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Many retail business owners focus on their brand voice and what they want to share about their business in their paid Google ads. Few business owners, however, optimize this wording to be what their customers are actually searching for on Google

Neglecting to understand this intent can be devastating to your marketing because you’ll waste your ad money by paying for clicks of people who aren’t looking to buy right now. So, how do you understand your customers’ intent to meet their needs effectively?

In this blog post, we’ll learn how to speak your customers’ language using Google Ads and identify practical market research tips to effectively meet your users’ intent.

Optimizing For User Intent Is Essential

What Is User Intent?

User intent is essentially the meaning, or purpose, of the user’s search – why are they searching for that? What do they expect to see in the Google search results? 

A big part of understanding your users’ intent is understanding where they’re at in the marketing funnel. Are they ready to buy the item right now, or are they just looking for more information? The top three stages of the marketing funnel are what we’ll focus on in this blog post: awareness, consideration, and conversion.

Marketing Funnel diagram with five sections varying in length

Here’s how the marketing funnel works:

  1. AwarenessThe customer is just getting to learn about your brand, products, and what you do. They aren’t ready to buy yet; they’re just learning.
  2. Consideration – In this stage, the customer may be asking questions or comparing products or brands
  3. Conversion – This is when a customer actually buys a product or service.

Each of these sections of the marketing funnel correlate to one of the main categories of search intent, which we’ll get into next.

Categories Of Search Intent

What was the last thing you Googled? Were you asking a question? Looking for an image or a funny video? Trying to buy something?

Chances are, your search query (a.k.a. the word or phrase you typed into the search bar) falls into one of the following categories of intent: 

  1. Informational: The user is looking for information to answer a question. 
  • i.e. “How to make chocolate cream pie;” “Is it supposed to rain today?”
  1. Commercial: The user may be looking to buy something soon, but isn’t quite ready yet.
  • i.e. “Best toys for children;” “Nike shoes vs. New Balance shoes”
  1. Transactional: The user is ready to buy and that’s a clear purpose of their search.
  • i.e. “Coffee makers for sale;” “Where can I buy Legos?” 

If your business goal is to sell a product, you’re going to want to optimize your product pages for more of the commercial/transactional intent searches, since those customers are specifically looking to buy something. 

However, if your business goal is to establish yourself as an authority in your field, you might optimize your blog posts for informational searches. By answering their questions, you can  position your brand as credible, knowledgeable, and helpful. 

Why Is User Intent Important To My Business?

Let’s look at a practical example of this: If you are a retail business that sells professional clothing (blazers, tailored suits, etc.), you could waste a lot of money trying to rank your product pages in Google search results for phrases like, “what is considered business professional attire?” or “how to tailor a suit.” While these are relevant to what your business offers, users who are searching for these aren’t ready to buy yet. Their intent is informational, and they just want an answer to their question.

Someone searching for “black blazers for sale” or “tailored suits near me,” however, is ready to buy and looking specifically for that item at this exact time. Their intent is transactional. Focus on optimizing your product page ads for transactional intent to ensure you’re not wasting your ad money on people who aren’t ready to buy yet.

Using Google’s Natural Language API

Understanding user intent is so important that even the search engines are trying to do it! One way that Google discovers user intent is by using its Natural Language API to uncover the true meaning of a word or phrase. Try using it with a few sentences that are related to your business!

Google's Natural Language API diagram

How To Understand Consumer Preferences In Google Searches: Be The Solution They’re Searching For

What Are Consumer Preferences?

Consumer preferences are the user’s choices and opinions that influence what they search for in Google (color, size, style, brand, etc.). Consumer preferences can be hard to understand because when users go to type an item into the Google search bar, they might refine their search several times before identifying what they’re looking for. That’s why just simply looking at the search queries can be misleading.

Example Of A Consumer Preference

A user types in the following search queries, each time refining their search to be more specific in order to find what they’re looking for: 

  1. Water Bottle
  2. Reusable Water Bottle
  3. Reusable Water Bottle For Women
  4. Reusable Sports Water Bottle For Women
  5. Light Blue Reusable Sports Water Bottle For Women

With the first search query of “water bottle,” we weren’t sure exactly what kind of water bottle they were looking for or what their preferences were, which is why it can be challenging at times to understand consumer preferences.

Why Are Consumer Preferences Important To Understand For My Business?

Consumer preferences are important to understand because they lay the foundation for the creation of your ads, helping you relate more to your users and meet their needs more accurately.

How To Identify Consumer Preferences Online

It will benefit you more to choose keywords that are very specific, such as the final search in the example above (“Light Blue Reusable Sports Water Bottle For Women”). 

This is because there will be a lot of competition for a generic term like “water bottle” and you may be spending money for clicks of people who are searching for cases of plastic water bottles or any other type of water bottle, rather than a specific, reusable one. By choosing specific keywords that have less competition (known as long-tail keywords), your business will benefit because you will have a greater chance of being exactly what your customer is looking for.

If users aren’t interacting with your Google ads, it doesn’t necessarily mean people aren’t interested; you might just not be using the correct language. 

For example, if you’re creating ads for the real estate field, are customers searching for the words “house,” “residence,” “apartment,” “home,” or something else? Do they use any abbreviations? Are you targeting an audience in another part of the world who may refer to an apartment as a “flat?” All of these are important factors to consider when optimizing your ads to be sure you’re using the terms they’re using.

Why Are My Customers Searching For This?

In addition to understanding the exact words your customers are using, you should also understand why they’re searching for it. Is it something they need, or just simply an item they want? Identifying their needs and wants can help you understand what other topics they might be interested in regarding that item.

Putting It Into Practice: Practical Tools For Easy Market Research

Market Research is an essential part of understanding your customers and speaking their language. Some of the benefits include: 

  • More specific targeting of the correct users who are ready to buy.
  • A higher click-through rate for your ads, because it’s relevant to what they’re searching for.
  • More relevant traffic to your site, which could lead to more people buying your products.

Failing to do accurate research can cause your business to waste money showing irrelevant ads to people who are searching for something completely different. 

Using Google Autocomplete for Market Research:

Start typing one of the products or services your business offers into the search bar of Google and see a list of the suggested searches that pop up (this feature is called “Google Autocomplete”). Then, use this language/wording in your ads. This is a quick and easy way to ensure you’re speaking your customers’ language.

Google search bar with Google Autocomplete suggestions

Using Google Trends For Market Research:

Another helpful tool to understand user preferences is called “Google Trends.” 

This tool will give you insights into what users search for. Simply enter a topic into the search bar and you’ll see specific data such as:

  • Location
  • Category
  • A graph of the keyword’s search volume over a specific time frame

You can narrow down your search even further by indicating:

  • Image search
  • News Search
  • Web Search
  • Google Shopping
  • Youtube Search

Explore related topics/search queries and compare the data to the past year (or several years) to identify searches that consistently do well, not just ones that perform well during certain times of the year.

Let’s put this tool into practice with an example: Engagement Rings (white, rose, and yellow gold). Are most people searching for a classic yellow gold engagement ring, or do they prefer a more trendy color like rose gold?

As you can see in the screenshot below, I’ve compared white, rose, and yellow gold engagement ring search queries from 2004-2021. You can see that the number of searches for “rose gold engagement ring” has massively increased within the past few years. This proves Google Trends can give you valuable insights into what your specific customers are searching for and how your business can adapt to those preferences.

Google Trends graph comparing engagement ring color trends

Examples Of Businesses Understanding Their Customers Well

  1. L.L.Bean – High School Backpacks: The first thing that Google Autocomplete recommends when you type “best school backpacks for” is “best school backpacks for high school.” Although L.L.Bean has only one high school backpack style on their website, their ad is the top choice on Google for this search. They even crafted their ad to match this search by saying, “High School Backpacks | School Backpacks at L.L.Bean.” This is a great example of recognizing what users are searching for and then adapting your ads to fit it.
  1. The Hershey Company – Reese’s Big Cup With Potato Chips: The recent development of this new product was a result of their market research with their customers, finding a trend in people desiring a mid-morning snack that was more substantial than a candy bar. To respond to this customer desire, Hershey developed a Snack Cake in 2020, and will soon release a Reese’s cup with potato chips. According to Food Business News, Hershey is “constantly researching and staying in touch with consumers.” This understanding of their customers’ needs and wants has allowed them to stay on top of trends and create products and ads that align with their customers’ desires.
  1. American Eagle Outfitters – Trends of jeans: As you can see in the screenshot from Google Trends, there has been a huge increase in searches within the past few years of “mom jeans.” American Eagle has seen this trend and has adapted to it by having a specific section on their website for “mom jeans” and by using this term in their ads.

Google Trends graph for mom jean trend

Examples Of Businesses NOT Understanding Their Customers Well

  1. Bolthouse Farms Baby Carrots: The other day, I was at the grocery store looking to buy sweet potatoes, and I picked up a bag of orange vegetables that I thought said “sweet potatoes.” After taking a second look, however, I saw that it was actually a bag of carrots that said, “sweet petites.” 

If this were to have happened in a Google Search, the customer wouldn’t know to type in “sweet petites” when looking for carrots, and therefore, the company would not be meeting the needs of their customers.

This is a great example of misunderstanding what customers are looking for. Be clear and straightforward in your ads and tell users exactly what they’re going to get. Imagine how disappointed customers will be if they go to make a recipe that calls for sweet potatoes and they realize they actually bought carrots instead!

  1. Lenovo: When doing a very generic search in Google for “mouse,” immediately I see a lot of Lenovo computer mice for sale. My intent in searching for that might just have been to see a picture of an animal, but it was hard for Google to understand my intent behind that. It would have been better for Lenovo to focus on a long-tail keyword, such as “Lenovo wireless computer mouse.”
Google search for the word "mouse"
  1. Amazon: When I type “what is a gardening spade” into Google, I am in the informational category of intent. I’m not looking to buy anything, I am just looking for a description of a gardening spade. However, the first result that comes up shows a 5-piece gardening set for sale on Amazon. Amazon would benefit more by showing that ad to someone searching for “gardening tools for sale” because they would be in the transactional category of intent.
Google search showing gardening spade ads

Conclusion: How Can I Implement User Intent, Consumer Preferences, And Market Research For My Business?

As a retail business owner, you have an obligation to stay on top of what your target audience is searching for in order to meet their needs effectively with Google Ads. Without this knowledge, your advertising dollars will be wasted because you’ll be targeting the wrong audience, at the wrong stage of the marketing funnel, with the wrong ads. 

Steps for Getting Started

To reiterate, here are some practical steps that will help you speak your customers’ language and understand them better:

  1. Evaluate your intent and make sure it aligns with your customers’ intent.
    • Where are your customers in terms of the marketing funnel (awareness, consideration, conversion)?
    • Which category of intent (informational, commercial, or transactional) are they indicating in their searches? 
    • Use Google’s Natural Language API to evaluate the semantics behind the words you’re using on your website and in your ads.
  2. Address your user’s preferences using long-tail keywords when possible.
  3. Perform market research to understand how to speak your customers’ language.
    • Type products into Google to see what Google Autocomplete suggests.
    • Use Google Trends to identify opportunities for your marketing.
  4. Create ads that meet your customers’ needs and help them find exactly what they’re looking for.

Additional Resources

Need some extra help? Here are some additional resources that can help you understand how to meet your customers’ needs better using Google Ads:

  1. Check out SEMrush for a complete guide to using Google Trends for keyword research.
  2. Tower Marketing has a great resource for identifying your target audience using Google Ads through market research, segmentation, and other data resources.
  3. HubSpot has a useful guide/template to do market research.

For additional help or questions, contact a Tower Marketing professional to elevate your marketing strategy and achieve your business goals.

Whether you listen to Christmas music year-round or dread the holiday rush, there’s no denying that the holidays are the most profitable time of year for many businesses. In fact, estimates from the National Retail Foundation attributed between $755.3 to $766.7 billion in sales last holiday season alone.

In order to capitalize on some of the biggest shopping days of the year, here are a few of our favorite holiday marketing ideas and advertising tips.

General Tips for Holiday Advertising

Before we dig into the tactics that can help boost your business during the holiday season, it’s important to understand the bigger picture of marketing during the holidays. Here are five goals to keep in mind when planning your holiday marketing campaigns.

1. Be Timely

It’s never too early to start planning your holiday marketing ideas and initiatives. Pages can take up to 45 days to rank, so we recommend moving any web-based tactics live no later than mid-October. While Christmas isn’t until the end of December, many people start shopping in early- to mid-November, well before Black Friday deals hit.

2. Be Brief

With advertising competition at an all-time high, attention spans are short. Keep your messaging short, sweet, and impactful for the best results.

3. Stay Focused

Online noise and increased ad costs mean that your holiday advertising ideas have to be sharply focused to make an impact. If you have a limited budget, focus on a few key days of sales based on historical data from years past.

If you’re looking for the strongest return possible on a small budget, remarketing is another great option, as you’re likely to see a higher conversion rate by advertising to former and current customers.

4. Respect Your Brand

Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean that your blue brand has to transform to red and green! Consider what the holidays look like visually for your business, and allow your foundational brand to shine through in every marketing initiative you undertake.

Here are some holiday angles to consider:

  • Feel-good, charitable, emotional, and grateful
  • Exciting, flashy, and full of great deals
  • Fun, bright, and family-focused
  • Non-denominational, winter-focused, or inclusive of all winter holidays

When choosing a direction for your holiday marketing ideas, always consider your business’s brand, tone, and overall marketing goals. Slapping a graphic Santa Claus on your year-round advertising simply doesn’t cut it.

5. Be Truly Competitive

Don’t expect to own the market and see a massive boost in sales if you’re only willing to offer 10% off and free shipping. In order to succeed at marketing during the holidays, you’ll need to be generous with your sales and special offers, especially to loyal customers who have waited all year to make a big purchase and get a great deal.

If you’re a service-based company, consider offering vouchers or pre-orders that customers can buy now and use later. Not only does this create urgency and encourage sales, but it allows you to pre-schedule and guarantee your next year of business ahead of time.

In order to rank during the competitive holiday season, you’ll need to foster strategic search engine optimization (SEO) on your website year round. That being said, here are a few considerations to keep top-of-mind to expand your optimization during the holidays.

Holiday SEO & PPC Strategies

SEO and PPC should be a major focus when it comes to holiday marketing ideas. Making timely gift guide landing pages for holiday search terms is one of the best ways to capitalize on the busy shopping season.

Fill these pages not only with best-selling products but thoughtful content that will help customers who are unfamiliar with your business make a quick and easy purchase. And, be sure to focus on internal linking and all of the usual SEO-boosting suspects to get your pages ranking.

Keep in mind that like with any paid medium during the holidays, you’ll pay more per click than you do during other times of the year. The heavy competition can be discouraging when deploying your holiday marketing ideas through PPC, but it can pay off big if you are strategic in your keywords and bids.

The Merits of Google My Business

An often-overlooked element of your website’s search engine optimization is your Google My Business (GMB) profile. This panel allows customers to view your company’s store hours, reviews, and updates without even having to click through to your website.

Be sure to complete your GMB profile before the holiday season begins, and revisit it frequently to ensure your hours, contact info, and other store details stay up to date.

Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns: Signups & Savings

The holiday season is one of the best times to grow your email list organically. The trick? Offering direct, valuable savings to customers to encourage them to sign up. Once you have a customer hooked, here are a few tricks to prevent them from unsubscribing:

  • Use subject lines to create urgency around sales and deals
  • Create email automations for abandoned carts
  • Offer valuable content like gift guides and product tips

Inboxes are especially cluttered this time of year, so be sure that each email you send has a true purpose and won’t simply frustrate your customer to the point of unsubscribing.

Holiday Social Advertising Strategies

With high costs and oversaturated platforms, social advertising during the holidays can be incredibly competitive. You’ll have to be at the top of your game if you want to stand out among the crowd.

Giveaways, contests, and other content that encourages audience engagement can be particularly helpful in breaking through the noise. While you have limited space to get your message across, try to think about your audience and speak directly to them in a novel and creative way to grab their attention. At the end of the day, authentic ads that showcase great deals will do far more than screaming at users with all caps and bright flashing signs.

Writing Content for the Holiday Season

When it comes to holiday marketing ideas, content is everything. Here are three tips to keep your content thriving and bringing in new customers.

1. Be Timely

We can’t stress enough the importance of timeliness when it comes to seasonal content. It can take weeks or months for your content to be indexed and served to users. And, many users start researching holiday decorations, gifts, and more up to two months before the big day. 

That means any search-driven content you have planned needs to go live no later than October. It may feel strange working on holiday copy before fall has even arrived, but it will pay off big time come the holiday season.

2. Consider Your Unique Holiday Customers

During the holidays, millions of people shop for gifts at stores they’re unfamiliar with. One of the best ways to earn a new customer is to make sure they have everything they need to make a decision (and a purchase), even if they’re unfamiliar with your industry.

Consider building out your product pages further to aid in product comparison and streamline decision-making. Product guides that go over sizing, features, and the differences between product models can also make online shopping a breeze for those unfamiliar with your store.

3. Utilize Internal Linking

Internal linking is one of the top ways that Google understands the architecture and content relationships on your website. This means that high-quality internal linking can help your holiday-themed blogs gain traction faster when every day counts.

Use links with purpose. No reader wants a constant bombardment of product links without any explanation to help them make a decision. Be sure to include plenty of helpful and educational content links, as well.

Breaking the Mold with Creative Holiday Campaigns

With so much noise online, you’ll need to think differently when brainstorming holiday marketing ideas if you want to stand out in your customers’ eyes. Consider the go-to marketing tactics of competitors and industry leaders, and then brainstorm adjacent or opposing ideas to get started.

One of our favorite innovative holiday marketing strategies over the years was a digital holiday card we created for local law firm Barley Snyder. They wanted a unique and memorable way to wish their clients and colleagues a happy holiday season. We planned, designed, and animated a custom digital greeting card that was equal parts meaningful and charming.

Barley Snyder Winter Holiday Wishes 2019

Check out the full Barley Snyder case study. 

Dreaming of an amazing holiday marketing campaign but don’t have the time or resources to bring it to life? See how our team can help!

Whether you work with a digital marketing agency or an in-house marketing team, you’ve probably received reports that have a lot of information you don’t fully understand. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the key performance indicators (KPIs) you should pay attention to, regardless of your industry. We’ll also review how you can analyze your digital marketing performance metrics and explain what your spend is going towards. 

What Are Internet Marketing Metrics?

There are two buzzwords you’ll hear when talking about digital marketing: analytics and data.

Not sure what these terms mean in the context of Internet marketing? Simply put, analytics help us see the data that’s being processed to provide us with the valuable performance metrics we use to make informed business decisions. 

That raises yet another question: what are marketing metrics, and which ones should I be paying attention to? 

Marketing metrics are the measurable, quantifiable insights you or your agency use to measure the success of campaigns and projects. They’re the most important indicators you should pay attention to because they help you determine exactly where your money is going. 

We’ve established that you need data to make informed decisions. But which metrics should you pay attention to on your report? 

Digital Marketing KPIs: What They Are, Why They Matter, & How to Analyze Them

While there are hundreds of metrics to consider, we’re going to review the most important digital marketing KPIs for each marketing channel. Each of these metrics are important, but you can’t draw a single conclusion without looking at the bigger picture. 

Overall Digital Marketing KPIs

The KPIs below apply to every channel and are fairly universal across digital marketing.

Impressions

What It Is

Impressions are how many times your content is shown to a user.

Why It Matters

Impressions matter for many reasons. The most important reason is that they reveal how many people are seeing your content, whether it’s an ad in a PPC campaign or an Instagram post. 

How to Analyze It

For a brand exposure campaign, higher impressions are great. But for a lead generation campaign, impressions may not be as important as conversions. 

Clicks

What Is It

Clicks are how many people click on your content. 

Why It Matters

Clicks are when a user takes the action you want them to. This could be clicking on a sale link in an email, reading news from a social media post, or clicking on a video ad. 

How to Analyze It

You should analyze clicks for every campaign you run online. If you see low clicks, be sure to dive into the issue. It could be a simple spelling mistake on your ad copy, or it could mean you’re targeting the wrong audience. 

If you see an abundant amount of clicks on your content, make note of this and document exactly what you think is working. 

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

What It Is

Click-through rate is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. 

What It Means

You can use CTR to determine which campaigns are successful and which ones need improvement. For example, if you received 1,000 clicks on an ad that had 5,000 impressions, you would have a 20% CTR.

How to Analyze It

First things first: there is no “good” click-through rate. Every campaign, industry, and business has different benchmarks for CTRs. Google Ads campaigns have much lower click-through rates than Instagram ads, but this doesn’t mean one is working better than the other. 

If you see a dip or increase in your CTR, always question it within the bigger picture. Was there a change in the wording on a button? Was there an engaging picture? 

Engagement Rate

What It Is

According to Hootsuite, “engagement rate is a formula that measures the amount of interaction social content earns relative to reach or other audience figures. This can include reactions, likes, comments, shares, saves, direct messages, mentions, click-throughs, and more (depending on the social network).”

What It Means

Engagement rate shows the interest level your content generates among users. You should always keep track of the pieces of content with the highest engagement rates

How to Analyze It

Engagement rate can be a critical deciding factor when allocating more marketing spend. If you see that videos are driving traffic to your site and experiencing a long retention period, you should consider spending more on videos. The same goes for a low engagement rate. If you see that videos are not performing well, you may decide to reduce your video budget. 

Conversions 

Line graph of the number of conversions.

What It Is

Conversions are actions that users complete on your site. 

What It Means

If you’re a service-based company, one conversion is lead generation. On the other hand, an eCommerce website’s conversion could be purchasing a product. Simply put, a conversion is a final action a user completes on your site. 

How to Analyze It

In most cases, conversions mean nothing without a business goal. If you find you’re exceeding or underperforming your conversion goals, it may be time to:

  1.  Reevaluate your objectives. 
  2. Ask your marketing agency what they’re seeing on their end 

Conversion Rate

What It Is

Conversion rates are the percentage of website visitors that complete a conversion. This is calculated simply by taking the number of conversions divided by users, or impressions. 

What It Means

Conversion rate should be one of the first metrics you look at when checking your reports. This is because it’s a simple way to determine if your digital marketing is working or not. 

How to Analyze It

A high conversion rate can indicate a successful campaign, and a low conversion rate signals something isn’t quite working. 

Cost Per Conversion

What It Is

Cost per conversion is the total cost of the traffic (or impressions) by the number of conversions. 

What It Means

In other words, cost per conversion is the actual spend it took to obtain a customer. 

How to Analyze It

Cost per conversion is the easiest way for you to answer, “how much did it cost me in advertising to get my customer to do action X.”

You should use cost per conversion to evaluate your online advertising success. Don’t be alarmed if your cost per conversion is high when you first start digital marketing. It should decrease over time, and if it doesn’t, contact your marketing agency to solve this problem.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

What It Is

While cost per acquisition is often confused with cost per conversion, cost per acquisition is the total cost of a campaign divided by the number of conversions. 

What It Means

Just like cost per conversion, this is an easy way for you to examine the dollars and cents that went into your acquisitions. 

For example, if your total budget was $1,000 and you received 50 conversions, you paid $20 per acquisition. 

How to Analyze It

Like most KPIs, there is no “good” CPA. Every online business has different factors – such as margin and prices – that make up a “good” CPA. As you analyze your CPA, ask yourself, “is the cost of acquiring the new customer worth it?” 

Customer Lifetime Value

What It Is

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a metric you can use to determine the total revenue of a customer throughout their relationship with your business.

What It Means

You can use this metric to determine how much you can expect to make from one single customer. If you own a car dealership, you might see a high CLV, as a new car will need to be serviced often. If you own a service-based business that offers a one-time setup, you can expect a lower CLV.

How to Analyze It

Analyzing your CLV can be tough, as it may remain stagnant. However, this can be a valuable opportunity for you. If you can figure out ways to improve your CLV – such as loyalty programs and offering more services – you can greatly benefit from analyzing this metric. 

Email Marketing KPIs

List Growth Rate

A line chart of the list growth rate of an email list.

What It Is

List growth rate allows you to calculate whether your email list is growing. You can calculate the list growth rate by subtracting the number of unsubscribers from the number of new subscribers and dividing that by the number of email addresses in your list. 

What It Means

List growth rate is an easy way to determine if your email list is growing or declining.

How to Analyze It

You can use list growth rate to evaluate whether you should increase or cut back on your email marketing efforts. 

Click-to-Open Rate (CTOR)

What It Is

Click-to-open rate, according to Active Campaign, is the percentage of people who open an email campaign and also click on a link within that campaign. 

What It Means

Looking at your CTOR is a great and simple way to measure your campaign’s effectiveness. 

How to Analyze It

Analyzing CTOR is often better than measuring your open rate on your email. Open rate calculates the amount of subscribers who opened your email while CTOR also looks at those subscribers who opened the email, which ones also clicked on the links. 

Looking at your click-to-open rate will give you a better idea of who is engaging with your emails the most and if they are not, should you segment that list to further hone the strategy. 

Unsubscribe Rate

What It Is

Unsubscribe rate is the opposite of list growth rate, as it shows you the percentage of users who opted out of your mailing list after a campaign. 

What It Means

Looking at your unsubscribe rate tells you which types of emails are working for you.

How to Analyze It

Analyzing your unsubscribe rate may be counterintuitive at first, as you may think, “my emails aren’t working” and move on. But a high unsubscribe rate may be a good thing. Everybody wants bigger email lists, but there is value in only sending emails to only the most willing and engaged recipients. 

On the other hand, your unsubscribe rate may be a bad metric to look at because it may mean your emails have no value and that people on your list want out. Or, it could be a signal that you’re sending too many emails.

SEO KPIs

Backlinks

What It Is

Backlinks are links from other websites directing users to your website. 

What It Means

The number of backlinks you have is important for a multitude of reasons. Essentially, backlinks act like votes for a search engine. The more backlinks your website has, the more a search engine sees you as a trustworthy site. 

How to Analyze It

When analyzing the number of backlinks you have, you should look at whether the number is increasing or decreasing when compared to another period. 

If your number of quality backlinks is increasing, you should continue to invest in SEO. If you see a low number of backlinks, you should probably still invest more in SEO to get “votes” for your site. 

Keywords

What It Is

Keywords are specific phrases, questions, or ideas that define what your content is about. 

What It Means

The number of keywords or “search queries” you have on your site is essential to a high-ranking website. The goal is to drive users to your site through your content, which should have keywords that users are searching for. The more keywords you have, the better chance you have of driving organic traffic to your website. 

For example, when you Google “what is the best coffee grinder for under $100?”, the keyword is “Best Coffee Grinder For Under $100”. 

How to Analyze It

When analyzing keyword queries on your report, take note of ones that are outperforming other queries on your site. This will give you a better understanding of your customers and how they got to your site.

For example, if you see an increase in traffic on your site for product X, it may be worth investing in more content explaining the benefits of that item. You could also create search ads around that product, as you know people are searching for it 

Visibility Percentage (%)

A line chart depicting the visibility of keywords in SEO.

What It Is

According to SEMrush, “visibility % is based on click-through rate (CTR) that shows a website’s progress in Google’s top 100 for keywords from the current tracking campaign.” In layman’s terms, visibility percentage is how often your website is found by users.

What It Means

You can use visibility percentage to determine whether your website is being shown to users. A higher visibility percentage means you have a better chance of bringing in new users through your site. 

How to Analyze It

You can use visibility percentage as a baseline metric to help you measure your overall SEO efforts. If you’re seeing a growth in visibility percentage, that means your SEO is generally performing better. On the other hand, a drop in visibility percentage may be caused by outside factors, such as algorithm changes. 

Indexed Pages

What It Is

Indexed pages are specific pages on your site that a search engine contains within its database. 

What It Means

It’s important to consider the number of indexed pages on your site that a search engine has in its database. Pages that have been successfully indexed can be found by users through keywords and relatable content. 

It’s also important to look at your non-indexed pages, which are pages you don’t want users to find via a search engine, but still have some sort of value to you. These could be thank you pages sent to eCommerce customers after they purchase an item. 

How to Analyze It

Looking at indexed pages is a quick and easy way to see if the content on your website can be found by potential customers. If you see your number of indexed pages increasing, you know more people can find your content, visit your page, and possibly convert.

Domain Authority

What It Is

According to MOZ, “Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how likely a website is to rank in search engine result pages (SERPs). Domain Authority scores range from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to greater likelihood of ranking.”

What It Means

Domain authority is an SEO KPI, but it is not a Google ranking factor. Instead, it’s an AI-based ranking developed by MOZ to predict how well your site will rank compared to your competitors. 

How to Analyze It

Generally speaking, a higher Domain Authority score means your business will show up higher in search results than your competitors. Conversely, a lower Domain Authority often means you’ll be ranked lower than the competition. If you see that your DA is increasing, that means your investment in SEO is working.

How Customers Search For Your Business

What It Is

How Customers Search For Your Business is a local SEO metric found within Google My Business (GMB). This metric is actually a combination of three metrics: direct, discovery, and branded searches. 

Google defines these three metrics as:

  1. Direct. People who find your business profile by searching for your business name or address.
  2. Discovery. People who find your business profile by searching for a category, product, or service.
  3. Branded. Customers who find your listing by searching for a brand related to your business.

What It Means

Looking at this metric allows you to determine how people are finding your business profile on Google. If you know what users are searching for, you or your agency can optimize your content to match those trending metrics. 

How to Analyze It

When analyzing this metric, be sure to look at the three metrics included in How Customers Search For Your Business. If you see that your search is lacking direct traffic, you may want to optimize your web pages to include your brand name in the page titles.

Pay Per Click (PPC) KPIs (Google Ads & Facebook)

In this section, we’ll review PPC KPIs, which include both Google Ads and Facebook. Most people do not realize that Facebook ads are technically PPC, even though it’s a social media channel.

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

What It Is

Return on ad spend measures the amount of revenue your business earns for each dollar you spend on PPC advertising. 

What It Means

At the most basic level, ROAS measures how effectively you’re spending your advertising dollars.

How to Analyze It

When looking at ROAS, it’s important to remember that the higher the number, the better. For example, let’s say your ROAS is 10:1. This means that for every dollar you’re spending, you’re making $10. 

Always consider the goal of your campaign when looking at ROAS. While a lower ROAS may be great for brand awareness, it may not be as effective for generating eCommerce sales. 

ROAS is often confused with ROI. However, ROAS looks specifically at the campaign level, while ROI looks at the overall investment.

Social Media Marketing KPIs

Likes/Followers

A line chart showing the increase of Facebook page followers.

What It Is

Likes and/or followers on a social media channel are the number of people who are following your page.

What It Means

Depending on the social media platform you’re tracking, likes and/or followers are an indication of how many people are using your channels. 

How to Analyze It

When looking at your follower count, you can analyze several things. Ask yourself questions like, “is it worth continuing to push our social media if we’re not seeing any engagement?,” “should I run a campaign to boost my followers?”, and “should I hire someone to optimize my campaign if I see value in it?” 

It’s important to think of your social media channels as another website for your business with the goal of being a 24/7 sales tool.

Top Posts

What It Is

Top posts on your social media channels are your top-performing posts during a given period of time.

What It Means

Looking at top posts helps you determine exactly what type of content is working for you. You should consider factors like the subject, content type (images, videos, and links), the time you posted, etc. 

How to Analyze It

When looking at top posts, you should be able to draw several conclusions and make decisions accordingly. If you see that all of your top posts in a given month were videos, you should probably invest more spend into videos.

How Metrics Can Be Used (and Misused)

Data-based decision-making is often at the core of digital marketing and what makes digital marketing so special. You can pinpoint where every cent you spend goes and whether it’s effective.

If you compare a traditional marketing campaign to a digital marketing one promoting the same product, there’s often ambiguity with the former. Do you know how many people saw your billboard on the side of the highway? You may have an estimate, but with digital marketing, you can measure exactly how many people saw it.  

Metrics Are Often Misused

While there’s often an emphasis on metric-based decisions, it’s important to remember that, in the end, they’re just numbers and percentages. It may be a tough pill to swallow, but you may be misusing your metrics. 

Let’s look at an example from two different points of view: Person A and Person B. 

Let’s say you are running a Google Ads campaign that’s spending $5,000 a month to drive traffic to a particular product. Your click-through rate and impressions are higher than normal, but your conversions are zero.

Person A stops the campaign completely because they spent all of that money and didn’t get a single sale.

Person B looks at the same campaign and sees an issue. The ads are working, but something on the actual product page may be broken. They determine that there’s no purchase button on the page, which led to zero conversions. 

This is a simple example of how metrics can be used or misinterpreted. Both people were looking at the same metric, but one saw it as an issue, while the other saw it as a signal that something else was wrong. 

Collecting and analyzing your digital marketing performance metrics is only valuable if you take the time to consider what they mean to your original investment. 

Common Ways That Metrics Are Misused

  • Collecting the wrong information. If you collect the wrong information, how can you make smart decisions based on that data? You can imagine the trickle-down effect this might have. 
  • Looking at vanity metrics. Vanity metrics are important, but they’re not necessarily the best figures to use when making decisions. Impressions are a great example of this. You may have a ton of impressions, but if they aren’t achieving the goals you’ve set, does it really matter? This is why looking at the bigger picture is so important. 
  • Never changing metrics. Business goals change all the time, and so should your metrics. How can you determine ROI if you’re measuring the wrong things? 
  • Having too many metrics. There are thousands of metrics you can collect and analyze, so picking the most important ones for your business may be difficult. Choosing the wrong metrics can lead you down the wrong path. 

Tips for Explaining Reports To Other Stakeholders

You’ve learned the various digital marketing performance metrics that make up each channel. Now, it’s time to learn how to explain your reports. Here are four tips to keep in mind when explaining your digital marketing reports to other people:

  1. Explain each metric in the simplest terms possible. The key to explaining your marketing report to anyone is to explain it in Layman’s terms. The best way to explain your ROI is to put it simply. Let’s say you spent $2,000 on a PPC campaign that earned 10 goal conversions on a product that costs $500. You may know this, but if you explain what this means to a five-year-old, you would say, “We spent $2,000 and got 10 people interested in our $500 product, meaning we potentially have $5,000 in sales. This means we’ve potentially made $3,000 on this campaign.”
  2. Avoid vanity metrics and focus primarily on data involving investments. The truth is that not every digital marketing performance metric carries the same weight. Does a social media follower increase mean more than the average CPC on your social media campaign? Probably not. At Tower, we only include the most important metrics that our clients care about, but not every agency will do this. You’ll see every single metric available, even though you may only need to pay attention to dollar amounts. We encourage you to sit down with your agency and figure out which metrics mean the most to you.
  1.  If you have older reports to draw on, compare the numbers. If you happen to keep all of your old reports, reference them. If you don’t have them, ask your agency to pull the numbers again. How can you know what’s working and what isn’t if you don’t compare last month’s reports to the previous month or the previous year? This is one of the best ways to explain whether your investment is or isn’t working.
  2. Look at everything together. This is ultimately what each report is for. While every digital marketing channel looks different, they’re all smaller pieces that make up the greater part of your business. Don’t just take one part of your report and look at it as a positive if there are negative aspects, too. Seeing the bigger picture is the best way to gauge the success of your digital marketing efforts.  

What’s Next?

Now that you’re an expert – or at least better informed – regarding your digital marketing report, you should be able to analyze your return on your digital marketing investment. 

Need help digging further into your digital marketing reporting? We do all the analysis for you so you can focus on what matters most. Work with our Internet marketing specialists to ensure you’re getting the most out of your online efforts.

People working on a project in the office.

When it comes to any type of success, you need a plan or a road map to help you get there. For B2B companies, creating a marketing strategy is a step that shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you have big goals for your company. 

While marketing strategy development for B2B can take a lot of thought and effort upfront, it will ultimately help pave the way for your business’s future growth in things such as brand awareness, digital visibility in search, and potential sales. In this blog, we’ll dive into the fundamentals of a marketing strategy, and then unveil how to create one.

What is a Marketing Strategy?

To put it simply, a marketing strategy for any type of business, whether B2B or B2C, is the compilation of all goals and tactics into a long-term comprehensive plan. Its purpose is to help you weave marketing tactics and insights into a format that allows you to view and execute strategic marketing initiatives in a holistic fashion. 

By looking at the bigger picture, you can better see and understand how all of the components of your marketing fit together, whether it be timing, topic, or tactic.

Types of Marketing Strategies & Marketing Techniques

Marketing strategies and techniques are usually unique to your specific business and industry. For example, if pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is incredibly expensive and competitive in your industry, you may opt to not use that method of marketing unless you have a large amount of funding set aside for it. 

Alternatively, if PPC ads aren’t being utilized properly by your competition and you find there is an opportunity, you may opt to put a bulk of your marketing strategy into PPC. It comes down to the research you do before laying out your entire marketing strategy.

Additionally, it’s important to consider whether your plan should include only digital tactics, only traditional tactics, or a mix of both. This is usually dependent on your business’s industry, competition, and audience. 

If you’re creating a marketing strategy with no previous marketing exposure, it may be best to test the waters in both digital and traditional tactics to get the best reach. This will allow you to experiment and gather better metrics on what worked and what didn’t for future marketing campaigns.

Digital strategies and tactics to take into consideration include:

  • Content Marketing & Visual Content Marketing – A vital component of marketing, the copy and the types of content for your website or other campaigns is crucial to your success. You’ll want to make sure it’s written in a way that reads seamlessly to your customers. Helpful visuals that correspond with your copy may also be included in this (infographics, animated videos, photos to add visual interest, etc.). For a full overview of this marketing strategy tactic, take a look at this blog
  • Social Media Advertising – The success of organic social media posting for businesses has slowly depleted over the years due to social platforms de-prioritizing business page content in user feeds. However, that is not the case for business social media ads. While organic posting for businesses is mostly seen as a way to ensure your page appears active, advertising on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and Pinterest has been proven successful in generating brand awareness and lead generation.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Not only does SEO ensure better search engine visibility for your website, but it also allows you to create a more solid foundation for long-term marketing strategy success. By implementing fundamental SEO tactics on your website and local pack listings (Local SEO), your site will begin to see higher quantities of quality traffic and new users over time. This means you’ll be bringing in users who didn’t necessarily know about your company before, which can contribute to an increase in new sales leads.
  • PPC Advertising – This tactic, if set up and executed correctly, is a great way to see ROI and generate leads in a shorter period. PPC allows you to target your audience down to the smallest details, while also filtering out unwanted search queries. This allows your PPC ads to become more successful over time.
  • Email Marketing & Automation – This tactic can be used in a few different ways. Traditional email marketing calls for sending regular newsletters, company updates, and product or service highlights to your audience via email. Email automation allows you to set up workflows that send specific emails to subsets of your email list audience as they complete a certain set of events. For example, you could send a product-related email or helpful guide to a user who visited a specific product page multiple times (showing their interest). 
  • Influencer Marketing – Over the years, this marketing tactic has grown rapidly as more and more users have begun to trust the people they watch or follow on YouTube and Instagram. By partnering with key influencers, you can promote your brand, products, and services more gently. When it comes as a recommendation from people your audience trusts, they may be more likely to purchase or use services from your company.
  • Video Marketing – Some audiences respond better to visual cues, such as a video about your business, products, or services. Videos can aid in showcasing your unique value propositions and allowing your audience to get a better understanding of what you have to offer. Whether it’s a general video about your company or demos of products you sell, videos can be a great way to elevate your brand and connect with users.
  • Internet Radio Advertising – Does your audience utilize modern music platforms like Spotify and Pandora? While internet radio audience targeting isn’t usually as sophisticated as targeting used for social media platforms and PPC, it is still a useful tool to get your name and message in the ears of potential customers. It helps you reach potential customers across different channels and increases the chance they’ll recall your product or service.
  • PR and Outreach – This tactic can start out digital and bleed into more traditional marketing. By creating items like press releases and partnering with other businesses and media outlets, you can increase your brand awareness and audience reach.

Traditional marketing strategies and tactics to take into consideration include:

  • Billboards – Target travelers in key areas around busy roads and highways with billboards. They can be a great avenue for advertising events and promotions, as well as generating overall brand awareness. While tracking the success of your billboard runs isn’t typically as straightforward as a digital campaign, if you tie your billboard ad to a website page, you can more easily see how it performs.
  • Traditional Radio – Like internet radio advertising, traditional radio advertising places your name and message in your audiences’ ears. However, traditional radio generally has a larger footprint with less targeting. This may be a good avenue to test for general brand awareness and widespread event marketing.
  • Guerrilla Marketing – This tactic forces you to think outside of the box. Guerrilla marketing makes a statement, whether it’s controversial, funny, or more professional. It allows you to capture your audiences’ attention by putting something in front of them that is out of the norm.
  • Word-of-Mouth Marketing – Referral marketing is a great strategy that relies on your current or previous customer base to refer new customers to your business. If you’re lucky, you may already see some of this organically. However, if you don’t have a solid referral network or you want to enhance the one you have, you may think about creating a referral program for your customers.
  • Event Marketing – If you’re a brick-and-mortar store, you may want to come up with a few events a year that bring in new customers. If a majority of your business is digital, you may want to think about partnering with local events and sponsoring them to get your name out there physically in the community.

Thinking holistically, you can also look into combining marketing strategies with a new brand or website redesign. Before you can market yourself effectively, you’ll need to make sure your branding is strong, your logo is identifiable, and your website is attractive and user-friendly. Those elements are the supporting hub for a lot of marketing tactics.

website design display example

The Benefits of Outlining a Business Marketing Plan

If you’ve been researching how to get started with a business marketing plan, chances are you’re already aware of some of the benefits that come with it. However, some may surprise you!

Benefit #1: Becoming an Authority & Resource in Your Industry

By planning and executing a well-thought-out marketing strategy, your business will begin to grow authority and become a resource for your audience by association. Becoming an authority and resource in your industry is important for a variety of reasons, but can be summed up in the following:

  • If you are the go-to authority or resource, users are more likely to flock to your business first before considering other companies.
  • If you are continuously providing useful information and tools, users will view your business as an expert in the industry and will be more likely to trust your products and services and purchase or use them.

Benefit #2: Growing Your Company & Towering Over Competition

Growing your company doesn’t happen overnight and you may be worried about strong competitors in the industry. By actively taking the time to research and audit not only your own business but your competitors’ marketing strategies, you will be able to discover opportunities for improvement.

 This research usually is done before marketing strategy development for B2B companies actually commences, so you can build your plan based on the opportunities you see. Note what competitors are doing well and what they’re not, and use it to your advantage. 

Benefit #3: Free Time to Focus on Other Important Areas of the Business

Once your marketing strategy is in place and you’ve begun working on executing it, a lot of the legwork will be done already. From there, depending on seasonality and initiatives in your strategy, you’ll need to monitor, tweak, and complete some set-up of delayed strategies. 

Because you won’t have to reinvent the wheel every month to keep marketing running, you will have more free time to focus on other parts of your business that need attention. You’ll be able to be proactive instead of reactive, which is a crucial element of successful marketing. 

Benefit #4: Better Budgeting & Forecasting 

In terms of budget, some companies lack an independent set of funds for marketing. We highly recommend making sure your business has at least some budget set aside for marketing tactics, and then that funding can grow over time as your business grows. 

Once you have a budget, you can make sure to allocate ad spend and dollars to specific marketing tactics and plan for any seasonality in business. Not only is this beneficial for you to look back on and see what worked and what didn’t to make tweaks to your year-over-year planning, but it also helps to minimize any unforeseen budgetary needs to keep you on track. 

When the first year of your marketing strategy is complete, you can review what was spent, make adjustments as necessary, and start to forecast how much you’ll need for future years of marketing. This will allow you to get a rough forecast of budget even 2 to 5 years into the future.

Benefit #5: Gather Better Data for Future Marketing & Decision-Making

When it comes to business, you already know that informed decisions are the best decisions and ultimately result in better outcomes. If you have a marketing strategy written down and laid out, you will be able to pinpoint any turn of events, successes, or downfalls in the plan. This is also helpful for any future decision making, since you’ll be able to see what worked and what didn’t.

How to Create a Marketing Plan for B2B

Ready to get started? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create a marketing strategy for your business. 

  1. Research and audit your company and your competitors. Define:
    • What your company does well
    • What your company does not
    • What your competitors do well
    • What your competitors do not
    • Where the areas of growth and opportunity are
  1. Define all your goals, including ones that do not seem like they are marketing goals. You can align your marketing tactics to help meet those goals, regardless of whether they are considered “marketing goals.” Consider objectives such as:
    • Creating better brand awareness
    • Promoting specific sales, products, or services
    • Increasing event attendance by X%
    • Generating X% more traffic to your website
    • Generating X% more leads (or sales) for the  year
  1. Identify your audience(s). To create an effective marketing strategy, you need to be able to talk directly to your main audience and target them. Depending on your business, you may have one or more target personas.
  1. Ensure your branding is solidified. Consider the following questions:
    • Do you have a brand voice, complete with consistent messaging and tone? 
    • Do you have a style guide for any creative you’ll need to make to ensure everything is cohesive and on-brand? 
    • Is your logo consistent and recognizable across all platforms?
  1. Layout your marketing benchmarks. Collect current data so you have something to compare it to a year down the line to accurately prove success. Identify your KPIs so you know what to look for as you evaluate success.
  1. Consider what phase of marketing you’re in. Does your company have any history of marketing? If not, start with the basics. If you’ve been marketing for years and are more established, creating a more complex marketing plan will be your best bet. We recommend following RICE or RACE, which details the marketing phases known as Reach, Influence / Act, Convert, and Engage.
  1. Pick and choose the marketing strategies and tactics that are best suited to meet your goals. This could be any combination of the strategies and tactics discussed earlier in this blog. Thoughtfully choosing your tactics is crucial, because it will dictate your next year or years of marketing.
  1. Consider timing and topics, laying out your strategies and any budget that goes along with it. It may be a good idea to use a month-by-month format, especially if you plan on presenting your marketing strategy to leadership. While timing is usually a factor when it comes to business seasonality, topics are really determined by your overall marketing goals.
  1. Flesh out the details. Answer the following:
    • What resources (software, expertise, and talent) do you have available? 
    • Who will be working on each marketing piece and how will you ensure it gets done?
    • Do you need to outsource to a third party?
    • Do you need any additional dollars to complete your entire strategy? 
    • How will each marketing tactic work in tandem to meet your goals?
  1. Get approval and begin executing! 
  1. Evaluate periodically. We recommend reviewing your data monthly to ensure you know what’s working and what’s not, so you can make some tweaks as you go. 

Tips For Developing Your Business’s Marketing Approach

Become Inspired by Other Businesses

Creating a marketing strategy from scratch can prove to be difficult. Sometimes, it’s best to look at examples of other B2B marketing strategies for inspiration! Here are a few companies that we’ve worked with across multiple industries that have created and executed a marketing strategy with Tower:

Consider Your Presentation

If you know convincing leadership to invest in marketing is a hurdle to overcome, it may be best to start considering your presentation early in the process. How will you frame your marketing strategy in a way that they will understand its importance and accomplish both their goals and yours? 

This may be a great opportunity to partner with a third-party marketing company like Tower. Not only is outsourcing a great investment in a long-term partnership, but it also allows you to have expertise on your side. Agencies can provide you with all the knowledge and proven results you need to make sure your marketing presentation is both accurate and convincing. 

Tower marketing working on a project.

Know Your Limits

In that same vein, outsourcing is a great option if you don’t have a large marketing department (or any marketing department at all) to help you execute the marketing tactics you have in mind. An agency can become an extension of your business and team without having to recruit or find staffing of your own, saving you time and money in the long run. 

You can also able to pick and choose what your agency assists you with. If you can complete some of the marketing tactics in mind, but you need assistance with X, Y, and Z, an agency can take care of that for you to supplement any limited resources or knowledge.

Need a marketing strategy developed for your business? Tower has created a variety of successful marketing plans that have proven to elevate businesses digitally and achieve their goals.

Working in a digital marketing agency (or really any company in any industry), you come to understand that the success of a project lives or dies by the quality of your project management. 

Project management methodologies offer a clear roadmap that will keep you on track and under budget. That way your team can deliver a project not only successfully, but efficiently. 

There are different types of project management methodologies you can choose from that will ensure your digital marketing project stays on track. Keep reading to learn more about which project management approach may work best for you. 

What is Project Management?

Project management provides a framework for delivering completed projects. It is the planning, performing, and finishing of certain tasks and goals for a campaign or project. 

The main objectives of project management are producing specific outputs, called deliverables. The work is divided into project management phases, which allow for easier collaboration, better coordination, and more efficient delivery of project work. 

For example, within our agency project management is used to manage multiple marketing activities and campaigns, including: 

For project management to be successful, there must be a project manager to lead in planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing out projects. The project manager is responsible for the entire scope of the project, the project team and resources, as well as the project budget and timeline. 

Every project manager takes control of a  project differently. Depending on their unique qualities, they will select a style and a project management methodology that suits their personality and the personality of their team.

Every successful project management process depends heavily on the strength of the project manager, and learning how to be a good project manager starts with knowing which type you are. 

The 4 Types of Project Managers

Wondering what type of project manager you are? There are 4 main types of project managers that all work differently to accomplish goals. Each type has its strengths and weaknesses, but all types work efficiently in their own unique way to launch a successful project. Let’s explore each one further.

1. Technical Project Manager

The technical project manager has complete command over all project management practices. Technical project managers have great attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as, critical thinking and decision-making capabilities. A technical project manager is successful because their team trusts their expertise and looks to them as an authority.  

2. Adventurous Project Manager

Adventurous project managers are those that believe the bigger the risk, the higher the reward. They are always looking for new opportunities and ground-breaking ideas. However, while they take risks, they still stay inside strategic boundaries. An adventurous project manager is successful because they are able to see and share the bigger picture and get the team to buy into the excitement. 

3. Expert Project Manager

Expert project managers are experienced and knowledgeable. These managers focus on reliable data and are masters of executing different project management methodologies to perfection. They turn business opportunities into financial results thanks to their years of experience and hard work. The expert project manager is successful because the team can depend on their in-depth knowledge and experience to guide them through the process as well as learn from their expertise in project management. 

4. Supportive Project Manager

The supportive project manager believes in motivation and delegation. They focus on uninterrupted communication, smooth team collaboration, and boosting morale. Working closely with team members, they ensure everyone has a role to play. The supportive project manager is successful because they are able to get everyone involved and working together, which leads to the entire team gaining experience and skills. 

Types of Project Management Methodologies

As you begin your research into project management methodologies, you’ll quickly learn that there are several popular project management approaches:

  • Agile – This methodology is collaborative, quick, and open to data-driven change. It involves short phases of work with frequent testing, reassessment, and adaptation throughout the process. 
  • Scrum – This methodology splits work into short cycles (often called sprints) which usually last 1-2 weeks. Each small team is led by a Scrum master, which is different from the project manager. 
  • Kanban – This methodology visually represents tasks on a Kanban board. Each column on the board represents a stage in the process, and tasks are shown as they progress through columns.
  • Six Sigma – This methodology puts an emphasis on ensuring consistency in output and impeccable quality. It aims to eliminate defects and reduce variation. 
  • Waterfall – Waterfall is considered the traditional project management methodology. The tasks and phases are completed in a linear, sequential order. Each stage must be completed before moving on to the next one. 
  • Lean – This methodology applies lean business principles to project management methods. This maximizes value and minimizes waste. The 3Ms (Muda or waste, Mura or unevenness, and Muri or overburden), represent waste in this method. 
  • XP – This methodology is designed for software development and emphasizes teamwork and collaboration among managers, customers, and developers. It consists of a set of rules based on its five values

Which one is best? Choosing the right approach can be difficult because of the wide variety of types of project management approaches.

And while all methods have advantages and disadvantages, we have found that the Waterfall method is best when it comes to digital marketing project management because of its structure and extensive documentation. 

The Best Project Management System for Marketing: The Waterfall Approach

The waterfall method is a sequential, linear process that consists of several discrete phases. No phase can begin until the prior phase is complete. In addition, each phase’s completion is terminal. This means you cannot return to a previous phase once you have moved on to the next one. 

The Pros of Waterfall Project Management

The Waterfall project management approach has many advantages. First and foremost, it is easy to manage and understand. Extensive documentation allows you to see progress clearly.

The documentation also means that knowledge stays in the organization and makes training simple. You don’t have to try and infer what someone was going to do next, it is already written out for you. 

The Waterfall approach also allows team members to better plan their time, so they know what they need to do and when they need to do it. Lastly, it benefits the person receiving the results, because they will know exactly what to expect. 

Using the Waterfall project management approach, you can segment your marketing projects into easy-to-execute project management phases.

Putting It Into Practice: Creating Project Management Phases

Project management phases are key to creating a successful project. Understanding and following these phases will help you to stay on track and successfully accomplish your goals. When choosing the Waterfall approach, there are six phases to progress through: 

  1. Discovery / Scope – The scope of a project outlines all aspects of the project in detail. This includes activities, resources, timelines, and deliverables. The scope also covers the key stakeholders, processes, assumptions, and constraints.
  1. Design – The design phase of a project is usually broken up into two subphases: logical design and physical design. The logical design consists of brainstorming and theorizing possible solutions. In terms of deliverables, the logical phase typically takes the form of a mood board. The physical design puts those theoretical concepts into concrete practices and provides additional deliverables like design compositions
  1. Development – The development of the project happens when programmers incorporate the requirements and specifications that were created in the design phase into actual code. This includes building out the structure as well as the functionalities required by the project, including adding in content marketing and SEO strategies.
  1. Test – The test phase is used to evaluate the final version of the developed project. During this phase, the documentation from all the previous phases is finalized to align with the delivered project. This is also where the project manager and team will decide if the project is ready to be launched. 
  1. Launch – The launch phase occurs when the project team is ready to set the project into motion and share it with the client or the world
  1. Review – The review phase includes the project managers comparing the actual project budget, timeline, and goals to their original projections. Depending on the results, project managers may choose to adjust schedules or adjust processes to keep future projects on track. 

The Cons of Waterfall Project Management

While there are many advantages to the Waterfall approach, there are also disadvantages. The main con to this approach is that there is no going back; the completion of a phase is terminal.

In addition, there’s the pressure of making the final deadline. Since the timeline is so strict, falling behind on one task means falling behind on every task. There isn’t much flexibility or room for error. 

Since there are some disadvantages to the Waterfall method, we recommend creating your own hybrid project management approach and adding agility. Doing this allows for more flexibility than a strict Waterfall approach, but still benefits you with that clear structure and documentation of expectations.

Hybrid Project Management Concepts: Adding Agility

It’s not uncommon for organizations to adopt a standard project management methodology based on the unique way their team operates. Or, even more likely, they will combine several methodologies to create a hybrid concept.

A disadvantage of the Waterfall approach is that it can be too rigid and not quickly adaptable. This rigidity can be a drawback when working in digital marketing where scope revisions can come at any time.  For that reason, it’s key to develop a Waterfall / Agile hybrid of methodologies.

The key to figuring out how to be a good project manager is learning how to cater to the needs of all stakeholders and knowing when that means being flexible and stepping outside of the Waterfall model. Being flexible gives freedom to make adjustments that are needed for unique requests or scenarios.

Agile methods focus on adding, testing, and tweaking the functionalities of a project. This means you can explore potential changes as development progresses, instead of being tied down to one plan. 

All features go through a testing and revision process in weekly or bi-weekly “sprints”. These sprints allow constant collaboration and continuous improvement at every stage of the project. 

Person working on a project in an office.

Putting Your Project Management Approach Into Practice

Once you’ve decided what type of project management approach is best for you and your team, you can begin putting it into practice. When setting up your project management strategy, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Creating an agile waterfall project management strategy can seem overwhelming, but with the right guidelines, it can feel less daunting. Following these guidelines will help ensure your project runs smoothly and is delivered successfully: 

  • Have a unique scope created for every project. Do not depend on cookie-cutter project scopes. Get creative and develop a new scope for each of your projects to ensure you are determining the best course of action for that specific scenario. A well-thought-out, tailored scope is your best chance at sticking to your timeline, budget, and expectations.
  • Create flexible hours for completing the work. Every web redesign marketing project is different. Some may be heavier on design, while others may focus more on development. The same can be said about internet marketing projects – some will need more time spent on SEO, while others need attention on social media efforts. Your hours should reflect your priorities and marketing goals.
  • Incorporate project reports. Evaluating every project at the end of each phase or month will help you to measure your progress and avoid issues that can build up over time. You can then make any necessary adjustments to your project to keep it on course.

Putting different types of project management methodologies into practice is hard, but not impossible, especially when you have someone on the outside to help. With the right research, planning, and structure, you can create a project that will no doubt be successful.

Need a third party that can facilitate smooth management of your marketing initiatives? Tower can help. Discover how we can benefit your business’s efforts with our successful project management process.

Budgeting in any industry can be overwhelming, let alone if you’re putting together a non-profit marketing budget. It can start to feel like everything is a priority as you sit down to plan. At the same time, it’s important to go into a new fiscal year being mindful of your spend. As you sit down to plan your overall finances for the year, setting up a non-profit marketing budget is key to achieving the goals and initiatives you’re working towards.

Establishing budgeting goals and marketing objectives doesn’t have to be a daunting task either. When executed properly, they can help you make objective decisions and lay down steps for future success. Below we’ll cover the importance of a marketing budget for your non-profit, tips for getting started, and ideas for managing your budget throughout your fiscal year.

Why Is A Non-Profit Marketing Budget Important?

So why exactly is a budget important for a non-profit institution specifically when it comes to your marketing? From a high-level view, it’s key to pre-planning your marketing initiatives and making sure you have the right resources behind them.

If you’re curious what the average marketing budget non-profits have in place is, research shows the general rule is roughly between 5-15% of your operating budget. However, one surprising study found that almost 20% of non-profits had no firm budget at all and simply played it by ear month to month. 

As a non-profit group, you likely put a lot of energy into impact initiatives like fundraising, donor relations, or event planning. But at the end of the day, marketing is an important piece to all of those activities. 

By establishing budgeting goals up front, it’s a lot easier to advocate for the day-to-day support you’ll need before you’re in the midst of marketing work. Plus, when it comes time to review the year with your board, it makes reporting on your marketing strategy’s ROI much easier to track.

4 Best Practices When Creating a Budget for Non-Profits

It’s best to start establishing your non-profit marketing budget roughly 2 ½ to 3 months ahead of your new fiscal year. This gives you and your team enough time to pull together different components. The average marketing budget for non-profits will need to account for cash flow, programs, advertising, and more. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some great non-profit budgeting tools from the National Council of Nonprofits

Starting early will give you enough time to set up deadlines for internal and board approvals so you’re ready to get started when the fiscal year begins. Plus, it allows you to engage any outside vendors or marketing agencies that can offer extra support outside of your team’s scope. Here are the best practices that can be helpful as you’re putting it all together.

1. Set Your Strategy

To start, you’ll need to have an idea of the overarching objectives of your organization for the year. Marketing for brand awareness is great, but it’s not the only way you can use marketing to make a difference. Your marketing choices should be flexible enough to offer support in a variety of ways to different impact initiatives.

For example, marketing efforts to help raise a specific amount of donations vs. hosting a campaign to engage current volunteers would look very different. Pick those top non-profit-wide initiatives and then dig into how marketing will play a role in achieving them.

2. Determine Your Marketing Goals

Next, it’s time to look at marketing goals that will support those overall efforts you’ve identified in the first step. These should be clear and measurable. Some typical marketing goals non-profits set can include:

  • Quotas (for your events, email marketing list, social media, etc.)
  • Performance-based benchmarks
  • Boosting Leads
  • Increased donations or support
  • Driving qualified website traffic

As an example of how it all fits, consider a non-profit with an objective to find new volunteers. If there’s a sign-up area on the website, a great marketing goal could be to drive more qualified website traffic to the page. 

Increasing site traffic with visitors who have similar interests will give the organization greater visibility and help boost those volunteer numbers over time. Plus, as your site traffic grows over time, you’re likely to build your expertise, authority, and trust. This means you’ll perform better in search algorithms as well. Once goals like this (driving more traffic) are established, it’s time to consider the day-to-day marketing actions you can take to reach them.

3. Pick Your Tactics & Think One Step Ahead

Carrying on with the analogy above, if your marketing goal is to drive more traffic your tactics may include investing in a PPC campaign or focusing on a content marketing strategy. These are the efforts that will help you work towards those goals.

Identifying which tactics you’ll use and the costs associated with them will help you create those important estimates for your budget. And while you’re planning out your tactics, make sure that you’re including a good mix of both traditional and digital marketing efforts.

Some traditional marketing tactics to consider are: 

  • Print advertising
  • Direct mail campaigns
  • Radio messaging
  • Billboard messaging

And some effective digital marketing tactics you can pair with these include:

  • Social media advertising
  • Internet radio messaging
  • PPC / display advertising
  • Organic internet marketing
  • Website redesign or hosting and management updates

From there, decide how to allocate your budget, keeping those main goals in mind as well as any spending requirements. (For example, there may be minimum spend amounts needed to do advertising via radio or social media.)

If your non-profit marketing budget also needs to cover events, consider setting up buckets per event. You can include budgeting to cover each event’s postage, signage, security, rental fees, printing, design, and more. That way those hidden costs won’t be unaccounted for in your budget.

As an extra safety net, consider also setting up a miscellaneous fund so you can plan for the unexpected and field any last-second requests. This can also come in handy for items with larger costs like photography, videography, or traditional media placements like TV and radio.

Once you’ve settled on which tactics are most important to reaching your marketing goals, you can start to craft your best marketing budget

Two teammates work together to develop their non-profit marketing budget and marketing strategy.

4. Communicate with Your Non-Profit Team

Marketing for a non-profit typically has to cover a wide range of mission pillars. Your team will have a role in event planning, execution, follow-up, and plenty else that falls on your plate. The key here is to have your action steps planned ahead so you have enough resources to cover all these demands.

While putting together your budget, there may be necessary tactics that require clear communication to the board or fall outside the scope of your team. For example, redesigning your website to improve your branding might be a necessary tactic, but it is challenging if you don’t have the right dev and design support internally. Additionally, it will likely require cooperation from the profit’s top stakeholders.

As you start to present your marketing budget, communicate what’s needed for your marketing tactics to be successful and also advocate for the resources your team will need to accomplish them. Uniting expectations at the start will make the months ahead easier to navigate.

Managing Your Costs Throughout the Fiscal Year

Once your budget is in place the next hardest part can be sticking to it and managing it throughout the year. Here are some of our recommendations that can help, especially if you’re trying to maximize your dollars throughout the fiscal year.

Tap into Your Volunteer Network

It’s easy to think within the confines of what your team can do, but don’t forget there’s an entire community behind you that believes in your cause! Consider ways that organizations, volunteers, or other partners you have exposure to can help open the doors for growth and help you carry out marketing goals in a cost-effective manner.

Volunteers support their local non-profit by spending time packing and organizing boxes.

Look for Trade or Pro-Bono Relationships

Be vigilant for any opportunities to create a mutually beneficial relationship that also helps you stay on budget. This could include:

  • Trading venue fees for sponsorship highlights on event materials.
  • Trading a free, mission-driven in-office lunch and learn for event volunteers.
  • Trading board membership dues and seat for marketing support.

Don’t Just Think in the Present

And last but most important, don’t just stay in the moment with your marketing. Always keep an eye a month or two ahead, while evaluating the past months, to make any marketing budget adjustments and stay on track. 

It can be a slippery slope if your non-profit staff gets bogged down in fundraising or focuses on the event happening right now, with no preparation for what lies ahead. Doing this can potentially pinch planning for your next major impact initiative and steal away from its future success.

How An Agency Can Make The Most of Your Money

As you begin establishing budgeting goals and drawing conclusions for your marketing budget, remember that you are not alone. If you’re finding that there are certain marketing goals that fall outside what your team can support or are trying to navigate creating a well-rounded marketing plan, having an outside perspective can help.

You may find that working with an agency can generate creative ideas for expanding your mission awareness into new markets at a reasonable cost. Consolidating your outsourced support to one vendor instead of multiple can save money in the long run and provide a more cohesive support system when it comes to marketing execution and branding. 

Plus, the experience of an agency can go a long way when budgeting for marketing pieces you’re unfamiliar with. Their expertise can help you determine the best spend of your money for each marketing bucket so that your dollars make the best impact possible.

Looking for more advice on creating a non-profit marketing budget? Listen to our podcast for more great budgeting advice or reach out to our team to hear input from experienced non-profit marketing professionals.

The world of email marketing has changed since the days of blindly blasting your email list with company updates and promotions. We’re learning to work smarter, not harder, by using new tools and customer data to make sure our messages get to the right people at the right time. 

This is where email drip campaigns come into play. These campaigns save you time and allow you to connect with your audience when it matters most. These campaigns do not have to be complicated and work for a variety of business sizes, industries, and marketing goals.

What is an Email Drip Campaign? 

Email drip campaigns (also known as automated email campaigns, lifecycle emails, autoresponders, and marketing automation) are email campaigns that go out on a schedule or deploy based on a trigger event or customer action. 

As a consumer yourself, you may have received a welcome email when you signed up for updates from a company or if you put an item in your virtual shopping cart and left the site before purchasing. Both are examples of drip campaigns in action. Others may include emails with specific information when you visit a website without taking action or follow-up emails after a purchase or event registration. 

How Are Drip Campaigns Different?

What sets these emails apart from campaigns of the past is the ability to send them at a point in time that matters most to your customers or prospects. Rather than manually sending an email to confirm a purchase, we can now set up an automated email that triggers when a purchase is made. 

Instead of scheduling time during your busy day to send a welcome email to all contacts who signed up in the past week, we can create a welcome series that starts as soon as the form is submitted. When your customers are thinking about you, you are getting a front-row seat in their inbox. 

Beyond the time savings and convenience, targeted emails can impact your ROI and overall email performance. Popular email platform Emma did research showing that relevant targeted emails produced 18 times more revenue than non-targeted, batch-and-blast emails. They also showed those who opened targeted emails are more likely to click links in them, with a 119% increase in click rate. 

When to Use a Drip Campaign? 

The versatility of drip campaigns makes them valuable for a variety of businesses ranging in size, industry, target audience, and goals. The following email drip campaign ideas may be applicable to your business. 

Welcome Series 

For some subscribers, their first interaction with your email marketing program could be through a drip campaign commonly referred to as a welcome series. This series introduces the new subscriber to your company, giving them more background on who you are and what you do. 

It can also help to validate their subscription, build your email reputation, and verify them as a strong, engaged contact. Typically, they are triggered by a user filling out a form on your website opting in to receive updates from your company. 

Lead Nurturing

Similar to the welcome series, a lead nurturing drip campaign can help introduce a potential prospect to your company, giving them useful information at different points in their decision-making process. 

A series like this is helpful for business-to-business applications where a potential client may request information about your company via an online form but maybe months away from making a commitment to work with your company. At key points along their journey, you can contact them with relevant information or prompt them to reach out to you to proceed with the next steps in the process. 

Cart Abandonment

If you have an online store, you may have run into this scenario before. Say someone is browsing the products on your site and finds one they like enough to add to their cart. Whether it’s an internal or external force, they leave your site, also leaving that product just sitting in their cart. 

A cart abandonment series is a powerful follow-up tool that reconnects with those potential customers. Messages could incentivize them to check out with a deal or coupon code, add urgency with an alert that the product is almost out of stock, or simply remind them of your brand and the awesome product that awaits them. 

Product or Content Recommendations

Marketing automation can be set up to keep in touch with your customers and recommend products, services, and content that may be of interest to them based on past purchases or site behavior. Emails in this series can be set up to deploy a certain amount of time after their last site visit or purchase date to help keep you in mind. 

Date-Based Touchpoints 

Want to wish your customers a happy birthday or mark an anniversary? Drip campaigns can be set up based on these dates when they are provided by the subscriber. This type of email can be sweetened with a coupon or promotional code to mark the occasion and encourage a purchase. 

Confirmation Emails 

When hosting an event or requiring customers to make a reservation, email drip campaigns can play a role in sending confirmation emails upon sign up. Much like a welcome series, these campaigns can work with website forms and deploy emails as soon as an event registration is placed. As the event approaches, automated emails can be sent with more event details and reminders. 

Reengagement Emails 

Subscriber habits change over time. There may be a time where a segment of your subscribers stops engaging with your messages. Their needs could have changed or content featured in your newsletters may not be relevant to their life at that moment.

Reengagement campaigns can help you reconnect with this segment of subscribers. These automated emails reintroduce you to that unengaged segment and can prompt them to either stay subscribed or unsubscribe. Encouraging people to unsubscribe may feel counterintuitive, but in the long run, this will help your list health and analytics. When you continue to send to inactive or unengaged contacts who continue to not open or click links in your emails, your open rates and click rates will fall. Sending to a smaller number of engaged contacts can result in increases in both open and click rates. 

Setting Up an Email Drip Campaign

Many email service providers, like MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, and Hubspot support automated campaigns. Each one may have a specific way to set up an automated campaign but across the board, it’s important to consider your goals and use a workflow to understand the steps needed to make your campaign successful. 

Before you get started, consider the following questions: 

  1. What is your goal?
  2. What action do you want your subscribers to take? 
  3. Who will you be targeting with this automation? 
  4. How does the user enter the automation? What is the trigger event? 
  5. How will users exit the automation? 

By addressing these questions, you will get a sense of how the automation will begin and how many emails to include in your drip campaign. It will help to shape the workflow by creating a starting point and an ending point. 
Using a flow chart like Lucidchart or simply sketching it out on paper can help you create the steps and logic needed to move subscribers from start to finish. A drip email campaign workflow may look like this:

This automation begins with an applicant submitting an online form. After they submit the form, an automated email is sent thanking them for their submission and asking if they would like to opt-in to receive more information. 

If they click the opt-in button in the email, they are added to the master email list and receive a tag designating their interest in “career” information. If they do not click the opt-in button, the system waits for three months, then unsubscribes them since they do not wish to receive information in the future. 

Measuring Email Drip Campaign Success

When measuring the success of email drip campaigns, many of the usual email marketing KPIs will also be relevant as key indicators of success. Tracking both open rate and click-to-open rate on the emails associated with your automation can give you a gauge of how effective your message is. 

Also selecting an email drip campaign KPI that aligns with your main campaign goal will help you gauge if the campaign is performing well. For example, a cart abandonment automation goal could be to capture a percentage of those abandoned carts through the customer following through with the purchase they started. 

Need help with your email drip campaign strategy? Learn more about our email marketing services to get started.

If there’s anything that’s been learned in the wake of the pandemic, it’s the importance of having an up-to-date online presence that represents your brand just as well as a face-to-face meeting. Your brand is a lot more than just a logo and some copy. It should be an experience.

As a digital marketing agency, we help our clients explore new strategies to elevate their brand via web design, creative, content, and more every day. However, just as we encourage our clients to explore new ideas in their digital marketing, it’s only fair that we take our own advice.

While our brand refresh started in a seemingly “regular”  world, it certainly ended in a changed one. In early 2020, as we dove into redesigning our site, content, and digital assets, our team was suddenly scattered. On top of that, most (if not all) of our regular routines were paused. 

In spite of everything, we successfully elevated and reached our goals. Here’s the “why” and “how” behind our recent brand refresh and some tips you can apply to start your own along the way.

Rebranding vs. a Brand Refresh

Before digging in, it’s important to understand the key difference between a brand refresh and a rebranding project. The idea behind a brand refresh is that you’re reimagining the feeling of your brand using what you already have. It’s primarily a visual process where you adjust your assets to keep your business looking current.

Rebranding your company successfully is a much larger project where you get rid of everything you’ve done previously and start from scratch. This can include creating a completely new brand voice and tone, trying to break into new markets, and completely re-doing your company’s image.

Starting on the Ground Floor

Our previous website was from 2017 and was due for a redesign, knowing it’s optimal to update your site every 3 years. Plus, it was clear it didn’t match the direction our company had evolved into as well. However, the catalyst for updating your digital branding shouldn’t always just be an “older design.”

As soon as your online branding feels out of alignment with your business strategy or vision for the future, it’s an indication that it’s time for a refresh. Sometimes that can just be minor tweaks to what you have, while other times more drastic action is required.

For Tower, we saw a need to elevate our own branding to match the shifts we’d undergone in the past few years. While we didn’t need to do a complete overhaul, we found a lot of opportunities to push ourselves beyond what we had done in the past.

Why a Brand Refresh Matters for Your Business

Your business is making progress every day. As you move forward and scale your company, it’s important to also continue refining and evaluating your brand to keep it sharp. This doesn’t always require designing a completely new logo or color palette. Refreshing your brand can include updating content on your service pages or replacing old, outdated images.

There’s no set time frame for how often you should be doing a brand refresh. However, the industry you’re in can have a hand in how often you make these types of changes.

If you’re a brand rooted in history, stability, or security (like a financial institution or college) you shouldn’t have to refresh that frequently. However, if you’re in a fast-growth industry like tech, your business will likely need a brand refresh more often to compete in the digital landscape.

The Key to Re-Doing Online Branding in Digital Marketing

When it came time to approach this project, our team found it extremely helpful to establish some simple ground rules and then outline a process before digging in. Our ground rules throughout the whole process were to:

  1. Keep our signature green color
  2. Keep our current logo
  3. Keep Cabrito (our main typeface we created internally)

From there, we then completed a visual audit of all our materials including our website, business cards, previous campaigns, social media posts, and much more. Our team sorted various assets into two categories — one for assets that “work” and one for those that “don’t work.”

While this part of the process required a lot of back and forth between our broader team, it spurred useful conversation. This audit allowed us to pair down the elements we liked and the ideas behind them, as well as see what areas needed the most attention. From there our team got to work redesigning creative, strategizing SEO, experimenting with dev, and drafting new content to match our updated brand voice and tone.

Think Outside the Logo

For any business diving into these types of changes, the biggest pitfall is thinking your brand is just a logo. At Tower, we encourage you to take a holistic marketing approach. Ultimately, your business is conveyed through everything — fonts, type treatments, colors, patterns, layout compositions, photography, written content, and much more.

The goal is to make sure all these elements are cohesive to the point that even when viewed separately, they still clearly portray your brand in the same light. When you take the time to do this, the benefit is that your brand becomes recognizable for consumers. It sticks.

For Tower, we started by pinpointing the areas we wanted to change and then got to work fine-tuning every single element. In the end, our goal was to make sure everything fit that holistic approach.        

Finding Your Inspiration

Our office has a saying that first came to light when our team brainstormed for a campaign a few years ago — “elevate.” Over time, it became a crucial part of how we approach marketing for clients and, ultimately, ourselves. We took that concept and we ran further in terms of this brand refresh.

“Elevate” was behind every decision we made in the process. We went as far as taking pieces we thought were good and working to make them even better.

Anything that wasn’t working and had even become dated or cliche was scrapped altogether. The idea of “elevating” became our litmus test for all design, content, and development choices. 

Staying Inspired in the Unexpected 

While the state of our clients and our business had to rapidly evolve to respond to the pandemic, our team still continued pressing forward with our brand redesign. If anything, the pandemic opened up interesting opportunities to look at the idea of collaboration differently.

Collaboration is certainly the key to creating, however, there is also great value in having a chance to actually retreat from distraction and do the work itself. Being remote gave us a chance to become fully immersed in the project and our ideas without any interruption. Working in this hyper-focused manner was actually a huge benefit to developing the more difficult and complex elements.

However, our team also balanced working remotely by supplementing our progress with check-in meetings and plenty of video calls. Doing this allowed us to clearly communicate and stay on the same page. 

Ultimately, here’s the biggest takeaway — it’s important to build in pockets of time to collaborate on refreshing your brand with others, while also balancing it with uninterrupted time to work individually on it.

Staying One Step Ahead of Your Competition

With any brand refresh, it’s crucial that you’re aware of the competitor landscape. You want to make sure that, in the end, your outcome goes far beyond what they’ve done so you can carve your own unique spot in the industry.

Make sure that a part of your project includes investigating your competition. Ask yourself the following:

  • What are they doing?
  • What are they saying?
  • What is their user experience like?
  • What can you do better?

You want to avoid doing or saying the same message. Otherwise, you won’t stand out. You need to be refreshing your brand not not just to “look good” today, but to ensure you stay relevant in the months ahead.

Develop Your Unique Value Proposition

As you’re working, make sure you take time as a team to be introspective of your company. Clearly define what makes you different. In our case, it was the idea of “elevating.” However, that won’t be the differentiator for every company, and you’ll need to decide what makes yours unique.

It’s worth devoting the time to sort this part out during your brand refresh process. Knowing your unique value proposition as a business will keep your strategy clear and brand refresh work cohesive. Plus, that differentiator can even become the very hook that draws in your target audience to choose you over your competitors.

Know it’s time for a brand refresh, but need help executing it? Contact our team to learn how we can help you reach your next goals with our creative services.

We hear from businesses all the time that are looking for a new logo. Perhaps they’re starting a new company or are looking to modernize their business. But what many of these businesses don’t realize is that creating a brand identity will provide far more value to their company than simply redesigning their logo.

If you’re not sure where to start when creating a brand for your company, here’s everything you should know before approaching a rebranding project.

What is a Brand Identity?

Simply speaking, a brand identity is the set of elements that establish your business visually and set it apart from your competitors. These elements likely include a logo, color palette, fonts, and key pieces of messaging. They must be consistent but flexible, and perhaps most importantly, they must be functional and easy to use.

But creating a brand identity is about much more than a handful of visual elements. Your brand is in everything you do. It’s the greeting you use when you answer the phone. It’s the decisions you make on packaging and materials. It’s how you react to a crisis. Your brand is what makes you, well… you.

Your Business’s First Brand vs. Rebranding

While the process for a first brand vs. a rebrand may look similar, there are a few key differences to keep in mind.

Your First Brand

If you’re a start-up or new company, you likely won’t have as much data on your customers as an established business. In this case, external research is especially crucial to make sure you have a clear picture of your potential customers. Doing this research will not only help you in creating a brand identity, but may also be of use in your business development strategies and your lead generation.

If you’re working with venture capital, a startup incubator, or any other investors, you’ll also need to keep them in mind. The buy-in of these key players is essential to a successful brand launch.

Before you engage with a logo designer or agency, outline the internal process for your team. Include a timeline, key players who will be involved at each stage, and a budget. This will ensure the brand is developed on time and on budget and will help your key stakeholders feel included in the process.

Rebranding

If you have an existing brand and are considering rebranding, you have a major advantage over new companies since you know far more about your customer than they do. The flipside is that it can be harder to separate yourself and your view of your company from how your customer sees you.

For example, you may have in your mind that you need to level up your brand into a more formal, professional space. However, your customers may love your approachability and lack of red tape. 

While pleasing higher-ups and stakeholders matters, your company’s success relies on your customers. Balancing the needs and desires of both groups will ensure that you develop a successful brand strategy.

Part One: Understanding Your Audience

While it can be tempting to put pen to paper and start sketching out logo ideas, it’s crucial that your brand begins with your audience.

Who Is Your Audience?

Understanding your audience is the first step toward creating a brand. You’ll need to get inside your customers’ heads to understand what they look for in a product or service, what drives them to make decisions, and how to make them choose you over your competitors.

Here are some methods and strategies to explore to find out more about your customers:

  • Conducting market research
  • Holding focus groups
  • Performing social listening to see what customers are saying
  • Asking customers to fill out surveys (online or in-person)
  • Developing a persona to better illustrate your typical customer
  • Diving into Google Analytics, social analytics data, or other information you may already own that can tell you more about your customers
  • Hiring an agency to create an audience intelligence document for your company

Once you’ve decided on your method, you may need to complete further research to understand how to leverage the method you’ve chosen. Fair research without bias or leading questions is your best chance at understanding your customers authentically.

Here are some questions to consider when researching your audience:

  • Are your customers consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B)?
  • What is/are your main demographic(s) – age, gender, location, etc.?
  • What is their education level? Financial status? Marital status?
  • What drives them to choose you over your fiercest competitor?
  • What matters to them most? Price point? Quality? Convenience?

You’ll be far more successful in creating a brand identity once you have a solid understanding of your customers and know what makes them tick.

Part Two: Strategizing Against Your Competitors

In addition to researching your customers, you’ll also want to take a deeper look at your competition. You may have already gathered a list of competitors your customer mentioned in your former research, but don’t be afraid to include other competitors you know in the industry.

What do their brands look like? Do you want your brand identity to stand out from the crowd? Or would you rather blend in but do so with perfect execution? What do their brands do well and poorly?

Answering these questions as you engage with a brand designer will help you have a clearer vision of what you want. And, it will help guide conversations about your fonts, brand color palette, and brand voice down the line.

enwild logo on blue background
A logo we developed for outdoor gear retailer, Enwild.

Part Three: The Logo

Getting a new logo is exciting. It’s one of the most visual pieces of your brand and is an element you’ll likely interact with on a daily basis. Plus, it’s the face of your brand when it comes to customer interaction. Here are a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your new logo.

Put Your Customer First

It can be hard to distance yourself from your company’s brand, but remember that you are not your customer. When creating a brand identity, try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think about their demographic, the other brands they likely shop from, and how your brand can best appeal to them. Just because you don’t like brutalist design or the color orange doesn’t mean it isn’t a great option that your customers will love.

Provide Great Feedback

One of the areas where many companies struggle is in providing their logo designer with concrete, specific feedback. Keep these things in mind to make your revision rounds go as smoothly as possible:

  1. You won’t like every design option you receive, and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind truthfully. Your designer has heard it all before and would rather take the criticism and help you develop a logo you love.
  2. Incomplete or partial feedback wastes your valuable time and money. Provide complete feedback from all relevant stakeholders, and resolve any internal disagreements before the feedback is sent.
  3. Be specific and resolute. Take time to absorb the logo options you’ve been given before providing feedback. Try to pinpoint the elements you like and those you don’t to give your designer clear action items moving forward.

Ask for the Right Assets

The best logos are flexible and have different options to utilize depending on the situation. For example, you may want a single-color logo for embossing or an icon version of your logo for tiny applications.

Here are some of the variations you may want to consider requesting from your logo designer:

  • Horizontal and vertical options
  • Icon only/text only
  • Black and white/one color/two color
  • With and without copyright or trademark symbols
  • Optimized for embroidery or vinyl cutting
  • Transparent/vector/pixel-based files

Your logo needs to be flexible but consistent. Getting the assets you need upfront will help your brand be a success for years to come, even if you don’t have an ongoing relationship with your brand designer.

Part Four: Supporting Brand Elements

In addition to your logo, your brand should be defined by supporting elements like colors, fonts, textures, and messaging. While your logo may be the most recognizable visual, your brand is nothing without a complete suite of elements. 

Imagine Mcdonald’s without their signature red and yellow, or Amazon’s logo in a script font. Logos need the support of a full brand strategy to do their best work.

color palette of green and purple
A colorful but intentional color palette our design team created for Robertson Insurance.

Brand Color Palette

Color palettes can be a divisive topic within a brand. You may be tempted to call out your favorite color, or maybe you want to stay with your existing colors because they have worked thus far.

Here are four things to consider when choosing or approving a branding color scheme:

  1. Your color palette should reflect your brand, not your personal tastes. Just as red and black would never be appropriate for a daycare, there are likely colors that don’t make sense in your industry or your niche within your industry.
  1. Different colors evoke different emotions. There’s a reason the cereal aisle is full of red and orange boxes and that most luxury companies focus on black and white: because brand color psychology works. Your designer will be able to help you pinpoint which colors are best for your industry, but consider the emotions you want your brand to evoke. Respect? Excitement? Trustworthiness?
  2. Take a look at your competitors’ color palettes. Do you want to blend in or stand out? There’s no wrong answer, but knowing what your brand will look like amongst your competitors matters. The best brand colors are intentional and strategic.
  3. Consider contrast for readability and accessibility. Just like brick-and-mortar businesses need to offer accessibility in the form of wheelchair ramps and elevators, online businesses should consider accessibility in terms of their design. While it’s a bit more complicated than just choosing the right colors, keeping accessibility in mind during discussions about your brand color palette can save you trouble later.
A typography-focused logo for law firm Chieppor & Egner, LLC.

Fonts

Choosing a font for your brand is another discussion where everyone will have an opinion. What’s most important is to focus on your customer and your industry over your personal tastes. Check out our four top tips on how to choose fonts for your brand:

  1. Keep it simple. Your entire brand only needs one to three fonts. Choosing more than three fonts can make your brand look disconnected and hodge-podge.
  2. Prioritize legibility. Sure, a thin script font may be the perfect fit for your brand, but it loses its value if no one can read it. Consider various applications — from massive billboards to long-form documents — when choosing a font for your brand.
  3. Let your brand voice shine through. Your fonts should give customers a subconscious first impression of your company’s personality and values.

Messaging, Voice, and Tone

When it comes to brand messaging, what you say matters – but how you say it is just as important. No matter who is writing on behalf of your brand, the tone and voice must be the same. This presents a cohesive and professional front for your business that will earn customers’ trust and loyalty.

The voice and tone you choose should be consistent with the brand identity you’ve created. It might be exciting and fun-loving or determined and resolute. Whatever it is, it must be steady and present in all elements of your brand.

You’ll then need to convey your business’s new tone and voice to all employees who speak or write on behalf of the brand. Consider creating a brand standards guide that answers questions like:

  • How do I greet customers or clients?
  • What should I say when I answer the phone?
  • What person and tense do I write in?
  • How do we address (or not address) difficult subjects like religious holidays, social movements, and political events?
  • What is the elevator pitch for our business?
  • Are there any terms or industry jargon we want to avoid?
  • How do we react to crises in writing (both externally and internally)?

Part Five: Rolling Out Your Brand

Once you’re given your final logo and other brand assets, you may think the hard work of creating a brand identity is over. But the truth is, the way you present and roll out your brand to the rest of the world is just as crucial to its success.

Announcing Your New Brand Internally

Getting employee buy-in of your new brand is key. Whether you opt to include employees throughout the branding process or only notify them when the brand is complete, it’s important that you present your new brand in the right way. 

circular logo for NNBC
One of the logos our team developed for the National Novelty Brush Company.

Consider a presentation, offer free swag like t-shirts or water bottles, and include plenty of time for questions and answers. The way your brand is perceived internally will set the stage for how your employees convey your company to customers and business partners, so it’s imperative that they have a positive view of the new brand.

Announcing Your Brand Publicly

Perhaps even more important than presenting your brand to your internal team is announcing it to the world. If you’ve seen one of the many new branding flops over the years, you’ll know just how much first impressions can matter when creating a brand identity.

Depending on your industry and the size of your business, you may want to consider some of the following:

  • An event to celebrate the new brand reveal
  • A formal press release to share through PR outlets and on your website
  • A PPC campaign to clarify the change for users if your rebrand involved a name change
  • An email campaign to announce the change to your current customers or clients
  • A short statement to share on social media and your website
  • A letter and swag bag to send to key investors and stakeholders

Creating Consistent Ongoing Brand Collateral

Finally, you’ll need to set your new brand up for success so it can be used appropriately by your team for years to come. If you worked with an experienced agency, your new brand should come with brand standards and a brand style guide to share with the rest of your team.

booklet flipped open to show various Enwilid logos
A brand guide our team developed for Enwild.

These documents will show appropriate and inappropriate uses of the logo, as well as detail the fonts, brand color palette (in RGB, CMYK, HEX, and Pantone), and resources that are allowed within the brand. They will help your team stay true to the brand as the designer intended it and will give you a resource to turn to when in doubt. Everyone in the company, from the CEO to an intern, should feel comfortable using the brand and be able to identify inappropriate use.

If your agency didn’t include one, you may also want to create and circulate a tone and messaging document that explains any changes to the brand voice. This can be especially useful if you had no formal brand in place prior to your rebrand. 

Part Six: The Future of Your Brand

You’ve done it. You’ve created a brand identity that shows the world who you are and where you shine. So what next?

While you likely did some outreach during your initial brand launch, ongoing Internet marketing can help you continue to grow your brand awareness and bring traffic to your website. You may want to consider search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, or content marketing to engage new audiences and grow your business.

Above all else, stick to your brand standards, encourage your team to evolve your brand over time, and enjoy the process.

Considering rebranding your business? Creating a brand identity can be a rewarding and engaging experience with the help of a trusted brand designer.