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Why an Open Source CMS Reigns Supreme

When it comes to the latest trends in web development, content is king. Engaging, quality content on a well-designed website drives traffic and brings users back time and time again. However, business owners often struggle with many aspects of web development from design, to cost and upkeep. So why do organizations like eBay, Harvard University, Time and BBC News believe in the practice of using an Open Source Content Management System as a platform for their website?

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Why Is Having Appealing Content On Your Website So Important For Integrators

If you’ve done any kind of investigation about how to expand your business and online presence, you’ve probably been told the phrase “Content is King.” Indeed, more organizations than ever have been engaging in content marketing campaigns to develop grow expand their businesses. Let’s take a look some major factors that are contributing to this marketing revolution.

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3 Website Best Practices For Technology Integrators To Impact Prospective Clients

When Will Rogers said, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression," the internet didn't exist. First impressions, whether in person, on the phone, or in today's digital world are a constant factor that matters for an electronic systems contractor or ultimately anyone in business.

Before you meet a potential client for the first time, you groom and dress yourself to reflect the type of AV company from which customers will trust for quality installations. How much time have you spent grooming your website’s home page? When was the last time you updated it? Let’s discuss 3 best practices that will impact potential customers who visit your website.

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How to Optimize Google My Business to Boost Your Online Presence

Google Pages Helps You Bolster Your Local SEO Performances

As we’ve mentioned in the past, a great way to jump-start your local SEO performance is to work with Google My Business. Not only is it a great idea to use tools directly associated with the search engine to enhance your rankings, but GMB offers a variety of options to optimize your SEO performance.

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SEO: Beginner’s Guide to the Basics

Optimize Your Website’s Content on Every Page

Search engine optimization: Perhaps you have come across this term before, or maybe you’re brand new to the concept. More than likely, you’ve heard its more common acronym “SEO,” but you weren’t sure what it meant.

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The Innovation Custom Integrators Cared About At CES2019

New Products and Technologies To Keep an Eye On This Year

This year’s CES was, predictably, as big and glitzy as ever. CES says that 188,000 industry professionals – including 63,000 from outside the U.S. – attended this year. Of course, all those attendees jam up traffic, restaurants, and hotel space in Las Vegas, which can lead to a bit of sensory overload after a few days. But there’s no other show in the world which brings together so much consumer technology under one roof (well, many roofs) that you can see, hear, touch, and feel.

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Automation Unplugged Roundup - Dec 2018

Highlights from our November & December Automation Unplugged Interviews

In this recap post, we've captured some highlights from our interviews with Brad Whitehead, Joe Whitaker, Marie Devlin, and Michael Restrepo. Tune into our weekly show where our CEO, Ron Callis interviews custom integration industry personalities. Learn from the experts in the field with diverse backgrounds and varied roles that make our industry so special. These interviews are designed to help our clients and members of the custom integration industry keep up-to-date with the latest trends and news as well as learn from experts in the field.

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Why Every Integrator Who Cares about the CI Industry Should Get HTA Certified

Calling the greatest custom installation firms in the world!

 

We have an epidemic in our industry. The epidemic is bad installations that result in unhappy consumers.

Why do you think products like Sonos, Ring, and Alexa have been so successful? Consumers are open to new products they perceive as “no-hassle” because they have been so frustrated with the CI industry over the past two decades. There have been way too many bad installations that result in consumers wanting “less” technology in their homes.

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Smart Home Technology: DIY or Professional Integration?

Smart Home technology May be Consumer Friendly, but Sometimes You Need a Professional

 

Smart home technology is everywhere these days. The success of voice assistants like Alexa, Google, and Siri has helped capture the popular imagination of what new technology can do to make consumers’ lives easier. You want smart lighting control? There are solutions like Philips Hue available at Home Depot and elsewhere. You want a smart thermostat? You can get a Nest or Ecobee – besides enhancing comfort and saving energy; they also look good on the wall! You want music everywhere? There are Sonos and HEOS systems that can bring wireless stereo sound to every room in your home. There are smart cameras like Arlo to monitor your home, video doorbells from Ring, smart locks from Schlage and Kwikset, and automated shades from Hunter-Douglas and Lutron. All these (relatively) consumer-friendly products have created great awareness of the level to which consumers can automate their home or space.

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5 Things to Check Out at CEDIA 2017

Coming up on September 5-9 in sunny San Diego, California, CEDIA 2017 is the biggest and best event of the technology integration calendar. There is a lot to offer everyone in attendance but we think that there are a few things that a trip to CEDIA would not be complete without. Whether this is your first trip to CEDIA, like me, or you’re a seasoned CEDIA pro, follow this guide to make sure that you get the most out of your trip.

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Why to Start Recruiting Now

A Guest Post from Industry Veteran Gordon Isaac

I have worked with over a thousand small businesses since the end of the recent recession and they all have one thing in common relating to staffing: a shortage. As the economy has bounced back, businesses are growing and many owners have found themselves too consumed with working “in” their business and have found it difficult to spend time working “on” their business. This has put them in a position of too much work and not enough people or time to get it all done. 

Here are some ideas that will help you in this situation.

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Interview Recap: an Industry Q&A Session with Access Networks

 

An Industry Expert’s Perspective on Networking, Robots, and Black Holes

If you’ve visited our Facebook page recently, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve started hosting Facebook Live interviews on a regular basis! These interviews are designed to help our clients and members of the custom integration industry keep up-to-date with the latest trends and news as well as learn from experts in the field.

This week, we had the privilege of interviewing Nathan Holmes, Technical Trainer at Access Networks. The California-based company provides tailored enterprise-grade networking solutions for professional integrators throughout the United States. In his role as technical trainer, Nathan helps integrators succeed by guiding them in best practices and providing helpful resources. 

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In the AV and Automation Industry, It’s All about the Client Experience

Does Your Company Succeed in Giving the Right Client Experience?

In a world where most companies are pushing e-commerce websites or black box solutions, the AV and automation industry has held back. Why? Because integrators aren’t simply selling an amplifier or smart TV—they’re selling an experience. A lot of companies excel at being “technology concierges” with first-class customer support, but that’s just one part of your client’s experience with your company.

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Industry Q&A Session with Vital Management CEO Paul Starkey

On Wednesday, Ron Callis had the opportunity to interview Paul Starkey, CEO of Vital Management and Bravas Group, via Facebook Live. Paul Starkey has been in the custom installation business for 24 years, and during that time he has raised venture capital twice, acquired two companies, and started two others. He has extensive knowledge of the CI industry ranging across business operations, sales and marketing.

For those of you who didn’t have the chance to catch it live, we’ve captured the video and transcript of the Q&A session below.

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How to Improve a Team’s Customer Service Skills

A good buying experience is what keep your clients coming back time and time again. One of the best ways to grow your business is to focus on improving your team to ensure an excellent buying experience for the customer. Below are three ways to improve a team’s customer service skills:

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Are You Destined to be a Highly Successful Entrepreneur?

Six Characteristics Shared by Leaders of Great Companies

When you take a look at the attitudes, behaviors, and habits of the super successful, you will find that there are certain characteristics they all seem to share.  Famous business tycoons like Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and Steve Jobs all share the six admirable qualities below, and emulating them as much as possible will put you on the fast track to mogul status!

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This Week in Residential AV: Honeywell, Kickstarter, and Toshiba

 

One Firefly CEO Ron Callis joined Jeremy Glowacki from Residential Systems and Matt Scott and Tim Albright from AVNation TV on Monday for their weekly podcast: ResiWeek. It was a fun time among industry experts discussing the latest newsworthy topics in the home automation and AV space.

If you don’t have time to watch the full podcast, here’s a rundown on what the host and guest speakers discussed:

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3 Effective Strategies for More Efficient Production Management

Effective production management is a key aspect of any business; whether you are designing and installing whole home audio systems, implementing commercial integrated security systems, or providing maintenance, basic install or periodic service to customers across your area. By utilizing effective production management strategies, dedicated tools and software, and defining processes and procedures for your organization you can ensure that your projects are delivered on-time, on-budget, and that they meet your customer’s expectations every time.

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5 Customer Service Trends That Can't Be Ignored

It's no secret that good customer service increases loyalty, gives you a competitive edge and ultimately influences your bottom line. At a time when customers expect to get their questions answered, and their issues resolved quickly and easily, creating a quality customer experience is vital to the success of your business.  To ensure that you are meeting your customers' expectations for great service, you should consider following these five major customer service trends.

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How to Connect Using LinkedIn

Microsoft just announced plans to purchase Linkedin for 26 billion dollars. If you haven’t already taken advantage of this powerful networking tool, now is the time. LinkedIn is the largest social media network for business, offering an excellent opportunity to connect with your audience, establish authority in your industry, and yes, grow your revenue. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, there’s no better way to leverage your business contacts, connect with potential employees, and perform market research. Here are a few strategies you can implement to discover more qualified leads AND build a stronger team.

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4 Common Buyer Objections (and How Integrators Can Overcome Them)

In the home automation space, your buyers are going to range between the kind that defers to your judgment on everything and the kind that questions every suggestion you make. The first kind of buyer is great. The second kind? Not so much.

So how can technology integrators tactfully overcome their buyers’ objections and suggestions about their home automation systems? It all comes down to how you position yourself and the services you are providing. Your client needs to trust your expertise and understand the value of the services you bring. That may sound like a daunting task, but consider how it plays out for the 4 examples below.

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CRM – What it is and why it's so valuable to your business.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) refers to software that is used to organize, automate, synchronize and analyze all customer interaction within a business, and the associated data that goes with it. A successfully implemented CRM increases sales force effectiveness and helps a company build customer loyalty. By having a web-based CRM system in place, not only can you manage and store a wealth of information, but you can also access your organization’s complete history of each client from any internet accessible device.  Although there are a number of reasons you should implement an CRM for your business, here are the top five:

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3 Techniques to Help Manage Projects More Efficiently

Much of the work that technology integrators implement is project-based in nature.  Between your initial meeting with a client, to receiving the final sign-off on the project, a lot has to happen.  Without a proper project methodology firmly in place, the risk of a project spiraling out of control (and thus the loss of any profits associated with the project) is all too possible.  Here are several project management tips to help you complete jobs more efficiently and profitably:

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3 Reasons You Should Be Using Unique Imagery vs. Stock Imagery

When it comes to building a successful brand for technology integrators, exhibiting unique visual content is key. It’s no surprise that most people who are visiting your website or receiving your marketing materials are going to spend more than 50% of their time looking at the images that reflect your service or products offered. Your brand is the visual language that communicates and connects emotionally with your target audience. So why should you use unique imagery instead of traditional stock imagery? Here are three important reasons:

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7 Tips to Improve Your Company’s Recruiting Efforts

Acquiring the right talent and the right time is vital to the success of any business.  In fact, former Chairman and CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, considered building an A-List team to be the most important skill a business owner can possess.  Indeed, hiring the wrong candidate for the position can be a very costly endeavor and can significantly impact profitability.  Let’s look at 7 tips that will help you systematize your recruiting process so you can maximize your chances of finding qualified candidates time and time again:

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7 Practical Steps for Growing Your Business Profitably

Technology integration business owners can often be characterized as ambitious and idealistic individuals who pursue their vision of success with relentless determination. But soon after the initial rush of creating and maintaining a sustainable business comes the inevitable; many small business owners get mired in the weeds of running day to day operations and the visions they had of creating the prosperous cash-cow they anticipated soon give way to merely keeping the business afloat and staying busy. So how can technology integration companies break this cycle and start maximizing profitable growth? Here are 7 practical steps:

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Should Your Business Send E-Newsletters? Spoiler: Yes

Build Trust with Your Customers and Keep Them Coming Back

There once was a time when companies would send catalogs to their subscribers by post—or snail mail as we also know it—to help boost business. While this strategy was deemed to be successful, its method of delivery changed drastically by the evolution of technology.

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Guide to Creating a Google My Business Listing

When building a strong SEO strategy, the best place to start is with creating your Google My Business page. Why? Because it’s simple to use, and it’s completely free!

After helping a number of our clients with building (or gaining access to) their Google My Business page, it started to become clear that this is an incredibly undervalued and underestimated tool in many SEO strategies.

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How to Create Content Customers Crave

As 2019 is quickly approaching, you as a business owner need to know what your customers want in the new year. There are a million trendy ways you can go about marketing your company, but at One Firefly we like to use tried and true methods of improving your online presence to figure out what makes your audience tick.

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3 Simple Tips to Expand Your Business’ Reach Online

A strong web presence is crucial for sustained growth, especially for companies without traditional storefronts.

The new millennium has seen the rise of a truly global marketplace, and with it fresh challenges for business owners. Increased global connectivity means greater access to potential markets around the world, but also greater competition from both local and global players. The custom integration and automation industries have seen additional disruption from a new wave of products marketed directly to consumers.

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Is Your Content Fresh Enough? Here’s Why It Matters

Bad news: your old blogs won’t cut it.

Say yes to change

Ranking highly on Google is essential to running a business in the information age. Google looks to the newest and most relevant information -- otherwise known as fresh content – to determine where your site should rank. Search engine bots will crawl your page more frequently if you produce high-quality, relevant content regularly: your site will become the search engine’s best friend.

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Why You Need to Prioritize Online Reviews for Your Business

Consumers are getting more and more savvy. What do they find when they research you?

Genuine quality and customer service are values that many customers seek out before they make a purchase. The challenge, though, is that plenty of businesses say they offer a great experience, while far fewer deliver on that promise. How is a smart, sophisticated consumer to tell the difference between those two types of companies? They trust other people who have purchased from those businesses in the past, which is why online reviews are an increasingly important factor in how consumers’ purchase habits.

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How a Content Marketing Strategy Helps Technology Integrators Reach More Potential Customers

Showing Up On Page One Of Search Engine Results Is The New Downtown Storefront

 

Picture it: your business storefront situated in the middle of a bustling downtown under a sign proudly displaying your business name while some window decals highlight the services you have to offer.

Obviously, this is an ideal situation for most business owners because it means receiving lots of walk-ins who may not have even known they were interested in the services and products you have to offer until they start browsing and talking to your team members manning the store. Because your storefront is in the middle of downtown you’re much more likely to pick up potential customers you may not have reached if your storefront was farther outside of town where little foot traffic comes by.

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Website Optimization Essentials: 5 Must-haves

Let an Experienced Agency Explain how to Optimize your Website

 

We live in an era where potential clients look for instant satisfaction; we want it all, fast and easy. Therefore, optimizing your website to appear within the first results of any given search engine and making it a user-enjoyable experience is fundamental to generate more business for your company.

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What is Review Champ and does it really work?

Ron Callis, CEO of One Firefly, goes into detail on what impact Review Champ could have on your business by sharing some initial results already achieved by one integrator.

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Why is One Firefly creating a Review solution for technology contracting businesses?

Ron Callis, CEO of One Firefly, goes into recent survey results and details why we created Review Champ. Please check out the video and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!

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Are You Giving Away The Keys to Your Kingdom?

Why Owning Your Website's Google Analytics Account Is Critical

What is Google Analytics?

While not something you may look at on a day-to-day basis, Google Analytics is the single most important tool for insight on website performance and visitor data. This free, sophisticated platform provides useful metrics on how many people are visiting your site, how long they are staying, and where they are navigating.

The one area in which Google Analytics is not so forgiving is that it cannot track past data. When a tracking code or javascript snippet is added to your website, it collects data in real time – so as the page is loaded, a hit is transmitted to the platform with its associated data.

The good news is that you have this historical data forever…that is of course unless you lose access to your account.

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Marketing: How Much Should I Really Be Spending?

A Helpful Guide for Allocating Your Marketing Budget

With the New Year right around the corner, it seems a fitting time to talk about marketing budgets for 2018.

As a marketing agency dedicated to the AV and automation channel, there’s one question we hear again and again. It’s not “should we do marketing?” It’s “how much should I spend on marketing?”

The bad news is that there’s no magic number that’s true for every integrator out there. The good news is that there is clear data and best practices that can help guide you toward finding the right number for your business.

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Want an Effective Newsletter? Clean Up Your List First!

Is your messy client list getting in the way of your newsletter’s performance?

Email marketing is simple, right? Just throw an email together, send it to your list of contacts you’ve accumulated over the years, and call it a day.

Well, not quite. If you want your newsletters to be effective, it’s worth taking a bit of time to start them out right.

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Your Business Doesn’t Stand Still; Neither Should Your Marketing

Put Strategy Behind Your Marketing Efforts

It’s easy to get into routines in life. Go to work, do the day’s tasks, relax at home, and do it all over again the next day. But if you own your own business, as many of our readers do, you know that a “just do the routine” approach is not the key to positive growth over time. You have to constantly be looking at ways to improve business operations, seek out new projects or make processes more efficient.

The same holds true for marketing. The strategy that was carefully crafted a year or two ago may still work effectively, but there’s also a chance that it’s no longer 100% in line with your business goals anymore.

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A Quick Guide to AV Company Trifold Brochures

Learn how to Use Trifolds to Your Advantage

There is no doubt that brochures are an excellent marketing option for companies or businesses that are looking to spend a small amount of money for a big amount of exposure. But if we start to look into the vast world of the brochures, we are going to realize that there is a wide diversity of brochures out there to choose from. Our final decision will ultimately depend on our objectives and the content we are planning to include.

In this blog, we go over the basics of trifold brochures and provide some insight on the best ways that AV and automation companies can use them to boost sales.

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The Importance of Creating the Right Logo for Your Brand Identity

Is Your Company Making a Good First Impression?

A logo is one of the first things a potential customer will learn about you. Whether found on signage or the web, your logo tells customers what they can expect from your company. The combination of symbols, language, and styling says that you are an innovator, that you are reliable, that you are an exciting opportunity, or however you want to represent your brand.  Though, if not done correctly, a logo can easily misrepresent your company and put off potential customers. Is your current logo accurately depicting your brand identity? If you aren’t sure, continue reading for a guide to branding and logo design.

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Page Count, Internal Links and Web Crawl: How Do They Relate?

Easy-to-Access Content Is the Key to Good SEO

By now you probably know the difference between SEO and content marketing, and how they work together to help you get found online. But just because there is plenty of content, and even if it’s been tailored to specific, relevant key phrases, doesn’t mean you’ll always automatically achieve the highest rankings or the best results. So how do you enhance your content marketing strategy with onsite changes? In this blog, we’ll provide a simple guide to making your site more functional and visible to search engines and users alike. Read more after the jump.

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Domain Authority, What is it Good For?

Domain Authority Defined

In short, domain authority is a means of measuring how well a website will rank on search engines. Developed by Moz, domain authority scores range from one to 100—the higher the score, the better a website’s ability to rank in search. Sites like Wikipedia and Facebook are at the upper end of the DA score due to their large number of high-quality external links. Small businesses and websites with far fewer inbound links typically have much lower scores. Brand new websites will start with a domain authority score of one. A DA score is best used as a comparative metric rather than a definitive score.

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Do You Need to Improve Your Marketing Strategy?

Find Out if a New Marketing Initiative is Right for Your Company

Custom integrators are experts at making technology work seamlessly and effectively in homes and businesses, but let’s face it: they’re typically not experts at marketing. And that’s okay. Because of this, many technology professionals simply don’t know if they’re on the right track with their marketing strategy or not.

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2017 CEDIA Awards: Take Advantage of this Marketing Opportunity

How to Make the Most of Trade Association Accolades

CEDIA has revealed the details of their 2017 Awards, which acknowledge best-in-class products and technology professionals. These awards are great for more than just the bragging rights—they’re also a fantastic opportunity for you to promote your company through public relations and marketing campaigns. To learn more about these awards and how you can best leverage them, read on.

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3 Excuses Integrators Use to Avoid Marketing

Is Something Holding Your Business Back from Success?

Last year, Infusionsoft conducted a survey of more than a thousand small business owners about their business and marketing strategies. The survey asked what their goals for the coming year were, and here were the top three mentioned most often:

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Is Email Segmenting Worth It?

Maximize Email Effectiveness with Segmented Lists

For many integrators, email marketing is the great unknown. You send out messages into the void and hope that those emails result in potential customers. But the truth is that email marketing is far more strategic than just throwing emails at the customer dartboard and crossing your fingers for the bullseye. Below, we break down one of the top newsletter marketing strategies, email segmenting, and go over some quantifiable metrics that show why it’s worth pursuing.

 

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Top 4 Content Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Circumvent These Common Errors to Ensure Content Marketing Success

When you incorporate content into your marketing strategy, you are working towards establishing a long-standing relationship with the consumer. As you provide your audience with valuable information and tools, they have a reason to trust in and look to you. Inevitably, this symbiosis leads to meaningful conversions with the right kind of customer. Content marketing has proven itself over and over again in helping businesses develop brand identity and presence.

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Boost Your SEO Performance with Google My Business

Make it Easy for Prospects or Referral Sources to Find You Online

When it comes to search engine optimization, it's all about finding the right audience. You can do this by crafting specific geo-targeted keyphrases through a content marketing campaign or an SEO setup. You can also complement these efforts with various online profiles like Facebook, Houzz, Yelp or Google My Business. Since so much of SEO optimization is about having a consistent online presence, it should come as no surprise that Google My Business can be a big boost when it comes to local searches. Check out our blog to learn more about how GMB can help you get found online and how you can optimize your profile.

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