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top of mind marketing mobile friendly website

Yes, You Do Need a Mobile-Friendly Website

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“Joan” recently contacted me to talk about her website. She wanted to know if having a mobile-friendly site, one that adapted to mobile devices, was really that important.

Are you kidding?

Google’s 2015 algorithm change, Mobilegeddon, made it clear that they would cater to the growing number of mobile users by enhancing the mobile-search experience. The importance of marketing to desktop users is not necessarily diminishing, but mobile use is increasing. Those sites that aren’t mobile friendly will sink to the bottom of the search results while the mobile-friendly sites swim to the top. Mobile has reached 63% of all traffic in the US; it’s reasonable to expect it to reach a full 2/3 of traffic by the end of 2018. Think of it this way: if your competitors have great mobile sites and you don’t, theirs will show up higher in search results than yours.

Old, dated sites should be laid to rest

Websites have a shelf-life. While you may be able to salvage the content and images, it’s often the case that these are no longer relevant. Joan admitted that her business had evolved, and her five-year old website was no longer reflective of the company she owned today, and we began planning her new site.

Our website development process included:

  • Keyword research. This helped us determine the search terms people are using in our business sector. In some cases, this research helps drive the navigation.
  • WordPress. We looked at other platforms but ultimately decided on WordPress. We chose a template design with an eye towards clear, accessible navigation.
  • Generating new content. We identified the site’s architecture, adding a few new landing pages. I drafted all of the site’s content for her review. While there’s a trend toward providing short paragraph, the reality is that longer pages rank better in search engines–300 words is a good target.
  • Image upgrade. Joan’s old site had little thumbnail images that would not work in our new design, so I selected potential photostock images for each page and saved them to a board her review. We scheduled a photoshoot to get new images of her and her team.

A few other things to keep in mind

  • Size matters.Text should be big enough to read; buttons large enough to be able to click. If your mobile visitors have to manipulate their screens, zooming in or out, you’ve probably just lost a potential customer.
  • Image size also matters. If your images are too big, your site won’t load. If they’re too small, they’re a distraction rather than an enhancement to the user experience.
  • Website conversion. In some cases, we’ve can convert old sites into WordPress’ mobile-friendly format, but generally it means starting over from scratch. New content, images and design.

A final thought: If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you can bet your biggest competitors’ sites are. For many small businesses, a website is their primary marketing spend; it’s an important investment that deserves careful planning and effort to keep it relevant.

Is it time to build a new website for your business? Contact Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing specialists.

 

top of mind marketing: fake news: tired of it and doing something about it

Exhausted by Fake News and Doing Something About It

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One year into the Trump administration and it feels like a lifetime. You’d think we’d be immune to it all, but we’re not. We’re shell-shocked. Crises followed by unspeakable tragedies. The assault on our democratic institutions is constant and aggressive. We’d never heard of fake news until Donald moved his ill-prepared advisers, family and hangers-on into the White House. Donald’s constant assault on highly regarded newspapers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, calling them “failing” is his way of undermining our freedom of speech, a basic right guaranteed by our constitution.

Instead, Donald is glued to the real fake news . . .

Donald gets his news from Fox, Breitbart and other negligible institutions which have legitimized these “alternative facts”. So yes, fake news is a big problem. But the people who believe fake news are the same ones who believe everything they see in print. “I read it on the Internet”—so it must be true, right? Really, really wrong. They read the tabloids, the sleeze sheets at the checkout counters, and believe the headlines.

What’s most disturbing is the we’ve raised a generation of people who have lost the ability to think, to question, to differentiate  between legitimate reporting and that which is pure fabrication. People should have a fundamental sense of media literacy. A recent study released by Stanford University researchers, showed that many people don’t.

If you’ve completely lost hope, here are some ways to prove the legitimacy of a news story.

  • Pay attention to the domain and URL. Established news organizations usually own their domains and they have a standard look with which you are probably familiar. Sites that end with .com.co should tip you off that they may not be legitimate. This is true even when the site looks professional and has semi-recognizable logos. An example: abcnews.com is a legitimate news source, but abcnews.com.co is not, despite its similar appearance.
  • Read the “About Us” section. Most sites will have a lot of information about the news outlet, the company that runs it, its leadership, and the mission and ethics statement behind an organization. The language used here is straightforward. If it’s melodramatic and seems overblown, it’s a red flag. You should be able to find out more information about the organization’s leadership in places other than that site—it should be all over the web. Google the leadership and look at their credentials. If it’s questionable, so is the publication.
  • Be wary of the lack of quotes. Most publications have multiple sources in each story who are professionals and have expertise in the fields they discuss. If it’s a serious or controversial issue, there are more likely to be quotes–lots of them, from industry experts. Look for professors or other academics who can speak to the research they’ve done. And if they are talking about research, look up those studies.
  • Be equally wary of the source of quotes. Check the sourcing. Is it a reputable source with a title that you can verify through a quick Google search? Let’s say you’re looking at an article that says President Obama wants to take everyone’s guns away. And then there’s a quote. Obama is an official who has almost everything he says recorded and archived. There are transcripts for pretty much any address or speech he has given. Google those quotes. See what the speech was about, who he was addressing and when it happened. Even if he did an exclusive interview with a publication, that same quote will be referenced in other stories.

The internet means that content lives forever; we now have the ability to validate the news we’re receiving. It’s up to each of us to be a critical thinker. To support free and independent journalism. Our founding fathers understood its importance to a system of healthy checks and balances, the fundamentals of democracy.

Need help creating real news?

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

Letting Go: Why Is It So Hard When It Feels So Good?

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Letting Go: Why Is It So Hard When It Feels So Good?

I just had a meltdown with client. I worked all weekend on web content to meet his artificial deadline. I hunkered down on Friday, worked all day Saturday and by Sunday afternoon I was satisfied with what I had written. I made a few notes and sent it off to my client for another early morning phone call and went to bed, confident that I was on the right track. Boy, was I wrong.

I jumped on my Monday morning call, and he began to tell me everything that was wrong, that I had completely missed the aesthetic and had ignored all of the material that he had written. When I explained that I used his material as background information to help me write compelling web content, he went apoplectic. This went downhill very quickly.

It reminds me a bit of a big inning

Baseball fans know how this one goes—one horrible inning that’s never going to end. The pitcher gives up a run or two, then the bases are loaded and the next guy up hits a grand slam and there are no outs. All of a sudden, it’s looking like a very long afternoon. In the same way that these big innings never end, I didn’t think his tirade and this call was ever going to end.

Was there anything he liked—the answer a very definitive “no”

Seven pages of copy and there wasn’t one thing he liked? Now that’s just plain bullshit. I’m a good writer, I’ve been doing this a long time and I know how to write good web content. I’d written snappy subtitles, created some good bullet points and tried to come up with some examples that would make his point. None of these passed muster.

We talked about next steps

We mumbled about how we were both going to think about this. He was inclined to just move on because of my callous disregard of his aesthetic. My instincts make me want to fix things. But I knew this was a very bad fit and I didn’t want to work with this guy. Intense, humorless and unforgiving. I really had to desire to go back to the drawing board and try to please this guy.

As soon as I admitted that to myself, it was like a huge load had lifted. I hate to lose and I’m not a quitter, but there are times when we are legitimately bad fits. It’s so powerful to admit it and move on.

client's website is not mobile friendly, but that's only part of the problem; navigation, images and content need to be upgraded

Mobile Friendly Just Part of This Website’s Problems

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A client recently called me for some help with his website. He was concerned because it wasn’t mobile-friendly and he wanted to know what I could do to help drive traffic to his site. I’d done some work for him a while back when he’d gotten a bunch of bad Yelp reviews. That time he wanted to know how I could get rid of them. I couldn’t but what I did is reach out to his good clients and ask them to write positive reviews on Yelp. The good reviews help drive the bad reviews down the page to counteract them. This required a fair amount of effort, but we were ultimately successful and he was delighted.

An old, dated website with bad navigation and horrible images

That his site wasn’t designed for mobile was simply the tip of the iceberg. His site was old and dated, with bad navigation. He’d written his own content, which was actually quite good, but it didn’t synch with his images, and was too limited; good landing pages should be 300+ words to rank well in search engines. Branding was nonexistent. He’s a contractor, and I’d learned from my previous project that he was conscientious and skilled, but he’d never invested in professional pictures of any of his projects, and the images he used on the site were cramped and terrible, never really showcasing his craftsmanship or the wide range of projects on which he worked.

I tried to explain that even if we were able to drive people to the site, there was nothing that would make them want to pick up the phone and call him. I created a proposal for a new WordPress website that was as lean as I could make it because I genuinely wanted to help him. I would be the project manager, work with my longtime web guy who is very reasonable, and I’d develop the content based on what was on the current site. I would do keyword research, write metadescriptions and do some other SEO efforts that would help his site show up in search engines, which was where this whole conversation had begun.

Making a commitment to photograph projects

I included a photoshoot as a line item, because if he was serious about a new site, he needed to start investing in his work. Project photos can get expensive really quickly, but I suggested we start modestly. Identify one or two projects that turned out well and include these as part of the new website’s portfolio. More important, he needed to commit to photographing his completed projects and adding them to his new site.

A simple, well-conceived site is an investment that will endure

When I told him the approximate cost for development of a new site, he told me that it was ridiculous. He “could get his old web guy to make his existing site mobile-friendly.” He didn’t see any reason to spend that kind of money to get “the kind of clients that he really didn’t want”. I tried to explain that this was the only money he was spending on marketing, and a simple but well-conceived site would last him for a long time. Clearly, I’d wasted my time. Instead, he’ll continue to have the same crappy site that won’t drive traffic and won’t generate leads because he doesn’t recognize the difference between a good site and his own.

A website says a lot about you

For many small business owners, a website is their only marketing spend, so it’s an important investment. When people meet you or hear about you and go to your website, they make an immediate judgment, and first impressions are everything.

  • Does your site load—on both desktops and mobile devices?
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Are the images crisp, clear and relevant?
  • Does your About section describe you as an individual as well as the company? People like to know about the people with whom they’re going to be working.
  • Is it easy to find contact information?
  • Are product descriptions well-written and informative? Do they provide enough information to help you make informed buying decisions?

Is your site relevant to your business today?

  • Have you added new products and services, new members of your team?
  • Are your images out of date?
  • If your site was built in WordPress, there are more than two thousand themes. It’s possible that we can apply a new theme, update content and images and give your site a facelift. Infinitely more appealing than the prospect of creating a whole new site from scratch.

Does your website need to be updated to a mobile-friendly format?

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

Procter & Gamble is a big brand with a big heart, but their latest is great: a traveling bathroom in NYC called Charmin Van-GO!

P&G Launches Charmin Van-GO, A Traveling Bathroom in NYC

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Procter & Gamble is one of the world’s biggest advertisers—as a result, their products fill households around the world–Downy, Tide, Bounce, Charmin and Crest. Yet they’re a big brand with a big heart and a conscience, and I’ve written a couple of articles about their video ads that have gone a long way towards supporting big causes. These days, we’re seeing a lot of this, and ya gotta love a big brand that’s not afraid to step up and do the right thing. P&G’s #LikeaGirl video a year ago was viewed by more than 38M people, and #WeSeeEqual video three months ago by 46K.

But now it’s June. It’s blistering hot with no end in sight. Like everyone else, I want to be on vacation. Lying somewhere with my feet propped up with nothing to think about but where I’m going to have dinner. Yet I’ve got work to do and deadlines to meet.

But I love this story. P&G has a new innovation that takes off from where its more rudimentary household products left off. P&G is now offering Bathroom Service in New York City!

It’s cleverly called Charmin Van-GO

And it’s bringing personalized bathroom service to select New York neighborhoods. The pilot is scheduled for just two days in June. According to the Associate Brand Director, “We’re always looking to bring people the best bathroom experience, both at home with our tissue and in new and unexpected ways.” It’s literally a bathroom delivered right to your footsteps. People on the go can avoid those random, frantic coffee-shop stops with Charmin Van-GO.

Traveling through NYC’s busiest—and now neediest–neighborhoods

With black-ish star Anthony Anderson onboard, Charmin Van-GO will travel through some of NYC’s busiest neighborhoods to bring bathrooms to those in need, while surprising and delighting people with bathroom humor along the route.

So my question is . . .

Is P&G serious about this or are they just having a little summer fun? Or is this something that could take off and start serving other neighborhoods, other cities? God knows the need is there. There’s no mention of the cost to use Charmin Van-GO or if there’s more than one van or plans for the future. There’s likely a place to wash your hands, using that old P&G classic, Ivory. I’m captivated by this. Most of all, I’m wondering if P&G is doing this as a whimsical summer fling or if they’re serious. A traveling potty. They could get an app . . .

Do you need help with your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Bill Ryan is a mobile notary and has just launched his new website, UpValley Notary on the Go

Case Study: A New Website for Bill Ryan

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Bill Ryan lives in St. Helena, and like many people in the area, he came to the Napa Valley to work in the wine industry. Bill relocated from Rhode Island some 40 years ago, when there were fewer than 20 wineries, compared to more than 400 today. As the sales and marketing director for Beringer Winery, he helped grow the premium wine’s international footprint for more than 20 years.

As a mobile notary, he needed a web presence

Bill’s retired now, but he’s always busy. He fishes whenever he can and writes a fishing weekly column for the Napa Valley Register and another for St. Helena Star. He also has a little mobile notary business serving the towns of the Napa Valley—St. Helena, Angwin, Napa, Calistoga and Yountville. He’s not interested in being swamped, but he enjoys growing his business, interacting with his clients and meeting new people. Bill wanted a simple website—nothing elaborate–what can you say about meeting someone at his/her home or office to sign documents, after all? But if you’re in business these days, you need a web presence.

We discussed a few options and decided on Gutensite

I’ve build a couple of websites in this platform before, and was delighted with the results. The technology is responsive design and looks great across devices. It’s modular; the pages, such as blogs and testimonials, are autoformatted so they turn out looking polished and professional. I’ve tried using the so-called DIY, WISYWIG platforms like Wix and SquareSpace—they’re supposed to be easy and foolproof. I’m fairly savvy–I’ve worked in WordPress for years, but I think these applications are confusing, and I would never tackle a WordPress site on my own. Gutensite is very easy to use, and here’s the really great part: they have a responsive, courteous technical-support team who’s there for you to work through the small details that would completely sabotage you in other applications. Best of all, for a simple website, Gutensite’s price is hard to beat: $15/month, including hosting.

Gutensite doesn’t have WordPress’ 2,000+ themes . . .

The number of themes is limited, but if you look carefully, you will realize that each design is different enough to distinguish itself, providing significant options. By adding your own images, logo and text, you are going a long way towards customizing your theme. For those who need more functionality, Gutensite has more robust packages and also provides customized solutions.

For Bill’s site, we decided on just four landing pages

Home, About Bill, What to Expect from a Notary and Contact. I tried to sneak in a couple of modules at the bottom that would provide extra calls to action, but Bill wasn’t interested. He wanted to keep this simple, with just the relevant information. We purchased the domain name from GoDaddy, UpValleyNotaryontheGo.com and I easily managed the domain name transfer myself. I filled out fields for keywords and metadescriptions, made a few last-minute adjustments, uploaded Bill’s new headshot and we were live.

I literally created this site in a matter of hours. It helped that I had used Gutensite before, and I ran into a few issues where I had to reach out to tech support, but the process was seamless. Best of all, Bill now has a terrific new website.

Next up: I’m creating another Gutensite website for a retired banker who is a woodworker. He builds stunning customized tables for his clients. In addition to writing content and building the site, I’m going to manage a photoshoot to get professional images of his work that will flesh out the gallery section of his website. I can’t wait to get started.

Are you interested in a new Gutensite website? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing–we’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Two Bellman Two is part of Marriott's wildly successful long-term video strategy

Rethinking Content Delivery: Big Brands Embrace Video

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Video’s snagged a place in the Top 5 Trends for 2016

Take a look at any of the experts’ Top 10 Marketing Trends for 2016 and video has snagged a place in the top five. Sure, we all know we should be doing video—it’s great for SEO, it’s fun, engaging, informative and for certain demographics, this is the preferred way to receive information. But let’s be realistic. Good videos are expensive; they require scripts, perhaps a narrator, background music and professional videographers to create a polished product. And once you’re finished, it’s time for another one, and it takes time and money to keep producing high-quality products. You think they cost too much and have limited reach. Let’s take a look at a video that Marriott produced that’s been wildly successful.

Marriott’s 19-minute video: more than 8M YouTube views

Marriott released the follow-up to its Two Bellmen original short film earlier this year, with the sequel approaching 8M views on YouTube — more than the number of viewers who tuned in to see CBS’ premiere of Man with a Plan. This 19-minute action comedy, Two Bellmen Two, built its viewership over a period of months as consumers shared the content with friends via social media. This is important because it’s the result of consumers increasingly shifting their viewing habits from TV to smartphones and laptops. Savvy brands are creating content that makes an emotional connection with viewers andgets them in front of impressive numbers of potential new customers — in some cases, more than they could with a traditional TV ad.

“ If you deliver something that is valuable and they want to watch, they will actually engage,” said David Beebe, VP of creative and content marketing at Marriott International.

 Content production moves in-house as big brands build studios

This shift in the traditional content creation/delivery model was the topic of a panel discussion at the ad: tech conference in New York in December that featured executives from Marriott International and Charles Schwab. These two big brands are building in-house content studios to produce the kinds of content that today’s new consumers want. Make that millennials. They’re shifting away from TV to embrace a variety of digital content formats.

Demand for video is growing

As consumers look for compelling online content they can share with friends, the demand for video is growing. Brands need content that transcends traditional advertising, and this can be difficult for agencies to grasp. Two Bellmen was first launched in early 2015 and has received more than 5M YouTube views. A sequel came out in early 2016 and a third installment has debuted. Marriott’s efforts have proven successful enough that it is now licensing some of its content, turning its marketing into a revenue source. They’ve developed travel documentaries, webisodes, VR experiences and influencer-driven videos.

You have to be able to take risks; legacy attitudes can stand in the way

For marketers looking to jump into this kind of quality content, one of the biggest hurdles can be resistance from executives who are reluctant to make a significant investment when they don’t see a direct link to a sale. Legacy attitudes can hold companies back, so they must be able to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them. Charles Schwab, long recognized for clever advertising that reaches consumers on a personal level, created a small team three years ago that is focused on telling brand stories that connect with people. Previously, most of the content was focused primarily on traditional selling of products and services.

Today’s marketing is about telling stories

As brands increasingly become content creators, they need to consider new metrics that keep pace as they open the door to new relationships. At Charles Schwab, the content team demonstrated that the videos it created acquired new customers and drove existing ones to sign up for additional products. Brands embarking on a content strategy need to ensure that they continue to engage with their audience.

Are you trying to develop a results-oriented marketing strategy? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.  

top of mind marketing back to basics for web trends 2017

Web Trends 2017: Back to the Basics

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I recently worked on a website for a construction company; one member of our team kept suggesting things to make the site “pop”. I, on the other hand, was looking for great navigation and classic design that would endure, lots of white space that would serve as a backdrop for well-written content and project pictures. I wanted our work to capture audience attention, not gimmicks.

It’s been an evolution

We’ve spent years adding stuff to our websites—frames, sidebars, headers, banner ads, sidebar ads, calls to action, comments, popups, social media buttons, signup boxes, etc. Now we’re taking them off–all of the elements that cluttered up our websites, detracting from the primary message, which is the content.

Back to the basics in 2017

In 2017, websites will start moving back to basics, placing more emphasis on content. Keep in mind that a big driver for many of these changes is mobile users who increasingly rely on their phones to transact business and access information. To accommodate these users, sites have had to simplify—a growing trend over the last few years. Mobile use has had a significant impact on navigation, color palettes, typography and the way we deploy images and other assets.

Geometrics

It seems as though the use of geometric shapes, lines, and patterns have really taken off in the late part of 2016, and this is expected to continue through 2017. The use of circles around images, photos that are geometric heavy, or the overall design of the site relies heavily on the use of lines and patterns.

Creative headings

We’re starting to move away from the basic, boring heading style seen on websites (san serif, all caps, centered heading) and moving more toward imaginative or creative headings. Look for a change in the layout, justification or websites without a heading at all.

Animations and gifs

Animations are starting to be used more heavily on websites as they easily communicate how things work and are more lightweight than several images or even a video, which is good news for mobile users—animations generally load quickly.

Putting navigation on a diet

More people are now accessing the web on their phones than their computers, which has had a significant impact on navigation. Drilling down through complicated schematics on a phone is a complete turnoff; it’s much easier to scroll through pages than click and wait. Restricting the main navigation bar to four to five items is becoming the norm and it’s challenging organizations to think critically and strategically about how they organize information.

More emphasis on landing pages, less on a home page

In 2017 we will likely see a rise in landing page designs—not just home page design. While you still need a home page, as content marketing spreads, marketers will want to direct traffic to dedicated landing pages to better target their visitors and their needs. It makes sense: The idea of content marketing is to increase awareness and conversions, and what better way to increase conversions than to have visitors land on a page strictly made for them. These pages will be as well designed and thought out as others on the site, but target the visitor much more.

Are you thinking about a new website for 2017? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. Building online brands.

Double Your Page Views By Using Great Images

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You may be a great writer, but content without images will produce disappointing results. We’re drawn to content that contains rich, attractive graphics. Adding images to an article can nearly double its views, and 67% of users say that images are more important than descriptions when making a purchase.

Increase website traffic by more than 60% by using good images

Thoughtful image selection

Just adding an image is not enough. It needs to be relevant, visually appealing and appropriate for your audience.

  • Does it convey your message? It should contribute to the overall meaning of the article. Click-bait companies may have some success using an unrelated image for their web ads, but you should be in it for the long-haul–these strategies don’t work.
  • Does it fit your brand? Images should tell a story about your company’s brand—your integrity, customer service and industry expertise.
  • Is it engaging? Drab, boring images don’t engage you and they won’t engage your readers. I write a regular blog for a legal company, and we used to use uninspiring images of legal documents—trusts, deeds, etc. When we thought this through and realized that we were all about creating peace of mind or improving lives for the people behind these documents, we began posting pictures of happy families and couples taking care of each other and we experienced a huge boost in views.

How many images should you use?

There no magic number, but you can use more than you might think. Including good images:

  • Breaks up the text for improved readability.
  • Can increase your SEO value.
  • Provides more options for social media shares and engagement.

Each image should serve a purpose

Think about screenshots, for instance that will illustrate a new website or function. Images break up a page and make it more accessible. Use two or three images, but be aware of load times—if a page takes more than three seconds to load, you could lose 40% of your readers. Remember that more than 60% of users are pulling up information on their phones.

Size matters

If you’re downloading images from your phone or stockphoto sites, reduce the size of those beasty files. For websites and social media, I see that 800 x 1,000 pixels is a recommended size. For social media, I generally reduce the size of my images to 650-750 pixels. In some cases, you may want to use a series of thumbnail images, which can be effective. These can be 125-250 pixels, and they should all be the same size with the text wrapped around them.

Naming images and assigning them descriptive alt tags will help boost your SEO value

Don’t forget to label your images and add alt tags–a description of the image

Best practices: Don’t forget to name your images

If you download your images, they’ll have a number. Don’t just upload them to social media or your website with these numbers–rename them. Think about the topic of the article and what people would be keying into a search engine to find this information, then name the images accordingly. If your article’s about images, use a name such as using alt tags or sizing images for websites.

Missed SEO value of images

Do think about images and their ability to increase your SEO value. When you upload images to your website, you’ll see a field to identify an alt tag for each image. This should be a description that makes sense to the reader—it’s a summary of the image. If you’re adding an alt tag to a graph, make it a summary of the data. If I’m adding a screenshot of my new website, the alt tag would be something like Top of Mind Marketing’s new website has enhanced visuals, streamlined navigation and more than 250 blogs.  

Great images won’t save bad content

But thoughtful, quality images can increase traffic, improve engagement, increase conversions, and improve the overall experience for your audience.

Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing experts.

Super Bowl Ads: An Emerging Social Conscience

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Another Super Bowl, and naturally, my team lost. After a miserable first half, the mighty Tom Brady, perhaps the best quarterback of all time, finally emerged from Sleepy Hollow and led his team into an overtime win. Atlanta had a fairytale year, a terrific MVP quarterback and a Hall of Fame receiver, but they collapsed.

top of mind marketing_terry bradshaw

We all know that the Super Bowl is only partly about football

It’s also about eating and drinking, a day for partying with your friends. And for brands and anyone who’s interested in marketing, it’s about the advertisers who drop millions of dollars for a chance to get in front of one of the biggest TV audience of the year.

Super Bowl ads are an effort to reach Americans on a fundamental, emotional level

They remind us that football is an American sport and this is our big tradition. We may love our craft beer, but we look forward to those Budweiser ads that break our hearts year after year—those magnificent Clydesdales, the puppies, the young servicemen and women coming home to cheering crowds.

While we can count on the usual awful to mediocre ads, there are generally a few that are really clever and leave us laughing out loud. Melissa McCarthy’s saving the whales/trees/rhinos ad for KIA may have been the best ad of the day. Procter & Gamble’s ad for Fabreze, depicting the halftime stampede to the bathroom, was terrific. But I’m holding out for Terry Bradshaw and the Tide ad. Score another big, big hit for those clever folks at Procter & Gamble. I’ve watched this one a few times now, and I laugh out loud each time. But it’s not just about Bradshaw–there’s a message here: It’s not about what’s on your shirt, but what’s in your heart. Peter Fonda fans loved seeing him back, though this time in a Mercedes rather than riding a chopper, “Still lookin’ good.”

It’s difficult to escape our troubled political climate

Many advertisers took a stand for diversity and inclusiveness. Coke reprised a previous ad, “It’s Beautiful”. When it was first broadcast in 2014, it prompted a backlash because it featured “America the Beautiful” sung first in English and then in Hebrew, Spanish, Keres, Tagalog, Hindi and French—these languages are, after all, spoken by Americans all over the country. Budweiser left the puppies behind this year and chose a serious political message in defense of the immigrants who have braved danger and adversity in pursuit of the American dream.

Standing for something besides the product

Super Bowl ad slots cost an estimated $5 million for 30 seconds, yet many brands are dropping the hardcore pitch in favor of a more socially conscious narrative—and may be taking sides for or against Trump. There’s a push for companies to show their social awareness. KIA’s message, for instance, is about environmental awareness. Aligning with a message shows that companies have a point of view, that they’re aware of the world around them.

Good marketing tells a story

The best ads aren’t just pitching their attributes. They’re telling a story because a story has the power to reach its audience on an emotional level, truly connecting with them. These are the ads—and the products—that we’re likely to remember when we get ready to make a purchase.

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