2019, blog, blog post, blogpost, marketing, myblog, Uncategorized

Digital Marketing Tips for Wedding Vendors, from a Future Bride

So, I’m recently engaged and have been researching reception venues and attending wedding shows to get ideas. With my digital marketing knowledge, I can’t help but think that some of the vendors I’ve interacted with aren’t doing the best marketing they could. I want to take a moment to reflect on what I observe wedding vendors doing and what I think, from a digital marketing perspective, they ought to be doing.

 

  • Adjust your CTA for your audience

What they do: At wedding shows, most vendors seem to all have the call-to-action of “Buy Now!” For example, photo booth vendors told me how they were offering a discounted price, but only if I booked today. I was at the bridal show just to browse and to get ideas. I even told the photo booth vendor that I didn’t have a date yet, no venue, but he still gave me his brochure advertising his today-only-deal and wanted me to book him right then. No way, dude!

What they should do: Meet your customers where they are at. At wedding shows especially, switch your CTA to match brides who are in the awareness stage. Make your CTA “Subscribe to my email newsletter for wedding planning tips” or “follow me on Instagram to enter for a chance to win something” so you’re adding value to the bride, and you’re staying top of mind for when she’s ready to book. Maybe some brides are ready to book the photo booth that day, but you need to talk to her first and assume that every bride is in the awareness, not the decision-making stage of the marketing funnel. Measure the success of a bridal show by new website visitors, Instagram followers, and email subscribers, not by the amount of revenue made that day.

  • Meet in person as soon as possible

What they do: A lot of wedding vendors have a Contact Us page on their website and when someone fills that out, they email the bride back with more information and it becomes this back and forth email chain until eventually, someone stops responding.

What they should do: Immediately offer to meet the bride for coffee. Try to schedule an in-person meeting as soon as your schedules will allow. Vendors who I met in person, I felt a strong connection to and was extremely more likely to book with them. I felt loyal to them, I knew them, I trusted them and wanted to work with them.

For example, When I was looking for a wedding planner, I sent out several emails asking different planners for more information about their services.  One of the planners emailed me back the next day asking to meet up for coffee, another planner asked to schedule a phone call, and the third asked me to fill out an online questionnaire. Guess which planner I ended up booking? The one I met in-person. You can’t underestimate the power of a face to face real conversation. I’m reading Sherry Turkle’s “Reclaiming Conversation” right now and her thesis is that young people are losing the ability to hold a conversation and that no amount of technology can replace the power of a face-to-face conversation. I may be young but hell no, I’m not going to sign on a contract with someone I haven’t met face-to-face. I need to meet you in person and feel a connection if I’m going to work with you on my wedding day.

  • No response from her means don’t send her any more emails

What they do: A bride requests information so the vendor emails the info to the bride. She asks a question, they respond over email. She doesn’t respond again. The vendor then sends her emails with additional pictures of the venue, additional information, additional dates, etc. These emails continue, once a week, if not more. Eventually, the bride marks the emails as spam, hurting the vendor’s email domain reputation.

What they should do: Listen to your customer. Respect their wishes if they don’t want to hear from you. If they don’t ask you any follow-up questions or request a tour, assume this means they are thinking about it. They’ll let you know if they have questions! You risk damaging your reputation and coming off as difficult to work with if you badger brides with continuous emails. It’s a delicate balance between one follow up email a week or two after your first email and then no follow up. I’d lean toward no follow-up, because from my perspective, no follow up will change my mind.

  • Don’t use scare tactics

What they do: At bridal shows, I hear vendors ask questions designed to spark fear and insecurity. “Do you know what you’re going to do for your first dance?” “When’s the big day?” “Where are you getting married?” “How will your guests remember your big day?” “Have you booked this yet? Time’s running out!” “Have you thought of what you’ll do with your wedding dress after your big day?” “Did you know fall is the busiest wedding season?” “Good luck choosing 10.10.2020!”  Ack!

What they should do: Ask questions to get to know the bride, not scary questions that will only stress her out even more. Build a relationship with her. Don’t just talk to her like she’s a clueless pile of cash. I wanted to hear more vendors ask general simple questions like “Where are you with your wedding planning?” “How’s the wedding planning going?” This question allows me to volunteer the information I feel comfortable sharing and my answer doesn’t make me feel bad.

  • Acknowledge how you got my email address

What they do: After I attended my first wedding show, I suddenly got all these emails from vendors I had never heard of. No introduction, no explanation of how they got my email, just a cold hard sales pitch.

What they should do: Acknowledge that you got my email from the wedding show and tell me you’re adding me to your email newsletter. Give me the option to unsubscribe, front and center. In this age of increased data privacy and customers trusting brands and businesses less and less, be transparent with your customers about how you obtain your marketing data.

Capture
A good example of how you should first email your leads. This DJ emailed me and acknowledged how he got my contact information.

 

wendys bridal
I got this email from Wendy’s Bridal and appreciated how they explicitly said how they got my email and gave me the option to unsubscribe. Way to respect your brides!

 

  • Follow up by email or phone

What they do: I talk to a vendor in person, we connect, I ask for a follow-up, they say they will, and then I never hear from them.

What they should do: Stay true to your word. Follow-up with a bride you connected with by email the next day. Remind her what you talked about, give her additional details, and thank her for her time. Do what you told her you were going to do and follow up by email when you say you will.

If you really want to knock it out of the park, try answering her email with a phone call. Depending on the bride, she could be impressed by your dedication and appreciate the ease of a phone call rather than a long email. I experienced this where I emailed a vendor with questions, he called me 15 minutes later to answer my questions and we ended up talking for 30 minutes and of course, I booked a tour.

 

One more note is that I’m always impressed by businesses in the wedding industry who treat their customers like human beings. I think the venue, The Henry Manor, did this best with their plain-text follow-up email to attendees of a bridal show. Note how in the second paragraph they state how they want to earn my business. That was so refreshing to read because it contrasted all the other wedding emails I’d received. I appreciated this down to earth email:

Screen Shot 2019-11-18 at 9.12.45 PM
Down to earth follow up email to brides who attended a bridal show. Notice the casual tone of voice and how it’s just plain text, like a friend would write to you. 

 

I hope you found this informative and hey, if you know of any wedding vendors in Columbus, I’m in the market!

2019, Uncategorized, work

I Passed the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam

I renewed my certification in Google Analytics. I last took the test in 2017 so I was due for a refresher. I completed the Google Analytics Beginners course first then the Advanced course within Google’s Analytics Academy. I learned the most from using the demo account and being able to practice the concepts I was learning.

I’m excited to apply this knowledge to my organization’s Google Analytics.

 

Debbie Gillum Google Analytics Individual Qualification certificate

 


Google Analytics Advanced Certificate


Google Analytics for Beginners Certificate of Completion

2019, columbus, marketing, Uncategorized

Key takeaways from the Together Digital National Conference

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I attended the Together Digital national conference on Thursday and Friday. It was jam-packed with informative sessions, case studies, and panels. I got to hear from some of the most talented, motivated and compassionate women in the marketing industry. Part of what makes Together Digital so unique is that members commit to 12 Asks and 12 Gives each year. This can be anything from asking if anyone knows anyone at a company you want to work for all the way to giving members an audit of their LinkedIn profiles. When women ask for help and give support to one another, we can build each other up. The group has been instrumental in shaping my career.

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There were so many awesome sessions to choose from at the conference, I found myself wishing I had a time-turner like Hermoine’s from Harry Potter. I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the key takeaways I learned from the conference.

Kickstart Your Organic SEO Strategy by Caitlin Boroden, Director of SEO, Catchweight

– SEO is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic. The three pillars of SEO: Technical SEO + Content + Digital PR (link building). I think of this as a pyramid with Technical SEO on the bottom.

– When you’re doing an SEO Audit it can feel overwhelming at the amount of stuff you need to fix. Conduct an Impact vs Effort analysis for when you have a laundry list of changes needed. This will help you map out what tasks are high impact- low effort, etc.

– Make sure to use smaller image sizes on the website so the page can load quickly.

– Be sure to fill in meta descriptions and alt text to help it be understood by Google. Each page should have H1 tags.

Creative ways to drive email conversions by Amanda Scarnechia Manager, CRM & Consumer Data of Scott’s Miracle-Gro

– If you don’t have the data, ask for it. Scott’s Miracle-Gro wanted to let their audience know about a new product they had for people with an irrigation system. They didn’t know who in their database had an irrigation system so they sent them a short one question survey in an email. Ask your audience a basic question.

–  Write at a fifth-grade reading level or below. Average American reading level is about seventh grade.

–  Apply the learnings from other departments. Maybe your paid social media team has already figured out what copy works for your audience and you could borrow that in your email campaign.

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Present like a Pro by Rachel Brewster of Unforgettable Leadership

–       Set the agenda. State here’s what we’re going to cover. Set the time for the topics. Email the agenda the day before.

–       Talk about the bigger picture first before diving deep. Start with the big picture. Don’t just start in the middle. Give context and orient them.

–       Help them make decisions. Using analogies to communicate complicated concepts in a way that’s commonly understood.

–       Repeat their vision back to them, helps them feel understood and heard. Then say we have two options, here are our recommendations.

–       Know your leader and how they want to be presented to.

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Social Marketing & Media Case Study

– You can create buyer personas for each social media platform like a Facebook persona or Instagram persona.

– 78% of users who follow a brand on social will visit their physical store.

– Provide social media training during the onboarding process to teach posting best practices. Have your social team teach the sales team how to use social selling correctly. Provide content the sales team can share, teach them about a complete LinkedIn profile, educate them on what a Facebook business page looks like. Do a yearly audit of sales reps social profiles.

– Make social-first content. Reframe social media to be a business driver. A/B test to learn what your customers really want.

– Facebook is the best place to reach Moms. Moms are online for support and community.

– Bad social media goal: Grow your social media following. (That’s not specific nor timely.)

– Good social media goal: Increase purchases on our website from Instagram by twenty percent by the end of the year.

– In your social media photos, have a clear focal point. Make your product pop. Show the product in action. Show how to use the product, explain what it is. Product demos. Real customer highlights.

And that’s a highlight of some of the things I learned from the Together Digital National Conference in Columbus, Ohio on September 19-20, 2019.

Learn more about future Together Digital Events

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2019, Uncategorized

Proving assumptions wrong and thinking about my priorities

I’m in Boston for Inbound19!

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It’s exciting to travel to such a huge conference in the marketing industry. I’d wanted to go to Inbound someday and am thankful MedVet gave me this opportunity. I’m going to take so many notes to bring back to the team.

The kick-off welcome session tonight was by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of that book and movie you’ve heard of: Eat, Pray, Love. I admit I haven’t read any of her books or seen the movie with Julia Roberts. I started both and couldn’t finish. So, I was hesitant that I would not enjoy nor get anything out of her session. I didn’t have much to base that assumption on, I just pessimistically had a negative assumption.

But, she really inspired me. She spoke from her heart about how writing has always been her passion. She moved to New York City to fulfill her dream of being a writer but was working so many odd jobs to pay rent that she didn’t have time to write. She told this to a mentor and the mentor looked at her and stated:

“What are you willing to give up to pursue the life you’re pretending you want?”

She then asked her more questions to prove her point: “What’s your favorite TV show? What are you reading? How was brunch with your friends this weekend? What’s your next vacation?” She was indicating that if Liz had time for those things, then she had free time to write. It was a matter of prioritizing. She needed to make her dream of being a writer her number one priority.

Then Elizabeth Gilbert talked about Relaxing. She said that this word is underused and undervalued. When you Google “relaxing” she noted that images of hot stone massages are mostly what appears. If you’re waiting to relax once you’re rich, sorry but rich people are stressed too.

She described a friend she met who whenever someone asked him how he was that day he would respond with “It’s gonna be alright.” He wasn’t answering their question (in fact, he was creating a new question) but there was something relaxing about his demeanor. He kept his shoulders lowered, didn’t get fired up easily, and took time to listen to others. I admired that guy and after her talk noticed myself trying to bring down my shoulders, take a deep breath and relax.

She said that in a herd of horses, the alpha is a strong mare who keeps the other horses calm. When she is calm, that behavior spreads. She remains calm because nobody messes with her. The other horses know they must ask permission from before approaching. her. She doesn’t need approval from any other horses nor does she let their fears or worries affect her. It was quite a relatable message from the animal kingdom.

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Photo from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page

Going off of that, I loved most what she talked about when she said you need to figure out your priorities. Draw a circle around you and protect that.

She described a moment in her life when she found out her partner was terminally ill. She canceled speaking engagements, canceled appointments and flew home immediately. She looked in her email inbox and deleted all the nonimportant emails, even if they were unopen. She prioritized her partner.

Now, I’m not going to go that extreme, but it got me thinking about what my priorities are. My first thought was Nate, Emily, and my parents. The people I care most about in the world and who know me better than I know myself. Then I wanted to add in some non-human priorities like: Honesty, Writing, Humor, and Creativity.  I know I want to live a life where I can have Nate, Emily, and my parents with me. I want to live a life where I can be myself, tell the truth in my writing, be goofy sometimes and try new out of the box ideas. 

So not only did Elizabeth Gilbert totally prove wrong the assumption I had, she helped me think more about my priorities and what’s important to me right now. Thanks!

2019, columbus

My Recap of the Ohio Marketing Summit

I attend the Ohio Marketing Summit for the first time.
Panel on reputation management and nurturing loyalty

Today I went to the Ohio Marketing Summit hosted by IC SUMMITS. It was great to hear marketing case studies and insights from large and small Ohio brands. My biggest takeaway was the importance of communicating with your customer rather than talking at them. Speak their language. An awesome brand will encourage consumer conversations on social media. I appreciated how Bridget from Great Lakes Brewing Company spoke about how they embrace how passionate their customers are about craft beer. Whether that’s a positive or negative passion, they use their social playbook to engage with their audience online, always in their brand voice.

I always like to write down and share my key takeaways from conferences that I attend:

  • Word of mouth, contagious marketing, even in the digital world, remains strong.
  • Hold up a mirror when deciding on something. Does this fit with who your brand is?
  • Market research, surveying your customer, understanding what they respond to is so valuable.
  • Great brands come from great strategy.
  • Edit to amplify.
  • The peanut butter approach – Spreading everything equally everywhere isn’t always the best approach to marketing
  • You don’t need to chase a shiny new object or new shiny marketing trend.
  • Status quo is the enemy of innovation.
  • Instead of buying expensive commercial time during a TV show, target fans of that show on Facebook. It’s a better use of your budget and it’s more trackable
  • Tell a story to executives rather show them the raw data. Give them an overview of if things are good, bad, or okay.
  • Sometimes you need to switch your strategy and benchmarks from focusing on conversions to brand awareness. You might need to first educate your audience on who you are.
  • Adept Marketing presented case studies that showed how they looked at a client’s existing data, redesigned their landing pages based on that data and saw an increase in conversions.
  • Don’t make your customers ask. Answer their questions beforehand. Add FAQ answers to landing pages. They used data from the website’s Live Chat feature to learn that customers frequently asked about price and bulk discounts so they added that information to the landing page.
  • Heat maps can validate your hypothesis with data. For example, if you think most people don’t scroll down to see the bottom of your webpage, you can prove that with data by looking at a heat map from a service like CrazyEgg.
  • You already have data. Look at it. Make a hypothesis. Test it. Redesign the user experience based on what you learned.
  • Don’t talk at your customer. You should be communicating with your customer.
  • Over scripting creates a cold response and inauthenticity
  • Your app will never be perfect. Try to release an MVP (minimally viable product) asap to get user data and feedback to grow from.
  • Great Lakes Brewing encourages and responds to all online conversations. They embrace how passionate consumers are. They created a social playbook for engaging online in their brand voice.
The Women in Leadership in Marketing panel
2019, social media

What I learned from the presentation “Social Media Strategy For Small Businesses”

Tonight I went to a presentation called Social Media Strategy For Small Businesses at Haven Collective. I heard about the event from the Robles Design email newsletter that highlights cool upcoming marketing-related events for entrepreneurs in Columbus. This event peaked my interest because I always like hearing from other social media pros and learning from their expertise. (If you’re not learning, what are you even doing, bro?) Carissa Richardson led the event. She owns her own company Kindred Strategy, after working at different agencies and brands for 13+ years.

She talked about the difference of organic and paid posts on social media. She made the excellent point that organic posts won’t grow your following. You need to put money behind your top performing organic posts and show those to a more narrow audience, such as a custom or lookalike audience (which is more targeted than using the Interests targeting.) I like to boost the previous week’s top performing post. This statement struck me because too often business owners think the goal of social media is to grow their following and that will happen if you post organically. False. You should strategically target your posts and invest in paid social media.

Carissa briefly talked about engaging with your audience and how important it is to respond. With that being said, she addressed the elephant in the room: what to do when, (not if) someone leaves a negative comment. She suggested to post a canned response that asks the person to take the conversation offline, like “We’re so sorry to hear you had a less than ideal experience with us. Please email debbie.gillum@brand.com so we can discuss this further.” She made the point that this sort of safety net policy in place can help leadership folks feel comfortable posting on social media. I would argue that posting a copy-and-paste response each time someone complains would fan the fire. It’s like if you called a company to complain about a service and instead of reaching a human you only got the automated voice. You’d get more mad. I think you should empower whoever is managing your social media to customize that response to address what they wrote. I’m still advocating that you take the conversation offline and follow that best practice, but I think canned responses make a brand feel robotic and can aggravate fans.

My favorite part of the presentation were Carissa’s steps to creating a social media strategy

  1. Define your social media goals. If you’re looking to grow your business your social media goal might be to increase your website traffic or grow your brand awareness and increase your post’s impressions and reach.
  2. Audit your current social media channels. Look out for duplicate pages, old accounts and take inventory of how many followers each account has.
  3. Build audience personas. Use existing data to create a fictional character of your customer. What are their needs? Pain points? Values?
  4. Choose your platforms. Check Google Analytics to see what social platforms are currently working to refer traffic to your website.
  5. Competitor Inventory. What are they doing? What can you do better?
  6. Establish your brand voice. This also involves creating your social media mission statement which is something like “BRAND creates social content to BENEFIT for AUDIENCE.” Example: “Volunteers of America creates social media content to help thrifty shoppers save money.”
  7. Develop a content strategy. A good idea is to post 1/3 Engaging 1/3 Curated and 1/3 Promotional. For curated content, keep a list of websites, blogs, authors who fit with your brand and subscribe to their newsletter. I like to set up Google Alerts for keywords related to the brand.
  8. Create a measurement plan. How will you track your success? I like to measure weekly analytics and one of my most important metric is looking at what post performed the best that week. That influences my future content.

Thank you to Yasmine of Robles Design, Carissa Richardson of Kindred Strategy and Haven Collective for working together to put on such an educational event.

2019, columbus, marketing, Uncategorized

What I learned at interact19

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Yesterday, I went to a digital marketing conference in Columbus called interact19. I’ve been to several conferences before and I can honestly say this was one of the best I’ve attended. Every presentation and speaker was filled with actionable knowledge that I could take back and apply to my workplace. So many of the tips were practical and cost-effective, requiring just time and skill. 

I’m starting a new job later this month and in my interview, my future manager asked if I knew anything about Voice Search and I said I wasn’t that familiar with it and needed to do more research about it. Well at this conference, two of the speakers talked in-depth about the state of voice search, how to use it and where it’s going in the future. Now, I have practical information I can tell my new boss about how we should be using voice search. By attending, I learned something I can apply in my job and I can show that I’m staying up to date on marketing trends and best practices.

I definitely would recommend this conference and want to go back next year. I’m grateful to Volunteers of America for making it possible for me to attend. 

I want to share what I took away from each session at yesterday’s conference:

Opening + Morning Keynote: Be Mighty by John Fimiani

  • Unify around the brand promise
  • Best Buy was able to turn around their business by focusing on human relationships and creating human experiences
  • It’s more important to be human than it is to sell.
  • The University of Oregon was able to redefine themselves by investing in simple branding and aligning around a purpose. Now everyone knows that Oregon Football = Faster.

The 1% Content Strategy: Combining the top SEO and lead gen tactics to statistically beat 99% of content programs by Andy Crestodina

  • People link to helpful blog posts
  • When people link to your blog, that causes page authority and is link building
  1. Publish your mission
    • Our content is where [audience] gets [information] that offers [benefits]
      • Content mission formula :Where __ find ___ for ____
      • Our content is where moms get tips on how to save money
      • Marketers are more successful when they have a content mission statement.
    • Answer the webpage visitor’s question “Why am I here?”  Why is your visitor on your page?  Spell it out on your webpage. 
    • Your email sign up link should be
      • Prominent- big and on every page
      • Promising – what will they get when they sign up?
      • Proof- how many current subscribers are there?
      • CTA- Sign Me Up
    • Your social bio is your promise to your followers
  2. Find topics they’ll love
    • What does my audience want?
      • Data-driven empathy
      • Use Google autocomplete
        • “Audience” ______
      • Use keyword tool:  www.keywordtool.io to find relevant keywords and blog ideas
      • Use https://answerthepublic.com/ tool
      • Use https://www.quora.com/ tool
      • Make a list of topic ideas, sorted from least detailed to most detailed
        • High-level list posts
        • Overview of a specific topic
        • In-depth detailed posts
  3. Create Original Research
    • Well-researched and evidenced content
    • Original research gets linked to the most
      • It’s like a citation used in a bibliography
    • Observation: you’re contributing to the conversation
    • Survey: gather new data
    • What are the assumptions in your industry that are lacking data?
    • 10x effort = 100x results
    • Spend more time creating better quality blogs
    • Don’t take shortcuts. They take too long.
    • Most successful content creators:
      • Write 2,000+ word articles
      • Publish more than weekly
      • Spend 6+ hours per article
      • Write guest posts
      • Publish original research
      • Collaborate with influencers
      • Add videos to articles
  4. Write for your prospects
    • What questions is your audience asking?
    • Create content that answers their questions.
    • Talk to other people in your organization to find these FAQ
  5. Upgrade the visuals
    • Infographics, diagrams, graphs, memes
    • Let’s turn our top _____ into ______
      • Let’s turn our top blog post into a video
    • Testimonials using your keywords are gold
    • Test email subject lines on social
    • Update, repurpose high performing content
  6. Collaborate with influencers
    • Influencers who link to your website is gold
    • To find influencers search “your topic” + “blogger” “writer” “author”
    • Use https://followerwonk.com/ tool
    • Use https://buzzsumo.com/ tool
    • Work with influencers for
      • Deep dive interview
        • People love to be interviewed
        • They’ll be flattered
      • Use their quote in your blog
        • Include the influencer in your content
        • Single Point of View content is a thing of the past. Think of it, a news article would never use just one source. You should use multiple sources too.
        • Use a headshot with their quote
  7. Write for other websites
    • Guest blog, collaborate
    • Write an article for them, send it to them.
      • “Here I wrote this for you. Here you go.”
    • Pitch to podcast hosts
    • Repurpose How-To articles into How-Not-To articles to be published on other websites

Research who is linking to your site.  

Research how many links your competitors have.

If you make content that’s Mission Driven, Research Anchored, Influencer Powered, and PR Focused, you’ll be in the 1%

SearchSocial
Long form textCompelling visuals
Answers questionsTriggers emotion
Meets expectationsUnexpected
😬😐
Looking, huntingUnplanned, waiting
Expert quotesinfluencers

 

Growth by Content: Driving Massive Traffic Without a Big Budget by Nadya Khoja

  • Content marketing is easier and cheaper than buying social ads
  1. Goals
    • Set multiple specific goals, like high domain authority, more traffic, higher conversions
    • One piece of content will not meet all of these goals. You need to create content for each goal.
      • One content per goal, not one content all goals
      • You can’t just brainstorm fun ideas to write about.
    • Goal: Domain authority  (your site’s reputation and credibility)
      • Make viral, editorial content
    • Goal: Conversions
      • Make how-to content
    • Goal: Traffic
      • Make inspirational content that will rank for long tail keywords
      • One in-depth content piece for many keywords
      • Publish new information and data
  2. Research
    • You don’t have to write ALL the things
    • Start with keyword research
    • Make content that’s connected to your landing page (or pillar page) that meets your goals
    • Make a spreadsheet with
      • Search term categories  (Words) Your Pillar Term
      • Average monthly searches (#)
      • Difficulty (High, Medium, Low)
      • Keywords related to categories
      • Search terms  
  3. Authority
    • Get high-quality backlinks, focus on link building
    • Guest blogging can help you get backlinks and authority
    • Use https://ahrefs.com/  SEO tool
    • Use https://mailshake.com/ to send a pitch email to ask for links
      • “Hey, can I give you something if you link to us?”
      • Build relationships
      • Offer value in your outreach, give them something
      • Find content that already mentions the keyword you want to rank for. If they don’t have that keyword linked, email them and ask
      • Cold outreach has about a 3-5% success rate
      • Don’t sound like a robot in your cold emails, be yourself
      • Link building is a long term strategy
  4. Promotion
    • 80% time spent on promoting content and 20% of time spent creating

 

The Future of Voice and Its Impact on Content by Adam Deardurff

  • Alexa, Siri, Google Now, Cortana, Bixby
  • Most people use voice for Music, Weather, Fun Questions, Search, Alarms, News, Calls
  • Google serves up Position Zero aka Featured Snippet in voice searches
  • How to get a featured snippet
    • Research FAQ and common searches
    • Answer FAQs on your website
    • Use schema.org markup    
    • Follow baseline SEO best practices
      • Have a Google My Business page
  • Podcasts are growing, especially among ages 12-24 years
  • Consider hosting an internal podcast for employees
  • How to leverage podcasts
    • Understand your audience
    • Explore podcast advertising networks
    • Reach out directly to targeted podcasts
    • Start creating your own
    • Be a guest on a podcast
  • Start talking to your voice speaker. Learn about its capabilities
  • Get specific with your content. Be the Waldo.
  • Get your product audible
    • Podcast ads
    • Influencer marketing
  • Give your people a voice
    • Highlight top employees and corporate culture
  • Accessibility and security

Five Hot Digital Marketing Trends and How They Impact You by Pam Didner

  1. Voice search
    • Optimize text and voice search for how you talk
    • Longer inquiries, shorter answers
    • Use local search like Google My Business
    • Voice is another form of content
    • Explore questions that are likely to be asked
    • Put voice search and voice content in your annual marketing plan
    • Look into Alexa for Business and Google Home for Business
  2. Add intelligence to products
    • Voice controlled microwave
    • Smart plugs to make basic appliances smart
  3. Product Personalization
  4. AI
    • Using AI for lead gens, follow-ups and chatbots
  5. Marketing fundamentals haven’t changed

 

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How to Be Remarkable: The Unusual Yet Proven Path to Marketing Success by
Andrew & Pete

  • 90% of your effort should be on doing something remarkably well
  • 10% should be spent experimenting
  • Posting something is not better than nothing
    • A successful blogger, SEO pro only has 50 blog posts but generates 200,000 page views
    • He writes long pieces
    • He only makes a new blog when he’s happy with his current blog’s page rankings
  • People who spread themselves thin don’t win
    • You don’t need to be on every platform
    • You can’t do everything well
    • Do one thing remarkably well
  • Make relatable content
    • Lean into the reaction spikes you see.
    • Do more of what’s working
    • Listen to your audience and give them what they want.
  • Reallocate your efforts
    • Readjust your strategy based on where your audience is moving
    • A brand moved from Snapchat to Instagram Stories
    • It’s scary to drop a channel or stop doing something but data will guide your decision
  • Consistency
    • YouTubers promise new content weekly “new videos every Tuesday” giving their audience a reason to come back
  • Create fun content
    • Do you enjoy marketing?
    • Find the Fun
2019

Two Years at VOA

Today’s my two year work anniversary at Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana!

Reflecting back, I’ve grown a lot in this role. I went from writing social media posts in Excel that needed to be approved each week to leading social media campaigns and projects in a paid software. I made the decision to start using Instagram as a brand and have grown our followers from a mere 30 people to over 700! My manager Stephanie left in the spring of 2018. She helped me grow so much in this role. She supported and encouraged me to try new things. I definitely miss her sometimes.

Our Development & Communications team has elevated the Volunteers of America brand throughout the community. Last year, a record number of backpacks were donated to Operation Backpack and we merged with our Indiana affiliate. I helped rebrand our social media accounts and merge our websites together.

I’ve loved managing our social media strategy, creating content and interacting with our enthusiastic audience. We have followers who are wildly passionate about Volunteers of America, our mission and our thrift stores. One of my favorite parts of my jobs is messaging people who love VOA and thrift shopping just as much as I do.

I’m thankful for my time at VOA and how much I’ve learned and grown.

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2019, About Me, blog, blog post, blogpost, myblog, personal

An unforgettable Valentine’s Day

Nate surprised me with an unforgettable Valentine’s Day. I feel so loved.

He picked me up after work and we drove to campus. The whole drive, I was trying to guess what we were doing and where we were going. We parked at Chadwick Arboretum, where we had a picnic on our second date. Nate told me he had an evening planned walking down memory lane. I started to tear up; it was just so thoughtful. We strolled around the pond at Chadwick, talking about who we were back then and how we were both so nervous and unsure where the relationship would go.

I remember that after the picnic, almost three years ago, we went to the Chocolate Café. So, on our walk down memory lane, that’s where we went next! Okay, we weren’t the only ones with the idea to go to the Chocolate Café on Valentine’s Day but the wait wasn’t that bad. I ordered the lobster bisque soup and a Dirty Girl Scout martini. Nate ordered a dirty martini, the special sandwich which was pulled pork, mango and habanero with a side of cream of mushroom soup. I never get tired of talking to Nate. We always find new things to learn about each other. We talked about our babysitters when we were little. I liked babysitters because they’d ask me what I wanted to do and Nate said he’d just walk over to a friend’s house and didn’t really have babysitters.

Nate warned me that the last thing on our itinerary had a set start time but it was okay if we were late. What could it be? He told me we’d been there before, there’d be food available, and it would probably end around 10pm. I had no clue. We drove back home and parked. That’s when I connected the dots that we were going to a Blue Jackets game. I’d get to see my other Valentine, Cam Atkinson! It was so sweet of Nate to surprise me with hockey tickets. We got there at the end of first period. The guy next to us had a thick British accent and kept yelling very British things like “rough ‘em up, lads!” and “Come on, lads.” I got a tub of popcorn at the end of the second period and ate about half of it. The Blue Jackets weren’t playing their best and lost 0-3 to the New York Islanders. Oh well.

I still had a memorable and romantic evening. We came home and watched some old Pixar shorts that I had on DVD.       

2019, blog, blog post, blogpost, Uncategorized, work, work sample

Blog Post I wrote for Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana

For Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana, I wrote a blog post essentially about how to be the best at donating to a thrift store. I was inspired by my own personal experience of donating to a thrift store. When I would gather up the clothes in my closet to donate, I wondered things like “Should I wash them first?” “Should I tie shoelaces of shoes together so they stay together?” “Should I keep jewelry untangled?”  I wanted to answer these questions for our donors and I knew that answering these questions would help our SEO too. With people asking more and more long-form questions in search, your content needs to answer what people are asking.

I had learned a lot of these answers from responding to questions on social media and by speaking with our thrift store managers. I double-checked these tips with the managers to make sure I wasn’t giving false or misleading information.

 

11 Tips to Maximize Your Thrift Store Donation

11 Tips to Maximize Your Thrift Store Donation
I made the graphic in Canva

Is your New Year’s Resolution to get your life organized? Perhaps you’re tidying up your home, inspired by Marie Kondo and her life-changing KonMari method. When you get organized and declutter your home that creates piles of unwanted stuff that needs to be donated to the thrift store.

With every donation that you make to Volunteers of America thrift stores, you are giving hope to families, veterans and individuals in need. Your stuff is sold in our thrift stores and the revenue is used to fund our community programs across Ohio and Indiana. Thank you for donating your items to Volunteers of America, a 100% non-profit thrift store.

CHECK OUT THESE TIPS TO MAKE YOUR NEXT THRIFT STORE DONATION QUICK AND EASY:

Capri donating her stuff to Volunteers of America

Wash clothes before donating

Toss them in the laundry one last time before donating them. This will ensure the clothes are clean, fresh smelling and ready to be sold in our thrift store.

Check your pockets

Double-check that you’ve removed any coins, business cards, receipts, keys, notes or important items from your clothing. Once donations start going through our sorting process, it becomes hard to track them down again. So, as much as we would love to find a $20 cash donation in one of your pants pockets, make sure you check your pockets.

Tie your shoes together

Keep shoes as a pair by tying shoelaces together or putting a rubber band around the shoes. We need both shoes in order to sell them in our thrift store. Have you ever seen just one shoe for sale in any of our thrift stores? Now, that would just be sad.

Tape the controller to your device

If you’re donating a TV with a remote, be sure to tape the remote to the TV so it stays together. The same goes for video game systems or other electronics. Keep all pieces together. Pay it forward to the shopper who will buy your TV and give them the remote.

Keep like items together

If you’re donating a set of dishes or like items, pack them in the same bag or box so they arrive at our donation center together. Y’know what they say, dishes of a feather, flock together.

Sort your donations into two categories

You can help us out by sorting your donations into two easy categories: Clothing and Household Items. Place all your jeans, shirts, socks, dresses, linens, and anything that has fabric into one bag. In the other bag, place the kitchen, household and miscellaneous items. Bonus points for labeling your boxes or bags! This will help us when we sort your donations.

Keep jewelry untangled in small bags

Place jewelry like necklaces and bracelets in individual bags so they don’t get tangled up together. Nothing is worse than a big ball of tangled up jewelry, right?

Label your fragile donations

Mark on the box if items inside are fragile. We don’t want any of your stuff to be broken!

Double-check your donations before you drop off

Before you load up your car or contact us to schedule a free home pickup, check our list of items that we do pickup and our list of items that we do not accept.

Note that we’re not able to accept donations of certain items like mattresses, pianos, beds, chemicals, or large appliances.

We also can’t accept broken, hazardous, toxic or recalled items for safety reasons. Examples of these items include old paint, cribs, car seats, or fire extinguishers.

When we receive donations of items that we don’t accept, we have to spend money properly disposing of those items. This means, less money to help veterans in our community.

If you’d like to donate something that we do not accept, you can reach out to another non-profit thrift store or your local trash company, and they might be able to take it away. Often you can contact their customer service center to schedule bulk item pickups. In Columbus, Ohio you can contact the City of Columbus Customer Service Center by calling 311 or 645-3111, or online at www.311.columbus.gov

Marie Kondo and her life-changing KonMari method of tidying
One of my favorite Instagram posts from @voathrift

Schedule a hassle-free pick up

Scheduling a home pickup is the best way to avoid driving around for weeks with your old stuff in trash bags in your trunk. We’ll pick up your donations, no problem. Schedule your free pick-up by calling us at 1-800-873-4505 or emailing us at askthrift@voago.org.

Be sure to leave your items out in a spot that’s visible to our truck drivers. You can leave your stuff on the curb, on your porch or any spot that a driver would easily be able to see.

We can pick up anything on our list of accepted items that one man can lift.

Get a tax-deductible donation receipt

When you drop off your donations at one of our thrift store locations, be sure to ask an employee for a donation receipt. This will come in handy if you choose to itemize your taxes and would like to deduct your donations.

Tip: Take a picture of your items before you donate them. Show your tax professional the picture for help in determining the value of your items.

The value of your donations depends on the specific items and their condition. Be sure to use the current fair market value to determine their value. The IRS has a handy guidebook to help you determine the value of your donated stuff.

If you forget to grab a receipt, that’s not a problem. We are happy to send you one. Give us a call at 1-800-873-4505 or email askthrift@voago.org

When you donate your stuff to a non-profit organization like Volunteers of America, you can easily help your community thrive. So clear out your closet, find a Volunteers of America thrift store near you, and do your part to make your community a brighter place.

SCHEDULE YOUR FREE DONATION PICK UP TODAY