Macbook Pro image

2017 Macbook Pro Review

I recently purchased a 2017 Macbook Pro (the 13 inch model, without the Touchbar).  Mostly I love the machine, but there are a few drawbacks as well.  I thought a review in layman’s terms might be helpful, as I’m far from a tech expert.

The new Macbook Pro comes in two colors; the standard Apple silver and the new space grey.  I picked space grey, and it’s a beautiful laptop.  You can get the base model with as little as 128 gb of hard drive space and 8 gb of RAM, but you can’t upgrade either of these later on (the laptop is sealed).  As such, I opted to increase the hard drive capacity to 256 gb (you can go up to 512 gb or even 1 tb, but that much space is unnecessary for me).  I recommend that you increase your hard drive capacity though, as we all seem to need more space these days.

I use my computer mostly for work and web browsing, though I do maintain a sizeable photo library (mostly pictures of golf courses and my kids).  The new Macbook Pro easily handles all of these applications with speed an reliability, and the retina display is absolutely stunning, especially with your pictures.  The included software suite has Apple’s version of Word (Pages), Excel (Numbers), and Powerpoint (Keynote).  I use all of these programs for work, and while you can go back and forth between the two, I recommend that you purchase and install the Microsoft Office Suite for Macs if you use these programs for work.

Being a very small laptop (13 inches diagonally and a mere 3 pounds) the new Pro is great for travel and for everyday work, but a large monitor would be a good idea if you do most of your work at a desk.  That gives you the best of both worlds (portability and ease of viewing).  With a relatively small display many of the programs are condensed, especially if you’re using it for a few hours at a time.

The only other drawback is the price.  While Apple has worked hard to introduce a scaled-down, entry-level Macbook Pro model for “only” $1,299, doubling the hard drive capacity bumps up the price to $1,499, and adding more RAM or the new Touchbar feature (which I think is overrated and unnecessary) adds hundreds more to the price.  Factor-in tax and you could easily spend $2,000 or more for the 13 inch model, or $2,500+ for the larger, more powerful 15 inch model.  And that’s a lot of money for a new laptop.

In my humble opinion, the new 13 inch Macbook Pro sans Touchbar is worth the price, especially if you tend to keep your high-end purchases for a long time like I do.  You can find cheaper PC laptops out there, but for the money, the new Macbook Pro is a real winner.

best seo company Denver

The differences between local and national SEO

DanMatt Media has all types of SEO clients.  Some are small companies that only service a single metro area, and some are large companies that service the entire country, and even other countries overseas.  Some sell local services, and some are eCommerce clients that sell their products nationwide.

As nice as it would be to have a single SEO solution for all of them, it just doesn’t work that way.  The goal of any SEO campaign is to have your organic ads pop-up as close to the # 1 spot (on page 1) of Google as possible, for the keywords that are most important to your business.  But the ways that you go about that vary by industry, budget, and geographical scale.

Local SEO campaigns are limited in scope (geography) and typically by budget.  Most are small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) that service a single metro area, or perhaps a smaller state.  Typically these clients benefit by focusing on ranking well for a smaller number of keywords, by utilizing geo-targeted keywords (ex. Denver plumber), and by obtaining top placement/listings on sites like Google My Business and Yelp.  They are typically much more budget-conscious than large companies, and they scrutinize their results carefully each month.

For local SEO, we tend to focus our efforts on obtaining great rankings in the local map section of Google, top placement for their geo-targeted keywords, and of course on developing a robust local citation program.  Owing to the reduced budgets with smaller, locally-focused businesses, this can sometimes take more time, but this strategy proves very effective within 12 months of account inception, and often much quicker than that.

On the other hand, national SEO campaigns tend to be run for larger companies, with bigger budgets and a need for greater keyword coverage.  Rather than focusing on their top 10 – 20 keywords, we often find that these clients can require coverage for 50, 100, or even 1,000 keywords, especially if their business model is an eCommerce site where customers can purchase products directly from the website.  Local map optimization is not a factor, and typically geo-targeted keywords are not nearly as important.  We spend a lot more time on custom back-linking and guest/offsite blogging for our larger, national SEO clients, and their larger and more robust budgets allow us to do so.  Typically they see results much faster than smaller, local clients do, but given enough time we can usually obtain great rankings for anyone, regardless of their budget or their geographical service area.

The one thing this post does not address are the unique methodologies we employ to create fully customized, ROI-positive campaigns.  For that, you’ll need to sign up with us for our SEO services!

 

money image

Yikes! New cars are crazy expensive these days.

Is it me, or has anyone else noticed how expensive new cars and trucks have gotten?  According to a study done by USA Today, the average price of a new car in the US is now almost $35,000.  That price has been steadily increasing by more than 2% year-in and year-out for quite some time now.  So why have new cars become so expensive to buy?

There are several likely reasons why this has happened.  For starters, the economy is better now than it was between 2007 and 2011, which means more people are buying automobiles.  When demand goes up, supply goes down, and the price increases follow suit.  Though the FED has raised interest rates this year, they remain historically low, and that encourages people to borrow money for big purchases like automobiles.  It’s simple economics.

Another reason that vehicle prices have increased is that more expensive luxury items are now being offered on automobiles across the entire price spectrum.  It used to be that goodies like navigation systems, heated and ventilated seats, HID headlights, adaptive cruise control, and parking assist were only to be found on expensive luxury models.  But you can now obtain those cool gadgets on entry level cars and trucks, for an additional fee of course.  And all those premium upgrades drive up the cost of the new vehicle.

My car is 10 years old and has 120,000 miles on it.  To be honest it has more wrong with it than right with it.  But with the cost of buying a new car going up every year, and the damage my kids do to the backseat and doors, I think I’ll hold onto it for as long as I can.

 

mobile search engine optimization

Introducing our new service: Search to Call

We have a brand new service to offer our clients, and we’re very excited about it.  It’s called Search to Call, and it’s the digital component to our print advertising solution.

Unlike many of the digital marketing channels, which focus on clicks and impressions, Search to Call drives qualified phone calls (leads) to our client’s businesses.  It has the enormous advantage of being a performance-based offering, which helps to mitigate risk for our customers.  So how does it work?

Let’s say you’re an electrician with a local shop, serving a single metro area.  And you need more business.  We would create your digital ad and display it to our online yellow page audience in your service area.  We would track the phone calls (leads) using a unique phone number, and you would pay a flat fee for each of those calls.  The same would be true if you were a national business, say an online florist, serving all 50 states.  Again, we would create a custom ad for you, display that ad to our online yellow page audience (this time on a national basis), and you would pay a flat rate for each of the phone calls (leads) that came through that unique phone number.  But since you’re only paying for qualified phone call leads (as opposed to clicks or impressions), it is about as low-risk as you will find in the world of advertising.

Many types of businesses, in all kinds of industries, will benefit from this new offering.  It is a performance-based solution that drives exactly what business owners need; new leads.  It is highly targetable by both industry and location, and it is the perfect addition to your existing online and offline marketing campaigns.

To find out how Search to Call can benefit your business, give us a call or send us a website inquiry today!

 

blog_worried_man

All of you guys are dirtbags…

“You’re all dirtbags”.  “Everyone in your industry is a crook and a liar”.  “What you guys do doesn’t work”.

Sadly we’ve heard all of these things when prospecting for new clients.  We’ve even heard these things from personal injury lawyers (true story)!  None of these statements are true of course, but they usually come about because business owners have partnered with the wrong marketing agencies for their SEM and SEO campaigns.  They were promised results (typically with unrealistic timeframes) and when they didn’t get them, it soured their take on the entire online advertising industry.  They felt like they’d been taken for the proverbial ride.

As we approach our 23rd year in business this month (virtually unheard of for a digital advertising agency), I wanted to take a few minutes and dispel some of these rumors.  Not everyone in the SEM and SEO industry is a dirtbag.  We’re not all crooks and liars.  And the services we offer do work (very well in fact), provided you partner with the right agency and you have realistic expectations.

The goal of any reputable marketing company is to place their clients in a position to be successful.  That’s it.  It’s not to quintuple a client’s ROI, or bring them tons of new business every month.  Those goals are laudable, but they are not under the agency’s control.  Think about it.  No one can force a customer to do business with someone, even if they see a perfectly formatted and highly-relevant ad at the very top of the search engines.  It just doesn’t work that way.  But getting that perfectly formatted and highly-relevant ad at the very top of Google is precisely what we strive for.

Unfortunately anyone with a shingle and a dream can call themselves a digital marketing agency.  You don’t have to graduate from advertising school or pass the marketing version of the Bar Exam.  And because of that, there are a lot of people out there promising huge results from SEM and SEO campaigns, despite not really knowing what they’re doing.  It’s why we always take time to educate our prospective clients on what it is that they can expect from us, what we control and what we do not control, and the realistic timeframes for success.  None of that guarantees that a client will be happy with their digital marketing campaign, but it does guarantee that they will be well-informed and not misled.

If you’ve tried working with some of the less-than-scrupulous people in this industry, and you’re frustrated with their lack of transparency and lack of results, give us a try.  After all, you don’t stay in a cutthroat industry like ours for 23 years if you don’t know what you’re doing.

 

blog-gladiator

Is this the beginning of the end of performance-based marketing?

About 100 years ago I got my start in performance-based marketing.  I went to work for an affiliate network here in Denver that specialized in CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) advertising.  In their case, the advertisers (clients) paid them a flat rate once a goal was reached, typically a website submission, a completed survey, or a purchased product.  The agency would keep a percentage of the flat rate per completed goal, and the rest would be paid out to a network of publishers (basically websites who had online traffic).  It was my job to sell that service to advertisers around the world.

From a sales standpoint, it was ideal.  By only paying for a completed action, the advertiser could shift much of the risk to the publishers.  After all, if no one completed the survey or purchased the product, the advertiser didn’t have to pay us anything.  We had plenty of competition of course, but it was a lot easier to sell performance-based marketing than traditional media placements, or even newer-age media buys like SEM and SEO.

But there is a dark side to this form of performance-based advertising (usually called affiliate marketing).  The internet is very big and very anonymous, and many of these traffic sources are not the types of publishers that a client is looking for.  All of these campaigns, whether lead gen or product sales, are re-brokered to various affiliate networks, ad exchanges, and traffic sites.  When that happens, your potential for volume and traffic increases exponentially, but so does your exposure to fraud, invalid traffic, rewards/incentives that drive down traffic quality, and violations of Can-Spam laws.  You can tell an affiliate network or publisher what type of traffic you want and don’t want, but it doesn’t guarantee that they, or their sub-affiliates, will follow your requests.  And when they don’t, it can put businesses at risk.  For this reason, I’d say about 75% of the affiliate networks and publishers I used to work with are now out of business.  The industry has consolidated and shrunk considerably, because there is too much fraud, too much bad traffic, and not enough policing/enforcing of rules and regulations.  I saw the writing on the wall and left that industry about 9 years ago.

We still offer a few performance-based solutions, but not nearly as many as we used to.  These days, DanMatt Media offers pay-per-call in our print division, and market research survey recruitment in our digital division.  Both are performance-based (our advertisers pay us for phone call leads and completed surveys), and both offer tremendous traffic quality, because we work hard to ensure that we only partner with traffic sources that play by the rules and do things the right way.  But because that’s often not the case with affiliate networks, we no longer run affiliate marketing campaigns.  It’s just too difficult to ensure that everyone plays by the rules.

I suspect performance-based marketing will continue for many years to come.  It’s attractive to advertisers and you can still make money doing it.  And while the affiliate marketing channel that I mentioned above still exists, it’s a shell of what it once was.  If you find the right affiliate network, and that network is open and transparent about who their sources are and where their traffic is coming from, it can work well.  But be warned, there are a lot of sharks out there…

marketing agency Denver

Do you travel for work?

I’ll be honest.  I’m not much of a fan of business travel.

Fortunately I don’t have to travel all that much for work.  I might do 5-6 work trips a year, and those usually entail visiting our company headquarters in the DC area and meeting with new clients in-person (which I very much enjoy).  I’ll occasionally travel to a trade show, but work travel isn’t a huge part of my job.  Most of what I do is over the phone and on the computer, and that’s a good thing, because traveling these days is a real mess.

Flying is terrible, with 17 inch wide seats (and every one of them is taken), travelers attempting to cram huge bags into the overhead bins to avoid paying baggage fees, long lines in the security area, and of course the ubiquitous delays (my flight out to Washington DC this week was an hour late, due to mechanical issues).  The TSA defines incompetence, and even the nicest hotels are still just hotels.  Nothing beats the comforts of home.

But business travel is very much a reality for a lot of people.  My wife travels at least once a month, and sometimes twice a month, for her job (she’s in marketing for a large food company).  Consultants are often gone Monday through Thursday of every single week when they’re on a project.  I don’t know how they do it, especially when you have young children.  It’s tough being gone that much.

We’re fortunate to live at a time when technology has made the world much smaller.  Smartphones, the internet, and video conferencing have all diminished the need for business travel, and by and large I think that’s a good thing.  Some business travel cannot be avoided, but for the most part it is entirely possible to work with clients and vendors all over the world without actually having to meet with them face-to-face.

Maybe if I could score a few first class upgrades my outlook on business travel would change…

IMG_4012

Great golf in Colorado

Colorado may not be the state you think of when you’re talking about great golf courses.  In my opinion the states with the best collection of golf courses (in order) are New York, California, and Illinois.  But that doesn’t mean that Colorado doesn’t have great golf courses to choose from.

Compared to the states above I would say that Colorado is a little weak in the private course category, but there are still many good options.  In Denver metro, iconic Cherry Hills Country Club (which has hosted several US Opens, PGA Championships, the US Amateur and the BMW Championship) reigns supreme.  A solid front nine and a very good back nine make this the gem of the Denver area.  Denver Country Club, located just a few miles from Cherry Hills, is a wonderful, old, tree-lined course steeped in history and tradition.  A little south of Denver lies Castle Pines Golf Club, which in this author’s opinion is the finest golf course in the state.  Castle Pines hosted the PGA Tour’s International Event for 21 years, has the best design/layout in the state, and a majestic view on just about every tee (the photo above is the par 3 11th hole, check out that view!).  The conditioning is superb, and the staff could not more friendly or helpful.  Colorado Golf Club, which has already hosted a Champions Tour major, is another strong pick.

In the mountains, Country Club of the Rockies and Red Sky Ranch (both near Vail) are the finest private options in the high country.  Both offer superb conditions and magnificent views of the surrounding peaks.  Unfortunately, every single one of the private clubs I just listed are very expensive (initiation fees often run into the 6 figures, with monthly dues around $1,000 per month) and are very difficult to get into, but if you have the opportunity to play any of them as a guest (or the contacts and money to join), you won’t be disappointed.

It’s on the public course side where Colorado golf really shines.  In my opinion, the best public course in the state is the East course at the Broadmoor Resort, in Colorado Springs.  The East course has hosted several USGA national championships, and is a classic Donald Ross design.  It’s expensive at around $250 per round, but well worth the price.  Inverness Resort and Omni Interlocken Resort offer superb conditioning and a higher-end daily fee experience (typically north of $100 per round, and both offer annual memberships to the public as well).  For more affordable options check out Riverdale Dunes, Bear Dance, and The Ridge at Castle Pines North.  All offer good conditions, nice design features, and greens fees under $65 per round.

In the high country, there are many great public golf options.  Breckenridge Golf Club, the River Course at Keystone Ranch, and Pole Creek are all excellent daily fee choices.  For higher-end options, you can play at Red Sky Ranch if you are staying in one of the club’s preferred hotels, and The Raven at Three Peaks offers outstanding conditions and scenery.

If you’re looking for surprisingly good golf courses, check out Colorado.  You’ll love it here.  And remember, thanks to the thin air the ball flies a lot further and straighter out here, which makes any round more enjoyable.

washington dc search engine optimization

Are you an attorney looking for more calls? We can help you!

We speak with a lot of prospective clients in the legal industry.  Family and divorce lawyers, criminal defense and personal injury attorneys, etc.  Most of them have the same problem; they’re not getting enough business out of their online marketing efforts.

Many of these attorneys have tried SEO in the past, and it didn’t work for them.  It didn’t produce enough (sometimes any) phone call leads, and the law firm lost money on the SEO campaign.  We run SEO campaigns for attorneys too, and we do a great job, but there are very few spots on page 1 of Google.  If you’re not on page 1, you’re nowhere to be found, and it can take a very long time to obtain page 1 placement in these highly competitive industries.

If SEO wasn’t the culprit, perhaps they signed up with an attorney-focused marketing company, such as Avvo, Justia, or Martindale-Hubbell.  They pay these companies thousands of dollars every month for new business, but it almost never works out.  The reason for that is simple.  These websites have hundreds, even thousands, of competing attorneys on the same pages, in the same practice areas, and in the same metro regions.  There is literally no way to differentiate one attorney or law firm from another, so it’s luck of the draw if visitors call you versus one of your competitors.  You’re entrusting your marketing budget to chance.  That’s where our SEM solution comes in…

SEM, or pay per click, is a GREAT way for attorneys to grow their businesses.  In last month’s blog post I highlighted the differences between SEO and SEM, and in an effort to make our SEM services more affordable to attorneys, we have created some very attractive entry-level price points.  Depending on the type of law you practice and the areas you serve, we can run an entry-level SEM campaign for as little as $2,500 per month.  That gives you top of page 1 placement on Google (when your ad is shown), and unlike with SEO, there is no waiting for the results to start coming in.  You WILL receive targeted clicks, and likely new phone calls leads, in month 1.

So if you are an attorney looking to expand and grow your practice, give our SEM solution a try.  We have a decade of experience running these types of campaigns for attorneys, and with our new entry-level pricing solution almost any law firm can afford our expert digital marketing services.  What are you waiting for?

best seo company Denver

The tradeoffs with SEO and SEM (pay per click)

First of all, a very happy new year to the handful of people reading our first blog post of 2017.  All of us at DanMatt Media hope you have a wonderful year ahead of you.

Ok, onto the topic at hand.  One of the biggest questions I’m asked by prospective digital marketing clients is the difference between SEO and SEM (pay per click).  Both channels use the world’s largest search engines (Google and Bing) to advertise your company’s products and services.  Both have ads that are triggered by select keywords that are relevant to the type of business you have.  And both are an outstanding way to advertise and reach/sign new clients.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is organic search, meaning you are not paying everytime someone clicks on your ad.  As such, budget is not a concern, and your organic ad will run 24/7.  It will never come down.  Our version of SEO involves both on-site work (optimizing your meta data and title tags, rewriting content, adding schema optimization, etc) and off-site work (custom link building, video SEO promotion, citation building, etc).  Both are necessary to improve your rankings and drive more eyeballs to your website.

The great aspects of SEO are that it is always less expensive than pay per click, and that your ad will never come down due to budget restrictions.  The downside to SEO is that it takes time to reach page 1 of Google.  Typically at least 6 months, and sometimes it can take a year to get there.

With SEM (pay per click) you ARE paying everytime someone clicks on your ad.  When your daily or monthly budget is exhausted, your ads will no longer show until your budget renews (the next day or the next month).  As such, you must have a large enough budget to be able to run your campaign for at least a few hours per day, and at least 4 or 5 days per week.  Your budget has to be robust enough to allow you to bid on at least some of the important keywords that you are after.  What all of this means is that the downside to SEM is that it is always more expensive than SEO.

But the great value-add that a DanMatt Media SEM campaign brings to the table is day 1 results.  You will literally be on page 1 of Google, in the coveted Top 4 positions at the top of the page, for at least some of the keywords you need right away.  We will not take-on a new SEM campaign if the budget doesn’t allow us to obtain some of those top ranking positions, so what you are getting for the increased price is immediate results.  With SEM, you’re going to start receiving phone call leads in your very first month.

There are always trade-offs in life, and marketing is no exception.  SEO should be viewed as a longterm marketing solution that you use every single month.  It is less expensive than SEM, but takes longer to generate an ROI.  On the other hand, SEM campaigns can be run seasonally (they are perfect for seasonal businesses) and generate immediate results.  They are more expensive, but typically obtain a positive ROI very quickly.  Whatever your marketing needs may be, we can help you.  Give us a call or send us a website inquiry to find out which service is right for you.