Blogpost #6

INC. Magazine Click here to read article. 

Helpful Tips for International SEO – by Samuel Edwards 

During my search for a relevant article to do this blog assignment on, the title “Helpful Tips for International SEO” caught my attention. Why of course! With all of the obvious competition in the retail world here in the U.S, how could I forget about the broader majority of the audience. The rest of the world. In this article Samuel Edwards shifts the focus away from the importance of local SEO over to the opposite end of the spectrum, International SEO. Tip #1, Start With Target Language.

“According to a Common Sense Advisory research study, 30 percent of respondents never purchase from English language sites. Another 29 percent very rarely do. That means 59 percent of global consumers will likely never make a purchase from your website if it’s English only.”

J. Crew actually does pretty well here, offering international shipping to over 100 countries worldwide and translated versions of their website to each of those countries. Samuel also suggests to consider relevant keywords in each language for better SEO. Tip #2, Select a Country-Specific Domain. Every international version of J. Crew website is country- specific domain. ex. The French version of J. Crew website is https://www.jcrew.com/fr Tip #3, Develop an International Lead Generation Strategy.

“Matthew Capala, SEO strategist and entrepreneur, suggests building relationships with local influencers. After all, you want to establish comfort with your international targets.”

Very insightful if not blatantly obvious strategy that might surprisingly go over the heads of some big brand companies. J. Crew should very well maximize lead generating practices like building relationships with local influencers, bloggers, leaders in their communities in order to achieve significant increase in traffic and brand awareness. Tip #4, Don’t Forget About Link Building. Follow link building practices. Final Tip covered in the article, Tip #5 Monitor and Listen.

“..according to an article by Paula Shannon of Lionbridge, “emerging markets have adopted social media in numbers far greater than the US and even Europe.” In the Middle East and Africa, an impressive four out of every five internet users are on social networks (the highest social media penetration in the world).”

Consistent effort on cultivating international influence and productive monitoring ROI practices is essential for J. Crew to stand out, and overrun the competition in the fashion retail industry.

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Blogpost #5

I wanted to pick the two companies that were not only competitors of J. Crew, but similar in amount of stores in the NW and brand influence in the local area. H&M and Banana Republic have become household names in the world of fashion that may seem to share a similar type of demographic as J. Crew. https://www.jcrew.com/

Just so I’m not all over the place with this post and for the purpose of practicing my ability to find ways to improve a brands website and social media practices; The examples below are specifically what competitors H&M and Banana Republic are doing more effectively and/or what I believe J.Crew in comparison can do to improve their strategy.

H&M http://www.hm.com/us/

  • Keeping navigation down to six top most relevant pages, as opposed to 11. (H&M) LADIES. MEN. KIDS. HOME. SALE. H&M LIFE. vs. (J. Crew) WOMEN. MEN. GIRLS. BOYS. SHOES. JEWELRY. WEDDING. PETITE. SALE. FACTORY BLOG.  J. Crew could have possibly been better off condensing shoes, jewelry, wedding, petite links into respective sections (women, men, girls, boys). Results in less cluttered navigation menu some audience may find more appealing and a clearer pathway to direct users through site. example. petite customer on J. Crew website – “hmm I wonder if there is more petite clothing in the women section, or is the petite section the only section I need to be on to find clothes for myself?”
  • Store Locator is placed in upper left section of website. This section is reserved for most vital information on website. Visibility factor encourages users to visit store, leading to more opportunity of engagement and increase customer-brand relationship.
  • “Search Products” search bar and link on homepage actually works! J. Crew “Search” on homepage.. Does not.

H&M INSTAGRAM @HM https://instagram.com/hm/

  • Three most recent instagram pics are runway shots of H&M fashion show event launching designer collection. The collaboration with designer brand Balmain (H&M x Balmain) demonstrates H&M’s relevancy, and credibility in the fashion world. J. Crew being a fashion brand, could further marketing efforts by investing in a fashion show event promoting brand, building hype, and showcasing to instagram audience.
  • 10.2 million followers. J. Crew only has 1.2 million followers.
  • Utilizes Instagram platform by posting videos, and creative short ads promoting H&M brand and events. J. Crew contains no videos making presence on instagram one dimensional. J. Crew could use platform to make creative ads attractive to audience.

Banana Republic http://www.bananarepublic.com/ 

  • Upon arriving to website Get On The List. Be the first to shop new arrivals & exclusive promotions! + Take 25% off your first purchase. Enter Email. Confirm Email. SUBMIT” Alongside picture of interracial model couple in intimate moment, pops up. Language is directive, tells user what they want them to do. Features – being the first, exclusivity, up to trend. Benefits- take 25% off first purchase, discount benefit.”Enter Email. Confirm Email” adds the second step of confirming email, different than most sites that usually just ask to enter email. condenses step process. + picture demonstrates brand value of diversity. All increase chance of getting user to subscribe to email.
  • Utilizes simple flash animation on one of the pictures on the homepage. Titled underneath “OFFICE HOURS”. Transitions from a male model, to a lady model, both in semi-formal Fall attire. J. Crew could use same feature for a simple and effective change to further visually engage user.

Banana Republic Facebook Fan Page https://www.facebook.com/BananaRepublic

  • Has 1.7 million likes. J. Crew has 1.4 likes.
  • “Visitors Posts” section on left bar of page displays recent comments made by facebook users on BR fan page. Promotes user engagement, gives platform for users to see other recent users posts, may contribute to brand credibility. Puts a spotlight on the audience.

Blogpost #4

While searching for a Ted Talk that would be most relevant to who I am, who I’m becoming and provides content most useful throughout my personal journey, I found myself on a tangent watching Ted Talks ranging from creativity, confidence, authenticity, business management, etc that went on for hours.

Innovation and Leadership are the two values I wish to capitalize on, harness, and improve competency in, as they are both vital in the world of business and online marketing. In TedxCambridge- “How to Manage for Collective Creativity” Linda Hill provides two examples of how the most innovative minds are operating to produce outstanding results, how we must re-frame our ideas on what leadership really means and how creative collection from the bottom up is vital for a thriving community.

How to Manage for Collective Creativity

Linda Hill gives a brief opening of her experiences and credentials, and proposes the question “Leading innovation is not about creating a vision, and inspiring others to execute it. But what do we mean by innovation?” She proceeds by using the CEO of Pixar, Ed Catmull as an example of innovative leadership, in which how he operates by allowing a marketplace of creative abrasion, open to discourse dialogue from experts of all beliefs. Innovation is not about solo genius, it’s about collective genius.”

Next example used was Bill Coughran, the head of Google’s Infrastructure Group. When discussing the best option for a situation at hand with his team, he split the teams into two groups, Big Table and Build it From Scratch. Each representing different solutions and each had the task of creating prototypes and presentations to support their claim. Bill described his role as, “Injecting honesty into the process by driving debate.” Afterwards, one of the engineers on the team proclaimed If you had forced us to all be on one team, we might have focused on proving who was right, and winning, and not on learning and discovering what was the best answer for Google.”  By allowing a diversity of individuals the freedom and ability to assert their ideas no matter which idea was popular vote by the higher ups in the infrastructure, Bill enabled innovation in its most productive state to take place within his team, thus leading the company towards progressive outcomes by understanding how to manage creative collectives.

The most interesting takeaway from Linda’s speech was towards the end when quoting Bill’s response to the questions about how he saw his role in the company.

“I lead a volunteer organization. Talented people don’t want to follow me anywhere. They want to cocreate with me the future. My job is to nurture the bottom-up and not let it degenerate into chaos.”

“I’m a role model, I’m a human glue, I’m a connector, I’m an aggregator of viewpoints. I’m never a dictator of viewpoints.”

By analyzing key players in the game, Ed from Pixar, and Bill of Google and how they are changing leadership and producing results, its clear to see where most traditional business infrastructures are lacking. My vision for my business endeavors is to not be a part of a system where the top of the pyramid dominate everything, but to harness the ability to lead an environment of allowing and encouraging creative individuals do what they do best.

Blogpost #3

Content Marketing 101: Tips on Content Strategy

The article proposes a basic outline of an online content marketing strategy, broken down into three different frames which are represented throughout different parts of the process of the marketing pipeline.

First section of the article is titled “It’s not about selling”. Although it may seem at face value that the selling aspect is the main focal point when it comes to marketing, a successful marketing strategy starts with the potential client. The client who is conducting the research on your products, your services, your marketplace. When it comes to devising content, keep in mind the two ideas. Thought leadership and brand awareness. The more clarity you can provide on your products and marketplace before pushing the sale, the more trust you will build with your audience. A fundamental aspect often overlooked, but essential when generating leads.

Second section provides a few examples; Sources of content and different types of content, and how they can contribute to the credibility of your brand. One example is using third party experts as guest blog posts. By collaborating with various experts in your field you are building a better sense of trust and community with your niche audience by curating the content for them, and showing validation through connecting with the other industry leaders.

Third and last section of the article is titled “Sometimes it is about selling”. Once you are able to establish trust and provide clarity for your potential clientele, and are proficient in curating content that adds value, the leads will be generated. They will be in a better position to receive, then you will focus on the selling. At that point the consumer will be looking for more direct solutions on the purchase they are about to make, which is then your duty to offer them content that is more directed towards their specific needs.

The most interesting thing I learned about reading this article was the idea of the “marketing pipeline”.

“A prospect 80% down the pipeline is likely going to be a more qualified prospect because they are nearing the end goal in terms of making a purchase — and because Marketing and Sales only have to get that last 20% to close the sale.”

The visual of breaking down your content strategy to support potential clientele through different processes of a buying situation; From providing clarity and credibility to answering specific needs, the marketing pipeline visual is an effective and simple idea marketers can keep in mind when tailoring a strategy for their own company’s audience.

My PLN Project

Topic- Business/Online Marketing

How to assist a local small business in establishing an online presence and implement effective marketing strategy.

Last week I had met with a local masonry business owner and talked about an opportunity to be in charge of their social media and online marketing. Like most small businesses, many companies dealing with any sort of trade are having to establish an effective online presence to keep up with the evolution into this modern marketplace. More leads are being generated through the internet than ever before, and businesses will need to up their game when it comes to their online strategy if they want to take advantage of the abundance of opportunities available via internet.

By using my knowledge in social media marketing to help small businesses, I am living my values of innovation and compassion. I will also be developing proficiency in branding, networking, and management skills which will benefit myself throughout my upcoming entrepreneurial endeavors. I foresee my journey a constant growth; a cycle which includes to learn, utilize knowledge to add value, build networks, inspire, move on to next big challenge, take big risk, and whether I succeed or fail, I will learn, move on to the next, and repeat.

Blogpost #2

On January of this year, 2015, I purchased my first DSLR Camera; Nikon D3300.

My love for photography really started to bloom in 2014, when I first realized how much better photos turned out with my iphone when I took them in outdoor lighting. The increase in clarity. The significance in vibrancy. I was astonished, and from that epiphany started a daily research into the art, technique, the skill set of photography.

My love for men’s style began when I started work at fashion retailer Express back in 2012. Growing up poor, My mother got my entire wardrobe from clearance racks. Not to say clearance items don’t have potential to be stylish, but it represented my lack for competence in that category. Wearing clothes just to be decent, not saying anything about myself, or to articulate my personality. Fast forward to 2015 and now I am a wardrobe consultant at Nordstrom, helping men with style tips, and to further develop a wardrobe they can be proud of, One that compliments who they are, and represents their personality.

Ever since the purchase of my NIkon D3300, I decided I wanted combine my newfound interest in photography with my eye for beauty, art, and style, to conduct my own fashion photoshoot with local models. Instagram is my main platform to post my photos. In the beginning of this year I devoted almost everyday on hours and hours of research and practice to further perfect my craft. I would do a photo shoot a week, talk ideas for concepts, play music during photo sessions to compliment the mood, bring snacks for my models. After months of photo shoots and posting my content on Instagram, I now received plenty of offers from aspiring models wanting to do work with me.

Everything about what I do is co-creation. To meet with clients and to use our minds collectively to create content that exemplifies our ideas of art, and beauty. With a platform like Instagram I have the ability and potential to get the kind of exposure that allows me to connect and co-create with the individuals of my community. Without the online presence or my personal networks in real life, our creations would not have existed and these relationships would not be where they are now. The beauty of the fashion/portrait photography that I do, is that it is solely dependent on connecting with the creatives of my community.