Marketers have been leveraging the power of color psychology for years, and you can apply some of their methods to help grow your business.

Use of color theory dates back to the days of traditional advertising, with agencies attempting to influence perception, drive behavior or set an agenda. And while different eras showcased different color schemes -- with bright, vibrant, accent colors being popular in the '70s, while the '90s saw a rise in the traditional red-black-white palette -- the methodology behind it remains the same.

There are a number of reasons why agencies use color and music to affect mood and drive behavior. The most powerful one is that they target the irrational portion of the brain, otherwise known as the limbic system. It operates quite differently than the prefrontal cortex, which handles judgement, and rational decision making. For example, if you send a proposal to a client, they might focus on the cost, because it's a set number, which can be measured.

But the limbic system is quite different, as it's focused on emotions and feelings. Marketers use colors, music and messaging to make consumers feel a certain way, attempting to influence them into taking action.

So what emotions are associated with colors? Read on to find out.

How to use color theory to fit your business strategy

 

Summary: Why color theory should be a part of your brand strategy

Marketers and business owners both understand that using the right strategy to drive action is imperative to optimize conversion rate.

And while your business' Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) vary based on your respective niche, conversions are vital for all companies, as revenue is vital for growth strategy. The use of color theory can help influence consumers into taking a specific action, whether it's on your website, storefront, billboard, logo, business card, pitch deck or any other channel used to showcase your brand.

So make sure to devote time to selecting your brand colors. Not only that, make sure to leverage color theory in all your marketing efforts.

SEO has changed so much over the years, and it can sometimes feel like a full-time job to keep up with the latest tips and trends.

It's always been a cat-and-mouse game between marketers and Google, with the most popular search engine in the world continually rolling out algorithm updates, while also adjusting their ranking signals, deciding which ones carry the most weight. In fact, it's still unknown exactly what the breakdown looks like, as Google attempts to do whatever it can to prevent black-hat SEOs from reverse engineering content. And while it can be frustrating for marketers to be left in the dark, it's easy to understand where Google is coming from.

And while NFTs and meme stocks are all the rage these days, their demand simply is not sustainable. The bubble will eventually burst, and it'll be on to the next trend.

SEO, on the other hand, will always be desirable. Getting listed and coming up on search is essentially the modern age's Yellow Pages. Gone is the phone book, and in is returning information in response to search queries. It's why SEO is such big business, as it has such a big impact on lead generation, and, if a website and its copy are optimized for conversion: sales.

But what are the hottest SEO trends to follow this year?

Five hot 2021 SEO trends

  1. Backlinks still have value, as long as they're from a website that features relevant content -- preferably with high authority.

    There are a number of metrics that can impact ranking–user experience, trust factor and number of backlinks among them. Focusing on optimizing for these metrics will help your site rank better.

  2. Search intent has become more important than keywords.

    SEO in the past was fairly simple, and was centered around keywords. Nowadays, however, Google wants to keep its users happy and provide them value on their search query. Matching search intent is extremely important, and if you can focus on this area, search engines will likely reward you.

  3. Google is now showing many different types of data and markup to impact Search Engine Rankings Position (SERP), with more features being added each year.

    “Instant Answers” is a major one that is impacting what content is displayed on search results pages. Gone are the days when all that was displayed on search results pages was content, with 10 blue links, and not much else. We now have the Knowledge Graph, Instant Answers and more.

    Google has also been known to display snippets from articles, so keep that in mind when creating content.

  4. Voice search continues to trend upwards, with Siri and Alexa leading the charge.

    Marketers, SEOs and business owners are beginning to pay attention to this area, for keyword searches, links, etc., due to machine learning. Optimize content with voice search in mind as well. To do this, make sure the copy in your blog posts and web pages answers related questions that users may be looking for in their search query. If you can provide answers to their questions, you'll have a better chance of ranking for voice search results.

  5. User experience still reigns supreme

    Especially with Google's rollout of the Core Web Vitals ranking signal, and the Page Experience algorithm update.Backlinks matter, as well as on and off-page SEO. And as we discussed above, search intent is also important. But nothing is more impactful in terms of how a page ranks than delivering on user experience.

    Make sure you're providing an enjoyable, frictionless experience for users browsing your page, first and foremost.

Summary: Why digital marketers should follow these 2021 SEO trends

SEO is far more complicated than it used to be, but is even more important nowadays. Any business looking to improve brand awareness, generate leads and increase sales should optimize content for it.

And while the technical components, which fall into the on-page SEO bucket, are difficult for many to grasp, they can be optimized with the right audit, as well as the help of "martech" software. Automation has come a long way, and is beneficial for anyone looking to improve their SEO.

Modern SEO is centered around delivering the best user experience possible, and satisfying search intent. Achieve those goals and everything else will fall into place.

SEO has changed quite a bit over the years, and there are a lot of factors to monitor if you want your website to rank well.

Generally, the signals involved fall into two buckets: on-page and off-page SEO. Optimizing for the former is a far more technical process than for the latter, so we're focusing on that area in this post.

Off-page SEO tends to center around link building, authoritative mentions and citations, which you can acquire using a digital marketing agency. It's a process that takes time -- months, years, even -- depending on how competitive the search engine ranking positions (SERPs) are.

But on-page SEO is far more technical, and is focused on the process by which search engines crawl and index web pages. Generally speaking, it involves optimizing the elements on a website. Updating pages and posts is extremely beneficial in this regard, as you can include current best practices -- given how much SEO changes over time -- and also remove any unnecessary tags or HTML.

Strategy for improving on-page SEO is distilled down into optimizing both the front and back-end of your website, so here's how to do exactly that.

Tips for how to optimize on-page SEO

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Summary: Key website on-page SEO factors to address

Business owners tend to avoid dealing with technical issues, as it's not fun, trendy or creative, such as brand strategy or social media marketing, but that's a huge mistake.

On-page SEO is extremely important, and has a major impact on ranking signals used by search engines. Focus on website speed, headings, security, mobile responsiveness, URL structure and meta titles and descriptions. This list will help guide you through the major areas to emphasize.

It's not as talked about as off-page SEO, but optimizing for on-page is a much faster process, and should be prioritized by business owners across all verticals.

It seemed like only yesterday that businesses around the world focused the majority of their marketing resources on social media, but those days are over.

There are so many different traction channels to leverage nowadays, and social media, from an impressions perspective, is just a shell of what it once was. Facebook and Twitter both adjusted their algorithms significantly to limit organic reach, mainly so they could control it for monetization purposes, using ads. If you want to play, you need to pay, unfortunately.

And there's also a lot of distrust surrounding social media and big tech nowadays. Privacy issues have affected how many people engage on social media, and they're top-of-mind for some. Facial recognition technology and third-party cookies aren't helping bring users back to Facebook and Twitter, either, as Gen Z has flocked to YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok instead.

Enter email marketing.

Businesses can leverage it to create their own private communication channel to interact with their ecosystem -- both leads and customers -- whenever they choose. Email marketing creates a private messaging channel, and it also has certain audience benefits as well. Unlike social media, whoever builds a list owns the data. Equity isn't common on the internet nowadays, and that's why email marketing and webinars are so powerful. Here are a few more reasons it's replaced social media as the traction channel of choice for marketers.

Use these email marketing tips to complement social media strategy for your business

Summary: Why email marketing is a key traction channel for digital marketing

There are over 30 traction channels for digital marketers to leverage, with all of them having different strengths and weaknesses.

In our eyes, email marketing provides the best return on investment, mainly because it's virtually free, aside from a subscription to an Email Service Provider. These ESPs, such as MailChimp and ConvertKit, often give marketers other tools to help with CRM, landing pages, pop-ups and more, so they're worth the investment. Not only that, email marketing doesn't require a high time cost, whereas social media management is quite the opposite.

Email marketing allows business owners to establish and build a direct, personal relationship with their list, and it can help convert a cold lead into a life-time customer. And sure, it takes time, but no audience is built overnight, so you just need to figure out which traction channels are best for your market vertical.

Social proof is a necessity for small businesses -- especially those in the early stage -- in the digital world we live in today.

Reviews and testimonials help warm up cold leads who have just recently learned about your brand. They don't want to hear you talk about your services, but instead would rather listen to those who have hired you talk about the experience. Most importantly, they'll want to hear about the results they got from hiring you.

It's important for small businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors, given how crowded many market verticals already are. Social proof allows them to do exactly that, and when used in combination with a strong value proposition, they can be extremely effective.

We've got some ideas for how to get testimonials, and how they should be structured, so check them out below.

How to get website testimonials from clients

Summary: Why social proof helps small businesses grow

Small businesses need to do whatever they can to stand out among their competition and help position themselves in their respective market vertical.

Price, product and promotion are all very important, but so is social proof. Getting clients to tell the story of their experience to those currently deciding whether or not to hire you is extremely beneficial, and you should invest time into creating a process to make that happen.

Much has changed in business and marketing trends over the past year, but lead generation continues to remain important.

Many business owners actually prioritize leads over sales, as they believe that lifetime value is a more important key performance indicator (KPI) than one or two short-term sales. Revenue is important, but building a relationship based on trust with a consumer is more beneficial, in terms of long-term growth. Getting these users to fall in love with your brand over your competitors can spur them to refer your business to others. Not only that, it can obviously drive them to buy more from you in both the short and long-term, rather than simply a one-off.

But it takes a lot of work to warm up a cold lead. Nurturing with valuable information and opening a direct line of communication can help facilitate the process. It's believed that the more a company provides value to and educates a consumer, the more likely they are to buy a product or service offered.

This logic makes sense, but it's not as simple as it may seem on paper, in terms of user journey. It's important to build a sales funnel to generate leads and warm them up, hopefully leading to one or more conversions. We've got some advice for how to do exactly that.

Tips for building a sales funnel with a simple user journey

It all starts with simplicity, because a confused mind never buys. The user journey in your sales funnel should only include a few steps, and should be as simple as possible, to prevent against potentially dropping out of the funnel, or fracturing the relationship.

 

Summary: The value in creating a sales funnel for your business

Any business owner knows how difficult it can be to generate leads consistently.

Referrals are important, but businesses in their early stage often focus on improving their skills and services, or pricing, rather than leveraging important marketing channels. Choosing the right channel to invest resources -- both time and money -- into is extremely beneficial to help generate leads. It isn't very fun, and can be quite time consuming, but the long-term success of your business may depend on it.

A sales funnel can help create a defined user journey, converting a cold lead into a warm one. This nurturing process can educate the consumer, and also have them develop an interest in your brand. This helps provide an alternative to sitting and hoping that leads find your website or social media profile, and are then interested enough to contact you about the products or services your company offers.

Invest time in planning how your sales funnel will look, and then create it. The success of your business may depend on it.

Digital marketing is all the rage these days, but there are still a number of traditional strategies in use, many of which have existed for decades.

Advertising and marketing have become quite different, whereas they were once joined at the hip, yet there's still some crossover between them. Capturing attention remains important, although the method for doing so varies greatly. Not only that, both advertising and marketing emphasize driving action.

In digital marketing, the method for driving action is usually with a call-to-action button, section or element. And while there are some copywriters and business owners that only utilize buttons, it's important to point out that users nowadays sometimes don't want to be pushed in one direction or the other. It's best practice to lead them to a decision, which they can opt into.

As such, driving action using clever copy has increased in popularity over the past few years. It aligns with modern marketing principles, and helps empower the user, by reinforcing that they have the power to choose.

So while there are different opinions on how to drive action, which depend on both the individual approach and niche, there are some shared themes among them. Here are some strategies for how to create a call-to-action that works for your business.

Best practice, strategy for how to create a call-to-action to convert at a high rate

Summary: How a CTA can help grow your business

Content marketing is important for lead generation and nurturing your audience, as providing value to them can help build trust. But that copy should also include at least one call-to-action, so they'll take the desired action you want them to. Otherwise, you may not get the return you're seeking for your content.

CTAs are often mentioned in the form of buttons, but that's not always the best method for implementation. Elements can help improve the style of a web page or blog post, but sometimes a more subtle approach is best, such as an in-text mention, like we've done here, explaining that Optimize Web Solutions can help you with web design, digital marketing services.

There's also a lot of variance in how to design a CTA, in terms of color, size, copy, placement, style and more. Figure out what makes the most sense for your business and target audience.

And remember: Test, test and test some more. Split testing is so important for the strategies that were outlined.

There were over 30.2 million registered businesses in the United States in 2020, so standing out from the rest of the pack continues to grow in importance.

Small businesses dominate the overall landscape, as 99.9% of all registered businesses in the country are of the small variety. Each vertical market has different requirements to be classified as a small, medium or large business, in terms of average annual revenue or number of employees.

As such, it's so important for any business to figure out how to differentiate itself from its competition.

Positioning is a major part of brand strategy, and finding the right differentiator can really help in that area. Barriers for entry may be low nowadays, but it's still very difficult for businesses to succeed in the current landscape, with 20 percent of small businesses failing in their first year.

To give your business the best chance of survival, it's vital to create a compelling value proposition that separates you from your competitors. Here are some tips to accomplish exactly that.

Best practices, strategies for creating a value proposition for small businesses

(Medium and large businesses that have grown enough to fall into that category generally don't need help with their value proposition, so we're going to focus on small ones. But these tips would generally apply for all businesses as a whole.)

A good value proposition expresses the tangible results or concrete outcomes a customer experiences from using a company’s products or services. It should:

  1. Show how you solve a problem better than your competition.
  2. Use a single-sentence headline.It's sometimes accompanied by a sub-headline, and is often the first bit of copy you'll see above the fold on a company's website.
  3. Contain one key selling point, to differentiate you from your competition.It should focus on why consumers should choose you over the rest of the pack.
  4. Copy should be clear and concise, and must focus on benefits, rather than features.
  5. Give consumers a compelling reason to buy from you over your competitors.

Summary: How to create a value proposition to position your business in its market vertical

Market positioning is often overlooked, but is one of the most important factors for the success of any business.

Owners often make the mistake of spending too much time on their logo, or their business name, but that's not really what branding is about. A brand is the message you want to send to your customers, about who you are, and what you stand for. It's also about positioning: Using your value proposition to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Focus on these key areas, and you'll give your business the best chance to thrive.

Web design is one of the hottest industries right now, as the pandemic gave rise to E-Commerce businesses, and also caused some people to reevaluate their career choice and learn new skills.

But it wasn't always that way.

In fact, web developers were once labeled "nerds." And they sure weren't considered essential. Very few small and medium businesses even saw the need to create a website to showcase their brand, even after the dot-com boom. But it seems like everyone has one to complement their social media footprint nowadays.

It's actually been three decades since web pages have been in existence, with Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, a scientist, having created the first World Wide Web browser in 1990. It was released to the public the following year, but network effects take time, so it took a few years for websites to become part of everyday business world life.

Fast-forward to now, a world in which pets have their own blog—or an entire website, even. So how'd we get here?

The evolution of how businesses have leveraged web design

Websites nowadays traditionally utilize a five-page design. They differ based on niche, audience demographics and marketing approach, but generally, they're comprised of the following pages:

  1. Homepage
  2. About Us
  3. Products or Services
  4. FAQs
  5. Contact Us

A blog or testimonials section can exist in place of one of those others as well, depending on how the business wants to present itself. Both of these are great at expressing EAT -- expertise, authority and trust.  Blogs excel at showing how experienced a business is in its respective niche, while testimonials serve as social proof, having others explain what that company did for them as a client. A glowing review or two can go a long way.

Even E-Commerce websites use a form of social proof on their products pages. Many forget how powerful product reviews can be.

The general approach for websites is to express who a business is, what they do (niche) and who they serve. But that's evolved quite a bit from their initial intent.

Websites were once used primarily to serve as a business' "brochure." That simply isn't the case anymore, as social media fulfills that purpose nowadays.

It's now all about funneling users to websites using social media, advertising and word of mouth, then getting the person to scroll down the page. The average user spends only three seconds on a website, so it's important to focus a lot of attention to above-the-fold design. If the user continues to scroll down, there's a better chance he or she might end up converting (buying a product or service).

Short attention spans and the era of "opt-in" marketing has given rise to the 3/30 Principle. It's said that web designers have three seconds to attract the user to stay on the page with their value proposition, design or whatever else they can leverage. And then they have an additional 30 seconds to retain them, with page content, elements and more.

So make sure you are designing your web page in a clear, professional manner. The "brochure" era is over.

Summary: Why modern web design is here to stay

It's really a blast from the past when we go back and look at some old blogs and websites, from the GeoCities days, and even beforehand. There was so much text crowded onto a tiny page, generally on a traditional grey background. From a design perspective, it was a nightmare. And here's why that was problematic.

"A confused mind never buys."

That's why we at Optimize Web Solutions utilize modern web design principles, with plenty of white space, and not so many elements. You won't find videos, unless our clients specifically request them to help show expertise or to model a product. E-Commerce websites can be a bit tricky, as a video or two can help sell the product, and a lot of photos are needed to be displayed as well. But there's ways to be creative, such as website optimization, and still adhere to best practices for modern design.

Let your page breathe, tell your readers exactly who you are and what you do, and you can drill down to design principles and concepts from there. Just don't get caught up in going overboard with Javascript and embeddable media. It may look cool, but it won't perform well or convert.

Trust us: Less is more. What was once the World Wide Web will soon be Web 3.0, and a lot has changed since that time, so it's important to adjust your website's approach accordingly.

It's been roughly two decades since social media networks came into existence, and since that time, they've completely changed how people around the world communicate, do business and approach their daily routine.

For Millennials and Gen X'ers, it all began in 2003, when Myspace first launched. Having one's own page—which was more of a personal blog than anything—was the best way to express oneself digitally. But the most important part of Myspace's value proposition centered around connecting users around the world in the form of comments and direct messages.

And it's interesting, because when users first began to flock to social media, the networks were viewed as a medium to connect people around the world. But now many see social media as a disconnect. They feel it has fractured the manner in which we communicate, favoring these digital platforms over face-to-face interaction.

But the blame shouldn't be placed on Myspace, or Facebook, which launched the following year (as "TheFacebook."). There were some predecessors as well that enabled digital communication from a social perspective, although they don't fit the traditional social media mold as we know it today. AOL Instant Messenger (like in the screenshot below), ICQ and Yahoo! Messenger all had an effect on the world as we know it. But none of them should get the majority of the blame for social disconnect.

AIM

Fast-forward to today, with social media channels being the predominant way users communicate globally. Not only that, it's also the most common touchpoint for businesses and brand managers to reach their customers, both for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). And that's exactly what we're going to focus on in this post.

There are a number of different social media sites in existence today, each of which harbors different demographics of users. As such, businesses and brand managers must employ different approaches on each individual platform to reach their audience. We've highlighted the key comparisons between each network, so you can do exactly that.

Strategy, comparisons for targeting social media users on each platform

Summary: How brands should use social media site similarities, differences for audience building and marketing strategy

Identify your ideal customer. Use that "avatar" to dictate which social media sites are best to allocate your resources, both from a time and financial perspective. Time is finite, and budgets for small businesses and brands in their incubation phase can be thin.

As such, we advocate starting with only one—maybe two— social media platforms to reach users. It won't take long for you to identify if your efforts are giving you a positive return, in terms of engagement and conversions. If they are, then, by all means, continue to build your audience there. If not, it's probably best to move on to another platform.

It's a long, complicated process to identify which sites are best for your brand, and it really depends on your niche and ideal customer, first and foremost. So start there, and make sure you continue to employ different strategies along the way.

Split testing tactics, strategies, approaches and even your profile information will allow you to identify what works best, and once you find that secret formula, the road to social media success gets a lot easier.

Lastly, make sure to optimize website performance. That should be a priority if you're funneling users to a landing page or homepage in search of conversions. Make sure you're delivering a frictionless, enjoyable experience for users.

Just remember that no brand should overlook social media, and while it can take time and energy to identify the right sites to leverage, it's well worth it in the long run.

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