successful business tips

The Solution You Can't Find in a Google Search

Last week, via Instagram, I mentioned having lunch with an old friend and colleague from my days in New York. He’s an incredibly talented designer and painter.

And he works in marketing.

And not just any marketing. He’s the creative director for the digital campaigns of a global fashion company that sees over $100 million in annual revenue from digital sales alone (I so so so wish I could say the name of the co. but the company is extremely private and he asked I keep the name to myself when sharing stats).

But wait, what does ‘creative director for digital campaigns’ mean exactly? It means he signs off on all digital content that goes public representing this company. And his job is not just about making the work look visually appealing or just aligning with brand guidelines. It’s a lot more.

mit-technology-review-karina-napier-creative-marketing-agency-portland-maine

And that “more” is the kind of solution we all need to improve online campaigns which you can’t find via a quick Google Search.

So first things first, a few numbers:

The digital ad effectiveness of this company ranges from a 2x - 10+ x return on investment. This means for every dollar the co. spends on say, a Facebook ad, they’re seeing 2 - 10+ dollars back. WHOAH.

Next: they earn about $100 million dollars annually from just digital campaigns. How does the co. know this to be true? They track where the customer comes from and what the customer purchased on the co’s site. This isn’t big brother spying, this is simply a way of seeing what source or channel sent the customer to this company’s site and if the customer bought anything, and if so, what. If the co is running Facebook ads, the marketing team wants to know if people are clicking on those Facebook ads, going to the site and buying something. This is called a ‘customer journey’ and it’s trackable without being creepy. Plus, learning what’s working with your marketing tools and what’s not, is highly important. So, say you can run 4 ads simultaneously. By tracking how many people click on each ad and observing where people go on your site via each ad, then documenting what the customer buys will teach you a lot about which ad ‘performs’ best.

But there’s more to it! What happens when the Facebook ad(s) works - ie is enticing enough that people click on it and land on the company’s web page? The web page has to have enough relevant information, but not too much to get the customer to take the next step. That step is BUYING something.

My friend participates in making sure the text on the page, the buttons, the images - all the content - is approachable and actionable and speaks to the customer so that wanting to buy is as easy and as attractive as possible. The UX (user interface) on the site must allow the customer to buy easily and quickly. ‘Cause you have about 30 seconds to grab the customer’s attention and about 2 minutes to keep it.

So yes, there’s a formula to getting the customer on your page and then keeping their attention and then ‘converting’ the customer to buying. Remember, this does not have to be sneaky, slimy, or manipulative in any way.

Think about this experience like a brick and mortar store: you want an eye catching window shopping display so the customers want to come into the store (a captivating window display is in effect the equivalent to your Facebook ad). Then after the customer enters the store, you want them to easily scan your merchandise and see what you have to offer. Stores spend a lot of time on attractive, accessible display. Your website needs to do this, too. The cash register is also very visible in a brick and mortar store. You want people to be able to pay easily in a physical store and online! And pricing - the most important part - the PRICING is visible and easy to read! This piece must be presented and presented immediately - especially online. People, my friend reminded me, shop by price (the amount of data he must have access to is mind boggling).

So your Facebook ad is your window display and your website as we have all heard a gadzillion times, is your store front.

Getting to the biggest point, here: how do you get the people to respond to the window display and come in and then buy something?

Test. You test and you test and test again.

Just as you would likely play with various arrangements in your store’s window display to see what people respond to most, you do this with your Facebook ad. Then just as you would inside a store, you move your merchandise around a bit to see what people buy most and put those items up front, so customers can see this opportunity right away and buy more of those items.

But you must test. The variables you can play with online:

  • photos in your facebook ads (think: if you sell textiles and your customer is used to seeing a lot of patterns, maybe use solid, bold colors in your ads so the images stand out).

  • copy in your facebook ads.

  • the text and position of the call to action (button) on the page where customers land from the Facebook ad.

  • placement of pricing on your website.

  • display of items for sale on your website.

  • how many times does the customer have to click to get to the pricing once they’ve landed on your site? Get this down to as few clicks as possible. 1 is ideal. 3 is should be the max.

  • scrolling - eliminate as much of this as possible.

  • desktop vs mobile. Remember a lot of us are on our phones! Esp Facebook users looking at your Facebook ad. Test the legibility of your information on both desktop and mobile.

And really, have fun with this. Take your time. Some ‘tests’ can last an entire month. Maybe the first month fails, but by month 6 you could be kicking ass.


The Best of Badass Leadership - Without the List

I wrote this blog post, below about leadership before the new year. Then it sat in my drafts folder. I felt it wasn’t’ really done. I was writing about leadership but I have no leader. I don’t like to think I have one nor need one. But I do need to be inspired and if happens to be by someone who also leads me to becoming a better person, a better business woman, a better friend, a better listener, and better liver (someone who lives life abundantly, not the organ), then I’m in - and in this department, Miki Agrawal has gotten my attention lately, and she’s pretty badass.

If you got to this blog post as a result of my Instagram post, the next paragraph is redundant. If not:

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Miki Agrawal speaks with the voice I can only dream to have one day (working on it), and with her businesses (plural) she’s making CHANGE in this world. She’s determined to break taboos, build businesses that everybody told her she can’t, plus have FUN while doing it. Her resume is killer: companies valued at a collective $150 million, filmmaker (for the likes of Justin Timberlake), soccer player through college, several amazing books under her belt, speaker, restaurant owner, dancer - I mean come ON. This woman is exactly what we need more of in this world. And in fact I believe there ARE a lot of women like her out there, we’re just still finding our voices. If you want to find yours via some incredible inspiration, check her out. Below, I’ve linked to one of her talks that got me filled with all the good fire. But prepare yourself - she touches on topics so pointedly and directly that the ideas have the potential to make some uncomfortable - and then she holds your discomfort in your face and shows why it’s time to get rid it.

The link you’re looking for is, here (scroll to the video below the huge block of logos). This talk is 16 minutes, and heads up her message only gets better as it goes on so give yourself the whole 16 minutes.

A couple good reasons to watch:

  • Building business around taboo topics requires 3 processes to ensure success

  • What’s the 1 for 1 model, what’s its flaw and the solution (hint Tom’s Shoes, and Warby Parker use it)

I couldn’t let the topic of leadership go to the wayside, so the rest of my post is below. There’s a few additional links to some other really cool people doing really cool things in both business, marketing and changing the world. So please check out if you have time!

Original Post:

I’ve been thinking about leadership - a lot. And thinking about next year. It’s coming fast. 2019 is coming fast, that is. Leadership it seems is a slow, steady, persistent tortoise race won as a result of many things - and moving too fast would not be one of them.

When I began this work - that is starting my own little company just over a year ago, it felt right. Not only that, a number of life-events lined up simultaneously allowing me to work for myself with clients I like and trust. I felt and still do that I was able to provide valuable insight and tools to a group of various companies who were so busy with their really good ideas that they just couldn’t find room to enjoy promoting their business - and mostly they don’t really know how. They have so much to say, too little time, and experience real confusion about why whatever they try isn’t really getting them exactly where they want to go. The initiation of this work - my work, solving these problems - began, admittedly with some trepidation. I had ideas, too, but why would my ideas work for others, and were my ideas valuable?

Today, I have plenty of clients to keep me busy and they pay me for my ideas! My rate has gone up, the quality of my work has gone up and my commitment to this work has been defined. My work is working and I want more of it. Enter a bit more of trepidation, mixed with impatience, mixed with ambition, curiosity, a lot of unknowns, plus a solid dash of excitement.

And enter thoughts on leadership. Enter a new year approaching. Enter all the opportunity I could ever need to take the next big step and go deeper into the commitment of this work. To keep me motivated rather than stuck in fear, I allow the daydreaming to begin and the opportunities to enter. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that day dreaming leads to showing not only what you want, but what you can achieve. And remaining open and awake to the possibilities breeds discovery. And the thoughts aren’t just a dream impossibly out of reach without tangibility, the thoughts are the process of creating ideas which are entirely desirable and possible. Kinda like: if you can see it, you can build it.

And in every daydream, I’m responsible for big ideas that require bigs groups of people to help the ideas come to life:

  • an independent firm filled with the outlier creatives who have the ideas which convention typically shuns. Yeah, I want those people.

  • the success of said firm funnels resources (i.e cash, mission and values) into an organization that participates in civil society. Said organization is run by people who have ‘giving’ running through their very DNA. They can’t help but….help.

So these two recurring ideas remain a bit loose, but the overarching themes and concepts are there. And they’ll require: leadership.

Seth Godin, an all time favorite, reflects: “Leaders…know where they’d like to go, but understand that they can’t get there without their tribe, without giving those they lead the tools to make something happen…Leaders take responsibility.”

That’s a big bite. Taking responsibility. Taking responsibility for the notion that where you’re headed is great enough to bring along others - to bring in their time, resources and ideas in order to achieve what you believe will affect change. I added that last bit about affecting change. Because I want to affect change. I want to do things differently and affect people differently. I want to run a business that shows people that marketing isn’t gimmicky - that everyone uses marketing every day and when used correctly this small tool can help amazing people achieve phenomenal things.

I want to grow an organization (foundation? collective?) which will approach issues that move me: food waste, diversity in schools, girls and STEM, pollution/recycling and getting kids on board, nutrition and food integrity + education…the list goes on and could include an initiative to plant more trees because we need them and why not? All this could be done in non traditional ways. Rather than getting a group of volunteers together to plant trees, why not work within a city’s structural system to penetrate the schools so the health of our forests and clean air is a lesson across all classrooms? Then, donate the resources for each child to plant 1 tree every spring until they are 18? Simultaneously work with (an) artist(s) or arts institutions, like Laurene Powell Jobs did, to create gorilla art which boldly communicates the importance of climate change and preservation? Talk about leadership.

What would it take? At this point, the only thing I can think of is leadership. Leadership to be daring, to take the next step and do the damn thing. Starting is achieving and achieving can last forever if you just take one step at a time.

I began this post wanting to write about the poor leadership I’ve experienced in the past year, purely as a result of circumstance. I was going to list all the things I’ve learned that are required in leadership, with a smattering of what not to do, but the internet is already slathered with millions of lists. And I wanted to explain my take on leadership…differently.

Squarespace SEO Checklist

As a result of my work, I’m an administrator on a number of Squarespace accounts so I receive ‘special access’ to certain Squarespace forums (pretty cool). The Squarespace SEO Checklist-link below is in fact public but came across my plate as a result of this feature.

Image via Unsplash

Image via Unsplash

Also, note if you’re familiar with editing your Squarespace site, you’ll see a new update when clicking on the little gear icon in the pages editing section. There’s now a ‘SEO’ section within each page allowing for the manual entry of SEO-specific content for better results. Each entry only takes a couple minutes. I recommend copy + pasting only a few lines of text here. Copy + paste the most descriptive content from the page you’re editing. The SEO section for your About page, for example, should cover what your business is, who it serves and how. Again, just repurpose the content you already have on your site by copy + pasting it into this new SEO section.

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Click below for the Squarespace SEO Checklist. Note, the first section suggests ‘Before Launch’, but much of these suggested tasks can be performed even after your site is live. Good luck! It’s easy but yes, it takes time :)

https://support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/360002090267


You're a Woman. And you can make $1 Million Dollars

Today, there’s a lot of attention on women. We’re in the spotlight. For phenomenal reasons and terrible reasons - terrible reasons as related to terrible things we’ve endured, not necessarily caused. The news and topics can be defeating. Some days. I feel defeated.

Other days.

I feel like this is it. Our time.

I was raised by a feminist. I am a feminist. And I am a business owner. And I feel there is really not a better time to be both a woman and a business owner. We are being heard, we are collectively using our voice and we are succeeding. There are drawbacks. Today, note the date, might be one of those days of drawbacks. I personally decided to not listen to the news this morning while I work so I can be more productive. I’ll have to learn later what the Senate decides.


As for being a powerful woman and a powerful business owner, take some notes, here. Forbes.com supplies some solid tips, that in my years of working in sales, marketing, business strategy and running my own business (s) ring v true to me.

Ste. Sébastienne by Louise Bourgeois

Ste. Sébastienne by Louise Bourgeois


First, I find this is very common (I’m guilty):

“Women entrepreneurs aren't staying stuck at $100,000 to $600,000 because they aren't smart, capable or hard-working,” says Pimsleur. “It's usually that they don't have the right mindset or strategy, don't know how to scale up or even what the scalable part of their business is. Most women are what I call ‘octopreneurs,’ meaning one person trying to do eight jobs.” - Julia Pimsleur, founder of Little Pim (raised $5.9 million in funding).

But here’s her advice, which upon reading, compelled me to write this post and share the article (see article link at end)

THINK ABOUT THIS: What are the high-margin products or services you sell?

  1. What can you sell more of without massively increasing staff or overhead costs?

  2. If you’re running a service company, is it possible to productize your services? (If you’re not familiar with this term, productizing means selling your services as a product. For instance, if you design web sites, you might offer two to three different web site packages, named just as a product would be. Some entrepreneurs are able to sell their services for higher prices and earn higher margins this way, thus making their businesses more scalable than if they charged retainer fees or by the hour)

  3. Do you need to run your company in a new way? Companies that make over $1 million may use different systems and strategies than you do now.

  4. Do you need to run your company in a new way? Companies that make over $1 million may use different systems and strategies than you do now.

I can’t help but personally observe that as women we’re often afraid to be strategic or opportunistic. These traits can be looked down upon as greedy or selfish or overbearing. All traits that when you stop to think about it, are admired and revered in many men.

I think this is changing. I’ve always been an opportunist because I love getting my way and I love getting what I want. But I’m kind, caring and deeply empathetic. Here, lies the super power of women. We can be all of it. We can be the powerful, the successful and the grounded and the caring. All at once.

Do it, own it, be it, live it, love it. This is our time.

Read more at Forbes.com.


“The Art of Making Your Website Compatible for Google Search Engines”

The first memory I have of hearing a dial-up modem reaches back to the age of about 5 or 6 years old.

I used America Online and probably chatted with too many people, was too young for exposure of that sort, and had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Precursor: I'm not a techie, not a coder, but I've always found consumer behavior & marketing fascinating.

When SEO became a thing many years ago, I understood it in concept - I got that it matters and still does, but I didn't understand what was happening behind the scenes.

Therefore I found the topic too ambiguous to dive deeper.

Since, and through reading, research, various info osmosis, I get SEO. But still, it can remain daunting.

In my line of work, I listen to a lot of podcasts about the topics that relate to marketing. And I'm picky. I don't love everything I hear.

So what I'm about to share, I share because I've filtered out much of the repetitive, irrelevant, maybe even uninventive information. 

And focus instead on information that works.

karina napier creative portland maine marketing plan seo nick hiller photographer

 

Well, that's why when I listened to a podcast today (link at end of article) with Amy Porterfield and Neil Patel, I was taking notes through the whole thing and even listened twice.

Amy is the sweetest and Neil is not only sincere but incredibly credible.

While Amy is a marketing maven, she relies on paid advertising for her online business.

Neil suggests, why not both?

 

“It’s not [paid advertising OR SEO]. You need to optimize your business for total profitability."

 

“Warning,” he says, "with SEO you won’t see results right away. It's long and hard and why most people don’t do it. And SEO simply does not ‘convert’ as well as paid advertising.”

He goes on to add, “...the majority of people don’t click on paid ads, Google is worth around $7hundred billion+.
And $80 million or $80 billion of that is from PAID AD REVENUE."
This is important:
"Hence why organic results are worth so much <because  they are competing with paid advertising>. Google is not going to make it easy to have organic results otherwise companies wouldn’t spend money on advertising.”

 

You see? SEO matters because the engines controlling the results are designed to push you into two options:

1.) Pay

or

2) learn SEO for your website.

If you're still with me it's because I'm not the first person to tell you SEO matters, and you're waiting for the plan that Amy and Nate shared in their v. long podcast. (Sure, you can listen, but you can also use my notes, below. The sharing of these notes is in fact for you.)

Again, Amy doesn't really rely much on SEO.

So this plan is from Neil.

He offers a 3 month plan. Yes, yes. SEO results take a long time! And then the plan takes management.

But don't spend more than 10 hrs/wk on this stuff. If you are, Neil says something's up.

 

MONTH 1 - Check out your online competition. Do your homework.

Gather, say 5 URLs of your competition and then try these tools:

  • UberSuggest - Free. Type in keywords of your ‘industry space.’ In return, the engine will give suggestions to keywords in your ‘space’ and provide the cost per click to use those words in paid advertising.

If a keyword has a high cost per click...it’s worth more! If you’re getting clicks for pennies on the dollar, you're probably not going to get many results because the use of those words don’t generate results.

  • Semrush.com - Costs money. But here, you can type in your own URL and results will show your closest competitors who are selling the exact same service as you. Will also show the keywords your competitors are ranking for (read: show what keywords your competitors are using to get results) and how many visitors they‘re getting. If your competition is successful, their keywords could be valuable.

  • Ahrefs.com - Costs some money. Provides another version of the options, above.

Month 1 Takeaways:

  • Competition (should be low), cost per click (should be high) and search volume (this means a lot of traffic and search volume should be high).

  • Have at least 10-20 keywords, to start, then expand into hundreds if not thousands of keywords as you master SEO.

  • Spend a few hrs a week on SEO. Much more is not realistic.

  • How to keep organized: these tools, mentioned above, have their own dashboards. They update as the competitors update. You don’t have to keep doing the research over again, or refreshing.

 

 

karina napier creative portland maine marketing plan SEO annie spratt photographer

MONTH 2 - How to make great content for SEO.

First, Analyze Your Current Content

For Wordpress users, “Yoast SEO” plugin is free and basically optimizes your content and images for keywords.

REMEMBER: Google reads source code (and your written words), not images.

So we have to make our websites compatible with Google. Google needs to crawl the site in order to gather your info and rank you in search results.

You won’t rank high in search results if Google can’t crawl your site. If you're a Squarespace user, a tool for implementing keywords is at the bottom of this post. This step is critical. So be patient.

Also, if you haven't already, you must, must sign up for Google Search Console. It's free. And it breaks down how your site is performing with keywords. Google Analytics won’t show which keywords are driving your traffic. Console showcases that data. (Neil suggests getting this installed during month 1.)

Creating new content.

Start off with just one blog post per week. Video does not rank as well on Google. Audio content is good for engagement but still does not rank as well as words.

FYI, Google knows if your content is user-generated (your audience is leaving a comment, for ex) or if that content i's a blog, or if you have ‘show notes’ - notes posted after audio or video on the audio or video page. And Google likes blog posts a lot.  “Show notes” will not help with SEO.

Google is looking at engagement which tends to arise via blog posts.

And remember, you can always review Semrush to see which of your articles are performing on the world wide web.

IN CREATING CONTENT, KEEP THESE TIPS IN MIND:

Content in conversational tones does better. “You and I.” Create a conversation with your text versus "a teacher talking at you." This is good for engagement. Which is good for Google's tools.

  • Articles which show up on pg 1 of Google tend to have 2500 words, versus only 500 words. Make sure your content is thorough.

  • Use subheadings. Think of it as your book. Title of book, plus subheadings as chapters.

  • Keep your paragraph short 5-6 lines as rule of thumb

  • Use images or video and audio clips for engagement

  • Always wrap up the post with a conclusion, so if people scroll down first before reading, they may like the end and scroll back up to actually read from the beginning.

 

MONTH 3 - Building your online network via links and sharing.

A site ranked at the top of a search result is based on keywords and which site has the most 'votes'. Voting for sites happens in 2 ways:

1) A vote is a link to your site. The origin of the link also counts. A more powerful origin site will help your vote, more. Think RELEVANT origin site. Radiohead.com vs the casual resume-site of your best friend.

2) Another vote is social share. Here, think AUTHORITY links. Shares from the most authoritative links in your field. (If Amy Porterfield shared one of my links, I’d be getting a GREAT vote, in Google’s eyes.

Try: Ahrefs.com - you can enter in your competitor URLs and receive information about every single person and site which linked to that URL.

Neil's tip: Take that list and export it and find a contact person for each of the sites. Then email each contact and ask if they'll link to your content. Of course, this takes some time and savvy, but it is, in fact, an option... And you can get a Virtual Assistant to help with a lot of this.

TOOL:

Buzzsumo - put in keywords and URLs of your competitor’s article, and results will show how many social shares the article has, plus each person who shared that article. Neil's Tip:  you can reach out to those “sharers” and ask that they share your content, as well (apparently, some people are willing to do this).

 

Also with Buzzsumo, you can type in keywords and the results will tell you all the popular articles based on a keyword subject matter. Plus, you can see what people love and spot patterns and trends to help guide your ideas. I happen to like this one option. V. helpful.

 

karina napier creative portland maine marketing plan seo luca bravo photographer

Ok, that's it! if you're still with me, here are a few resources:

Amy's Podcast episode with Neil Patel:

https://www.amyporterfield.com/2018/07/221/

The Squarespace tool for keywords:

https://logicalseo.net/blog/squarespace-seo-plugin-the-alternatives

Semrush.com

Ahrefs.com

Ubersuggest.com

Buzzsumo.com