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    The customer buying journey explained

    With the accessibility of the internet and vast amounts of information available, the modern shopper is now more informed than ever. Because of this transition, sales conversations are in the hands of the buyer. With no pushy salesperson to push the features of a particular product like it used to be, instead, online businesses must adapt to continue to target their audience on their path to purchase. This is known as the customer buying journey. 

    What’s the customer buying journey?

    The customer buying journey is everything that happens on their path to purchase. Since people don’t usually just wake up and decide to make purchases on a whim (this can happen!) the process in which they become aware of a product and/or service, consider and evaluate that product and/or service, and decide to purchase that product and/or service is known as the customer buying journey. Understanding the experience of the customer buying journey can help business owners to influence their digital marketing decisions and allocate their budget to a service that best reaches their consumer audience.

    What are the stages of the customer buying journey?

    There are three steps in the customer buying journey:

    1. Awareness: The buyer because aware of a problem or something that they need
    2. Consideration: The buyer defines their problem or their needs and considers options that might solve it/them
    3. Decision: The buyer evaluates and devices on the right provider to administer a solution—this includes elements like price, delivery time, reviews, etc.

    The awareness stage applied:

    The buyer is experiencing a problem with pain in their back and their goal would be to alleviate it. They may then decide to use online resources to understand and frame the problem. For example, “Why is my back hurting?”

    The consideration stage applied:

    The buyer has defined that their back pain is a problem and they are committed to researching and understanding all of the available approaches to solving their problem. For example, “How do you treat back pain when you sit at work?”

    The decision stage applied: 

    The buyer has decided on their solution strategy, method, or approach. Their goal now is to compile a list of available online vendors, and ultimately, make a final purchase decision. For example, “Is better chair support needed? Should I get a sit-stand desk? 

    How to tailor your sales process to better meet the customer buying journey

    With everything mentioned above, it remains important for sellers to know that buyers don’t wish to be pursued and simply want to rely on your knowledge when the time feels right. We recommend utilizing services like social media marketing and search engine optimization as a way to get noticed, display your knowledge, and await sales.

    Did you have any further questions about the customer buying journey? If so, drop them below for a prompt response.

    Boost your brand’s visibility using PPC

    While many digital marketing services aim to increase business brand awareness, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a unique technique that stares consumers in the eye. Since awareness is about getting your brand in front of the right people, PPC is kind of like the billboard of the digital world, and the best part is that unless the right shopper sees it and clicks, you don’t pay for that campaign. Plus, you can set a daily budget, so there are no hidden costs to run your next PPC advertising service. Continue reading to learn more about PPC and its connection to brand visibility. 

    What is brand awareness and why is it important?

    Brand awareness is a phrase that’s used to describe how recognizable your business is in the noisy online world. It’s the extent to which customers can recall or reconize your brand under a variety of conditions. As a crucial step in the marketing funnel that will help your business acquire and maintain customers, brand awareness is a huge part of what drives consumer decision. Familiarization differentiates your brand, establishes trust with the customer, and creates a positive association which in turn, will increase your sales and conversions.  

    How does our PPC advertising service work to boost your brand’s visibility?

    PPC works to increase brand awareness by introducing your business within ads that your target market sees. This is the space where you can present an introduction of your brand to your customer base and hopefully creating a lasting impression. Whether it’s click-through rates that are important or physical sales, you can analyze your PPC campaign over time and modify your goals as needed. The best part is you only pay for the people that click on your ad and a daily budget can be set. 

    Tips for growing brand visibility using our PPC advertising service

    There are many creative opportunities that come with growing brand awareness, but the ultimate goal is to build a reputation with your target audience that eventually leads to driven sales. This means that strategic decisions need to be made to keep things moving forward. 

    Here are some examples: 

    • Know who your target market is
    • Understand the habits of your target market
    • Diversify your ads
    • Research and use the right keywords and phrases
    • Add a flair of creativity
    • Include the right information 

    Boosting your brand’s visibility is right at your fingertips with our PPC advertising service!

    Do you have any other questions about how PPC advertising works? Please drop a comment below for a prompt reply.

    4 free tools that you can utilize as part of your content strategy

    A digital content strategy is a huge part of an effective game plan for e-commerce businesses. Whether you’re a new company on a limited budget or an established brand that’s looking for a fresh avenue to allocate your funds, there are plenty of awesome tools out there that help you to amplify your content marketing efforts—many of which are free to use!  

    #1: Canva

    While Adobe Photoshop is a great platform for professional photo editing, Canva is an amazing free tool that allows business owners to easily touch-up graphics, while also enabling them to create custom images through modifiable templates, graphics, and fun, animated elements. This is a game-changer regardless of the industry you’re in, as it allows your team to get creative, but also gives them the safety net of having graphical elements pre-made and ready-to-use. Although there’s no need to pay for the software, there’s an option to upgrade to Canva Pro for additional access to a bunch of editing features and templates!

    #2: Trello

    For this one, we’re taking it right out of our personal digital content strategy. Here at Trek Marketing, we swear by Trello. This virtual project board allows you to keep track of your content projects by creating lists—writing, editing, launch days, etc. Not only can you better manage your deadlines and tasks but other team members who have access to your Trello board can as well, streamlining your digital content strategy with a better workflow. 

    #3: HubSpot

    Captivating headlines and titles are essential to content marketing success. However, many entrepreneurs are expert copywriters, which can make it challenging to come up with catchy titles. That said, HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator is a great resource for e-commerce captions. All you need to do is write three important nouns that are relevant to your topic and niche industry and HubSpot will generate something on the spot. It’s that easy!

    #4: Thinglink

    We’re living in a time where you need to catch your audience’s attention by sticking out from your competition, which means that you need to generate buzz to become popular and powerful. Since most consumers today are drawn in by interactivity over words, Thinglink is a great digital content strategy tool for creating interactive images, videos, and 360 content. It’s so important to have a strong collection of visual content, especially when further explanation is needed to explain complex ideas or topics about a product or service. 

    Are there any other free platforms that we missed on our list? Drop a comment below to share with our readers. 

    How to use digital marketing to get leads for your real estate business

    Not so long ago, online real estate marketing was a nice-to-have asset for real estate professionals. However, times have changed and businesses that don’t invest in their digital portfolios risk falling behind their competitors. As technology continues to govern our lives, our reliance on it will only continue to grow. Thus, the best way to ensure that your leads continue to grow alongside your company is to work with a digital marketing agency that understands how important clicks can be. 

    Take advantage of geo-fencing 

    What’s geo-fencing you ask? It’s a virtual perimeter for a real-world geographic area. This location-based technology allows business owners, in this case, real estate agents and/or companies, to hone in on a target audience based on location. Since a huge majority of prospective home sellers and buyers use their mobile phones to search for real estate, “geo-fencing” is an effective way to deliver relevant messages to the right people. How your campaign works are by precisely targeting a radius around a specific location, which makes it easy for smartphone audiences to find you based on that defined region. The region could be a small neighbourhood or an entire city, and you can also specify types of real estate such as apartments, single-family homes, and office spaces. 

    Build out your SEO strategy 

    While this digital marketing service is best used in a wide variety of industries, real estate marketing greatly benefits from an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. That said, because location is such a key factor in selling something like real estate, local SEO is important when formulating your business goals. For example, it’s essential to rank for local search terms like “best real estate agent” and “homes for sale near me” as these are common phrases that clients type in search consoles to find their ideal agent and/or open houses. 

    Here are some other ways to utilize SEO in your real estate marketing:  

    • Create and optimize a Google Business Profile
    • Regularly write and publish content through that profile
    • Build backlinks from professional and general directories
    • Gain reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp

    Social media harnesses huge power 

    When it comes to online selling, social media platforms are a goldmine, especially for those looking to generate real estate leads. This is because many active homebuyers are from the generational group who regularly use social media. So, by leveraging the power of popular channels, your real estate marketing can easily reach the audience that currently dominates the market. 

    Below are some ways we suggest;

    • Research relevant hashtags and use them to optimize your social content
    • Use your accounts to educate buyers
    • Chat with your followers and answer their comments
    • Promote amenities and neighbourhoods, not just the house
    • Share your real estate success stories
    • Consider utilizing video as part of your social strategy

    Real estate marketing is rapidly growing, how are you going to remain relevant in a heavily saturated industry? Drop a comment below to let us know.

    3 ways holiday shopping has changed since the beginning of the pandemic

    Now that we have been living amid a pandemic for almost two years, there is less uncertainty around what might happen. Most people are understanding that measures taken are to keep them safe and are on board with following these recommendations and presumptive measures to avoid the need for business closures. We’ve also adapted to the world of working-from-home, virtual appointments, and opting to get back to activities through a pre-booking system. Needless to say, one thing that hasn’t slowed down is holiday online shopping! 

    Shoppers are spending more

    At the beginning of the pandemic, many businesses were forced to close which means employers laid off working staff to front the costs until they could reopen. Now that we know more about how this virus is transmitted, we know that masks and social distancing do wonders for keeping people well, which has allowed brick-and-mortar businesses to reopen alongside in-person meetings, conferences, and events. That said, customers who enjoy online shopping have continued to do so, and those who learned how to make purchases online to avoid contact in stores, have also continued to rely on e-commerce businesses as a method of convenience. 

    In 2021, both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores are booming once again, and with a regular paycheck, and appreciation for hugs and gathering, shoppers are spending more, especially on their holiday online shopping. Whether they’re making up for lost times or simply eager about seasonal festivities, consumer spending is on the rise and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. 

    Shoppers are carrying out purchases with time to spare

    While e-commerce businesses and their digital marketing teams begin prepping for the holiday season before the end of summer, shoppers too, are prepping their lists early. If COVID has taught us anything, it’s to expect shipping delays and stocking issues. These supply-chain shortages have prompted earlier holiday online shopping, giving gift-givers a greater opportunity to find the items they want to wrap up this season. While last-minute shopping habits die hard for some (partially due to the flexibility of shopping in-store for more generic items), many people relish finishing their shopping early, and we expect this trend to continue. 

    Shoppers are willing to hunt around

    Before the pandemic, if their favorite chain store or small business was out of the desired item, many consumers would opt for an emailed reminder when the item became in stock. However, with some businesses unable to restock inventory must-haves for weeks, shoppers question their loyalty and are willing to look elsewhere to fulfill their checklists. 

    We’re sincerely hoping that this issue becomes gets buried for 2022! Although, we recommend that you use your email and social media platforms to keep customers updated if you’re experiencing a shipping or supply issue. Honest transparency is a great way to maintain customer loyalty. Also, be sure you pass on the savings by setting up a promotion code schedule to offer a meaningful way for shoppers to return to your online store. 

    Have you noticed any ongoing changes in your industry since the start of the pandemic? Please drop them in the comments section below to spark a conversation.   

    How to use cross channel insights in digital marketing

    Competition can make or break an online business and if you’re at a crossroads where you feel it’s time to take on a new approach when it comes to strategizing your digital campaigns, cross channel marketing might be just the breakthrough your business needs to better serve your customers! A business needs to move beyond usual resources to find insights that allow them to grow, especially when looking to gain efficiency channel-to-channel. 

    Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO)

    While both of these digital marketing services are good to focus on when you want to increase the sales and conversion rates of your business, one focuses on targeting a niche audience through paid search results while the other utilizes keywords and builds up the organic traffic to the website over time. That being said, cross channel marketing comes into play when the above two services work in conjunction with each other and use the power of high-converting target keywords to focus on building clicks through organic search results. Cross channel marketing also looks at longer-tail variations of targeted keywords and considers the intent of the user who’s searching. 

    While paid search is a low funnel approach that often sees high intent-based users that are ready to immediately purchase, organic search is more likely to draw in information-seeking users that may peruse your website and shop at a later time. With this in mind, both services have the potential to increase the behavior metrics of your website such as time on site, pages per visit, and the bounce rate when working alongside each other. 

    Google My Business and paid search/social

    If your business has the funds to expand your cross channel marketing efforts, there are also some other ways to refine and target your audience! Aside from researching your potential customers interests, geographies, affinities, you can also utilize Google My Business (GMB) data from users that request directions to your brick and mortar location. 

    While it’s always a great idea to nurture your existing customers, GMS insights provide excellent opportunities to expand on paid searches and open new opportunities for modified social targeting. 

    Polling and content marketing

    While polls are not a new concept, in the world of digital marketing, they’re a great way to see what gets your social audience excited! Businesses are able to utilize polls to learn more about their customers and the type of content that they enjoy seeing, topics that interest them, and issues that may worry them. Aside from gaining valuable insights, this type of cross channel marketing also allows you to draw on social engagement to determine a new perspective on where you should invest your time and resources. 

    Are there any other ways that you use cross channel marketing for your online business? Drop a comment below to share with our readers. 

    Why having a professional digital strategy will help you to boost sales throughout the pandemic

    Before the pandemic, established brick-and-mortar businesses were still finding success through regular foot traffic, however, as non-essential shops were closed to slow the spread of the virus, e-commerce has heightened in popularity (even more so than before) to accommodate the influx in online shopping, live-streamed events, and social connections by way of digital platforms. This means that many companies that only had a physical presence moved to e-commerce, while those who had an online store needed to revamp their strategies to attract more customers and increase sales. Since the global crisis is far from over, the solution to continuing business as usual rests with a proper strategy from a reputable digital marketing agency in Vancouver. Let the suggestions begin.

    Allows you to turn online platforms into an opportunity

    Online marketplaces, such as Amazon and eBay, are commonly used platforms where vendors sell their products at wholesale prices to be fulfilled by the company. For example, Amazon places orders in bulk and holds inventory in their fulfillment centres (except vendors who can fulfill their orders and ship directly to the consumer). That being said, with help from a professional digital marketing agency in Vancouver, your e-commerce storefront could start gaining traction as a top shopping destination. Whether you choose to use PPC advertising to launch ads that drive results or rely on social channels like Facebook and Instagram to promote your products and services, there are opportunities everywhere!  

    Make strategic changes to your website

    Regardless of whether you’re building an e-commerce website from scratch with a web development company or you’re reevaluating what can be done internally to drive traffic, it’s important to make strategic decisions when deciding how to use your budget to invest in your business. An abundance of people have flocked to the web as a replacement for their in-person purchase, and with everything from search engine optimization services to blog and content marketing available at your fingertips, you need to find a good digital marketing agency that promotes a seamless pivot to digital. 

    Utilize the current capabilities of digital innovations

    We’re living in a technological era and this digital world is only expanding more each day. This is why it’s so important for the modern retailer to invest in digital technologies that possess the power to provide users with a compelling online experience. 

    Here are some things that your digital marketing provider might suggest:

    • Predictive analytics to help you offer what your audience wants/needs.
    • AI-powered search to help your audience find the best products. 
    • Real-time inventory management to optimize your budget and reduce your overall business costs.
    • Interactive functionalities.
    • More multimedia content.

    The pandemic has changed the way retailers are conducting their businesses. What plans do you have on the horizon for your e-commerce company? 

    What’s BERT and how is the technology advancing digital marketing?

    Google’s BERT, otherwise known as Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, is a Transformer-based machine learning technique that’s used for natural language processing (NLP). This update is helping Google to better understand natural language for search results, which means that it’s also an incredibly beneficial digital marketing advancement. More and more consumers are speaking questions directly into their smart devices, which has made it challenging for search engines to interpret spontaneous spoken query. BERT specializes in natural language as a whole and voice search queries, in particular, making it a modern technology that is changing the field of search engine optimization and digital marketing as a whole. Continue reading to learn more about the science behind BERT and how it could revolutionize content marketing. 

    Some background information

    The interdisciplinary scientific field of computer vision deals with how computers work to gain a high-level understanding of digital images or videos. As an advancement that works alongside digital marketing, it seeks to better understand and automate tasks that humans do. That being said, researchers have shown time and time again that there’s value transferred learning — “pre-training a neural network model on a known task… and then performing fine-tuning” — using a trained neural network as the basis of a purpose-specific model. This technique has shown to be useful in many natural language tasks in recent years! 

    How does BERT work? 

    BERT is not only a digital marketing advancement, it also benefits a variety of tech-related fields. However, to properly understand how BERT works, you must first know the breakdown of the following terms:

    • Transformer: an attention mechanism that learns contextual relations between words in the text.
    • Mechanisms: encoders that read the text input and decoder to produce a prediction for the task. 

    BERT uses a Transformer in its original form by separating two mechanisms. Since the goal of BERT is to generate a language model, the encoder mechanism is enough to provide detailed workings of the Transformer. 

    While directional models, which read the text input sequentially (left-to-right or right-to-left), the Transformer encoder reads the entire collection of words all in one go. Therefore, it’s considered to be bidirectional, allowing the model to learn the context of each word based on where it’s placed among its surrounding words. 

    To overcome the challenge of prediction of the next word in a sequence (for example, “The dog chased his ___”), BERT uses the following two strategies: 

    1. Masked LM (MLM)
    2. Next Sentence Prediction (NSP)

    MLM is a model that attempts to predict the original value of the masked words, based on the context provided by the other non-masked words in the sequence. 

    There are three ways in which it does this:

    1. Adds the classification layer to the top of the encoder output.
    2. Multiplies the output vectors by the embedding matrix and transforms them into vocabulary.
    3. Calculates the probability of each word with SoftMax. 

    NSP is another model that receives pairs of sentences as the input, learning to predict if the second sentence is a subsequent sentence in the original document. 

    To help this model distinguish between two sentences, the input is processed in the following way: 

    1. A [CLS] token is inserted at the beginning of the first sentence, followed by a [SEP] token at the end of the second sentence. 
    2. The sentence embedding is an indication that both sentences are added to each token.
    3. A positional embedding is then added to indicate the position within the sequence. This portion is presented in the Transformer paper. 

    For the model to accurately predict if the two sentences are connected, it also performs the following steps:

    1. The input sequence goes through the Transformer model.
    2. The output of the [CLS] token is transformed into a 2×1 shaped vector using the following classification scheme: learned matrices of weights and biases. 
    3. The probability is then calculated through the IsNextSequence with SoftMax. 

    What does this mean for digital marketing advancements? 

    There are a few things you can take into consideration if you work in digital marketing:

    • Model size matters.
    • There is higher accuracy.
    • BERT’s bidirectional approach (MLM) outperforms after a small number of pre-training steps. 
    • Offers research tools and methods for consumer-centric content marketing. 
    • In-depth demographic analysis showing users’ locations, devices, and applications. 
    • Supports social media listening. 

    Do you want more helpful, actional content? Drop some comments below to give us some blogging topics to research.

    Social media marketing vs. brand community marketing

    As much as today’s consumers seek individuality, they also have a very instinctual nature to want to find a sense of belonging with the purchases they make. This is why creating brand loyalists through online presence and word-of-mouth has become one of the largest growing forms of client retention. Naturally, social media platforms have tapped into this by offering people the chance to engage with their favorite brands and build upon these relationships by engaging with other like-minded shoppers. But have you ever heard of the term, “brand community marketing” and how it works alongside social media marketing

    What’s the difference between social media marketing and brand community marketing? 

    Social media marketing involves the utilization of an assortment of social platforms and websites to promote the sale of a product or service. Otherwise known as a form of e-marketing or digital marketing, the development of a social media marketing strategy helps business owners to connect with their online audience, build larger brand awareness, increase their conversion rates, and drive more traffic to their website. 

    On the other hand, a recent development in the realm of digital marketing is brand community marketing, which is when a community is formed based on attachment to a product or service. In fact, connecting to consumer behaviour is one of the most important elements of digital marketing, allowing there to be a communicative relationship between brand, individual identities, and culture. 

    How are they connected? 

    The arrival of the digital age has facilitated an opportunity for two-way conversations between brand and consumer, and while this online media landscape has expanded over the years, audiences are being swamped with information daily and it has become more complex to navigate. 

    Forging a strong, meaningful and long-last bond with the consumer lies within the brand community — those who have an affinity towards the brand after engaging with their product and now share a sense of purpose, passion, and values that are inspiring them to constantly seek connections through interactions both online and offline. 

    Starting a quickfire conversation about your brand can be challenging, but with community members recommending products and swapping stories, much of your social media marketing content can be showing off your community’s support and managing this emotion-building engagement rather than creating it all from scratch. After all, brand community marketing offers a wealth of insight that can be repurposed to boost customer appreciation of your brand and ensure that they keep coming back for more. 

    How do brand communities assist your social media marketing strategy?

    If a community thrives through the empowerment of your products or services, it means that you possess a great advantage to better target and connect with your audience. Consider the fact that most members that are showing their attitude towards a certain brand are likely digital natives who have grown up with access to the internet and social media available at their fingertips (ages 16 to 25). However, while this age group is likely the best demographic to set up within your brand community, retention focus can be achieved among other groups with the help of early access to price promotions, special offers, and sales, especially as more and more users venture within the realm of social media and online shopping. 

    So, if you’re an e-commerce business whose primary focus is to build up your brand loyalty rather than simply focusing on driving sales transactions, it’s time to transform your social media marketing strategy using the roots of brand community marketing! 

    Did you find the above topic to be a refreshing addition to our weekly submissions? Drop a comment below and let us know your thoughts and if you can think of a topic we haven’t addressed, include that as well!