Wednesday, 23 December 2015

All The Right Keywords In All The Right Places

A story about pizza and the successful targeting of keywords for location-specific strategies.

Joe Shmoe of Joe’s Perfect Pizza Inc. did his fair share of research into what would be the best form of advertising for his new small business, and low-n-behold he discovered the greatest thing in advertising since deep dish…Google AdWords. He quickly set up his Pizza Delivery Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign to ensure that whenever his customers were starving and searching for “delicious cheesy goodness” his ads would come to the rescue; appearing at the top of the Google search results offering hunger salvation fresh out of the oven, delivered within 45 minutes or less.


Logically, Joe setup up his geographic targeting for his paid search program within his delivery area; the small town of Myhomeville, USA. After realizing much success with his newly optimized PPC campaign, Joe began to wonder if there were even more opportunities out there in the form of starving customers. Joe knew that many of the townsfolk worked just outside of Myhomeville, to which he pondered, “How do I target those hungry workers driving back to Myhomeville that need pizza when they get home, but not attract clicks and calls for orders from people that reside outside of my service area?”


Location specific keyword qualifiers could be the answer! Joe set up a second campaign in his PPC program and labeled it “Location Specific Keywords”, and then began his research. He took his currently running keywords like “pizza delivery” and began adding Broad Modified location keywords with a “+” to formulate new keywords, like “pizza delivery +myhomeville”.


After researching and adding all of the neighborhood names and zip codes within his small town, he uploaded them to the Location Specific Keywords campaign and set the targeting to a radius extending from his pizzeria to where his customers worked, but excluded the town of Myhomeville; ensuring that those terms would only attract people outside his service area that were going to be ordering fresh pizza delivered to Myhomeville.


Before he knew it, Joe was getting call orders from hungry customers leaving work and requesting to arrive home to extra pepperoni with olives waiting by the door.


Joe continued expanding these new found geolocation keywords into his original campaign, with phrases like “pizza +near +me”, “best pizza place +nearby”, and “I’m starving who’s the fastest pizza delivery guy in +myhomeville?”


So, what we can learn from Joe is that the proper utilization of broad modified location specific keywords (including city names, neighborhoods and zip codes) within an expanded radius while excluding the currently targeted areas in other campaigns, along with including these same location keywords with “near me” variations in your geographical targeted campaigns, can increase your reach to new and relevant visitors; even if your business operations are limited by area.

Hope we didn't make you too hungry! So tell us, what are some of your keyword targeting tips? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet @Swagger_Media! And if you’re interested in creating a Google AdWords campaign but need some help, our team is here to assist you. Give us a call at 832-831-7592!


Friday, 18 December 2015

Our Work: The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas on Tennis Elbow

Client Overview:

The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas is a group of highly trained hand specialists who are focused on performing minimally invasive procedures to relieve a variety of hand and wrist problems.

Project Challenge:

The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas wanted a video to showcase their knowledge regarding a very common condition, Tennis Elbow, and their treatment regimen for the condition. Specifically, they wanted to demonstrate their variety of non-surgical treatment options, and their process in determining whether or not surgical methods are required.

Action Taken:

SWAGGER Media visited their offices and interviewed the surgeons. We spoke to them about Tennis Elbow, and what treatment options they provide for the condition. We then cut the footage together, layered on some graphics to identify each surgeon, and we added dynamic graphics summarizing the condition and treatment options. Finally, we added a song to accompany the voice overs and interviews, and an animated version of their logo for the beginning and end of the video.

Result: 


Thursday, 10 December 2015

How to Generate Consistent Audio Levels in Record Time

Do you like having consistent audio levels in your voice tracks? Of course, you do. Nobody wants their viewers to be constantly adjusting their volume while they watch your videos. It’s exhausting, annoying, and worse of all, it pulls their attention from your content. The good news is that this is easily avoidable!

First of all, let me tell you what not do. Don’t go through your Premiere timeline and manually adjust each clip and key-frame peaks. Although this method works okay for music tracks and sound effects, when it comes to dialogue, interviews or narration, it is incredibly tedious, time-consuming and, frankly, unnecessary. That being said, it’s not a bad idea to go through and normalize clips that are significantly lower (like -12db lower) than everything else. But don’t spend more than a couple minutes on it.

The method that I do recommend is in no way, shape or form the only way or necessarily the best way to achieve consistent levels. It is, however, the way that I’ve found to produce great results in a very quick and non-destructive manner.

Step One: Send your sequence from Premiere to Audition

In the Project Panel, find the sequence you wish to level out. Right click, hover over “Edit in Adobe Audition” and select “Sequence.”


In the new window, you will be prompted to create a name for your Audition project (by default, it will be assigned the same name as your sequence) and choose the location for the project folder (by default, it will be saved in the same location as your Premiere project folder, which tends to work well for me). Leave everything else the same and click “OK”.



Step Two: Solo your Vocal Tracks

At this point, your sequence has automatically opened up in Adobe Audition. Here, you will find your audio tracks laid out exactly how you had them in Premiere. What you’re going to do here is apply leveling and limiting effects to your master mix and export it back to Premiere.

Within the Editor Panel, go to the left column and Solo each vocal track you wish to include in the mix by clicking the “S” button. Alternatively, you may mute any tracks you do not wish to include by clicking “M”.


Step Three: Apply a Speech Volume Leveler to the Master Mix

The first effect we are applying will boost our vocal levels up. This step is imperative especially if the volume is varying drastically between clips or fluctuating within clips.

Select the track labeled “Master”. Towards the left of the project, you will find a panel labeled “Effects Rack”. If it’s not visible, go to “Window” and make sure “Effects Rack” is checked.


With “Track Effects” selected, go to the first effect holder in the rack and click the triangle on the far right to bring up Audition’s effects. Hover over “Amplitude and Compression” and select “Speech Volume Leveler”.


Our goal here is to get the levels consistently up, ideally above -12db, without anything clipping at 0. This effect is real time so we can playback the audio by clicking in the Editor panel and hitting the spacebar (just like in Premiere) and listen to the results as we toggle the sliders.


The first slider is labeled “Target Volume Level”. This is where we set the level where we wish the audio levels to aim for (Get it? Target?).  

The second slider is labeled “Leveling Amount”. Here, we can decrease the amount of fluctuation in our volume. Typically, you want this high enough to decrease the range of your peaks but low enough that you still get some dynamics, making the audio still sound natural.

The third slider is labeled “Target Dynamic Range”. This is where you define the lowest level of audio that you want the effect to include in it’s leveling. By raising this up, you reduce any unwanted low-level noise being included in the leveling process.

At this point, your volume is likely peaking between -10 and -3 db. Now we have plenty to work with when we begin the compression process.

Close the Speech Volume Leveler window. As you can see, the effect is now placed at the top of the effects rack. Here, you can toggle the effect on or off by selecting the power button or adjust the effect settings by double clicking on its label.


Step Four: Apply a Dynamics Process

Proceed to the second shelf in the effects rack. Open the effects list, hover over “Amplitude and Compression” and select “Dynamics Processing”.


Find the two points on the far right of the curve and bring them down to about -12 db. This effect is also real time so we can playback the audio as we adjust.


What we have here are essentially two effects working together to reduce the range of the volume and target it to the traditional voice level. Be careful that your levels don’t appear to be hitting a brick wall or display little to no dynamics. If either occurs, go back to your Speech Volume Leveler and bring the leveling amount down a bit. Remember, a little bit of fluctuation is perfectly normal and expected.

Step Five: Export the Master Mix and Import it into Premiere

This part is simple. Go to File->Export->Multitrack Mixdown->Entire Session


Enter a name and choose the location of your export. By default, only the master track will be exported, which is what we want. If you do wish to export a different track, simply click “Change” next to “Mixdown Options”.


All you have to do now is import the track into Premiere and place it into your timeline. Remember, since we created the Audition project straight from Premiere, you will need to place the track at the very beginning of your sequence and not where the voices start. (This spooked me out when I first did this and felt like an idiot when I figured it out. Don’t be like me.) Once it’s positioned, mute all of the original vocal tracks, playback your sequence, adjust the track volume to mix as needed, and enjoy your consistent levels.



 Is your business in need of videos? Let SWAGGER Media help your business grow. 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Our Work: Feel at Home with Texas Furniture Hut

Client Overview:

The Texas Furniture Hut caters to customers across Texas by providing a huge variety of high-quality and comfortable furniture and mattresses. They carry designer home decor for living rooms, bedrooms, media rooms and home offices, and have the top mattress brands available.

Project Challenge:

The Texas Furniture Hut wanted a commercial that would showcase the quality, comfort, timelessness and at-home feel of the furniture they carry in their stores. They want every customer to feel at-home, and picture their furniture in their home, as soon as they walk in the door of their showroom.

Action Taken:

In association with Spry Creative Group, we created a commercial for Texas Furniture Hut that displayed their merchandise, featured various customer testimonials, and was accompanied by a simple lower third graphic. We showcased the homey-feel of the store by including customer testimonials, video of the customers looking at the furniture, and footage of their huge furniture selection. We picked a mellow background track to accompany the voice-overs and interviews. We finished it off with a simple animated graphic that included the company's logo and location information.

Result:


Monday, 30 November 2015

Tips for Frustration-Free Work Travel

Over the course of the last year I have been traveling more regularly for jobs all over the country. This has been an awesome experience and I’ve discovered a love for traveling I’d only dreamed about, but there was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning. I’m writing this to help you avoid a few of the mistakes I made when I started traveling professionally.

Don’t assume you can get a rental car. 

There may be hundreds of rental cars at most airports but that doesn’t always mean you can get one without a reservation. If, however, you forgot to make a reservation or decide you need a car after all, there’s still hope. You can log on to expedia.com or another travel booking site and reuqest a reservation through that site. Even if an agency does not have cars available for walk ups chances are they may have a few reserved for online booking. This tip has saved me on a few occasions when I unexpectedly needed a car for a few days.

Book your flight strategically. 

It’s usually cheaper to fly in the middle of the week and during off times, like early in the morning or late in the evening. Sometimes you can’t make this happen but when possible it may save you a few hundred dollars. In some instances, it may even be much cheaper to fly in several hours before and work from the hotel or a coffee shop. This can also give you valuable time to scout or prepare for a shoot.

Forget something at home? 

You’re probably aware that most hotels provide complimentary toiletries since they advertise this in the rooms. You’d be amazed though at the amount of things people leave behind in hotel rooms, particularly chargers. If you left your charger, an ethernet or usb cord, or anything else mission critical, be sure to check with the front desk. Most hotels want to do everything in their power to help you since you’re more likely to be a returning customer with good service. Of course you can’t find everything this way, but it never hurts to ask.

Earn some points. 

Almost every company associated with travel has some sort of reward program. While these won’t necessarily pay for your yearly holiday trip, you may be able to acquire quite a few points if you’re traveling at least once a month. The points can be used to get everything from flights to hotels, for free. Almost all of these programs are free and only stand to benefit you if you’re traveling enough.

Airports are very, very boring. 

I’d say a solid 90% of the time between home and your destination is spent waiting. You wait in the security line, at the gate, on the plane, and sometimes at baggage. Let me tell you, the shine and wonder of travel wears off real quick when you realize you’ve got five hours of nothingness ahead of you. I try to always make sure I’ve got a new album to listen to, several podcasts or audio books downloaded to my phone (remember there’s no data once you’re in the air), and a hard copy of something to read in case I need to preserve phone battery. There are also tons of fun game apps that will keep you entertained for hours, though they’re usually pretty tough on your battery life.

Prepare for hot and cold weather. 

I had an interesting and unexpected experience a few weeks ago when I flew into El Paso on a beautiful, 80 degree day with sunshine and no clouds. The next morning however the temperatures were sub 40 degrees. With only a light jacket on hand, I found myself pretty cold that day, so in the future I’m always going to have a jacket and a long sleeve shirt, just in case.

Ask for a wakeup call. 

This may seem like a sort of antiquated method to wake up when all of our phones have alarm clocks built in, but this is a completely free and awesome service most hotels offer that can save your skin. I once plugged my phone in before bed after a long day and didn’t notice that the outlet I’d selected wasn’t working. Luckily I had requested a wake up call because my phone had died sometime in the night. Even if it feels silly you never know, it could keep you from having to explain to a client why you’re late.

Skip the fast food and try local favorites. 

This is one of the biggest ones for me and has provided with me with some of the most enjoyable meals I’ve ever had. It’s easy to hit something familiar like fast food or chain restaurants when traveling, but the rewards of trying a local place can be massive. I personally like to use Yelp but if that’s not your flavor there are tons of other great review sites out there like Urbanspoon or Zomato, to name a few. Google usually has reviews as well that can give you a good idea of what people like.

I know for some of you seasoned pros this may seem like basic knowledge, but it’s all stuff that I wish had been passed on to me earlier on. Traveling can be such an amazing experience when it goes smoothly, but when things start to go wrong it can be a frustrating nightmare. It’s impossible to avoid every potential problem but with some solid planning you can make your travel effortless and worry free.

So tell us, what are some of your travel tips? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet @Swagger_Media! And if you’re interested in making a video and need some help, our team is here to assist you. Give us a call at 832-831-7592!


Monday, 23 November 2015

Our Work: The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Client Overview:

The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas is a group composed of highly trained hand specialists who are focused on performing minimally invasive procedures to relieve a series of hand and wrist problems.

Project Challenge:

The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas wanted a video to showcase their knowledge regarding a very common hand problem, carpal tunnel syndrome, and their treatment for the condition. Specifically, they wanted to emphasize their expertise on the Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release, the No Stitch procedure, which is their procedure of choice for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Action Taken:

SWAGGER Media visited the Houston location and interviewed the surgeons. We spoke to them about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and what treatment they provide for the condition. We also spoke at length regarding the Endoscopic Tunnel Release procedure and why this minimally invasive procedure is their go-to method. Finally, we shadowed the doctors during some of their appointments with patients and gathered a series of b-roll shots from around the office. We then cut the footage together, layered on some graphics to help identify each surgeon, and we added dynamic graphics summarizing the procedure and its benefits. We then added a 3D animation of the Endoscopic Carpal Tunnel Release. Finally, we added an underlying song and an animated version of their logo for the beginning and end of the video.

Result:




Need a video for your company? We will work with you to create the perfect video for your business. Give us a call at 832-831-7592!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

The Most Important Phase of Website Building

If you were to build a house now, what is the first thing you would do? Would you go and buy all the materials and start building? Or would you sit down and plan first? I am pretty sure your answer is the latter. Proper planning will save you from lots of issues in the future, and make sure that the house will have the look and the functions you wanted it to have. Building a website is no different, before you start the actual doing, you need to create a plan. Here is a list of five things you should consider before starting to build your website.


1. Define the Target Audience and Goals

Your target audience and your goals are the basis of your website. Everything from the content to the aesthetics should be planned for your target audience to help you reach your goals. Write down on a piece of paper who you want to come to your website, what you want them to do there, and how that will help you get what you want. Then stick that piece of paper somewhere where you can see it every day. Keeping your audience and goals in mind will help you avoid losing the focus during the project.


2. Plan the Content

You probably want to include at least written content and high-quality images to your website but you should also consider other types of content. Video content is more engaging and can help the target audience spend more time on your site. 3D animations are another way to help visualize the content. Also, if your business is present on social media, you may want to add the newsfeeds to your website to show a little bit more personality.


3. Decide on the Technology

The decisions you make on the technological aspects of your website should be based on your target audience and your goals. If you know that the majority of your audience is mobile users (which nowadays is often the case), you absolutely want to make your site responsive for mobile devices. Furthermore, as you probably want the search engines to find your site, make sure your platform supports your SEO efforts. Also, make sure that the site will be easy to update. This will save you from lots of headaches in the future!


4. Decide on the Aesthetics

How do you want your website to look? Decide on the colors and fonts you want to use, and on the overall feeling you want the website to transmit. List adjectives to help you describe how you want the website to look like. “Joyful”, “fresh” and “young” sounds different to “traditional”, “serious” and “straight-forward”. Again, keep in mind your target audience and goals.


5. Plan the Site Map

After you have made the basic decisions on your target audience and goals, content, technology and aesthetics, it’s time to plan the site map. Draw a picture of your site map using paper or any image editing software, whatever technique works best for you. Start by defining the main menus on your homepage and then add subpages under them.


Properly planning your website may take time but it helps you keep the focus throughout the process and avoid issues in the later phases. If you need help with your website, reach out to us at 832.831.7592 or info@swagger-media.com. We will help you create a plan for your website, execute it, and make sure that you get a website that fits your needs.


Friday, 30 October 2015

The Easiest Color Correcting Tool for Adobe Premiere Editors

There are a number of softwares you could use to color correct your video, but when you’re on a budget, it’s usually best to choose a tool within your editing software. Now, even that can be tricky. In Adobe Premiere Pro, there are 17 different color correction tools, and that’s assuming you don’t have any additional plugins. Each of these tools works a little differently; some are designed to add effects or adjust certain colors in a shot, while others are meant to change the overall look.  When I need to color correct a shot, I always choose the RGB Curves tool. It’s quick, effective, and easy to use. I’m going to show you how to use it effectively so you can balance your color in no time.

Step 1: Apply the effect to your clip.
I usually stick with the default settings that Premiere determines. If you’re dealing with a really tricky shot, you may have to adjust those further, but for your basic color correction, you won’t need to touch them.



Step 2: Adjust your Master first.
The master will adjust the exposure and brightness of your shot, which is almost always necessary in color correction.



Step 3: Adjust your RGB.
You want to take it slow with these curves, a little can go a long way. You may find that you don’t even need to create actual curves to get the look you’re going for.



Step 4: Apply to the rest of your scene.

When I’m dealing with multiple camera angles, I set the color correction for one clip from each angle, then apply and adjust on all other shots. Premiere is great this way because it lets you copy and paste effects from one clip to another. I’ll watch my lineup again and add minor adjustments here and there, but the major problems have been remedied.  

Here's a before and after shot: 



When you have the time, I recommend exploring the many different tools your software has to offer. You may find that your secondary software is unnecessary and soon you'll be a color correcting pro! 

Is your business in need of videos? Let SWAGGER Media help your business grow. 




Monday, 26 October 2015

Our Work: What Makes Texas Furniture Hut Unique

Client Overview:

The Texas Furniture Hut specializes in providing customers across Texas with a huge variety of luxury furniture and mattresses. They carry the top mattress brands and designer home decor for living rooms, bedrooms, media rooms and home offices.

Project Challenge:

The Texas Furniture Hut wanted a commercial that would showcase what makes them different from other furniture stores. The goal was to promote the uniqueness of Texas Furniture Hut, and the fact that every day is a sale at Texas Furniture Hut.

Action Taken:

In association with Spry Creative Group, we created a commercial for Texas Furniture Hut that displayed their showroom, featured various voice-overs, and was accompanied by simple lower third graphics. We showcased the uniqueness of the store by including interviews from the employees, customer testimonials, images of their huge furniture selection, and their house-style showroom layout. We picked a mellow background track to accompany the voice-overs. We finished it off with a simple animated graphic that included the company's logo and location information.

Result:

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

What Makes a Great Documentary?

I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work on a couple of documentaries during and after school, and I have truly enjoyed it. Thankfully, in my experience with Swagger I’ve had the chance to work on both the pre-production and post-production processes of a few more documentaries, and I’ve completely fallen in love with them. Here's the link one of my favorite documentaries that I've worked on, in case you haven't checked it out yet.

I’ve always been a big fan of this genre because it allows us, as filmmakers, to convey reality in an engaging and organic way. And don’t get me wrong, I love fiction, but there’s something about the documentary recipe that never ceases to amaze me. When well-made, a documentary can be exciting, raw, emotional, thrilling, motivating and even a little scary. It’s all about how it makes us feel while watching and after watching it. Plus, it’s REAL.

And even though there’s no strict audiovisual guideline for every genre, I believe the success or the impact behind a great documentary falls in the following aspects:

1. The Story

It’s all about the STORY. The ideas behind a documentary or the situations covered in it have to be real, of course (unless you’re interested in a mockumentary, which is pretty cool as well), but it also has to be something of interest. Something with a purpose. Something that can move people. And this doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be something super intense or complex. Sometimes the greatest documentaries come from stories about ordinary people, from ordinary towns, but they're stories that people can relate to, and stories that touch others. Additionally, documentaries can cover controversial topics to communicate one or more points of view or perspectives. No matter what, the pre-production process involves a great amount of research and preparation.

So the question is, what makes the story special? What is its purpose? Where’s the emotional factor? What facts support the big idea? As filmmakers, we should keep in mind that we’re documenting reality, not manipulating it. So it’s all about what facts you want to present and how you plan to present them in order to affect and move your audience. 

2. The Hero

Who’s the hero/heroine? Who’s leading the narrative? And I don’t mean who is the narrator, but who is the key piece in the puzzle? It could be a man or a woman, a family, a country, a town, a species, or an object. You should identify who carries your story, or who is conducting the main journey, and prep your piece around it. 

3. The Script

Once you have your story straight and your hero is all set, you go out, shoot and get everything you need according to your pre-production efforts. Then the real deal begins: scripting. Most of the time, documentary scripts are built in the editing room, after gathering all the interviews and footage.

This is when you take time to watch everything carefully, transcribe it (highly recommended), and prepare a structure. Some people write the script before piecing the clips together and some others script while cutting and dragging. I personally like both; it truly depends on the project. But this is when the magic happens; this is when decisions need to be made based on THE STORY, THE PURPOSE and THE HERO of the documentary itself.

Scripting means writing and re-writing, which results in cutting and revising the cut as many times as needed until the structure serves the story. Interviews need to be balanced with the proper kind, and the right amount of b-roll, a pace needs to be established, as well as the aesthetics and the style that you want to embark on.

4. The Music

As we all know, music plays a very important role in every film. However, I find it interesting how documentaries particularly depend on it. If a documentary’s impact relies on how it makes us FEEL as viewers, then of course music plays a huge part in that. Music can affect shots in so many ways, it can give us joy, hope, motivation, but it can also set a nostalgic mood, or give the scene a bit of mystery or suspense. It compliments the picture. It sets the tone.

When scripting/cutting you should have a pretty good idea of what music can better drive the documentary’s point home -that’s if composers are not already prepping it on the side. Then it’s just a matter of finding the best spots for everything. For example, music climaxes are always good for story high-points (revelations, emotional peaks or breaks). Music is there to help us communicate, not as just serve as another extra element we need to shove into the mix.

5. The Emotional Aspect

Like I mentioned before, all the elements of a documentary should serve its purpose. And I think it’s hard to find a documentary whose purpose doesn’t involve an emotional aspect or doesn't include an emotional route.

So when prepping, shooting and editing a documentary, I believe it’s key to keep in mind how to get to the viewers, how to move them in the direction you want your story to move them, how to impact them, or how to attack their sensibilities. Is it through music? Is it through very raw and organic b-roll? Is it through guerrilla filmmaking? Or perhaps through a more personal narration? You need to find the perfect mix to complete your master recipe.

So tell us, what do you think is the key ingredient in a great documentary? Are there any other aspects that you believe should be considered in the mix? Do you have any documentary recommendations? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below or tweet @Swagger_Media! And if you’re interested in making a documentary and need some help, our team is here to assist you. Give us a call at 832-831-7592! 





Thursday, 8 October 2015

Our Work: The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas on Trigger Finger

Client Overview:

The Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas is a group composed of highly trained hand specialists who are focused on performing minimally invasive procedures to relieve a series of hand and wrist problems.

Project Challenge:

The client wanted a video about Trigger Finger that would educate potential patients about the condition and enlighten them as to how the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas could treat their problem with a modern and simplistic approach.

Action Taken: 

SWAGGER Media visited the Houston location and interviewed Dr. Khorsandi and Dr. Maximos about what Trigger Finger is, the steps the doctors take to diagnose a patient, and the different treatment options offered by the Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas. Once in post production, we cut and color corrected the footage into a short video, added an underlying soundtrack and began 3D animation. We used 3D animation to demonstrate what Trigger Finger looks like inside the hand. Finally, we added some simple text graphics to visually reiterate what the doctors were speaking about and ended with a full screen, informational graphic.


Friday, 2 October 2015

8 Ways To Increase Your Ad’s Click Through Rate

Online advertising can be a very powerful tool with which to increase your website traffic, create leads, increase brand awareness, and even grow your bottom line. However, in order for any of that to happen, your audience must first be enticed to click on your ads. How do you achieve that? You can start by following the simple tips below when writing your ad copy.


1. Tailor the ad language to your target audience

Keep the target audience's tone in mind when you develop ad copy for online ads. You'll need to determine which tone your audience responds to. Are you a B2B company trying to reach other professionals? Your target audience might respond better to a more formal tone. Are you a company who sells party supplies? Then you might have a better response rate if you use a colloquial tone.

The ad above is an example of good use of colloquial, even funny language in a Google ad.

2. Use high-impact words

High-impact words are words or phrases that instinctively grab people’s attention and get their interest. A few examples are: “free”, “best”, “sale”, “top-rated”, “free quote”, “free shipping”, “free trial”, etc. It is important that you only use these words on your ads when they truthfully pertain to your products or services. 


3. Include pricing information

Unless your products or services have high price points that would discourage your target audience from clicking on your ad, or you don’t have set-in-stone pricing, you should try to include pricing information in at least a few of your ads. Including pricing information will help you find out if your audience responds well to being given that information up front. 


4. Always include a call to action

Do you want people to call your business to find out more information? Do you want them to purchase your product online? Do you want them to fill out a form to get a quote? Then, tell them! By suggesting the next step your audience should take, you can increase both your click through rate and your conversion rate

5. Mention promotions

If you are running any promotions on your products or services, don’t forget to create ads that specifically mention that promotion. People love saving money!


6. Let users know exactly what to expect from the ad’s landing page

When people go online to find information, they don’t want to have to dig through multiple pages to find what they are looking for. Make sure that your ad copy accurately represents the landing page associated with it and the kind of information found there. 


7. Use proper punctuation

Improper grammar, spelling, or punctuation can turn people off from clicking your ads. Don’t compromise punctuation for the sake of fitting more characters into the headline or the body of your ad. 


8. Mention product specs and other practical info

If you are selling a product, mentioning the specs or other practical information on your ad is a good idea. It gives users a quick overview of what your product has to offer and it incites them to want to learn more if your product is, indeed, what they are looking for. 


At SWAGGER Media we understand that it can be overwhelming to manage one or more digital advertising campaigns and continuously ensure that all aspects of it, including the ad copy, are optimized. That is why our team of experts is here to assist you with all of your digital advertising needs should you ever need a helping hand. Just contact us through our online contact form or give us a call at 832-831-7592!


Wednesday, 23 September 2015

8 Ways to Use Instagram for Your Business

Instagram continues to grow as one of the fastest emerging social media networks. As of this month, there are over 300 million active monthly users, and Instagram hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. With more people using their smartphones than ever before, it only makes sense that a social network built around the concept of sharing smartphone pictures would dominate the social network game today. But how do you capitalize on this extremely active audience for your business? Here are 8 ways to use Instagram effectively:

1. Show Your Products

While artsy photos tend to dominate everyone’s Instagram feed, don’t allow your business to only post this type of photo. Switch up your content to include both the typical artsy Instagram pictures, and product shots. You can be self-promotional, and incorporate new or lesser-known products within shots. This approach serves both your business' and your consumer’s interests.

2. Show How It’s Made

Consumers are intrigued by how your product came to be. Let your followers in on the various phases of the production process. If you have a longer production process, make it a series of Instagram shots.

3. Go Behind the Scenes

This is a great opportunity to showcase the moments that very few people experience. Whether you’re doing a photoshoot, filming a commercial, cooking a dish or organizing your floorset- take your followers with you. As a business, it’s important to focus on transparency, and to show your followers the “human” side of your business. Think of Instagram as a way to give your followers the exclusive backstage pass!

4. Show What Your Products Can Do

Imagination may not always be enough. Use Instagram as a way to showcase new uses for experienced users of your products, or other product demos for novel users.

5. Show Off The Office and Your Employees

Post photos that give a glimpse of a day-in-the-life at your office. Whether it’s your work space, brainstorming meetings, office functions, training sessions, employees at lunch, employees at play- your followers want to catch a sneak peek of the inner workings of your business.

6. Take Your Customers With You

Going to a trade-show? Sponsoring a special event? Take your followers with you, and share photos wherever you go. Followers in those locations will love to know you’re in their neighborhood, and they can also get a better feel for your brand by learning about the events or causes you attend, support or sponsor.

7. Share Quotes and Inspiration

Instagram users often search for positive and uplifting images, so take advantage of this and post motivational messages relevant to your mission statement. This is a great way to build relationships with your followers and help them learn more about your business.

8. Contests or Competitions

Don’t just collect new followers, activate them! Go beyond a ‘like’, and make your followers interact with your business in a more meaningful way, then reward, reward, reward!


So, what other kinds of photos do you post on Instagram? Do you have any other suggestions for businesses or brands that want to take Instagram by storm? Let us know in the comments below or tweet to us @SwaggerMedia! And be sure to follow us on Instagram @SwaggerMedia.

If you're ready to hire a marketing team to build your Instagram presence, or any other marketing need, give us a call at 832.831.7592 or email us at info@swagger-media.com.



Friday, 11 September 2015

Our Work: Lobby Loop - Brain Games

Client:

Lobby Loop is a service designed to provide engaging and educational content to patients sitting it the waiting rooms of their doctor's office. This is meant to keep patients engaged throughout their wait and minimize the risk of customer dissatisfaction.

Project Challenge:

We needed to create enough content for Lobby Loop so the patients in the waiting room wouldn't end up seeing the same information more than once. On top of that the content had to be informational but engaging in a short amount of time.

Action Taken:

We developed a series of different videos and animation segments to rotate throughout the day. Our first step was to write a number of scripts focusing on different aspects of a main topic. We then had to hire actors, set up a green screen, and film the segments. Our biggest challenge on set was to get through the script in the allotted amount of time, with enough timing for animations and graphics. Once in post, we replaced our green screen background and added the graphics and animations on top of the video to go along with the script.

Result:

Though we developed an entire series of videos, here is one example of the type of engaging content we created. This video is called "Risk Factors of Alzheimers" and is featured in different time blocks of the day when presented.



If your medical practice is looking to increase customer satisfaction at a low cost, click here to learn more about what Lobby Loop can offer you. 

Friday, 4 September 2015

The 3 Camera Settings You Need to Understand

Digital cameras are becoming cheaper and more accessible to the consumer than ever before. Almost everyone I know owns some sort of digital camera that allows them to manually control the exposure, yet they still leave the camera on ‘Auto’ mode nearly all the time. With a basic understanding of the exposure triangle and a little bit of practice, you can learn how to manually expose your images to get much better creative control over the process. Below are the three settings that make up the exposure triangle. Hopefully, this brief write-up will help you get out of auto mode and into some great photographs!



1. Shutter Speed is one of the three factors that make up the exposure triangle, along with Aperture and ISO. Its main function in photography is to control the amount of light let into the camera by way of leaving the shutter open for longer or shorter periods of time. It also controls the speed of the subject relative to the rest of the scene. If, for example, I were to use a fast shutter speed, let’s say something over 1/500th of a second, to capture a baseball player swinging at a pitch I’d get a nice sharp image with little to no blur. If I took the same photo at 1/30th of a second I would likely get an image with a sharp background but a blurry baseball player. That’s because the baseball player moves much less in 1/500th of a second than he does in 1/30th of a second.

Your hand can also cause blur in an image if you attempt to hand hold the camera at slow shutter speeds. A good rule of thumb to use is to not shoot at shutter speeds slower than one over the focal length. So if I’m using a 50mm lens, I probably shouldn’t use shutter speeds slower than 1/50th of a second. There are many lenses that attempt to give you a little wiggle room with internal image stabilization, but I’d still recommend sticking to this rule when possible.

The effects of shutter speed as seen above using a pinwheel. A fast shutter speed results in a crisp image, whereas slower shutter speeds capture the motion of the pinwheel.

2. Aperture, like shutter speed, also serves mainly to limit the amount of light entering the camera. The aperture blades are inside of the lens, usually in groups of five to eight blades, though some lenses have more. These blades form an opening that allows light to pass through the lens and into the camera. If you have a large opening, you’ll let in more light and conversely if you have a small opening, you’ll let in less light. Aperture also controls your depth of field, or the amount of your image that is sharp and in focus. Low, or fast, apertures like f/2.8 will result in a very shallow depth of field whereas apertures like f/8 or f/11 will give you a much larger depth of field.

This can be used creatively to determine which parts of the image you want to be in focus and which parts you don’t. For example, if you were shooting portraits, you’d likely want to use a large aperture so your subjects face was in focus but the background was not. This creates a very flattering look that forces the viewer to look at the subject of the photograph instead of any potentially distracting elements in the background. If you were photographing a landscape, you’d want the opposite; a smaller aperture would allow your foreground, midground, and background to all be in focus despite being very far away from one another. Be particularly careful when shooting group photos so that you don’t have some people in focus and some people out of focus. Stopping down on your aperture to f/4 or even f/5.6 can help a lot with this though this comes at the cost of losing some light.

Larger aperture results in a small, or shallow, depth of field. A smaller aperture will give you greater depth of field but also reduce the amount of light let into the camera.

3. ISO is the third and final part of the exposure triangle and has to do with how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. Increasing your ISO can allow you to take photos in very low light settings but it comes at a cost: noise. Noise is extraneous data that appears in your images, usually in the shadow areas. Today a good bit of noise can be removed in post-processing via lightroom or photoshop, but you still want to minimize it whenever possible. Usually the best bet is to keep your ISO on the lowest setting and only increase it as a last resort when you cannot decrease your shutter speed or aperture any further to allow more light into the camera.

You’ll need to use higher ISOs mostly in darker scenarios, such as photos taken at night or at a concert. It doesn’t really matter what camera you have, the important thing is to know the limits it can handle. Some cameras will perform just fine at ISO 3200 or even above, other cameras will start to show signs of really bad noise at ISOs as low as 800. You’ll have to do some testing to determine what your particular camera’s tolerance is and how high you can go while still maintaining a relatively clean image.

Higher ISOs can allow you to take some incredible picture in low light environments, but they will add noise to your images. Be sure to test your camera’s limits to see how much noise can be removed in post.

I hope this has helped increase your understanding of photography and will encourage you to be bold and take your camera outside of the auto mode. You may struggle at first, but I promise with a little practice, you’ll find that you have much more creative control over your camera, resulting in better images for you and your friends!



Friday, 28 August 2015

Our Work: M5250 Luxury Living

Client:

ARA Newmark is a full-service investment advisory brokerage firm with a focus in the multi-housing industry. They're the largest firm of their kind in the nation and are comprised of America's top investment professionals.

Project Challenge:

ARA Newmark wanted a video to help promote the M5250 apartments as the luxury living spot in the Galleria area. They wanted to include drone footage, animated maps to explore the area, and high-resolution virtual tours of inside the apartment.

Action Taken:

We spent time gathering shots of the apartment complex from all exterior angles using the drone. We also gathered aerial footage from around the area to use as the base of our animated map. We then used a Canon 5D to capture b-roll shots of stores and hot spots surrounding the apartment complex to emphasize it's ideal location. Finally, we went inside the apartment complex and gathered footage from both inside the apartments and around the complex.

Once in post, we cut this footage together and began adding our animated graphics. We used the drone footage as the base for a map in which we highlighted some of the major hot spots within the area. We also added lower thirds with statistical facts and other property information. Finally, we added an animated motion graphic of the M5250 logo and added an underlying song.

Result:



If you're interested in developing a marketing video for your business, contact Swagger Media. We will develop a plan and work with your budget to deliver a quality video for your business. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

The 6 Mistakes That Are Ruining Your AdWords Campaigns


Whether you are a seasoned paid search (PPC) master or you’re just starting out, you probably already have a list of optimization items that you go through regularly to make sure that you are staying on top of your campaigns and getting the best results you can (if you don’t, here’s a PPC optimization checklist to get you started). However, as anyone who has ever worked with PPC will tell you: the learning never stops. Below you will find a list of common mistakes that PPC managers often make and that could be not only be preventing your campaigns from reaching their full potential, but also costing you money.

Applying all of Google’s recommendations and “Opportunities”

Take anything that Google tells you with a grain of salt. I have no doubt that they are legitimately trying to be helpful when they offer recommendations, but they are also a business trying to make a profit. Never make any changes to your account just because Google says so, first think of whether those changes are going to further your PPC goals.

Not using Ad Extensions

Ad Extensions aren’t a luxury, they are a necessity. If you are not using ad extensions, you’re missing out on benefits like: increased CTR, improved Ad Rank, potential conversion increase, and increased perceived trust for your brand. You might not be able to use all of the Ad Extensions, but you should at least create Sitelinks and Callouts. 

Here’s a good source to learn about the uses and benefits of Ad Extensions.

Setting campaign budgets based on the monthly desired spend

It’s easy to make this mistake. A client gives you a set monthly budget for PPC and you simply divide this budget by 30.4 (the average number of days per month) to get your total daily budget. Then, you divide this number even more so that all of your campaigns’ budgets add up to your total daily
  • Total monthly budget: $100
  • Total daily budget: $3.29
  • Campaign #1 daily budget: $1.1
  • Campaign #2 daily budget: $1.1
  • Campaign #3 daily budget: $1.1
Except, if you plan your budgets this way, you will end up severely limiting your campaigns’ potential. Instead, my advice is to start thinking of your budgets as a different number than your spend. The spend is the amount of money you actually pay Google, the budget is the amount you are theoretically willing to pay.

Keeping that in mind, what you need to do is set each campaign’s budget to what you think is a reasonable amount for them to acquire a decent impression share/click volume. I usually set a starting daily budget of $30 - $45 for the campaigns with most potential search volume and/or exact match keywords, and a lower daily budget of $15-$25 for the campaigns with lower potential search volume and/or phrase match keywords. I set these daily budgets regardless of the desired monthly spend.

If your accounts are like mine and you have dozens of campaigns running, then you know that a daily spend of $15 per campaign would end up either spending your monthly budget in a matter of days or massively overspending by the end of the month. So to avoid either of those things happening, you have to keep a close eye on your account and make sure that you are never spending more than your desired weekly spend. But, how do I calculate my desired weekly spend? Well, that’s easy: divide your desired monthly spend by 30.4, and multiply that number by 7. So in the example above, your desired weekly spend would be: $23. If you are spending those $23 within the first days of the week, then you know you have to lower your daily budgets (I would recommend lowering the budgets of campaigns with low conversion or click rate). If you are not spending those $23 by the end of the week, then you know you have some room to increase budgets here and there. The main key is to keep a close eye on the spend so you don’t end up having an embarrassing conversation with your clients at the end of the month.

Not using negative keywords

Negative keywords can help you weed out irrelevant searches and clicks that are wasting your money. I recommend checking your search terms report at least once a week and adding all irrelevant search terms as negative keywords.

Not using bid modifiers

Like negative keywords, bid modifiers help you zone in on the audience that is most likely to click and convert. For example: If your accounts have a large amount of historical data, you can determine whether most of your conversions came in from mobile or desktop, on a certain day of the week, or at a certain time of the day. Then, you can use bid modifiers to increase your bids for those particular devices, days, or times.

Landing every keyword to the homepage

Unless you have a very niche set of keywords and a very small website, you need to be landing each group of related keywords to a relevant page within your site. For example: if you have a bakery, you want to land your cake-related keywords on the cake page within your website, and you want to make sure you land your cookie-related keywords on the cookie page. To that point, if you don’t have specific pages within your website for each of your products/services, you might want to consider creating them. The more relevant your landing page is to your keywords, the better your Quality Score; the higher the Quality Score, the higher the Ad Rank and lower Cost per Click.

The beauty of PPC, is that it is constantly changing and evolving, which means that you - as a PPC manager - are never done learning or improving. While it might seem daunting at times, it also makes the whole experience kind of freeing; to know that there is no limit to what you can achieve, learn, and innovate with your PPC campaigns is a great motivation to continue working hard every day.

So, what are some PPC mistakes you have learned from? Do you have some absolute do’s and don't's you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below or tweet to us @SwaggerMedia!

If you're ready to hire a marketing team to build and manage your AdWords campaign, or any other marketing campaign, give us a call at 832.831.7592 or email us at info@swagger-media.com.