Outsourcing Your Social Media Strategy

Social media might be something your company has been avoiding. Or like so many businesses out there, you have created an account on each site, but have failed to reach an audience. Maintaining an active presence on social sites is time consuming and often overwhelming, which is why many businesses outsource their [reputation management strategies](/services/reputation-management/). There are many advantages to this arrangement, but before you leap into a contract, consider what is required to be truly successful.

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Introducing the SEO Guide for Beginners!

During the Get Digital Seminar earlier this month, Derek mentioned that Evolve has been preparing an SEO Guide for Beginners. While it will never be fully completed (this industry, after all, is known to evolve), we are pleased to finally present a 29-page guide that is sure to get you started on the right track.

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Foursquare Special Bar Crawl: An Experiment

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Enterprise Influencers for B2B and How to Reach Them

Many companies all over the world are developing software, programs and processes to try and crack the online influencer code. These organizations are looking through mountains of data and through enough tweets to touch the moon and back, all for the needle in the haystack (in a galaxy far, far away). The complexity of this problem is great. The accuracy of the current solutions, not so great. To further complicate things, tools that can accomplish this job generally need large amounts of data to be accurate. So what happens when you are working with a B2B client who has minimal indexed conversations or content on the industry? We have faced this problem a number of times. Whether the B2B client reels in 300 million annual revenue or hovers at a humble 2-3 million dollar range, these big brands struggle like the little guys to recognize influencers and establish relationships. What have we at Evolve: Digital Labs learned? Chasing the influencers through conversations and keywords proves difficult. However, we have found that identifying the hierarchy of influencers who affect the decision can be more efficient. First and foremost, it is and always will be, peers and colleagues So how can you infiltrate the peer network? In a non-digital sense, many marketers will attend the leading conventions and conferences of the industry. This is the easiest way to form relationships, hear the pains first hand, to network and form relationships. This knowledge drives your ability to speak intelligently to their issues and provide true critical analysis in their field. So where does that fit in online? Start with linkedin.com groups. Join the discussion, listen, learn. Then start your own group. Consultants They might not do exactly what you do, but if a company brings in an IT and Cloud expert, there is a good chance they will be asked some question in relation to digital and technology. The layperson often assumes digital marketing and IT go hand in hand. In some ways they are right, but probably not in the way they assume. This means you need to do a little work before you can fully utilize this for success. You need to learn what comes before and after your products and services. For example, before SEO there is a website build, or if the company is smart, planning for one. That means those who develop websites would be a great choice for Evolve to get to know and provide resources to. So what about the after and why does it matter? If you are in the position to offer a service that is needed more than once, this is a wonderful situation. Not every experience a business provides is perfect; in fact, some experiences are awful, right? Find those who can help you come to the rescue. So where does that fit in online? Start with Google and Twitter. Use Google to find out when and where these folks get together. Learn the blogs and social networking sites, but absorb when and where they physically get together. You can bet there is a #hashtag to follow along too. Form relationships. Give them first dibs at free content that can help their cause. Offer a place to share their ideas and agenda. Vendor This one shouldn’t be a shock. Businesses have been partnering through preferred vendors for a long time. This is nothing new. So where does that fit in online? Find a way to get on the sites of the vendors that service your potential clients. This might mean a badge, or it might be supplying those vendors with an easy commission or benefit. It could be the ability to sell your products or services on their site. Finally, only pursue a respectable affiliate program, not the kind that pushes male enhancement supplements. The brands that you affiliate yourself with have a significant impact, not only on how your company is perceived, but also on the way search bots crawl and index your site.

Retargeting: Advances in Search Engine Marketing

Lately Iave been stuffing my brain with as much Search knowledge as possible. It takes me back to the days of college general education courses, which pried me from my element and exposed my weaknesses. I’m really into literature, words, and language. Let’s discuss the internal conflicts of Fahrenheit 451 . Please, though, donat make me mess with fractions. Evolve has been a beneficial experience for me. I’ve strained my brain capacity by poring over Search-related articles, digesting new terms like “web analytics” and completely altering my perception of how the SEO industry operates. In a more concise fashion: I’ve learned and I continue to learn. Recently, I noticed a pattern in the banner ads I have seen on various web sites. I’ve always understood that paid search campaigns are based on specific keywords that users search for. I’ve got that. It makes sense. I also realize that on a search platform, such as Google, various businesses will display advertisements on the search engine result pages. (Or as the experts call it, the SERP.) One of the brands we have the privilege of working with is Comfy Sacks. I’ve researched them a lot and have explored their site a boatload of times.



Following my research, I was surprised to see the paid advertisements at the top and sides of the various blogs or web sites I visited. I wondered- embarrassingly- aloud, why are these ads appearing on a blog about social media? I had no idea how PPC worked beyond the SERPs. I’ve seen banner ads on specific sites, but I always figured that the site owners received payment from whomever the ads represented. Turns out, there’s a little feature called retargeting that search engines use to maximize companies’ PPC investments. After I had viewed Comfy Sacks’ site, the engines followed my tail, dropping hints of the brand as I moved to other pages. Retargeting acts as a subtle reminder: Psst! Remember us? You like us. It works. It works because the banner ads are directed to people who have already showed an interest. Retargeting works when web sites insert a cookie into the user’s browser. Cookies are nothing new; they’re used on nearly every site for remembering passwords and usernames. Now they’re also used for personalizing banner ads on sites.

Retargeting is really an advanced form of direct marketing. What better way to advertise than to focus in on a particular niche? Traditionally, this was (and still is) initiated with the purchase of lists from database-creation companies like Acxiom. The lists purchased include contact information of consumers that fall into a specific category. Often these lists are compiled via credit card swipes or entry forms online. Did you recently receive an e-mail blast advertising a subscription to Popular Photography magazine? Could it be because you recently purchased a camera? You bet. It’s all about sending the right message to the right person at the right time. Due to retargeting, the chances of hitting “the right person” are greatly increased when the scope is significantly narrowed. Retargeting is great news for businesses. It’s been said that a customer needs to be contacted multiple times before following through with a sale. Retargeting banner ads can provide that persistence. It certainly improves the chances of a sale. And that’s always a good thing.

Written by Emily Wisely. 

May the Fours(quare) be with you.

Are you using Foursquare? We all love “checking in” to places because it’s a fast, easy way to alert friends and family of what we’re up to, whether it’s shopping at a trendy outlet, ordering drinks at a dive, or attending a concert. Essentially, it’s a way to shout out to the world how popular and social we are. “Be jealous,” we might as well say, “because we’re here and you’re not!” Actually, though, Foursquare is more than that. When used correctly, Foursquare can allow your business to unleash a powerful strategy that requires minimal work on your part. As customers “check in” to a location, they have to option to share it with Foursquare friends, Facebook friends, or Twitter followers. This results in an extremely valuable promotion of your business. Foursquare allows the business manager (you) to customize the way your business is displayed on the app. By logging in and clicking on the “edit” button on your business listing, you can personalize your phone number, address, Twitter handle, URL, and even details that any potential or current customer would want to know- such as hours of service, the house special, or a particular promotion. Another fantastic aspect of Foursquare is the use of Specials. By announcing a particular incentive for checking into your location, your business can reel in new customers effortlessly. Specials might consist of discounted purchases (20% off your hair cut with a first-time check in!), freebies (check in to receive free chips and salsa!), loyalty rewards (your first drink’s on us when you check in for the third time), and more. The Specials feature allows you to showcase your personality while offering a great incentive to current and potential customers. It only takes a few minutes to set up Specials. Immediately following, your business will display an orange graphic (symbolizing the Special) in the search results. A Special can be the single deciding factor of whether a customer chooses your business or another. Foursquare also provides your business with valuable insight to who your consumers are. Through enabling the Merchant Dashboard, you’ll be able to identify crucial information, such as who checks in, how often, the age and gender of your customers, and your most popular hours. This awareness will allow you to adapt your business accordingly and provide potential for growth in your weaker areas. Finally, Foursquare enables consumers to leave “tips,” for others. As a business owner, it’s important for you to be aware of what is being said here. We call this Reputation Management because it requires action on your part to monitor the activity. Whether the tips are negative or positive, you can use them to improve the customer’s experience. For example, if a tip is, “Ew, the bathrooms are gross!” then perhaps you should immediately give your attention to the facilities. Hopefully you’ll yield better tips, like “incredible beer selection!” This type of positive response will shed light on what your customers enjoy most about your company, thus allowing you to incorporate that as a unique selling point in the future. Will Foursquare be around forever? We don’t know the answer to that. What we do know is that it currently has over 100,000 regular users. It’s free for businesses to use. And it generates valuable promotion, new business, and trendy interaction with customers.

Spending Time with the Family and Losing Digital Connection

Going dark. It doesn’t sound like it is a big deal. It probably shouldn’t be a big deal at all, but I could count on one hand the number of days I have gone completely dark from my business since 2009. That doesn’t mean I haven’t taken more than a few days off from work since ’09, it just means I haven’t unplugged. On weekends I work; answering emails, logging into analytics, checking campaigns in SEOmoz etc. Not that a lot of heavy lifting is done, but there is always time spent working every weekend. Its baked into my morning routine on the weekends. Email on the phone, twitter, linkedin, blogs, all the apps are there on my phone, ready for consumption- and I am an addict.

Spending time with my family isn’t difficult. In fact, if there is one thing I feel like I do well on a regular basis, it’s spend time with the family. We sit down to dinner together and have playtime before or after. I am committed to this at any or all cost. My son and I have coffee time every Saturday and Sunday morning, when we spend about 45 minutes at a local coffee shop catching up on the New York Times and the recent gossip of Christy Park Montessori. I treasure these moments.

If there is one knock to my family hustle, it is undeniable addiction to being plugged into the happenings in the search world. I can’t help it, I catch myself checking my phone incessantly. So in this challenge for a solid Saturday I left the mobile at home, and the computer turned off. The things that you don’t miss when you are unplugged can be the most memorable. Who the hell cares what google does on a Saturday, but enjoying every moment with those who love you is priceless.

This should be a no brainer, but I am going dark one day a weekend in my 30’s. Don’t get me wrong I love my job, and I love my industry. They both fit me as a person. I am someone who struggled most of my life to fit in ample time for the right and left brain. I love art, creativity, free form, but I also love numbers, stats, math problems that seem impossible. Not very many positions in the professional world mash the two worlds so perfectly together, but SEO does. None of that matters if it I don’t let it provide me the time and attention for my family. Full attention. I do reserve the right to pick which day and it could vary….however, it will be done. This post is part of Derek’s 30-in-30 Project.

30-in-30 Video Report

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SEO for Video

So you made a video and uploaded it to your site. But how do you make sure that people actually watch it? Whether the video cost thousands of dollars to produce, or it was a one-man (you being the man) project that was tackled during your spare time, if it’s important enough to be posted on your site, then it deserves to be watched and enjoyed.
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Challenge #3 Change one thing at Evolve

I am not afraid to adapt. I thrive in it. I am not afraid to be proven wrong over time. I named our company Evolve because in this industry, what is efficient today might be made obsolete tomorrow. A huge part of that is willingness to change. If I look closely at all of the things we have changed here at Evolve: Digital Labs over the years, the common thread is in execution of work. We work on knowing and challenging our business everyday. As I wrote in a letter to myself for challenge number one, its all about the people working in our organization. We need to help them not just with tools and improved processes, but more importantly, with personal growth. Without mutual planning for the employee and the company, mutual satisfaction seems unlikely. For long term commitments from employees you need to provide satisfaction along the way. When it is put in simple terms like that, it makes me feel embarrassed how neglectful I have been. So, no longer. To Start: I went to the goog and found this Employee Performance Review that breaks down the core categories I would like to discuss. 1. Job/ Technical Knowledge 2. Problem Solving and Decision Making 3. Planning and Organization 4. Communication Verbal and Written 5. Teamwork Personal Skills 6. Company Policy 7. Self Management There is also ample space to review the goals from the previous review, along with make new ones. With the right tool in place, I started an internal debate: at what intervals should these take place? Once a year isn’t close to enough. Once every six months seems reasonable, but considering the change this company has seen in its first 3 years, even that seems slightly underwhelming. I found the answer in this logic: the average employee at Evolve is going to work about 48 weeks in a calendar year. That equates to about 1920 hours. If I met with an employee for 30 minutes every 90 days on goals and performance, we are spending a limited tenth of a percent. For now that is where we will start. I am not sure anyone wants to spend that much goal-driven quality time with me anyway. Finally, I would be somewhat of a hypocrite if I didn’t give my employees the opportunity to review my performance as well. So every 90 days I will send out one for my review to everyone, let the truth ring out. This post is part of Derek’s 30-in-30 Project. Click here to learn more about it from the initial introduction