider first. Remember, if you are a Sync client, and we manage your domain, you will never lose it. So, you can sit back and relax because we’ll take care of it.

Example of the type of letter iDNS sends out:

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5 Apps to Make Your Job Easier

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Tech was supposed to make our lives easier, but it just seems like we're all so much busier. However, there is a silver lining to the integration of tech that has taken over our very being. Here, I list the top 5 apps that can make your 21st century worker bee lifestyle that much better. Dig in, and enjoy.

Trello

When you've got a team spread out throughout a city or even the world, it can be hard to keep track of a project or tasks. That's where Trello comes in, and surprisingly you get a versatile package for free. Of course, there are paid features, but truthfully we use Trello in the Sync office every single day, and it's kept us organized in a way that Evernote could never dream of.

Slack

The oddly named app is BBM, Whatsapp, and Facebook Messenger on steroids. Slack provides secure chat across various channels, and groups. There's also private messaging between colleges, file sharing, app integrations, and a plethora of other features. My only hang up is with the clunky sign-in and sign-up process. After you get past that though, you'll be hooked.

Google Drive

Gone are the days of Microsoft Office, their prices, and the headaches with their 365 products. Say hello to your new little but mighty friend. Google Drive is a free cloud based solution for document, spreadsheet, and presentation creation. There's a bit of a learning curve, but once you have taken the tutorials you'll wonder why Office still exists.

Dropbox

Still messing around with multiple hard drives, trying to make space on your computer, or emailing files? Say no more, because Dropbox is here to save your world. For a surprisingly low annual rate, you can have your own private piece of the cloud. It's important to note that you will need an external HD to run Dropbox because the app does save local copies of the files (except on mobile). Once you've jumped over that hurdle though, it's clear running towards the finish line. A side note: if you have a lap top and want to run Dropbox, get those no residue velcro strips, and affix your HDD to the back of your lap top. With Dropbox, your team will always be in sync, your files will always be available, and you'll never have to utter the words, "I'll send you that file when I get to my computer".

TextExpander

Find yourself sending repetitive messages, or typing the same content many times over? I have the solution for you. You may be thinking, "But Jay, I copy and paste with the best of them." Well, copying and pasting is so 2012. This is 2017 and automation runs the world. TextExpander allows you to formulate any sized content with the stroke of a couple keys. I personally have a piece of content that's 24,000 characters. I use it all the time, and all I have to do is hit 2 keys for it to appear. No more searching, copying, pasting, modifying, or messing around with multiple snippets in many different places. Just expand on your text.

Conclusion

So there you have it. 5 apps that will change your workflow for the better. Go ... play. You won't regret it.

Next blog, I'll touch on hardware to help you reach new heights of productivity.