Big Tools We’ve Loved Using at Our Marketing Agency

Internet Tools

Persistence, patience, hard work… It’s all lead us to a point to which we’re growing quickly at TrustWorkz. While we’re grateful for our rapid growth, our commitment to excellence cannot be ignored. Our ability to ensure that our customers are happy leans heavily on our personal approach to customer relations and marketing (our people are our greatest asset). However, there are a few tools that we use consistently that have proven to be invaluable to our mission.

Here are a few tools that we have used to help grow our marketing agency:

Salesforce

Our entire agency uses Salesforce and we continue to integrate it further with our daily operations. The tool itself allows our entire organization to stay in the loop from sale to launch. Salesforce isn’t cheap, but the transparency that it has created is priceless. It’s important for our people, the face of the company, to know exactly what our customers have been told and sold.

Raven

Raven is a tool that provides us with marketing insights. The software pulls together a multitude of tools including Moz, SEM Rush, and more. We use it to build reports, track customer progress, perform competitive analysis, and manage social media. Raven isn’t the biggest or the most powerful tool. However, they’re young, they’re scrappy and they focus on doing what’s right. Philosophically, we agree on many levels. Their customer service and support team are amazing and Jon Henshaw, their CEO, has graciously answered my silly poll questions. If you want to pull marketing insights from a company that cares about their customers, sign up with Raven.

Slack

I’m not sure our team has ever embraced a tool more than they have Slack. We haven’t been using it for long (mmm… about a week), but I can honestly say that it has changed the way we work and function as a team. It didn’t take long for our team to jump on and embrace it 100%. I’ve never seen anything like it (the response from our team). In the short time that we’ve been using Slack, it has allowed us to open up our entire processes to our team, encourage open conversation, improve our internal knowledge base, and build community. Slack has made communications within the team more fun, seamless, and transparent. I believe that it will help us continue to better serve our customers and build our culture.

Google Apps for Business

Listen… It’s time to start paying for email services. If you believe that email is important to your business, you will consider paying for email services. Google Apps for Business have allowed us to ditch Microsoft Office (updates… bleh), create a secure email system, and take advantage of the “Cloud” via Google Drive. I love it because I can easily add new users, manage/enforce security, share files, and easily integrate our system into most of our team member’s lives. It also doesn’t hurt that the majority of our team members grew up with Gmail.

Our Tools, Your Business

Whether you’re building the next marketing agency or trying to improve your Internet marketing for your small business, the tools you use to tie your team together matter. Why not try out these tools?

The Only Option Is to Move Forward

Every now and then, I end up getting caught up in conversations with friends about the old days. You know… The good old days. I know I’m not the only one who can get pulled into (or starts) the topic. It’s a total issue of the disease of ME and my inability to see what’s looking me right in the face (the beautiful now and the hopeful tomorrow). Worst of all, we’re all suffering from it.

The past was fun though, right? It was good.

Even when the past was full of regret and pain, we still can’t seem to let go of it. We still have trouble moving forward.

A photo posted by TrustWorkz (@trustworkz) on

Reflection is essential to every business person’s path to success. How can you move forward without looking back at where you came from?

The big difference between reflection and over reminiscing is that one leads to wisdom and the other leaves you paralyzed.

Wherever you are in your business, it’s time for you to reflect on the past and commit to moving forward. Your ability to see and adapt to the future could be the difference between keeping your doors open to your community or closing down another small business that could have survived.

Times are moving fast. Really fast!

Small business owners are having Snapchats, Instagrams, and Facebook messages thrown at them every single day. Today it’s this, and tomorrow it’s that. 

At TrustWorkz, we primarily work with family entertainment centers (FEC) across North America. I absolutely love working with them, and it’s partially because I know that they make such a huge impact in all of our local communities (Seriously, go thank your local roller skating rink owner).

While we build a variety of different packages, specific to each FEC, we have an internal company philosophy about our customers; There are no small customers. Even when we build a “small” marketing package for a customer, I know that we’re going to bring them big results. While it feels amazing to bring new FECs into our family of progressive partners, it kills me to see others losing money by ignoring the Internet evolution, choosing not to understand it and wasting precious dollars on it, or acting so stubborn that they can’t even ask for free advice (something we are always happy to provide).

Unfortunately, many of the people that don’t talk to us, or any other marketing savvy person in their life, will miss the amazing future opportunities.

What’s the biggest reason? They’ve always done business this way… Why change?

Business owners that are living in the past will completely miss a message like this that Gary Vaynerchuk so accurately stated on Instagram.    

2nd screen my ass A photo posted by Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) on

If you want to grow your business, the only option is to move forward. Don’t get so caught up in the good old days that you lose site of what’s to come. It could be the difference between your biggest year or the last year for your business.

When they wake up, they’ll see that youth fades and glory days deceive.”

– Anberlin, ‘Audrey, Start the Revolution

Search Will Continue to Grow as Mobile Takes Over

Mobile UX

Thoughts on SEO, Mobile UX, and Content Marketing

Search engines are evolving, and they’re still a few steps behind mobile growth and adoption. But hey, they’re trying.

Google, Microsoft, and Apple are charging full steam ahead when it comes to creating mobile devices and enhancing their experiences for consumers. While the mobile divisions of these businesses are paving the way for new UX opportunities, the search engine side of Google and Microsoft are following a few steps behind (but still on the right path.)

Future Search Trends Still Revolve Around Humans

As we enter the last quarter of 2014, we can clearly see where some search trends are headed.

  • We saw some major updates come out of Google this year. Updates focused on local search and mobile UX. The Pigeon update, which focused on local search, seemed like a step in the wrong direction as it rewarded aggregates (Yelp, Citysearch, YP) more than actual local business sites. You could also look at it as an opportunity for small businesses to actually build and optimize their site. A small business site in a sea of Yelp listings on Google search could really stand out! A major update is also on the horizon that will, bring “tears of despair” if you haven’t acted on Google’s web spam warnings in the past. Brace yourself for the Penguin 3.0 update. 
  • Microsoft recently put more energy into their own virtual assistant, Cortana (rival of Apple’s Siri and Google Now.) Expect more emphasis on the linguistic user experience and voice search. Apple’s big iPhone 6 launch date has been confirmed, and I’m sure that we’re going to learn about major updates to Siri as well. Start thinking beyond the “device” and start thinking about the experience. Natural language search is going to continue to grow, as we communicate and experience our devices more than we simply “use” them.
  • Content marketing is going to continue to be seen as a necessity as natural language search and mobile searches continue to increase in demand and use. Our search behavior has changed dramatically over the years, and our search engines are acting accordingly by delivering results based on topical (conversational) relevance versus exact keyword matching. Content creators will need to focus on making truly useful and resourceful content. Blogs will continue to add value – don’t forget the giant Hummingbird update from last year. Context is king.

Things are changing at a rapid pace. As I wrap up this post, I can’t help but think about how different things will be in a year or two from now. Apple is sure to release the iWatch this year, which will undoubtedly continue to push the wearable tech industry even further. Search will continue to be more personalized, more human, and easily made over complicated by industry experts. If you’re a marketer or a small business owner, remember the human on the other end of the Wi-Fi connection that you’re trying to reach. You should make it through these troubled optimization times just fine.

Keep These Search Trends in Mind

  • Get your mobile strategy together. I’m dead serious about being mobile friendly. You can’t leave 2014 without a mobile solution. I see Google and Bing increasing the weight of mobile friendly web design in search engine results in the very near future. After a recent webinar we hosted with our friends in the family entertainment industry, it’s pretty clear that businesses think their website is mobile friendly, but truly is not at all. I suggest starting out with mobile responsive design for most small and medium sized businesses.
  • Create useful content. Aim for topic optimization and authority, but don’t abandon an actual keyword strategy. You still need these to map out your goals and strategic planning.
  • There are no shortcuts in SEO. Well… There are, but prepare to cry yourself to sleep when your site is aggressively devalued or slapped with a manual penalty as Google continues to update its algorithms.
  • Blend your content marketing with images, video, and podcasts. Dynamic pages typically create a better user experience. Don’t believe me? Look at GIF and video updates that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, and Pinterest of made.
  • If you’re a local business, you have many ranking factors to worry about with local listings and traditional organic search results. You need to seriously consider hiring a professional Internet marketer on staff, outsourcing to an agency, both, or heavily investing in your own knowledge to keep up with all of these changes. Google and Bing are trying to improve the local search experience for your clients, but this has lead to more work for businesses that want to keep up and benefit from inbound marketing.

 

Photo by Jay Wennington via Unsplash

Do You Even Google+ Authorship, Bro?

google authorshipA guide to what the heck happened to Google+ Authorship in June 2014

In late June 2014, Google dropped their Google+ authorship photos and follower counts from their search results… The Internet marketing world shook… Well, kinda.

You can look into the update from many perspectives. All Most of which are extremely interesting. After reading over most articles about the update, many Internet marketers are worried about the decrease in click through rates from the loss of authorship photos. While I have noticed an increase in traffic since adding authorship to my personal site, I don’t have enough data to verify their opinions. However, I’m leaning towards popular opinion that I’m going to notice a negative result on desktop. Mobile is a different issue, and I don’t think I will see a major change.

Here are some great Google+ Authorship articles on the topic. Read them, and develop your own opinion.

  • Search Engine Land: Google Drops Profile Photos, Google+ Circle Count From Authorship In Search Results – “Mueller said that the “click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.” For some reason, I highly doubt that, but webmasters can be the judge of that as this gets rolled out.”
  • Search Engine WatchGoogle to Remove Author Images from Search Results - “While usability and eye-tracking tests have shown that having an image appearing in the search results increases click-through rates and attracts users’ eyes to a result a searcher might otherwise overlook, Mueller commented that Google’s “experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.”SEO consultant Kristine Schachinger is one who disagrees with Mueller’s assertion.
  • Moz: Google Announces the End of Author Photos in Search: What You Should Know – “In his announcement, John Mueller said they were working to clean up the visual design of search results, and also to create a “better mobile experience and a more consistent design across devices.”

    This makes sense in the way Google has embraced mobile-first design. Those photos take up a lot of real estate on small screens. 

    On the other hand, it also leaves many webmasters scratching their heads as most seemed to enjoy the author photos and most of the web is moving towards a more visual experience.

How the update looks now…

Google Authorship removal

Overall, the update is a bit frustrating for all of us who have fought hard to move our clients towards connecting their site with Google Authorship. However, I believe that this truly does bring up an entirely different point from click through rates. As Cyrus pointed out on the Moz blog, Google’s John Mueller was focused on mobile UX. While there are probably many reasons behind the update, I would look at this as a strong reminder that mobile is a major focus point of Google. The big question for small businesses is, how do you expect to survive online in 2015 without a proper mobile solution?

 

4 Folks from Atlanta You Should Follow Today

If you live in Atlanta, then you know that it has grown dramatically over the years. As someone who was born and raised here, I have to say that I love the direction that we’re going (for the most part.) The city is attracting some amazing folks, and allowing opportunities for these people to shine. I wanted to highlight a few professionals that you really ought to follow and possibly schedule a coffee date.

Here are a few ATLiens, both native and transplants, that you should really get to know.

Amazing Atlanta Businessmen and Women to Meet

  • Lindsay Trinkle: There are few people that I actually send mass emails out to my team to learn about. Lindsay is one of them. We probably crossed paths during our teenage years at church, but I finally had the pleasure of meeting Lindsay in college. Lindsay is heavily involved in the Atlanta startup culture. She is currently working with Atlanta Tech Village, is Program Director for Atlanta Ventures, and has recently taken the position of Marketing Director for Voxa.

  • Van Baird: I met Van through one of the greatest guys I know, Drew Sheintal. Immediately, he had earned some credibility with me because of Drew. However, Van has made a major splash in Atlanta over the past few years. He has become a name that I can frequently toss out and connect with someone over. Van has always made himself available to me over the years for financial, business, and personal advice. He has been a reliable friend and mentor, and someone that I hope you get to meet someday.

  • Jake Dudley: What a cool guy! Most people who meet Jake might be thrown off at first. Why the heck does this guy ooze altruism!? I ended up meeting Jake through the Business Radio X show that I did with Van Baird. Jake is the kind of guy that you pray and hope to do business with someday. I truly believe that his greatest joy comes from connecting people and watching sparks fly. Meet with Jake. I promise, you won’t regret it!

  • Travis Ekmark: Yeah, he’s my brother, but I really think that you should meet him. My bro has an amazing design firm called Brothers (no, I’m not involved). Travis and his team are an extremely impressive group of designers. I honestly believe that digital marketing is going to need people who are able to create amazing experiences for their users. Travis and has team exceed at UX, taste in coffee, and keeping it real.

 

Go forth and follow!