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top of mind marketing creating personas

Creating Personas to Define Your Business Audience

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A new client’s website was nine years old and she wanted help showing up in search engines. I explained that search engines discriminate against those sites that haven’t been adapted for mobile devices. She was sabotaging herself with her current site. “Zoe” was talking about a little enhancement; I was talking about starting over. A nine-year old site is really not redeemable.

Who was her audience? “Everyone” is the wrong answer

Zoe had a fairly extensive collection of blogs on her site, and as I read through them I wasn’t getting a clear sense of who she was, which is a problem. But more importantly, I didn’t have any idea who her audience was. When I asked her about this, I knew what her answer was going to be: “Everyone is my audience; some of my readers are 16, I have grandmothers reading my blogs as well as industry professionals.” Wrong answer. This is marketing 101—everyone is not your audience. As a small business owner, you really can’t be successful without identifying the niche that really is your audience.

Time to create personas

I explained to her how we were going to create personas. I wanted her to think about whom she visualized when she closed her eyes and pictured a typical client. I wanted her to describe that person for me. I wanted her to be making an emotional connection with that person, to think about that client when she was writing a blog. The scope of our work together included keyword analysis, a new website, a newsletter and pay-per-click advertising (PPC). For PPC, especially, identifying a persona and keywords is critical to the success of a campaign, but it’s also important for her website’s landing pages.

Personas help define our audiences

By understanding demographics, we learn to communicate more effectively with our audiences. Facebook’s powerful advertising appeal lies is its ability to drill down to the details of people’s lives. Every Facebook field that we fill out provides data for someone to mine. For Zoe, as with most of us, we well may have more than one persona. And for each of these, we’re going to create a comprehensive persona based on the following information:

  • Age and gender.
  • Communication preferences. How do they get their information? Text, email? Do they hate telephone calls?
  • Technical experience and background. Do they love instructional videos or prefer to read directions?
  • Job title and major responsibilities.
  • Education, ethnicity and family status.
  • Pain points or frustrations. Important clues for how we can help them solve problems.
  • Industry and working environment. A quiet office or the emergency room.
  • Biggest challenges and how they deal with them.
  • Shopping preferences. Favorite stores or online?
  • Food and drink. Favorite area restaurants and bars.
  • Persona names and photos. Giving your personas names and uploading photos provide an identity.
  • Interview real clients to discover what they like about your product or service.

Creating personas is a valuable exercise that will help you market more effectively to your audience.

Do you need help with your online marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re internet marketing specialists.

top of mind marketing_creating an online marketing strategy

Marketing Efforts Jumpstart Client’s Lead Generation

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I encourage my clients to develop case studies and post them to their websites, social media and anywhere else where they have a forum. Real-life stories provide compelling insights into how we successfully help our clients solve problems. This is one of my own case studies.

“Oliver” found me on Yelp—the app we love to hate–but it can also be a legitimate source of new business. Oliver fled a boring corporate career and began designing and selling furniture made from reclaimed teak wood. Everything is sustainable—he’s created processes for sourcing old structures in Indonesia, disassembling them beam by beam to create the materials that will become his beautiful furniture. He has a Berkeley showroom and sells furniture online.

Here’s the problem . . .

Oliver had built a fairly steady stream of online sales from his e-commerce website. A year or so ago, he upgraded his WordPress site with enhanced visuals and navigation. Once he rolled out the new site, that online sales stream completely dried up. He gave this enough time to confirm that this wasn’t just seasonal or a little economic downturn.

Our goal: Restore online sales

Our goal was to restore online traffic and sales, so we began troubleshooting his site. We peeled back the layers and found that there were more than 20 WordPress plugins that hadn’t been updated, and these were creating conflicts. A vast array of plugins is one of the things that makes WordPress so powerful, but they’re not all compatible with each other, and they need to be upgraded. As we cleaned up the infrastructure, we kept finding anomalies and bugs, and a simple project grew more complex.

Keyword research, image labels and alt tags

Along the way, we did keyword research to identify those words and phrases that our audience might be keying into search fields to find us—this helped us know what words and phrases to be using in our content. We labeled every single image, created alt tags and descriptions for literally hundreds of product pictures. We finally rolled out the upgrades, and we’re all delighted that our client is starting to get online orders again.

We added a monthly newsletter to the marketing mix


We began doing a monthly newsletter in MailChimp. We keep this simple, highlighting three products and including a promo code so we can track responses. We’re getting an astonishing 45-55% open rate, a high click-through rate and conversions with our mailings. The newsletter is easy to turn around and looks great; the ROI on this makes it easy to include this in our marketing plan.

Up next: Pay-per click advertising


Our website blues aren’t completely over. We still find issues that befuddle us, but among us, we solve the problems as they arise. With the website stabilization, we’re planning to add Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising to our marketing mix. We’ve identified a budget, and we’ll carefully monitor our campaign, adjusting as we go, to make this another component of our marketing program.

Do you need help with your PPC or other online marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re internet marketing specialists.

top of mind marketing big baller brand

Big Baller Brand: Learning about FB Advertising from the Ball Family

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You don’t have to be a basketball fan to have heard of the Ball family. LaVar Ball and his sons regularly make headlines. There’s no coincidence here–LaVar is constantly working it. Oldest son Lonzo is an NBA rookie who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. His other two boys, LiAngelo and LaMelo are both future NBA prospects, though they’ve taken a detour and are currently playing in Lithuania. LiAngelo was on a trip to China with the UCLA basketball team, arrested for shoplifting and suspended for a year.

LaVar thought the suspension was too extreme

LaVar pulled his kid out of UCLA and sent the two younger boys to some kind of Lithuanian league—apparently there was little interest in sticking around a prestigious school like UCLA to get an education. Note that the shoplifting was in China—a communist country with a terrible human rights record. LiAngelo could have spent the next 20 years in isolation. A year away from college basketball was a gift.

If you talk to any sports fan, commentator or coach they’ll tell you that LaVar needs to shut up and let his kids play ball. LaVar Ball’s endless commentary has made him one of the most polarizing figures in sports today. Most of us find Ball’s constant boasting about himself and his sons offensive, especially those of us who were taught that if we’re really great, people will know that by our actions.

Big Baller Brand embraces endless self-promotion

You may/not be aware that Facebook has a video platform, and LaVar and his sons are one of the channel’s most popular reality programs. They also have their own sportswear label, Big Baller Brand, and they’re using Facebook to market themselves and their products.

­­Here’s what we can learn from the Big Ballers

The Ball family has created multiple Facebook and Instagram pages for all of the individual Ballers and the Big Baller Brand itself. They also leverage Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Facebook Groups linked to their Pages to further expand their brand reach, along with the Facebook Watch show. Facebook lays out a basic playbook for how Big Baller Brand has utilized Facebook ads. This is what we can learn from them.

  1. They installed the Facebook Pixel to see how successful their ads were, and how close customers came to purchasing an item from the Big Baller Brand online store.
  2. The Balls used Facebook Ads Manager to build and deploy ads on Facebook.
  3. They created textbook-perfect ads—a clear call-to-action, crisp images showcasing specific apparel items and links to that featured item.
  4. Built Engagement Custom Audiences in Ads Manager to target known fans, such as those who have interacted with one of the Ball Family Pages or have watched their videos.
  5. Created lookalike audiences to expand the reach of the campaign to send new ads to people with similar qualities to those completing purchases on bigballerbrand.com.
  6. Deployed remarketing techniques to retarget fans who visited the online store but didn’t complete a purchase.

If you’ve done Facebook advertising or are just beginning to experiment with it, you’ll see that this is a comprehensive effort to boost a Facebook campaign strategy.

Remarketing is key: You’re reaching a vulnerable consumer

Remarketing focuses on those who may have gone to the Big Baller store, put a product in their carts, but failed to complete the purchase. This segment is more than a warm lead; it’s red hot. It’s a potential customer who is vulnerable—he’s been to your store, is familiar with your merchandise and liked at least one item enough to add it to the cart. There’s a good chance that, with a little nudge, he might be convinced to go back and complete the purchase. One thing that would help him decide? Tell him that it’s almost sold out, that there’s limited inventory, or only 4 items left.

This formula has been very successful for the Big Ballers

Facebook advertising success is going to depend on how much time and money you are prepared to spend on this effort. But this process has driven results for the Balls. Their Facebook ads drove:

  • A 17.76% purchase lift during the campaign
  • A 16.9% conversion lift
  • 140,000 outbound clicks to the BBB online store

Keep in mind that we’re dealing with celebrities here—a young athlete with a promising future and a father who never misses an opportunity to get in front of a camera—so the numbers are going to skew high. Nevertheless, this is a good Facebook marketing strategy that any business can replicate.

Do you need help with your PPC or other online advertising strategy? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re internet marketing specialists.

Amazon buys Whole Foods, which is going to affect the online retail industry

The State of Internet Marketing: 2017

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Mary Meeker, the Kleiner Perkins venture partner who publishes a yearly report on the state of the Internet, released her annual Internet Trends report in June—a total of 355 PowerPoint slides. Her report covers online trends in sectors ranging from media and healthcare to China and India. A few key trends in retail and e-commerce:

  1. A withering brick-and-mortar landscape as Amazon/e-commerce grows. Amazon, in particular, is proving to be a formidable foe, inflicting deep wounds on brick-and-mortar retail chains. “Store closings may break a 20-year record” according to a 2017 estimate by Credit Suisse. The report estimates that more than 8,600 brick-and-mortar stores may close in 2017. “Barely a quarter into 2017, year-to-date retail store closings have already surpassed those of 2008,” according to Credit Suisse. Unless you’re just crawling out of Sleepy Hollow, you know that Macy’s has closed 68 of its stores nationwide, resulting in the loss of 10,000 jobs. In March, Staples announced they were closing another 70 stores. J.C. Penney, Bebe, Target and nearly a dozen other retailers have announced store closings.
  2. Online sales grew again in 2016, rising 15% percent year/year. Retail sales clerks may be losing their jobs, but your UPS driver is keeping busy; parcel deliveries in the US have been steadily increasing over the past six years and rose 9% year/year in 2016.
  3. Walmart is sprinting to catch up online. Brick-and-mortar behemoth Walmart, which has had relatively lackluster impact online despite past investments, rapidly accelerated its e-commerce efforts this past year. It acquired Jet.com in August 2016, and already this year it has bought or invested in Shoebuy, JD.com, Moosejaw and Modcloth.com. Walmart’s e-commerce revenue grew 63% year/year last quarter. Walmart is, of course, trying to unseat Amazon, and the stakes are high.
  4. The new retail is mobile-informed. Retail isn’t really dead; rather, it’s evolving. Warby Parker, Lowe’s augmented-reality experiment with Google to help consumers locate items in-store, and Amazon itself opening up self-checkout retail stores as examples of ways retail is evolving to meet the needs and expectations of mobile-enabled consumers.
  5. Retailers are taking advantage of online-offline feedback loops. Other examples of hybrid online-offline commerce experiences include MM.LaFleur, which offers both online and in-store personal shopping advice and incorporates that information back into its bento-box-style e-commerce operation, and shirt retailer UNTUCKit, which incorporates online and offline feedback into its brand experiences.
  6. Location-driven advertising is becoming more targeted and accountable. Location-targeted ads from Google Nextdoor and xAd and Uber’s in-app ads powered by Foursquare are examples of how ad delivery and the ability to track outcomes are changing the dynamic between online marketing and offline commerce. Google has tracked more than 5 billion in-store visits globally, and just last week introduced its store purchases tracking solution to link ad clicks to physical transactions.

The landscape is rapidly changing

Since Meeker’s report came out, Amazon purchased Whole Foods, and there’s a lot of speculation about how this one’s going to turn out. Jeff Bezos is a pretty smart guy—remember when Amazon used to sell books? That was a lifetime ago. But can he merge his huge online empire with the luxury, high-touch food operation? I rather suspect he will figure it out. He may find a way to completely reengineer it. An editorial in Sunday’s SF Chronicle from Alice Waters was a plea to Bezos to find a way to quit trucking produce cross country and calling it local. To start focusing on fresh and local, building relationships with local farmers to bring the most nutritious and cost-effective food to his new markets. And let’s not forget that Amazon is now building brick and mortar stores—there’s a new one opening soon in Walnut Creek, among other locations.

A different kind of department store emerges

As we watch a traditional store like Macy’s falter—and if you’ve ventured into one lately, you understand why—another kind of department store is rising. Anthropologie has opened two flagship stores in the Bay Area—one in Walnut Creek, the other in Palo Alto. With many different departments under one roof, these qualify as department stores, but they’re a new-concept store, complete with bridal, home and garden shops and a high-end restaurant. Once their customers come through their doors, they don’t want them to leave.

People still want the personal experience of shopping

They like the first-hand experience of seeing and touching what they’re going to purchase. The new Anthropologie stores are packed with eager shoppers with money to spend. The key ingredient may be that their demographic is millennials. We’re also seeing that there’s a place for the combined online/brick and mortar presence. Savvy online eyeglass provider Warby Parker has two stores here in the Bay Area. They understand that glasses are now an accessory; people want a number of pairs to match their outfits and their moods. Ordering glasses online works, but it’s still a bit of a crapshoot. Being able to actually see what those specs look like is a better experience. There’s still demand for brick and mortar, but retailers have to be clever about how they package their merchandise.

Do you need help with your content marketing program?

Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.