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It’s hard to imagine a business today that doesn’t have social media for its customer base. Whether you’re an independent candlemaker working out of your apartment in a suburb or an international corporation with employees numbering in the hundreds of thousands, you need social media. Social media isn’t just how a business gets noticed, it’s how a business thrives in a global market that’s constantly in flux.

Creating trending content that’s fresh and relevant can bring in higher interactions with both returning and potential followers of your brand and is an essential tool for long-term success. However, going a step further by paying close attention to your analytics can be an immeasurable asset to your return on investment (ROI).

Reviewing analytics is the key to gaining a quantifiable understanding of your business’ marketing strengths and needs. Remain a step ahead of your competitors by studying traffic patterns, trending searches, and the daily interactions of your followers. You’ll discover how to influence their purchasing decisions and anticipate trending patterns more effectively. Not only will your analytics help you to create more engaging content, it will lead to more financial freedom for your business to grow!

Not quite sure where to begin? Here at Komaya, we’ve discussed best SEO practices, why social media matters for today’s businesses, and making your social media extra engaging. We take pride in customizing strategies to improve the web presence and marketing reach for our clientele because making the most of a business’ online presence is what we do best. Here are 3 tips for finding out if your social media account is performing like it should be:

1. Learn Which Analytics Program Fits Your Needs

Google Analytics is the most popular resource for studying website and social media traffic and trending patterns, but some social media platforms already have Analytics built-in. Do your homework and find out which social media platforms and corresponding Analytics are best for collecting data towards your marketing goals. For example, if you have a WordPress blog for your independent clothing brand that’s less than a month old and an Instagram account that’s six months old, use your Instagram account and Instagram Insights as an Analytics springboard. For further reading, you can check out this comprehensive list of “Instagram Analytics Tools” by Fergus Baird (Hootsuite). The list begins at the halfway mark and summarizes each Analytics program’s pros and cons.

2. Create Your Analytics Priority List

It’s easy (and totally expected) to be initially overwhelmed by the concept of analytics. The terminology and principles of such extensive data collection can be intimidating. However, to echo point 4 of our blog post, 4 Time-saving Tips for Marketing Your Business, “Measure Only What Matters.” Is your priority to focus on bringing more traffic to your new website? Would you like to compare still photography versus Boomerang interactions on Instagram? Maybe you’re trying to decipher the best time to post on your public figure page on Facebook. The more specific and organized you are about the data you wish to collect, the better you’ll be at prioritizing your time to do so.

3. Let It Go

Last but not least, use analytics to compare different social media platforms and determine which ones rank highest in engagement with your followers. This is an excellent way to not only prioritize data collection but to also achieve your marketing goals more efficiently. You can always reintroduce social media platforms that didn’t make the cut in the future—or not! Once you’ve taken a proper inventory of which social media promotion strategies best serve your business, you can move forward with the knowledge and confidence you need to be exemplary of the adage, “Quality over Quantity.”

Analytics will increase your business’ ability to more effectively anticipate trending patterns and interactions, as well as influence the purchasing decisions of your followers, all while inspiring trust and loyalty to your brand. Should you have any questions about how Komaya can help you achieve your business marketing goals, read more on what we do or just contact us today!

Artificial Intelligence has been on the rise in the technology sector for years, and until recently was a very specialized tool that only the most advanced companies and researchers were using. Now, AI has managed to integrate its way into a more everyday application geared at making our lives, ability to work, and the capacity to analyze information far more efficient. One of the platforms that AI has taken to like a duck to water is the website experience. To better understand how AI can be used to enhance your website experience, we take a look at its two-fold impact; the customer experience is enhanced, and the company’s ability to use analytics to the fullest is pushed beyond the previously established boundaries.

The Customer Experience

So much of whether the company makes money or not through the website is determined by the customer experience. One of the largest catalysts that AI has provided to enhance this factor is voice- and visual-search based queries. In a study performed by Gartner, it is predicted that by 2021, early adopter brands that redesign their websites to support visual- and voice-search will increase their digital commerce revenue by 30 percent. A major retailer that has already taken advantage of AI and its ability to enhance the customer experience is Amazon. It has been reported that customers actually prefer searching for items directly on Amazon.com as opposed to doing a Google search. While using the Amazon App from a smart device you can easily dictate your search into the information field. If you take a critical look at the website, many of the options given to you are represented by an image or graphic. Not only is this new way of searching convenient for the average customer, but it also gives customers with disabilities the opportunity to be more independent!

But search features aren’t the only way that speech interaction is improving the customer experience, Chatbots also make a customized experience more attainable. These AI channels are becoming so advanced that it is rapidly resembling the interaction with a real human consultant. It is even theorized that these Chatbots will eventually be able to read our emotional reactions to products and situations! Imagine walking or driving up to a coffee shop and having a chat pop up on your phone letting you know what your last order was, and asking if you would like to not only order it again but also if it can charge the same mode of payment you used previously as well. You could have ordered, purchased, and picked up your drink without ever having to stand in line.

The Business Experience

The business experience has a symbiotic relationship with the customer experience. While the customer is interacting with the AI and having a convenient mode to get what they want; the business is using all the information that the AI is collecting from the customer, and using it to better the customer experience. This allows for an increase in profit through becoming smarter about their business and products or services. An example of this is tracking information like the most searched for terms on the website, the item or service that is selling the most units, or the converse, the item or service selling the least units. It notes what parts of the website are being interacted with the most, which can help simplify the user interface in the future. The metrics that the AI can generate are endless, as are the possibilities to use this information for positive change in the future.

Integrating AI into your webpage can take your online experience to a new level. Here at Komaya, we love keeping abreast of emerging technology and ways that it might help enhance the web presence of our client’s brands.

Original article published at Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) July 9, 2018.

Tips for a Powerful Web Presence

I recently gave a talk to a group of entrepreneurs on what it takes to have an effective web presence in today’s market. The topic generated a lot of interest, so I thought it would be helpful to share it with a broader audience. In a nutshell, I will be covering four focus areas that are vital for your web presence.

No one can deny that having an effective web presence is key to the success of today’s business. I have discovered that this requires using a holistic approach. It’s not enough to just build a website, it’s not even enough to have search engines crawl your website, it is not enough to pour money into paid advertising campaigns, and it’s not enough to just create some social media accounts. They all need to work together to promote your brand and realize your business goals.

THE PROBLEM: A couple of years back, I was in my previous company office and the Marketing Director called us all and proudly said – “We got approval to spend $120,000 for website redesign and separately another $30,000 for online advisements.” I looked at this approach and thought to myself – what a waste of money! It wasn’t a Holistic Solution, it was what I call “a Webpocalypse.”

The company thought they were not effective on the internet because the website needed a redesign, or that a few ads might turn more people into clients. They used different agencies for each initiative; this is what I call a piece-meal approach.

To me, in the web world, these are the Four Horsemen of the Webpocalypse — Website, SEO, Paid Keywords, and Social Media.  You need to tame all these horses in order to have a sophisticated web presence that goes beyond the status quo.

First Horsemen of the Webpocalypse: The Website

“Conquest” – to me, in the web arena, is your Website. You build it, you launch it, and you are ready to conquer the world. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Will your website experience stick positively in the minds of the users?
  • Do each of your pages tell a story? – Will your customers engage and be able to relate to their own emotions?
  • Is your website content optimized for search discovery?
  • What about the mobile experience? More and more people are using their mobile devices to do business.
  • Is your website running processes efficiently behind the scenes? How easy is it for your website content to be kept fresh and relevant?
  • Is it sitting on a secure platform? It is vital to protect your key web assets – your domain and your website host. Here’s an article that shows how a particular website host, WP Engine, prevents millions (yes, millions) of attacks each month for their customers. At Komaya, we ourselves recommend such host for our customers. Make sure your site is protected.

It’s not all about the website looking good, it needs to stick in the minds of the people who visit. It should have a great user experience, not just by aesthetics, but by functionality, and a feeling that they are invited.  Additionally, your website should be easy to maintain and update, empowering your marketing team to promote events, launch new campaigns, and instantly react to changing markets. If website content updates can only be done by a developer, the inherent latency can result in missed opportunities in connecting with potential clients.

Second Horseman of the Webpocalypse: SEO

“War” – to me, in the web world, is SEO, the war of search engines and the fight for your website to climb to the top of their results. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Are all of your web pages ready for the current demand of today’s search engines? What sets your page apart from every other website on the internet? Why would your page climb up the SEO ladder?
  • Have you considered search engine spaces such as Google’s Knowledge Graphs?
  • What about other search channels? Is your web presence dependent upon a couple of search engines, or are you also showing up on the other platforms that people use to search for businesses?
  • By the way, are you for any reason still using Meta Keywords on your web pages? This technique is a bit dated and not effective with today’s highly sophisticated search engines.

SEO is not all about just putting the right keywords on your web pages. Yes, it is very important to consider context and industry-specific keywords when you are writing web page content, but also to understand that there are other aspects to consider, such as Knowledge Graph technology, that you have access to. Is your web page ready to show up in that Q&A type of result that you have seen on Google? Do you make use of all the real-estate that Google has given you by utilizing the Post Knowledge Graph feature when you have an upcoming event or announcement?

Third Horseman of the Webpocalypse: Paid Keywords and Ads

“Famine” – to me, in the web world, is the Paid Keywords and Advertisements. This is the wasted money spent on under-researched advertisements and simply, the wrong keywords. We have seen many companies and their marketing team’s frustrations and wasted resources, month-after-month, with negligible to even nil outcomes. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Are you spending too much for premium keywords, or conversely, not spending on advertisements at all?
  • Have you researched the keywords that your potential customers are searching on, or did you consider the niche your company is in? Check out Google Trends to discover search trends for your products and services.
  • Are these same keywords also reflected throughout your website content and SEO optimizations?

We have seen both extremes that have brought famine to a business’s online presence. Some companies put in enormous amounts of money into extremely competitive keywords that cost very high dollars on each click. In turn, this results in them concluding that online advertisements are too competitive and not very cost-effective.

On the other side of the spectrum, some companies think they do not need online advertisements at all – the internet will just discover and come to them on their own. Yes, some extremely niche companies may have a different agenda for reaching their target audience, but unless you are like Tesla with no advertising needed to-date, you should probably include an ad strategy in your integrated marketing plan. Have you thought about why Coke, Macy’s, Lincoln, or just about any successful company advertises? We find it’s usually best to utilize both an organic search and paid advertising strategy mix for reaching your target audience.

Fourth Horseman of Webpocalypse: Social Media

“Death” – to me, in the web world, represents Social Media. Why the comparison with this horseman? We see so many entrepreneurs and companies create social media accounts, but after just a few posts go silent, deathly silent. The Pale Horse of the Apocalypse took over. We at Komaya call this as lacking the social heartbeat.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Have you contemplated having a social media audit done for your company? What is your current state? How strong or weak is your social heartbeat?
  • Does your branding and website look-and-feel carryover into your social media account profiles and imagery? The user should instantly feel comfortable and identify that they are in the right place.
  • Have you conducted any industry research on which social media channels are appropriate for your company? More so, what channels you shouldn’t even be creating accounts on?
  • What channels are your customers and competitors using? Why Facebook, why Twitter? Is there a specific reason the audience is extremely active on one versus the other?
  • Have you identified what channels the Influencers & Experts in your company’s niche are using? Do you follow and interact with them? This will not only help you figure out which social channels you should be active in, the Influencers may just happen to mention your company to their followers.

There are many other considerations such as what time of the day you should post, the days of the week that your potential customers are likely to be using that particular social media channel, etc. Are you following the “rule of fourths” when posting on social media? It used to be the rule of thirds – one-third of your posts are about your company products and services, one-third you share helpful tips, and one-third you share an industry experts’ posts. But now, the fourth rule has come into the picture – customer support. If you look around, companies like 1800flowers, Zappos, Walmart, are directly providing real-time support to their customers over social media building confidence, trust, and solving issues with minimal delay.

THE SOLUTION: As a start-up or emerging business, consider stepping into today’s internet world with a holistic web presence strategy.  Just a website or a piecemeal approach can likely slow down your business growth potential. All the aspects discussed need to work together to tame the horses and effectively market, attract, and engage your target audience.

Here at Komaya, we strongly promote holistic living, balance, and synchronicity. These approaches to a happy and stress-managed life are well adapted from your personal life to your business career. It’s safe to say that when all the moving parts are optimized and working as they should, then the machine will run smoothly. But, what if we also managed to have all those working parts complement each other and elevate the machine as a whole? That’s what we are going to achieve here. Let’s buckle up and synergize our business by making our website, social media, and brick-and-mortar store work in tandem.

How can I make my Website, Social Media, and Brick-and-Mortar work together?

Continuity

Continuity is probably the easiest factor to achieve from the beginning, and the most fun to plan. It’s the first thing that customers subconsciously recognize when visiting all of your active platforms. What I mean by this, is that all your platforms need to use similar design elements and resemble each other.

Whether a customer walks into your store, visits your website, or is browsing your Instagram, they need to know that they are in the right place.

It’s always bad business practice if the customer is second guessing if they are looking at the right company. A simple way to achieve this is to choose your company’s signature colors. Make sure that the combination makes sense for your product or service and that you aren’t randomly selecting things you feel look good together. Blue may be your favorite color, but this is about your brand and not your personality. Be sure to consider that there are certain colors that make sense for certain concepts, that already trigger recognition with customers. For example, green is often used to symbolize something healthy or environmentally friendly. After you’ve selected the perfect colors, find their Pantone color match. Doing so ensures that each color has a specific code attached to it, and you’ll always be able to match your exact colors in the future, regardless of who you end up working with on your graphics or brand. Be sure to use the same decision-making process when it comes to shapes or motifs, and of course, your logo!!

Cross Promotion

Not everyone engages with your business in the same way. Some may find you on the internet first, others may wander into your store one sunny day. In whichever manner this first interaction is made, take the opportunity to show some of your other channels some love. If the customer comes into the store, hand them a business card and encourage them to post pictures on social media and tag you in them. (Hint: maybe provide an Insta-worthy scene just beckoning for the perfect selfie!)

If your customer sees your website first, provide pictures of the store and your products or representations of your service. If you sell items on your site, offer in-store pickup as an alternative to shipping so that the customer can save some money while you drive traffic back to your brick-and-mortar.

You should consider using consistent images across your website, social media channels, and in your storefront. You can also include a social media share button on each of these pictures.

Even if a potential customer doesn’t want to buy an item, they may think it’s cool enough to share it with their friends. Social media share-buttons have been a successful trend for many businesses and increase your marketing reach without you having to spend a dime.

Social Media cross-promotion can, unfortunately, be a little more complex, but fortunately– there’s an app for that! Most social media sites have been around long enough that they link with other platforms. You may have a Facebook page that will automatically share posts to Instagram and Twitter. It may be really tempting for you to set things to automatically post in this way, but unfortunately, it’s not the most professional way to do it. Many of these sites have different configurations. For example, Facebook has an unlimited character limit while Twitter caps you at 280 characters. Instagram’s preferred photo size is larger than that of Facebook So, what ends up happening is that your posts and pictures can be cut off, which is not good for anyone.

Our suggestion is to use a 3rd party coordinator. Many of them are free for the first couple of accounts added, and some charge a fee– but it’s well worth it for the convenience and scheduling across many platforms. They can even post to your Yelp account, LinkedIn, or your website. You can check out the popular sites: HootSuite, Sprout, Buffer, or Social Report. These coordinating websites allow you to predesign and schedule posts across all your channels but they do them separately in order to utilize the best metrics or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for each. Another benefit to using these platforms is that you can work on multiple posts at a time, so you can take care of a few days and then not touch it, giving you plenty of time to focus elsewhere. This allows you to not fall into a social-media rabbit hole and keeps you focused on all your areas of business in a balanced and holistic manner.

Universal Change and Maintenance

Lastly, it is important that whatever information, promotion, or event you want customers to know about is available everywhere. When you decide to run a sale, for instance, you don’t just put a “Sale” sign out in front of your store. Only people walking by would know about it! There is a process that needs to be built up across all platforms working together. First, the sign goes out in front of the store, and you mark your prices down both in-store and online. Next, you might create a banner for your website that promotes the sale and make it shareable. Take a picture of the sale sign or create a fun and complementary graphic for your social media linking people back your website, and so on. It is important to always add and remove information together because the worst thing that we can do is confuse our customers. Our purpose is to make things as easy and accessible as possible.

You now have the tools to make your business channels more productive than ever. Go forth and see how much smoother your machine will operate.

Okay, first of all, you may be wondering what SEO even is. Short for Search Engine Optimization, SEO references the formula that computers use when they’re trying to sort through millions of matches for search terms.

Is SEO Really that Important

Here’s an example:  You just adopted a dog and you’re wondering how to properly train it.  You’re wondering who the best trainers and training schools are in your area and if it’s possible to start the training process at home doing it yourself.  You may ask your friends or family for advice (in person or via social media), but more than likely, you consult a search engine.  Let’s say you type in “dog training tips” and press enter.

You’ll likely get millions of matches, but they’re going to be ranked in a certain order.  In this particular example, if you type in those exact search terms into Google, the top 5 matches are the American Kennel ClubPetFinder.comRover.comCesarsWay.com, and NylaBone.com.  So basically, Google has provided you with information from the nationwide authority on pet breeds and shows, the number one site for finding or locating a pet, a popular dog walking app, the most famous dog trainer, and one of the most popular dog bones by sales volume in the United States.  What doesn’t show is a 16-year old’s blog about her pet Collie, pictures of dogs being trained, or questions from other people asking how to train their dogs.

Search engines know that you want the best information from the most reputable sources and they try to make sure you get what you need as quickly as possible.

Since search engines are not humans, they don’t know who’s really the best — so they must rely on the context clues provided to them.  Search engines will rank sites based on their popularity, the number of hits and clicks they have, the keywords they’re using, the quality of their content, how frequently their content is updated, and those are only a few parameters.

But back to the original question:  How important is SEO?  To which I’ll reply:  Very!  SEO is an integral part of doing business in today’s online world!  If your business has local competition, or you would like more customers, and everyone that you know already knows about your business (meaning you need to acquire customers that are strangers to you) — that means the internet is going to be extremely important to you.  And SEO is extremely important within the realm of the internet.

Experts know what search engines want, and they stay up-to-date with all the latest changes. To find out how your website is performing in terms of SEO, request a free website review from us.  Someone will respond to you as soon as possible with what you could be doing better, and it’s completely commitment free.

For all of your website building and branding questions,
Komaya