Monthly: February 2014

Advertising, Market Information, SEO

Brand Recognition Importance for your business: State Farm Success

Staying ahead in a competitive marketplace is a constant exercise in push and pull, dos and don’ts, and lucky breaks. Taking the lead in the increasingly online world of business in 2014 means taking advantage of evolving SEO, great web design, and success in social media. After all, eCommerce sales grew to $262.3 billion in the United States, and are expected to grow to $440 billion by the end of 2017.

Having said that, web-marketing isn’t the only thing to consider. Harnessing the power of brand recognition and utilizing the mobile market is equally important to keeping your company at the front of potential and actual customers’ minds. This is a lesson that American insurance giant State Farm took to heart. After 91 years of offering a high quality insurance option to Americans, State Farm is still the most profitable insurance company in the country, pulling in an estimated $3.2 billion in profits annually. Its closest competition, Allstate, only earns around $2.3 billion. By realizing the need to change and grow as the nature of business does the same, State Farm has ensured its success into the future.

What Did State Farm Do?

1. Updated Their Classic Logo

One of the smartest things State Farm did for their brand was updating their logo. The company’s original logo, in use since 1953, was recognizable, but it didn’t quite fit with the digital direction business marketing is heading. In 2011, the company reduced the size of their well-known ovals, placing them next to the State Farm name, resulting in a streamlined, modern look. For their online presence, they now use only the three ovals as their emblem.

It might not seem like this is a big fix, but consider this: people remember visual information a lot more readily than they do written information. That’s why a brand’s logo, the bit of information customers are most likely to remember, is said to be the face of a company; it represents everything your customers can expect from your business in a memorable, condensed form.

2. Harnessed the Power of Celebrity

Recognizing the need to fight back against the steady stream of quirky, strange, but effective ads being put out by competitor Geico, State Farm contracted Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, hoping to harness the power of celebrity to bring their company added recognition. The Discount Double Check program, the campaign Rodgers helms, is memorable for the potential 40% savings customers can gain by using it, but it’s unarguably Rodgers’ presence that makes the campaign successful.

Of course, banking on star power for increased recognition and sales is not a new concept. Activia Yogurt brought in actress Jamie Lee Curtis to pitch their female-focused yogurt and subsequently saw sales increase by 80%. Even when marketing isn’t the goal, sales increase with the power of celebrity. For instance, after President Obama was recorded singing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” in 2012, sales of the song jumped by 490%.

3. Optimized for the Mobile Market

All estimates show that 2014 is the year mobile internet usage will finally overtake traditional desktop usage. 63% of mobile users use their devices to go online, with nearly a quarter saying they access the internet exclusively from their phones. Additionally, 29% of Americans say they cannot live without their phone, meaning they play with their mobile apps and check their devices for text messages and social media updates constantly.

Hoping to take advantage of the geometric growth of the mobile market, State Farm released a series of mobile apps to make it easier for customers to take care of their insurance needs and to make tracking their driving ability more interesting. The Pocket Agent® app, for example, lets customers file a claim, make deposits in their bank accounts, and find an insurance agent on the go. Other tools tell drivers how safe they are driving and what they need to do to earn certain insurance discounts. All of this ensures State Farm is increasingly part of the growing mobile market.

State Farm is proof that dynamism in business is as important as any product or service offered. By modernizing a familiar logo, fighting fire with fire by producing memorable, celebrity-filled commercials, and realizing the need to tap into the mobile market, State Farm has cemented their dominance in the insurance world. Using the same methods, you can do the same for your business, whatever your field.

Velocity Agency is a digital marketing and advertising firm specializing in digital and internet marketing & advertising, print, web design, graphic design, film, and HD video promotion and post-production. Velocity serves clients all over the United States from our Metairie, LA office just outside of New Orleans by strategically implementing proprietary tools and techniques to get you the most conversions for your business through lead generation, cost-per-acquisition, and top line revenue.

It’s just about that time again. King Cakes are in every store (I just bought one from Magnolia Discount), there’s a jester holding a giant sign that says: “get your beads here!” and that guy I haven’t talked to since middle school just hit me up on Facebook. Yes, Mardi Gras is coming.

Now, I’m a Veteran. Born and raised in New Orleans. I know what to expect. Even now these things happen to me every year and I’m supposed to know better and trust me, I go to Mardi Gras prepared. So, if this is your first Mardi Gras or are just curious as to what goes on, here are 10 things guaranteed to happen to you during Mardi Gras:

1) You Will Get Lost

Lost

Mardi Gras is one of the biggest parties in the world and attracts a never ending sea of people. There are distractions everywhere, and if your doing things right, your in no shape to ignore them…Combine these things with little to no cellphone service and your left with a guarantee to get lost.

2) You will pee in public with a stranger

lookout

Now everyone knows that they will pee in public during Mardi Gras, but did you know you will do it with a complete stranger?  Pee spots are often hard to find, there are cops, and your best friend is flirting with the sorta pretty girl he just gave all his beads to0. You need someone to watch your back while you do the deed and I guarantee you someone else is in the exact same situation. You will join forces with them in the search for relief.

3) You will see someone you haven’t seen in ages

reunited

Despite it’s nickname, The Big Easy is really a small town. Mardi Gras attracts an enormous amount of people. Chances are someone you know is going. That teacher, from 3rd grade that taught you how to write in script…yeah she’ll be there. Somehow your going to run into this person and have an overly excited (and probably hazy) reunion.

4) You will get into a confrontation

ramsbuttingheads

Crowds and alcohol for nearly a week…..Need I say more.

5) You will dance like a retard

carlton

Yes, even the most anti-dance stuffy is dancing at Mardi Gras. It’s contagious. Just accept it and worry about all of the pictures later.

6) You will end up somewhere and have no idea how you got there

whitepersondancing

After the third day of drinking and debauchery things start to get a little hazy. How you ended up in that one guys car going for a Rally’s Cheeseburger will completely slip your mind.

7) You will trespass on someone’s property

No Trespassing Sign on Manitou Incline

I feel sorry for the people who live on the parade routes for only one reason. But at least their yards are well hydrated if you catch my drift.

8) You will completely overvalue your beads

New Orleans Parties During Traditional Mardi Gras Celebration

You just did something really stupid and got the biggest, nicest, pair of beads anyone has ever laid eyes on. You will brag to all your friends, share them on all of the social sites, and vow you’ll never part with them. However, just like your first relationship, you will  throw them in the trash once you realize how uncomfortable you are.

9) You will get wet

Wet Dog

I can’t predict the weather, but it almost always rains at least once during Mardi Gras. If it doesn’t your going to get a drink or 2, or 3 spilled on you….. Prepare accordingly

10) You will have a great time

mardigrasgoodtime

If somehow this post scared you, or discouraged you from going to Mardi Gras at all, don’t fret. No matter how stupid you look or how many strange things you do you are going to have a great time! These things are just small moments of the day that make Mardi Gras memorable. Remember, Mardi Gras is a marathon not a sprint and it’s fun for everyone….except the police.

10 Things Guaranteed to Happen to You During Mardi Gras 2014

Professional Development, SEO

How to Evolve SEO and Find Success in 2014

eye

2013 saw the foundation of traditional SEO brought into question. Google forbade many older techniques, and updated others, to bring them in-line with where the internet is heading in 2014. This shouldn’t be read to mean that SEO is dead; with an estimated 97% of all web experiences beginning with a search engine, it’s more important than ever. SEO in 2014, however, is about optimizing content to drive a successful campaign.

The Trends of 2013

Google introduced a number of changes in 2013, all of which were meant to put the final nail in black-hat SEO’s coffin and bring more utility to web users. Here’s a recap of the biggest changes Matt Cutts and the Google team brought our way last year:

Panda Goes Clandestine- In May of 2013, Google announced that updates to Panda, an algorithm update meant to penalize producers of low-quality web content, would no longer be announced. Instead, updates will be made quietly, driving the point home that the Google is through firing warning shots at abusive marketers.

Penguin Targets Links Along with Content- Updates to Google’s equally reviled Penguin expanded the spam-utility’s scope from content quality to link quality. Penguin no longer takes a cursory glance at included links while focusing on keyword stuffing and content quality. Not only does it check for content quality, it now evaluates each piece of linked content to ensure it offers readers value.

Hummingbird Impacts 90% of Google Searches- Hummingbird was Google’s last major update of 2013 and one they hoped would drive their message home. Unlike Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird was a near complete overhaul of the PageRank algorithm Google had been using since its inception. Whereas Panda and Penguin affected an estimated 10% and 3% of search results, respectively, Webspam head Matt Cutts estimates Hummingbird impacted 90% of results.

Hummingbird fundamentally shifted the way the algorithm works. In the past, people searched using simple phrases and keywords. For example, “pizza Rochester delivery” was used to find a Rochester pizzeria that delivers. Hummingbird fills the need to answer search queries using conversational speech, an increasingly popular way of searching online. Now, users search using full questions, like “Where can I find a Rochester pizzeria that delivers near me?” Using geo-caching data and an algorithm that actually considers the meaning behind queries, Hummingbird offers a more human, and thereby more accurate, search experience.

Where Are We Heading in 2014?

Taken together, last year’s changes focus on value. Content, links, web design — everything you do online needs to offer value or you risk being penalized. If you want to attract traffic and avoid sparring with Google, you need to optimize every facet of your SEO campaign.

Content Built to Answer Questions- Staying ahead of Google in 2014 means focusing on content. Everything you publish has to fill a need. If you stop focusing on “relevant” keywords and start writing relevant content, you can easily adapt to Hummingbird’s shift toward conversational search queries. Great writing brings with it all the keywords and value you need to implement effective SEO.

Synergize Reviews with Search Results- One of the most exciting developments in SEO is the ability to link reviews with your listings in Google results. A professional review of up to 67 characters can be attached to your search results and cited. Place reviews above your content’s meta-description line to increase visibility and improve credibility.

Develop a Link-Building Strategy- Like anything else, you need to take a strategic approach to the way you list links in and develop links for your content. Fixing broken links using Google Webmaster Tools, checking the reputation of cited sources, and ensuring links are relevant to your content are going to be huge in 2014 for avoiding Penguin’s ire.

In some ways, SEO changes in 2014 are simply continuing the trends of 2013. The main difference is that Google, owner of 70% of the search industry market share, has taken the gloves off and made it clear that you either get in line, or you’re going to be severely penalized for using antiquated marketing strategies.

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