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This is a post we've invited from a digital marketing specialist who has agreed to share their expertise, opinions and case studies. Their details are given at the end of the article.

How considering the latest trends can help you stay ahead of the competition

2015 was an exciting year in the world of search engine optimization and social media marketing. These two fields are constantly evolving, with plenty of changes that prompt shifts in consumer and marketer behavior. In order to succeed, you should adapt to these changes and employ the latest and most effective strategies. The following are 15 social media and search engine marketing trends in 2016 and what you should do to stay ahead of the curve:

1. Mobile optimization is a must.

Last year, mobile generated more traffic than desktop and laptop search. With virtually everyone using their smartphone or tablet to find information online, it goes without saying that business owners must cater to the needs of their mobile audience to generate leads and increase conversions. If your website still isn’t optimized for mobile, then you risk losing out…

5 steps to harness technology and creativity using programmatic advertising to maximize its potential

To reach the modern consumer, companies must embrace ideas such as: Programmatic advertising Advertising for multiple screens Personalization Consumers today have become increasingly adept at ignoring advertising they feel is no longer a utility, but an irritation. While the always-on phenomenon has become a popular buzz-phrase, in reality the cognitive load placed on consumers as a result of the on demand economy has been significant. Not only are consumers filtering out irrelevant advertising, but poor ad placements are also harming brands and their reputations. According to this Online Personal Experience study conducted by Janrain, nearly 3/4 of U.S. consumers report feeling annoyed when they see adverts and content that does not match their needs or interests. Econsultancy has also reported that over half of UK internet users have a desire for more relevant ads. [si_guide_block id="67100" title="Download free resource…

Affiliate marketing needs to be run effectively to get the best results. Don't leave it on the back-burner.

Affiliate marketing inherently involves using middlemen — affiliates — to help bring in customers or drive conversions. This automated online marketing comes with many positives: a marketplace of affiliates seeking you out, automatic approval of affiliates based on your company’s preferences, and cross-currency sales tracking. But to reap those benefits, it’s critical to manage your affiliate partners continually. A successful affiliate campaign requires active recruiting and optimizing partners on an ongoing basis.

Avoid the “Autopilot” Trap

The mindset that affiliate programs run on “autopilot” is common but will be detrimental to your program — and might ruin it altogether. Yes, affiliate network technologies have automated many tasks, such as automatic approval or rejection of affiliates based on specified criteria and the tracking of sales and payment of commissions. However, automation also comes with downsides that can…

How to Easily Cultivate Trust with Button Copy that Puts Your Audience’s Needs First

Marketers are busy and often juggle way too many responsibilities at once. Something’s gotta give, and sometimes it’s the button copy. It’s understandable, but when you skip this one detail, you create a very bad impression with your audience. By settling on generic button copy, you risk coming off as a lazy marketer who focuses on getting the lead or the sale instead of your customers’ wellbeing. Consequently, conversions suffer. So it’s time to rid the world of generic button copy.

If Your Button Copy is Good Ole “Sign Up”, “Send” or “Submit”

You’re probably not doing this on purpose, but I’m not gonna lie – it’s bad. When site visitors scroll through the page, a generic “submit” button doesn’t tell them a thing other than the fact you want something from them. Truth be told, they probably won’t even notice it,…

Digital Marketing will increasingly become about visual storytelling

As we move into 2016, the digital marketing industry is inevitably bound to shift. While changes occur at all points throughout the year, there’s something about January that gives brands a fresh start. All of the sudden, we’re paying attention to the future, as opposed to reflecting on the past. Well, as you look towards 2016, it’s important that you focus on two words: visual storytelling.

What is Visual Storytelling?

It doesn’t matter what continent you travel to, which time period you study, or which people group you analyze, humans have and always will love stories. In the early days, people sat around campfires and told stories and passed along legends from one generation to the next. Today, we log into our Netflix account to watch the latest flick. Stories are what engaged and captivated the early inhabitants of the world, and somehow, they’re still…

Pop-ups aren't always good for your conversion rate

The website pop-up can be the most hated, dumb, and annoying feature of a website. In fact, some go so far as to claim that they're more likely to trust a TV ad, than trust or respond to a banner ad or a pop-up. But it’s no secret that a website pop-up is likely to get you “new” leads and email addresses faster than any other tool on your website. However, pop-ups are really effective for growing email lists, so it makes sense, that if we are to use them, we do so in such a way they don't annoy the majority of our users. So, whenever the question of whether or not to use pop-ups arises, experts say that it’s best to stick to them as long as…

Setting specific objectives that help dictate your online marketing budget

Deciding on a budgeting strategy for SEO and PPC can sometimes be tricky. There is not necessarily a one-size fits all blueprint that organizations can follow. It is oftentimes a balancing act between the organization’s long-term and short-term goals. Developing a SMART objective that can be measured is an effective technique to budget for both PPC and SEO. Once specific objectives are set, it becomes much easier to determine how much money should be allocated to each online tactic.

Managing a budget for SEO

SEO is a long-term strategy. It takes time to develop and implement an onsite/offsite SEO plan. Most good SEO firms can cost $1000-$5000 a month; even more in some cases depending on the complexity of the business. The important thing to remember with SEO is that contrary to popular belief,…

Creating quality online customer support can turn prospects into sales

How many times have you raced into a store to quickly pick up a few things and immediately looked for a brightly colored vest to find a sales assistant or customer service person to help you out?And how many times have you scurried from aisle to aisle looking for what you came to buy and seeing no sales associate in sight? That gets real frustrating,  real fast! This is how your online shoppers feel if you don't get online customer service right. They need help. And if they can’t find it – guess what, they’re gone, perhaps forever. According to Forrester, if their questions are not answered quickly, 45% of consumers in the US will abandon their transaction. Don’t think for a minute that your visitors don’t need your help to some degree. Econsultancy reports that some degree of customer support is need…

2015 was an exciting year in the world of search engine optimization and social media marketing.

The two fields of social media and search are constantly evolving, with plenty of changes that prompt shifts in consumer and marketer behavior. In order to succeed, you should adapt to these changes and employ the latest and most effective strategies. The following are 15 social media and search engine marketing trends in 2016 and what you should do to stay ahead of the curve:

1. Mobile optimization is a must.

Last year, mobile generated more traffic than desktop and laptop search. With virtually everyone using their smartphone or tablet to find information online, it goes without saying that business owners must cater to the needs of their mobile audience to generate leads and increase conversions. If your website still isn’t optimized for mobile, then you risk losing out to your competitors. This is reinforced by Google’s Mobilegeddon update, which favors…

Why Your Marketing Department Needs a New Marketing Plan and Marketing Budget — and Some Templates to Get You Started

Managing a marketing department often means having to prove that your marketing budget is money well spent. Since the ROI of marketing isn’t always obvious, it can be easy to get caught up in the never-ending cycle of reacting to analytics and reports. Chasing visitors, followers, subscribers, leads and sales can become a game of chasing fleeting metrics instead of thoughtfully executing a plan to accomplish the big-picture goals of your marketing department. [si_guide_block id="66555" title="Download Expert Member resource – Marketing budget spreadsheet template" description="This Smart Insights budgeting spreadsheet template has been created to provide a comprehensive checklist of modern marketing activities you need to budget for including managing digital experiences (mobile and web), content marketing-led campaigns and traditional offline channels."/] This is a problem that can be solved with two vital documents:…