Interview With Our Chief Operating Officer, Rachel Grubb!

A photograph of Sperling Interactive's chief operating officer, Rachel Grubb, with her dog, Dakota.
Chief operating officers are often the unsung heroes of corporations. They are oftentimes the glue that holds some companies together during periods of rapid growth or transformation, such as turnover or staff promotions. A good chief operating officer needs to be a person of the people: she must be organized, able to mediate and communicate effectively, possess attention to detail, and have the ability to put out fires.

Our chief operating officer, Rachel Grubb, has all of these necessary skillsets and then some. We are extremely lucky to have her, and there isn’t a day that goes by that we aren’t grateful for her dedication, commitment, and expertise.

Since Rachel is constantly working hard behind the scenes to ensure that operations run smoothly, we chose to interview her as a way of bringing her tremendous insight and skills into the spotlight for today’s blog post.

Where are you from?

My dad was in the Navy so we moved around a bit when I was younger.  I spent most of my childhood in Rhode Island, Florida, and Connecticut. After college, I moved to Boston and eventually made my way to the North Shore.

What got you interested in project management?

What got me interested in project management is how complicated the creative process is. At Sperling, I think what helps differentiate us from other agencies is our ability to help clients visualize their projects and offer exceptional project management from start to finish. It’s a complex process, but I enjoy being a part of that process with clients. We really strive to be available to answer questions and adapt, and ultimately deliver a quality product. A lot of companies are getting more automated, but we work closely with our clients so that we can make sure the project is moving in a good direction.

What is your favorite thing about Sperling Interactive?

Working with our team. We have a talented team of writers, designers, and developers and that collaboration is the best part of the day. Whatever the project might be, I’m confident that we can turn it around on time and on budget. And they’re just a supergroup of dedicated and fun people. We ask a lot of them every week and they deliver.

What is your favorite Sperling project to date?

We’ve completed a lot of projects. It’s hard to choose one. Overall, I enjoy working with local nonprofits and helping in a small way to make their work easier, whether it’s revamping their websites or providing more online tools to ease their administrative responsibilities. I had a great time working with the people at Lifebridge and Bridgewell on their websites and I admire what they do every day, so those were gratifying projects. But, it’s really hard to pick a favorite project. I’m just thrilled when we wrap a project or launch a site, and clients send a kind note to say thank you. That’s always a great email to receive.

What have you gained from working at Sperling Interactive?

I’ve gained more insight into what it takes to maintain a business – and the amount of endless work that it requires. It’s been amazing to work with Mike and sort of glean his work ethic—which knows no bounds. I’ve been very grateful for the opportunities that he’s given me at Sperling. As challenging as our days can be at times, it’s satisfying and rewarding to help guide complex projects to the finish.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

Most people don’t know that I was born in Naples, Italy. Or that I’m a whiskey fan. Recently, I got to taste an Elijah Craig Barrel Proof B517. Tasty stuff.

What do you love about Salem?

Salem has it all. It’s a beautiful coastal town with an amazing museum, Peabody Essex. I also like to run and bike, so being able to leave my house and hop on a bike or take a run isn’t something that I’ve always been able to do. I had to drive everywhere. Now, the car stays put. It’s great not being reliant on a car.

What also pulled me to Salem was its diversity. Here, there are people in their 20s but also people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. I like going out here and seeing a mix of people.

Salem is also a city that embraces its diversity.  When Mayor Driscoll terminated the contract with Gordon College, the City got national attention. But it’s important to call out discrimination and work to create a more inclusive city. And it’s evident that the Mayor and many people here work hard every day to keep Salem growing and thriving. It’s an exciting time to be living in Salem.

What is your key to a happy life?

Not sweating the small stuff. Not letting daily work stress interfere with enjoying time with family and friends. I can be better at this, but life is too short to be all about work. It’s important to unplug and unwind.

What do you like to do for fun?

Simple things. I like taking long bike rides. Reading books and listening to records with friends who have much better systems than I do. But the best fun is coming home after work and hanging out with my dog, Dakota. She’s just so happy and all she wants to do is to hang outside and watch the sunset. It’s a good way to end the day.

Our last employee interview was with our chief executive officer, Mike Sperling. If you’re a budding entrepreneur with agency dreams, you’ll love the tips he gives. You can read it here

Website Launch: Pest-End Exterminators

A screenshot of the top of Pest-End Exterminator's new website.

Our new website for Pest-End Exterminators is now live!

Based in Methuen, Massachusetts and Plaistow, New Hampshire, Pest-End Exterminators is a high-quality pest exterminator company that services Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. We had the pleasure of working with Pest-End in 2015 to do their previous site and were excited when they asked us back this year.  With technology advancing at a rapid race, the average lifespan of a website is 2 years and 7 months.

A Modern Website

Pest-End had many reasons for creating a new website. The site was four years old, some of the content was outdated and inaccurate, and they wanted some new imagery.

Above all, according to our account manager/photographer, Lauren Termini, who worked on the project, “Pest-End was looking for a more modern, less dated, cleaner site.” Pest-End has been in business for over forty years, so it was very important to us and to them that their new website showcases them as an industry leader in the pest extermination field. They knew they needed to step up their game after a competitor made some site updates that Pest-End liked.

Color Schemes

One way we revamped Pest End’s site was by adding a brighter green, which  was actually requested by Pest-End. Their old site had incorporated a few different shades of green and in their new website, we stuck one shade: kelly green. By changing the shade of green, we noticed that this added the sleek and modern look Pest-End was aiming for.

Before

The screenshot of the homepage of Pest End's old site.

 

After
A screenshot of the top of Pest-End Exterminator's new website.

Promotions and Deals

Pest-End really wanted to promote their $25 off mosquito and tick protection program, so we made the promotion even bigger by adding a contact form for visitors to fill out. That form is on every page of the site to remind people of the deal as they navigate the site and learn more about the company.

Valuable Resources

A screenshot of the customer corner for Pest-End Exterminator's site.
We also touched up their
customer corner, a resource for finding articles on how to take care of properties as well as information on product labels and safety data sheets. “We wanted clients to have a go-to section on the site where they can find information about pests and products. This allows clients to see and learn about this information with ease and in a creative way,” Pest-End’s lead developer, Brad Maravalli, explained.

Restructured Tabs

Since Pest-End’s services had changed since we last did their website, we made sure to re-do the tabs on their website.

Their old tab.


Their new tab.

Developing Individual pages for each of their services was an important move for improving the site’s search engine optimization. The more pages you have on your site, the more opportunities you have to rank for search engines. We should note that you

should be creating informative pages for your site to boost its SEO, not empty pages or irrelevant pages.

Take a look at each page we created for the wildlife section of Pest-End’s site. Under the wildlife tab, you will find all of the organisms that Pest-End classifies as wildlife. We did the same for each service tab:pest control, ticks and mosquitoes, and specialty services.

A screenshot of Pest-End's wildlife tab.

Improved UI

We also made some improvements to their user interface (UI). User interface deals with everything users interact with on a website, such as text, buttons, menus, scroll bars, and icons.  

Regarding the improvements Brad had this to say: “The web developers and web designers created a site that has a lot of UI improvements. For one, there is now easier navigation for both mobile users and desktop users. We eliminated the sidebar in order to increase the amount of unique content we placed on each page. We used fonts and typography that are easy to read, and restructured the Pest Classroom section with information cards for each individual pest. We added full-width contact forms on every page and interactive maps to show where pests might be lurking on one’s property.”

Good UI is error-free, easy to read and understand, and intuitive. Examples of Bad UI includes inconsistent style, messy navigation, and designs that are not accessible to those with disabilities.

Updated Content

We had to eliminate some things from Pest-End’s old site, such as services they no longer offer. We worked in tandem with Pest-End during this process: hey wrote the content and we helped with its optimization

“We wrote Pest-End’s meta titles, meta descriptions, and heading tags,” stated Ray St. Amand, Sperling Interactive’s SEO/SEM manager. Meta titles, meta descriptions, and heading tags are important SEO components and should be updated on a six to twelve-month basis to keep your website’s content fresh. The reason for this is Google priorities content that is up to date and fresh. By updating content on six to twelve-month basis, we can ensure the content is accurate and relevant for its readers. Check out our blog post on why SEO is more of an ongoing service instead of a one time fix to learn more.  

Our Experience Working With Pest-End  

“I enjoyed working with them. They knew what they wanted and were helpful in relaying that information to us. They are a family run business, and I also had the opportunity to meet and photograph them in person. Everyone I met, the family plus some employees, were so kind and you can tell they truly love what they do,” said Lauren.

Lauren’s photographs
A photograph of an exterminator holding a best nest.

A picture of a rat.

A Pest-End employee working underneath a bathroom sink.

A photograph of the Carace family, who own Pest-End.

“It was a fun challenge. There was a lot of interactivity that the site required, such as maps, graphs, and infocards. My favorite part of this project was creating the infocards. The infocards flip so that you can receive more information about the topic. It’s a cool way for clients to gain information and it was a unique development task to handle,” Brad shared.

It was a cool experience transform a site we previously did into a sleeker, newer format. 

Do you own a business in the trades? At Sperling Interactive, we have experience working with companies in the high-end home industry and would love to service you in your marketing needs. Call us today at (978) 304-1730.

Why SEO Is An Ongoing Service Instead Of A One Time Service

A person using their laptop to look at Analytics.

SEO, short for search engine optimization, refers to optimizing your website so it appears in the search results of search queries related to your business or nonprofit.

A common misconception about SEO is it’s often seen as a one-time service. However, like most things, SEO needs continuous work and maintenance in order for it to deliver the best results.

Here’s why SEO is an ongoing service instead of a one-time service.

Search Engines’ Algorithm Changes

The biggest argument for why SEO needs to be an ongoing service is search engines change their algorithm hundreds of times a year. Moz, an SEO software company, believes Google changes its search algorithm 500-600 a times a year! If that’s not much of an argument for why SEO is an ongoing service, we don’t know what is?

Technical Errors Impact SEO

Technology evolves at a rapid rate, and since Google wants to present its users with the best user experience possible, if there are technical errors with your site (like broken plugins or links) it can negatively impact your SEO.

Our agency uses Google Search Console to uncover any technical errors with a site, such as 300, 400, and 500 pages, which are errors. Another thing we use Search Console for is checking to see if a site is getting indexed. If Google is not crawling your site, you’re not going to have good SEO.

Content Is King In SEO

Content is the backbone of SEO. Every time you write a new blog post, you are giving yourself a new page, which presents you with new keyword opportunities. People use Google to find the answers to their problems, and most times, blog posts are what appear in the search results. If you write unique blog posts regularly that have 300-500 words, internal and external links to relevant content, and well-placed keywords, you will see a boost in your SEO.

SEO Involves Updating Content

Google loves fresh content. Content that was published more recently ranks higher than content that is older. The reason for this is fresh content tends to be more accurate. To prevent your older pieces of content from dying off, we advise updating them. Do your research to include current and accurate information. Also, be mindful of the links in your posts. Are they outdated too?

Other things you should update are your meta titles, meta descriptions, and heading tags. You should update these three things on a six- to twelve-month basis depending on the results in your Google Analytics and Search Console.

SEO Is Also About Link Building

Although the landscape of SEO is always changing, having high-quality links link back to you has always been one of the major pillars of SEO. Link building is the process of acquiring high-quality websites to backlink to your site. Moz has described link building as “a vote of confidence about a page.” The theory is that when someone links to another website, the person is saying the website is a good resource.

You can build links by asking other websites in your industry to link back to you, or you can submit your site to relevant directories.

Contact Sperling Interactive at (978) 304-1730 to learn about our monthly SEO package and what else you can do to improve your site’s optimization.

Why You Shouldn’t Use AdWords Express

A laptop open up to Google Ads.
AdWords Express has been called the simplified version of Google Ads. It was designed for small businesses that don’t have the time or the knowledge to run Google Ads.

While AdWords Express is just like Google Ads in that your text-based ads will be displayed at the top and bottom of a Google search, on Google Maps pages, and across the Google partner site network, we don’t advise businesses use it even though it’s quick and easy. Here’s why.

You can’t select location-based keywords

This one is irritating as most people have a city or ‘near me’ in their search queries. Because you can’t select location-based keywords in AdWords Express, ads end up going everywhere, and if you’re a small, local business this is a terrible way to waste your marketing dollars.

You’re limited with your keyword matching

You’re stuck with broad match keywords in AdWords Express. This means your ads will also appear under similar keywords to the ones you selected.  

Broad match means your ad can appear in searches that have a keyword you bid on, but that isn’t always good for your business.

Like if you’re a contractor and you bid for ‘contractor boston,’ you may appear in a search results regarding how to become a contractor.

You’re not able to build a negative keyword list

Negative keywords are the keywords you don’t want your ad to appear for and they are important for any campaign.

Imagine if you’re an IT company for businesses and your ad starts appearing for searches related to personal computer repairs.

Or imagine if you’re an interior designer who helps clients redesign their rooms, but doesn’t do remodeling projects, and your ad starts appearing for bathroom and kitchen remodeling projects.

Or what if you offer a high end product, you wouldn’t want your ad to show for search queries where the words ‘cheap’ and ‘inexpensive’ were typed.

In AdWords Express, you can turn off keywords that you don’t want to bid on, but this won’t actually keep Google from showing your ad for that keyword. Your ad could also still show to a searcher using one of your negative keywords through another broad match keyword.

You can’t track conversions

In AdWords Express, you can’t add conversion tracking! This is one of the worst qualities of AdWords Express in our opinion. While AdWords Express can show you how many clicks you are getting, it will not tell you who has converted from those clicks. Most businesses don’t use AdWords Express or Google Ads just to increase their website traffic. They are usually trying to increase sales. With the ability to track conversions possible on Facebook Ads, email marketing, and regular Google Ads, it’s a waste to not know with AdWords Express.

You can’t add ad extensions

Ad extensions are callout links, site links, and snippets. Ad extensions make your ads more enticing to users because they have more content.  

Another annoying thing about AdWords Express is you have a limited number of characters. You have 25 characters in the headline, 35 characters each in the two lines of text, and 35 characters in the display URL. This makes coming up with catchy headlines and a clear call-to-action even harder.

AdWords Express has a minimum monthly budget of $45

Another reason why we don’t like AdWords Express is it gives the impression you can have a small marketing budget to advertise on Google. We always tell our clients that any monthly budget under $500 is not worth their time. As we’ve all heard this before, it takes money to make money.

As you can see, Google Ads gives you control and optimization. To learn more about Google Ads, check out our earlier blog post, Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads here.

Google Ads Vs. Facebook Ads

A person using a computer mouse.

Pay-per-click advertising has become a popular advertising avenue for businesses in the digital age. There are many types of pay-per-click (PPC) ad services, but the two most common ones are Google Ads and Facebook Ads.

Google Ads appear when people search for things online using the search engine, Google, and Facebook Ads are ads that appear in Facebook users’ feeds.

In today’s blog post, we will cover the benefits of both platforms and when you should utilize Google Ads and when you should be using Facebook Ads if you can’t utilize both.

What Are Google Ads?

Google Ads is the world’s largest PPC advertising platform. Google Ads is so widely used it is often referred to as “paid search” even though the search engine Bing has Bing Ads, which is just like Google Ads only the ads appear on Bing.

Google Ads deals with selected keywords and are largely text-based. Advertisers bid on keywords, which are either specific words or phrases users put in the search query, in the hopes of their ads appearing in the search results, either at the top of the page or at the bottom.

Every time a user clicks on the ad, which brings them to either the advertiser’s website or a curated landing page, the advertiser is charged a certain amount. At its core, advertisers are paying for the potential of finding new customers and/or clients based on the keywords and search terms they enter into Google.

What Are Facebook Ads?

Facebook Ads are referred to as “paid social.” In Facebook Ads, advertisers market their products or services to Facebook users based on their target demographics, behaviors, and interests. At its core, advertisers are paying for the potential of finding new customers on Facebook based on targeting features.

The Benefits of Google Ads

In Google Ads, advertisers are able to advertise to users in their search network and display network. The search network is the search engine, Google, and the display network are the banners you see when you’re surfing the web. Google’s display network spans 98% of the World Wide Web. Their display network is great in that it enables you to spread brand awareness to those who haven’t converted while they are using the Internet.

Another benefit of Google Ads is the number of people who search with Google. Google is the most popular search engine in the world with more than 40,000 Google search queries every second!

A misconception PPC newbies have with Google Ads is they think the advertisers with the biggest budgets are the only ones that perform well. The ads that perform the best aren’t necessarily the ones with the biggest budgets behind them, but the ones that are the most relevant to the users. You need relevant keywords on your landing page and ad copy. If your ad is getting a lot of clicks and conversions, you will see it appear higher in the search results over time. It’s important to note one of the only ways you can continue to improve your ads is to do A/B testing.

The Benefits of Facebook Ads

Just like Google, Facebook has an impressive number of users. Facebook has more than 1.55 billion monthly active users. That is more than ⅕ of the entire world’s population!

Facebook users share a lot with the social media giant. Not only do they share the biggest moments of their lives, but they consume, like, and share content that aligns with them, which enables advertisers to really market to their niche audiences.  

Advertisers can also use Facebooks Ads to create lookalike audiences, which allows advertisers to input deals of their existing audience into Facebook to reach new people who fit that mold.

With Facebook ads, advertisers can also upload photos and videos to peak the interest of users.

The last great benefit of Facebook Ads is fairly affordable. You can be a small business with a budget and competitors that are household names and still meet your goals.

Google Ads vs. Facebooks Ads

Based on the passages above, it’s clear Google Ads and Facebook Ads are both very useful advertising outlets. But which one should I use? Well, it depends.

When You Should Use Facebook Ads

You should use Facebook Ads when you really know your ideal audience since Facebooks Ads allow you to target people based on their demographic, behaviors, and interests.

You should also use Facebook Ads if you don’t have a big budget if you are small fish and your competitors are sharks. We always advise our clients Google Ads aren’t favorable if they have a small budget. If your budget is under $500 a month, you can still do well on Facebook.

Facebook Ads are great if you have an event coming up or a special offer as Facebook has ads that are meant just for these types of specials.  

Through Facebook Ads, you can also put the ad on Instagram. So if the picture sharing app does wonders for your brand already, it may be worth putting most of your marketing dollars to Facebooks Ads.

When You Should Use Google Ads

Google Ads should be used when you’re trying to increase sales. When people utilize Google, they have a problem and are looking for answers. People don’t scroll through Facebook because they have a specific problem. They want to catch up with their network so with that in mind the intent to buy is much higher with Google Ads.

You should also consider Google Ads if you have used it before. Google likes giving preference to businesses with experience as they have more insight into the user experience.

All and all, when it comes to marketing, it’s always important to evaluate your goals. Call Sperling Interactive today at 978-304-1730 to learn more about how we manage our clients’ ad campaigns.

Our Favorite Brand VR Experiences

A woman wearing a VR headset. In our last blog post, Where Will Marketing Be In Five Years?, we predicted VR experiences will be big by 2024. Some big-name brands have already developed some amazing VR experiences, so to give you some inspiration and a jump start, here are our favorite branded VR experiences.

Google Earth VR

This is an incredible app to download if you’d love to travel the world, but don’t have the means to do it right now. In Google Earth VR, you are able to go anywhere in the world in just a click.

Google Presents Inside Abbey Road Studios

Who wouldn’t love to step inside the world’s most famous recording studio? The record studio that has not only recorded every single Beatles’ albums, but the music from Queen, U2, Lady Gaga, and more. Go on a guided tour of Abbey Road from Giles Martin, son of the Beatles’ late music producer, Sir George Martin.

Netflix VR

Did you know you can now watch your favorite streaming service in VR? In Netflix VR, users can choose between two modes: a living room viewing experience or Void mode.

When you watch through the living room mode, you are planted in a living room that has a TV above the fireplace and a view of the mountain range. You are able to watch your shows on the TV.

Void mode removes the living room but allows users to watch a show in whatever position they’d like, even sitting down, which isn’t something you can do in the living room mode.

It is possible Netflix will offer VR programming in the future.

The New York Times VR

The New York Times VR app immerses users into some of the publication’s biggest news stories. Users can stand alongside Iraqi forces during a battle against ISIS or walk on a planet 3 billion miles from the sun! 

Volvo XC90 Test Drive VR

The car brand, Volvo, has created a VR app to give consumers a feel for its XC90. This VR experience puts you behind the wheel as you take the scenic route through an idyllic area with a mountain range. Forget a car dealer, when you can download the app for your headset.

IKEA Virtual Store

With IKEA Virtual Store, IKEA has created a store that never closes. IKEA was one of the first retail companies to launch a VR site that has e-commerce. If you are up at night thinking about your new home project, you can pop into the store without leaving your house.

TOMS Virtual Giving Trip

TOMS isn’t just a fashionable shoe brand, but a charitable one too. For every new pair of TOMS purchased, TOMS gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need. In TOMS Virtual Giving Trip, consumers get to watch TOMS employees give away shoes to the underserved in Peru. It has nooks in its stores where potential customers can view the VR experience.

Savannah College of Art and Design

In 2015, the Savannah College of Art and Design mailed 5,000 branded VR headsets to students who were accepted into the school but hadn’t yet enrolled. The VR experience immersed users into the college’s campus.

Do you have an inkling for an app idea for your company? Let us know. We love taking our clients’ ideas and developing them into reality.

Where Will Marketing Be In Five Years?

Girl working on a laptop with a soda can next to the laptop.Before the technology revolution in the twenty-first century, marketing was mostly done through print advertising, direct mail, and traditional media (e.g. TV, radio, and publications). Now, most businesses are only marketing on the Internet. Technology has shown marketing is one industry that isn’t going to stay constant. SEO is one sub-section of digital marketing that changes every day! With that, it can make you wonder just where marketing will be in five years time? So today we’re going to give you our predictions for where we think marketing will be in 2024.

Voice Search

People love using their smartphone’s voice assistant, be it Siri, Alexa, or Cortana. Our phones’ voice assistants make it easy for us to go about our day while still obtaining information from the Internet. Many leading digital marketers are expecting a rise in voice search over the next five years. Some estimate that by 2020, more than half of searches will be conducted using voice search.

There is a difference in keywords when we type a search versus using a voice assistant. People use more keywords when they use their voice, so those types of searches tend to be more conversational. In the future, businesses will have to create specific web pages geared toward the questions people ask their voice assistant in order to rank well in search engines.

Ethical Brands

We believe in the next five years people will still support brands that are ethical. Millennials and Generation Z are two generations that are conscious about they who buy from. They are passionate about issues such as climate change, income equality, and diversity. To cater to these buyers, companies will need to make sure they are contributing to improving society.

TV Ads

In the campaigns we run for our clients, we’ve noticed amongst the devices used are TVs. We speculate in the next five years popular streaming services will start utilizing advertisement, but instead of commercials like on cable TV, they will mirror the ads you see on social media. Most people aren’t fans of commercials, except for maybe during the Super Bowl, so with that in mind, streaming services will have to do quick video ads or interactive ads that users can click out of if they don’t meet their needs.

Consumers Will Want Control Of Their Data

From the GRPR to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, 2018 was a year consumers really came concerned with the usage of their data. Now more than ever, people are cautious with who they give their information to. We believe in the next five years consumers will take more action to seek control over their personal data in an effort to avoid breaches, phishing, and hacking.

Virtual Reality

Did you think virtual reality (VR) is just for video games? Think again!  In the next five years, VR will become the next big form of content marketing. It’ll be a new way for companies to offer value to their audience, but businesses that do decide to utilize VR should get creative and come at VR from a storytelling angle. Give your target audience an experience they will treasure that also fits with your brand. A great example is when North Face developed a VR experience of California’s Yosemite National Park and the Moab Desert in Utah. This worked well for North Face as their cozy apparel is popular amongst nature enthusiasts.

Storytelling Marketing

To piggyback off the last point, storytelling is a major theme you will find in marketing in 2024. Marketing will always change as technology does, but one constant will be content that people can resonate with and enjoy.

Struggling with new ways to boost your marketing? At Sperling Interactive, we love collaborating with our clients to create marketing strategies that support their goals. Call us today at (978) 304-1730.

Habits of Creative People

A person using a drawing tablet and laptop. All organizations need creativity to prosper. When you’re being creative, you’re able to come up with new ways to improve your business and differentiate yourself from your competition. According to findings from an Adobe/Forrester Research study, companies that encourage creativity are 3.5 times more likely to achieve 10% revenue growth goals and are 50% more likely to report a commanding market leadership over competitors. If you’re someone who’s never dabbled in creative endeavors before, here are some of the most common habits of creative people to get you going.

Creative People Take Breaks From The Internet

There’s no denying the Internet is amazing. It enables you to gather information on anything you fancy, shop from the comfort of home, meet new people, and correspond with friends and families with just a few clicks. But the Internet can also suck up our time, be noisy, and become a big echo-chamber since algorithms feed us content based on what we’ve looked at. As a result, the Internet has made it harder for us to prioritize our creativity and truly listen to ourselves. Say no to the Internet when you wake up and an hour or two before you go to bed. Take that time to daydream or work on a creative project and not interact with a screen. By doing this, you’re able to re-connect better with yourself and have more creative thoughts.

Creative People People Watch

Creative people see the world as their oyster. They know creativity can come from anywhere. Writer Joan Didion kept a notebook with her at all times. She wrote down her observations as a better way to understand the world around her.

Creative People Keep A Journal

What do Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Mark Twain, and Thomas Edison all have in common? Besides being brilliant innovators, they all kept journals.

Journaling has countless benefits. It’s cathartic, helps the brain regulate emotions, brings forth clarity, and can help people process and generate new ideas. Remember, journaling is just for you. There is no right or wrong way to journal. When you write about whatever you want, you’ll be surprised by the ideas that come to you. Creativity is all about connecting the dots.

Creative People Embrace Being A Beginner

When you started your business, did you expect yourself to be Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, or Elon Musk right away? No. If you’re trying out a new creative project to foster your creative muscles, you can’t expect yourself to become an expert overnight either. You’re not going to become the creator you desire by placing high expectations on yourself. Creativity should be fun. Embrace being a beginner and enjoy the process.

Creative People Talk About Their Ideas With Others

Talking to other creative people about your projects/ideas gets your energized. Another awesome thing that comes from talking with other creative people is they can serve as your sound board and unofficial accountability buddies. Don’t have a creative friend? Join a creative MeetUp group, go to a networking event, or strike up a conversation whenever you see someone doing something creative be it a person painting a mural in your community or a person playing music at an open mic night.

Creative People Know When They Work Best

Creative people know the hours when they work best and stick to it. They recognize having a schedule supports their creativity. If you’re a morning person, carve out time in the morning. If you’re a night owl, utilize night time. It doesn’t matter what time of day you work best, just as long as you stick to it and work towards recreating the same routine every time. Try to work in the same environment with the same simulations around you, be it coffee, calming music, alongside other people, etc.  

Does your company encourage a creative culture? What are some ways you foster your creativity to improve your business?

Travel & Tourism Marketing Tips

A picture of the Boston skyline. At Sperling Interactive, one of our largest specialized markets is the travel and tourism industry. Some of our clients include the Salem Witch Museum, the House of the Seven Gables, Hawthorne Hotel, Destination Salem, and the North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. The travel and tourism industry is one of our favorite industries to serve as we love traveling and are proud that we get to promote some of Massachusetts’ gems.

Summer is coming up, and it is the busiest time of year for most businesses in the travel industry. Below you will find the best travel & tourism marketing tips to boost engagement and increase awareness” or something like that.

Create A Travel Guide

Put together a travel guide, be it print or electronic, of your favorite things to do in your area. Nearly every traveler loves receiving recommendations from locals. You could do two guides: one guide about the area and the other about your business.

We draft and design travel guides right now for Destination Salem and the North of Boston CVB. The guides are downloadable and we have found running them through Google Ads, Facebook ads, and display ads to be quite successful.

Write a Travel & Tourism Blog 

We always advise our clients to blog as it’s one of the pillars for SEO, but it’s always a way to engage your audience and pursue them to come to your location.

If you’re an agency or hotel, you could always feature a customer. You could have a customer write a guest post or you could start a series where you interview customers.

Schedule Social Posts

Scheduling social media posts is something we always encourage our clients to do, but it is especially important for travel companies expecting to be busy this summer. Jot down some photo ideas and on the first nice day of the year, go out and take some photos. Try scheduling posts 2 weeks to one month in advance.

Creating meaningful and interesting blog topics, and then sharing them on your social profiles is essential. In addition, sharing other blogs or articles from businesses you highlight helps boost engagement. 

Utilize Influencers

Are there content creators who create content about your area or fit well with your brand? While influencer marketing is on the rise and has been found to work, you want to find someone who caters to your industry or is in your target audience and set up an exchange. A good example would be having some food bloggers come to a new restaurant and/or brewery opening and giving them a behind-the-scenes. Or having a travel YouTube vlogger stay at your hotel or inn.

Produce Local Community Videos

With video marketing continuing to rise, you can’t go wrong with shooting a video. By going out and taking 1-2 days to shoot some content, you can end up with a few videos’ worth of footage. If you don’t have one already, you could have a video for the homepage of your website to capture travelers’ attention. The other videos that come out of the footage could be videos you post on social media and YouTube that primarily promote your city. These videos could provide fun facts, recommendations to other businesses, and tips.

Run Location-Based Ads

Combining Google Search, Google Display Ads, and Facebook Ads, build awareness around your target audience, whether it be local or areas where you see a lot of travelers come from. Run an ad driving people to a specific blog post or a free guide. 

There are many avenues to pursue. Geo-targeting with user-input targets specific ads to the user based on what kind of ads they want to receive. In geo-fencing, you target potential customers within a certain radius of your business. And then there are geo conquest ads, which is when companies lure perspectives from competitors.

Want some tailored advice for your travel business? Call us today at (978) 304-1730 to schedule a free consultation.

How To Make Your Instagram More Accessible

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Toward the end of 2018, Instagram made strides to make their platform more accessible for those who are visually impaired. This is important as more than 285 million people in the world have a visual impairment, and Instagram is one of the biggest platforms in the world.

Instagram has added two new ways for screen readers to read photos. They’ve added an automatic alternative text, which enables people to hear descriptions through their screen reader when a person uses their Instagram. The automatic alternative text uses object recognition technology to generate a description of the photo. Instagram has also introduced custom alternative text where you can go in and add your own description to your photos.

How To Add Alt Text When Uploading:

Alt text can be added to photos during the publishing step.

  1. After you select your filter, click on ‘Next.’
  2. Tap on Advanced Settings at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Tap ‘Write Alt Text’ and input a description of your photo. 

A screenshot of how to get to the Advanced Settings on Instagram.

A screenshot showing where to click, 'Write Alt Text,' on Instagram.

 

A screenshot showing a user where to write their alt text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Add Alt Text To Existing Photos:

Alt text can also be added to existing photos in these easy steps.

  1. Go to a photo and select the three-dot menu icon and click on ‘Edit.’
  2. On the corner of your photo will be the words, ‘Alt Text.’ Click on it and then write your description

A screenshot of how to find 'Alt Text' on a Instagram photo you've published.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A screenshot that shows readers how to add alt text to their existing photos on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


All and all, we believe it’s better to write your own text than rely on the automatic alt text, as your own written descriptions will likely be more accurate. 

How Are People Responding?

The alt text feature is still not present in Instagram Stories. The Royal National Institute of Blind People, a British nonprofit, tweeted congrats when the news broke on Twitter, but advised Instagram to make the feature work in Stories. Instagram Stories is just as popular as scrolling and exploring the platform. About 40% of the platform’s 1 billion users post to their Story every day

In the same article, a software engineer at the BBC, Louise Taylor, said they wished finding the alt text option was easier.

The other thing we wish could be changed is the number of characters you’re allowed to use. Right now, users have a 100 character limit on alt text. Maybe one day it will expand – until recently, Twitter had a 140 character limit. But now you can type up to 280 characters.

What Does Alt Text Mean For Businesses?

It is unclear for how long object identification has been around on Instagram, but there’s no denying it will be useful for advertising if it isn’t already.

Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, has had artificial intelligence-generated alternative text since April 2016.

When reporters asked an Instagram spokesperson why accessibility has taken so long, they replied the features have been “an ongoing project for some time.” They also added, “the challenge was ensuring that we could provide valuable descriptions at scale.” What this means is that while advanced artificial intelligence can recognize what’s in a photo, it has a hard time understanding what’s important. The spokesperson also addressed because Instagram is a very visual platform, this is why it took two and a half years longer than Facebook to roll out accessibility features.

Do you need help making your business’ online presence more accessible to those who are visually impaired? At Sperling Interactive, we build websites that are ADA compliant. Call us today to learn more about our company.