May 5, 2024

What’s wrong with your logo?


Your logo is not just for decoration; it’s a powerful marketing tool. It sets the tone for your brand’s visual identity. And using it consistently builds brand recognition and trust over time. It’s often the first thing potential customers see and the primary way they remember you. A well-crafted logo can evoke emotions and create a connection with your target audience, conveying the values, personality, and story of your brand.

Is your logo all it should be? Here are simple questions to ask.

When you compare your logo with your competitors, does yours:

Create a first impression that is credible and professional?
Stick in customers minds through a simple, bold design?
Covey the essence of your brand?
Differentiate you in a crowded marketplace?

If you answered Yes to all of these questions, great! Now do the same exercise with someone outside of your organization and compare the results.

 

 

 

 


May 1, 2024

Metrics that matter (and how to get better)


Marketing goals may vary, depending on the life stage of a small business. It is essential to prioritize metrics that directly impact your business’s goals and bottom line. Here are some key metrics to consider and how you can adapt strategies based on them:

1. Brand Awareness: Tracking metrics like website traffic, social media followers, and brand mentions can indicate the effectiveness of your efforts in increasing brand visibility. Though it is more difficult to attribute conversions to Brand Awareness campaigns, especially in print and outdoor marketing channels, they can still be effective at making your audience aware of your products and services.

Adaptation: If brand awareness is low, invest in content marketing through partner channels and SEO. Influencer partnerships or PR campaigns may also be effective in increasing your brand’s exposure to your target audience.

2. Return on Investment (ROI): This metric calculates the revenue generated from the campaign compared to the cost of running it. If the ROI is positive, it indicates that the campaign is profitable. If negative, it may require adjustments or even discontinuation.

Adaptation: If ROI is low or negative, you might need to reassess your targeting, messaging, or channel selection. Experiment with different approaches and allocate budget to the most effective channels. Consider A/B strategies to land on the more effective message when testing new campaigns.

3. Conversion Rate: This measures the percentage of people who take the desired action (such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting a quote) after interacting with your marketing campaign. Choose a couple key conversions. Keep it simple, and make it your goal to grow them month over month.

Adaptation: If the conversion rate is low, you can experiment with different calls-to-action, landing page designs, or offers to see what resonates best with your audience.

4. Engagement Rate: In Google Analytics 4 (GA4), engagement rate is an indicator of how actively users interact with your website or app. It measures the level of involvement and interest users have with your content or features. A higher engagement rate typically indicates that users find your content valuable and are more likely to perform desired actions, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or spending more time on your site or app.

Adaptation: If the engagement rate for a specific source/medium experiment with your voice and audience. Your strategy may require a different approach on different marketing channels (organic, social, PPC, etc.)

5. Average Order Value (AOV): This is a metric that calculates the average amount of money customers spend each time they make a purchase from your business. This metric is calculated by dividing the total revenue generated by the number of orders. A higher AOV indicates that customers are spending more per transaction, which can contribute to increased revenue and profitability for your business.

Adaptation: If you wish to increase AOV you may experiment with different strategies like: upselling, cross-selling, volume discounts, minimum spend incentives, bundles, etc.

6.Engagement Metrics: Metrics like click-through rate, open rate, and social media engagement provide insights into how well your audience is responding to your marketing efforts.

Adaptation: If engagement metrics are low, analyze your messaging, content quality, and timing to better resonate with your audience. Experiment with different content formats and channels to see what generates the most engagement. Media channels can be fickle and a strategy that once worked well, may grow ineffective. Don’t be afraid to change your tactics.

By regularly monitoring these metrics and adapting your strategies accordingly, you can ensure that your marketing efforts are effective in driving business growth for your small business. As you shift from conversion to customer service, keep in mind the potential lifetime value of a customer. It is far cheaper to keep an existing customer than to win a new one. More on that in the future.


April 1, 2024

Stop shouting to the crowd


Defining your target audience is not complicated. However, companies often overlook this step in their marketing strategies.

You may have a good feel for your customer base, but when you bring clarity to exactly who you’re talking to, your message will become stronger. It’s like speaking directly to a friend instead of shouting to a crowd.

This can be done by creating a customer persona. Simply imagine and describe your ideal customer in detail as an individual. What are their demographics, interests, behaviors, and pain points? By keeping this persona in mind when you create your marketing materials, you can be more effective in reaching and resonating with the right people.


MARCH 30, 2024

Our top tip for eating elephants


One of our most important tools when taking on a big project is simply a thorough list. By breaking down projects into small, manageable tasks, we create a clear roadmap of what needs to be accomplished and when.

This does more than keep tasks organized and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Completing these items offers a sense of progress and accomplishment, which can be motivating during challenging projects.

Whether it’s a digital checklist using high-powered software or a good old-fashioned pen and paper, making lists is a simple yet extremely effective tool for staying focused and productive.


MARCH 25, 2024

Mind your hierarchy


One of the most common design errors involves messaging hierarchy.

Think of messaging hierarchy like telling a story. You should start with the most important message, add supporting points to make it stronger, and then include any extra details to make the whole thing more interesting and complete.

Instead of understanding their audience and spotlighting their unique selling proposition, many businesses attempt to cater to everyone, and make every aspect of their messaging equally significant.

However, by delving into the needs and preferences of their target audience, businesses can effectively prioritize which features or benefits to emphasize in their design and marketing efforts.

This approach not only simplifies messaging but also engages the viewer, creating a more memorable experience that leaves a positive impression of the business.

Whether it’s conveyed through a website, advertisement, or product packaging, a robust hierarchy of design ensures that the brand’s message is communicated effectively and resonates with its audience.

Also, understanding hierarchy of design empowers businesses to recognize the importance of prioritizing their target audience preferences across all facets of their operations.

From design and marketing to product development and customer service, focusing on a specific audience enables businesses to develop more targeted and impactful strategies, ultimately driving greater success in the marketplace and a more powerful and memorable brand.


MARCH 23, 2024

Trends in branding and design


Branding today goes beyond surface-level changes like a new catchphrase or fresh logo. It’s about forging genuine connections, understanding the pulse of your audience, and meeting their needs authentically.

Successful brands continue to delve deeper into purpose-driven strategies. They use emotional narratives and champion causes that truly resonate with their communities.

Moreover, there’s a fascinating dichotomy emerging between minimalism and maximalism. Minimalism champions simplicity, while maximalism celebrates intricate, bold designs. This evolving dynamic signifies a departure from the clean, subdued aesthetics that dominated the past decade.

Embracing more straightforward designs allows brands to carve out a distinctive identity and linger in people’s memories. Techniques such as gradients, duotones, 3D elements, and striking photography inject emotions and uniqueness into visuals, elevating their memorability.


MARCH 23, 2024

Future proofing a new website


When initially planning a website, it is key that decisions over design system and infrastructure are made with flexibility in mind. It’s important to anticipate how the website’s needs are going to change in time. Whether it is due to increased traffic, newly required functionality, or advances in software, it is good to have action plans that can meet these future needs.

These decisions are informed not only by our understanding of the technologies we are working with, but also the personalized needs of our clients. Namely, the particular trajectory we might expect as their business grows and goals become more ambitious.


MARCH 16, 2024

Find the creative sweet spot


When you’re learning to cook, you stick to the basics: salt and pepper and sometimes (gasp!) garlic. And it’s ok food— but it’s not that interesting.

Then you get ambitious and dump in your favorite spices, try uncommon ingredients, and take a swing at advanced techniques —and it is indeed interesting. But probably not delicious.

Over time, you learn what flavors work together and what can be combined to make a dish that is unique and tasty. But getting there takes some exploration. You’ll try many things that don’t work on your way to finding the ones that do.

Creative work is similar. You can put out an easy bake idea every minute. Or dream up viral videos and groundbreaking marketing campaigns. But the sweet spot is often in the middle—going beyond ordinary with just a dash of the unexpected.


MARCH 16, 2024

Bringing together form and function


In any marketing project, it’s the job of our designers to balance creativity with usability. Understanding the end-user’s needs is one of the first steps in the creative process and guides the visual aspect of the design.

Cassel Bear’s designers each bring a unique focus on different aspects of design—from web to print, advertising, and more. When we collaborate, we ensure that we have a diverse perspective that enhances the user-centered design and gives us a boundary to work within.

With those constraints in mind, we are able to build out an engaging brand, website, ad set, brochure, or anything else that a client may need, in the most beautiful way possible.


MARCH 3, 2024

The key to attracting followers


Time and again we hear that small businesses that want to gain followers on social media must produce authentic content. But what is authentic social content?

It’s the same thing that it is when it’s not online:

An honest conversation. An interesting anecdote. Sharing experiences. Offering your unique knowledge and advice. Opening yourself up to celebrate successes and acknowledge mistakes. In short, it’s simply being who you are and treating your followers like the people you engage with in any walk of life.

So why do so many small businesses struggle with this? Because they are going into it with the wrong mindset.

If your goal from the outset is to get likes, you’ll post content that you think makes you appear likable. That can be fine. But it’s not the same as being authentic. It’s a version of you. And often not the most interesting one for your customers.

However, if you commit to be authentic, you are going to post content that invites your customers into your company as it is. You will share with your customers just as you would if you were giving them a tour, not a sales pitch. And over time you will learn what authentic aspects of your business they are attracted to.

Of course, there are reasons to have a social media presence other than gaining followers. At a minimum, it’s a place where others can research your products and company, and you can portray your brand in a positive light. But if your hope is to connect with your customers, then stop treating them like metrics. Make authenticity your goal, and watch what happens.


SEPTEMBER 1, 2023

An inside look at when SEO goes right

The report didn’t look good. A leading regional retailer was failing to show up in local searches, and they wanted to see improvements fast. So how did we get them to consistently rank at the top? There was no SEO black magic. We simply put a plan in place that worked. Here’s how:

Defining A Keyword/Content Strategy

A common mistake in SEO is trying to rank for too many keywords at once. Bringing focus to content creation makes you more effective at moving the needle. For this client, we analyzed current traffic as well as competitor websites. We developed of a keyword list with a dozen high-volume search phrases. Then, we made targeted and consistent updates to on-page content and meta data across the client’s website.

Thinking Locally

Our keyword list included several “near me” searches as well as phrases with the local town name. We added website content to clearly identify the location of the business, updated dozens of online directories, and ensured the Google My Business profile was as strong as it could be.

Local search results are highly dependent on the specific location of the user. To gain insight into our efforts, we produced a heatmap showing search rankings from all surrounding neighborhoods.

During this process, we also identified a competitor with two Google My Business profiles. (Having duplicate profiles is against Google policy as it allowed them to claim two places in the map listing.) The duplicate listing was successfully removed, shifting the map results in favor of our client.

Improving Technical SEO

Google values good user experience. We audited the site to make sure it was running as smoothly as possible. Schema was added to help Google categorize the content. And we took steps to minimize load times, ensuring all images were converted to the smallest file format possible.

Seeing Results

While we appreciated our client’s desire for fast results, SEO requires a long-term approach. We gave our strategy time to work and avoided making adjustments too soon. Over 4 months, the keywords on our list moved from an average search position of 85 to 2. The client is dominant in local map results and rises to the top for many regional searches. We continue to track the primary keywords to protect the gains we made, while strategically adding new keywords and supporting website content.


JUNE 15, 2023

3 SEO Dos and Don’ts

Recommendations to start your strategy on the right track

“Get my business to the top of Google.”

When it comes to setting SEO goals, it can feel as simple as that. But your competitors share the same goal, and an industry of SEO experts is lined up with different versions of how to get there. Google offers general guidelines. However, applying them successfully can be a matter of trial and error. It can get confusing.

You’ll soon discover that SEO is an ongoing process requiring a clear strategy. At Cassel Bear, we do our best to remove the guesswork. Based on what we’ve observed, here are a few recommendations to get started.

Don’t: Evaluate your SEO health simply by Googling your business.
Do: Use data and analytics to understand the broader SEO landscape.

Googling your product or service can be a good indication of how you rank. But those results are affected by your location, search history, and – most importantly – the specific search term that you use. To develop an effective strategy, you’ll want to know exactly what your customers are searching for in the locations you are targeting. Track your performance for those specific searches to get a picture of where you stand. Then, research your digital competitors to understand how you can improve your results.

Recommendation: Be informed by the data. Make use of the many free and paid analytics tools that offer deeper insights into search performance.

Don’t: Attempt to rank for all keywords related to your business.
Do: Target high-value keywords that offer the best ROI.

Consider a company that makes custom leather handbags. The broad search term “handbags” has a high search volume and may seem like a good target. But this keyword is also extremely competitive, meaning the company would have to invest heavily in content creation to get noticed by Google.

The search term “leather handbags” has a lower search volume, but is less competitive and more closely related to what the company offers. Perhaps the best opportunity is the search term “custom leather handbags.” While it has the lowest search volume, it requires the least investment in content creation and targets the most interested buyers.

Recommendation: To bring focus to your SEO strategy, research keywords carefully to understand the language your customers are using and where you can most effectively compete. Dedicate each page on your site to a distinct search term.

Don’t: Make assumptions based on a moment in time.
Do: Identify trends by continuously monitoring your performance.

Your position in Google results can fluctuate daily, and sometimes dramatically, especially If you’re going after a competitive keyword. By tracking search position trends over the long term, you’ll gain better insight into what’s working and what isn’t.

Imagine that you launch a site or add content and then check back weeks later to see that you’re not showing up in the top results. But you check back the next day and you’re right where you want to be. For new content, this is often the case.

Depending on which day you looked, you might draw different conclusions about your performance. And neither would give you a clear and accurate picture. It can take days, weeks, or even months for a site to consistently rank in the top positions for a certain keyword. And there may be spikes and dips along the way.

Recommendation: Give your strategy time to work, set measurable and realistic goals, and back up all your decisions with data.


MARCH 27, 2023

Think beyond keywords with SEO

Like your company, your website should deliver a great experience.

What does it take for someone to recommend your business to a friend?

To lend their credibility to your products?

It’s not just that you have something relevant to offer. It’s that your company is reliable and trustworthy. It’s confidence that you’ll provide a positive customer experience.

The same is true for websites that Google places at the top of search results. Each day, the company makes billions of recommendations to searchers. And each time, it wants to provide results that aren’t just relevant, but also trustworthy and likely to provide a good user experience.

This is what keeps Google users coming back. And it ensures Google will play a major role in developing web standards moving forward.

Build Your Website’s Credibility

So what are the implications for your SEO strategy? Using the right keywords is a good start. But there are many other features – from security to design to accessibility – that determine the experience a user will have on your site.

Consider two competing websites with similar keyword content. One has optimized images, a clear structure, and engaging layouts. The other has images that load slowly. Or a confusing navigation. Or poor readability. Or a security issue.

Keywords might help Google identify both sites as relevant, but the one that provides the better experience is going to garner more credibility over time.

Our Conclusion

Google will continue to refine the metrics it uses to generate search results. So rather than trying to game the algorithm, keep the company’s mission in mind: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

When you invest in a website design that is engaging, well-structured, clear, relevant, and useful, you not only engage your customers, you help Google meet the needs of its users. And for that, you’ll be rewarded in the search results over the long term.


 

FEB 1, 2023

Make the right investment in your website

An inside look at the costs, process, and strategy for success

You recognize that your company or organization could benefit from a new website, but it can be hard to know where to begin or how much to invest.

The good news is that the process doesn’t need to be complicated, and you can avoid being surprised by hidden costs. To make sure you’re making the right decisions, start by understanding your options.

What To Expect

When you hire someone to create your website, you are paying for expertise in the areas of web design, web development, and content creation. At Cassel Bear, we customize each of these services to ensure that your investment will deliver results that move you closer to your goals.

Behind The Build

Here’s what you’ll need to create a website that attracts, engages, and converts visitors.

Web Design

Design is both about the appearance of your site and the overall user experience. This includes page layout, fonts, colors, choice of imagery, and any other features. Some services offer pre-built website templates for personal or small business use. However, organizations that want to use a website as a central part of their branding or growth strategy often opt for a professional custom design.

Web Development

This involves the computer code and/or software that is used to implement your website design. Based on how your site needs to function, it may require little custom coding or involve the expertise of a development team.

Content Creation

Content refers to the messaging, SEO strategy, photography, video, and graphic elements that will be used on the site. These needs will vary depending on the quality of existing content and your strategy for engaging visitors.

Setting A Budget

The amount you should spend on your website depends on your goals. Consider these three levels of website design.

  1. ​​Standard Templates

    Goal: Establish Your Online Presence

    ​​A website can simply be a place to post a product/company overview, photos and contact information. These sites can be created using “drag-and-drop” website platforms that provide standard templates and design elements.

    Considerations

    Businesses at this level may rely on in-house resources or freelancers to produce simple designs. While these sites utilize templates, they still require an understanding of good design principles, user experience ,and clear messaging to be effective.

    The low initial cost of standard template sites make them an attractive option. However, companies should consider their long-term goals. A basic site may meet immediate needs, but need rebuilt as the business matures.

    ADVANTAGES:

    Takes less time/money to create.
    Does not require a web developer.
    Geared toward entry-level users.

    CHALLENGES:

    Limited options for customization.
    Templates may become outdated or unable to meet future needs.
    Other sites/businesses may use the same template.
    Designs can feel bland or generic.

    MAY BE A GOOD FIT FOR:

    Sole proprietors.
    Personal/hobby websites.
    Organizations with low budgets.
    Businesses for which a website is not a primary sales tool.

  2. ​​​Custom Designs

    Goal: Showcase Your Product or Service

    ​​Custom designed websites highlight your unique value, elevate your brand and set you apart from competitors. By tailoring the user experience to the target audience, these sites become the foundation of a digital marketing strategy.

    Considerations

    The cost of custom website design will depend on the number of pages and their complexity. The budget may also need to account for photography and artwork if it is not available. A benefit of custom design is that you’ll have multiple opportunities to influence the final product to ensure it meets your specific needs.

    ADVANTAGES:

    Fully customized layouts that capture the latest design trends.
    Communicate your unique value.
    Establish professionalism & brand credibility.

    CHALLENGES:

    Larger upfront investment.
    Longer build timeline.

    MAY BE A GOOD FIT FOR:

    Growth-oriented companies
    Organizational storytelling.

  3. ​​​​​Custom Development

    Goal: Offer Advanced Functionality

    ​​Whether it’s e-commerce, interactive features, or database integrations, some businesses require websites with custom-built functionality. This may involve the support of web developers to write and implement the necessary computer code.

    Considerations

    Custom development allows you to include features that make your website more effective and scale your engagement with customers. Having a clear goal will help ensure that the long term benefits far outweigh the initial development costs. In addition, custom development can help give your website a longer shelf life. On a well-built site, future updates may simply require a new front-end design without the need to rebuild the back end.

    ADVANTAGES:

    Custom features that drive sales.
    Offer next-level user experiences.
    Automate processes such as data collection.
    Create a custom back-end user interface.

    CHALLENGES:

    Additional development costs.
    May require developer support for future updates.

    MAY BE A GOOD FIT FOR:

    E-commerce & catalog sites.
    Engaging online visitors.
    Complex forms and data management.


Let’s make it happen.

No pressure, no pushy sales. Just a conversation about where you are today and where you would like to go.