The shift from SEO to Inbound Marketing

We’ve been living in a world where SEO dominates the marketing scene. It’s all about picking the right keywords to get the search engine to rank a company as high as possible in search results, making it look like the authority on a particular topic. But lately there’s been a need to shift away from SEO and toward inbound marketing. From using multiple devices to changing the way we phrase things in our search, search engines are becoming increasingly intelligent so they can keep up. Google, for instance, pulls information on the searcher’s location, preferences, and search history to get the best search result possible. But these personalized search results edit_findinhibit accurate SEO reports. Not to mention that SEO can’t tap into mobile apps and select content based on the user.  Google took it one step further when it rolled out its Hummingbird update last year. This algorithm makes it easier for Google to interpret conversational language, helping the search engine understand the intent of a given search rather than interpreting just a series of words.

Typing a simple question into Google’s search bar will tell you just how far the search platform has come. Translating words, giving facts and answering questions directly in the results page eliminates the user from having to click on the link for a website. If one searches a specific question, such as the best restaurant in his area, will Google will answer his question by ranking results based on the highest ratings and reviews. In addition to changes in the way we search eliminating the use of SEO, pay to play is dominating the web now, making SEO a less productive strategy.

Search engines like Google and social media sites such as Facebook benefit from showing ads, and companies benefit from getting clicks on these ads.

When you have high relevancy and great targeting with this valuable content, you please both ends.

So what does this mean for the future of marketing? Simply put, your business should adopt inbound marketing techniques and focus less efforts on SEO. There’s no longer a need to select keywords that “trick” a search engine to rank your website higher than the competitor in search results.

Why switch to inbound marketing?

Switching to an Inbound strategy can be highly advantageous to your brand because, first and foremost, it draws people into your brand. Whether people are drawn to your company via social media, a share from a friend or coworker, or through your own site, you’re bringing consumers to your website and social media sites organically, thus driving traffic and producing leads.

Producing rich, quality content on your outlets builds expertise and trust among your consumers. When people find value in your content, it leads to shares. This link building can lead to professionals in your industry sharing your content on their site. By using your knowledge and expertise to write quality content, build a helpful website, and interact on social media, your consumers will find more value in your company than your ability to manipulate a robot to bring your website to the forefront of searches. Leverage your content marketing, PR and social to get your SEO value without relying just on search engine optimization. Ultimately, having a strong Inbound strategy will help to find and convert leads and keep your current customers happy and loyal.


Want to focus more efforts on Inbound Marketing? Check out our Inbound Marketing capabilities and we’ll work together to create a powerful plan to bring in new business.

Social Media in 2014

The focus of social media in 2014 will be to become more integrated into essential business activities. With the IPO’s of the largest social media channels coming and going, they will continue to find new ways to monetize, which means additional ways for small businesses to reach out to their customer base.

Social Media as a Sales Tool

Social Media has always been looked at as a sales tool, however there are three key advances in the last 12 months that are causing social media to get a much harder look for increased spending by CMO’s.

The first is the integration into enterprise level CRM’s for use directly with sales agents. CRM’s are now coming equipped with social (mostly LinkedIn) integration showing the connection to the leads. Also with one click, seeing the browsing history and allowing you to send them a message in an informal way through a site like LinkedIn. It is also more affordable using cloud solutions to small businesses than they were in the past. This level of integration however, pushed social media deeper into the business processes and forces the marketing and sales departments to become closer to a cooperative unit.

Second is that these networks are working for the shareholder now and not the end-user. Sure they will say that they are only worried about the users (Zuckerberg), but the fact remains that if they are not keeping shareholders happy they will fade away. Companies that large need money; they have to monetize. No more Twitter founders saying they do not care about monetizing users. Twitter for example, has greatly increased their sponsored tweets and is integrating re-marketing into their platform ad programs. This by default, will allow more advertising opportunities for small business owners.

Third, with these additional lanes of digital advertising, pay-per-click advertising (PPC), the cost-per-click (CPC) has been driven down to a point where you can use growth hacking tactics to optimize your customer acquisition costs lower than ever. With big data being neatly organized in new platforms at much lower costs than in the past, there is no way possible to get a better customer acquisition cost than there is using social media PPC and growth hacking tweaks over a 6 month period, outside of maybe free PR from local media outlets.

social-circles-vertSocial Media for SEO

Google+ (G+) launched a social network. They now own 2 of the top 3 social networks. They have integrated this network into their search and video social platforms to a point where it cannot be ignored. Like when Google said running PPC would not affect your ranking, (our research showed otherwise) they say that all social media activity affects Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but not Google+ any more than the others. However, many experts have seen dramatic increases when they started engaging publicly on G+, not posting on G+, but actually engaging as in +1’ing, sharing and commenting on G+ updates.

Google is right though, that good social indicators do help SEO and that is all the more reason to have a solid social media plan when you are working on your overall marketing. As a matter of fact, research done at the end of 2013 shows that over 90% of marketing professionals are planning to increase spending on digital advertising in 2014, with 40% planning to significantly increase it.

Social Video

Video has always been huge, but engagement rates are through the roof since Facebook started auto playing videos embedded in the newsfeeds. With the increase in promoted posts directly in the newsfeed you can use a good PPC campaign and a compelling offer through video to get massive results for your product or service.

Ensure that the video is professionally done. This is a very key point. Unprofessional video will actually cause a negative effect. However unprofessional does not mean high budget.  Hand-held cellphone videos will work as long as the audio is clear and the message is upbeat. Like the singing of your only child, you might think your videos are amazing. Get feedback from others just to be sure (Make sure they are honest with you!).

Do not forget about the Fringe

Not everyone can be in the top 5 social media platforms, however it does not mean that it isn’t a viable way to market your business. I call these networks the fringe networks. They get a good amount of traffic, and if the user base fits your demographic, it can be very lucrative.

With Instagram’s acquisition by Facebook (and the increased awareness of the bottom line that being owned by a public company brings), they are working on ways to bring ads to the stream, which will include video and still images. The word is that these ads are VERY effective, even though the comments might suggest otherwise.

Soundcloud, a music sharing site for independent artists is actually #4 on the list of platforms, but is a very good place to market your business, if it fits the demographic. If your customers are in their teens or early 20’s, you can hit your demographic very effectively using this platform. Since they are audio ads, they will stand out like a sore thumb. Pandora is also a great ad platform. They allow highly targeted ads based on listening preferences and location, which can be perfect for your business.

We cannot forget about social platforms from other countries, most of these platforms were monetized from the beginning and their users are accustomed to seeing ads so it is not a negative to the advertiser. In most cases, the rates are super cheap and they are far less strict than our US based platforms are. Conversions on these sites are much lower if you are selling a tangible product, but if it is digital or a service, you can do really well in this area.

Should you buy great Search Engine Optimization?

I get maybe 20 emails a day from outsourced search engine optimization (SEO) firms claiming to that they can get me #1 for a variety of keywords. They then go into letting me know which Keywords they can get me ranked highly for.  9 out of 10 times these keywords are already keywords I rank #1 for. What does this tell me? it tells me that a lot of the companies providing SEO are liars. They run a script for a specific keyword, pull everyone on the lower page 1 and on and send them a spam email telling them they can get them ranked for keywords, and then attach keywords related to the one they searched for. The truth is  correctly done SEO takes time.

But what if you do not have that time and you want to come up #1 right now? Can you afford to buy your great placement?

The answer is sure, but you have to find out if it is worth it, because in some cases your customer acquisition costs are just too high compared to traditional forms of advertising, that is just the honest truth. In the long run great SEO is essential to making your new customer acquisition costs go lower and lower, but until that day you have to fill up the appointment book, right?

First off what would be a successful campaign for you? You have to know the answer to this question, so that you can say I can spend $_ or every new lead you get me. I am talking about people wanting your product or service and being willing to pay for it not just tire kickers.

For instance, factoring in the time of your marketing firm and the actual cost per click (CPC) of your campaign you might pay $15-$25 per lead (Assuming a $500 spend). The crazy part is though that the more you spend on your ad budget the lower that $ gets. Since for the most part your firm retainer fees are fixed. You will normally negotiate a rate to setup and maintain your ad spends and the firm will take it from there. If your budget for clicks is not high enough you still have to pay the firms cost to setup, maintain and edit that campaign.

What if you took money from other things and at least in the short term diverted it in to a larger ad buy? What if you went from spending $500 a month on digital ads to 4k? Do you think your management would go up that much? The answer is probably no, or at least not by 8 like your spend. You would be be paying around $15-$25 when you spend that $500, but when you jump to $4k you spend $5-$7 per lead. (On a 4k spend you are looking at roughly 1,000 new leads depending on your market and offer.)

Obviously this depends on if there is the demand for your product or service in your area. If you are a Bee herder then you probably will have a hard time maxing out a 4k budget, but any firm can work with that and get you into a plan that makes sense $ wise.

So to answer your question, yes it will be expensive, but how much are you willing to pay to be slammed with new leads & business?

219 Group Inks a Deal with Santa Claus


For Immediate Release
December 19, 2013

Ryan Harrell, Creative Director

219 Group Inks a Deal with Santa Claus

Fayetteville NC – 219 Group an advertising and marketing firm today announced a new client, Santa Claus. Santa Claus is world renowned for his 1 night delivery method, which government agencies and shipping companies have been trying to duplicated for over 25 years. 219 Group will assist Mr Claus in the rebranding of his new South Pole Fulfillment center. “With the global population expanding so rapidly it is only fitting that our efforts to produce toys and gifts be expanding as well, Ho Ho Ho.” Said Mr Claus. “Mrs Claus and I are extremely excited to work with a great group of millennials, since we know they know how to reach the younger parents of today, and they are great break dancers.”

219 Group will start rolling out the brand in February or March. “We got a late start on this after I used one of Mrs Claus’s nephews to work on the logo, website and social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. What a waste of time. I should have hired professionals earlier. 219 Group knows all about social media which is huge for us. I have kids Instagramming me shopping lists and parents Facebooking info to me. Frankly it is a little overwhelming.” Said Santa.

“Our team will work with Santa and his team of elves to get the brand perfect, and then work side by side with them to ensure the kids and parents stay engaged throughout the off season.” says Ryan Harrell, Creative Director for 219 Group.

About 219 Group – Marketing & Advertising

219 Group ( is a full service marketing and advertising agency specializing in digital advertising and connecting with millennials located in Fayetteville NC. The creative team has won over 70 national and international awards for marketing and design since 2005.

219 Group – Marketing & Advertising, 2929 Breezewood Ave, Suite 201, Fayetteville, NC 28303

219 Group Monthly Reports: Decoded

Each month we send out monthly reports to our clients. With that report we provide an executive summary with highlights of the month, a recap of the work 219 Group accomplished on behalf of our client, the plan for the upcoming month, and what it all means. Knowing the meanings of the words we use is important so you can get the most out of the report and understand our plan for your business or brand. Here’s a list of some of the key terms we use often and what they mean:

Rankings: This tab is where you can view where your site ranks in search engines. It’s a third party assessment that displays where your site lands in searches for the particular keyword on the left.

Analytics: This tab is where you can view the analytics of your site like how many hits your site received, the average time spent on the site, the average amount of page views, etc. It also has the percentage of organic traffic, referral traffic and direct traffic.

Organic traffic: Traffic from search engines searches — a user typed in a search term and your site was listed among the results that they clicked on

Referral visits: Traffic that comes from another site. In other words, a link to your site has been placed on another web page or site, people clicked on, it and landed on your site

Direct traffic: This means visitors typed in your web address directly into their browser to reach your site

Backlinks: This tab shows you the other sites that have a link to your website

Social: On this tab you’ll see the social networks we’re using regularly for your brand. You can see the content we’ve posted, how many followers you have on each network, and your engagement level.

As always, if you have any questions about the reports or want more information reach out to your account manager and they’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Digital Marketing: The Boomers & the Seniors

Knowing your demographics is key.

When we sit down with a client to talk about their target demographic there’s usually this preconceived idea that the social media and internet marketing should be geared towards Millennials. But that’s the farthest from the truth. The latest numbers from show baby boomers (age 45-65) spent more time on the web than with any other media, including TV, radio and newspaper/magazine.  And seniors (age 65+), outspent their web time by only 30 minutes of watching TV.











The majority of boomer and seniors use the web to look for more information, but 57% of respondents said they headed online to get information related to shopping.

 What this means for you:
You have to deliberately market to these demographic. They’re ready, waiting and available to you. So how do you do it?

-Target online ads:
There is plenty of digital ad space that works to the baby boomers and seniors. Purchase digital ad space on these and make sure the content is catered specifically towards the groups.  The CPC for ads targeting this demo for most keywords is usually still low as well.

-Social Media:
The boomers and seniors are on there to see pictures of the grandkids. Cater ads directed towards them specifically and evaluate their performance

-Tablet/Mobile users:
Boomers and seniors are using tablets and mobile devices at an exceeding rate. Notably, 49% of boomers made a purchase after gathering information via their device. This means that if you can get them to your service or product from their device, there’s a 49% chance they’ll buy. I’ll take that. They way to capitalize on this is to cater and/or provide relevant content for them within your site/advertising.

How to Spend Your Time on Linkedin: Beginners

Is your Linkedin Profile up to date?

It should be.

As you probably know, Linkedin is a professional place to connect with people; friends, colleagues, professional acquaintances, and more. It’s a place for people to see what you do, how you do it, and when you did it. Staying up to date on your profile is important because it keeps you professionally relevant and demonstrates your interest and knowledge of your field.

If you feel overwhelmed with the social networking site, here are the key areas I recommend spending some time developing.

Current Position:
If you feel overwhelmed putting in your past work experience, okay. At least have your current position and job description up to date so people can see what you currently do.

The summary should be some brief information about yourself, the skills you have, etc. Make this inclusive of your professional skill set, rather than just your current position. Keep in short and sweet – 3-4 sentences maximum.   

Make connections:
Did you meet a new person at a party? Run into an old friend at a restaurant? Look them up on Linked in. I recently went on a trip abroad and met two people randomly on a tour. We all clicked, we Facebook friend requested, took pictures together… but I was also sure to connect with them on Linkedin as well.

Every once in a while you can also use the “People You May Know” area on Linkedin, which generates a list of people that you may know. Connect as often as you can.

Ask for recommendations after you’ve worked with someone for a while. Don’t be shy. Linkedin is the place to do it. Also, recommend people that you’ve worked with that you think are worth it. Be careful with recommendations, of course, but if you’ve had a positive working relationship and experience with someone, write a quick recommendation. The more your write, the more you’re likely to have written for you; it’s a two-way street.

Take 15-20 minutes per day or every other day logging into Linkedin, working on your profile, updating the information, making connections, and endorsing skills. The more you put in the more you’ll get out of it. You’ll stay relevant among others in your field, connect with potential employers, and have access to professional development tools.  Next time we’ll get into posting and joining groups, but start with these first and you’ll familiarize yourself with Linkedin, making it easier and easier to use.

HGTV Suggests Using American Flag as a Table Cloth; Angers Fans

HGTV Suggests Using American Flag as a Table Cloth; Angers Fans

Recently HGTV posted ideas for 4th of July decorations and suggested using an American flag as a table cloth or runner. Needless to say more than a handful of people have written on HGTV’s Facebook page and other social networks voicing their disappointment with the home and garden television channel, magazine and the entire brand. While using the flag in this way is indeed directly against standard flag etiquette, we’re more interested with the lack of response so far by HGTV.

We would suggest they take the page down immediately and replace it with a holder that says something like: HGTV has removed this content. Statement coming shortly.
This way they buy themselves some time without looking like they’re doing nothing. They can regroup, consult their legal team, draft a response and issue it properly. This same message needs to be carried across their social networks and they should be responding to each comment individually to say they’ve removed the post and will be issuing a statement soon.
When it comes to social media (and digital) blunders, we never recommend complete silence. We’ll be watching for what unfolds and if HGTV makes a statement and will update this post accordingly.

What would you recommend they do?

UPDATE: HGTV has removed the entry. This is the placeholder currently reached:








UPDATE: HGTV issues apology. Posted on their Facebook page:
“HGTV Fans, regarding the recent article that appeared on our website…This was a regrettable use of our flag and it never should have happened. We sincerely apologize and have removed the post from our website. We want to assure our fans that HGTV is proud of the American flag and everything it symbolizes for our people.” [Click here for link]


How to Claim & Set Up Social Media Sites

How to claim & set up social media assets for your business or brand:

Often times when we start working with a client, a business or a brand they’re social media assets are in various stages of completion. They’re focused on running and operating the day-to-day of the business. That’s where our team can help. Setting up these account correctly not only maximizes their presence and impact, but they serve as a very important place people can find important information about your business.

Google local:
If you have a local business, you should establish or claim your Google local account. There you can list your hours of operation, address, phone number, website and other information. If there’s already page that exists for your business, visit it and scroll down towards the bottom.  Find the box that says:  is this your business? Manage this page and click on it. If you are not already signed into your gmail account, it will ask you to do so and walk you through the steps to claim the page, make edits, add images, and respond to reviews. In order to prove your connection to the business it may ask you to verify by phone, mailed postcard or email. This is the page that Google will show first, so ensuring its contents are correct is important. Plus, it’s EASY and FREE!! Can’t beat that.

Yelp page:
Yelp is a local review site where customers and clients can post about their experiences. It’s important to have access to your business’ page so you can respond to the reviews here, either positive or negative. When you’re on your Yelp business page, you can scroll down to the red box that says Claim your Buisness.  Once there it will walk you through setting up a user name and password and verifying. There’s three basic steps: creating a business account, confirming your connection to the business, and then accessing your Yelp Business Account.

Facebook business or brand page:
Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t allow you to “claim” or verify pages that may already hold your business name or desired customized url. You can start a new page by visiting and clicking on “Create a Page” at the bottom of the log in screen. You have to have a certain number of fans or “likes” before you can create a customized Facebook url. There are ways of doing this immediately though with agency help. If you’re interested in this, contact us today. You also want to make sure the page contents and descriptions are optimized properly to work with you search engine optimization strategy.

Twitter business or brand account:
Twitter falls under the same category as Facebook. If the account already exists,  it belongs to someone else. Open a new account or convert an old account you may already have by changing the Twitter handle (Yes!! You can do that).

Your Youtube channel will be connected to your Google+ and Gmail account. Login with your Gmail credentials and then visit  Once there it may ask for your password again. Click on the Advanced Account Settings and look under Channel Settings. Click on Create Custom URL. Click here to read about optimizing your Youtube content for SEO.

Even if you don’t do anything with these accounts right away, it’s important to claim them, set the customized url, and have access to the accounts. Graphics and search engine optimized content are also very important parts of setting up and claiming these accounts. 219 Group offers a social media package that includes set up and graphics on all sites. Often times it’s easier to work on getting your new business up and running while we set up you digital assets and provide you access and logins.  Contact us today if you’re interested in this service.

219 Marketing Analysis: get a tattoo for a 15% pay increase

This week’s marketing analysis includes a simple question: would you get a tattoo of your company’s logo for a 15% pay increase?

Recently we saw a news story that a real estate company was offering 15% pay raise if employees tattooed the company logo on their body. There weren’t any location or size specifications, just that simple: get a company logo tattoo and get 15% more money. That got us thinking at 219 Group, is this a good marketing strategy? What’s to be gained from the company? What’s to be gained from the consumer?

The obvious gains are:
-Exposure: Hello?! There was a news story on the whole thing. That’s how we heard about it. Free press, anyone?

-Advertising: for the rest of that person’s life (unless they have it covered or removed) the company will have advertising. People will probably ask them what it is and they’ll name the company. But it’s not free, because the company is paying the employee 15% more.

-Increase in moral: Someone in our office brought up the point that it’s about the culture of the company. Offering this incentive says: believe in us, and we’ll believe in you. It’s more about the company/employee relationship than the company/client or consumer relationship.

What our marketing experts thought:

“Great for the business, maybe not so much for the employee, who has to live with the tattoo forever, and who knows if they will work there in a year or two, no one knows what life will bring, plus even the most iconic brands go through revisions.”

“I suppose the real question is: are the people that will see this tattoo more likely to use the company’s services? I really really doubt this. People generally don’t inform their decisions based on tattoos…especially re real estate firms.”

“I would do it. I just wouldn’t put it on my forehead or anything, but I have so many already I would have it blend in with another one. For a little bit more money to represent something that you do… it isn’t such a bad idea.”

The point is, the company took very little risk in doing this. Except to ensure they could follow up with the promise of pay increases, there’s little fallout for the company. They could change their logo, re-brand, go out of business… it’s the employee that made a permanent decision.

219 Group’s Conclusion:
In the short term this was good for the company. Easy PR, newsworthy and gets people talking. Long term though, this won’t help them build a loyal returning client base. A real estate firm is only as successful as its agents. Even if everyone is tattooed with the logo doesn’t make them good at their jobs.

What do you think? Would you get a tattoo of your company logo for a raise?

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