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Is Your LinkedIn or Facebook Profile Insured?

When someone searches on Google or any of the other lesser known search engine for your name, what do you think they will find? Do the results make you look good or bad? Building and protecting your digital footprint is not a nice to have anymore, but a must have as it can determine your success online.

Your digital footprint – or virtual identity – is anything that can be found about you online. This could be your social media profiles, or your personal blog; it could consist of reviews you have written for products on sites such as Amazon and eBay, or discussions you might have become involved in on forums, or even your browsing history.

Every day, whether we want to or not, most of us contribute to a growing portrait of who we are online; a portrait that is probably more public than we assume. So no matter what you do online it’s important that you know what kind of trail you’re leaving, and what the possible effects can be.

But what happens to your virtual profile once you are unable to manage or control it, or when you are deceased? Who will keep your profile updated or close/maintain your social media account? Who will make sure sensitive information is kept secure and private?
You may be an eternal optimist, but no matter your outlook, things will inevitably happen that take the wind out of your sails. Being prepared doesn’t mean changing your optimistic nature. It only means that you care for your future and for the memory and digital footprint you leave behind.

You might have some content online that is questionable, or information you would like to be kept private, or subscriptions and questionable memberships that need to be cancelled. You surely don’t want to put your loved ones through any embarrassment or ruin their loving memory of you by leaving them to sort out some information about you that might be hurtful.

That is why we offer or clients the discreet service of managing their digital footprint after they die. From your social media profiles to your browsing history and subscriptions will be managed by us when you can’t. From as little as $5.00 a month you can now rest assured that the legacy you leave behind will be cherished! Contact us at info@planbrands.co.za

“Your story is the greatest legacy that you will leave to your friends. It’s the longest-lasting legacy you will leave to your heirs.”

― Steve Saint

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How Much Should Your Company Invest In Digital Marketing?

How much is YOUR company spending on marketing? And do you outsource any of it? Let’s look at the data.

DIGITAL MARKETING BUDGETS ARE ON THE RISE!

Digital marketing is, quite simply, any form of marketing that relies on electronic media. This includes your website, social media, email, pay per click advertising, apps, mobile marketing, etc.

The folks at Gartner have done a number of surveys to measure what companies are spending on digital marketing and their results indicate that digital marketing budgets total about 2.5% of annual revenues. These expenses include personnel costs, contract labor, software as a service and external marketing services such as agency creative services, search, website design, content creation and management, social and mobile marketing.

Key_Findings_from_U.S._Digital_Marketing_Spending_Survey__2013

As you can see from the chart above, spending does vary by industry, with the healthcare sector spending the least as a percentage of revenue, and media psending the most.

Using the Gartner numbers as a guide, you can come up with some rough numbers to build a budget for your company. As an example, If you’re a $1 million company, you should plan to budget around $25,000 a year on digital marketing.

 

DIGITAL REPRESENTS AN INCREASING SHARE OF THE OVERALL MARKETING MIX

In addition to this data on digital marketing, Gartner also looked at overall marketing budgets (including both digital and traditional, offline marketing). They found that marketers were spending a total of 10.4% of their annual revenues on marketing in general, with digital marketing accounting for the aforementioned 2.5%. Interestingly, digital’s share of the overall marketing budget is on the rise, and expected to increase by 9% this year.This is growing at a higher rate than overall spending on marketing, which is expected to increase by just 6%.

Digital’s growing piece of the marketing pie is a reflection of a major shift in consumer buying habits and spending, and the resulting increasing importance companies are placing on the online realm, both in terms of its ability to generate results AND in terms of its cost effectiveness.

 

DIGITAL ADVERTISING AND CONTENT CREATION ACCOUNT FOR THE LARGEST SHARE OF DIGITAL MARKETING BUDGETS

As marketing has moved online, the way companies market themselves has evolved. Advertising still represents the largest share – at 12.5% – of the overall digital marketing budget, but content creation and management (11.6% of budgets) is quickly catching up and expected to overtake spending on digital advertising in the near future.

Content_marketing_share_of_digital_budget

The emphasis on great content is a reaction to the increasing skepticism of online audiences and their dislike of being “sold to.” Last year, consumer predictive intelligence firm InsightsOne carried out a survey and found that the vast majority of adults are becoming increasingly annoyed by advertising, both online and offline.

Whether they are investing in inbound or outbound marketing, companies have recognized that the most effective way to engage with their audience is to provide them with helpful information that solves their problems or answers their questions. This information (online content) can take many forms, from ebooks and whitepapers, to videos, infographics, webinars and more.

 

COMPANIES ARE BUDGETING FOR MARKETING SOFTWARE AND HARDWARE

In addition to their marketing budgets, the majority (two thirds) of companies have a capital budget for the purchase of marketing software and hardware. This is funded in part from the savings companies are realizing from their digital marketing efforts.

Reinvesting_money_from_digital_marketing

What types of investments are being funded through capital budgets? In addition to hardware such as servers, storage, and computers, many companies are investing in marketing software in order to better harness the power of big data for driving marketing insights. The shift is so big that Gartner Group has been quoted as saying that “By 2017, a CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.”

Ajay Agarwal of Bain Capital Partners summed up the factors driving this shift really well in an article for emerging tech website Gigaom, saying:

  • A web business can mine thousands of signals from its prospects based on the hundreds of actions a consumer might make on a website (checking a price, looking at an image, reading a review, typing in a detailed search query, etc.).
  • The holy grail of closed loop marketing is finally here. With sophisticated technology and analytics, marketers can link spending on customer acquisition directly to a set of downstream customer actions — whether those actions take place on the web, on a mobile device or in a physical location.
  • Consumers with smartphones are conveying their intent while scanning QR codes, downloading mobile coupons or simply walking into a store with their location-aware device.
  • Social networks are providing a new source of demographic data that, combined with Facebook’s Open Graph, offer marketers a new treasure trove of information.

 

UP TO HALF OF ALL DIGITAL MARKETING ACTIVITIES ARE OUTSOURCED

Because the world of marketing is evolving so rapidly, many companies have had a hard time keeping pace and, as a result, have outsourced their digital marketing efforts to specialized providers. The concept of outsourced marketing is nothing new – companies have been working with ad agencies for years. The difference now is the widening breadth of activities that are being outsourced, from social media and blogging, to content creation, analytics, email marketing, and online advertising.

Outsourced_digital_marketing

There are three reasons to outsource your digital marketing:

  1. You lack the right in-house expertise: Digital marketing is constantly evolving, with new technologies, emerging social media platforms, and adjustments to search engine algorithms. Staying current is practically a full time job and many companies don’t have the bandwidth to do this with existing staff.
  2. You prefer to focus on your core business: This really comes down to a business management decision, with many executives preferring to focus their in-house staff on their business (be it manufacturing, IT, retail, consulting, etc.) rather than on marketing.
  3. You can save money: For smaller companies in particular, outsourcing can make good financial sense. Digital marketing requires a diverse skill set encompassing web design, graphic design, SEO, copywriting, strategy and more. Hiring a team with these skills can be expensive, whereas hiring a marketing company can provide you with all of these skills for a low, fixed monthly fee (and no need to pay benefits or incur overhead).

The key to outsourcing is to take the time up front to set expectations, establish clear goals, and have a plan in place to measure progress against those goals.

 

WHAT IT ALL MEANS FOR YOU

A good first step in evaluating your own marketing is to tally what you are spending (and remember, spending includes personnel costs, contract labor, software as a service and external marketing services such as agency creative services, search, website design, content creation and management, social and mobile marketing). Once you’ve got this number, its time to determine what percentage of your overall annual revenues this represents, with the “best practice” benchmark somewhere around 2.5%.

In addition, its worth looking at what portion of this spending you’re putting into content creation and management. Do you have a blog? Are you producing helpful content that is educational in nature? How are you promoting it? Having a strong content strategy is increasingly the key to online lead generation. Managing your content strategyis also important, and this is where an investment in marketing automation can have a big impact.

Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to outsource your marketing to a specialized partner. The accountability that comes with an outsourcing arrangement is a great way to make sure that your marketing work gets done on time and under budget.

 

 via b2c

 

Digital Marketing Predictions for 2015

Since the advent of social media and smart phones, we don’t simply have access to information; we are bombarded with it. It can be a huge challenge for businesses to stand out from all the “noise” online and reach potential clients, so it is important to know that your clients won’t waste time with poor content. With so much choice in terms of information, consumers are becoming extremely selective about the quality of content with which they will engage.

It can therefore be deduced that the nature of the content you provide online will largely determine your success. Your business needs to market to clients using the most appealing, up-to-date, and reliable information they can find.

Considering this, here is 5 predictions for the future of digital marketing:

Prediction #1: Complete Exodus from Traditional SEO Agencies

During the early days of search engines it did not take people long to figure out how to manipulate Google to their advantage. By utilizing a few sneaky tactics it was quite easy to get to the top of the organic search pile. Keyword stuffing and bad linking were the names of the game. SEO agencies cropped up all over the place and made a mint off customers because they knew how to get results quickly.

However, Google is responsible for the quality of information their consumers access. So, to make sure that not just anybody with the right cheat sheets could come first in place, Google introduced Pandas and Penguins to the information zoo.

Panda and Penguin updates disqualify poor SEO practices. Sites guilty of these practices are hit with a penalty, which could be the undoing of a company’s digital marketing campaign for a very long time.

Businesses are catching onto this problem. In the very near future everyone will have ditched their traditional SEO agency for a more sustainable and ethical digital marketing solution.

Prediction #2: Continued Development of Inbound Methodology

Once businesses have realized that it is now impossible to trick Google and that they can no longer get away with poor marketing tactics, they will realize that they can either:

1. Develop a strong inbound marketing campaign OR
2. Allow themselves to be overtaken by their competitors who do have a strong inbound marketing campaign.

Seeing as no one is in it to lose, it is easy to assume that the savvy business will go with the first option and start focusing on attracting, converting, and retaining customers through careful inbound marketing methods and powerful, useful content.

Heads up: Wise companies will make blogs a core part of their digital marketing.

Prediction #3: Massive Shift from Old-School Email Marketing to Lead Nurturing

If your inbox is flooded with irritating emails from companies who are soliciting sales, then you know all about old-school email marketing.

If your business is guilty of doing this, you need to stop! Untargeted mass email marketing will hurt you in the long run.

Instead, start thinking about putting a quality strategy together and focus on targeted lead nurturing.

Lead nurturing is, as its name suggests, the practice of nurturing and building relationships with a potential client. How is this done? You build your online profile with useful, authoritative information and create a strong brand for yourself. Then, when your potential client is ready to buy a service or product the one you offer, they will be more likely to trust and choose your company.

Basically, lead nurturing looks at the big picture. Rather than making a small quick sale, lead nurturing allows you to grow a strong presence and position that will later bring in a strong yield.

Companies like Infusionsoft, HubSpot, and Marketo have caught the vision of carefully positioning your business online. These companies provide content marketing services and applications that will help you find and nurture leads to grow your business exponentially.

Prediction #4: Development of New Core Ranking Metrics

Keywords in the URL or the domain have lost a lot of traction. What does Google deem more important? What will now help you to rank higher?

If you’re catching on, you have probably guessed that Google cares more about the following:

  • social interaction
  • website interaction
  • frequency and quality of new content

Google strives to provide the best search engine results. As such, Google considers the above factors as more accurate ways to determine the most deserving websites for an organic query.

Prediction #5: Increased Focus on Targeted Landing Pages & Website Design

The design of your website and targeted landing pages is of utmost importance when it comes to creating a powerful and lasting impression of your brand. With all the tools and services out there that have been created to help you develop and optimize your website, there is NO excuse for poor website design.

Soon customers will make absolutely zero allowances for sloppy websites. Failing to keep current with design trends will send a message to your customers that you provide a product or service that is subpar.

To combat this problem, companies will pay increased attention to their online image.

Conclusion

Much has changed in the digital marketing world during the past several years, especially with the introduction of Panda and Penguin updates. If you are prepared to focus on quality inbound marketing techniques and offer meaningful content to your clients, then the future of your business is bright and promising.

However, if you are still utilizing ancient SEO techniques and presenting a low standard of information and design to your clients, then beware: you are branding yourself as retrograde and unreliable. You will be pushed aside by your competitors who are willing to evolve their digital marketing techniques.

Inbound marketing is the future of successful digital marketing. Change or be left in the dust.

 

source Tech Cocktail

Facebook Changes in 2015 – Small Businesses Taking Biggest Hit

In 2015, Facebook is changing the way the News Feed works for its users. These changes will specifically affect brands and the way they conduct Facebook marketing campaigns through their Facebook Pages. These changes can affect your company’s social media marketing plan, so to help your business adjust, here is a couple of common questions and their solutions. It’s time to prepare for the Facebook changes in 2015 – Plan B can help you develop a Facebook marketing plan to expand your reach.

Common questions about how Facebook marketing will change in 2015.

Question #1: What are they changing in the Facebook News Feed in 2015?

Have you started noticing that your Page posts aren’t showing up in News Feeds as much anymore? Have your company’s engagement levels decreased on your Facebook Page? This is because Facebook is implementing a change intended to improve the News Feed experience for users.

According to the recent announcement on Facebook’s official blog, Facebook is going to start reducing the number of overly promotional page posts in users’ News Feeds.

“As part of an ongoing survey we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.”

Here are some of the traits that make Facebook organic posts feel too promotional:

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

This also means that organic distribution will decrease, so if you want to promote your services and products, your business will have to go the route of Facebook for Business: Facebook advertising. If Facebook Pages are an important part of your business’s Facebook strategy, this change means that you will need to use Facebook ads to get the same engagement on organic posts that promote your products and services.

For more information about the changes, please read Facebook’s announcement here.

Question #2: What do these changes mean for small businesses that don’t have the budget to spend on Facebook advertising?

If you don’t have budget to spend on Facebook advertising, here are few suggestions to help you move forward.

1. Evaluate your Facebook marketing strategy and create content that will be seen on Facebook. This type of content needs to provide value to your audience—content that they can learn from, share, and engage with.
2. Use the correct link format when posting links on your Facebook page instead of burying links in photo captions.
3. Run a Facebook posting test to see what kind of posts gets the most engagement. For example, instead of posting more general stuff like “Happy Thanksgiving!” we try to post content that contains valuable advice related to the occasion, such as: “Did you know that during Thanksgiving small businesses can increase sales by doing this…”
4. Post images and videos on Instagram and cross-post to Facebook
5. Use a social media content calendar to organize posts on Facebook

Pro Tip. Timely posts get rewarded with a higher place in people’s News Feeds

Question #3: What if my business has a small advertising budget?

Let Plan B help you with that – we make sure effort meets budget. One of the benefits of social media advertising is that it’s flexible and better able to accommodate budget constraints than traditional media. By targeting your ads strategically, you can achieve much greater efficiency than any billboard. Businesses with small advertising budgets can also use Facebook boost posts to target your posts to the right audience in order to increase your reach.

Facebook marketing tips to expand your Facebook Organic Reach

Know your Facebook audience

Use Facebook Insights to find out the demographic breakdown of your audience. This data is useful as it gives you insight about content that resonates the most with your audience, and what communication style your audience responds to the best.

Don’t focus on selling on Facebook

One of the main reasons why Facebook is changing its algorithm is because more and more businesses are posting sales-driven content, as opposed to resourceful content that will provide value to their audience. Facebook is trying to steer away from this model, as they want to make Facebook’s user experience more enjoyable. Therefore, if businesses are prompted to change their Facebook marketing strategy, there will be more valuable content given to their audiences.

Post your best content on Facebook

Facebook wants people to see only the best content on their News Feed. Which means that in order for a business to see engagement on their posts, choose content that has been successful on other social media channels or your business’ content marketing platform. Content that has the most retweets, clicks, and traffic will more likely also do well on Facebook (and remember the golden rule: the best content is the content that provides your followers value).

Empower your employees to engage with your Facebook page

One of the simplest way to increase your Facebook organic reach is to empower your employees to engage with your Facebook page. The more engagement, likes, shares, clicks, your Facebook posts receive the more you can increase your Facebook organic reach.

Don’t forget to respond

If you want to receive engagement on your Facebook Page, you need to also engage with your audience. If you receive a comment, reply to that comment; if you receive a post on your business Page, reply back to that post. Adding the human touch can help your Facebook presence drastically.

Use Hootsuite Pro to help you manage your Facebook marketing campaigns.

via Hootsuite

6 Tips on social media marketing for small businesses

As a new business, it’s important to choose a marketing channel that offers the best results with the most prudent resources. Nowadays, more small businesses prefer social media marketing to other marketing channels, to help increase their brand’s reach, increase sales, and expand their professional network.

Neglecting your social media presence is one way of losing the opportunity to gain new customers or nurture current relationships. Gain the trust of your current and potential customers by creating social media profiles like a LinkedIn company page, Facebook business Page, Twitter profile, or an Instagram account. This puts a voice (and a face) to your company, which will give people more incentive to trust your brand.

Tip #1: Use social media marketing to sell your products and services

Before major social media networks made the foray into e-commerce, the selling relationship for businesses looked like this: listen, help solve problems, and make the sale. With the rise of social selling, the opportunity to connect with potential customers during the research phase got much easier with social media monitoring and social media engagement tactics. These tactics changed the game for social media marketing for small business.

Tip #2: Large networks like Twitter can improve your customer relationships

With 72% of people more likely to make a future purchase from a small business after they interact with them on Twitter, there’s no reason for companies not to be on Twitter. The key to finding success on social media is to be on the social network your customers are on—and with over 200 million active users, there’s a high chance many of your customers are on Twitter. Twitter can help your business build relationships with customers, and connect you with the businesses and communities you are interested in. Using features like advanced Twitter search and Twitter lists, building and improving customer relationships online is manageable even with a small team.

Tip #3: Social media marketing can drastically increase your reach

Facebook and Twitter advertising have made it possible for companies to increase their reach through targeted ads and sponsored messaging. Social media marketing provides businesses with an opportunity to reach customers across the world—as opposed to a more traditional advertising medium such as a billboard, which is only visible to people on a particular route in a single city.

Tip #4: A LinkedIn business page can expand your professional network

One of the most important social networks, where all businesses, big or small, should have a presence, is LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows businesses to provide authenticity and credibility of their brand through a business page that houses information covering the bases of who, what, and where of your business. It also allows small businesses to be in a space where professionals, potential investors, and customers are on. A LinkedIn company page is also a free marketing tool and if used correctly, can be an highly effective one.

Tip #5: Facebook Page can improve your business’s customer support

Providing customer support can be expensive and time-consuming. But, with social media networks like Facebook, you are provided with an outlet to effectively solve customer problems. With the availability to post on your Facebook wall or send private messages, customers can connect directly to companies if and when they have a problem or feedback.

Tip #6: Use your social media presence to manage your brand’s online reputation

Trust is an important element in obtaining customer loyalty, and one of the best ways to gain this trust is giving people easy online access to information about your company. Neglecting your social media presence is one way of losing the opportunity to gain new customers or nurture current relationships. Gain the trust of your current and potential customers by creating social media profiles like a LinkedIn company page, Facebook business Page, Twitter profile, or an Instagram account. This puts a voice (and a face) to your company, which will give people more incentive to trust your brand.

via Hootsuite