Content Marketing on a Budget


We’re asked all the time what easy, cost-efficient marketing strategies we think are best. We understand the constraints of marketing on a tight budget, and that flashy ads or commercials aren’t always feasible. Marketing at growing your small business is hard, but it’s not impossible.

‘What is content marketing?’ you may ask. It’s simple, really: Content Marketing focuses on developing and distributing valuable content to attract and keep a target audience. And when you’re the authority on a subject or in your industry, you’ll gain leads, which you’ll nurture into customers, thus driving your revenue.

If you’ve started your own business, you obviously know a thing or two about setting and meeting goals and developing a plan. Same concept here. Set some strategic goals and know who your audience is. You want customers to visit your site to view your content, so first you’ll need to give them a reason to visit. Set roles for your employees and designate who will create content for your page.

We encourage our clients to post frequently on their blogs to boost SEO and get the conversation started with potential customers or keep it going with current customers. This is such an easy, cost-effective strategy to get people to visit your site. And it doesn’t have to be boring text all the time. Harness the knowledge your company has shared with simple PowerPoint presentations by turning them into SlideShare presentations and posting them into your blog. Or why not share pictures, gifs or infographics to quickly engage your customers?

Keep your company up-to-date by referencing current events about your industry. Staying knowledgeable about your industry will benefit both your company and your audience. Also, make sure you’re communicating internally with your team to see what potential and current clients are asking. We do this weekly (sometimes more) to understand our clients better so we deliver our best strategies and creative. Embracing this technique can help you not only better understand your customers, but can help develop a forum of frequently asked questions and answers for your customers to reference and show your authority in your industry.

Content marketing can be easy and painless with some simple planning and execution. Need help getting started? Reach out! We’re always standing by to help you with your marketing needs.

It’s April 21st, can your site be found?


SEO isn’t a one-and-done deal. Sure, you took plenty of measures to boost your SEO when you built your website, but getting the most out of SEO takes time, strategy, and – above all – maintenance.

One key component of SEO is a mobile-ready site. And since 80% of Internet users own a smartphone (and growing), there’s a good chance they’ll be using that phone to search for your business and visit your website.

As we’ve discussed before, Google is now rewarding mobile-ready sites with a “mobile-friendly” tag that appears in search results. They’ll be taking this a step further on April 21st when they release a new algorithm that will “expand the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.” This “mobilegeddon,” as it’s lovingly referred to in blogs across the web, will significantly shape SEO. It’s a no-brainer that your site needs to be mobile friendly to rank high.

Last time we talked SEO, we mentioned how Google is moving in a conversational direction, boosting sites that sound like a human over sites that sound robotic. But this extends beyond just what you say. You’ll now want to take into account how often you’re saying it.

It’s important to update your site often, keeping your content fresh and new. For example, if you’re a restaurant owner, you’ll want to update your site often with specials, new offerings or your new menu. Or if you’re a store owner, you can promote featured items or leverage social to point back to your page.

Replacing stale copy on your site and keeping your content relevant with updates and blogs naturally gives you an SEO boost. Making it a priority to keep an eye on your site and content regularly can yield tremendous results.

But let’s face it: If you’re a small business owner, you’re busy. You may not have time to make these little changes while you’re busy running your business. That’s where we come in. Let us join your team and we’ll help with all these little changes, from refreshing your content, to writing blogs and creating social updates that direct back to specific pages on your site. We’ll take the necessary steps to ensure you’ll be seen by potential and current customers.

Spring clean your email marketing


…and watch your engagement blossom!

After this particularly miserable and cold winter, we’re ready for the spring! And who doesn’t love to do a little spring cleaning? Well, maybe not everyone, but when it comes to your email list, now is the perfect time to get out the dust bunnies and cobwebs to reveal a squeaky clean list, ready for spring.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Email marketing is not dead! In fact, eMarketer reports that 69.7% of US internet users say email is the preferred method of communicating with businesses. And in a world that stays constantly connected, users are reading more emails than ever on their tablets and smart phones, always increasing open rates.

When you properly leverage the power of email marketing, you’ll be able to converse with your audience and build a trust they’ll associate with your brand. Two simple, yet important, steps you can take to clean up your email marketing include list cleaning and segmenting your subscribers.

List cleaning is an easy way to remove inactive or non-existent addresses from your email list. This is particularly beneficial if you’re paying for your email service provider, since you don’t want to send to users who either don’t use the email address they provided or no longer wish to receive your emails.

There are plenty of programs out there that provide list cleaning services that will save you time and money. List cleaning is an easy, time-saving, cost-cutting solution to reveal a clean list of users.

How are you talking with your subscribers? Do you know them by name? How old they are? Interests? Gender? By asking simple, non-evasive questions when your subscribers sign up for your newsletter, you’ll be able to segment your emails to garner the best engagement, opens and click and bounce rates. Segmenting allows you to target customers through various ways, from interest groups, activity, location, customer type, gender and sign-up date. This provides a more personalized experience for your subscribers, strengthening your relationship and trust.Mailchimp freddie - we are not affiliated or related.

According to MailChimp data, segmented campaigns saw an 14.05% boost in opens over non-segmented campaigns. Additionally, they received 61.9% higher clicks than their non-segmented counterparts.

Segmenting is so useful because it’s useful for every type of business. For instance, a jeweler can use Valentine’s Day to target men in their list to show jewelry for their special someone, but send a different dialogue around the same holiday to the women on their email list. Or a doctor’s office can create two versions of its monthly newsletter, one focusing on health facts for females, the other for males. By capturing data as simple as gender when subscribers sign up for your email list, you can begin a dialogue that stays relevant and last for years.

Need help with your email list? Contact us — we’re always here to help!


Mash House Brewing Company Goes Local


FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – 219 Group, a veteran owned advertising and marketing agency, has been named the agency of record for The Mash House, a restaurant and brewery in Fayetteville. They will partner 219 Group for all their advertising and marketing services.

219 Group will assist the Mash House in the development of their strategic advertising plan as well as the execution of it to re-introduce The Mash House to the Fayetteville and Fort Bragg Communities. 219 Group will work in the areas of graphic design, media services, digital marketing, brand development, social media and public relations.

“We realized we needed some local marketing and advertising help to tell our story. We felt 219 Group had the right creative talents to help us tell our unique story of our brewery”, said Steven Groveunder, Manager at the Mash House.

The Mash House Brewing Company, located on Sycamore Dairy Road, is a destination for steaks, burgers and award-winning beer — hand-crafted on the premises utilizing the traditional methods of Old World brewers. You can learn more about their local beers and food at

“We are excited to help The Mash House promote their brewery and restaurant as a place for local beer, local food and local faces”, said Kirk deViere, President & Owner of 219 Group.

About 219 Group:
219 Group is a veteran-owned marketing and advertising agency offering a full suite of marketing services to help clients of all sizes, budgets, and types achieve their desired results. Services include brand development, digital services, graphic design, social media marketing, analytics, lead generation, media services, and public relations. For more information about 219 Group please visit

How Does Your SEO Measure Up in 2015?


Never underestimate the power of Google. The search engine is constantly growing smarter with enhancements that benefit users and site owners alike. One recent update is changing the way it scans for keywords on websites. “Old” SEO best practices suggested inserting your key phrase in the title and end sentence, along with many times in the body copy. For instance, if you’re writing your body copy and you are a florist in Fayetteville NC, you want to reiterate many times that you’re a florist in Fayetteville NC because when people search for a florist in Fayetteville NC, you want to rank highest on the list of florists in Fayetteville NC.

Pretty redundant, huh? Luckily, Google is finally changing that with new ways of scanning sites for content.

Placement is key.
In the past, best SEO practice recommended keyword-dense pages to drive people to your site. Now, it’s all about placement. Placing your keyword in the header takes priority over keywords in the body or anywhere else on the page, such as sidebars and footers. Google has become more conversational, changing its way of pointing users to your page. When the search engine scours your page, it’s no longer looking for those key phrases and listening to what you tell it to do. Google has a mind of its own, and it’s using it to make its own decisions about your page. It reads the data on your page and looks for meaning to determine what category your page falls under.

Rather than sprinkling in “florist” several times in your body copy like in the past, use varying phrases throughout your site to yield the best results. By alternating phrases, like “florist,” “flower shop,” and “flower speKITTENSts,” you won’t limit your site to a particular category and will shine as a leader in your field. No pun intended.

It doesn’t stop there
Want to increase your rank? Make sure you’re also implementing these key details.
Google is giving a bump to user-friendly sites. Sites that are well laid out, contain a usable sitemap, and are easy to navigate with a header bar and short title pages rank above those that lack easy functionality. In addition to headers, make sure you still include body, sidebars and footers so Google can scan your page easily.

Along the same lines, be sure you keep an eye on your site speed and security, as they will affect your rank. Having pages that load quickly and keeping an eye on your cache and updating your plugins will give your site an increase in rankings. Also, Dont forget about being mobile ready.

It goes without saying that Google will continue to become more intelligent and enhance its functionality. As a site owner, it’s very important to keep up with these changes and make any necessary changes to rank well in searches.

Is your SEO in need of a boost or even a review? We’re always here to help. We’ll make sure you get noticed.

Facebook Debuts Additional Call-To-Action Button


Call-to-Action button is now available on business pages.

Facebook is shaping up for the New Year, this time adding changes to benefit Facebook business users. The social media giant is inserting a call-to-action button at the top of businesses’ pages, located to the left of the “Like” and “Message” buttons. The call-to-action for a business page varies based on the business’ goals. Facebook will offer seven options which page admins may choose: fb_button

  • Book Now
  • Shop Now
  • Contact Us
  • Sign Up
  • Play Game
  • Use App
  • Watch Video

These buttons will link users to any destination on or off Facebook, whichever the business may choose. This provides a quick, convenient way for users to contact a business or shop online without having to browse the page for information. Businesses can benefit from this this ease and continue the conversation with a consumer through their website. The button is currently rolling out in the United States and will be available worldwide this year.

Are you taking advantage of the call-to-action button for boosted ads?

The call-to-action button is no foreign feature to Facebook. The new call-to-action button on business pages is building on the call-to-action button for boosted ads that launched last year, which offer users a quick and easy way to act on advertisements from a business page. These call-to-actions help build engagement with current and potential customers and bring in more business than a standard ad alone. Businesses should leverage this feature, which clearly tells the consumer what action you would like him or her to take.  There are five options for the button on the ad:

  • Shop Now
  • Download
  • Book Now
  • Sign Up
  • Learn More

Taking advantage of the call-to-action button ad feature can increase the traffic to your website and an increase in leads and conversions.

New Year, New Facebook Changes


Facebook changes are coming: Is your small business ready?

The New Year means new changes coming to Facebook, and they may disrupt your social media campaign. These changes specifically affect brands, in order to enhance the users’ experience. Facebook will begin rolling out changes in January in an attempt to do away with overly promoted posts. These promoted post changes stemmed from a recent survey of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users, who said, according to Facebook, that “they wanted to see more stories [on their News Feeds] from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.”

According to Facebook’s data, many users see the content from pages they have liked as “too promotional,” rather than ads. Facebook attributes this to the fact that ads are controlled, so users only see a limited amount and users can hide ads they do not want to see. The same monitoring has not been applied to promoted posts. The social media giant said in its blog post that it’s “bringing new volume and content controls for promotional posts, so people see more of what they want from Pages.” This includes a “mute” button, where users can choose to unfollow a brand or simply see fewer posts.

These are the traits of organic posts that Facebook feels are too promotional:

• Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
• Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
• Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Organic reach has been dropping for years. EdgeRank Checker’s research shows that organic reach in 2012 was at 16%, but that number has plummeted in 2014, with organic content reaching only 6.51% of followers.

So how do you get your posts seen?

With organic reach dipping and overly promoted content being weeded out, we believe now is the time to spend some of your advertising budget on promoting your organic posts. But, if you want to reach the most people with your organic post, avoid overtly advertising your products. In addition, avoid promoting contests or apps.

And there’s really no way to avoid it now: If you want to have significant reach, you need to pay to promote your posts. And when you pay more, you reach more. By promoting, or “boosting” your posts, you will increase your reach through important posts like announcements or new products; purchases will grow by taking people to your site with link posts; and you’ll be able to find new customers by targeting new audiences.

Are you ready for the new Facebook changes? Contact us for help designing a social media plan today!

Google Giving Mobile-Friendly Websites a Boost


Do you have a mobile-friendly website?

If so, you may see a spike in your search result rankings from mobile-only users thanks to Google’s new “mobile-friendly” label.

According to Google, the search engine classifies a site as mobile-friendly if it “avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash, uses text that is readable without zooming, sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom,” and “places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped.”

Google’s blog post explaining the update said they were adding the “mobile-friendly” label to “make it easier for people to find the information that they’re looking for.”

This continues Google’s push for more mobile-friendly websites, adding to the ranking algorithm introduced in summer 2013 that ranks sites with errors on mobile devices lower in mobile-only search results.

We highly recommend a mobile-friendly website to increase traffic and ultimately attract new business.

Penguin 3.0 release

Is your website compliant with Google’s new Penguin 3.0 update?

Last month, Google rolled out its latest algorithm update, Penguin 3.0, with the main objective of cutting the amount of spam on the Internet to make the search experience better for users.

Penguin 3.0 marks the fifth update to the Penguin algorithm, originally released in April 2012. Search Engine Land deemed this update the latest Penguin release as “one of the most anticipated algorithm updates in Google’s history.”

The Penguin algorithm is in place to decrease search engine rankings of sites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines by using “black-hat SEO” tricks that manipulate links, solely to  increase the ranking of its website. Google launched Penguin to catch and punish sites that are spamming the search engine and reward sites that have valuable, relevant links. Sites that are in violation of these spammy, manipulative tactics and unnatural links to increase rankings — Google identifies these sites as “webspam” — will be penalized. Sites with webspam will see a drastic reduction in their visibility in search results, clicks and web traffic.

Google notifies a website of its bad links through Google Webmaster Account, and if sites don’t heed these warnings, they will likely suffer the consequences when new Penguin updates roll out. These websites will be flagged, and will indefinitely suffer a lack in traffic to their website until it is cleaned up and a new Penguin is released. Violators caught with the previous Penguin update, released in October 2013, will now be able to see if the changes to their spammy links paid off in increased traffic to their site.

Although Penguin 3.0 will only affect 1% of search queries, you may be curious to see if it has affected your website traffic. Follow these steps to see if you may be hurting or benefitting from its release. Check your analytics…

  • Did you notice a significant drop in traffic after Penguin launched on October 17? You may have a Penguin problem. Read on…
  • Is traffic about the same? You should be safe!
  • Have you seen a spike in traffic? Congratulations! Penguin is working for you — perhaps rerouting some of the traffic that could have been going to your competitors’ page and directing it to you.

If your site falls under the latter two categories, you’re following Google’s guidelines and are avoiding spammy SEO. But if you are seeing a decrease in traffic, it may be time to clean up your site and nix the spammy links.

If its time for a cleanup, start by verifying your Google Webmaster Account. Chances are, Google has sent you warnings about spammy links on your page, but if your account is not set up, you may have been missing the warnings.

Have you been hit by Penguin 3.0 and need help recovering? We can help you rebuild your site to bring in leads and new customers that also complies with Google’s Webmaster guidelines.

DIY Advertising vs Hiring an Ad Agency

Thinking about hiring an advertising agency?

Advertising is a critical component of any company. But if you’re running a small business, hiring an outside advertising agency may seem like a luxury you cannot afford. It’s time to change that logic. You might be surprised to learn that many small businesses use advertising agencies to create targeted advertising to local media at an overall price that is lower than you may think.

There are significant benefits to both advertising in-house and hiring an outside ad agency – there is no one-size-fits-all plan. Some advantages of having an in-house marketing team is that you are able to manage your staff directly and hold them accountable for deadlines and work. Also, your employees are familiar with your products and services, thus making them the best spokespeople for your company. On the other hand, an agency has its perks as well including lower overall cost with the added benefits of software expertise and licensing. Specializing in advertising, an agency is stocked with a talented staff of creative writers and designers.

timemoneyTime: Let’s face it, you’re busy. If you’re running your small business, it’s hard to devote any extra time to advertising efforts. Great advertising campaigns require time and energy, and maybe you or your employees simply do not have the time to dedicate to advertising. If this is the case, outsourcing may be an asset to your company. By taking out the legwork of advertising, you can focus on other areas of your business.

Money: If you want to bring a marketing and advertising expert on board, you’ll have to consider the monetary commitment you will be making to this decision. Although it can be highly advantageous to your company to have someone in-house to handle all marketing and advertising needs, said employee would require pay and the software needed to create advertising materials. Advertising fees may seem expensive and hefty at first, but may less out-the-door than hiring an internal marketing manager or even a marketing team for your business.

If you bring on a marketing professional, you can expect to pay the following amounts, assuming 35% benefits and a 20% bonus yearly:

Entry $40,000 $14,000 $8,000 $1,200 $63,200
Middle $75,000 $26,250 $15,000 $6,000 $122,250
Senior $120,000 $42,000 $24,000 $20,400 $206,400

Marketing/advertising agencies work on a retainer, hourly, or project basis, with costs that can range from $2,000 to 8,000/month for a professional firm, bringing annual costs to $24,000 – $96,000 per year depending on the amount and type of work that needs to be completed.

targetedadsExpertise: Sometimes, you just don’t know where to begin, and that’s okay. If you don’t have a starting point – or perhaps your previous ad campaigns have flopped – outsourcing your advertising efforts can be highly beneficial. Not to mention advertising agencies are up-to-date on new media and will know what will work best for your business. Advertising companies know how and where to get your message across to target your exact audience. Although your employees are great representatives for your company, it is important to have your voice broadcast in the right channels, which an agency will be able to execute.

What option you choose for your business boils down to is what is best for you and your company.

If you’re considering hiring an advertising agency to handle your advertising needs, feel free to give us a call so we can discuss your options with you further. We’re always here to help!

102 Person St, Suite D
Fayetteville NC 28301
1 Glenwood Ave, 5th Floor
Raleigh, NC 27603