Thursday, June 14, 2018


I suggested to one of my clients that we create infographics for several fairly complex processes described on our website. “Great idea!” I started working in Apple’s Pages, then remembered someone’s telling me about Piktochart, an online tool for creating infographics, posters and presentations. I created an account, logged in and began designing.

What a nice surprise–this tool is ridiculously easy to use!

You can use the free version or upgrade to the paid version. I used the poor man’s version and found that there’s plenty of functionality.
  • You can choose from about eight infographic templates. Unlike some program templates, these are completely customizable—you can delete features, change colors and fonts and reconfigure.
  • None of the templates really worked for me. I’ve had quite a bit of graphics experience, so I created my infographicsfrom scratch. Take some time to Google for infographic designs that fit your needs.
  • There is a full complement of fonts. It’s easy to change font size, color and both line and letter spacing.
  • Something I really love: Text blocks autosize. When you add or delete text, the block automatically changes to fit the new space—no manual adjusting.
  • The site comes with a fairly robust library of images/icons and photos, though the number of business photo images is limited.
  • The drag and drop feature is a breeze. If you have an image on your desktop, just drag it into your infographic and it autoloads in the application’s Uploads section—a single, seamless step.
  • The line tool is a limitation.The free version provides only a dotted line that is a bit hard to manipulate, but it’s a small complaint.
I’m delighted with my infographics and plan to add these to my own website and suggest them to other clients. It’s not surprising that infographics, the visual representation of data, have surged as such an important medium. Good marketing tells a story, and infographics help make our messages clear and accessible.

Infographics work because 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual

According to a report by a New York visual communications company, Infographic World, visuals are known to improve learning and retention by a whopping 400%. This is due to our frighteningly short attention spans and the fact that we absorb information faster by reading and seeing concepts with corresponding graphics. Images also trigger an emotional connection.

A few more reasons to love infographics

Infographics help break down large chunks of data into coherent, manageable content bites and simplify complex processes.
  • They answer specific business questions and facilitate decision-making.
  • The chance of an infographic’s going viral is much higher than that of plain text content.
  • SEO value. The viral nature of an infographic means that Google will index your website higher due to Google’s page-rank algorithm, increasing the importance that search engines place on your site.
Infographics don’t replace well-written content; rather, they’re an adjunct. Infographics facilitate learning and foster greater understanding of complex concepts. Now, they’re easier to create with Piktochart.
Need help creating infographics for your website and social media posts? Contact Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing specialists.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Facebook Ads Boost CPA’s Lead Generation


One of my clients had been doing a good job of managing his own marketing program, but as his business grew, he found that he didn’t have time to develop and execute a strategic plan. The result? He ended up spending money on last-minute Hail-Mary efforts that weren’t reaching his audience. Those great one-time special deals that ad salespeople talk you into aren’t special at all; they’re a waste of money. We developed a strategy that includes Facebook ads.

Marketing had become fragmented and perfunctory

For this client, a CPA, a monthly newsletter was becoming a quarterly, his weekly blog was now a monthly and his social media posts were sporadic and uninspired, often missing images. He understood the power of marketing and enjoyed the creativity; he simply didn’t have time to do this well.

We reviewed his Google Analytics reports to evaluate his website traffic

We wanted to know the demographics of his visitors and from what domains they were coming, how long they stayed on his site and their drilldown patterns.
When I asked him about his target audience, his answer was too general, so our marketing plan included an exercise in creating personas. We wanted to develop detailed profiles of those clients with whom he really wanted to be working—not necessarily those with whom he was now working. We wanted to identify their likes and dislikes, ages, professions, lifestyle preferences, etc.

We agreed that Facebook advertising should be part of our marketing program

We included Facebook pay-per-click (PPC) in our marketing plan. We would start with keyword research to identify those words we should be using in all of our online communications. We also wanted to identify negative keywords—those words we should be avoiding.

Facebook advertising: ability to drill down to specific demographic information

Facebook may be unique for the detailed personal information it collects. Facebook’s fields make up a fairly comprehensive database. Every time we fill in a field with information about our lives and our preferences, we’re contributing to a rich data pool.
  • We needed to create a goal—was it a phone call, email, a signup for his newsletter or a Like? The call to action needed to be clear and accessible.
  • We decided to create landing page on our website. It will be branded and synchronize with the ad messaging.
  • As with all online media, the headline is critical–you have just seconds and 30 characters to catch someone’s attention. Be a little edgy. Be bold. Be funny. Take a chance.
  • Use high-res images that are relevant and attention-getting. Spend time finding really good images.
  • Select a bidding option. Clicks, impressions, Likes.

The great thing about PPC advertising? You control costs

You pay only when someone clicks on your ad, and your daily budget identifies how much you will spend on a campaign. Once you hit your daily limit, your ads stop showing. Cost effectiveness, along with the ability to personalize your ads by detailed demographic fields, makes Facebook advertising a very effective way to promote your business.
Need help with your PPC campaign? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing specialists.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

It’s Not a Coincidence; It’s Remarketing!


Have you ever been reading an article online and suddenly noticed an ad for the same pair of shoes you were looking at onthe Nordstrom sitejust minutes before? A few days later, you were researching machines on the Nespresso site, and lo and behold, you were presented with the exact machine that you were considering buying!

Tracking your internet activity is no coincidence

At first, you thought it was just coincidence. “Amazing! I was just looking at those shoes!” But it’s no coincidence. Both the shoes and Nespresso machine are examples of remarketing campaigns–where advertisers can track your internet activity and serve you ads based on actions you’ve taken.

Here’s what’s happening: Online activity is being tracked by cookies

When we land on a site where we may make a purchase, that site installs cookies on our websites to track us. This is generally transparent. These cookies can tellwhat pages wevisited, whichproducts/services welooked at, how long we stayed on the site. They can tell if we’ve added an item to a cart, then failed to complete the transaction.
We may/not receive a message that we’re being cookied, via a cookie consent notice. After Facebook’s recent episode over client data abuse, we can expect these notices to be more evident and comprehensive. Protecting online privacy has become a vital matter.

Who should be using remarketing?

Think about this. How many highway billboards have you driven past that hold absolutely no interest for you? Or how many mindless commercials do you sit through while watching your favorite TV programs? It’s endless; we’re constantly bombarded by advertisements for things in which we have no interest.

Remarketing, on the other hand, helps us reach a predetermined audience

Remarketing campaigns are known for their high level of personalization—we’re generally seeing ads for those items in which we’ve previously expressed an interest. This personalized approach can help increase conversion rates, as it helps bring previous visitors back to finish the shopping experience they started.

Remarketing has become an integral part of many digital marketing efforts because it works

  • Economics. Advertising becomes cheaper because these online ads are only being served to the people who want to see them. We’re spending less money for more qualified traffic.
  • Personalization. We’re marketing to those who have already shown interest in our products—and we know exactly which products those are.
  • Consumer habits.Let your own behavior be your guide. You don’t make a purchase based on your initial visit to a site; rather, you do some comparison shopping. When you see an ad promoting that product, it’s a brilliant way to remind your audience that the product is still available.

Remarketing campaigns aren’t just clever; they’re effective

Remarketing isa strategic way to marketto people who’ve previously visited awebsite. These ads help keep brands top of mind, enticing visitors to come back to purchase. Economical and efficient, remarketing is becoming an important part of every digital marketing plan.
Are you thinking about creating a remarketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing specialists.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Keywords: It’s Where the Online Journey Begins


Our economy has moved online and those businesses that can’t be found online will be challenged to succeed. Keywords are the building blocks that are fundamental to every journey that results in our landing on a website.

Here are some ways that keywords are deployed.

1. For Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This is the most obvious–we need keyword research to optimize for organic search. Organic search is what we do a gazillion times/day; we key a word or phrase into a search engine such as Google, hoping to get an answer to our question. SEO helps Google bots crawl and index our websites to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). One of the ways that search engines decide what to rank is by crawling for keywords that show the relationship between the user’s search query and the content on a corresponding website.

2. For maximizing content strategy

We’ve all been told about the relationship between SEO and content. Without content on your website, strong SEO will not follow. Building a comprehensive presence in the online space means updating your website and social media sites with fresh content.
“Effective content strategies start with keyword research,” says Search Engine Land columnist Nate Dame. “Modern keyword research provides significant insight into what audiences want and need.”

Content should have a relationship to keywords

Every single piece of content on your site—a 300-word blog post or 5,000-word white paper, should be related to keywords that strike the right balance between high search volume and competition. To keep in mind: Maybe you did keyword research four or five years ago when you created your website. It might be time to redo this. Google changes its algorithms some 500 times/year and this affects search terms and competition.

3: For Paid Campaigns/Pay-per-Click (PPC)

Paid campaigns–PPC ads, display ads, remarketing or social media campaigns–are also keyword focused. Paid search is an auction where you bid on individual keywords
Keywords once again are the building blocks that make up ad groups, and these ad groups are the basis of campaigns. If your keywords have low search volume, then your ads are going to get little or no traction. If your keywords aren’t relevant to your target audience, you won’t be attracting the audience you’re courting–completely wasting your marketing dollars.

The bottom line: Keyword research is ground zero for all search marketing campaigns

But more than that, identifying your keywords and using them throughout all of your online communications is critical to their success.
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.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Is It Time To Add Pay-Per-Click To Your Marketing Mix?



With increasing online competition, pay-per-click (PPC) is becoming a critical way to get your content in front of your potential customers. Those who rely on organic strategies may find themselves frustrated that their blogs, social media posts and newsletters are just not enough anymore.

Here are three myths that may be keeping marketers from implementing successful AdWords campaign.

Myth #1: People don’t click on Google ads

Google is a publicly traded company—anyone can access their financial records that tell the story. Google generates more than $100M in revenue every single day from people clicking on their ads. With an average cost per click between $1 and $2 that’s more than 50M clicks/day. Google experiments constantly to make their ads entice more enticing. They’re not going to present you with a free, organic result at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) when they could showcase several ads that generate revenue. Start paying attention: The first few line items at the top of every search is an ad.

One more thing: Think about your own behavior

When you see an ad that entices you, do you click on it? Of course you do! Smart companies are using remarketingefforts that identify customer tastes to present you with items that you may have been looking at earlier in the day. They may serve up similar items or those by the same designer or manufacturer. I shop almost entirely online, and I’m fascinated by remarketing, which illustrates how marketing has gotten smarter.

Myth #2: My competitors can just click on my ads all day, costing me money

Google has extremely sophisticated technology to prevent “click fraud” and “invalid clicks”. This involves the analysis of several click-pattern factors.
Google provides very good reports on AdWords campaign performance, and any suspicious activity is quickly exposed. If a business is concerned they are victims of click fraud, they can contact Google directly to launch an investigation. Google reimburses questionable clicks.

Myth #3: AdWords is an outbound marketing tactic

AdWords is designed to showcase your content when potential customers are initiating a Google search. It’s the only inbound marketing tactic that guarantees your content will rank high on Google when a user performs a search. This is one very attractive reason to be using Google as your PPC platform. The sheer number of Google searches/day makes you part of this community.

PPC delivers a better user experience for the searcher

Think of the information you provide when you set up your Google account. This all becomes part of a huge database, and databased information makes it searchable. Because of this information, when you create a Google ad, you are able to drill down by location, demographics, interests, etc. This is not specific just to Google—Facebook, Linkedin and other social channels also provide rich search preferences.

Integrating AdWords with your inbound marketing strategy

Along with your existing content marketing and SEO efforts, PPC is becoming a critical component of an inbound marketing strategy.
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.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Creating Personas to Define Your Business Audience



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.

Monday, April 2, 2018


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.