For more than a decade, UpCity’s mission has been—and continues to be—to help businesses find B2B service providers they can trust. The UpCity Recommendability Rating was developed to determine a service provider’s credibility and recommendability, giving UpCity the confidence to recommend them to the more than 2 million businesses that visit their site.
Each year, UpCity analyzes, and scores more than 70,000 service providers based on their UpCity Recommendability Rating and acknowledges the top national and local providers with an UpCity Excellence Award. The results are in, and we won!
“The team at JVI Mobile Marketing treats each client project as if it were their own. They’re everything the UpCity Local Excellence Award values–they’re dedicated, ambitious, and extremely knowledgeable. Congrats to the whole team!”
– Jack Thornburg, VP of Organic Growth, UpCity
This recognition has been driven in large part by our 4.7-star review rating on UpCity. Here are a few of our favorite pieces of feedback we’ve received from our incredible customers:
“I have worked with Jay for several years now. He took the time to understand my business and structure a marketing plan specific to my company's needs. It was not a cookie-cutter approach but a comprehensive look at how he could assist me in growing my business.”
– Robert Mason, March 2021
“He spoke at a webinar for our local chamber of commerce about sales discovery and it was fantastic! It was very informative and he definitely is very knowledgeable! I have learned some things to take with me for my business endeavors!”
– Angela Campbell, March 2021
We believe in leveling the playing field as much as we can because small businesses need digital marketingservices and are the backbone of our economy. Thank you to all our clients throughout the years for helping us achieve this award.
Instagram is often overlooked as a social media platform due to its nature being entirely ‘images’ based. However, this fact alone is what makes Instagram very powerful – it allows you to convey much more emotion and to really make a product or a lifestyle look desirable.
Not only that, but Instagram is the second largest social network behind Facebook. That’s a pretty impressive stat, so you really shouldn’t leave it out of your plans!
In 2018, expect more small businesses than ever to jump aboard the Instagram marketing train. The eye-catching format is easy to use, and provides businesses with tools to keep their audiences engaged and informed.
New features and toolsets, like Instagram Stories, have also expanded what the platform can do for small business owners. Thanks to Instagram’s powerful advertising tools, evolving features, and highly active audiences, small businesses can use the platform to make big gains.
To help your business prepare its digital marketing strategy for the year ahead, take note of the following Instagram and influencer marketing trends that have nearly every small business owner saying, “Oh, that’s Insta-worthy!”
More Small Businesses Using Instagram Marketing
Small businesses have driven huge growth on Instagram. This includes growth of both unpaid organic account posts and paid advertising use.
According to Forbes, Instagram now has over 8 million business profiles. The platform saw 500% growth in the number of business accounts in just a few months last year.
Instagram execs credit the majority of this growth to small business users. Setting up an account is easy, and it’s also just as simple to begin using paid advertising tools to promote posts.
Now, with the advent of features like Instagram Stories, that number has likely soared even higher.
Businesses can therefore use Instagram to get huge reach for their campaigns or fulfill brand awareness goals with just a little bit of effort.
Influencer Marketing Benefits for Small Businesses Stack Up
Big brands aren’t the only ones who use influencers to achieve marketing goals anymore. The ability for social media personalities to drive engagement and direct attention can benefit small businesses, too.
Micro-Influencers Take on Huge Importance with Small Audiences
Some influencers with a million plus followers like Michelle Phan have taken on celebrity status. They get invited to red carpet events and appear on mass broadcast TV ads.
As these average people become megastars, a clear distinction emerges between them and other influencers. Marketing experts have begun to split influencer types into multiple categories as a result.
“Macro-influencers” like Phan, Kim Kardashian and King Bach have millions of followers and a huge range of topics they cover. “Micro-influencers” have a small following of a few hundred to a few thousand people but often follow a much more niche focus.
Small businesses have realized that micro-influencers are not only cheaper to work with, but they also drive campaign goals more effectively. Micro-influencers have this power because their audience feels stronger connections and finds the content posted more directly relevant to their interests.
You can see this connection in micro-influencer engagement rates. Influencers with less than 1,000 followers can engage 8% of their audience on average, while influencers 10 million+ followers only get “likes” from 1.6% of their audience, and an even lower frequency of comments and shares.
Put simply: small business owners can work with micro-influencers to connect more authentically to audiences and drive more consistent action.
Instagram Stories and Live Video Make Engagement a Daily Affair
Instagram stories provide a fun and unique way to engage followers and drive traffic to your web- site. Many businesses have yet to adopt Instagram Story as part of their marketing strategy. However, you can be an early adopter and reap the benefits right now.
Instagram might have started as a fun mobile app, but it has turned into an extremely valuable and powerful marketing tool for companies that know how to use it.
If you create a compelling profile, use hashtags appropriately. Take advantage of new options like Instagram Stories. You can use Instagram to build brand awareness and attract new customers.
“Over 200 million people use Instagram Stories each month,” says Entrepreneur, “which is over 50 million more than those who use Snapchat — and Instagram Stories is just one year old! At this rate, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using Stories by the end of 2018.”
Businesses interested in driving attention towards certain campaigns or maintaining more active engagement with audiences can turn to Stories and Live video to accomplish these goals.
Increasing Demand for Brand Safety and Proof of ROI
The double-edged sword to influencer marketing is that some brands worry about influencers staining their reputation.
Video game streamer PewDiePie, who has the largest YouTube subscriber base of any channel, caused waves after repeatedly using extremely offensive language in his content. Brands that collaborated with PewDiePie had to cut their ties and make statements condemning his actions.
Since influencers are not brand employees, business owners invite a bit of risk when they collaborate with them.
The best way to avoid controversy is to look to influencers’ past behaviors. Ask questions before collaborating in any capacity. Make it clear that your relationship is dependent on a positive image for your business.
Similarly, tie any relationships you have with influencers to concrete KPIs, including ROI. It’s always better to start small with a relationship. After that, establish proof of ROI before committing marketing dollars to a true collaboration.
For instance, try sending an influencer a free gift or just a kind request to highlight your latest campaign. If you like what they do with the information, you can work toward more collaborative content or even an endorsement-type relationship.
Trends in Instagram and Influencer Marketing for Small Businesses Can Help Your Brand Take Off Next Year!
Remember, Instagram is not about instant conversions or links. This is about the long-term benefit, so rate your success in terms of likes, follows and comments – not profit.
Likewise, remember that this is a ‘young’ and ‘hip’ crowd. You need to get to know your actual audience, but you should also get to know the Instagram audience more generally. What you’ll find is that Instagram is a place where ‘in your face marketing messages’ don’t go down well. So, don’t do that!
What’s Your Local Score?
Enter any business name and zip code and see how optimized it is for local search.
When you go online, chances are that a lot of the content you see is in video format – and for good reason. Every day, approximately 100 million people watch at least one video online. So videos are an incredibly effective way of marketing your product and/or service.
If you have been avoiding making videos because you think they will be too expensive or difficult to make, it is time to rethink your marketing strategy.
Video Content Marketing Becomes a Must-Have for Small Businesses
For one, people complete video content more frequently than the average non-visual, text-based blog article. According to Vidyard, over a third of all video viewers (37%) make it to the end of the video’s run time.
Nearly all mobile users who watch video (92%) have a tendency to share video content with others. Simply Measured also says that video gets shared around 12x more frequently than content links or text.
Other studies show that audiences retain video in messaging better than text.
With these advantages, businesses putting video content out there will see higher levels of engagement. They will also see higher levels of shares and conversions into their marketing funnel. Having a video component to your digital marketing strategy will become a competitive differentiator in months ahead.
Business owners looking to get into video can start by transforming existing content assets into a short (around 2.5 minutes or less) summary. Look to the assets with the most views and shares for inspiration.
Video Becomes an Integral Part of the Sales Pipeline
Offering video content helps turn what could be a pushy and person-intensive sales process into a self-service nurturing pipeline. Interested prospects can view video content hosted on websites or shared via social to learn more about products and features. As they educate themselves, they move towards the end of the sales funnel with minimal person-to-person contact.
Self-guided lead nurturing not only reduces employee overhead, it also results in a more pleasant experience for leads. 19% of prospects claim they only want to hear from a company rep when they are actively considering a purchase. 40% of prospects want to be able to buy without talking to anyone at all.
Meeting this need involves considering how video assets can provide value at every stage of the sales/marketing funnel.
For instance, business owners can cultivate awareness by creating emotional or intriguing video advertising assets.
Video content marketing assets provided on their website next to text content can help buyers at the nurturing stage. In-depth explainer videos can help lay out different buying options. It can also lay out the final steps in the procurement process for those ready to close the deal.
“When you incorporate video into your sales processes, customers get what they want: a friction less, self-serve experience on their time, and on their terms,” says WireBuzz.
Think about buyer needs that were once traditionally met with person-to-person interactions. Imagine how video can replace these needs with a self-service, video-heavy customer journey.
Live Video, 360° Video, Slideshows and Other Video Formats Gain Traction
Like everything else online, the world of video marketing is evolving. While you can still upload videos to your YouTube channel and share them online, there’s also a new kid in town – live video.
One of the most accessible options, which allows companies to fully integrate video marketing into their Facebook marketing, is Facebook Live.
Preparing live video into your content marketing and social engagement strategy can quickly round out your assets without a massive up-front investment.
There are a lot of reasons that doing live is a good way to gain more followers. This is something that you should be investing in.
We could go into a lot of detail now about why Live might well be the ‘future’ of social media in many ways. For now, though, suffice to say that for you, it offers a unique way to communicate with your audience. This takes away the limitations of having to wait for a post or a message to be delivered.
Your audience will feel as though they’re getting real insight into your lifestyle, your business and your personality. You will be able to answer their question directly.
This is a fantastic format for a whole range of types of media. From AMAs (Ask Me Anything), to interviews and to product reviews.
On the other end of the spectrum is 360° video. These assets use a special camera setup to capture a full spherical range of images. Audiences can then use a smartphone headset like the Google Daydream to tilt and move their head as the video plays, changing their viewpoint as one might in real life.
360° video results in a truly immersive and memorable experience. However, the high cost of equipment and production means businesses require an airtight strategy for converting 360° videos into measurable returns.
Formats like these lower production costs for video — especially video ads. They still provide higher levels of engagement. Best of all, they can communicate well even without sound.
Billions of users reside on Facebook. The targeting is so specific, you can even turn off ads to people who have clicked on them before. It can also be inexpensive if you know what you’re doing. No wonder it’s one of the top advertising platform for marketers.
In the next year to come, we can all expect Facebook to evolve in deeper ways. These evolutions include both new features and shifts in the way business will be able to use Facebook ads to reach prospects.
Let’s explore the most important Facebook advertising trends for 2018. With them, you can improve your marketing funnel and hopefully find more leads than ever in the coming year.
The Importance of Facebook Video Ads
Video marketing is a powerful way to connect with customers. A well-made video can be entertaining, informative and very engaging. It can allow you to provide valuable information to your customers.
Video is one of the most shareable forms of online content, too, which makes it ideal for many businesses who know they can count on their customers to be brand ambassadors and share the video on social media.
In addition to video ads, Facebook has been quietly diversifying their ad inventory. Marketers and small business owners can use these ad formats to accomplish specific business goals.
Carousel ads can use multiple images, multiple offers, or multiple USPs in one go, providing a richer experience and a more compelling CTA.
Slideshow ads use lightweight video to load faster and intrude less on the browsing experience. They can be a great transition for small businesses looking to create more video.
Collection ads allow users to browse through multiple products or informational pages in-app. This grows awareness while generating less friction compared to an outbound link.
Canvas mobile Facebook ad formats transform your ad from a single video or image into a full screen, scrolling experience. Use them to showcase high-quality assets or nurture prospects further along in the buy cycle.
Dynamic ads can use a single ad template to promote several products or create customized pitches for different segments. These ads maximize relevance and returns while helping you A/B test more quickly.
Link ads include a prominent, customizable CTA button to direct prospects to a landing page or offer. They encourage action, increasing conversions.
Lead ads incorporate a lead capture form directly in the app! We’ll explain the significance of this ad type and similar formats below.
Understanding and taking advantage of these Ad Types will be a large key to success.
Facebook Likes to Keep People On The Facebook Platform
Ad formats like lead ads and collection ads keep audiences in-app as they interact with your brand.
For instance, Lead ads pull up a lead capture form in-app and auto populates it with information from the users Facebook user profile. This feature dramatically reduces friction in your marketing funnel, encouraging more prospects to convert thanks to the simpler process. You also reduce the number of needed assets by getting rid of certain landing pages.
Because of these abilities, Hubspot asserts that Lead ads can “skyrocket conversion rates and make mobile ads more effective for B2B marketers.”
Understanding Facebook’s goals for their user experience will enable you to get the most out of your Facebook advertising budget.
Facebook is the largest social media site, and its users have a very high level of engagement, with many of them visiting the site multiple times each day.
You probably already have a Facebook page, but if you’re not also using some of Facebook’s paid advertising options for local businesses, you’re missing out on some concrete and affordable ways to attract new customers to your website.
While social media offers an easy way to reach out to users wherever they live, local businesses need to be able to focus their advertising on the people who are most likely to turn into customers.
Facebook Local Awareness Ads are a great way to do that. To run one, all you need is a Facebook page for your business that includes your street address. Facebook will take care of the targeting based on your zip code.
Of course, you’ll need to write a good ad and include a compelling image. But after you do that, Facebook offers an array of ways to engage with customers using their call to action buttons:
Message Now is a button that lets customers send a private message right to your inbox, which can be great if you want to encourage questions.
Call Now is a button that allows mobile users to call your business with the click of a button. It’s a very important feature to consider if you feel that the majority of your customers are accessing social media on their mobile devices.
Get Directions lets customers get interactive directions to your business using their mobile devices.
Learn More will redirect customers to the page of your choice on your website, allowing you to share valuable information with them or encourage them to sign up for your list.
All the above options can help increase traffic to your site. Because Facebook ads are pay-per-click, you get the benefit of exposure because many customers who see your ad might not click it.
It might be tempting to think that a customer who doesn’t click is one who found the ad to be ineffective. Just remember – many customers need more than one engagement with a brand before they make a purchase.
A customer who sees your ad several times over the course of a month may walk into your store one day without ever having clicked your ad.
Take Advantage of Facebook Advertising Trends in 2018 and Beyond
By looking to the above Facebook Advertising trends your business can find greater successes in reaching your ideal prospects to grow in 2018.
Make sure you combine your Facebook Advertising strategy with other digital marketing practices for maximum gains.
What’s Your Local Score?
Enter any business name and zip code and see how optimized it is for local search.
The social media giant is undeniably a powerhouse when it comes to marketing small businesses. And given how likely consumers are to connect with local brands on social media, it should come as no surprise that Facebook searches are making inroads against Google.
Two billion people have a ton of collective knowledge, and Facebook is now putting that knowledge to work for local businesses.
When a user checks in at a local business on Facebook, they get a series of questions about the business – questions designed to help other users learn about it.
For example, they might be asked:
Does this business have available parking?
Does your map show the correct location of this business?
The benefit of this type of crowdsourcing is clear. It ensures that anybody who searches your business on Facebook will have access to accurate and detailed data about your business to help them decide whether to buy from you.
#4: Friend Posts and Local Search Are Integrated
Would you be more likely to frequent a local business if you knew your friends liked it?
Even reviews from strangers on sites like Yelp carry a lot of weight, with 88% of people saying they read reviews at least some of the time.
Facebook now uses Friend check-ins and posts in combination with local search.
What does that mean? When you search for a local business, you might see an announcement that the business was “visited by friends.”
You can click to see which friends have visited. And when you search for a business, you will also get Friend Posts in your search results so you can see what your friends have to say.
#5: Facebook Has Created City Guides
Which would you rather do when you visit a new city: go to a business that caters to tourists or visit one that the locals love?
If you’re like a lot of people, you’d choose the latter option. Now, Facebook local search makes it easy for people to find out what the locals say about your business – and for locals to get to know about your business in a new way.
In addition to displaying business information such as location, hours, and reviews, the city guides also show which friends have visited each business listed.
Make the Most of Your Facebook Profile
Want people to be able to find you on Facebook? Here are some quick steps you can take to make it easy for them.
Fill out your profile completely. Make sure that your name, address, and phone number are listed properly and consistent with other online listings.
When you put in your address, check to make sure that Facebook displays a map with a pin at the top of your profile. (It should show up automatically, but doesn’t always!)
Answer as many questions as you can, even if it means simply answering “no” to questions that don’t apply to you. This eliminates the need for crowdsourcing and ensures accuracy.
Activate Facebook buttons like “Call” and “Make an Appointment” to streamline the interaction process.
Add additional business categories if they apply to you. You only need to provide one, but adding additional options can broaden the chances that people will find you.
Providing Facebook with the information needed to help searchers find you is easy – and can have a huge impact on your traffic.
Google Still Matters…
… But Facebook matters too when it comes to local search.
Take a few minutes to optimize your business description and page – and see the difference that local Facebook traffic can make to your business.