Business Advertising Budgets and DIY Tips

If you own a small to medium sized business, you may wonder how much to spend on advertising. What return on investment can you expect from hiring professionals with years of experience in the game? You may also be considering what aspects of marketing may be worth pursuing “in-house”?

First of all, depending on which industry your business is in, companies should spend approximately 5% of total revenues on marketing to maintain their current position.

If you would like to grow your business, the marketing budget needs to increase, usually to at least 10% of revenues.

Highly competitive markets such as retail and consumer products will need to fork out many more dollars to keep and grow their market shares – more like 20-50%.

Using this general rule of thumb, you can calculate a reasonable marketing and advertising budget for your business that fits with your business plan and goals.

Advertising Budgets

This is the equation from

  • Total Revenue x 5% = Marketing budget required to maintain current awareness and visibility
  • Total Revenue x 10% = Marketing budget required to grow and gain market share

Implementing a solid online marketing strategy that includes components such as PPC advertising, search engine optimization, mobile apps and a responsive website, can yield massive market gains.

Take this testimonial from Oracast clients Shell Canada for example:

“The web application that Oracast built us has paid for itself hundreds of times over, and we continue to add features each year to improve our operations.”

Or this testimonial from Snowvalley:

“The build of our new website better reflects our company and is much more helpful to our customer base, as seen by the growth in the number of website viewers increasing by 20%!”

There is no doubt getting experts to work on your business for you can produce profitable results, but what if you have a very limited budget? What can realistically be done in-house?

We recommend that if you do have the time and in-house resources, some aspects of marketing can be achieved successfully. These include an email marketing campaign, social media marketing, such as regularly posting on your Facebook and Twitter pages, and regularly posting on your blog.

No one knows your business better than you do, and positioning yourself as an expert in the field via content marketing can go a long way. If you need to find or create graphics or video to go with the content marketing, we recommend tapping into the endless resources and advice online. A word of caution: do your research and get some basic skills down before going ahead on your own. Take a copywriting class. Learn how to handle graphics, file formats and file transfer protocols if you haven’t had a lot of experience with that already.

Creating a great website or mobile app, doing SEO well, running a PPC ad campaign all involve steep learning curves that usually require a whole team of diverse and skilled individuals that have years of experience to execute well. These aspects of marketing are better left to a well-rounded team.

Good luck! And if you do need a little help along the way, Oracast has the years of experience and diverse team you may just be looking for.

Why Information Architecture and User Experience Is Important

Information Architecture (IA)

What is information architecture (IA)? As per Wikipedia, it’s “the art and science of organizing and labeling data including: websites, intranets, online communities, software, books and other mediums of information, to support usability”.

IA is an important part of website development. It will impact the user experience, the conversion rates and search engine optimization. Understanding keywords and how people search for information online will help when organizing website content. The goal is to create a website people will want to revisit.

User Experience (UX)

UX is how a person feels when visiting a site. How easy the site is to use, the value the site offers visitors, visual appeal and interactive elements all play a role. Search engines take user-friendliness into consideration when ranking a website.

Website Development Phases

The first phase of website development is the planning phase. During this stage we collaborate in gathering information about your ideal clients, create SMART goals, develop a marketing strategy and establish calls to action. This information will be the foundation upon which we build the website.

It’s important we have a clear understanding of who your user’s are and what needs they have when visiting your website so we can meet their needs and develop a great user experience for them.

Once this information is gathered we create the website structure. This may include the keywords, sitemap, and a wireframe which is a simplified sketch of the website navigation and layout. All the content and photos will also be collected in this phase so that it can be organized into the appropriate spaces.

The next phase of the website development is the design phase. The designs are submitted for review to our team and the clients, and all necessary changes and updates are made.

Once the designs are approved the programming phase is complete, more testing and reviews are conducted to ensure each element of the site is working to plan and that it meets the goals and objectives set out in the planning phase. End users are kept top of mind through-out each phase of development to ensure an amazing user experience for all.

Get The Most Out Of Google My Business (for free!)

What is Google My Business? It is an upgraded version of Google+, and it allows you to show up in listings, Google maps and more. Having an account also helps your business rank better on Google.

As an example, you can see in the screen shot below I’ve typed in “dentist Calgary”. You will want your business to show up in Google’s listings for your keywords:


If you have a Google+ account, then Google will have already upgraded this to the newer platform. All you need to do is login and make sure everything is appearing correctly and up-to-date.

If you don’t already have a Google My Business or Google+ account, this is a must-do FREE way to boost your online business presence. All you need to do is sign in to Google with your existing Google account login details (your Gmail email address), or set up a new Gmail account, and get started!


To create a Google My Business account click here.

How to set up an account:

  1. Visit Google My Business Locations.
  2. In the top left corner of the page, click the three dash menu icon  >  Create business account.
  3. Enter a business account name and click Done.

Once you’ve set up your account, you will want to login and make sure that your profile is 100% complete.

Google My Business

You will want to upload as many photos as you can to get the most out of your account. Make sure you’ve titled your photos correctly and add an Alt Tag for the keywords you would like to optimize for your business. To upload photos, click on the “Add Photos” icon.


Write up a solid introduction to your business in this section, and fill in your business name, address and phone number. Make sure this information is consistent across all directories. Search engines will index you easier this way.


You can check out the insights section of Google My Business for stats and reports. This section is similar to Google Analytics where you will be able to see insights into your traffic.

stats and reports

Reviews are an important part of Google My Business. Ask your clients to review your products and services. Send them a link to your Google My Business account so they can post it directly to your page.


It may take some time (possibly up to a week) for Google to get all of your information live on Google maps, so make sure you check back and ensure everything is displaying correctly once it’s live.

If you’d like us to add a Google+ link to your website, simply send us an email or give us a phone call and we’d be happy to add that for you.

We love hearing from our clients! To write a review or testimonial on the Oracast Google My Business page, simply click here.

All the best with your online marketing!!

Email Marketing Software For Lead Nurturing

Email is a great way to turn “on the fence” prospects into buyers. Automated lead nurturing is the process of sending a series of automated emails to prospects. The idea is you set up your emails in advance within an email marketing program, and once your campaign is launched, emails are sent periodically to your list.

The emails can be triggered to send based on an action taken by online visitors, or on a specific time you’ve chosen. Once your email workflow is created and launched, it’s “hand’s off” for you. If set up right, it should provide your potential clients with the right information at the right time, right to their inbox! The email workflow can continue sending emails to new prospects for an unlimited time period (forever!) with no extra effort on your part. (Or you could easily login at any time and update emails with any changing information to keep it current.)

Studies show lead nurturing (also known as drip marketing) pays off. It’s a very effective addition to your online marketing strategy.

“2013 research found that companies excelling at lead nurturing generated 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost (Forrester Research), and that nurtured leads make, on average, 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group).” (

Automated lead nurturing is easy and inexpensive to set-up. There are a number of fantastic email marketing software companies on the market. Over the years, I have used MailChimp, Campaign Monitor and Constant Contact. These 3 companies are the most widely used email marketing programs on the market. Today I will point out the highlights and a few differences.
Read more

Content: The Minimum Your Business Website Needs

With all the hype surrounding content marketing, it can feel like an uphill battle for many small business owners. Content marketing is an online strategy to attract new customers through producing quality content on a continual basis and publishing that content online. This strategy is an effective approach to search engine optimization and utilizing platforms such as social media.

Many business websites however, are lacking even basic website content. A website is the primary face of your business online and content is a preeminent part of your online presence.

It’s crucial for business websites to have at least the bare minimum in website content to build a foundation. What basic content does your website need? We’ve put together a list:
Read more

The Importance Of Online Reviews

Have you Goggled your company lately and taken stock of your online reviews? Most buyers read reviews before purchasing online, and what they find influences their buying decision. Negative reviews can hurt your conversion rates, and no reviews can make it tough to compete online. So how do you build your positive, honest online feedback?

You start with a great product and excellent customer service. Listening to your customers will let you know if they are happy with the products or services you are providing.
Read more

Inbound Marketing Strategies

Inbound marketing is a strategy that draws people to your business by providing prospects with quality content they are already looking for. Examples of inbound marketing strategies include blogging, social media and search engine optimization.

“Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospects’ attention. Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found, and draws customers to the website by producing interesting content.” – Google answers

For more on inbound vs. outbound marketing, click here.

So how does inbound marketing lead to more sales for your business? Let’s take a look at the inbound marketing process:

inbound marketing process
Read more

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is the traditional form of marketing, which is sending messages out. Examples of outbound marketing include cold calls, TV commercials, radio, newspaper ads, direct mail and billboards.

These marketing strategies can still be effective, however return on investment for most companies is usually low and costs can be out of reach. Outbound marketing can also be impossible to track and you may be missing an opportunity to capture your potential clients where they are searching for you… which is usually online.
Read more

Quick Guide To Creating Website Content

Last week I wrote about our “Must-Read Tips For Your Website Project” which included a section on creating website content. Copy writing is a preeminent part of any website project, and many of our clients here at Oracast craft their own content.

If you are in the process of creating content for your new website, here are my top quick tips for you:

  • 1. Grab your audience’s attention with captivating headlines and opening paragraphs. You only get one chance to make a first impression and you need to nail the intro. I find reading The Top 100 Headlines of All Time inspiring when I hit writers block.


  • 2. Get inside your customers head. What problems, pain, frustrations is your business solving? Answer these questions for your clients: What’s in it for me? Why should I believe you? Are you proving that you’re an expert? An authority? Are you trustworthy? Why should they choose you over a competitor?


  • 3. Create a list of benefits that you offer. What are the results and advantages you offer clients? Make sure that your customer has all of the information that they are looking for and don’t forget to highlight the key messages that will help them make a decision to hire you. Will you save them money? Make them money? Make their lives easier?


  • 4. No one knows your product / services better than you do. Speak from your personal experience. Gather stories and tell them to your clients. Don’t just talk about facts and details. Speak to the heart and inspire using stories. “Facts tell, stories sell.” How has your product / service made a difference? Saved time? What was the outcome?


  • 5. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Write as if you are talking to a friend. Think of one person who would be an ideal client and write your content as if you are speaking to that one person.


  • 6. Always have a clear call to action on every page. What step would you like your website visitors to take next? Would you like them to email you? Call you? Click to the next page? Make it clear where you are directing your website visitors.


  • 7. Make your offer irresistible. Offer guarantees. Remove as much risk as possible from the buying decision.


  • 8. Provide social proof such as testimonials with pictures, client logos, or TV/media appearances. Build credibility and trustworthiness through your loyal fans (with their permission of course).


Those are my top copy writing tips for today! Happy writing!

Valentines Day Marketing Tips To Capture The Heart 2016

Valentines Day is less than one month away. Traditional Valentines day gifts are cards, flowers, jewelry and chocolates, however even if your business doesn’t fit into that category, many industries are finding Valentines Day an important opportunity to capture the heart of their clients. Here are a few simple marketing strategies for 2016.

Know Your Audience

According to, men spend twice as much as women on Valentines Day, and many of those men are branching out into online shopping, travel, electronics and other less traditional gifts to surprise their sweet hearts, treat themselves, or even their pets.

You may already have a great idea of who your target audience is. Now is a good time to review your customer profiles. Know what marital status, gender, age group, location, preferences and wealth status your customers fall into and tailor your visuals, messaging and offers for the appropriate group. You can create detailed profiles for several customer types using facebook:

Whether your messaging is sweet or spicy, make sure it will jive with your target audience. Romance doesn’t work so well if all your customers are single. Knowing your target audience will score you more brownie points with your buyers.

Social Media Campaigns

Optimize all of your social media platforms with themed visuals for Valentines Day. Have strong calls to action and create content your specific audience will enjoy so that you can increase the number of shares. Humor or statistics are a great way to engage your audience. Ikea, Gap and Heineken have all dished out humorous advertising leading up to Valentines and can be a source of inspiration. A heartfelt message that connects clients to your business can be touching and memorable. It can also be an awareness month for charity.

valentines day beer ad

ikea valentines day ad

coke ad

Email Campaign

Create a Valentines Day email with a personalized greeting (adding the first name of your customer to the email is effective and can be easily done with a short code).

Include visuals and an interactive element to spark interest. Consider adding a bold call to action button in your email to drive traffic to a specific landing page, or to your special Valentines Day discount. Don’t make readers scroll to the bottom of the email for the call to action, as 80 -90% of readers don’t scroll down. Short and sweet is usually best. For Valentines Day, sending out your email marketing campaign just a few days in advance and leading up to the day is usually the most effective. Unlike Christmas, most businesses don’t gain a lot from sending out emails for this holiday months in advance.

A Unique Landing Page

Set-up a specific landing page devoted to your Valentines Day offer. This is where your social media campaign and emails will drive traffic. This page will be consistent in messaging and imagery as your social media and emails. It’s very import the sales funnel is seamless from one platform to another and the action step you would like your visitors to take is crystal clear and offers real value.

Creating a unique holiday page can be great value for your overall SEO (search engine optimization) as well. As you continue to promote holiday offers every year, customers will come to expect and look forward to your discounts and your landing page will continue to rank well year after year. Just keep it fresh.

It’s About Love!

Most importantly, offer your clients excellent customer service and make them feel special! This is a great time to turn a one-time buyer into a lifer. Reward top clients and send thank-you cards. Share the story of your business and create a connection point. Ensure the shopping experience is a great one from start to finish.