Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Small Change Got Rained On with His Own .38...

So, the headline probably doesn't mean much to anyone other than Tom Waits fans. And even if you are a Tom Waits fan, it's probably a stretch. But small changes are what I do want to talk about.

Many content creators never give much thought to their CTA (call to action). Often, sites don't even have one. If a user is lucky, a phone number might be easily accessible. Unlucky, and you might have to search around for it.

Customer's visit your site because something sparked their interest (a friend's recommendation, a search, direct mail, etc.). Now that you have their interest, you need to tell them what you want them to do, and communicate it quickly and effectively. And ideally, you should test different CTAs to see which one works.

Below is an example of a good test of a small tweak on a CTA. The winner increased response rates by 293%. And that ain't no small change... 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How a Good SEO Program can Hurt Your Business


I often find myself speaking with frustrated business owners as they search for the perfect SEO Strategist. In one recent conversation, the business owner stated "The last company promised us a #1 ranking but we're only #3." In another instance, the owner stated "The last guy charged an arm and a leg but we're still not increasing our business leads."
That explosion you heard was when marketing and SEO collided - or was it my head....

Let's break this down:
  1. Run away from anyone that promises you the #1 position on Google's search results. There is no way to guarantee this despite what they tell you. Be very leery of these types businesses as they are most likely not very reputable and likely to get you blacklisted.
  2. The goal of any reputable SEO program should be to organically appear somewhere on page 1 of Google's search results for the targeted keyword or phrase. We are always striving for the 1st 3 positions but page 1 is most often considered a success.
Appearing on page 1 is only half the battle. When someone clicks the link to your site, what good does it do if they don't stay, or even worse, if they fail to convert (take the desired action such as purchasing a product, filling out a form, etc.)? Turns out, in the example above, the website that ranked #3 was very poorly designed. The landing page was unorganized and full of keyword-stuffed copy including long run-on sentences. The navigation was not well thought out and the "call to action" (strategically placed button or link to help lead the user to your desired action.) was missing. Any user landing on this page would likely hit the back button to the search results page, and consequently, a long list of competitors. When I investigated the gentleman's claim regarding business leads, I found the same type of thing: Decent search ranking position, poorly designed website. This is a recipe for disaster. Often times, your website is the first, and sometimes only impression a prospective client will ever get of your company. Prospects have the ability to judge you without ever speaking to you. It's irrelevant if you are truly "the best in the biz." If you don't look like you have the chops immediately, or at least look worthy of further investigation, the prospect will "bounce" out of there fast. The point is, good SEO work can only go so far. It is equally important to deliver your searchers a professional website design that is content driven and easily navigable and of course, a good representation of your company.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rhapsody in Blue...

It's been a bit of a harsh winter around here, and with the high winds and heavy snowfall, lots of blue tarps are popping up. You know the kind, the ubiquitous blue tarp over dead or dying cars, storm ravaged roofs, and under many a pile-o-dirt that was "only going to be there for the weekend". So it got me thinking: Why blue?

Now I know you can get them in other colors, but they are usually heavier gauge, and usually cost twice as much. I have a brown one covering my wood pile as we speak (you're welcome, neighbors. And wife.). But why are most of the tarps blue?

So, as usual when I am navel-gazing and I have these kind of intense quests for knowledge (you must act on them quickly, or they will go away... thankfully), I turned to my old pal Google. And I was let down! I actually had to go to page 2! And even then, it wasn't the answer I was looking for (how did I KNOW what I was looking for? I don't know), but it was enough of a bright shiny object that I continued to stare... at this book... about... blue... tarps.

Check it out.

So, what do you think? Why are they blue? Better yet, if you are selling blue tarps, why aren't you capitalizing on the huge opportunity to educate your customers about the history of blue tarps? A good SEO strategy and social media strategy could help your ranking because you have good content, good keywords, and pressing information that the world wants to know. Call us. We'll help you sell truckloads of blue tarps. If that's what you're selling.

Sometimes, when in the quest for knowledge, when we are deep in the throes of discovery, when we have immersed ourselves into the 3rd page of a Google search, we find something like this. Whatever you do, don't read it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Something Big Is About to Happen Around Here.

Tacky keeps an eye on things around the office...
Hopefully you won't think it's tacky.... Our giant pushpin has been lurking around the office, waiting for an appropriate job to do. Anyone have any suggestions? Maybe you have an 8 1/2' X 11' giant piece of paper you need held up?

Give us your thoughts and let us know your ideas. Best suggestion gets to be a guest blogger for Harbour Light!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Future of Marketing...

My name is Alice and I'm 16, interning at Harbour Light Strategic Marketing located in Portsmouth, NH. Here I am, writing my first blog post and drinking coffee like a professional.

Q's new friend Alice
By choosing to intern at a marketing company, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I was forced to interact with clients and give an expendable opinion on rough drafts for a variety of businesses. They teach you the basics in school if you take the right classes, but all of the work here was new to me. Everything was almost too new, to the point where it was a bit scary.

It takes a lot of observation and understanding to learn something before you're practiced enough to do it on your own. The basics were just enough to start me on my first project in a program I had only heard of yet never tried. With guidance, encouragement, and tough, but necessary, critique, I managed some finished work.

If you're going to work with people, you have to be a people-person. It's important to know as much as you can about both your client and their target audience, and know even more about the customers than they know about themselves. My fascination with the way people think is what got me interested in marketing. To advertise and sell, you have to understand what customers want and use that to tell them what they need. Advertising is just a kind of art form: influential, but for a purpose.

Working here has definitely been a fantastic opportunity and I've enjoyed everything from the scary to the familiar. It's a long way before college, but if I one day choose to dive into the field of strategic marketing and web design, I have Harbour Light to thank for inspiring me, and their dogs for keeping me sane. Although from now on, I'm sticking to tea.

Editor's Note: Alice's original draft contained the following: "Working here with the people at Harbour Light has been the greatest opportunity ever given to me. I've a long way before college, but if I one day choose to dive into the field of strategic marketing and web design, I have them to thank for inspiring me." Apologies are due to her parents and all her teachers, they did the hard work. The only opportunity we ever gave her was self serving (free labor). Our only redeeming quality in the whole internship is that we never made her get us coffee... and really, that was only because I wasn't sure if they would card her.

But seriously, she was great fun to have around, and we hope she'll be back!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We're Live! Our New Blog (+ Archives)

Rejoice! You're looking at Harbour Light Strategic Marketing's resurrected blog. After a nasty virus (check yourself folks, we all get 'em) our blog is back up and better than ever. You may now celebrate accordingly.

We've been busy bees and have lots of exciting new developments to share, so stay tuned! In the meantime, we've taken the liberty of posting a healthy portion of our blog archives. Ah the memories...

SEO & Website Hosting Go Hand in Hand

January 10, 2012

SEO and website hosting go hand in hand. Your business’ website is an extremely important marketing tool, and often times, a potential clients first impression of your company. We all know how competitive the business arena is, and even with a successful SEO campaign, there are no guarantees your link will be the one that is clicked on. A well thought out Meta Description can make all the difference in the world... (but that’s for another blog). A good hosting company will provide ample bandwidth and speed. If your potential clients are clicking and waiting, you can bet they’re not waiting long! What they are doing is moving quickly to your competitors site. Is this what you want after spending all that money for the “perfect” website design? Of course not. Hosting companies are relatively inexpensive to begin with. Going with the cheapest is not the best way to save your company a few marketing dollars. A good hosting company also provides 24 hour support. This is important for when your site has problems on a Sunday night before “the big day”, and believe me, a website will have problems at some point, for some reason, they always do.

If you’re like most businesses, every lead is important, especially when they are coming to you. Lastly, a good hosting company has good security measures in place. Your home or office computer is not the only target for hackers. The bottom line here is that your website is extremely important to your business. You spend good money on design and SEO services. Please, please, please, spend the little bit extra for a good, reputable hosting company.