Here at iSynergy, we’re a full-service digital marketing agency. We do SEO, creative design, ad placements, website design and hosting, among other things. In this blog, we’ll discuss a variety of industry essentials related to formulating an effective message to serve to your target audience. Read more
Most businesses have some form of active digital marketing; we hear about blogs that link to social channels and backlink profiles from 2017 ALL THE TIME…but neither of those things are a “strategy.”
In 2017, a survey conducted by Smart Insights found that nearly half of all businesses had no strategic plan for digital marketing (and it’s likely that number hasn’t decreased much in the past two years). So, the question is – how do you build your 2020 digital marketing plan with a defined strategy?
Let’s start with a very important question. What specific marketing goals do you have for the next year?
Based on your answer, there are both simple and advanced digital marketing techniques that you can incorporate into your strategy. It’s important to understand where you’re currently at and where you want to be.
Here are the best ways to craft your digital marketing plan for 2020.
Facebook advertising is still one of the best ways that brands connect with over 3 billion users on the network. However, the algorithm, targeting, and types of ads constantly change, which makes it difficult for some advertisers to see successful results from Facebook ads. Read more
When putting together a digital marketing strategy, web design should be one of the first things you consider. How will your navigation, messaging, forms and other elements stand out to potential customers? It’s all about the details when it comes to enticing a user to engage with your site. Read more
Your domain rating (known also as domain authority) is a huge factor in where you rank in search engine results. With a higher domain rating, your website has the ability to shoot up in search engine results pages (SERPs) and may even hit in the coveted results on the first page.
There are other SEO factors besides a domain’s authority that matter, but since a domain rating includes so many signals for search engine crawlers, it’s definitely one of the most important to get right.
So, what do you need to do in order to achieve a higher domain rating? Let’s take a look at some easy ways to raise your website’s rating for SEO.
Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools out there (if you’re using it correctly), and most of the platforms available are easy to manage, giving you complete control in establishing direct communication with your customers.
But how do you know if you’ve chosen the RIGHT email marketing platform to meet the needs of your business? If you haven’t done your research, you may be overpaying for a product with fewer features and terrible results, which in turn causes you to lose more money. Not good!
The right email marketing platform allows you to:
- Create engaging emails
- Manage your contacts
- Segment users into groups
- Track the performance of your emails and campaigns
- Integrate with your website and other platforms
- Ensure that your emails will not end up in a spam folder
Now that you know what an email marketing platform needs to accomplish, we’ve compiled a list of providers (featuring pros and cons) to help you understand whether or not you’ve chosen the right one for your business! Let’s get to it:
Constant Contact offers a 60 day free trial to ensure satisfaction. Their pricing is extremely fair because it’s based on list size. For example, the basic plan starts at $20/month for 0 – 500 contacts, $45/month for 501 – 2,500 contacts, and so on (find extensive info on their pricing here). There are no contracts, so if you’re not happy with their service, you can cancel at any time.
There are also some other features that we at iSynergy find important. They offer a drag and drop builder with mobile-optimized templates to choose from (or you can design your own), they feature reporting and A/B testing abilities, they offer a mobile app, they allow you to segment contacts to create more targeted lists, and they fully integrate with WordPress, Bluehost, WooCommerce, Gmail, etc.
One of the integrations involved with WordPress is a built-in form designer, which sounds AWESOME, however, the form builder only features text fields when building out your forms (no radio buttons, check boxes, drop-down selections, etc.). Definitely not good practice. Our suggestion would be to not use this feature and use a form plugin such as Gravity Forms on your websites.
Based on our own experience, MailChimp is extremely easy to use. They offer a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month, they have a very visual drag and drop editor/builder with plenty of email templates to choose from, they integrate with WordPress and WooCommerce, they offer detailed reporting for your campaigns, A/B testing, embeddable forms, landing pages, Facebook, Instagram and Google ads, API, and they have a mobile app.
A major pro we found is that MailChimp offers a “Growing Business” plan for $10/month with unlimited subscribers and emails — this is the most inexpensive option for email platforms we’ve found!
Free accounts do not have access to email and chat support. Also, when opting in through a form from MailChimp, they require a double opt-in. We see a couple of problems with this:
- After filling out the form, a subscriber then receives an email prompting them to confirm that they want to subscribe. Until the subscriber confirms, they are not added to your email list, meaning you could be missing out on a potential lead.
- If there are too many clicks involved to sign-up for your offer, a subscriber may not decide to sign-up after all, meaning you just lost that lead.
Drip fully integrates with WooCommerce and Gravity forms, they have a flexible API, a drag and drop builder and they offer reporting. They have a free plan for up to 100 subscribers, which is perfect for anyone who doesn’t have a large list. Drip also offers a payment option to pay annually, and in turn, you get 2 months free.
In comparison to Constant Contact, Drip seems a bit pricey; Constant Contact offers a plan that is $65/month for 2,501 – 5,000 contacts while Drip’s plan for the same amount of contacts is $83/month. Drip also is very specific to eCommerce companies, meaning that this platform may not be suitable to other types of businesses because you may be paying for features that aren’t necessary.
AWeber integrates with a lot of awesome platforms! Some of these include WordPress, WooCommerce, Google Calendar, Google Sheets, Facebook, Linkedin, Gmail, Google Analytics, Google Contacts and Slack. AWeber also uses a drag and drop builder with email templates, while offering a 30-day free trial, reporting and pricing comparable to Constant Contact (basic plan starts at $19/month for up to 500 subscribers and unlimited emails).
After checking out some reviews, many users state that the available email templates are a bit dated in appearance. Also, according to EmailToolTester, even though it seems that their pricing is fair and comparable to other email platforms, unsubscribed email addresses count towards your monthly quota, meaning if you lose emails, your monthly cost does not go down – bad.
Active Campaign integrates with WordPress website messaging that can be installed on your website, which is extremely beneficial if your company receives frequent inquiries. Some of the features of this tool include site messaging, SMS, engagement tracking and segmentation. Some other pros of Active Campaign are a drag and drop builder, reporting, form builder, a Gmail extension and a mobile app.
Payment plans are required to be paid yearly, and plans are based on the number of contacts you have or plan to have, so this can be a large chunk of money to start off with. And (this might only be considered a con if you’re after a quick and easy to use email solution), Active Campaign’s numerous features can be overwhelming.
ConvertKit offers a landing page editor in case you don’t have your own website, which can be extremely convenient for social media campaigns. They also integrate with WordPress, feature embeddable forms and they offer reporting.
Unfortunately, we found more cons with ConvertKit than pros. First, they only offer a 14-day free trial, but you have to register a credit card in order to get the trial, which we don’t like.
They’re also pretty pricey (there are more advanced tools — like Active Campaign — that are cheaper). They have no email builder, which ends up being a huge setback. They do have email templates, however, they only offer 3 templates to choose from and users have stated that they look outdated.
As great as it is that ConvertKit has a form option, unfortunately adding form fields requires HTML knowledge, which is not beginner-friendly, and it ends up being very unproductive.
GetResponse offers an extremely flexible drag and drop email and landing page builder, and their landing page editor is easy to use while allowing for A/B design testing. They also offer a form builder and detailed reporting for landing pages and email campaigns.
Based on our own experience, the platform itself can (at times) be difficult to navigate. Also, the form builder only features text input fields and no radio buttons, checkboxes, drop-down selections, etc. Their email and landing page templates are also a bit dated in appearance even though they have quite a few options to choose from.
Zoho Campaigns integrates with quite a few platforms such as G Suite, WordPress, Zoho, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. They also have a mobile app, a drag and drop builder, a form builder, and offer A/B testing.
Zoho Campaigns is also valuable in that it combines an email builder and CRM in one bundle. It features modern and visually appealing email templates and offers a free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month, which is exactly the same as MailChimp
*Our suggestion would be to compare features between these email platforms as their pricing is extremely similar.
The main con for Zoho Campaigns is that it’s a bit on the pricier side; their pricing plans seem to be based on the number of contacts you have (which is normal) but doesn’t explain in detail the features you receive with each plan. Their form builder also only features text input fields and no radio buttons, checkboxes, drop-down selections, etc.
Integrates with WordPress, Salesforce, WooCommerce, Facebook and Google Analytics. Based on user reviews, the platform is easy to use and beginner-friendly.
The pricing is on the higher side. The HTML and SQL are not easily accessible, if at all, which could be a problem if you needed to customize anything.
Campaigner offers a 30 day free trial and social media integration. They also offer a drag and drop builder with professional templates to choose from.
Unfortunately, Campaigner is extremely pricey starting at $149.95 per month, and you have to pay the plan yearly which is a large expense at one time. Based on user reviews, the platform itself is on the slower side when processing any submitted action or when editing campaigns. To sign-up for the free trial, you are also required to register a credit card.
Omnisend offers a 14-day free trial of any of its paid plans, and their standard plan starts off at just $16 per month. What’s cool is that there are different modules you can add with extra features so you can really customize the standard plan to be perfect for your needs.
Omnisend offers some really interesting features for e-commerce marketers. Most of the tools in this list handle email marketing automation, but Omnisend takes it further. With this tool, you can actually add several different channels into the same automation workflow, which lets you centralize your customer data and marketing campaigns, and shave hours off your workload.
Also, Omnisend is really easy to use: each kind of campaign uses a drag-and-drop builder with a ton of customizable templates so you can create your messages easily. They offer email capture, smart segmentation for precise targeting, and a ton of channel and e-commerce platform integrations too.
Where Omnisend has room to improve is via mobile. They don’t have a mobile app as of yet, so creating campaigns on the go is a bit tricky. Also, while their automation workflows are quite sophisticated, they don’t have the most visual platform. Their automation workflows, in terms of being clear and visual, fall somewhere between Mailchimp and Drip.
In conclusion, our advice would be to cross-reference features with prices to fit the needs of your business. Every company is different, and only you can know what email platform will suit you best.
Do you need help choosing the right email marketing platform OR even writing the email itself? Take a look at our services and see how we get you the best open rates possible!
We are recognized as a top Digital Marketing Company on DesignRush.
Not all SEO efforts end well. There are a lot of myths and mistakes that beginners can make which end up doing nothing or even harming your rankings.
For those who are new to optimizing their pages the whole thing can seem a bit unclear at times.
If you want to keep your ranking then pay close attention to the following myths and mistakes. Knowing how to rank higher in search engines isn’t just about what you know but also being able to parse the bad from the good.
We’ve compiled twelve of the most common, read on and we’ll show you how to avoid wasted effort and dropping rankings.
Myth #1: Keyword Targeting is No Longer Needed
If anyone tells you that keywords don’t matter anymore… well, they’re wrong.
Go punch something into Google and see how many results come back with an exact keyword match. For shorter phrases the answer to that is likely to be around 100%.
Contextual searching has changed the game for long tail keywords. Semantically related phrases will pop up easily now.
If you try asking a question or typing in a long phrase in Google the exact match percentage is going to go down. That doesn’t mean that keywords are a thing of the past.
While it’s true that keyword stuffing and other outdated tactics will actively get you penalized these days, you should still keep your keywords in your on-page SEO.
Search engines are always going to use keywords. It’s the nature of the beast and you don’t want to fall behind by buying into this myth.
Myth #2: SEO is Dead
People have been saying that SEO is dead for a long time now.
Most of these people are trying to sell you on alternate models like sales funnels powered by PPC advertising. The rest are frustrated that they’ve had to change their tactics as time goes on.
The truth is that SEO techniques naturally evolve but as long as there are search engines there are going to be ways to make sure that your content ends up on top.
Black hat techniques are falling off more quickly.
Good SEO these days comes from providing an optimal user experience.
Myth #3: Only Top Ranking Matters for X Keyword
Many of us want to make sure that we rank for generic keywords.
The competition is stiff and many people pour a ton of money and time into trying to get there.
And a lot of them will fall short.
The truth is that focusing on long tail keywords can help to bring in an impressive amount of organic traffic while keeping you from banging your head against the wall.
If you can rank #1 for ten long tail keywords which have the same overall traffic volume as the more generic phrase you’re competing for you’ll be in good hands.
Your ranking matters but it’s the overall amount of traffic you can get coming in that will be the big one in the end.
Myth #4: Google Hates SEO
Or, to be more accurate: Google actively opposes black hat SEO techniques while purposefully rewarding sites which generate a great user experience.
Many of the major updates on Google have been targeted at reducing the instances of pages ranking while not giving the users what they need.
They’ve made their official stance pretty clear.
They also have a beginner’s guide available for those who still insist Google’s stance on SEO is a completely negative one.
There are a lot of shady techniques out there and as Google evolves, so do black hat techniques. They aren’t going anywhere soon but if you opt to use them you’re going to get caught sooner or later.
Myth #5: SEO is Digital Sleight of Hand
There’s a growing, vocal group out there that contends that search engine techniques are nothing but a scam.
Google contends the opposite. Thousands of people who’s businesses have been helped through organic search traffic brought about by SEO would probably argue otherwise as well.
SEO got a bad rap: in the early days it was mostly cheap, borderline-spam techniques which ended up dominating Google’s rankings before the release of the Penguin update.
Instead the focus is now on producing great content for your readers and potential customers.
It’s still SEO. It’s just the newest iteration.
There are still agencies out there which can hurt your rankings. You’ll just want to make sure you properly vet anyone you choose to work with.
Myth #6: Paid Ads Are the Only Way Forward
Once again this myth seems to be mostly propagated by people who are trying to sell you something.
The truth is that 10% of clicks go to paid ads on Google, the other 90% are focused on the organic search results. While this ratio has been changing as people get better with correctly targeting PPC traffic its still not topped out.
We recommend using both. PPC traffic, with the right targeting, can convert at a higher rate than organic traffic.
More and more people are developing some internet savvy. That’s actually a good thing for those operating under a PPC model, if someone clicks on a paid ad then chances are they have commercial intent.
But the largest portion of clicks still comes from organic traffic.
You shouldn’t ignore either but don’t let people scare you into thinking that only paid ads are worth investing in nowadays.
Mistake #1: Not Developing Plans
SEO doesn’t just happen. If you’re trying for a better search engine ranking then you need to button down and focus.
That means strategy is essential.
Just jumping in is better than doing nothing but if you want to dominate the search engines you’re going to need a plan.
Mistake #2: Neglecting Smaller On-Page Search Engine Techniques
Title tags and meta descriptions are two of the simplest pages of on-page SEO to handle. Anyone who knows what keyword they’re targeting can make sure they hit them.
Which makes it odd that so many people neglect them.
If you have great content then you want to show it off then you should be doing everything within your power to climb through the rankings.
Title tags are always a good idea to spend some extra time on. You don’t need to be an excellent copywriter to figure out which information and keywords need to be there.
Meta descriptions get a little bit more complicated.
Think of them as short form copy for drawing in traffic. A good meta tag can increase the click-through rate of a post or page quite a bit and a generic sounding one can hurt it.
In either case, make sure that you have these two elements in order for the best results with both SEO and CTR.
Mistake #3:Focusing on Quantity of Links
Off-page SEO is dominated by backlinks.
There’s a reason that sites which sell an impressive amount of backlinks are still around despite it being directly against Google’s policies.
What many newbies don’t understand is that the quantity of backlinks pales in comparison to the quality.
If you get featured on Forbes then that one back link is going to have more “juice” than a dozen paid-for links on no-name blogs.
Your outreach efforts should always focus on authority sites if you’re having to put work into them.
While you shouldn’t neglect getting backlinks anywhere you can, you’ll improve your rankings much more if you make sure you have links to high authority web pages.
Mistake #4: Low Quality Content
When you’re in a hurry to get a project going and you don’t have a ton of funds mistakes happen.
One of the biggest traps that people fall into is hiring bad content writers to do the work for them. It’s easy to find someone who works cheap after all.
Good content will cost you some cash but a single great piece is worth it’s weight in gold.
Not everything on your page needs to be incredible cornerstone content but every single thing should be readable and of use to the user.
Major grammatical mistakes, blocks of text, and misuse of words plague sites which aren’t careful when outsourcing their work. They can hurt your rankings and increase the bounce rate from your site.
Don’t mess around with your content, six good pieces is worth two dozen lesser ones.
Mistake #5: Giving Up Too Early
Good SEO takes awhile to go into effect.
You can help things along by ensuring that you have a proper XML sitemap in place, especially if you’re a newer site.
On the other hand don’t be discouraged if you’re not dominating the first page for your targeted keywords at the end of the week, or even the month.
This is especially true if you’re using white hat techniques.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and you shouldn’t expect your business to be either.
Things can be even harder if you’re using someone in-house due to the complexity. Most companies will want to take a look into the benefits of outsourcing their SEO.
Mistake #6: Neglecting Anchor Text
The anchor text for both your internal and external links matters.
Avoid excessive inbound linking, especially if you’re going to be repeating the same keyword rich anchor text.
You’ll also want to avoid things like “click here” for the most part. These generic anchor texts can work once in awhile but Google reads for context as well as the link itself.
It’s a simple fix, just work things in naturally and you’re on the right path.
Putting in the Work
When it comes down to it, your SEO strategy is going to take a lot of work and time no matter how you’re planning on doing things.
Steer clear of myths and make sure you use only good search engine techniques and you’re well on your way.
Knowing how to improve search engine ranking is only half the battle, you still need to put in the time to do it.
If you’d rather focus on what you love, however, it may be time to contact a professional and see what they can do for you.
Did you know you can increase your website traffic by 10 times with content writing?
Well, there’s a secret to these results. You can’t drive web traffic with simple writing and no SEO techniques. Your content needs to be well-written and optimized for search engine results. Read more
When was the last time you read an online article that truly impressed you? Do you think the most recent post you shared did that to your audience?