Five Ways to Effectively Use a Landing Page with Social Media

using landing pages

One of the must-have online marketing tools is a well-designed landing page. Landing pages are essential to B2B and B2C services when marketing a product, and, when done right, can yield great results. They serve many purposes: to provide information, generate and track leads, and increase SEO status.

In this climate of heavy marketing through social media with Instagram stories, Twitter, Facebook, and others, the number of leads generated in social media platforms through the use of landing pages is rapidly increasing.

Today, businesses are challenged with the task of merging social media and marketing in hopes of making a greater impact. Here are five ways to effectively incorporate and use landing pages with your social media platforms.

Capitalize on your social media presence. The best way to draw people in (and generate leads through landing pages) is to meet them where they are. Depending on your target demographic, spread your resources across various platforms. The idea is to appear where your users may already be engaged — making it easy for them to find you, respond to your ad or social post, and then link to your landing page.

Make a clear offer on your landing page. Give potential clients and customers something to look forward to — a free consultation, a free webinar, a useful e-book. Users are more likely to give their information when they are getting something in return. This generates leads and also creates a sense of connection with the user.

A landing page is only as good as its call-to-action (CTA). When a user links to your landing page, make sure it’s clear to them who you are and what you want them to do. Make it as easy as possible to understand and respond to the CTA. Asking yourself simple questions regarding the purpose of the lead generated by the landing page will provide a clear CTA. Are you offering something? Ask your user to “download now” or “start your free trial.” Are you trying to build a relationship? Ask your user to “enter your information” or “click here to connect.”

Avoid the urge to create a busy landing page. There is no need for flashing lights and flying objects. Research shows that less is more. Make your landing page simple, clear, and bold using keywords to boost SEO rankings. Balance your format so that your page stands out, but isn’t too busy. A simple, attractive landing page will engage users and drive more traffic to your homepage.

Track and analyze the data. The data you receive will allow you to assess your marketing strengths and weaknesses, so that you can modify your campaign and better engage your users. Maybe Instagram is a more strategic platform for product/service A, while marketing on Facebook is a better option for product/service B. Analytics allows you to take in the big picture while breaking down the details.

More and more organizations are focusing on marketing campaigns that include paid ads and social media posts, with the desire for more landing page lead conversions. Using these strategic marketing tools, you could see an increase in SEO rankings and an increase in your customer base. When a simple click can yield these results, creating an effective landing page is a smart investment for your business.


ABOUT Arris Shabaglian

For more than a decade Arris has worked as a freelance writer, editor and communications consultant. She has also taught university level courses on the art of communication, public relations and journalism. Arris is a Pinterest addict who loves a good night’s sleep and a nice cup of coffee. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three kids (hence the need for a nice cup of coffee).

What Is Pay Per Click Advertising, and Is It Right for You?

PPC advertising

So, you have a website, and a blog…what’s next? It’s no good pushing your content out into the ether, never to be consumed by anyone. Even worse is having an amazing product or service that no one knows about. So how do you keep your content from getting lost out there amongst all the choices on the big ol’ world wide web?

We’ve extolled the values of content marketing before. Great content — content that is relevant to your business offering and mission — will help you rank more highly in search engine results, which drives traffic to your site in turn. But it can take a while to build a bank of excellent content, and even then, competition for popular keywords can mean your page might rank several pages behind others offering similar services or products. Pay per click advertising is one of the ways that you can continue to stand out, regardless of your search engine ranking, or how much content you have on your website.

What is PPC advertising?

Pay per click (PPC) advertising uses search engine results to generate clicks to your website. This means that, after typing in a search word or term, people aren’t clicking on search engine results, but instead are clicking on advertisements.

Each time someone clicks on your ad, which is generally denoted with the word “Ad” wherever it is positioned on a webpage, it sends the visitor to your website. You then pay the search engine a small fee, called the “cost per click,” for sending the traffic to your website.

Considering PPC advertising for your business

You might be wondering why you should pay for traffic to your website. According to Blue Corona, businesses make an average of $2 in income for every $1 spent on Google Ads. Additionally, PPC visitors are 50% more likely to purchase something than organic website visitors. It is not just about making a sale, either. If you’re looking to grow your customer base or increase the number of leads in your database, PPC can also help. PPC ads increase brand awareness, and often help consumers find new products and services they didn’t otherwise know existed.

Setting up a PPC campaign

All the big search engines offer PPC advertising services, although most of them take place on Google, the world’s most widely-used search engine. To get your ads running smoothly, and to be able to attribute your clicks to sales, takes some elbow grease. We’ll write about that in future posts, so stay tuned! In the meantime, doing some research is always a good first step. If you were a potential customer, what would you search for, if you needed your product or service? When you search for these terms, do a lot of ads appear in the results? What do the ads say? Would you click on them? Most importantly, will you eventually make money by driving traffic to your site?

Learning how to do PPC advertising right is an art and a science. We’ll continue to share best practices and tutorials, but understanding what it is and how it works is the most important first step. Do you use PPC advertising already in your online marketing initiatives? If so, what are your most useful tips? If not, what’s holding you back? Let us know by tweeting us @sparkingbrands

ABOUT Khaleelah Jones

Khaleelah Jones is a digital marketing consultant who has worked with tech startups, educational institutions and non-profits on acquisition and engagement strategy, implementation and KPI modeling. When she’s not working, she can be found reading, writing, pontificating history, yoga-ing and making up verbs.

Gender Equality in the Workplace: A Primer

gender equality

In June 2018, yet another depressing top ten tally came to our attention. In this list, the US is the only “Western democracy” to be found amongst the most dangerous countries for women. The Reuters report uncovers that “the U.S. and Syria tied for third because of the risks women face in terms of sexual violence, harassment, sexual coercion and women’s lack of access to justice in cases” sexual assault.

As if that weren’t bad enough, the US was also ranked “the most unequal country in the developed world” in a UN report about poverty. Put together, the Reuters and UN reports demonstrate how the United States is unsafe for women and has limited access to healthcare and economic resources, as well as cultural or traditional practices that condone or overlook sexual violence and harassment, non-sexual violence and human trafficking.

Faced with these disturbing reports, we must start to ask ourselves where we see these trends play out in our daily lives- and how we can start to tackle them. The workplace, where movements such as #MeToo and TIME’S UP™, as well as campaigns geared at smashing the glass ceiling and increasing maternity and paternity benefits, is a good starting point for our inquiry into how inequality and inequity affect women’s lives.

Workplace Inequality for Women: A Quick Primer

For the record, equity and equality are not the same concept, yet both should and could be used to create environments focused on fairness. Equity means giving everyone the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. This could look different for different people based on learning style, family situation and other preferences or predispositions. Equality means treating everyone the same. Equality actually only works if everyone starts from the same position, or a level playing field, which reports such as those cited above show, do not in fact exist for women in many facets of American life.

Sexual assault and harassment spans industries, and is prevalent in low-wage, service-oriented jobs. Women are harassed more frequently in male-dominated industries, and hold far fewer leadership positions than men in most industries. It gets even worse for women of color and lesbian/gay/trans/queer people/women who are even more severely and frequently discriminated against in their workplaces.

The US is one of the only developed countries that does not require maternity benefits for new mothers, which is often cited as a reason women have fewer opportunities for advancement in the workplace. The lack of paternity or partner packages exacerbates the issue, making mothers the only viable source for childcare for new babies.

Some stats show that nearly 60% of women would earn more if they were paid the same as men in the same job, who have equivalent levels of education, experience and work the same number of hours. That’s tremendous. Think of the impact this would have at the individual level, and then expand that view to regional, state, country or even global GDP impact.
The equal pay equation seems pretty straightforward, and yet there’s a gender pay gap that confounds our plight further. “Equal pay is easily confused with the gender pay gap, which is a measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings. A law firm can pay equally and still have a gender pay gap, if most of the women it employs are associates (earning the same as their male peers) and most of its partners are men (out earning the associates).”
As with harassment, the gender pay gap is worse for women of color and those in the LGBTQ community.

Finally, half of American women who work report being the primary breadwinners in their households, and yet only one in five C-Suite executives is a woman (with fewer than one in 30 a woman of color). You see where this is going.

Responses to Workplace Assault and Harassment

By now, most people have heard of movements such as #MeToo and TIME’S UP™. The TIME’S UP™ Legal Defense Fund began as a direct response to the allegations of rape and sexual assault in the entertainment industry, and aims to “do something about” sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace. The #MeToo hashtag has prompted millions of women worldwide to share their stories about workplace harassment, not only opening eyes and ears to this epidemic, but sharing examples of situations that are inappropriate for the workplace and elsewhere.

Beyond these nationwide and global movements, promoting gender equity and equality in your workplace might mean changing behaviors and practices, shifting priorities and speaking up for yourself and/or for others. This can be scary business for a range of personal and professional reasons, so find strength and support in mentors and role models, in allies and accomplices.

Aside from providing equal pay for equal work, here are some additional considerations for supporting impactful transformation around gender equity and equality:

• advance women leaders at all areas of management, across departments, committees and divisions,
• foster leadership opportunities through robust management training programs,
• prioritize gender diversity and inclusion throughout your organization,
• acknowledge unconscious bias and provide effective training opportunities for your teams,
• provide salary and scheduling transparency,
• create a trusting, flexible atmosphere where management honors differences in requests, and time vs. compensation can be effectively negotiated.

There’s so much more to insist upon if we want to crush inequality. And this is good, challenging, important work. Let’s do better so everyone can thrive.

ABOUT Eve Connell

Eve spends most billable hours writing, editing and helping professionals of all stripes with communication skills and leadership development. With degrees in French literature, philosophy, and linguistics, she also enjoys helping businesses and entrepreneurs develop their brands. Fancying herself a successful worm rancher, singer and flower arranger, Eve also lends her talent and expertise to several non-profit arts and educational organizations.

10 Tips for How Business to Business (B2b) Marketers Can Use Video in Their Content Marketing Strategy

video online marketing

It’s not surprising to learn that watching videos is one of the most popular ways for internet users to spend their time online. Between 2011 and 2015, time spent watching video more than tripled and YouTube recently announced that its users watch almost a billion hours of video per day. Obviously, video is an excellent way to communicate information online, but it might be hard to image what video content for your brand would look like. Popular “fail” videos, or cats playing pianos would be inappropriate, so what is there to do? This is a particular challenge for business to business (B2B) marketers. While advertisers working direct with customers may be able to imagine the direct effect a product will make on a consumer’s life, B2B marketers may be at a loss for how their videos should look. However, with these ten tips it will become clear that B2B video marketing can not only be entertaining, it can be effective. In fact, 64% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product online after watching a video about that product.

B2B Vlogs

Vlogging is an enormously popular style of internet video. In it, a creator makes a video diary about their daily life. While, at first, it might seem like no one would watch a vlog produced by a B2B, in actuality, in the world of the internet today, quality content matters much more than where that content is posted. If your B2B creates a great vlog, the viewers will follow. Think about it. Most successful B2B brands publish traditional blogs, if once a month the written word were switched out for video, and the blog turned into a vlog, your B2B would be using the assets of video content to your advantage.

‘About Us’ Videos

In this hyper competitive market, it’s no longer good enough just to have a great product. Consumers are looking beyond the product and into who the company behind it is. With great ‘About Us’ videos, you can make sure consumers are getting a positive story about who you are as a company. Millennials in particular are sick of faceless brands making products. Show them the faces behind the industry in video and gain their trust.

‘Why Us’ Videos

Having an important product is (obviously) still an essential component to success. Processing visual information is, simply, easier than written information. By creating a video highlighting the assets of your product, you not only give information in a more compelling way, you make fact about your product more memorable. Studies suggest that stories are 22 times more memorable than facts. Use the medium of video to tell the story of your product, so the next time a consumer is shopping, they remember you.

Landing Page Videos

It is critical to create a proper sales funnel. Make the first thing a consumer sees while visiting your page the most vibrant way to communicate information on the internet today: video. Creating product specific video for your landing page can drive up your conversion rate as compared to static content like pictographic ads.

Video Testimonials

We live in the “Yelp” age. 70% of Americans cite that they read a review of a product before purchasing that product. Video testimonials have the capacity to make positive reviews of your product more personal and believable. Tone is often lost in messages conveyed in text. By putting someone who loves your company on screen, consumers can see how earnest they are in their facial expressions, which makes their praise more believable.

Product Education Videos

A large percentage of the population are visual learners. Creating engaging video content on how to use your product is integral to ensuring its effective use. When trying to learn a new skill outside of a classroom setting, a lot of people turn to internet tutorials, especially people starting a YouTube channel for video game addicts.. Video content is simply more effective at teaching than a simple list of instructions or confusing diagram. If you want buyers to use your product competently, creating educational videos on its use is essential.

Training Videos

Training via video is simply more cost effective than training person to person. Moreover, creating a truly engaging and informative video can make it just as effective. Creating engaging content will keep viewers focused on learning instead of drifting off, like with dry, static content. Moreover, creating video content allows your employees to learn on their own time, which creates camaraderie within the company. Respecting people’s time instead of making them waste days on trainings just as easily learned online is a great way to build trust and brand loyalty.

Executive Interview Videos

As has become clear with a litany of news stories featuring company executives falling from grace, having trust in your company’s executives is essential for developing brand trust. Creating video content that humanizes your company executives, shows their reasons for wanting to head the company, and shows their faith in the brand. Besides, there’s no one more qualified to talk about the company than them and this type of content can go a long way.

Creative Storytelling

Creating a narrative arc not only makes your content more compelling and memorable, neuroscientists also suggests that the brain reacts more positively to information conveyed by story than in any other form. Ergo, creating videos about your product that are truly creative will create good feelings in the viewers, eliciting a more salable response.

Social Media Ads

 Social media has a real presence in the lives of most modern consumers. Putting your ads on the platforms they use to interact with friends, influencers, and businesses is an excellent way to expand your reach. Facebook users alone watch 8 billion videos a day, make your video one of them. Ad to that Snapchat and Instagram and social media becomes a real way to connect with potential consumers.

In conclusion, you don’t need to be a Hollywood screenwriter to make compelling videos about your products or services. The product itself, engineers behind it, and executives behind the whole thing are compelling enough. With a little bit of time, video marketing can launch a new era for your B2B. Not to capitalize on video in an age where video is such an important online presence would be folly. Fortunately, these ten tips will set you on the right path.

ABOUT Davis Barbarap

Davis is a Certified Social Engineering Prevention Specialist (CSEPS), a versatile and experienced storyteller on social media platforms, people, and security. She is able to marry the disciplines of data and trend analysis with effectively targeted creative writing.

Racial Bias Training at Starbucks: Will It Make an Impact?

racial bias training

On the last Tuesday afternoon of May, 8,000 Starbucks stores closed so their 175,000 employees could receive the same four-hour training on anti-bias and unconscious discrimination. (A week later, CEO Howard Schultz announced he is stepping down, perhaps, some speculate, to run for political office. He’s been an advocate for social issues over the years, including impactful work that changes how people view the roles and responsibilities of a company.) Part of the anti-bias training Schultz’s employees participated in across the United States included a racial bias video that asked viewers three targeted questions:

• What can you do to make our schools, parks, stores and restaurants as welcoming and inclusive as they can be?
• What kind of country do we want to live in?
• Who do we want to be?

These are all great questions to ponder. We in other industries should be asking ourselves similar questions in order to expand opportunities for our work, businesses, teams, clients and our goals for being and doing better.

Does Anti-Bias Training Work?

Two employees who participated in the Starbucks training (in their respective stores positioned on each coast) offer compelling insights about how much might actually shift as a result of the company’s efforts to at least raise awareness about implicit bias. Critics note (and some studies strongly indicate) that one-offs don’t work—particularly with training related to racial bias. Unless a company’s culture embraces (new) concepts such as truly understanding and approaching equality, people may actually resent the training. There are clear indications that when these concepts are a respected part of a company’s culture, mission, and values, diversity, equality, and inclusion become inherent in every aspect of the way the business works, the way its teams operate and the way its people talk about how they are represented.

Because experts agree that inherent bias transformation doesn’t occur with one training session, companies must commit to developing continuing education and training programs that effectively address racial bias in the workplace. There needs to be an evaluation component in place to measure impact of such training programs, such as goal-setting for future work and realistic ways for participants to buy into the program and their potential success within. These are the basis of some hard conversations that all companies need to start having, and they need to have them in a way that fosters true evolution rather than just offering up a series of ‘feel-good’ attempts that skirt real issues.

Perhaps to assist in launching that conversation, let’s try these questions (inspired by the Starbucks training video, since that’s top of mind):

• What do we want our businesses to look like?
• How can we make great strides in promoting diversity, equality and inclusion within our organizations?
• How can we best train and support our teams to do the same?

Responding vs Reacting

In a nimble move, Starbucks changed its tune from offering the singular training day (implemented as an initial response to the Philadelphia store incident, which most of us have heard about by now) to publicly declaring that it would be rolling out a longer-term commitment to anti-bias training in its stores.

As the Atlantic states, this light-speed scramble—from a day of training to a full-on anti-bias overhaul—suggests a rapid evolution in Starbucks’s understanding of what it means to take on bias . If Starbucks follows through, it will be one of the first major corporations to develop a comprehensive plan for tackling bias head-on, and potentially forge a new path for its peers to follow. Now, the approach the company takes to the May 29 event will be a litmus test for that larger commitment.

Let’s see what companies like Starbucks actually do, how they commit and respond, rather than just react and move on. Let’s research and observe which training programs for important topics like combatting inherent bias, racism and sexual harassment actually make measureable impact. Let the success stories be inspiring for us all as we commit to evolving. Our businesses, teams and world can only be the better for it.

ABOUT Eve Connell

Eve spends most billable hours writing, editing and helping professionals of all stripes with communication skills and leadership development. With degrees in French literature, philosophy, and linguistics, she also enjoys helping businesses and entrepreneurs develop their brands. Fancying herself a successful worm rancher, singer and flower arranger, Eve also lends her talent and expertise to several non-profit arts and educational organizations.