Author: Taylor Duckworth

3 Basic SEO Essentials to Use on Your Website

SEO can seem like an overwhelming and daunting task, but it’s simple once you get the hang of it. SEO is beneficial for any website and helps to generate more traffic to your site. If you’re not doing some aspect of SEO on your website, you are missing out on an easy way to increase traffic and interest in your products and website. Read on to learn three basic SEO essentials you need to be using on your site.

What is SEO?

Since this is SEO for beginners, before we get into the five essentials your website needs, let’s discuss what exactly is SEO. In layman’s terms, SEO stands for search engine optimization and helps you to drive visitors who are interested in what you’re offering to your website. It does this through organic search engine results (traffic you don’t pay for).

 

Lightning Fast Site Speed

It’s surprising how many people don’t realize that your site speeds contribute to your SEO. Not only is it irritating for the user when your site is slower than a turtle, but your site will get passed over by users and search engines. The best way to solve this problem is to test your site speed to ensure its working at top speed. There are a variety of things that contribute to the speed of your site, such as image size. WordPress and other systems offer plugins that help to compress image size and site code, which will help your site to run faster and have your user happy they found your site.  

SEO your Images

Are you guilty of just uploading a photo with your image file name as a bunch of numbers? Did you know that the name of your image contributes to your SEO? To help increase your chances of ranking high in search engines, give your image a new name that accurately describes it. Another critical thing to remember is to make sure that you edit the photos alt text with a brief description of the image, this simple task helps readers and search engines know what the picture is about and how it relates to your content.

 

Keywords are your Best Friends

Keywords are the best friends you never knew you needed. Keyword research is the key to understanding your audience and the language (keywords) they use to search for your product or services. Not only do keywords help your SEO, but it also enables you to create website content that your audience is looking for. For example, if you sell shoes and your audience is looking for “what to wear with ankle boots” or “are block heels in style,” you can write content that directly targets your audience and the keywords they use. This will help increase your chances of ranking higher in search engines.

If you want to increase traffic and your ranking on search engines, SEO is a must. Knowing the basics will help put you in the right direction, but don’t stop at just the basics. Build your knowledge of SEO so that you can continue to increase traffic to your website. Good luck on your journey to optimizing your website.

The All New Sway

For the past six months, the team at Sway has been devoting time and energy to the launch of our rebrand. It’s been a long journey of logo revisions coupled with team meetings, but we’ve finally designed a brand that truly represents us. We wanted to share the process of our rebrand and what it took to achieve it, so read on to find out what went into the launch of the new culture around Sway.

The Groundwork

With the relocation of our office to the historic Petrie building, and the rapid growth of our team and company trajectory, the squad sat down to discuss the future of the company, and what Sway meant to us.

What do you think of when you hear Sway? What do you tell people you do? We set out with the goal in mind that we wanted a company image that was fresh, modern, clean and unique. We came the realization that we were more than an advertising agency, we were an agency that did it all, from creative, strategy, media production, and management. With this, we dropped “advertising” from the brand name and decided to simply go with “Sway”; borne of this was our new tagline, “Much More Than Marketing.”

The Logo

The next step was giving our old Sway logo a makeover, which now represented our new vision. Our previous Sway logo felt heavy, retro and outdated, which no longer matched the image we had in mind. We wanted a brand that lightly referenced our roots – a concept that was still bold and unique but felt more in line with 2017, with timeless sightlines. The goal for the logo was to keep it bold, while trying to build upon our previous logo, to maintain our roots, as well as ensuring it would still feel fresh and current for years to come. We wanted to focus on the interplay of lettering in a unique and graphic way. We also designed an icon that not only complimented the brand but could be used on our social media and website footer.

The Mood

The overall mood was intended to be clean, modern and robust, but still feeling very approachable with a broad appeal. The colour palette is muted with a matte black, cool grays, complimented by a steely indigo blue and offset by a salmon-orange accent.

The Font

Complimentary brand font choices came once the final logo was decided upon, with two sans-serif choices supporting the design and feel of the logo. We chose Pragmatica as the header font (because seriously, what a great font name), which is a typeface inspired by Helvetica but with a lot more flavour. We paired this with Proxima Nova for the body font, which is a geometric hybrid font straddling the styles of past and future.

The Petrie Building

We added a gritty wall texture, overlayed by our brand gray in order to compliment our new space in the Petrie Building and geometric print to compliment the angles in the new logo. The Petrie building is a historic building in Guelph and has been a massive part of our inspiration for our rebrand. As such, we wanted to add something to our rebrand that showcased the building in some way, and we felt adding the unique texture was a great way to add that little piece of Petrie to our brand.

Historic Petrie Building in Downtown Guelph Welcomes Sway

Our team made the transition to the beautiful downtown core on July 17th, 2017 and celebrated their grand opening yesterday, along with the launch of their new website and brand.

Located on the second level of the building, the upper floors of the Petrie building sat vacant for nearly a century prior to the renovation that broke ground in 2015. A.B. Petrie, the chemist to whom the building bears his name, maintained his private office and laboratory in the space Sway now occupies. Please contact the team by email at info@sway.ca, or call (519) 763-8333 to schedule an appointment or to come visit the newly retrofitted office.

With a whole new look, the Sway website provides useful information about the company and foreshadows the experience clients will feel in their new office and when partnering with them. With a booming innovation sector and intellectual business community, the Sway team looks forward to engaging with businesses in Guelph and the Tri-Cities area, in addition to its continued commitment to the existing partnerships with clientele in Toronto, across Canada and globally.

About Sway

Sway is dedicated to helping you tell your story.

Sway was founded in February of 2013 with the initial and primary focus of becoming the best visual advertising agency through television commercials and online video. Since then, Sway has grown into a full-scale agency that has become an industry leader in brand management, marketing strategy, and the creation of unique content.

Sway works with a broad range of businesses across various industries through marketing, re-branding, and telling their story. With all clients, Sway works to create content that is not only visually appealing but material that resonates with audiences. As a bold and innovative firm, Sway believes that the core concept behind marketing and advertising is to “sway” your audience.

For more information on Sway visit www.sway.ca. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/swayadvertising, on Twitter @swayadvertising and Instagram @swayadvertising.

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Branding your Business

Branding can benefit your business in numerous ways, but when done incorrectly, you’ll never reap those benefits, and you’ll come off looking unprofessional. Even worse, you could end up having to rebrand in the future, which could destroy your brand recognition. Knowing the mistakes will help you towards building a great and reputable brand. So, read on to learn three branding mistakes you need to avoid when branding your business!

Rebranding Frequently

This one goes without saying. One big thing I have been preaching is brand cohesiveness, and rebranding often will destroy that! When you’re always rebranding in some form or another, whether it’s a new logo or your mood board, you’re directly destroying your brand recognition but most importantly, the trust of your customers. Don’t try and conform to what your competitors are doing, stay true to your brand and the rest will follow.

Cheap Logo Design
Branding your business can be costly, and you might be looking for areas where you can cut costs, but your logo design is not one of them. Going the cheaper route will cost you more money in the long run when you decide to replace the cheap logo for a better one. Your logo is what sets you apart from your competitors and helps create brand recognition, so make sure you spend the money to guarantee you’ll get a logo that you’ll love. Getting your logo right the first time helps you create that brand recognition you’re striving to have up front.

Rushing the Process
Remember that story, “The Tortoise and the Hare?” Slow and steady wins the race! This motto should be applied to you when you’re branding your business. Trying to rush the process of branding will hurt you and your business in the future, and will likely lead to rebranding your business down the road. Investing the time into branding will avoid unnecessary pitfalls later and will create a brand that fits you and your business.

Like anything, branding comes with common mistakes everyone makes, but knowing these errors will help you to avoid them when it comes to your business. The best thing you can do is invest your time and energy into all aspects of the branding process to ensure you get it right the first time around. Once you’ve branded your business, you’ll be happy you took the time instead of rushing through the process. Have fun and good luck on your journey to branding your business!

Key Components to Branding Your Business

Now that we know why you should brand your business let’s focus on the key components you need. Like we discussed in our previous blog about why you need to brand your business, branding is more than just your logo, and the same can be said about what goes into branding. There are several key components that go into branding that will grow your engagement and brand recognition. Although one of them is your logo, it’s not the only thing you should focus on. So, read on to learn three key components that we think you need to do when branding your business.

Develop a Killer Tagline
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, from Tim Hortons to Blowpro; every business has a tagline. Why should your business be any different? Your tagline is how your target audience will remember your company and what it’s all about. For example, Blowpro’s slogan is ‘the blowout experts’ because they want their customers to remember they’re the pioneers of blow-dry bars and have the best tools to give you the best blowout. So develop a killer slogan that is memorable and meaningful, but most of all make sure it embodies who you want to be known as and the essence of your brand.

An Eye-Catching Logo
I know I’ve been preaching that branding your business is more than a logo, but having an eye-catching logo is still an essential component when it comes to branding. A logo contributes to how you set yourself apart from your competitors and gives your audience something to associate your brand with. Just remember that it’s not the only thing you need to do when it comes to branding and creating brand recognition. A logo is just a logo, when you don’t have the other aspects such as vision, voice, and reputation, to make it create brand recognition.

Your Voice
Visuals are beautiful and well, visually appealing, but they won’t make your customers loyal to your business. Your voice and reputation are what creates customer loyalty. Your voice is a reflection of you and your business, so decide how exactly you want to be perceived and incorporate it into every aspect of your brand and business. Not only will this show your target audience who you are, but it will also create an emotional attachment to your brand.

Branding your business will only benefit you in the long run, and there are more than three key components to doing it right. So do your research, and discover what will work for your business when developing your brand. I promise you that once you brand your business, you will notice a difference. Happy researching, and stay tuned for our final post in the series!

Why You Shouldn’t Use Modal Ads

The Opera browser was the first to use pop-up blockers that now stop this from happening, and has since made them almost a thing of the past. Today, websites have found a way around pop-up blockers, through modal ads.

Have you ever gone to a site in the hopes of finding the information you’re looking for, but suddenly get stopped by a pop-up asking for your email? These ads that seem to pop up when you enter a site are modal ads, and according to a recent survey, they are considered one of the most disliked styles of ads. It’s no wonder why. Modal ads are often impossible to minimize and block the viewer from seeing the content on the web page. This is a major reason as to why people have rated it the worst type of ad that is currently being used on the internet. But if they’re so disliked then why are so many brands using them on their websites?

Well, the unfortunate truth is that modal ads work, at least for the advertiser’s purposes. The logic is that if you nag enough site visitors, a fraction of them will provide their email address, which may later be used to flood your inbox with promotions and other marketing materials. Although they know that only a small amount of people will provide their email and the rest will leave the page, they would rather increase their conversions than stop irritating their site visitors.

You’re probably thinking, “Well if it works, then why not use it”? One of the biggest reasons is that everyone and their mother hates them. A recent survey done by Nielsen Norman Group asked 452 participants to rate their dislike for different forms of ads on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being the strongest dislike. Modal ads were rated a 5.94 for mobile and a 5.82 on a desktop, with the overall score for all ads being 5.23. If you’re still not convinced, take a look at the millions of people who express their hatred for it on Reddit! There is a reason pop-up ads are no longer around, they frustrated web users and drove traffic away.

So what do we recommend that you do if we don’t suggest modal ads? Gather the email addresses of your site visitors by creating value for them in subscribing to your newsletter. By creating useful content that visitors want to subscribe to, or premium content and promotions only available to email subscribers, you can encourage visitors to divulge their contact details without harassing and annoying them.

Why you Need to Brand Your Business

When people hear the word branding, they assume it means developing a logo. In reality, designing a logo is only part of the battle. Branding is more than just a logo; branding is establishing your identity and the image you want to present to your customer. In short, your brand embodies everything you are and how you want your customers to perceive you. So why brand your business? Read on to learn the three reasons why we believe you need to brand your business now.

Set Yourself Apart from the Rest
With so many businesses today that offer relatively the same services or products, it’s hard to stand out above the rest. That’s where branding becomes crucial. When you brand your business, you’re not only setting yourself apart from your competition; you’re also showcasing your differences from those competitors. For example, one of the latest trends is subscription boxes that come monthly or semi-annually, such as the FabFitFun box. There are a variety of subscription boxes that offer similar products to FabFitFun, but what sets them apart from the rest is a very recognizable brand which they display across multiple channels.

Customer Loyalty
Most people have at least one brand, if not more that they’re faithfully loyal to. Whether it’s a clothing store or brand of coffee, you will choose this brand over any other. When it comes to phones, most people’s loyalty lies with Apple or Samsung, and they rarely ever stray from that brand. Why? Well, you can tell yourself it’s the phone’s specs and features, but a lot of the time it all boils down to the brand of the product. As customers, we develop an emotional attachment to that brand, which will keep us coming back to that brand and the new products they produce.

Creates Brand Recognition
Sure a logo creates brand recognition, especially when we think of the McDonald’s golden arches, but having a strong brand identity is just as powerful. Think of a brand that you love, what comes to mind? For example, when I say Tim Hortons, what do you think of? Likely you automatically associated it with coffee, doughnuts, maybe even Timbits Hockey. We also tend to associate Tim Hortons with our identity as Canadians, and with a love for adventure and sports (did I mention hockey?). When you brand your business, you are creating something for your customers to remember and recognize you by.

Great branding is key in the process of creating your identity as a company and developing a loyal customer following. Once you brand your business, you will only reap the benefits from it. Good luck on your journey in branding your business and keep an eye out for our next post in this series, The Key Components to Branding!

4 Effective Email Marketing Techniques

To make sure you’re using the right techniques to generate click-throughs and increase sales, read on and learn about the four email marketing techniques you need to be using right now!

1. Subject Lines are Everything
When an email shows up in your customer’s inbox, the first thing they read is the subject line, which will determine whether or not they open it. A lot of companies know the importance of subject lines, but forget that using generic ones, like “75% off body care”, tend to get your emails sent straight to the trash folder without being opened. The key to subject lines is to keep them short and vague, to entice the reader. An excellent example of this was President Obama’s email fundraising campaign when he used subject lines such as “Hey” and “Wow.” This approach contributed to Obama raising $690 million for his campaign. While this is quite an extreme example, keeping your subject lines short and sweet will intrigue customers and increase your open rate.

2. V.I.P. Treatment
Your customers subscribed to your mailing list for a reason. More than likely they probably thought by signing up they would get exclusive content that was just for them. So offer them something that is just for email subscribers! They will not only feel valued and appreciated as a customer, but they will likely stay subscribed and click through your future emails to see what exclusive deals you’re offering them.

3. Use Customers’ Names Carefully
We’ve all seen the warnings about various scams that are being sent via email, which has caused customers to become wary of emails that use their names. Don’t fret! You can still be personable, and even mention their name, without causing them any worry. Instead, focus on your customers’ purchasing history or demographics. For example, Groupon sends personalized emails based on suggested products or deals previously purchased by that specific customer. This makes the email more customized and shows them that you know them better than a scammer would. It also makes users more inclined to open their emails and see what deals might interest them.

4. Mobile Friendly
These days everyone has a cell phone, and mobile email is now more popular than any other platform, especially when users are out of the office. According to Hubspot 2017 Marketing Statistics, “two-thirds of emails are read on either smartphones or tablets.” So when the emails you send out are not mobile friendly, that customer is likely to delete them, or even worse, unsubscribe. Before sending out an email to subscribers, ensure it is optimized for mobile and watch your click-through rate soar!

Although we haven’t heard much about it recently, email marketing is still an extremely effective way to boost your sales, as well as your engagement with your customer base. There are a variety of techniques to use when it comes to effective email marketing, so test different ones and find out what works for you. Good luck!

5 Ways to Utilize Instagram to Market your Brand

There’s no denying that Instagram is one of the fastest growing companies, and it’s not disappearing anytime soon. Instagram has well over 700 million active users, which is why so many businesses are beginning to use it to promote their brand. Learning how to utilize Instagram will help grow your following and engagement. Here are five ways you can utilize Instagram to market your brand, gain followers, and increase brand engagement.

Make use of #Hashtags
Hashtags drive traffic to your profile more than you think. The trick is to find and use hashtags that are distinct to your brand’s niche and are frequently used. If you hate having hashtags overtake your post, you can hide them in the second comment option or hit the return button repeatedly to add them to the end of your first comment. One great hashtag to use is the one that you create specifically to promote your brand, for example, #StarbucksOnIce is the hashtag Starbucks has set up to use when they post photos of their iced coffee drinks. Hashtags you create not only help promote your brand when your followers use them, but it also creates a community surrounding your brand.

Communicate
Companies and brands are posting on social media almost every day, but they’re absent in every other aspect of Instagram. It is not enough to just post on Instagram; you should be engaging with your followers (and potential followers) every chance you get. The best way to do that is through the comments section. Responding to customers not only shows you care, but it allows you to ask questions, opinions, and help your clients. Creating a conversation with your clients will get them excited about your brand and your next post.

Giveaways
Hosting a giveaway on your Instagram is a great way to market your brand, gain new followers, and reward loyal followers. Your giveaway should be easy to enter, and the prize should be something that gets your followers excited. If your brand is not product based, you can still do giveaways, instead giveaway gift cards for popular related products or services. This will generate new followers and traffic to your profile. Before hosting a giveaway, check the current guidelines for promotions on Instagram.

Feature your Followers
Your followers are what drive your Instagram, so give back by featuring them on your page. You can do this by regramming their photos of your products. Not only will it make your followers excited and create a good rapport, but it promotes your brand. Ask your followers to use a particular hashtag in their post, normally it is your business name or slogan, and they will have a chance to be featured on the page.

Humanize
People don’t want to follow their favourite brands and companies and see only promotion; they also want to see a personal side. Your followers want to know you and your employees are human and care about more than just pushing your products. With Instagram stories, you can now give them a behind-the-scenes look at your business, hint at new products and ideas in the works, or simply give a shout out to your hard-working employees. You can also share posts that bring an emotional response, whether that is through laughter or a relevant topic. Posting content that is personal will remind your followers that your company and its employees are human.

There are a variety of techniques out there to utilize Instagram to market your brand, and you don’t need to implement all of them right away. Find out what works for your brand and watch your followers and engagement increase. Good luck!