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girl sitting at desk on zoom

The cat’s out of the bag. Video is the hottest media source out there right now—and therefore, should be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy.

The challenge that many business owners face, however, is not having the bandwidth or the knowledge on how to record quality video without breaking the bank. (No, you don’t have to pay a professional videographer for three hours of in-person recording…)

If you want to connect with your prospects, you have to use video. So, how can you do it yourself? Here are some suggestions on how to get the most out of a video that is recorded over Zoom, in-person, or even on an iPhone:

The Set-Up

Lighting, sound, and positioning are important. Here are some valuable, simple tips regarding each element.

  1. Make sure light comes from in front of you, not behind. A big window showcasing a garden behind you might serve as a lovely Zoom backdrop, but without lighting on your face, you’ll be washed out.
  2. Give yourself some space around your head. Frame yourself from mid-bicep up with a hand’s width of headroom above your head.
  3. Sit a little lower than the camera. There is a reason selfies are always up at a 45º angle—and while that’s a little extreme, a shot from below is rarely flattering.
  4. Give yourself some depth of field. Leave room behind you, it’s visually more interesting than a blank wall a foot behind you.
  5. When possible, forego the zoom background for something real. Unless you have piles of boxes or a messy bed, a real background looks better. Not going to work for you, we recommend one of these virtual zoom backgrounds. (Plus, they’re free!)
  6. If you have a lavalier mic or a stationary mic, use it. If you don’t, make sure the birds chirping, car horns tooting, and leaf blower blowing in the background is as muted as possible.

The Attire

Dress to the nines! Well, not quite to the nines… But you should certainly look presentable!

The Trunk Club recommends that you choose your meeting wardrobe the same as you would for an in-person work meeting or job interview.

Dress and prepare yourself as you would if you were meeting a prospect for a 9:00 am meeting in the office. 

Men, a collared shirt; ladies, a nice top. Do your hair and—if you choose—makeup.

What to Say in a Video Testimonial

This is where we find our clients get the most tripped up. Firstly, you want to showcase happy customers and success stories of yours. Why? You can build trust in a video testimonial by discussing your ideal client’s pain points and describing how your product or service helped them.

Here are a few examples of what to say in a video testimonial:

Start with your name, your company, and a brief description of what you do. For example: “Hi, I’m John Doe, founder of Awesome Company and we are a full-service Original Equipment Manufacturer located in Orange County, CA.”

State the “before.” When we first met Brent at Innovative Capital, we had been looking for financing for a large equipment purchase to increase our manufacturing capacity in our Santa Ana Warehouse.”

State the problem.We’d been to our regular business bank but, because of other debt and a sharp downturn in 2020 revenue, we were not able to secure the funds the old-fashioned way.”

Explain what the person you’re doing the video testimonial for offers. “We were referred to Innovative Capital by our Bank to help out. They said that Brent knew all about any kind of lending that you can think of.”

Tell the solution. “The whole process took about five weeks from the first meeting to funding. First, they got a ton of information about the company, historical and projected data, and put together a package that he was able to bring to a number of different lending institutions and funds… We couldn’t believe it when he came back with four options each with varying terms and rates after just 10 days.”

Explain how the solution helped you. “Without his help we would have spent countless hours going to banks, jumping through hoops only to get a loan that we couldn’t possibly benchmark against other offers. Brent helped us review the terms and rates and choose the funding source that suited our needs best.”

Share the final result—how did it impact your life and/or business? “We probably saved the business by getting this done so fast.”

How Long Should a Video Testimonial Be? 

No more than three minutes. We believe 90 seconds is best!

Final Tips for Recording Your Video Testimonial

  1. Know what you’re going to say but do NOT write a script. Actors spend a lifetime getting really good at seeming natural while saying memorized lines. The truth is, you will not seem natural and, since this is a genuine message, authenticity is important. 
  2. Make notes, don’t write a script. It’s OK to look down, but do not look off of the screen where your camera sits.
  3. Talk to someone specific.
  4. Don’t look at yourself in the camera. We can tell when people are looking at themselves.
  5. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t record a ton of takes. If you stumble, that’s OK. That’s how people talk in real life (and we want you to come off like a real person, not a perfect, shiny robot!)
  6. It’s not that deep. It shouldn’t hurt, take forever, or be super stressful. 
  7. Have fun! Tell a short story and say thank you. Know that video helps people connect with businesses by increasing trust and reducing stranger danger.
  8. BEWARE OF THE BAD CAMERA ANGLE… Here, our kick*ss Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Amanda Rogers, is here to demonstrate…

A Final Word

There you have it! All of the tools to set yourself up for success when recording a Zoom testimonial for prospective customers to view. Interested in learning more? Read on to hear about the variety of different video types available for your business to record.

scrolling on instagram burgers in background

Social media algorithms, we’ve written about them before. It seems, however, that with every month, week, and sometimes daily, Instagram is implementing new changes.

Instagram has recently implemented a number of changes to its algorithm that have crashed engagement across nearly all accounts.

The most common complaints we hear? “I never see my friends’ posts anymore,” “I think I’m shadowbanned…” “My engagement sucks lately.”

We’ve heard it all and we feel your pain! Let’s talk about some of the recent changes Instagram has implemented and address some of these concerns.

What’s Going on with The Instagram Algorithm?

What better way to dissect the algorithm than to look at a blog post that Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, wrote titled “Shedding More Light on How Instagram Works”?

Most importantly, Mosseri wrote that one of the main misconceptions about Instagram is the existence of “The Algorithm.”

“Instagram doesn’t have one algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app,” says Mosseri. “We use a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose.”

There’s a ton more good stuff and information on how the Instagram algorithm works (or lack of!) in the actual article, so check that out if you’re interested.

For now, let’s talk about some of the recent changes Instagram has implemented that might affect your content being seen or not.

Chronological order is back!

It’s about time! Instagram’s @Creators account finally announced the return of chronological order.

Back in the day—in 2010, to be exact—the Valencia filter ran rampant and the app itself looked like a neutral-toned vintage camera. Moreover, your home page was a single stream of photos that were sorted in chronological order.

Viewing posts in chronological order, however, was a feature that was removed in 2016. If you ask some, this choice nearly started WW3 (Just kidding … Kindof).

But flash forward to today, it’s back!

“You’ve been asking, and we’ve been listening! 👀” is what @creators captioned the announcement.

Following and Favorites

Instagram decided to take things a step further.

Instead of reverting back to solely chronological order, Instagram now offers three options to view your feed:

  • Home
  • Favorites
  • Following

Here is a brief description of what makes each different.

Home: According to @creators, “home” refers to the feed you’ve gotten used to. This feed will “remain a mix of content from people you follow, recommended content you may like, and more.” Home will remain your default view when you first open the app.

Favorites: Your “favorites” feed will show you the latest posts “from a list of up to 50 specific accounts that you choose.” This might include your best friends, favorite creators (including Digital Storyteller of course), or other favorite accounts that you follow.

Following: Just as it sounds—the “following” feed will show you posts from only accounts that you follow.

Are You Using All of Instagram’s Features?

Over the past five years, Instagram has launched a ton of new features, including reels, stories, IGTV, and even shopping.

We’ve noticed that sometimes it feels like Instagram either rewards or punishes accounts based on your usage of the app as a whole. The bottom line? Instagram wants you to use and try all of its features. 

Depending on your business or goals, your digital marketing strategy might include a combination of:

  • Standard posts
  • Reels
  • Stories
  • IGTV videos
  • Shoppable posts

Consistency is Key

The algorithm favors consistency and patterns. Find out when your target audience is most active, and tailor your posting schedule toward that. At Digital Storyteller, we do this with ease using the scheduling platform, Metricool. Of course, there are various alternative scheduling platforms and tools that can be used similarly as well.

A Quick Rundown of Each Social Media Platform

Lastly, it’s important to know which social media channels are best suited to help you attain the unique needs and goals of your business. That’s why we’re sharing a brief rundown of what each platform can be used for when it comes to your business. So, what the heck does each of them do? Speed round, go!

Instagram

Instagram is great for building engagement and sharing culture. That means taking pictures of your team at events, showing off your pets, and happy hours and posting them!

When an Instagram user visits a business’ Instagram, they want to see the people behind the business. Show them who they get to work with when they decide to buy your product or become a client.

Facebook

Facebook is for your grandma… Just kidding, kind of!

Facebook, in the business world, is a largely pay-to-play platform. In simple terms, if you’re not putting money behind your Facebook efforts, chances are not many people will see your content. Boosting a specific post to your Facebook audience can attract thousands of impressions, whereas organic content doesn’t typically reach the same levels of performance.

(Please note: We’re not suggesting that you dedicate your entire marketing budget to your Facebook page, but putting $50 behind a post here or there can significantly support your Facebook performance).

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional platform, which means it’s probably not the best-suited platform to share your family photos or pictures from your latest island vacation.

LinkedIn is a great platform to help you build authority and build a professional network. Chances are, LinkedIn is your best bet if you’re looking to identify qualified leads via social media. It’s also a great way to gather expertise from established experts in your industry.

Twitter

In a nutshell, Twitter is for politics, news, and funny one-offs (think: memes, GIFs, recaps of the Oscars…)

A Final Word

We know that managing your business’s social media presence can be a lot to keep track of on top of running your business. That’s why we recommend you pass on the work of crafting a killer digital marketing plan to our team of experts at Digital Storyteller.

Not ready to make the jump yet? Let’s get REEL instead! Check out this article on how Instagram reels support your social media strategy. Then, shoot us a message.

The Golden Screw

At Digital Storyteller, we believe storytelling is absolutely essential to the success of your business. But of course, you already knew that (we mean, the word ‘storyteller’ is in our name for goodness sake…)

But anyway, storytelling is key. Today, we’d like to share a story from our rockstar client, John Milikowsky, Founder of Milikowsky Tax Law.

It’s the origin story of his business, the inspiration for his logo (check it out here!), and how his skill set makes him a fantastic tax lawyer. Let’s dive in.

—————

“I’d like to set the scene… Come back in time with me, if you will.


It’s 1987 and I’m 10 years old. I’m sitting in a windowless supply room in the back of my
parents’ lighting store on a stool and in front of me is an oil barrel filled with screws. Machine
screws, wood screws, drywall screws, Phillips screws, and… you get the idea… a lot of screws.
And my task, set out for me by my father is to sort these screws into containers.


So many questions fly through my mind… why am I in the back storeroom when my sister gets
to be out on the floor of the store, actually TALKING to people, doing something useful and fun?


Who is the Machiavellian monster who has indiscriminately put screws from every facet of
construction just WILLY NILLY in an oil barrel?! Why does this oil barrel live in the storeroom of
my parents’ lighting store…


Sort
Sort
Sort


In that entire summer, I never made more than an inch’s worth of progress in sorting those
screws.


But sometime in the middle of that summer, I realized I had a choice to make… I was at a
crossroads. I could be furious, resentful… victimized by the mundane monotonous task set in
front of me… or, I could do it well and fast. I could be the best at screw sorting…


It’s possible that hindsight has put that perspective on my young experience…


But certainly, as I navigated my first few years of audits with my Tax Law clients, as they handed
me THEIR metaphorical oil-barrels filled with numbers… profit and loss statements for 3, 4 5
years, receipts faded with time and transactions whose recipients had long gone out of
business, I came to appreciate that summer of sorting. That training in detail work, that
patience for sifting through the most minute details.


I discovered that my passion was for the detective work it took to uncover the one piece of
information that made all the rest of a company’s business narrative fall into place. I realized it
was like finding a needle in a haystack, a diamond in ice… a golden screw… And that through
that kind of attention to detail, I could help people in their moments of crisis, at their crossroads.
Through diligence, expertise, and attention to detail, I can help save people’s businesses,
their families, and often, their sense of humor.”

Marketing for Financial Services Companies

“At Digital Storyteller, we focus exclusively on [marketing for] financial services companies in the B to B space.”

Above is the text you’re faced with when you first visit DigitalStoryteller.io. Some of you might be thinking, “Great!… But what the heck is a financial services company?”

Most marketing agencies work with brands (think: restaurants, fitness centers, influencers, beauty companies, the list goes on). At Digital Storyteller, we’re a bit different… Here’s why.

Why Do We Focus on the Financial Services Industry?

So, why do we focus on financial services at Digital Storyteller? Well, aside from the fact that our team thinks financial services are wildly sexy (kidding… kind of?), we recognized a need and a gap in industry offerings.

But first, before we go into more detail, what is the financial services industry?

What the Heck is Financial Services?

We’re glad you asked.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the financial services sector “covers many different types of transactions in such areas as real estate, consumer finance, banking, and insurance.”

At Digital Storyteller, we have clients ranging from law firms to HR consulting firms, commercial real estate firms to wealth advisories, and commercial insurance. (Geez, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?)

Anyway, when we say financial services, that’s really the realm we’re talking about.

Marketing for Financial Services Companies

So, back to why we market for financial services, at Digital Storyteller, we feel like that level of business, and that community of businesses, are underserved from a marketing perspective.

There are plenty of agencies out there who spend their time on biotech, startups, and influencer marketing—but not a lot who spend their time with financial services.

A Quick Aside

How did all of this come to be? In 1997, Amanda Rogers, Chief Creative Officer and Founder of Digital Storyteller taught herself how to code from a book when the actors union was on strike. 

She taught herself to write HTML, CSS, and Javascript before WordPress, Squarespace, and WIX existed. Although Amanda believes a lot has changed in the “how” of creating online presences for people and their businesses, the why is still the same… Tell the world what you do better than anyone else and the right people will be able to find you.

Why is Marketing Important for Financial Services Specifically

The financial services industry is a competitive and unique industry to market for. We know that those in the financial services industry navigate the difficult terrain of regulatory and compliance hurdles while seeking to successfully market their products and services.

Moreover, when it comes to financial services, you must build trust and authority through consistent content that is:

  • Reliable
  • Informational
  • Educational
  • Engaging

This considered—its difficulty—it’s essential that financial services companies seek out the right marketing for their businesses. Interested in learning more? Read on in the importance of digital marketing for financial services companies.

Top Seven Categories of Digital Marketing

How They Work Together

The world of digital marketing is constantly evolving. (We know you know this because we remind you of this in nearly every piece of content we push out!) There are, however, a handful of tried and true marketing efforts under the larger umbrella term of ‘digital marketing.’

Because let’s be honest, not all marketing efforts are created equal. Here we will discuss the top seven categories of digital marketing and how they work together. These seven categories of digital marketing are fundamental to the success of your business’s content marketing strategy.

So, let’s get started.

Content Marketing

First, what is content marketing? Content marketing is the bread and butter of what we do at Digital Storyteller.

Content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action,” as put by the Content Marketing Institute.

Today, the traditional sales pitch style of marketing is decreasing in value every day. Instead, content marketing approaches prospective clients by providing useful, relevant content to help solve problems or answer questions. Furthermore, content marketing aims to build trust with your prospective clients rather than simply complete a sale. 

Effective content marketing utilizes the “creating and sharing [of] relevant articles, videos, podcasts, and other media.”

This type of marketing helps to establish expertise and increase brand awareness. The goal is to make sure your business is at the top of your prospect’s mind when the time to purchase a product or service comes.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is another crucial pillar in terms of your digital marketing strategy. SEO, in simple terms, is what allows your content to be found.

For our friends who love definitions, SEO, according to Moz, is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” SEO is how marketers tailor their content to appeal to search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.

For example, you might search ‘affordable chardonnay near me’ on Google. The way that Google then provides results based on your search is determined by SEO. SEO is the tool that tells Google, “Hey! This is what information my website has, this is what I’m talking about, and these are the types of people that would find my website interesting!”

One of our favorite SEO tools to use at Digital Storyteller is Semrush. Semrush is an online tool that collects research on your business’s SEO, pay-per-click (PPC), content, and social media efforts. It can also help you identify keywords you are currently ranking for or targeting.

If you didn’t know, information about ranking keywords is critical to making your way up the Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

For more on all things SEO, check out this article for 10 tips to maximize your SEO efforts, this article we wrote on why SEO is important, or one of our more recent articles on how to effectively combine SEO and content marketing!

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Parallel to SEO, we have SEM. You guessed it, another crucial piece of digital marketing.

SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing, which is, according to Optimizely, “a digital marketing strategy used to increase the visibility of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs).”

In the past, SEM typically encompassed both organic and paid search. Today, however, it almost exclusively refers to paid search advertising.

SEM is “the act of using paid strategies to increase search visibility.” Every day, businesses pay big money for their ads to rank first on search engine results pages. Hint: You can tell when businesses are using SEM by the bold “Ad” text that accompanies a search result.

SEO, SEM, why so many acronyms?! While these two may seem like the same thing, they are actually quite different. Learn more about the difference between the two in this article.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is not dead. It has, however, become increasingly difficult to grab the attention of clients and prospects through their inboxes.

Email marketing, as defined by MailChimp, is “a form of direct marketing as well as digital marketing, that uses email to promote your business’s products or services.”

Email marketing can be used to promote your latest items and offers, or it can assist with lead generation, brand awareness, relationship building, and customer engagement. 

The biggest challenge with email marketing is breaking through the noise. The best email marketing experts:

  • Craft compelling campaigns
  • Understand optimal audience outreach
  • And analyze customer interactions and data

Email marketing software companies, including HubSpot, Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact, and more, help perfect your email marketing campaigns by providing automated email workflow options as well as in-depth email marketing data (i.e. open rates and click-through rates).

Data Analytics

Marketing without data is merely speculation—a guessing game of what you hope will land with your prospects and clients.

At Digital Storyteller, we recognize that data is a crucial part of your digital marketing strategy. When it comes to our analyses, we use Google Analytics (primarily for website data), Semrush (for keyword analytics), and additionally Metricool (to look at social media performance).

Design and Website

As far as design goes, making sure your brand is consistent across all digital and print platforms helps clients and prospects recognize your brand immediately. 

Contrary to popular belief, design—whether for marketing collateral, social media, or a website—is more than just pictures and drawings. Venture and Grow state, “Graphic design is the art of communication that requires creativity and a systematic plan to solve a problem or achieve specific objectives.”

So, what makes effective design in digital marketing?

Effective graphic design “highlight plans to discover what makes [content] genuinely stand out and get shared.”

Additionally, top-notch design helps:

  • Build trust
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Influence the customer decision-making process

Don’t underestimate this component’s power in your digital marketing strategy. After all, you could have amazing content that gets swept under the rug because of poor presentation.

Speaking of design, let’s take a moment to chat about your website. Your business’s site isn’t just an opportunity to showcase your branding and design. Whether or not your site is easy to navigate and structured properly has a huge influence on how (and IF) clients and prospects will interact with your brand.

So, take a minute to ask yourself these questions: Is my website easy to navigate? Is it nice to look at? Does it lead people on a journey to find out more about my business?

Social Media Marketing

Of course, social media is a huge pillar in your digital marketing strategy. The platforms that you use (and that are essential to your digital marketing strategy) depend heavily on your target audience. Ask yourself where your prospects spend the most time, and where they are most likely to be influenced to trust a brand.

To learn which social platforms your business should be on, read our article “Financial Services Companies: Which Social Media Platforms Should You Be On?

Social media marketing includes any content that is released via a business’s social media channels. When it comes to a business, however, it’s not all fun and games. Crafting the perfect social media marketing strategy to fit into your larger digital marketing strategy is more complicated than posting on your own Instagram or LinkedIn.

Social media marketing is integrated and strategic. It takes hard work. Everything that pushes to social media must mirror the messages that are used throughout your business.

Social Media Analytics

Analytics are also crucial to your social media marketing.

This data can help you discover what types of posts do or don’t do well and why. With this data, social media marketers can better tailor their strategies for their business’s benefit.

Digital Storyteller is Here to Help

We know, there is a lot that goes into a successful digital marketing strategy. At Digital Storyteller, we like to think of your digital marketing strategy as a giant system of gears working together. Content is at the heart of this system and drives all of the marketing components like SEO, SEM, social media marketing, and so on.

The system would fail without each gear in place. So, how does your digital marketing strategy measure up? Read on to learn how to measure the success of your digital marketing strategy. You might be surprised by how your business is really doing.

Why is Organic Marketing Great for Financial Services Companies?

When you think of ‘marketing,’ what do you think of?

Chances are the first place your head goes is to advertising—billboards, television commercials, magazines, Instagram ads, the list goes on.

We don’t blame you! We are bombarded by ads every day. In fact, did you know research shows every day the average person encounters between 6,000 to 10,000 ads? This is a massive jump, considering that back in the 70s, “it was reported that the average person saw between 500 to 1600 ads per day.”

But remember, advertising is just a small piece of the marketing pie. Although paid ads have their time and place there’s a better way to market yourself. (Psst… It’s called organic marketing).

Amanda Rogers, Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Digital Storyteller, talks about why organic marketing is great for financial services companies (and all companies for that matter!)

Let’s get into it.

The Mistake Many Business Owners Make

If you’re in the business-to-business (B2B) space and are trying to get more clients under your belt (as one does!), your thought process about doing so might go something like this:

  • “I’m going to put out some ads and tell people what I do.
  • Then, they’ll come to my website.
  • Then they’ll give me a call.
  • And BOOM! I’ll get clients.”

Sigh… if only it were that simple! In today’s world, paid advertising alone is not enough to attract the right clients. So, what else do you need in addition to occasional paid advertisements? Enter, organic marketing.

Paid vs. Organic Marketing: What’s the Difference?

Let’s make this simple.

Ads are about building awareness; organic content is about building trust. While different, BOTH are important to building a successful digital marketing strategy for your business.

As Amanda shares, there are often situations in which the two overlap even. “There are elements of organic content that also build awareness.” For example, integrating boosted posts into your organic social media strategy.

What Does Organic Marketing Actually Do?

Most importantly, you need to know the primary benefit of organic marketing: building trust. Organic marketing might include email marketing, a thought-out video strategy, blog content, etc.

The greatest benefit of all of these things, however, is that organic marketing increases the feeling that people have of knowing and trusting your brand.

Don’t get us wrong, there are certainly strong benefits of paid ads (which you can read more about here) but it shouldn’t be the only marketing effort your business is focused on.

However, as Amanda puts it, “If and when you do decide to do ads, [if] you’ve been doing a strong organic digital marketing push,” the benefit will be much greater.

  • Your domain authority will be higher
  • Your ads will show up in the top three search results
  • And most importantly, your ads will be supported by showing up on that first page of Google with an organic result

“This reinforces in the viewer’s mind, not only do I see their ad, but I also see that they are legitimately what I’m looking for,” says Amanda.

And the best part of all? If you’re paying less for ads, you have more money left over that you can spend on wine! What better motivation is that?

So, are you ready to save money on ads so you can spend it on wine? Us too. At Digital Storyteller, we specialize in organic marketing for financial services companies. If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency that will grow your business better than just pushing paid ads, contact our team today.

Cornerstone Content

Let’s talk about cornerstone content: what is it and how can it support your SEO strategy? 

For those of you who don’t nerd out at the thought of search engine optimization, SEO can feel like a black hole of confusion. (And let’s be honest, that’s probably all but one or two of us *cough cough* our SEO manager…), but don’t stress. We’re here to help! Let’s dive in.

What is Cornerstone Content?

Cornerstone content, sometimes referred to as evergreen content, includes the most important articles and pages on your website (not including your homepage). Cornerstone content is typically:

  • Long-form (longer than your average blog post)
  • Informative
  • Very well written

According to Rank Movers, the purpose of cornerstone content is to “perfectly explain your business or the purpose of your website.”

Most websites’ cornerstone content is made up of three to five elements. These can be pages or posts, but regardless, it is important that they are frequently updated. Keep ‘em fresh!

As a final note, Yoast tells us that the pages that make up your business’s cornerstone content should consist of “the best, most important articles on your site; the pages or posts you want to rank highest in the search engines.”

So, don’t get lazy with these pages and/or articles. Your cornerstone content is your time to shine!

An Example of Cornerstone Content

Here’s an example of great cornerstone content (better yet, it comes from one of our clients!).

Our client, Milikowsky Tax Law specializes in IRS, EDD, and State Attorney law. This considered, some of Milikowsky’s cornerstone content includes:

  • What to Expect from a California EDD Audit and Investigation
  • What Triggers on IRS Audit
  • The Difference Between EDD and CSLB Audits

Remember, cornerstone content is the core of your website. It must be relevant and hold a prominent, easy-to-access spot on your website.

Why is Cornerstone Content Important?

So, why the heck is cornerstone content so important for SEO? Well, when you first launch your website, chances are it will be small and nearly impossible to find unless someone is directly searching for it. *insert sad face emoji* It takes time to build up your site’s organic search traffic and organic keywords. 

We hear it all the time from clients who are just beginning their digital marketing strategy with us. “How can I rank for XYZ?” “I want to show up on the first page of Google!” Awesome, we want that for you, too! Cornerstone content is an amazing, effective way to achieve this.

But remember, “sites don’t rank: individual pages rank. If you want to rank for a particular keyword, you’ll need to determine which specific page you want to rank for that keyword,” Yoast reminds us.

Unfortunately, ranking #1 on Google is not a magic overnight process. Like all things SEO and digital marketing, it takes time. (As your mother used to always say, ‘good things take time.’ She’s not wrong…) With a consistent effort, you’re sure to reap results. 

The first step is to identify what keywords you want to rank for, and then to create a “hub” for that topic; a page that is the center of that topic.

With consistency and hard work, cornerstone content will help you increase the visibility of your site. And we all know site traffic leads to prospects and ultimately conversions—yay!

How Can Cornerstone Content Support SEO?

As previously mentioned, it can be difficult to rank for certain topics and keywords—especially broad or popular keywords with high volume or keyword difficulty. By implementing a cornerstone content approach, you can chip away at the difficult search terms that your business wants to rank for.

For our clients who have lots of content on the same topic or keyword (*cough cough* all of them), cornerstone content helps tell Google which pages are the most important. (Yes, even the algorithm needs a bit of help sometimes…)

Become an SEO Pro

If your head is still spinning at the thought of cornerstone content, contact our team today. Our awesome SEO manager is the best at breaking down SEO so you can understand it all, no problem.

Read on to learn more about why SEO is important for your company. We promise you’re not giving it as much attention as it deserves.

Digital Marketing Trends for the New Year

And just like that, it’s 2022! We hope your New Year is going wonderfully. 

In celebration of the New Year, we’d like to address some digital marketing trends for the new year. We know… Digital marketing trends are always changing. It can be hard to keep up! But it’s crucial to identify current trends and strategies for your businesses, and we’re here to help. 

Let’s get into it.

Video Marketing

We’ve written about it time and time again. Video marketing is, and will continue to be, an absolutely critical part of your digital marketing strategy in 2022.

Not convinced? Research according to Hubspot shows that video will account for nearly 82% of consumer internet traffic. Wowza!

For those of you who flinch at the word ‘video’ or the idea of crafting one yourself, don’t worry. We promise it’s not as scary (or expensive) as you think. All you need is a quality camera and a microphone. (Even a smartphone can work in most cases!)

To increase search traffic to your website, HubSpot recommends you:

  • Make sure your video contains useful information to solve your ideal customer’s problem
  • Optimize your video on YouTube using relevant keywords

The title of your video is also important. For example, someone would be more likely to click on “how to cook the perfect scrambled eggs” over “how to cook eggs.”

The bottom line about video marketing is: Video is the preferred form of content by all social platforms right now: Instagram, TikTok, YouTube (of course), you name it.

Don’t be discouraged if there is already content out there that is similar to your video (in fact, we guarantee that there will be). The most important thing is finding a way to make your content stand out, says HubSpot.

Honestly, we could talk your ear off about video (and we probably have…) We’ve written about how Instagram reels support your social media marketing strategy and how to connect with your prospects using video. What’s that? You haven’t read those articles yet? Finish this one and then get to it!

SEO

It’s time to brush up on your SEO skills. Search Engine Optimization is still as important as ever. Quality, thought-out SEO is the bread and butter of increasing traffic to your site.

Search engine algorithms, however, are always changing. In fact, a really awesome feature that Google’s algorithm has now adopted is the ability to differentiate between search and intent.

What does this mean? (Aside from a very happy SEO manager on our team…) Google search intent, according to Yoast, is “the term used to describe the purpose of an online search. Google wants to rank pages that best fit the search term someone is using, as well as the search intent behind the search query.”

Because of this new feature, it is crucial that you “segment queries that you want to rank for and make competitor analysis a big part of your SEO strategy,” according to HubSpot.

It’s crazy to think that Google is now smart enough to interpret why you are searching for what you’re searching for.

This is a trend we mentioned back in November in our top five digital marketing trends you can’t ignore article. And guess what? It’s still relevant.

Thanks to AI-powered voice assistants (like Siri, Google, Alexa, and Cortana), millions of people every day search for things online without even touching or being near their phone or computer. User experience and web accessibility today are so important.

This considered, it has become all the more important to optimize your content for voice search. Start 2022 off with a bang by doing so. Not sure where to start? Contact our team today.

Social Media

Truth be told, it feels a little silly to even have to mention social media on this list of digital marketing trends. You’re ten steps behind your competitors if your business is not:

  • Active on social media
  • Providing engaging and informative content on a consistent basis
  • Interacting with prospects and clients

We recommend our clients have profiles on at least:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Twitter

The platform that you place the greatest amount of attention on will depend on your business’s unique goals and target audience. For example, if you’re selling branded hoodies to Gen Z, Instagram is likely your best bet. If you are an insurance broker, however, you might opt for the more professional nature that LinkedIn offers.

Still don’t believe in the power of social media? According to DigitalMarketing.org, “3.96 billion people use social media today, which accounts for roughly half (51%) of the global population.” Wow!

Think: This is a huge loss for businesses who opt out of a well crafted social media marketing strategy. If they want to stay relevant, the more traditional companies (who are fearful or overwhelmed by social media) need to learn how to adapt.

Rentech Digital recommends that businesses use social media to not only attract prospects but also to retain them. Remember, the more frequently a prospect sees your brand, the greater opportunity to build a trusting relationship with them—and ultimately to convert them into a client.

For those of you who are interested, read on to learn which social media platforms your business should be on and why.

What Is YOUR New Year Resolution? (Marketing Edition!)

Will you outsource your marketing this year? Get your team on a weekly Instagram reel to boost social engagement? Take a course on SEO? Let us know your 2022 New Year Resolution, and if there’s room for our team to help!
Read on to hear our team’s 2022 New Year Resolutions. Cheers!

Outsourced Marketing

When it comes to marketing your business, there are a lot of options available to you. Not all marketing efforts, however, are created equal.

Do you know what outsourced digital marketing is? How much does it cost to outsource marketing? How exactly does it work? Here’s what to expect working with an outsourced digital marketing agency.

What Does It Mean to Outsource Your Marketing?

The word ‘outsource,’ by definition, means to “obtain (goods or a service) from an outside or foreign supplier, especially in place of an internal source,” according to Google.

Therefore, as Precision Marketing Group puts it, outsourced marketing is “the engagement of a professional marketing firm to serve as your own firm’s marketing department.” Simply put, outsourced marketing means letting a third party take care of your marketing efforts. You then have more time to do what you do best—which is run your business.

Who Can You Expect on an Outsourced Marketing Team?

Well, depending on the outsourced marketing agency’s specialties, you could work in close contact with a variety of different marketers. At Digital Storyteller, for example, our team is made up of:

  • A Creative Director
  • Social Media Manager
  • Social Media Coordinator
  • Social Media Specialist
  • A Client Success Manager
  • SEO Manager
  • Graphic & Web Design Manager
  • Junior Graphic Designer
  • And numerous content specialists!

Why Would You Hire an Outsourced Marketing Team?

By hiring an outsourced marketing team, you allow your team to place focus on running your business.

An outsourced digital marketing agency covers every aspect of marketing so you don’t have to worry about:

  • Posting creative, consistent content
  • SEO optimization
  • Managing your online reputation
  • Website design and branding
  • Staying up to date with social media updates and algorithms 

The list goes on…

As we mentioned previously, by hiring an outsourced digital marketing team, you gain access to creative directors, social media experts, content specialists, and more, at a fraction of the cost it would take to hire an in-house team.

All the support you need is wrapped up into one flat monthly rate.

How Much Does It Cost to Outsource My Marketing?

Now, as a business owner, one of the first things you’re wondering when you hear about the benefits of outsourced marketing is: How much is this going to cost me? The short answer? It’s cheaper than doing it yourself. 

Let’s talk numbers. Our most popular package at Digital Storyteller sits at $5K a month, which totals $60k for the year. Sound like a lot? Let’s consider the cost breakdown of hiring a team of four marketers in-house instead:

Hiring four marketing experts in-house, after salaries and benefits will cost your company $260,000 annually, plus some $16,000 for new hire costs. In just one year, your company has racked up $276,000. That’s only with four experts. The cost grows as you continue building your own team. 

We know it’s not spooky season anymore, but for more frightening math, visit this blog post where we break down the cost-benefit of outsourced digital marketing.

At Digital Storyteller, we try to make things less frightening, which is why our most popular digital marketing package is $60K annually as opposed to $276,000.

Our rate gives you access to an entire team that’s also dedicated to building your business. Outsourced marketing is a great, cost-effective way to invest in your company’s marketing efforts.

How Do You Know if You’re a Good Fit to Outsource Your Marketing?

There are many reasons why outsourcing your marketing is a great option. Here are some signs you’re a good fit.

  • Your current marketing efforts are not consistent
  • The world of digital marketing is overwhelming to you — so many changes are constantly taking place!
  • You want to focus on what’s most important: running your business
  • You don’t have a marketing “strategy”
  • You want to take your marketing to the next level, but aren’t sure how to
  • The idea of hiring someone in-house worries you — how could a single person have all of the marketing skills I need?
  • You are ready to trust an agency to get to know your business and market for you

How Effective Marketing Can Be When You Let Your Outsourced Agency Do Their Job

The last bullet above is SO important: “You are ready to trust an agency to get to know your business and market for you.”

When companies bring in outsourced digital marketing agencies but don’t let them do their job (i.e. hold off on pushing content, stay inside their comfort zone), the results of outsourced marketing are poor. 

Part of our job is to challenge you! We get that it can be hard to let someone take the reins and run a big piece of your company. But that’s what we know and do best. You’re juggling a million things when running your own business, let us take a large chunk off of your plate so you can focus on what you love to do.

Here’s an example of a client who lets us do just that, take the reins.

SBMA is an Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) benefits provider that provides affordable coverage for thousands of employers. We’ve been working with SBMA for nearly two years. Here’s what we’ve done for them during our partnership.

When we first started working with SBMA, they had very few keywords. What are keywords, you might ask? Check out this article for everything you need to know. 

Anyway, all of the keywords that SBMA was ranking for on Google were branded keywords (think names of specific employees and the literal name of their company ‘SBMA).

Long story short, if you only rank for branded keywords, you won’t come up on Google very often, unless someone is searching that exact, specific keyword. You really want to rank for more than just branded keywords.  

SBMA, as a benefits provider, would also want to rank for things like ‘MEC plan,’ ‘Health Plan Administrators,’ and ‘Worksite Benefits,’ to name a few.

With our ongoing content marketing strategy, we’ve been able to work wonders for them. Here are some numbers to prove it.

Currently, 80% of SBMA’s site traffic comes from organic search. Last October 2020, SBMA had 2,155 site users in a month. This October, in 2021, SBMA had 3,566.

Additionally, they had a 60% increase in their authority score. Last October, they had a domain authority score of 16 whereas this October they have grown to 23.

Authority score is based on a number of various factors including site health, organic keyword growth, backlinks, and more. It takes time, research, and consistent effort to grow an authority score, so a seven-figure jump in authority score is incredible.

When we first began working with SBMA, they let us know that they wanted to rank for ‘MEC.’ Now, SBMA dominates the organic search engine results page (SERP) when it comes to the ‘MEC’ space.

Lastly, SBMA currently ranks for 965 keywords whereas last October they ranked for 408. The graph below shows SBMA’s organic keyword growth over time.

SBMA Organic Keywords

Marketing: It’s What We Do Best

The goal of an outsourced digital marketing agency is to understand your business and your brand voice to then let the world know how awesome you are.

We start every engagement with a Brand Storytelling Session where we identify your unique brand voice. Then, our team uses bi-weekly client calls, Monday emails, and content calendars to make sure you know what’s happening, always.

We have monthly reporting where we let you know what the return on investment that you’re getting is from your relationship with us.

Of course, there’s always a team member available to you just a call, email, or even text away. Not to toot our own horn, but we’ve been told on multiple occasions that our bi-weekly calls are their favorite calls!

Happy with the direction we’re headed in? We’ll keep running that way. Want to tweak something? More than happy to adjust.

We’ll bring you fresh ideas from our kick*** creative team from a relationship built on trust. Because that’s the beauty of digital marketing.

For those who are interested in learning more about the difference between outsourced marketing and in-house marketing, read on here.

Content Marketing Mistakes

Hungry for some truth? Today’s your lucky day!

“Content marketing may be a relatively simple strategy,” says CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. “That doesn’t mean it’s easy.” These are the wise words of Michael Brenner. (Psst… For those who don’t know Brenner, he’s a content marketing pro!)

Brenner’s words considered, it’s likely that your business is making some mistakes when it comes to content and your marketing strategy. Here are the top five mistakes you’re making with your content!

Not Using Keywords

Keywords? SEO? What does it all mean!? Don’t worry. Let’s start at the beginning.

Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is a way that marketers tailor their content to appeal to search engines. Popular examples of search engines include Google, Yahoo!, and MSN Search. In today’s world, search engines rule the scene!

SEO keywords, also known as keywords or keyphrases, are “terms added to online content in order to improve search engine rankings,” according to Backlinko. Having a set of target keywords for your business is crucial because they are the bridge between what people search for and the services or products you provide.

To build this list, you must complete thorough and frequent keyword research. Keyword research is “the process by which you research popular search terms people type into search engines like Google.” Then, using said research, you strategize how to include these keywords in your content. Thus, placing you higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).

A higher ranking can improve your chances at business, deem you as an authority in the market, and increase a client’s likelihood of trusting or choosing to do business with you. 

Consider this: If you were searching for a new veterinarian for your dog, would you scroll to the fifth page of results on Google to the vet with a bleak social presence? Or, would you be more likely to trust a business that popped up on page one with hundreds of positive reviews and photos?

For this reason, it’s important that all of your content is optimized with relevant, targeted keywords. You want to rank higher on Google, don’t you!?

For more on why SEO is important for a financial services company (or any company for that matter!), visit this article. We promise you’ll walk away having learned something new.

An additional mistake to be wary of, (and often a byproduct of having a list of relevant keywords that you’re using on a consistent basis!), however, is keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing, as defined by Google, is “the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results.” In short, you’ve gone too far! You know… there is such a thing as over-optimizing, and keyword stuffing is exactly that.

It’s a fine line to walk for sure. Our SEO team at Digital Storyteller can help you there.

Failing to Cater to Your Audience

Hooray! You’ve launched your business. Now, who should you market to? Some people might think, “If we market to everyone, we’ll

The truth of the matter is that your business, product, or services might not appeal to everyone. As Chris Do, Emmy award-winning designer, director, and CEO and founder of The Futur, once said, “If we cater to everyone, we’ll stand for no one.”

So, get eerily specific about who your audience is.

Learn who they are, what makes them tick, what they need and want. Who is benefitting from your business? What motivates them? Who holds influence over them?

Then, use this information to inform your branding, brand voice, and brand archetypes. These three elements are what help your brand become uniquely recognizable.

Narrowing down a specific target audience and catering to them specifically makes what you offer more memorable. Plus, when you cater to your audience and consider what they might want first, your chances of winning over their trust are higher. It’s a win-win!

As a business owner, when you only write content that you want to write, instead of what your prospects are searching for or need, you set yourself up for failure in an instant. (Just think how different your target audience is from you!)

Instead of writing whatever the heck you want, we’d recommend writing what’s trending. And no… we don’t mean “trending” in the sense of what’s currently trending on TikTok or Instagram. When we say “what’s trending,” we’re talking about what your prospects or target audience is currently searching for.

In other words, there’s a difference between what you want to talk about and what your prospects want to talk about. As Regina George from Mean Girls would say, “Stop trying to make fetch happen. It’s never going to happen.”

For those who are unfamiliar with the 2004 American teen comedy film, stop trying to make prospects interested in what you are interested in. You’re there to serve them.

Content Marketing Mistakes

At Digital Storyteller, we use SEMRush—an all-in-one tool suite that helps improve our clients’ online visibility. We use tools like SEMRush to conduct topic research. (Yes, you should be researching what to write about! Not just writing anything and everything you find interesting.)

SEMRush provides a ton of information on keywords and topic research including keyword difficulty % and search volume. 

Keyword difficulty shows you how hard it is “to rank in Google’s organic search results for a specific term” whereas search volume measures how many people are searching for a particular topic, keyword, or question.

Simply put, to be on top of your content marketing game, you need to answer relevant questions that are being asked frequently. After all, you don’t want to write content that no one is searching for in the first place!

Writing Too Much or Not Enough Content

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re writing too much, your content will get swept under the rug. Longer doesn’t always mean better! Remember, it’s not the 1800s anymore, aka you’re not the author who is getting paid per page that they write.

Moreover, attention spans are shrinking. In fact, a recent study by Microsoft concluded that the human attention span has shrunk nearly 25% in just a few years. Search engines are getting smarter every day.

Even if you write the longest article ever, filled to the brim with what you think is juicy information, Google will not rank you well if your content fails to meet the needs of that target audience we chatted about earlier on in this article.

Finding the sweet spot between too much content or not enough is a tightrope, but with our help, we know you can do it! Think Goldilocks…

And of course, it’s equally important that prospects and existing clients are engaging with your brand. This might look like likes, comments, clicks, shares, and so on. When you have high levels of engagement in today’s day and age, algorithms reward you by pushing your content to more people (which leads to brand awareness aka exactly what you want!)

Your Content is a Walking Sales Pitch

Let’s face it. You’re not Jordan Belfort. Today, people look for more than just a sales pitch. People are drawn to stories.

Consider: how do you feel receiving constant ads or pitches? At Digital Storyteller, we think it’s pretty annoying, and would recommend that instead, you try your hand at telling a story.

Why? “Storytelling enables marketers to develop a deeper connection with the audience,” according to Forbes. “[It] is a fundamental human experience that unites people and drives stronger, deeper connections.” (Well, duh! Storytelling even goes back as far as the cavemen days.)

National Geographic is a top-notch example of a brand that implements great storytelling.

Their awe-inspiring images paired with their captivating stories keep people coming back for more. Check out this example from their Instagram!

National Geographic

By crafting a story, you provide value.

It can be used to educate, share, communicate, and connect.

Instead of overselling your content, focus on a call to action (CTA) instead. CTAs with strong action words that evoke emotion.Feeling overwhelmed? Here is all you need to know about crafting organic content creation to grab your prospects’ attention plus four tips on how to organize content!

User Generated Content

From IG stories to reviews, there are endless ways to demonstrate client satisfaction! Are you taking advantage of User-Generated Content?

SEO and Content Marketing

Today, there is no excuse to not be using SEO and content marketing to your advantage. But how can you effectively combine the two?

Organic Content Creation

To succeed as a business today, you need to engage your clients and prospects by creating quality, organic content.

What Is Web Accessibility and Why Is It Important?

We are not a one-size-fits-all society, nor are our websites. As our physical world becomes more aware of creating physical accessibility, we should also understand the importance of facilitating web accessibility as well.

As we spend more time surfing the web, learn more about how to increase inclusivity for people with disabilities. It’s just good practice, and it also benefits your company.

How to Organize Content

We’ve talked time and time again about the importance of content marketing and why consistently producing strong content is an ideal marketing strategy. That being said, we know it can be easier said than done.