Alphagraphics blog

The Value of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

The last time you searched for something online, you probably noticed some sponsored results. Those companies were running pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, a simple tool that most businesses can incorporate into their marketing plan.

Pay-per-click campaigns are exactly what they sound like: the amount you pay per sponsored search engine listing depends on the number of people who click on your ad. This is a balanced way to market yourself through Google because really, you’re paying for your success—the better you do, the more you pay and vice-versa. In this way, many marketers rely on PPC when it comes to testing certain campaigns and promotions.

The balanced simplicity of PPC makes it attractive, but there are three other big benefits to using these ads.

PPC is fast and efficient

PPC is a great entryway into the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) marketplace. It takes mere minutes to set up an account in Google AdWords. From there, you can immediately start running ads to your target audience. You have complete control over the budget and can start and stop ads as needed.

Because you can deploy PPC so quickly, it’s perfect for rapid response advertising. You can react immediately to competitor campaigns or current events that impact your business. For companies running flash sales or who consider themselves agile in their marketing, this quickness is a major asset.

PPC targets the right audience

While SEO is key to long-term success, sometimes it’s helpful to know you’ll reach the right people right away. That’s where setting up effective PPC audience filters can make a difference.

When you run a PPC campaign, you choose exactly where and when your ads will appear. You can tweak ads based on location, keywords and even the time of day! No other SEM tool gives you that level of flexibility.

We find that PPC ads are particularly effective for local businesses. When customers in your area use a search engine to seek out a service, your targeted ad can be waiting for them, instead of buried underneath search results that might not be as relevant.

PPC gives you an opportunity for testing

Because you can be confident your target audience is seeing your ad, PPC is a great tool for testing keywords and ad copy. Take what you learn through your PPC data and apply it across other advertising mediums. And, as mentioned above, the pay-as-you-go nature of the campaign means you’re really only investing in your successes, which can be a huge budget savior as opposed to other “all-in” testing options.

Leverage PPC to your advantage!

PPC can add a lot of value, but like all marketing strategies, it’s only worth pursuing if it actually works for your business. Luckily, PPC allows you to measure valuable metrics, including your costs, views and clicks.

Before launching your PPC campaign, decide on your benchmark ROI. If you find yourself missing your goal, simply make changes to the campaign. This is where PPC’s efficiency benefit shines – you have the ability to immediately adjust target keywords, ad copy, and even the landing page.

With PPC, you have complete control. If you’re not leveraging PPC to help grow your business, it might be time to start. Use the rich data and reporting to take your entire SEM program to the next level!

May 16 / 2016
Author admin
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Using Social Media in B2B Marketing

As a B2B business, do you feel left out of most social media marketing conversations? Without flashy new products to showcase or mass market appeal, it can seem like social media just doesn’t make sense in the B2B world.

We have news for you: social media has matured, and it’s absolutely worth the investment for B2B companies! In the B2B world, there are three ways to strategically use social media:

  • Expand your brand’s reach
  • Engage your existing customers
  • Offer relevant expertise
  • Focusing on these three goals to leverage social media to your advantage means bolstering your business’ appeal to potential clients—even if your prospects aren’t directly active themselves on social platforms!

    ExpandSocial Media

    Social media can accomplish many things, but presumably you’re hoping to create more qualified leads. Social can be a great tool for lead generation, but only if you treat it as a long game and invest resources to create robust, regular, and relevant content.

    Analyze where your current customers are spending time and seeking information. You may already be interacting with them on social media without a formal strategy, and that’s a great place to start! Beef up your interactions and content creation on those platforms, and focus on quality of engagement over the quantity of social tools you’re using.

    Engage

    A big difference between B2B and B2C is the length and complexity of sales cycles. Converting a lead to a sale often requires multiple touches over time, rather than motivating an impulse purchase. This means keeping current on your social media campaigns and working to develop them over the long term.

    For this reason, we recommend not thinking about your social media engagement as a series of specific campaigns. Rather, think about using social platforms to build on existing conversations. How can social media tools make that relationship management easier and more robust?

    Expertise

    Since the sales cycle in B2B is longer than in B2C, you need to keep your potential customers coming back for more. Social media is an ideal medium to establish yourself as an industry thought-leader or a highly responsive resource.

    To showcase your expertise, establish a content management plan that makes sense for your brand. If you’re already publishing resources like whitepapers or writing a blog, social tools can expand your readership. Consider offering premium content to email subscribers or your social media followers.

    As you use these strategies, don’t overlook the importance of collecting data about your potential customers. Invest in a CRM tool that can sync with your social media efforts to track engagement and secure valuable contact information.

    While you build your social media strategy, identify what metrics you will measure. A good CRM database can document your interactions and tell you about the effectiveness of your social tactics. Does a LinkedIn follower have more value than someone who likes your Facebook page? Are your Twitter conversations leading to qualified leads? Understanding your ROI will help keep you focused in a crowded social media world. The end result to a more sophisticated social approach is a better lead pipeline.

    May 06 / 2016

    The Benefits of a Private Storefront Through AGOnline

    If you’re looking for a way to streamline materials ordering, inventory control or interdepartmental budgeting, the obvious answer is to hire an office manager… but unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. Budget concerns and a number of other barriers make it difficult to simply fill a position and even if you do hire an office manager, there’s no guarantee that this person is going to address all of the needs you have.

    Instead, what you really need is a digital portal that manages budget, materials and inventory for you! This is exactly the function of AGOnline, and more and more businesses are starting to see the benefits in building their own private storefronts through the AGOnline portal.

    Setting up for success

    Setting up an AGOnline storefront is far easier than you think—all you really need to do is speak with a local AlphaGraphics to get started! The portal is constructed and branded for your company and when all is said and done, it’s completely customizable to your needs. The best part: it takes minimal work on your end, so you can focus on running your business.

    When your storefront is up and running, it’s easy to load it with all of the critical materials that you find yourself ordering regularly. From NCR forms to business cards, letterhead to marketing and promotional materials, virtually anything you might need to have printed will be accessible with the click of a button.

    Keeping track of everything

    Aside from giving you full access to everything you need in terms of printed products, having a customized, private AGOnline storefront at your disposal also comes with a number of other benefits—benefits that go a long way to antiquating your vacant office manager position:

    • You can instantly track inventory through your AGOnline portal, eliminating ordering mistakes and giving you insight into ordering habits. No more ordering 10,000 extra business cards because you accidently ordered twice!
    • If you have different departments or even different locations ordering materials through the portal, it’s easy to see who’s ordering what and what kind of money they’re spending. This immediately helps you figure out budgets based on departments and can accurately depict cash flow within the business’ different segments.
    • Allocate ordering to people you trust, instead of placing the burden on a single person! With different user IDs possible, you can let the leash out on employees who have proven themselves trustworthy, allowing them to do more and you to focus on other things with confidence.
    • Organization and cataloging is a breeze with AGOnline! Need to keep a template handy for future ordering? Have graphics and colors picked out that need to be saved? AGOnline does this for you, to keep all of your critical documents and variables on hand for when you need them next.

    AGOnline makes it incredibly easy to control a major part of your business’ operations: materials ordering. And, when you think about all of the materials that you’ll need each week, month or year, it makes sense to have a firm grasp on this process to save yourself time and money.

    It’s time for AGOnline

    Your private storefront and personalized portal are only a phone call away! Consult with your local AlphaGraphics location today to learn more about how to get started with AGOnline and how having a private portal will help bolster your business. Who needs an office manager when you’ve got the power of AGOnline at your disposal?

    April 15 / 2016
    Author admin
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    Baseball Season Means It’s Time for Sponsorship Materials!

    March Madness has come and gone, and football season is still six months down the line—which means it can only be one time of year. That’s right, spring training is over and baseball season is upon us! People are flocking into stadiums across the nation to watch America’s favorite pastime, while at home, little leaguers are putting on their uniforms and getting ready to take home this season’s trophy.

    Baseball season is about more than the players on the field, however—it’s also about the local businesses and sponsors who put them out there with fresh uniforms on their backs! And while major league teams don’t have to worry about finding sponsors, your local area little league teams might not be so fortunate.

    Luckily, small businesses of all types are the perfect sponsors for local area baseball teams! A small cash donation makes sure registration and equipment fees are paid, while the small business itself benefits from being the official sponsor of that team. It’s a win-win situation! And while you might be content with just getting the kids some jerseys, this year it might be time to consider a few other advertising investments as well.

    Picture this: your kids take the field in the new uniforms you sponsored as community members clap and cheer. The other team cranks a big hit into left field, where your kid makes a great diving catch to end the inning! And, right behind him when he stands up is a bright, attractive banner advertising your small business. It’s like something out of a movie!

    Being the official sponsor of a little league team gives you the opportunity to advertise through them, without detracting from the altruism of your sponsorship. Smart businesses jump on this opportunity and when they do, it yields great results. Take a look at some of the sponsorship materials that you can use to your advantage if you’re kind enough to sponsor a local little league team:

    • Banners: Banners are big, bright and undeniable. Position one on the fence in left field, right outside the gate to the baseball diamond or nearby the concession stands to get the attention of people. When they know you support the local team, they’re more apt to support you!
    • Apparel: Jerseys are a great start to your sponsorship, but you can always take things further! Create nifty shirts or hats for local team supporters to buy and don’t be shy about putting your business’ name and logo on them.
    • Trinkets: Key chains, bottle openers, backpacks and more are all great items that will be often used throughout the summer. With your logo on them in team colors, you can extend your marketing profile through your sponsorship. Smaller accessories like beer koozies are also ideal and can be given away at games as free marketing swag.
    • Schedules: Whether it’s a fridge magnet or a desktop calendar, having a schedule that shows all of your team’s games is going to be a handy item for followers of the team. Brand it with your business’ images for marketing appeal, and you can even think about including coupons or codes that potential buyers might only get if they buy a calendar.

    All of these things and more are great sponsorship tools and can go a long way towards supporting both a local baseball team and your business. The team gets the funding they need to play this year and you get the notoriety that comes with supporting them!

    Consult with your local AlphaGraphics today to learn more about the many branding opportunities possible to baseball sponsors and start planning your summertime marketing campaign with the help of a local sports team.

    April 05 / 2016
    Author admin
    Category Uncategorized
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    Making the Most of a Web-to-Print Portal: How to Maximize Your Business’ Marketing Efficiency

    Any opportunity to streamline a business’ efficiency and processes is an opportunity worth exploring. Most often, these opportunities involve using new technologies and resources to either cut down on the time spent doing a task or reducing the number of steps involved. And, when the opportunity to do both arises, there’s no question that it’s going to translate into major successes for the business in general.

    A Web-to-Print portal is a superb example of one such opportunity and something that virtually any business can utilize when it comes to streamlining productivity and efficiency. An online print portal gives businesses the ability to:

    • Streamline the print materials ordering processAlphaGraphics Web to Print AGOnline
    • Reduce mistakes involved with ordering materials
    • Preserve digital records of materials ordering
    • Broaden access to critical printed materials

    The benefits of a web-to-print portal continue to expound when you look at all of the critical situations they can improve. Take a look at some of the proven, key applications for a print portal that might help to improve the efficiency of your business below.

    Perfect for multiple locations

    Because a Web-to-Print portal involves decentralized ordering—anyone with Internet access can use it, from anywhere in the world—there’s no need to convolute the process of ordering materials across multiple locations. What’s more, because the same portal can be used in an inter-organizational capacity, the business itself can rely on centralized approval and billing! And with the option to implement approval procedures for headquarters to authorize orders before they’re processed, locations are able to reap the benefits of autonomy without lacking in accountability.

    Perfect for remote employees

    Again, thanks to the widely accessible, decentralized nature of a Web-to-Print portal, employees on-the-go or those working from remote locations are able to benefit. Remote employees can easily order their own business cards and branded materials without having to navigate through home office processes and procedures, and materials can be shipped directly to their location to facilitate seamless productivity.

    Perfect for sales team autonomy

    Bureaucracy can be a productivity killer in businesses—the more steps in the chain of command, the more opportunity for error and the longer it’s going to take to accomplish anything. Rather than running a materials order up the flagpole and hoping it gets a sign-off from a higher-up, you can create autonomy in your sales department through a Web-to-Print portal. Create login credentials for specific employees and delegate ordering to them to create accountability and remove the numerous barriers of waiting for a request to go through the chain of command.

    Perfect for standardized documents

    Standardized documentation is a critical factor in many day-to-day work environments across a wide variety of industries including medical, legal, insurance, education, non-profit and more. From forms to packet information, brochures to internal documents, a Web-to-Print portal streamlines the ordering process for repetitive print orders, to give you peace of mind that these oft-used documents are just a few clicks away.

    It’s a rare opportunity to dramatically improve an entire business process, to both save time and money. Web-to-Print portals offer this opportunity and many others to help businesses utilize digital technology to get the printed materials they need to succeed.

     

    Because a Web-to-Print portal involves decentralized ordering—anyone with Internet access can use it, from anywhere in the world—there’s no need to convolute the process of ordering materials across multiple locations. What’s more, because the same portal can be used in an inter-organizational capacity, the business itself can rely on centralized approval and billing! And with the option to implement approval procedures for headquarters to authorize orders before they’re processed, locations are able to reap the benefits of autonomy without lacking in accountability.

    Perfect for remote employees

    Again, thanks to the widely accessible, decentralized nature of a Web-to-Print portal, employees on-the-go or those working from remote locations are able to benefit. Remote employees can easily order their own business cards and branded materials without having to navigate through home office processes and procedures, and materials can be shipped directly to their location to facilitate seamless productivity.

    Perfect for sales team autonomy

    Bureaucracy can be a productivity killer in businesses—the more steps in the chain of command, the more opportunity for error and the longer it’s going to take to accomplish anything. Rather than running a materials order up the flagpole and hoping it gets a sign-off from a higher-up, you can create autonomy in your sales department through a Web-to-Print portal. Create login credentials for specific employees and delegate ordering to them to create accountability and remove the numerous barriers of waiting for a request to go through the chain of command.

    Perfect for standardized documents

    Standardized documentation is a critical factor in many day-to-day work environments across a wide variety of industries including medical, legal, insurance, education, non-profit and more. From forms to packet information, brochures to internal documents, a Web-to-Print portal streamlines the ordering process for repetitive print orders, to give you peace of mind that these oft-used documents are just a few clicks away.

    It’s a rare opportunity to dramatically improve an entire business process, to both save time and money. Web-to-Print portals offer this opportunity and many others to help businesses utilize digital technology to get the printed materials they need to succeed.

    March 22 / 2016

    Getting Your Business Up to Speed with agOnline: Your Superior Web-to-Print Portal

    Many businesses—especially small to medium-sized businesses—leverage the interconnectivity of different technologies to improve day-to-day operations. And while using smartphones to keep up with social media followers or collecting in-store signups for an email newsletter are great ways to keep your business’ marketing machine moving forward, there’s a simpler, more encompassing technology that needs to be taken into consideration: a customized Web-to-Print portal.

    AlphaGraphics has always worked hard to help bolster the successes of its local area business clients and now we’re taking it one step further with the advent of agOnline: our Web-to-Print portal solution. Through agOnline, we’re helping our clients leverage the convenience of digital technology to get the superior quality printed products they need for marketing, advertising and regular business operations. Read article →

    March 10 / 2016

    Cutting Through Advertising “Clutter” with Large Format Point-of-Purchase Signage

    “Measure twice, cut once.” This is a motto every construction worker knows, but it’s also one that should be at the heart of every marketing and advertising campaign as well. Why? Because if you don’t measure the needs and wants of your customers, you’re going to have a hard time cutting through all of the other campaigns out there, vying for face time with your target audience!

    The best way to measure your customers needs and wants is simple: appeal to them at the point of sale. This is where decisions will be made, data will be gathered and “cuts” will be made—customers will act and react to signage, taking to heart the messages that appeal to them and swiftly ignoring those that don’t.

     

    The right sign for the right job

    Cutting through the advertising clutter at the point of sale isn’t easy. This is where competition for face time is fiercest. To make sure your messages are being seen, you’ll need to tap into a wide assortment of point-of-purchase (POP) advertising materials, using the right ones at the right time to make the cut.

     

    Take a look at some opportunities for POP signage and why the suggested materials will give you the edge in earning customers:

     

    Target: Customers who may be walking past your business on the street.

     

    Suggested materials: Storefront window decals and sandwich boards are going to inspire conversions for passersby who might be walking down the street. Why? These large format materials will be attention grabbing right from the get-go because they stand out in their surroundings—it’s easy to see a sandwich board against the concrete sidewalk or a bright window decal on transparent glass!

     

    Target: Customers who may be driving past your business on the street.

     

    Suggested materials: Printed awnings, brick/concrete graphics, printed flags and exterior signs are all going to help you attract drivers passing by in their cars. You may not think someone driving in a car is getting anywhere close to the “point of purchase,” but it’s important to consider that the right POP signage can expand your point of purchase range. These larger signs can portray graphics further away, inform drivers who may be travelling at a higher rate of speed and inspire action in an instant! Getting someone to pull into your parking lot and swing by your storefront for a moment means one more conversion you didn’t have with the help of large-print POP signage!

     

    Target: Customers not in your general service area.

     

    Suggested materials: Vehicle decals and vehicle magnets make mobile advertising a real and prolific possibility! Whether your truck is out making a delivery or you’re just paying someone to drive around town to advertise, mobile POP signage is going to attract customers who might not usually be within your service area, thus broadening your reach. Moreover, vehicle graphics are eye-catching, meaning they cut through the monotony of competing advertisements to give you a marketing edge.

     

    Target: Unknowing or uninterested customers in your service area.

     

    Suggested materials: For this hard-to-reach demographic, pennant flags, pole banners, printed flags and even brick/concrete graphics are going to be your best chance at attracting attention to your business. Not everyone is interested in your store and there’s probably a good number of people who have no idea you even exist—give people a reason to think twice about ignoring you or make yourself known to them with these eye-grabbing materials. Flags and pole banners appeal to customers looking for intrigue, while concrete graphics can offer a repetitive signal to onlookers—either way, it’ll be hard to not know you exist with these large-print POP materials on your side!

     

    Cutting through the clutter

    Is your POP signage doing its job and cutting through the clutter of advertisements and prompts that bombard customers at the point of sale? If not, it might be time to take a step back and measure again. AlphaGraphics can help. We know what works when it comes to getting your customers’ attention at the point of sale and can help you create large-format POP signage that’s undeniably effective.

    February 11 / 2016
    Author markwood
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    Why Should You Be Utilizing a Web-to-Print Portal for Ordering Printed Collateral?

    Does your small business or organization require branded products or marketing materials that are ordered and printed consistently? If so, ask yourself: are you reaping the benefits of a Web-to-Print portal to manage and process these orders?

     

    What is a Web-to-Print portal?

    A Web-to-Print portal is a convenient and streamlined way to get the printed collateral you need, without having to worry about managing individual orders or keeping track of order documentation.

    It works like this. Your printer sets up a website that has all of your frequently-ordered materials on it: business cards, brochures, sales sheets, flyers, stationary, forms and whatever else you might use on a regular basis. This is your portal—it’s the place where you’ll come to order materials when you’ve run out. It can even be updated and changed regularly as you add or discontinue materials!

     

    How Does it Work?

    The function of a Web-to-Print portal is simple: you select the materials you need, submit the order, and your request will be forwarded directly to your printer! Your company or organization is billed based on your agreement with the printer, but in the meantime, your order for materials is being fulfilled in real time, so you have the items you need to be most effective on the job.

    Best of all, the portal is going to serve as an organizational tool for your orders and documentation. No more flipping through binders of purchase orders to see when you last ordered business cards or trying to track down proof of an order for your department head to sign off on!

     

    The Many Benefits of a Web-to-Print Portal

    A Web-to-Print portal is the pinnacle of efficiency when it comes to ordering printed products. With just a few clicks of the mouse and mere minutes on the clock you can effectively put in an order for everything you need, to be processed quickly by your printer.

    Moreover, your portal is going to have any and all information you might need before you order: quantities per pack, pricing, turnaround time and other intricate details such as what the stock of the material itself. In this way, you can determine exactly what you need as you order, preventing mistakes that end up costing money.

    The sheer compartmentalized nature of a Web-to-Print portal is also going to dramatically improve order organization. The portal will have everything from order histories to order documentation and more, all digitized and cataloged to make your life easier! This is the ultimate time-saver when it comes to pulling up specific orders or quality checking your documentation against problems.

    Finally, let’s not discount simplicity. Ordering printed materials through a Web-to-Print portal is going to be so easy that just about anyone can do it without fail. If your office manager is out sick or you’re delegating the task to someone else, you can have peace of mind that an order is going to be properly placed thanks to the ease of use associated with the portal.

     

    Setting Up a Web-to-Print Portal

    If your business or organization isn’t already using a Web-to-Print portal to streamline the ordering of printed products, now is the time to start! Contact your local AlphaGraphics today to quickly set up a branded portal that you can begin using in just days! Then, have peace of mind when you place orders through your new portal, knowing that we’ll take care of the rest.

    February 05 / 2016


    Update Your Sales Materials for the Upcoming New Year

    The New Year is a time that everyone looks forward to, simply because it signals a fresh start: a new opportunity for you to put your best foot forward and kick off the year right. If you’re a small business owner, the New Year is a prime time to consider approaching your sales and marketing materials with fresh eyes and a plan for the future. For many, this means making updates accordingly so that you’re ready to sell, sell, sell over the next calendar year!

     

    Getting the right information out there
    The problem many small businesses have when it comes to sales and marketing materials is that their products and services are rapidly evolving to meet the demands of their customers and, as a result, the information associated with them is constantly in flux. It’s a good problem to have!

     

    Having up-to-date materials and information in regards to your product and service brochures is essential to the sales process, however. Falling behind on updating this information means not being able to give prospects accurate information, which can lead to miscues during the sales process or worse, a lost sale altogether. If your business is still growing out of its infancy and depends heavily on new sales to fuel that growth, these are troubles you can’t afford to have.

     

    On the flip side, having a spec sheet or sales brochure prepared, complete with current information and clear selling points means cultivating a transparent relationship with a sales prospect. You’ll be giving them everything they need to understand your value proposition and you’ll be generating sales in a passive, yet powerful way by letting these materials speak on your behalf.

     

    Updating your materials the right way

     

    You might look at your sales materials and think, “these are fine, why would I update them,” but it’s important to realize that how you perceive your materials and how your customers view them may be very different. Having the right information, images, layout and design are all integral to the creation of great sales materials:

     

    Content/information: Hand your existing materials off to someone outside of your industry and ask them to take a look at them—if they can get all of the information they need at a glance, you’ve done your job well. If they’re left asking questions, it’s time to revisit the content of your materials.

     

    Images: Images and visuals are critical in selling your products and services. Products of course need to be displayed predominantly and in a manner that makes them enticing. Services should also follow this trend, with images supplementing the sales pitch put forth in your copy.

     

    Layout: Cluttered images, big blocks of text and jumbled sections are all detractors from your sales materials and can convolute someone’s understanding of these materials. Make sure everything is laid out appropriately, in a professional manner that’s appealing to browse and read.

     

    Design: Do your materials proudly display your company’s branding? Does the color scheme create brand cohesion? Are the text and pictures synergistic in the way they work together on the page? Design is critical in creating superior sales materials.

     

    Unless you’re a print and design specialist, getting all of the above variables can be a major challenge when it comes to updating your sales and marketing materials for the year ahead. To make sure you’re going about a refresh the right way, consult with your local AlphaGraphics professional. We’ll help you transform your sales sheets and brochures into critical components of your core sales strategy and make sure they speak volumes about your business, in a way that attracts sales and closes deals.