These Digital Marketing Tips Can Jump-Start your School’s Enrollment

In a recent survey, 51% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 said they could not imagine living without a smartphone. In a separate survey, 78% or high school students said that websites influence their perception of a school. This accentuates the changing landscape and hints toward the future of marketing in the Higher Ed space.

With an increasingly competitive environment, schools are becoming more and more creative when attempting to lure prospective students. We not only need to use our digital marketing budgets carefully, we need to use them creatively, too.

I’d like to share with you just a few ways in which colleges are leveraging digital marketing and social media to successfully jump-start their school’s enrollment.

3 Proven Ways to Boost Enrollment

Social Media can be a great tool for brand awareness and enhancement. That’s just the half of it. Social media can improve retention throughout the admissions funnel as well as to curb “summer melt” (accepted students who never enroll).

Through Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, prospective students can stay on top of the application process. You can inform them of important deadlines and answer application questions. Since the vast majority of students use these platforms on a daily basis, social media can make a real difference in improving student yield.

Blogs are a great way to get the word out on deadlines, too. More than that, it’s a place to share information with all your target audiences including faculty, alumni, athletic boosters and the surrounding community. The reason a blog is desirable in addition to social media is that your content lives here. It is indexed by Google and matures, improving your position in organic search rankings.

It’s important to be constantly adding new content. Make use of this content on your social media channels as well so as to get the most from any new content you create.

The National Student Clearinghouse. This one is more of an overall tip but has digital marketing implications. Purdue University’s Office of Enrollment Management took a closer look at students who chose to attend elsewhere. Through information made available at the National Student Clearinghouse, the enrollment management team was able to identify where these students eventually enrolled. This enabled them to better understand who their competitors are.

Some students are predisposed to attend college in state. There are various reasons for this. However, by examining the behavior of students who have the means to attend anywhere, a school can hone in on its primary competition.

Break down your data, perhaps by state or region. What patterns emerge? The good folks at Purdue were able to determine that students on the East coast were more likely to attend out of state institutions. This was just one of many insights gained through PU’s research.

It’s Our Niche

Beacon has been recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design and digital marketing firms in the country. If you’d like the kind of insight into student behavior that 20 years of Higher Ed website design provides, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

 

 

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-11-08T13:43:37+00:00 November 15th, 2017|Digital Marketing, Higher Education|0 Comments

Effectively Market Your School with Social Media

There are prospective students in virtually every age group. Each has unique needs and wants. This should be reflected in your social media content strategy and PPC advertising. Your message needs to be specific to be effective.

For the sake of discussion, we’ll break this down into three main groups or demographics. There are those under the age of 18, often referred to as Generation Z. For obvious reasons, this group is very likely your main audience. In the middle, we have millennials, those between the ages of 18 and 32. Finally, we have Generation X, the parents of Gen Z.

Marketing Your School to the Gen Z Student

For most of us, our success will be significantly impacted by how effectively we appeal to this group. Gen Z students are the next crop of up and coming undergraduates. Digital ads are second nature to them. They respond quickly but their attention spans are short, so don’t make them jump through too many hoops or they won’t engage.

Credibility is everything with this group. Twitter and Instagram are very effective marketing tools, particularly when the message comes from a contemporary.

Millennials Are Looking for More

When millennials look to further their schooling, they may be working and attending classes at the same time. They have more debt than their parents and don’t make as much, so cost is a pain point. Flexibility is important. As a result, they are more receptive to night classes or online education.

Facebook is HUGE with this group. In fact, over 30% of Facebook users are millennials. In your Facebook ads, stress flexible class schedules and learn at your own pace models, if you have them.

Targeting Parents with Social Media

Some Gen X’ers will look to attend classes for upward mobility or self-improvement. However, most of this group have significance for a far different reason. They’re footing the bill for the aforementioned Gen Z’s. With the significant cost of tuition, they look at their children’s schooling as an investment.

Just as with millennials, their main concern is value (albeit for a slightly different reason). Again, Facebook becomes a valuable tool for marketing to this group. Stress value in your Facebook ads and online marketing.

Targeting Alumni

Since this last group also include alumni, discussion of social media marketing is incomplete without mentioning its application to fundraising. Facebook can effectively supplement direct mail and phone solicitation efforts.

Beacon’s Social Media Experts

Got questions about your digital marketing strategy? At Beacon, our social media experts focus on the Higher Ed space.  Our age diverse team mirrors that of your audiences, giving us a unique insight into what makes them tick. Contact me directly or give a Beacon team member a call at 1.855.851.0109. Or if you prefer, leave a comment and share your thoughts below.

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-10-23T09:46:56+00:00 October 26th, 2017|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on Effectively Market Your School with Social Media

PPC Tips and Strategies for Increasing Student Yield

While one may or may not think of a college or university as a business, there is no arguing that those involved in student enrollment mean business. The playing field is more competitive every day. This is evidenced by the fact that more and more schools use PPC (pay per click) advertising as part of their appeal.

Since many more in your target audience communicate through digital channels than in the days when you and I went to school, it goes without saying that it doesn’t pay to stick with just traditional means of promotion. Besides, at the rate that the enrollment landscape is changing, PPC almost qualifies as traditional.

PPC Strategies for Higher Ed

Unlike large, profit generating entities, most colleges have limited budgets to work with. This means that while one may encourage ones students to experiment, to “find themselves”, you don’t want your marketing people to have to do so, too.

Make sure you have a clearly defined strategy going in. Higher Ed keywords are generally very expensive (again, the Higher Ed space is VERY competitive), so it’s essential that you use your marketing dollars efficiently. That having been said…

Branded Campaigns Don’t Work for Higher Ed

Many businesses use branded campaigns to make sure their competitors don’t pick off shoppers who are looking to pilfer their customers. However, your audience differs from most. With a college website, many students, alumni and faculty use the website as a constant resource.

Since you’re already at the top for a branded search, you don’t want to waste your money paying for those who choose to access your site through a PPC add. That’s a sure way to burn through your ad budget and see minimal return.

Higher Ed Remarketing Ads Do, Though

The enrollment funnel for Higher Ed is protracted when compared to other competitive spaces. That being the case, a conversion rarely happens as part of an early touch. This is true across the board, unless your brand is so big that you don’t need to advertise. That’s a very exclusive club.

Remarketing ads follow visitors from their initial visit to your site (or mobile App). As they visit other competing sites, your ad will pop up, keeping your school fresh in their mind. It’s a great way to maintain a familiarity and nurture the process. These remarketing ads can include periodic offerings such as a limited time discount on an application fee in exchange for contact information.

Get even more granular by using Google’s RLSA’s. You can target users based on their behavior, which page on your site they visited and how long they stayed. So, if they visited the page for your dental school, they’ll receive remarketing ads specific to that discipline.

Higher Ed PPC & Mobile

Make sure the landing pages for your PPC ads are responsive. Recent surveys indicate that roughly 80% of high school seniors and their parents view college websites on their phones. If your site is mobile friendly, you’ll also be able to take advantage of Google’s new Expanded Text.

You’ve spent the money to get your visitors to your website. Don’t blow the experience now.

And that’s Just the Beginning

Want to know more about how you can pull more candidates into your school’s enrollment funnel? Beacon is recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design firms in the country. We’ve been helping colleges and universities with PPC marketing for over 20 years. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-09-01T09:28:27+00:00 September 6th, 2017|Higher Education, PPC|Comments Off on PPC Tips and Strategies for Increasing Student Yield

Higher Ed: Understanding Digital Marketing’s Role in the Admissions Funnel

An institution’s mission is to educate students. By extension, its relevance is dependent upon the quality and quantity of enrolled students. Without students, you cease to exist.

If you’re charged with marketing your college or university, you carry a position of great responsibility. You’ve been asked to be a caretaker of sorts. Your mission is to steward your school into a position of added prestige and reputation. You can affect both enrollment and endowment.

Education is a business. Without treating it as such, one risks becoming a footnote in the annals of Higher Ed history. Understanding the admissions funnel is step one in ensuring you’re remembered as having been a worthy steward for your school.

Understanding the Higher Ed Admissions Funnel

While the admissions funnel shares certain similarities to a typical sales funnel, there are distinct differences. Understanding those differences can be key to your success.

The admissions funnel is deeper and more involved than the normal sales funnel. More levels require a longer time duration and greater deliberation. It could be a year or two from the moment your candidate enters the admissions funnel until they eventually enroll. A protracted process means more opportunity to abandon the process.

The better you understand the admissions funnel, the easier it is to use it to your advantage.

The Opening: Attracting Prospective Students

When marketing to the prospective student, content and the delivery of said content is of paramount importance. Methods include the more traditional (education fairs and school visits) as well as digital advertising (PPC, Social Media, etc.). And one cannot emphasize enough the importance of sound SEO practices for Higher Ed.

Prospective students break down into two sub-sets, those who already have a familiarity with your institution as well as those who may not have previously known who you are. The approach is similar for targeting both.

Use videos, photos and interesting copy. Prospective students respect and trust content provided by their peers. Emphasize content provided by your current students. Your goal is to get a prospective student to request more information. That’s the next step in the sales funnel.

The Inquiry

When we discuss those who inquire into additional information, the numbers drop precipitously. But that’s OK. The good news is, the remaining prospects represent significant opportunity. They’re still considering a few schools and their pain point tends to be simple. Generally, they want to know at which school they best fit in.

Appeal to this group through both traditional means (personal calls from students, events and printed materials) as well as through social media and PPC campaigns.

PPC remarketing campaigns can be a great way to keep your brand in the minds of prospective students. In short, remarketing ads are the google ads that follow you after you visit a website. It targets those who have expressed some level of interest already.

The objective here is to steer the student into the application process.

Getting the Application

Anyone who starts the application process is already highly engaged. At this juncture, the personal touch can be most effective. Events are great. There is nothing more effective than a face to face meeting.

It’s also a good time for email marketing campaigns. Emphasize personalized emails from admissions counselors or administrators.

Some will recommend personalized phone calls. Personal experience tells me otherwise.  When my children were looking for a school to attend, they never answered the phone. Texting is the preferred method of communication for this generation. They avoid the phone like the plague.

Attention & Intention Mean Retention

The final group you need to appeal to are those who have been accepted and/or have confirmed their intention to attend. This group may include individuals who have been accepted at several schools. They may be still deciding or waiting to find out which school will provide the most financial aid.

While not all will eventually enroll, this is the time to welcome them into the “family”. The more personal your communication, the better. If this student interacts with other accepted students through social media, odds of retention increase considerably.

Consider sending branded items such as tee shirts or coffee mugs.

Avoiding Summer Melt

While it may seem unethical, some students will place deposits down with more than one institution. Others will lose interest while awaiting financial aid. Some will simply be overwhelmed with the process of finishing paperwork and buying books.

In fact, a recent study suggests that between 10% and 40% of students will “melt away” between the time of their acceptance and the first day of classes.

Engagement from here must be genuine and personal. Consider holding webinars with instructors who can help individuals get to the finish line. Administrators can send personalized emails offering assistance and answering frequent questions. Bottom line: Keep it as personal as possible.

How Beacon Can Help

Recently recognized as one of the top Higher Ed web design firms in the country, Beacon has been helping colleges and universities with admissions marketing for more than 20 years. Together we can develop and implement a digital marketing plan to address your specific objectives. Feel free to contact me with questions regarding your institution’s admissions goals or call a member of the Beacon digital marketing team at 1.855.851.0109.

Kent Dickinson
Kent Dickinson joined Beacon as an Account Executive in May 2017. Kent is a veteran sales executive with more than 25 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, operations, and sales management. He has worked in a variety of industries including digital printing, book publishing, educational textbooks, direct marketing, consulting, and financial services. Kent earned a B.S. in Business from Wake Forest University, and his MBA from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kent is an avid college sports fan, an occasional golfer, and bedtime reader. He also enjoys travelling and considers himself an adventurous foody.
By | 2017-08-21T11:10:17+00:00 August 21st, 2017|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on Higher Ed: Understanding Digital Marketing’s Role in the Admissions Funnel

How to Export your Google Data Studio Report to PDF

Google Data Studio is a great tool for those who need frequent, consistent and timely reporting, but there is an important feature currently unavailable in Data Studio — “PDF exporting.”  But do not fret, my fellow Google Data Studio users. There is a way to take that multi-page Data Studio report and export it as a single PDF file!

Google Data Studio PDF Export

If you have Google Chrome, you can export all of your Google Data Studio Report’s pages into a single PDF by downloading the free Google Chrome Extension ‘Google Data Studio PDF Export’ by Mito Studio.

How to Export a Multiple-Page Data Studio Report to PDF

Step 1.  Click the link below to be redirected to the Google Chrome web store installation page for the Google Chrome Extension ‘Google Data Studio PDF Export’ by Mito Studio. ~ if the link is not working, copy and paste the link at the end of this post into your chrome browser. 

Click here to go to the extension

Step 2.  Reload (or open) the Data Studio Report you wish to Export to PDF and there will be a new option in the report header.  The picture below is a comparison of the task bar without the chrome extension (top image) and the task bar with the chrome extension (bottom image). ~ Note: you must be in the ‘view mode’ in order for the option to appear.

Export to PDF option in Google Data Studio

Step 3.  Click on the ‘Export to PDF’ option to begin exporting your report, wait a few seconds per page as each page downloads. The time it takes to begin exporting varies, but  if the report does not begin to export, click on the thumbnail icon in the chrome extensions area of the toolbar but instead of selecting ‘Export to PDF’,  select ‘Clear Cache’ the option (pictured below), then try exporting it again.

GDS Export to PDF solution

Step 4.  After the document has been downloaded, a pop-up window will appear with a black and white version of the report—the report’s color will be restored after changing the destination. In the window, change the ‘Destination’ of the file to ‘Save as PDF’ (pictured below). Save Data Studio Report as PDF

Step 5.  Click Print to save the report to a location of your choice.

Chrome Extension Link: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-data-studio-pdf-ex/cmbgpgjhibpioljmaaocdommnggpecje

Luke Pajer
Luke Pajer is a Digital Marketing Analyst with a M.A. in Management Degree from Wake Forest University, and a B.S. in Geology Degree from Baylor University. Luke is passionate about data analysis, which combined with his published research experience in the realm of geoengineering brings a unique perspective to the beacon team. Outside of work Luke enjoys spending time with his wife and two dogs, reading, playing ice-hockey, and watching football.
By | 2017-07-19T12:10:28+00:00 July 19th, 2017|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on How to Export your Google Data Studio Report to PDF

Going Into a Redesign: How Google Analytics Reports Can Help

Would you read The Two Towers before The Fellowship of the Ring? Watch Godfather III before The Godfather? Of course not. You need context to get the most out of any sequel.

The same is true with a website redesign.

With a new redesign, you may hope to accomplish a number of important objectives including:

  • Improving compatibility with mobile devices
  • Updating styling strategy
  • Implementing a new content strategy
  • Providing more nimble page template capabilities

One things is for certain. Your website needs to accomplish its underlying goals at a more successful rate after the re-launch. You need to leverage all the information currently at your disposal including your website’s past performance. Your website’s analytics is a great source for this information. For websites undergoing a redesign, Google Analytics should be required reading.

Google Analytics offers a wealth of data related to website visitor activity. Tracking features beyond GA’s out-of-the-box solution takes that dataset to even greater heights. So, when considering analytics for a redesign, which Google Analytics reports can have the greatest impact?

Here are just a few of the options available:

Audience Device Category

Mobile browsing is quickly increasing its slice of the pie as a large user set compared to desktop and tablet categories. This report gives an indication of the device category trends and the current breakdown of each device category’s session total. While a responsive redesign is most likely already a known part of the strategy, there is more to it. Which device category is (or will soon be) the largest user set? Which device category delivers the best-converting visitors? Answers to questions like those can help determine which device category is favored in the overall design.

Audience Technology

Every website’s software has compatibility parameters, especially with different browsers and browser versions. From this report, the software development team can learn of the most popular browsers and browser versions.

We have had instances where this report greatly influenced technology decisions when designing client websites. For example, in the higher education arena, some institutions use certain browsers and browser versions in their computer labs. Updating those browsers may not be an option, due to various factors with other software. This report is flexible enough to also give an indication of most popular screen resolutions. Knowing this information can help with break point decisions for a responsive design.

Site Content – All Pages

Are you gearing up for a new site hierarchy? This is the type of report that will help inform your decisions. If your website caters to audience subcategories, such as college and university websites, then you will need to incorporate advanced segments and/or secondary dimensions with this report. Ultimately, you want to know which pages are most popular, and with which audiences. From there, you can begin to build recommendations for the website’s header, footer, sidebar(s), call-outs, etc. Site Search

No matter how much the website is updated, some users will always navigate via site search, rather than a hierarchy of links. This report indicates the searched topics that are most common. Perhaps your team has overlooked a few obvious pages that should be accentuated more in the website’s navigation. A review of site search data can prevent these oversights.

Goals / Ecommerce

Using this report combined with the goal data from the above reports will help paint a clear picture of the effectiveness of the current website. Normally, the goal and/or eCommerce analysis will not necessarily result in a perfect conversion strategy for the newly redesigned site. However, you will come away with changes that should be made to the conversion funnel and new ideas on how to make certain goal conversion opportunities more visible for your users. From there, you can determine a set of A/B tests that you wish to conduct once the new site is launched.

Make Your Website Redesign One for the Books

As one of the country’s longest standing Google Analytics partners, Beacon has been providing Google Analytics support for organizations of all kinds large and small. Additionally, our software development team has redesigned hundreds of websites, ranging from online storefronts to Higher Ed. We invite questions or comments regarding your redesign goals. Feel free to contact me or call one of our team members at 1.855.467.5447.

Gus Kroustalis
Gus has an MBA from Elon University and brings seven years of experience in sales and marketing analytics to the Beacon team. He is the lead Google Analytics Strategist, which includes implementation and setup of GA for clients as well as management of Beacon’s GAFUSION product. Outside of his work at Beacon, Gus has been cooking at the Winston-Salem Greek Festival for over a decade, coaches high school basketball, and still believes that the best movies were filmed in the 80s.

Connect with Gus on Google+.

By | 2017-08-08T08:22:09+00:00 June 15th, 2017|Google Analytics|Comments Off on Going Into a Redesign: How Google Analytics Reports Can Help

WFU Selects Beacon to Teach Graduate Level Analytics Course

Last year, when I discovered that Wake Forest’s Business School was starting a Master’s Program in Business Analytics (MSBA), I had to see how I could help. After all, it’s my alma mater AND analytics – two of my favorite things! So I was thrilled when our many discussions and planning sessions led to Wake selecting Beacon to teach its graduate level course in Digital Marketing Analytics this Spring.

Farrell Hall at WFU Analytics has been a critical component of Beacon’s offering since almost the day the company started back in 1998. It’s why Beacon is one of the longest active Google Analytics Certified Partners in the country.  The entire Beacon Digital Marketing Team is involved with this class, led by Gus Kroustalis, Beacon’s Lead Analytics Strategist and Andrea Cole, Beacon’s Director of Digital Marketing.  The team meets regularly internally to carefully plan each class around important topics, crafting in-class and homework assignments that expose the students to real world tools and thinking.  For most companies nowadays, their website is the centerpiece of their marketing strategy.  So this course emphasizes Google Analytics and walks the students through 7 intense weeks that includes

  • Key Metrics for the Web
  • Consumer Targeting
  • Engagement Analysis
  • Channel Analysis (SEO & Paid Search)
  • Attribution Models
  • Conversion Testing

The demand for critical thinking skills with respect to analytics data is enormous in today’s business world. Students that have tangible experience will hit the ground running and be able to provide immediate value to their employers.  Certainly, technology and the widespread availability of data are drivers, but it’s also about “brain-power”, the ability to analyze data with all the available tools to gain insights, formulate strategy and communicate well-founded recommendations that will improve ROI and/or decision-making.

Companies are clamoring for critical and creative thinkers. Graduates of Wake Forest’s MSBA program will certainly fill this demand.  The students will experience a rigorous, hands-on course that exposes them to actual live data from several of Beacon’s clients that have graciously agreed to participate.  Although they will learn many different tools, the emphasis will be on stimulating their business minds to develop intelligent insights, drive creative ideas and improve business.

It’s exciting that Wake’s MSBA students have the opportunity to work alongside Beacon’s recognized experts in Digital Marketing to get first-hand experience and knowledge. It will certainly make their resumes stand out.  Likewise, my DMS Team is equally excited to collaborate with, and learn from, the high-caliber students for which Wake Forest University is known.

Beacon's Gus Kroustalis Teaching

Mark Dirks
Mark Dirks is the CEO for Beacon Technologies, but claims that Senior Web Business Consultant is more fitting. With a Masters Degree from Kansas State in Information Systems and a BS from Wake Forest in Mathematics/Computer Science, his passion is helping clients get the most out of their website and internet technology. Mark co-founded Beacon after spending a couple of years with RJ Reynolds and 13 years at AT&T. Outside of Beacon, he is an avid racquetball and softball player, while also coaching youth baseball and football.
By | 2017-08-15T16:00:39+00:00 April 21st, 2017|Beacon News, Digital Marketing, Google Analytics|Comments Off on WFU Selects Beacon to Teach Graduate Level Analytics Course

How to Identify Stolen Content and Take Action!

Imagine that you and your staff have spent countless hours creating engaging content for your website, only to discover that much of it has been stolen and repurposed by others – without your consent.

The appearance of duplicate content could adversely affect your website search rankings, making it more difficult for prospective students, alumni and the community to find you. And as we all know, good content rules. So, why let others break them (the rules, that is)?

At Beacon, we’ve seen what unethical practices such as copy scraping can do. Having personally experienced the theft of our content fairly recently, I thought I’d share the steps I took to alert Google to this offense and protect our company from the negative fallout that can follow.

Here are six easy steps for getting back at the thieves who steal copy.

Step 1 – Verify that your suspicions are correct.

Perform a quick Google search to determine where your copy is showing up across the internet. You can randomly select copy from a webpage (copy and paste a few sentences in a Google search box) to run a query. The search results will indicate if your copy appears on another site on the web other than your own.

For example, here are the results from my search.

Scraped Content

The search results will provide you with a list of webpages where that content appears (including your own, of course). As you can see in this example, there is another website using content I wrote without my consent (see the red arrow above).

Step 2– Investigate the extent of the theft

Stolen ContentScraped Content

When investigating the extent of plagiarism, check to see if your content was been copied verbatim. Also, you’ll want to check if this is an isolated event or if the website in question has copied multiple pieces of content. In our example above, you will notice multiple instances of stolen content. It’s time to take action.

Step 3 – Reach out to the website’s administrator

Reach out to the webmaster of the website that stole the copy. If the webmaster’s email contact isn’t readily displayed, check the about or policy sections of their website. The webmaster’s address is often hidden within these pages.

Once you’ve found an email address, notify him that you are aware of the offending activity and request that he remove the stolen content within a defined period of time. A week to ten days is more than enough.

Should the webmaster voluntarily remove the stolen content, your job is done. Have a latte. However, most nefarious webmasters will ignore such warnings and hide behind a perceived veil of anonymity.

Now, the fun begins.

Step 4 – Contact the hosting provider

It’s time to perform a who-is-lookup. This online tool provides you with the webmaster’s identity and more importantly, their website hosting provider. Armed with this new information, I reached out to the hosting provider and let them know that a website they host had blatantly infringed on my intellectual copyrights. I respectfully requested that they take down the website in question.

Step 5 – File a DMCA request

If the hosting provider fails to respond, then it’s time to file a dirty DMCA request. Only take this step once you have exhausted the other options. Also, keep in mind that you need to have the authority to act on behalf of your organization prior to filing this request.

You have the option of drafting your own DMCA takedown request or downloading this DMCA Take Down Notice Template to customize and send to the offending website owner. After you have sent the DMCA notice, give the website a week to ten days to respond. If you don’t hear back within the time you designate in your notice, it’s time to elevate the complaint to Google and get some sort of resolution.

Step 6 – Request Google remove the stolen content

Log into Google Search Console: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/dmca-notice. This will take you to the copyright removal section within Google (see below). Simply follow the instructions and be sure to describe the nature of the work being copied and include URLs where the copyrighted work can be viewed. Also, include the link to the infringing material.

Scraping Site

The DMCA request tends to work pretty quickly so you want to keep an eye on how many pages are currently indexed and compare it over the next few days or weeks. You can double check this by running another search query containing a snippet of your stolen copy. If you were successful in your attempt at protecting your content, you will see that Google has removed pages from its search engine that were infringing upon your copyrights once they complete their investigation.

Monitoring tip: If you would like to check the progress of your request, perform a site search if the offending site and make a note of the number of pages Google has indexed (see below). Compare this number to future searches and you may find the Google now indexes fewer of the website’s pages than before your request. This is a sign that Google may be taking action.

stolen content before after

You’ll know you’ve reached a final resolution when you run a search query and see the following highlighted message displayed:

stolen content example

Good luck and happy hunting!

Jordan Lowry
Jordan is a Digital Marketing Analyst in SEO, PPC and Social Media. He recently graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a strong business background running a start-up.
By | 2017-06-16T12:46:34+00:00 February 9th, 2016|SEO|Comments Off on How to Identify Stolen Content and Take Action!

How to Craft a Social Media Content Strategy

 

It is true that social media can be beneficial to a business, but it can also cause a migraine at the same time. If not implemented properly it can damage your business’ reputation or become a waste of time. Here are some important steps to keep in mind when developing a social media content strategy. This will help keep your content relevant and work to amplify your postings. Some steps to include are brainstorming, research, and determining which platforms to use.

Brainstorming 

First, let’s start off with brainstorming potential content ideas. These will help build shareable content. In this stage it is important to think broadly about your industry. It is necessary to think about how you can branch out to reach a wider audience. It is a good idea to not have a narrow view of your business when brainstorming content topics at first. Once you build out a variety of topics and ideas you can always go back and decide what fits your brand image. Try to think of all the components that work together to make up your business. For example, let’s say I own a skateboard shop. I might produce content about skateboard maintenance or the benefits of skateboarding. This tactic will help you build a diverse social media content strategy.

Here is a visual representation of my thought process when brainstorming content:

Content Map

 

Research 

Once you have spent time brainstorming, then it’s time to move on to the next phase, research. We want to learn what types of content are performing well in our industry.

In continuing on with our skateboarding example, let’s say I am done brainstorming. Now I have some topics I want to build out content around. It’s time to dive into some content research so I have a better idea of what performs well. This will vary by industry and whether you’re a B2B or B2C business.

When conducting my research, I use several tools to learn what is performing well. For this, I am going to start with a neat and free tool called Epicbeat, which I think is an appropriate name for a social media tool. Epicbeat will help you discover popular content, influencers, and industry insights.

First, I want to enter in the term I will be researching.

Social Media Content StrategyThen, I am directed to a dashboard that gives a quick view of several key factors. These factors will help me find content to re-share and give me greater insight into what I need to create.

Social Media Research Which Platforms? 

The few things I want to get insight into are which platforms are popular and what types of content perform best. Then, I want to know when I should be posting to my platforms.

Social Media Content ResearchRight away I see that Facebook is the most popular channel followed by Vine and Instagram. I also get some other metrics such as average shares per post and a few other engagement metrics which is great. This tells me the type of engagement I can expect from each social platform. I also want to look for what type of content is most popular within this industry.

Now from my research, I know I should focus on Facebook and maybe Instagram as well. This will help get my social media content strategy off to a great start. After reviewing the engagement metrics, I know where I need to be to have an impact. Keep in mind, it is important to start a social media campaign small and scale up. In most cases, it is better to have one or two social profiles than five that you rarely engage with users on.

Content ResearchEpicBeat is nice enough to give me the distribution by content type for skateboarding. This gives me a better idea of the types of content to either begin producing or re-sharing. Right away I see that ‘how’ articles are trending with Listicles, and Interviews trailing. If I skipped this step and ran giveaways and produced guides, I would have missed a lot of engagement. This is why research is so crucial so you are not fumbling around in the dark.

I’m at a great starting point now I have my topics I want to build content around. I also have a better idea of which social platforms my target audience are active on. Now I have a better understanding of the content types I will begin curating. I even have an idea of what I can re-share to my platforms to further encourage engagement too.

Tools make research easier, but you should still browse followers to gain more insight. Look for what they are sharing and engaging with, and news they consider important. This will help you plan your social media content strategy in an effective manner. As an added bonus, I like to use Klout to spot trending content pieces and re-share them with my followers. Only use this platform once you have taken the time to research your industry and build out topics. This can be a great way to find relevant news about your industry.

Klout Content ResearchKlout shows content to reflect the best trending pieces related to your industry. Klout also includes a search function as well so you can do further research. This allows me to take topics I built out earlier and search for trending articles. Another feature like EpicBeat is the ability to find influencers within your niche. You can even research influencers within your industry and see content they engage with.

Klout Content Research Once inside the platform, there is no need to go back and forth between Hootsuite to schedule a post. You can schedule all your content within the platform as well and save some time. Remember, research is the cornerstone of a successful social media content strategy. Taking the time to brainstorm will lead to unique ideas that may not have developed otherwise.

As a side note, you can have a great social media content strategy but without goals you can get off track. Setting goals that impact your business is important when starting a social media campaign.

By brainstorming, researching, and evaluating platforms, you can start an effective social media campaign.

Happy sharing!

Jordan Lowry
Jordan is a Digital Marketing Analyst in SEO, PPC and Social Media. He recently graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a strong business background running a start-up.
By | 2016-11-18T12:09:54+00:00 November 19th, 2015|Social Media|Comments Off on How to Craft a Social Media Content Strategy

Can Humor Boost Online Sales?

We know that humor gets people’s attention. It can be the optimal user experience. Just look at how audience demographics change for the biggest annual football games and ask people why they watch. According to a recent survey, over 75% of Super Bowl viewers were more interested in the commercials than the game. Of those 75%, almost 95% said they prefer humorous commercials to a straight-ahead sales pitch. But does humor make the cash register ring and more specifically, is it an effective online marketing tool?

“All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.”

The web has proven to be a very effective vehicle for humor. There are some very funny online publications such as The Onion and People of Walmart. And who among us have not shared a video of something outrageously funny with a friend? Humorous content gets our attention but can it influence our spending habits? Can it persuade us to click the “buy now” button? While there is evidence to suggest that it can (and does), online advertisers are reluctant to embrace the idea of digital marketing with a sense of humor. As I see it, the reason is two-fold.

1) It’s impossible to find a good, funny copywriter. 2) More significantly, online advertisers aren’t convinced that humor moves widgets.

Let’s consider both these assertions.

“Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.” Humor can be perilous. One can get light-headed and lose sight of oncoming obstacles. Do a search for the recent, controversial Belvedere ad you’ll see how easy it is to get sucked into that proverbial jet engine. This ad should have never made it past the board room. Posted to Facebook and Twitter, it elicited many more complaints than sales, necessitating removal from social media post haste.

Other online advertising outlets such as Adwords have character restrictions, making the task of copy writing all the more difficult. However, creative marketers and outside the box online sales humorthinkers can create effective ads that get you noticed. Even with the word count restrictions, your ads can be humorous and, most importantly, convert.

Although it straddles the line, the text ad above does not cross into offensive territory. It dares to be funny without taking ill-advised chances. And despite Adword’s character restrictions, this ad says it all succinctly and with a sense of humor.

“I went to a general store. They wouldn’t let me buy anything specifically.”

When one addresses a specific target audience with tasteful but pointed humor, the results can astound. Here are a few high profile examples of humor that sells…

• Known to primarily cater to business travelers, Hilton Resorts wanted to extend that reach to holiday vacationers. They created an online “Urgent Vacation Care Center” where those afflicted with any number of stress related maladies could visit, take an online diagnostic test and get a “prescription” for whatever ails them.

The hotel chain partnered with The Onion and the New York Times to further promote the spoof. When the dust cleared, Hilton resorts had added a half a million Facebook likes and over 7000 subscribers to its newsletter.

• Dollar Shave Club’s promotional YouTube video cost under $5000 to make and featured a machete wielding CEO, a forklift to nowhere, and a shaving baby. The spot accumulated 4.75 million views in March of 2014 alone. More significantly, within the first 48 hours after the YouTube video first aired online, over 12,000 people signed up for home delivery of their product. No other marketing channels had been utilized to that point other than Google ads.

This video ad kicked ass harder than a cross-eyed Rockette.

“If you tell a joke in the forest, but nobody laughs, was it a joke?”

If your ad is humor driven and nobody buys, do you get fired? Humor can sell but like any form of advertising, one cannot lose sight of the main objective – to move units. Consider adding an element of humor through YouTube to boost social media conversions.  Or adding a humor campaign to Adwords. It can be hard work but when done right, the sky is the limit.

Thanks to Steve Wright and Lord Carrett for the funny headlines.

Richard Rossi
Rich Rossi comes to Beacon as an SEO Specialist. A graduate of Syracuse University, Rich spent several years as a children’s book illustrator and website designer before discovering an affinity for link building and SEO.

Connect with Rich on Google+

By | 2017-06-16T12:38:08+00:00 April 15th, 2015|Digital Marketing|Comments Off on Can Humor Boost Online Sales?
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