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  1. Why Your Company Should Be Working with a Small Digital Agency

    • by Gustavo Morais
    • July 17th, 2017

    Bigger is not always better, especially when it comes to choosing the right partner to successfully guide your company through the bewildering maze of digital marketing options.

     

    Naturally, you want to make sure that the SEO agency you select

    Has a solid understanding of the basics of digital marketing.
    Is committed to employing only the “white hat” tactics that will keep your business safely within the acceptable guidelines set by the search engines and other marketing channels.
    Stays on top of the latest changes and developments across the digital landscape to help make sure that your marketing campaigns are as fresh, on target, and effective as possible.

    Beyond all that, you need to feel comfortable working with your web design partner. Confident in their good judgment as well as their commitment to keeping your best interests at heart throughout your relationship. These are the critically important traits so easily lost in a “big agency” environment yet so common to the smaller SEO agency.

    Wouldn’t You Rather Be a Big Fish in a Small Pond?

    Not so long ago, a senior executive was overheard asking the receptionist at a large marketing agency to “speak with my account representative.” Amazingly, no record could be found of his business. A fresh-faced junior account staffer eventually sauntered out, offered up a cup of coffee, and took notes as the executive related his marketing needs. While this level of “service” would astound many businesspeople, the executive took it all in stride – it had happened before.

    The moral of this story is simple: smaller fish in a big agency pond rarely get the attention they deserve. If you want to reap the benefits from working with the very best agency people available, you need to seriously consider working with a smaller agency.

    A Smaller Marketing Agency is More Focused on Your Goals and Needs

    Every client is important to the smaller web design agency. Working with a small core team of dedicated marketing professionals means more attention can be focused on your unique set of needs and challenges. There’s less “passing of the buck” and more time and energy devoted to uncovering just the right approach to your company’s marketing campaigns.

    Once a big agency assigns a team to handle your account, you’re pretty much stuck with that decision. You get the expertise and experience that the big agency “bean counters” feels your account requires without busting the overhead budget.

    Contrast that with smaller marketing agencies – who are much more accustomed to bringing in expert outsourced talent as the need arises. What’s more, in most cases you’ll have direct access to the agencies’ chief executive or owner.

    A Smaller Marketing Agency Relies on Unique Ideas – Not Cookie Cutter Templates

    All too often, a large marketing agency will rely on templated solutions for their smaller clients’ campaigns. While it’s an easy and affordable solution for the agency, it may not always be in the best interests of their smaller clients – who lose the benefit of fresh creative ideas and solutions.

    Smaller agencies, on the other hand, thrive on applying custom solutions and techniques. It’s their stock in trade, and one of the most important and valuable assets they can offer clients. They translate your company’s story into an effective and original solution that reflects your needs and resonates with your prospective customers.

    A Smaller Marketing Agency is Nimble as Well as Flexible

    Things move fast in the digital marketing space. Google updates its core search algorithm some 600 times each year, and Facebook seems to come out with changes to its advertising program every other day. Your company needs to be able to react quickly to adapt your marketing to these changes and to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.

    Unlike the big marketing agencies who labor under layers of management and present
    procedures and protocol, smaller web agencies thrive on flexibility. They can shift gears quickly and turn on a dime in order to keep your company’s marketing campaigns up to date and relevant with the latest events and developments breaking in the marketplace.

    A Smaller Marketing Agency Might be a More Affordable Solution

    Big agencies have big overhead – which all clients help to pay for regardless of whether they use or even need every offered service. One way or another, the client foots the bill.

    Small agencies aren’t burdened with bloated overhead. They keep their operation lean and trim – which means you’ll pay only for what you really need and no more.

    A Smaller Marketing Agency Will Make You Feel Like You’re the Most Important Client

    As a client of a small agency, you’ll enjoy a direct and personal relationship with the members of your account team. They take your ideas and your problems to heart because that’s how they roll. You’re never just a number – you’re a valued member of the team and a major contributor to the success of the agency.

    If you think working with a smaller agency might be the solution to your marketing challenges, please contact us for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

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  2. Value Proposition Canvas Explained

    • by Gustavo Morais
    • July 14th, 2017

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  3. Why Spend Money on Integrated Online Marketing?

    • by Gustavo Morais
    • July 7th, 2016

     

    Many companies are wondering how much to spend on digital marketing. There are varying competing theories. Companies can spend as much as 20% of their marketing budget on campaigns such as search engine optimization, pay-per-click and social media. Gartner, a leading information technology company conducted a study on how much businesses in different industries spend on digital marketing. The results are pictured in the graph below.

    Each company spent an average of 2.5% of their annual revenue on digital marketing. At ST8, we believe this is an accurate measurement of how businesses should be spending their money on an integrated marketing strategy.
    With this number comes awareness on how much to allocate toward marketing from your budget. Many people think that marketing is one channel such as PR, advertising or certain promotions. What they fail to realize that all of these, along with digital tools such as social media, e-mail marketing and PPC are different specialized tools that can be used as part of an overall strategy, and each deserves attention to garner success.

    Businesses in any industry can benefit from an integrated marketing strategy as long as there are established goals. Goals can differ per industry from customer retention or acquisition, increasing direct sales, improving product awareness or brand management. Any of the marketing tools mentioned above can be used in a targeted way to achieve such goals.
    Overwhelmed by the possibilities of integrated marketing? Wonder how it can help your business rise to the top? Contact our team at ST8creative today for a simple consultation!

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  4. Breaking Down Organic Social Media

    • by Gustavo Morais
    • July 7th, 2016

    Social Media created a stage for businesses to promote themselves by connecting directly to their target audience. Companies like Facebook are requiring you to spend money on advertising to reach your audience. Organic Social Media gives companies a platform for brand discovery that is unparalleled by any other method of advertising. While it may not give you the quick stipend that you would get with paid social media, with a little patience, Organic Social Media can exponentially increase brand awareness. And the best part about it… it’s FREE!

    In this post, we are going to delve into how to interact with your audience using Organic Social Media in just a few simple steps.

    1. BE INTERESTING

    Make sure that your content engages your audience. No one is going to want to follow you if you’re not interesting. It is important that your content resonates with the user. What you post should be amusing, fascinating, and useful. Above all, don’t forget to be funny. If a post is found to be humorous, it will reverberate and be shared.

    2. MAKING FRIENDS

    Figure out which conversations to join. It may appear arduous, but this step isn’t as difficult as it sounds (make sure to use keyword research). The key to OSM success is being natural. Organically joining conversations with your target audience will give you the best results.

    When conversing, it’s important not to force products on your customers. This will likely drive them away. Simply engaging with your audience will generate a buzz and accumulate brand recognition along with trust.

    3. IF YOU CAN’T BEAT EM…

    Look at your competitors and find what is working for them. Their success could be an insight into what works.

    Don’t be afraid to jump in. Engage in conversation with competing companies (with out belittling them) and allow the people to see that you are a legitimate alternative.

    4. THE MORE THE MERRIER

    When it comes to connecting with your target audience, don’t be afraid to talk to people. In fact, engage with whomever you can. The more people you can connect with, the more brand recognition you can build. If someone asks a question, give them a response. If they say “thank you”, tell them “you’re welcome”.  After all, building relationships and distinguishing your company is what Organic Social Media is all about.

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  5. What is Native Advertising?

    • by Gustavo Morais
    • December 3rd, 2015

    Do you know what is Native Advertising? Could you identify it? This article, for example, is not a native ad. Or is it? In the new world of content – where everyone gets to create it – native ads can be placed anywhere and within anything. From articles to videos and images any form of content can be a type of native advertising. They can also be part of your Facebook feed, your favorite Pinterest board and even the funny Youtube videos you watch every week. But, what is Native advertising anyway?

    Here is the textbook definition:

    na·tive ad·ver·tis·ing
    n. Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.

    Media where the ad follows natural form and function of where it is placed. So it is basically an ad, that doesn’t look like an ad? Sort of. Native advertising matches form and function, meaning it matches the visual design of the experience they live within, with both look and feel, with consistent behavior and the native user experience, functioning just like natural content. They integrate content into the organic experience of a platform. In simpler words, native ads act as part of the environment they are placed on – which can be a website, video, image or any other platform – and even though they are sponsored content from a certain brand they are not a clear banner ad trying to sell you something or get you to engage.

    Native advertising feels like it was created for the digital age, but it actually dates from way back. Advertorials – which is when an advertisement meets an editorial – first appeared in the late 19th century, when brands started running ads with longform copy in newspapers and magazines, telling their brand’s story as an editorial. Native ads then evolved to branded radio, with sponsored radio programs, to branded TV through commercials, soap operas and pop culture, all the way to infomercials and search ads. In the 21st century, native ads evolved to sponsored content in social media, articles and online videos. And they can come in all shapes and types of platform. From a New York Times article about Women Inmates,advertising the popular Netflix show Orange is the New Black, to a BuzzFeed video about cats, featuring the brand Purina. They can have a more serious tone, or simply feel like a funny joke.

    And they seem to be working. According to research from IPG media lab, consumers look at native ads 52% more frequently than regular banner ads and native advertisements registered an 18% higher lift for purchase intent responses than traditional ads. The click though rates are also much higher with 49x more clicks for native ads, according to MDG Advertising.
    So why go Native? Some people tend to avoid display ads and native ads turn to a viable form of advertisement for many publishers who value user experience. And user experience matters, a lot. Brand loyalty also changes with 32% of users valuing native ads over other forms of advertisements. Also, consider that 70% of Internet users want to learn about products through content over ads. Nearly every social network has sponsored ads and many publishers offer some type of native advertising on their sites. Any brand can do content-based native ads and the product does not have to be front and center. Native advertising can help building brand reputation and it is a very effective way to connect to your audience without being forceful.

    The important thing to remember about native advertising is that it is not automated and it doesn’t come in ad boxes. Instead, native ads deliver high quality content integrated to a platform. They do not interrupt flow and are equal to user interaction, which is incredibly valuable to consumers. To learn more about native advertising and how it can work for your brand contact us at ST8.

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  6. The Story Behind 5 Icons Everyone Knows

    • by Gustavo Morais
    • June 7th, 2015

    Press play.

    We see a lot of icons every day and some arise in our day-to-day in such a natural way, we don’t even think of it. We all know the tumbled triangle that comes to mind whenever we think of the word ‘play’, same for the share button frequently seen in our social media timelines.
    But have you ever thought, who designed them? Is there a reason behind their format? This week we will be taking an in depth look onto these so-known symbols and the intriguing stories behind them.

    Play

    icon-play-128
    This icon is everywhere and across various media platforms. But we are left with the question, where did it come from?!
    There is no exact idea of when this icon was originated. What we can say is that it was brought out from the 60s, the era of audiovisual and reel. The original triangle brought up the idea of time as an arrow, with its direction indicating whether time was going forward or backwards. The great success of this icon was due mainly to the globalization of the electronic equipment industry.
    Through its success, others icons have been generated from the same foundation, the triangle.

    USB

    usb-xxl
    We all have something with this icon. From the useful, ubiquitous and cheap, the symbol is present in many devices and cables. From chargers to external drives, amongst many others, simplifying the use of many cables.
    The idea behind this symbol came up with Neptune Trident Dreizack. The trident symbolizes power, in the sense of being a single connector for multiple devices. The different shapes at the ends symbolize the drive.
    As this symbol is rather abstract, often the three USB letters are used instead, and the icon is to be left this way until it becomes standard on a global scale.

    Bluetooth

    bluetooth
    Of all the symbols on this list, Bluetooth definitely has the best story.
    In the tenth century Danish King Harald Blåtand loved the blue fruit (blueberries) and so his teeth were always stained with blue. The English translation of his last name is – you guessed it – Bluetooth.
    Bluetooth creates a secure way of exchanging data amongst several wireless devices and its predominantly Scandinavian creators recalled the legend of the viking king, Blåtand.
    The king had an impressive ability to bring people together in negotiations without violence. The symbol represents the unified mountains of Scandinavia as his way with words went so far as uniting Norway and Denmark as a single territory.

    On / Off

    button-on-off_318-30091
    One of the most universal symbols in existence, you will find this one across various devices. First originated in the binary system and used by engineers in World War II. The 1 means on, and the means 0 off.
    In 1973, the International Electrotechnical Commission came to the conclusion that a circle interrupted by a small bar in the center represent the state of “standby” for electronics (going back to the binary system). However, the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) found this to be a very vague definition, and decided that the symbol should simply represent “on/off”.

    


    Share

    Very-Basic-Share-icon
    The icon, looking something like a diagram, was developed by Alex King in December 2006 and bought by ShareThis in 2007. Originally made for the generic action to share a page, whether via social bookmarking or simply via email.
    However, this icon is not uniform for all websites and social media, as you can see in several platforms. The icon is changing and left is the question of whether this one is to lead in the future.

    Some symbols are universal, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking after your own. So why don’t you give us a call? Here at ST8 our design team is ready to take over and create the best icons and logos to fit your brand.

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  7. What is Your Picture Worth? The Power of Image-Based Social Media Marketing

    • by Gustavo Morais
    • March 13th, 2015

    We all know the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” and, although cliche, the principle behind it could explain the latest changes in user behavior on social media.

    Research by the L2 and Olapic showed us that while brands post an average of 9.3 times on Instagram, an up from the 7.5 weekly average last year, Facebook posts decreased from 11.1 to 8.8 per week in the same timeframe. Many Facebook users are experiencing signs of social media abandonment, with an estimated three million US teens leaving Facebook between 2011 and 2014. Although they may not be deleting their accounts, there are many clear social media ‘ghosts’ who are simply not engaging.
    Brands know that everything they post on Instagram will appear in their fans’ feeds, while Facebook may or may not feature your post depending on the type of content they find appropriate for each user. And although users may “like” your page, if they are not willingly and often engaging with your content it could be months before you appear on their feed, if at all.

    Facebook’s April 2012 billion dollar acquisition of Instagram is now valued at $35 billion. The company is offering ad packages across both platforms, with Instagram focusing on aspirational branding.
    Brands find that product images in the context of lifestyle deliver much higher engagement than other posts, and they are taking over these image-based platforms with alternative forms of advertising. In addition to cultivating brand-specific accounts, many companies will also cultivate relationships with power-users. These are users with frequent presence and a huge following who can work with your brand to feature products that will reach a large audience more organically than with traditional advertising.

    Snapchat is also taking over the image-based social media marketing trend, parting from the same principle that images could be the answer to engage more consumers. Snapchat wasn’t built for brands, yet with the introduction of new features, such as discover, brands can now make the most out of their audience engagement.
    As users, we tend to post things we love, things we are excited about and we would like to share. The more authenticity you put on social media, the more you can get out of it and by pairing their efforts with the right brand advocate, companies can get the most out of users who will likely share and engage with their content, as it is associated with their likes and personality. As a brand, being relatable can be one of your most powerful tools.

    Feeling apart from the crowd? Why don’t you drop us a line? Let us work together and introduce your brand to the latest social media marketing trends.

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  8. The ABC’s of Landing Pages That Work

    • by Gustavo Morais
    • December 14th, 2014

    When you click on a landing page, what’s the first thing that pops in your head? Are you annoyed, amused, perhaps intrigued? Talking about landing pages, the main thing to be aware of is impression. How do your visitors see you? Are they engaged and interested or will they move on to the next page within seconds? There are few things that create a better first impression than a well designed landing page, and the key is to understand your visitors and what leads them to take action.

    But, what is a landing page?

    A landing page is any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action or result. One way of understanding the process is to think a soccer match during penalties. When the whistle marks the beginning of a penalty, the goal is to get the ball to, well, hit the goal! Similarly, landing pages work with copy and design and their goal is to get visitors to take an action.
    Landing page traffic can come from various sources, from a pay per click or marketing campaign, banner ads and sponsorship graphics to email links and blog posts. The best landing pages are simple, well-designed and speak to the right audience.
    And how is my landing page different than my website?
    From landing pages to websites there is one major difference: your visitors. There are two different types of visitors, coming from two different backgrounds: the ones landing on your page and the ones who just end up there.
    The first type probably knows you. They likely typed in your name or web address and probably were referred by someone, read one of your articles or an email they signed up for. You won’t need to try hard to sell them anything, but you will need to make sure their experience is the best possible and they have easy access to all navigation and resources they will need to continue to get and know you better.
    The second type doesn’t know you. They found something floating around the web and somehow got linked to your page. They may be skeptical too. The goal here is to educate, convince (nicely) and most of all, make them feel comfortable. You want them to be curious about your business and the solution you could provide them. You want this interaction to be simple, direct and effective.
    Making sure to track both your landing page and website performance is the best way of understanding your visitor’s actions to set up a strategy and reach your conversion goals.
    There are a lot of parts and terms to landing pages and working with the basic ABC’s, we found a great infographic where you can get all the information you need to design pages that work:

    copyblogger-infographic-abcs-of-landing-pages

    Need help with your landing page and website design? Contact us at ST8. Let’s work together and create the best strategy to impress your visitors.

    Infographic and featured image via Copyblogger.

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  9. Why you should be using editorial calendars for your social media strategy…

    • by Gustavo Morais
    • September 12th, 2014

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Social media is an important part of the online marketing strategy. Here at ST8 Creative Solutions, we create editorial calendars that show social media content two weeks ahead of time reflecting overall themes and a unique brand voice for each client.

    Our editorial calendars include customized content for the social networks Facebook and Twitter. Content can include everything from videos to articles to branded images and more. This content is just another part of the story-telling aspect of your brand. Content is a way to add value for customers to follow the story of your brand.

    Calendars are a great way to bridge together branded content and themes for social media. Here are just a few reasons why editorial calendars are a great approach to your social media strategy:

    •Your strategy will be in writing where members of your team can see it, so it is actualized.  It can be changed and edited if needed so that everything is in place before it is broadcasted.

    •It helps develop a cohesive voice for your brand with everything in one place.

    •Planning ahead of time is always a great idea to coordinate efforts toward the big picture goals within a marketing strategy. This way you also keep in mind timely events and/or themes to weave into your strategy.

    •If you organize your calendar by dates, you will have specific deadlines to create images, videos and blog posts toward your overall message.

    •Focusing on topics can help stimulate creative juices flow while writing posts.

    It’s good to map our your calendar to the day and even the time when tweets or posts will go out so that the process is streamlined. Once everything is in place, you can also use the social media editorial calendar to boost search engine optimization efforts by placing keywords within the posts. You can also measure the effectiveness of each post using metric tools to learn what kinds of content customers prefer to engage with.

    Thus, editorial calendars are just another tool to implement in your marketing strategy to establish a strong web presence that will be rewarded with engagement, traffic, and new leads. Need help putting one in place? Feel free to contact us to help out!

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  10. Optimizing Your Website For All Major Platforms

    • by Gustavo Morais
    • August 24th, 2014

    In the past, website creation had been geared specifically towards computers. But with the rise in website access via mobile devices and tablets, companies are having to reevaluate and modify their web design strategies.

    For the average business, 60% of website traffic comes from mobile devices — not desktops. With a dedicated mobile SEO strategy, you can stay ahead of the curve, tap into a growing customer base, and increase your business by optimizing your website for tablet and Smartphone users.

    To optimize your website for major platforms, there are 3 main strategies:

    •Responsive design is recommended by Google as the best mobile SEO strategy (embed source http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2253965/3-Reasons-Why-Responsive-Web-Design-is-the-Best-Option-For-Your-Mobile-SEO-Strategy). RD uses same URL and HTML codes for both desktop and mobile versions. The content automatically moves into a mobile format when accessed from a mobile device. Therefore if website is visited on a smaller platform like a phone, the website will look exactly the same… just smaller.

    •Dynamic Serving uses one URL and adapts to whichever device you are using. However, depending upon what type of device you are using, the HTML code will change. Unlike responsive design where you are seeing the same website on both mobile and computer devices, with dynamic serving you will see the content change on mobile devices. Dynamic can be more expensive and potentially causes problems with mobile searches when incorrectly set up, but when done correctly can give a more pleasing experience to the user

    •Sepearte sites, an alternative to the other two methods, uses corresponding URL’s for both desktop and mobile devices. The mobile site will often be setup as “m.website.com.” Where as the desktop site would read “www.website.com”

    RECOMMNEDATION

    We at St8 recommend using responsive design when setting up a mobile site. Google search bots are designed to find a URL and all content that lies within that website. This is how Google ranks the site in search engine results. Because this is how it is set up, when the HTML changes (as it does in Dynamic Serving) the bots will not recognize the mobile site. In Responsive Design The HTML is consistent throughout both platforms, thus will gain a higher search ranking and will give your website more traffic.

    Although all three are viable options, responsive design provides the user a consistent experience across many different platforms, making SEO strategic management simpler.

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