How to Find the Right Local Digital Marketing Agency

Choosing the right digital marketing agency for your business can feel overwhelming. As a business owner, regardless of your company size or industry, you’re busy. While marketing may not be at the forefront of your mind, effective marketing can grow your business. With over 120,000 digital agencies in the United States alone, there’re plenty of digital marketing agencies that would love to collaborate with you. So how do you find the best fit? We’ve compiled a few questions business owners should navigate as they start looking for the perfect marketing partnership.

Why should I choose a local marketing agency?

Partnering with a local marketing agency has various benefits. Local marketing agencies are passionate about their community. This passion translates into a deep understanding of what community members want as consumers. With that, an agency that knows their community has strong relationships with surrounding businesses; expect to expand your network!

Local marketing agencies tend to have leaner teams in comparison to national marketing agencies. Working with a smaller marketing team can foster transparency and effective communication. You’ll have more opportunities to meet face to face and build relationships with each team member on your account.

How should I conduct my research?

Conducting research is an essential step in finding the right local digital marketing agency. A good starting point is viewing their portfolio. Usually, digital marketing agencies will display portfolio work on their website. During your initial research, look for project success within your industry. While sifting through portfolios, ask yourself, “does this agency have the ability to achieve my marketing needs?” If you believe they do, further your research by reviewing client testimonials and asking for references from businesses like yours.

A major red flag is a digital marketing company that doesn’t market their own business. An indicator of an agency’s ability to achieve project success is reflected in the work they do for their own organization. Throughout your research, review their website, blog and social media channels to see how often they’re updated.

Does their company culture align with mine?

So, your thorough research gives you the green light to partner with a local digital marketing agency. But does your company culture align with theirs? Often overlooked, this is a crucial component of the vetting process. It is not enough for an agency to be great on paper; you have to determine whether you will work well together. So how can you do this? Ask about their communication style; this is a benchmark of whether it will be a harmonious partnership.

Visit their website to review their mission statement and core values. Consider whether your values are in alignment with one another. You can also peek around their social media channels to get a feel for their team and office energy.

In conclusion

There are many factors to consider when searching for the right local digital marketing agency. With a surplus of agencies to choose from, you may feel like you have your work cut out. However, through proper research, you can form lasting partnerships and market your business successfully.

 

FREE and LIVE Marketing Prep Kit Free Webinar Series

We look forward to seeing you LIVE!

We’ve been talking to our local Chambers of Commerce, our clients and various businesses about the need to have a strong marketing plan being even more important as we all navigate the potential of our area re-opening in the coming weeks and months. As we do, how will we market ourselves and our services? How will we ensure our message is clear, our budget is purposeful and we choose the right channels to put forth our message?

Our Marketing Prep Kit is a downloadable we created several years ago and updated back in December… and we decided that hosting an interactive webinar series based upon this resource would be the easiest way to help businesses just like yours!

So join us on our live and free webinar series as we walk through the Marketing Prep Kit and dive a little deeper into how to ensure you have a plan for your marketing. Register for all eight webinars or just the ones you are most interested in. Each free webinar will be about 20 minutes with some Q/A time on top of that, and they will cover different sections of the Prep Kit.

Get the Marketing Prep Kit download to follow along. Download Here

Register Now!

 

 

Register Now!

Marketing Tips Amid COVID-19

If you’re unsure how to approach your marketing strategies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. It can be challenging to find a balance between effective yet mindful communication with your customers and community. Many are scrambling to pick up the professional and personal pieces of the crisis. The RPS marketing team has compiled a list of five tips to help you confidently market through the pandemic.

Reassess Your Marketing Strategy

It can be tricky to differentiate which marketing campaigns should be pushed or paused during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it’s essential to stay connected with your customers, it’s also time to take a step back and reevaluate what planned strategies could come off as insensitive or offensive; be sure to take the time to review your scheduled content, including visuals. Also, avoid capitalizing on the pandemic, such as pushing non-essential product launches.

A helpful perspective activity is to adopt your consumers’ mindset; ask yourself how you would feel if you were in their position, receiving your proposed message. Are your eyes rolling, or are you smiling? Do you feel bombarded or empowered?

Foster Clear Communication

It’s paramount to communicate in a time of uncertainty. The words you choose and the words you don’t use can make a big difference. If you are shut down for COVID-19, we suggest making sure you communicate that you are temporarily shut down (not closed for good!). Also, expressly confirm that you look forward to resuming operations once it is safe to do so.

Adding a form to your website for people to “sign up” to be notified when you re-open is a great way to keep customers engaged and instill confidence that your business will be back in action once this all passes. If you aren’t closed but have limited hours or service during this time, be clear about that too. This messaging applies to your website as well as your social media and email outreach. Don’t leave anything to interpretation. Be clear and instill confidence in both your customers and your team by communicating regularly and positively.

Keep Your Customers Up to Date with Google Business

Organizations of all sizes can benefit from utilizing Google Business. If your business doesn’t currently have a digital presence, an excellent way to retain customers is by creating and maintaining a Google Business account. Many consumers aren’t sure which businesses are open, and if their hours and services have changed.

Through Google Business you have the capability to update your business hours and availability. As a restaurant owner, this tool is critical. Google Business allows you to share if your restaurant’s dining room is closed as well as if you are still open for carryout or delivery orders. Listing this information is essential for any business, and promotes clear communication with your customers. If your business information is up to date, customers will be encouraged to continue using your services.

Brainstorm Alternative Ways to Generate Business

If you’ve had to close your doors or stop production due to COVID-19, seek creative ways to cultivate revenue growth. Stay-at-home orders have pushed consumers to spend more time online. It’s beneficial for your organization to promote your services online via virtual conference tools such as Facebook Live and Zoom.

Many gyms, yoga studios, museums, zoos, and even art studios are hosting interactive virtual events. You may be surprised how many of your customers would be thrilled to experience your services remotely; however, if your services aren’t web-friendly, you’re not at a loss. Consider allowing customers to pay deposits for future services at a discounted rate.

Strengthen Social Media Presence

During COVID-19 setbacks, social media serves as an impactful marketing tool. During this time, people are turning more frequently to social media channels to stay connected. Your approach to social media marketing determines whether your online presence will strengthen or weaken. It’s invaluable to keep in touch with your audience but with a genuine approach; apply a human touch to each post and avoid corporate jargon.

For instance, instead of pushing your product, teach your audience a DIY version of the product. In doing so, viewers won’t feel pressured to leave their homes or order your product online. As every consumer’s screen is filled with dreadful news, design your platform to be an uplifting outlet to anyone who visits your social media accounts. Routinely check-in with your customers and ask them what kind of content they would like to see.

Simple Analytics Tutorial

The more data you collect, the better informed you will be as you continue to make marketing decisions for your company. If you don’t know if a marketing channel is working, you won’t know if you should spend more or less on it next year. Facebook and Google both have free analytics. If you aren’t already using them for your business, are yourself WHY!? Here is a step by step tutorial on how to use these resources to track your business analytics to make for better marketing spending.

Facebook Analytics

  • Create an account at business.facebook.com
  • Connect your business page
  • Under  the “Analyze and Report” tab click on Analytics

You will be able to set custom filters, see active users, most active times on your page, etc. It’s a great way to start learning a lot more about your audience and what they like. The analytics on Facebook goes very deep beyond just likes and visitors. It’s a powerful tool that can even analyze your website traffic with the Facebook Pixel installed.

 

 

Google Analytics

  • Create an account at analytics.google.com
  • You will need a Google account to access Analytics
  • Fill out the information about your website
  • You’ll receive a tracking code to install on your website
  • Start tracking data and setting up conversion goals

Google Analytics admittedly has a pretty steep learning curve to it, but there are several great courses and tutorials out there to get started. We suggest using the free analytics course by google to start, though! Google Analytics for Beginners.

 

Did Your Organic Ranking Tank? We know why…

This is a safe place, can we all agree on that? Great, then it’s ok to admit the word “algorithm” mystifies you — perplexes you — even scares you a little bit.

So, when you hear Google is updating its algorithm it can cause fear, panic, and the like. Google has admitted to a March 2019 update that actually LOST entire web pages from its index. Gone. Poof. And the effect on organic rankings was HUGE.

In March 2019, Google did what it called a “Broad Core update” – meaning Google is not “fixing” something directly, or even addressing specific industries or areas of need – but rather, creating and implementing more sweeping adjustments to organic searches.

As one tech blogger explained it:

Broad core updates are improvements to Google’s overall algorithm for the purpose of better understanding search queries and webpages. These improvements help Google to more accurately match search queries to webpages and improve user satisfaction.

Everybody, Stay Calm!

Did you feel that? Did your site feel the full brunt of the digital earthquake? Or maybe you just felt a little aftershock. Either way, Google’s “advancements” truly hurt many sites’ rankings about a month after the update’s release.

On April 7th, Google tweeted:

We’re aware of indexing issues that impacted some sites beginning on Friday. We believe the issues are mostly resolved and don’t require any special efforts on the part of site owners. We’ll provide another update when the issues are considered fully resolved.

We won’t bore you with the nerdy details to indexes, search impacts, etc. etc. – but basically Google admitted “Houston, we have a problem.”

Here at RPS we experienced it on our own site. One day we’re trending along, enjoying the top spot in our market for the organic keywords we’ve identified in our marketing strategy, and then the proverbial bottom dropped out. It was easy to recognize, and virtually impossible to explain.

We saw the same trend in several client websites as well. Even after efforts to optimize, the organic search metrics didn’t seem to follow a logical pattern. We weren’t rattled, but rather challenged ourselves to find out why. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good mystery, BUT not without an explanation or a resolution. (Every good mystery movie ends by solving the mystery — haven’t they ever seen an episode of Scooby Doo?!)

Oh, that algorithm, it’ll get ya every time! And, just like it seemed to “get us” for a time, we’ve been digging in to deeper understand the update and its aftermath. Google is not really in the practice of explaining in depth the reasons behind updates, or the predicted effects. Sometimes they just drop an update and see if anyone notices.

We Will Rebuild

So, how do you overcome the aftershock of the Broad Core update of March 2019?

First, know that Google has since come out an assured the web community that it is reindexing sites already, and you can directly ask for Google to index your site. Not a great solution for sites with a lot of volume, but an option nonetheless.  

The dust will supposedly settle. Google is quick to assure it’s back to business as usual… but we’re a little more proactive than that. We trust the system but also believe in strategy implementation for the win.

We don’t believe major adjustments are ultimately your best move. Instead, we believe there’s value in monitoring. Organic rankings are the long-game in an often frantic, mile-a-minute digital marketplace. Craft a solid strategy, modify as needed, and remain calm.

We’ll get through this, together.

VR, AR, AI, Oh my!

Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI)… If your head is spinning, you’re not alone. It’s a lot to keep up with, and even more difficult for your business to master.

Customers crave a more transformational experience with brands, products, services, and information. And there’s power in delivering those experiences.

Augmented Reality is defined as “a type of interactive, reality-based display environment that takes the capabilities of computer generated display, sound, text and effects to enhance the user’s real-world experience.” It is predicted Augmented Reality will grow to be a $35 billion industry by 2022! Talk about opportunity knocking!

So, how are brands using AR effectively and strategically to not only increase brand awareness but to create meaningful customer experiences (and loyal fans?) How to do go beyond the gimmick and make AR work for your company? How does AR become your brand differentiator?

Here’s how industries and brands are leveraging AR to do more than simply impress and entertain.

There’s an app for that

Nike is using Augmented Reality to assist shoe buyers to not only find the right shoe for their activity, but the correct SIZE. Their research showed up to 60% of their customers were purchasing the wrong size shoe, which was leading to more returns and more unhappy customers. Their sizing app, Nike Fit, lets buyers scan their feet at home to get their correct size (within a 2mm of accuracy which, we don’t measure things with rulers much these days but we’re pretty sure that’s super close to perfect) The result – a rise in consumer confidence, more brand loyalty, and fewer returns.

How Will I know?

Companies like Ikea, Wayfair, Target, and Amazon are augmenting the purchases of items, especially larger ones like furniture, and allowing buyers to “try before they buy” — you can virtually place the item in the room to see the piece in the real world before buying and potentially assembling (and we all know the joys of assembling an IKEA piece…) The result again is consumer confidence and a higher likelihood the buyer will ultimately make that big-ticket purchase.

Not sure if you’ll love a paint color? Try it out through AR and get it right the first time — companies like Sherwin-Williams are having extreme success with their ventures into Augmented Reality paint selection and it’s reinforcing the brand’s commitment to helping customers get it right the first time.

Don’t Just Tell Me, Show Me

We all know how essential visuals are to a brand. AR is taking this fact to an elevated level (basically, it’s like a picture times a million). Gone are the days of just showing an illustration to explain how something works. Or dropping a logo onto a piece of collateral to brand it as your own. The possibilities are endless when it comes to AR showing, versus telling, about your brand.

Jack Daniels is using AR to bring customers into the whiskey manufacturing world to immerse them in the distillery and makes the brand more relatable. The bottle’s label becomes a virtual pop-up storybook to show consumers the process, the location, and the history of the company. And, frankly, it’s just cool to watch.

Make The World a Better Place

Augmented Reality is being used as assistive technology for the visually impaired. One service “connects blind and low-vision people to highly trained, remotely-located agents.” The goal of this brand is to make information available to everyone regardless of disability, making life more full and enjoyable and further enhance everyday experiences.

Social and Search

Social media platforms have been on board with the utility of AR, and are leading the charge. Snapchat and Instagram have built entire identity on filters, which brands are now monetizing into awareness, relationship building, and just plain fun. The use of AR on social communicates the organic voice that a basic post simply cannot convey.

And of course Google is in on the frontlines of AR. Google maps are interactive with walking navigation and visual overlays. Google searches include AR immersive experiences to feel connected to the content that comes up on your next search — it’s fun to see an 18-foot great white shark floating in your backyard as you help your child research sharks for a school project.

Just Plain Fun

A Snapchat filter for a special event is a small investment to create a memorable impact. (Check out the filter we used for our recent RPS Open House event…)

But, be careful. There still has to be value to be, well, valuable to your base. Otherwise, it’s just a novelty that could hurt your brand more than help. Your AR experience has to have a strong message and clear function, and go beyond the initial “coolness” factor.

If your AR experience doesn’t drive customers to take action (buy that IKEA sofa, it’ll fit perfectly!), make an informed decision (that lipstick is totally your color!), meet a customer’s need (“What does this error message mean, oh wise AR tech support guy?), showcase your capabilities (have your smartphone out next time you’re in the RPS offices for our full AR experience), or directly align with your brand’s message and values it could end up being just a novelty (a moment of silence for QR codes…)

Bottom line: Don’t be Pokemon Go (hot one minute, obsolete the next). Using AR, and any other Experiential Marketing tools, correctly can have a lasting, positive effect on your business and brand. The key word — “correctly”.

Facebook’s Secret Weapon for Businesses

We are all about working smarter, not harder. And marketing is striking a balance between effort and time (and money, of course. But time equals money – round up to the next whole number, take the square root of pi and… sorry, we get nerdy sometimes.)

Where were we?

Oh yes, working smarter. This is why we love using a “secret weapon” within Facebook Insights for Business that is helping marketers and small business owners capitalize on powerful vicinity-specific statistics.If you run a brick-and-mortar business, the information you can glean from Facebook Local Insights can impact your ad strategy, staffing decisions, and more.

Within Business Manager there’s a tab that is often overlooked in the sea of other useful Insights. Even as super creative, right-brained people, we geek out over the metrics in this tab once we began to do a deep dive.

Here’s what we mean:

The Facebook Local Insights section provides super geographic-specific data that shows you what’s the busiest time for Facebook users to be in your set radius and date range, what the top age, gender and home location is of those passing by, and how often your ad was seen by those people (if you’re currently running campaigns.) It’s all privacy protected so it’s showing generalized stats and not specific users information, but there’s power in those summaries that you need to be using as you craft your marketing plans.

How does this help you as a business owner? For the three main categories you see in the screenshot above:

Activity and Peak Hours

Facebook Says:

Use info about when the most people are nearby to make smart decisions about store hours and more.

RPS Says:

We can’t make your operational decisions, but we do use this data to make sure content and ads are going out when you expect people to see it (your current followers AND passers-by alike).

 

Demographic Info

Facebook Says:

Get to know the general ages, genders and distance traveled by people near your business to inform your marketing and services.

RPS Says:

We use this data to get to know people who are not yet customers or clients and craft messages and ads accordingly to draw engagement. Creating custom audiences using this insight increases the likelihood of your ads do not falling victim to the mindless scroll.

 

Ad Performance

Facebook Says:

See if your ads reached people who are near your business.

RPS Says:

Spending money is an important decision for any business owner or decision maker. How powerful to be able to verify your ads are being seen by the people around you.

Now, like any data, it’s only useful if it’s actionable. And to be actionable, you have to understand it. A marketing partner like RPS can analyze the data in your business’ Facebook Local Insights and craft a plan to attract the people most likely to walk in your door, drive by your business, or be online when your ad is running.

We’d love to review Local Insights with you in a Discovery Session. Contact us through our site or give us a call – we promise not to be too nerdy when you come in.

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Wait Any Longer to Do Video Marketing

Incriminated in the death of radio stars, video has evolved from a highly professionalized format for marketing to something as simple as livestreaming à la iPhone. Yet for some, the convenience isn’t enough to sell them on getting started. So here are 6 reasons to use video marketing as a tool right now:

1)Video marketing is trending

The success of video marketing has been massive, and not in the places you might think. According to HubSpot, 67% of consumers listed Facebook as a place where they currently consume content online, just 16% behind YouTube. And according to Forbes, 90% of consumers say a marketing video informed their purchases. This means that video marketing is being used, right now, to meet people where they’re at.

2)Video Marketing isn’t slowing down

One Facebook exec even predicted the social media platform will be completely video-based within 5 years’ time. Each year, marketing videos have become more and more popular, indicating exponential growth. And the increase in popularity hasn’t caused a downturn in success. As more content is filmed, people are watching at the same or increasing rate, showing that it is more than just a trend: it is a strategy for the long haul.

3)It’s easier than ever

With so much content out there, it must be difficult to jump in and hang with the best, right? Wrong! (sorry, didn’t mean to yell at you) Chances are, if you have an iPhone, you’ve got most of the ingredients needed. A few simple tools and some sound advice on lighting and editing will put you on the path to creating quality content. However, if you are looking for the assurance of a more experienced touch, plenty of agencies, (like us!) can plan, execute, and deliver great work.

4)Video can tell people who you are, fast!

In using marketing or social media videos, a new customer or client can find out everything they need to know about who you in a way that’s quicker, easier, and more fun than ever before! People can see your vision, learn your values, and get a strong sense of your brand’s identity all in a few moments. And once you’ve engaged with your audience, more videos can be used to share new information, content, and ideas so the world can keep up with all of your exciting plans.

5)Video can give your brand a voice

A video lets the world see who you are and hear your voice. From this, they can build a sense of trust and identity to associate with your product and brand. Video content can engage with people emotionally, and really pull on their heartstrings. A strong video not only tells everyone about you and your passion; it shows them, and this heart-level connection can make a huge difference in engaging followers and consumers with your vision and brand.

Video marketing has gone from an idea reserved for expensive agencies to an important tool for promoting any brand. At first, this may seem like a time consuming and unnecessary strategy. But if done well, video marketing can be a great way to share your vision with a broader audience and show everyone what you have to offer.

Chips Ahoy! Spreading Positivity on Twitter

Chips Ahoy! are no strangers to making people smile. The crunchy cookies sure bring us a fair amount of joy at RPS! But yesterday, their brand found another way to spread happiness, through the combined powers of Twitter and kindness:

And they did. Hundreds and hundreds of compliments, each one personalized to the recipient. Some were based on recent tweets, others surmised from profile pictures.

This impressive display of commitment on social media reveals just what can happen when a brand puts the direct advertising of the product on hold for the sake of keeping it real. The only immediate benefit for Chips Ahoy! is a touch of brand awareness. In the meantime, we all received some extra good vibes for the end of the week! Even Wendy’s, which is already legendary for its authentic, sassy attitude on Twitter, received a little love:

Whether or not retweets actually start customers on the road to purchasing more cookies is unmeasured, but the activity certainly generated healthy conversation around Chips Ahoy!

Some of the best social media marketing can happen by simply having something relevant to say. In our recent blog post on “Keeping it Real in 2019,” we discussed how brands can grow their awareness by putting calls-to-action (CTAs) on hold to engage with comments, users, and existing conversations without necessarily needing to mention the product.

However, Chips Ahoy! has managed to use a CTA to create massive engagement while still being personable, with a recognizable sense of brand authenticity. It shows that, if today’s brands can carry themselves with real human personality, the response can be awesome!

Edit: Chips Ahoy! was so nice they even tossed us a shoutout for the blog post you’re reading right now.

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