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5 Keys for Evoking Positive Emotions Through Visual Design

November, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Generating positive emotions related to your brand is paramount to the success of your business. Not only should your site’s visual design effectively reflect your brand identity, but it should stimulate the right response in your visitor. While there is no scientific formula you can utilize to connect with your users, the following keys offer a simple checklist for ensuring your visual design makes the right impact.

1. Think About Your Color Palette

Researchers have spent years studying how humans respond to color stimuli. You’re likely already familiar with some of these principles. For example, most consumers associate yellow with happiness and optimism, while green evokes thoughts of health and peace. As you focus on branding, spend some time getting familiar with how users perceive various colors to ensure your branding is on point.

2. Pay Close Attention to Page Layout

Web design has long been focused on utility, but user experience extends far beyond simply functionality. If you can merge personality and emotion with a usable site, you’ll harness the true power of the web to boost your bottom line. Focus on building pages that are easy to navigate, with large buttons and headlines, all without neglecting positive imagery and appealing visual themes.

3. Tell a Story with Your Site Copy

It isn’t uncommon for designers to think of copy in secondary terms, the text that merely complements the design. Of course, marketers understand that language is one of the most important elements of a cohesive marketing message. Copy is also one of the most versatile components of a modern website. Most brand settle on a static logo and page design that only changes very rarely, while copy can be edited frequently. Use this key to your advantage to change your narrative as your brand evolves.

4. Choose the Right Photos and Images

Images are another overlooked factor on many websites. When choosing photos for your site, it’s almost always preferable to steer clear of stock photography, which reads fake and inauthentic. Think carefully about what images will strengthen the message of your marketing language. Focus on the real deal: photos of your staff members, products, and storefront, offices, or dining room.

5. Communicate Value Above All Else

Creating the visual appearance of your site gives you the perfect opportunity to spend some time tailoring the profile of your target customer. Look at your site objectively and ask, “What is my buyer seeking?”

Think of successful brands that have trailblazed with their marketing initiatives. Apple uses visual aesthetics to demonstrate their products’ superior value to the traditional home PC, and Whole Foods plasters health logos and farm imagery on its ads to connect with health-conscious consumers.

Consider A/B testing if possible, or simply have some brutally honest friends and colleagues take a look at what you’ve created. Ask reviewers to describe the site in two or three words. If you’re on the right path, you should hear adjectives that clearly describe what your brand is all about.

Connecting with Your Target Audience Online

November, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Spending thousands of dollars on thoughtful advertising and promotional tools could prove fruitless for your business if you don’t target the right audience. Unfortunately, many small companies take an overly simplistic approach to their digital marketing efforts. “If you build it, they will come” is a nice movie quote, but it has next to no relevance for online marketers. Instead of spinning your metaphorical wheels trying to gain traction on the web with no results, use the following keys to effectively reach your target audience.

Meet Consumers Where They Gather

Before spending countless hours building a thoughtful social presence for your business, take the time to research consumer trends online. For example, are you aware that 53% of adults aged 18-29 use Instagram? On the other hand, Pinterest is overwhelmingly dominated by female users.

Just like different social groups find their own meeting spots in the real world, digital users congregate in a wide assortment of destinations. Spend some time learning where your target audience interacts on the web, and join the conversation to maximize your marketing efforts.

Spark the Right Discussion

Engaging with users is a buzzword for marketing experts because it represents one of the most powerful tools available for modern businesses. Consumers who interact with brands online are more likely to make a purchase, but it’s important to start the right discussion. Blogging and content creation is one accessible means of sparking a conversation with your audience members, but you need to think thoughtfully about what your audience wants to read.

If you’re feeling stumped, use a tool like Google Keyword Planner to find relevant keywords. You can also search the web for the most influential blogs in your niche. If possible, consider building partnerships with these entities, who can send traffic and readers your direction. Organize a giveaway, cross promote, or author a guest blog to reach those elusive readers.

Choose Targeted Ads

If you’re ready to take your marketing prowess to the next level, consider using targeted digital ads to increase your footprint on the web. Most web-based advertising publishers allow you to carefully outline which consumers you want to target. Google is perhaps the best-known advertising channel on the internet, with its trailblazing AdWords product, but don’t overlook smaller networks. You can also consider advertising on social platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Connecting with the right audience is no simple feat, but don’t be discouraged by a lack of progress. Just like building a social circle takes time when you move to a new city, you’ll need to spend some time cultivating your business following on the web. With diligent, continual effort on your part, you should manage to reach your target audience and grow your business over time.

Setting Up Google Alerts to Monitor Your Competition

November, 2015 · By Deborah Fiorentino

Maintaining a watchful eye on the competition is a longstanding tradition for small business owners, but keeping tabs in the digital age can often prove tricky. Rather than making a habit of constantly visiting the websites of your competitors or discreetly following their social media accounts, why not instead use Google Alerts to streamline the process for you? In just a few simple steps, you can establish alerts that will notify you as soon as your competition makes a move.

How Google Alerts Work

By creating a Google Alert, you’re essentially automating a web search based on keywords you specify. To establish alerts, simply navigate to google.com/alerts and create a new alert using a keyword relevant to your brand or competitor. Choose how often you’d like to receive updates, and voila—you’ve created an alert. Google will email you when changes are discovered.

To ensure Google only sends you relevant information, hone in on specific sources or regions as necessary. Google will allow you to specifically target blogs or news sites, and you can filter results based on your location.

Why Monitor Your Competition?

Paying close attention to activity within your industry is an important step for any marketer. This process gives you the information you can use to improve your business strategy. Using Google Alerts for competitive analysis, you can easily:

● Identify Competitive Advantages: What are your competitors doing correctly? Why are customers choosing these brands over your own?
● Review Promotional Campaigns: Are you competitors running sales or special discounts to snare new buyers? You may want to consider price matching or going a step further with a better deal.
● Discover Potential Weaknesses: What areas is your competitor neglecting that you could exploit to gain customers?

Additional Tools for Competitive Analysis

Google Alerts is a great tool for getting started monitoring your competitors online, but there are plenty of additional resources available to get a better view of the big picture. Social Mention is one such tool, a free platform that allows you to peruse social platforms for brand references. Google Keyword Planner is also a valuable resource for learning more about your competitors’ page ranks and traffic for various keywords.

Eager to dig even deeper into the data mine? Kissmetrics has compiled a comprehensive overview of 25 different tools you can use to make monitoring your competition easier than ever.

When developing your marketing strategy, strive to highlight the best attributes of your products and brand identity. Obsessing about your competitors isn’t a healthy means of driving your business forward, but it will allow you to ensure you’re keeping up with the pack. By embracing tools like Google Alerts, you can streamline the analysis process and instead focus your energy on fostering new ideas for growth and customer retention.