By Carrie Cousins

Thank you to Valley Business FRONT for featuring our Director of Digital Marketing, Carrie Cousins, in their April 2024 issue.

Recently a job candidate came to the interview, and I never saw his face. 

In another instance, someone was wearing a hoodie (hood up no less) during a meeting with people from multiple companies. 

And in a one-on-one meeting, the other person chomped an apple while we talked social media strategy. 

All of these meetings were online and beg the question: What message are you sending during Zoom/Teams/Google meetings? Do we live in a work culture so casual that body language can be disregarded? 

Regardless of the reason, you are sending the wrong message to the person on the other side of the screen. No matter how much zoom fatigue you may be experiencing, it’s time to turn the cameras back on, dress professionally (at least from the waist up), and make virtual eye contact. 

These things tell everyone you are meeting with that they are important and you care about what they have to say. And if you don’t … then why are you having the meeting in the first place?

Here are some of the unintended messages you might be sending.

  • Camera off: I’m not paying attention to what’s going on here.
  • Improper or casual dress: You aren’t important to me.
  • Eating or having food/drink on camera: I’m bored. 
  • Pets on camera: I was too lazy to close the door. 
  • Turn around and talk to someone else: They are more important than you.
  • Entering the meeting late: Your time does not matter to me. 

Here are some messages you should try to send:

  • Blurred background: I’m working from home or a busy office today and don’t want to create distractions.
  • Unblurred background: I value authenticity and trust you in my space.
  • Proper positioning: I took the time to prepare for this meeting by aligning my camera.
  • Maintain eye contact (look at the camera while speaking and while others are speaking to you): I value your thoughts and time. 
  • Mute strategically: I understand there are distractions and noise in my space and I’m trying to keep those to a minimum.

Because video meetings can be efficient and make it easy to communicate with clients all over the world, they are unlikely to go away. 

But you must be present and treat video calls with the same care that you would if you were meeting in person. Otherwise, you might end up like that candidate who didn’t turn on his camera – unappreciated and unemployed. 

Carrie Cousins is the Director of Digital Marketing at LeadPoint Digital in Roanoke. For 15+ years, she has helped businesses tell their stories and get better results online with practical digital marketing strategies. She also an active leader in AAF, serving on the local and district boards, and is an adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. 

The technology community in Roanoke and Blacksburg is a dynamic ecosystem bursting with world-changing innovation. And no one knows that better than the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC). As a member-driven association, the RBTC is working to build a community that is a catalyst for innovation, inspiration, success, and leadership within the Roanoke-Blacksburg region.

In 2022, the RBTC came under new leadership. To reflect this change, they wanted an updated website and a digital strategy to communicate their vision and reengage with their membership. They turned to LeadPoint Digital for help in leveraging digital communication to add value to the tech community through high-quality information and meaningful opportunities for collaboration.

Phase One: Research

LeadPoint Digital did a deep-dive into website content and analytics to better understand RBTC and develop a digital strategy to help them rebuild membership, event attendance, and connection to talent under new leadership. LeadPoint Digital conducted a discovery meeting with RBTC to identify goals and objectives for the technology-based organization moving forward and dove into past website analytics to see what was and was not working on the current website. 

As a member-based nonprofit, RBTC engages with the entire technology community from CEOs, to entrepreneurs to up-and-coming talent. A critical component of the website and overall strategy was identifying key audiences so RBTC could communicate clearly and directly. LeadPoint identified established members, prospective members, and anyone with a connection to the tech community as major audience segments. 

Finally, LeadPoint established an approachable visual feel and tone for the website that was inclusive of all segments of the technology community, industry news, and key members/sponsors. 

Phase Two: Implementation

The website redesign was a 6-month process that started with development of a sitemap and navigation structure. LeadPoint collected assets and wrote new content in keeping with the accessible branding and created a new visual design to better showcase the RBTC. 

A major strategy was to include calls-to-action and registration as primary design elements in the website. This created a highly usable website that guided the user to important information and action. Other important planning and implementation milestones included:

  •  Creating audience/user paths to direct action and website conversions
  • Connectivity with analytics tools to keep track of user paths
  • Create a design that would appeal to a technology audience 
  • Development of a robust calendar system for event registrations
  • Link to membership login portal/CRM and tools

Finally, LeadPoint helped develop new content that would add value to the technology community. Content was branded consistently with the new RBTC design and was easily shareable across channels for maximum impact.

Phase Three: Results

The new website launched in February 2022 and the results were cause for celebration! RBTC’s new website created a direct line of communication with its core audience which resulted in a significant increase in traffic. 

  • In the first two months following launch, the website averaged more than 3,000 unique visitors (the prior year average was 500 unique visitors per month)
  • Year over year (ending Sept. 30, 2022), website unique visitors increased 69%, total visitors increased 58%, and direct traffic (typing in rbtc.tech) leapt 300%
  • Traffic data shows high user flows on key pages: Events, News, and Membership
  • A year after the website launch in February 2023, website visits were up 400% year-over-year while search engine traffic jumped 700%

Contact LeadPoint for a Digital Strategy that Works

What sets LeadPoint Digital apart is our commitment to understanding our clients so we can create strategy that drives results. We have decades of experience running digital marketing departments and creating agile strategies for companies of all sizes and in almost any industry. 

We work to ensure you get the most out of your relationships and digital efforts. If you’re ready to optimize your strategy, get in touch! We’d love to hear from you.

By Carrie Cousins

Thank you to Valley Business FRONT for featuring our Director of Digital Marketing, Carrie Cousins, in their March 2024 issue.

When it comes to online real estate – your website, social presence, email, and more – where your assets live can make a big difference.  

Renting versus owning your digital home can impact everything from control of your brand and assets to search engine optimization. Just like with real estate, owning your assets provides protection against market fluctuations and the peace of mind that your content is truly yours.  

What is “Renting” an Online Presence? 

When you rent your online presence, you are using someone else’s tools or platform as a home for your brand, content, and information. This topic has gained importance recently as Google announced that all business profiles using the free website option lose those websites on March 1.  

That’s rented real estate and you have no choice but to move – quickly.  

While most of you probably don’t have a free Google website, you may be doing this same thing with other platforms.  

The most common rental is social media. Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and others are all valuable places to put business information, but you can’t control the delivery of the content or if the platform will even exist tomorrow. (Yes, a social media channel could shut down and all your content goes with it.) 

Other “rental” solutions include popular website platforms like Squarespace or Wix, where you build a website in a builder that includes your domain registration and hosting. If that platform were to shutter, where would your content be? (The answer is likely nowhere or in the hands of the owner that is most likely going to make major changes to the platform.)

Yes, renting a digital home is easy and somewhat effortless, but you are at the mercy of the provider any time something changes.  

  • Your website provider has a rate increase? You have to pay it.  
  • Facebook knocks your content out of their algorithm unless you pay for ads? You have to find additional budget to reach the same customers.  
  • Your website platform discontinues service? You have to rebuild fast.  

Why “Owning” is a Better Investment 

When you own your online presence, you have access to all of your digital assets that can’t be revoked or taken away by a third party. Elements like your logo variations, photos, and video fall into this category if you store the files using a physical or cloud server. (Plus, a backup is recommended.) 

Other things you can own include your domain name, website, and email list. 

Generally, you know a digital asset is owned because it likely includes an upfront investment of time, setup, and/or money. Just like owning a home, these investments can increase in value over time. (Did you know search engines value domains that have been around a long time?) 

What’s probably most important about owning your digital assets is that you have control to change, move, or transfer digital assets between accounts or even marketing agencies on your own. Any reputable partner will work with you on accounts, ensuring that both parties have access to everything. It’s a red flag if someone won’t give you access to your business account information, such as a domain or website access.    

Rent vs. Own 

Rented assets are quick, cheap, and don’t come with any maintenance. The biggest risks are closure or cost inflation. Use this option for things that don’t generate much revenue for your business or if an ownership option is not available.  

  • Rent: Social media, email marketing provider, review sites or maps (such as Google My Business or Yelp), digital advertising platforms, licensed media or tools 

The benefit to owning is that you are building brand and online equity at the same time. You have control of your online presence and assets and can even monetize them. You should own all revenue-driving aspects of your business (such as a website that’s driving leads or sales for your business). 

  • Own: Domain, website, media storage, email list, analytics or historical data, your created content (blogs, photos, videos)  

Owning your digital house is a worthwhile investment. Think of it as your company’s dream home, providing long-term value as you grow your business. 

Carrie Cousins is the Director of Digital Marketing at LeadPoint Digital in Roanoke. For 15+ years, she has helped businesses tell their stories and get better results online with practical digital marketing strategies. She also an active leader in AAF, serving on the local and district boards, and is an adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. 

Writing for Digital

LeadPoint Digital’s Director of Digital Marketing Carrie Cousins is set to share some of her insights on user experience and website marketing at an upcoming conference. On July 19, Carrie will kick off two days of presentations about online writing at the UX Writer Conference, an online event produced by Welinske & Associates, which has been hosting events for tech writers since 1991.

Storytelling With a Twist

Drawing on skills from multiple disciplines, UX writing is carving out its own space in the tech industry. With more than 15 years of experience in media, design, and content marketing, Carrie is one of the leaders in the field. She’s learned that storytelling is at the heart of every good website design. Her talk, Good UX Writing is Storytelling (with a Technical Twist), will discuss how to craft a beautiful narrative that humans want to read while optimizing how people use websites.

In addition to her work for LeadPoint Digital, Carrie’s UX writing has been featured in publications such as Design Shack, Webdesigner Depot, The Next Web, and Fast Company.

Register Today

Featuring speakers from companies like HBO Max and Google, the UX Writer Conference aims to share ideas and connect the UX writing community. It’s not too late to sign up for this incredible online event. Visit the UX Writer Conference website to register.

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Welcome to the Team!

LeadPoint Digital announces the hires of two familiar faces in the Roanoke Region.

Matt Brown joins the team as our new Account Manager. With more than 20 years of experience in design, art direction, marketing, promotions, project management, and social media, Matt’s wide range of experience and customer-centric approach make him a client’s best advocate.

“I’m excited to join work closely with our clients to help them achieve their digital marketing goals,” Matt said.

Prior to joining LeadPoint, Matt spent seven years at a local agency as an art director guiding client creative projects. He spent 13 years in the newspaper industry where he held a variety of positions, including creative director of the advertising design department and creative director of their recreation/lifestyle magazine.

Matt is a graduate of Roanoke College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He is a longtime member, and past president, of the Roanoke chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AAF). He is also a former two-time governor of Virginia for AAF and in 2015 was named National President of the Year by AAF.

Sarah Wardle Jones brings her creative ability and writing skills to the team as our User Experience Specialist. She is skilled in design thinking, user experience and user interfaces, and writing for the web.

“I’m thrilled to join LeadPoint as UX Specialist! I’m looking forward to growing and learning as part of this fantastic team,” Sarah said.

Additionally, Sarah is a creative professional with a background in non-profit arts management and has spearheaded the digital presence of numerous art organizations in the region. Prior to joining LeadPoint, Sarah enjoyed 7 years as Community Engagement & Education Director at the Roanoke Symphony. You may also know Sarah as a skilled flutist with the Alma Ensemble.

She holds degrees from Taylor University and Bowling Green State University and has a UX/UI Certification from CareerFoundry.

Want to Join Our Team of Award-Winning Professionals?

LeadPoint Digital is a growing digital marketing agency, specializing in search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, website design and development, and content marketing, including email and social media. Contact us today to learn more, or view our current open positions.

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Another Great Feat for Cousins – and LeadPoint!

LeadPoint Digital is thrilled to announce that our very own Carrie Cousins was awarded Ad-verting Person of the Year by the American Advertising Federation, Roanoke Chapter. Carrie was recognized for her outstanding contributions to the field of advertising and marketing on Saturday, March 5, 2022 at the Western Virginia American Advertising Awards Gala in Roanoke.

As LeadPoint’s Digital Marketing Director, Carrie leverages her 15+ years of interdisciplinary experience in marketing, design, and media to help businesses tell their story and get better results through practical digital marketing strategies. Carrie established herself as a leader through her work building several award-winning marketing programs, shaping the marketing voice for Roanoke Outside and Get2KnowNoke before joining LeadPoint last year, and teaching the next generation of marketers at Virginia Tech.

“It’s a breath of fresh air to have a colleague like Carrie on our team,” says Brad Timofeev, LeadPoint Digital’s Managing Partner. “I honestly don’t understand how she keeps up with it all and maintains her enthusiasm and upbeat personality. I’m not shocked she won this award because she accomplished more in one year than most ad professionals accomplish in a lifetime. She is well-deserving of this award every year and LeadPoint’s clients are lucky to have a pro like Carrie on their side.”

In addition to her fantastic work on the LeadPoint Digital Team, she also serves as AAF Roanoke’s current President and donates her time and talents to help non-profits through Buzz4Good. In her spare time, Carrie enjoys serving as Star City Canine Training Club’s Pres-ident, training her own dogs, and running marathons.

Congratulations on your award, Carrie! We look forward to what you have in store for 2022.

Check Out Our Position Openings

Want to work with award-winning marketing professionals? Contact LeadPoint Digital today for more information.

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Cousins Speaks on Her Career – And Marketing

Carrie Cousins, the senior digital strategist for LeadPoint Digital, was recently featured for her design and leadership expertise in an interview with 20i, an innovative British web hosting company.

In the interview, Cousins spoke of her longtime interest in design and writing — both dating back to her childhood. In addition to her design and digital marketing work for LeadPoint Digital, Cousins writes extensively about design — especially user experience design — for websites like WebDesignerDepot, Design Shack, and Fast Company.

Though she didn’t get a degree in graphic design, she sought out extensive training once she got involved in design during her days in newspapers. “I wanted to ensure that my visual ‘gut’ instinct aligned with some of the practical theory and technical skills to ensure that I was designing and not just decorating,” she said.

“One of the hardest parts of design is keeping up with trends”, Cousins said. “Visual evolutions seem to be happening on fast cycles,” she said. “The challenge is that a design can begin to look dated fast. This makes it more important than ever to be agile and create with an element of urgency.”

20i also asked Cousins about her marketing expertise. “Every business – from a micro-business to a small location with a few employees – needs to connect marketing to actual business goals,” she said. “It’s not enough to do marketing because ‘you should.’ Marketing with a strategy rooted in goals and outcomes will generate the best potential results. It’s ok to start with small goals and grow them with your business.”

Cousins also recently delivered presentations at the AAF District 3 Conference in Raleigh, NC; and was on the RBTC WoTech Women in Technology panel during Game Changer Week in Blacksburg, VA.

If you are interested in working with recognized leaders in digital design and marketing, contact LeadPoint Digital.

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Writing for Digital

Brad Timofeev, the managing partner of LeadPoint Digital, is spending a few days in Hilton Head, SC, to participate in and lead several sessions at the Southeast Concrete Masonry Association Annual Conference. He’ll advise, provide market data, and lead a workshop on the value of digital marketing.

Brad will speak on the following this week:

Advising Sessions

Brad will sit with the SCMA Board, Marketing Committee, Executive Committee, and National Concrete Masonry Association Representatives to showcase the impact LeadPoint Digital and the SCMA have had on the concrete masonry industry. The session will result in a general advising session on how this can be replicated on a national scale and bring to light untapped digital marketing opportunities that will continue a path of exponential growth.‍

General Session Market Recap

Brad will be recapping the digital marketing efforts for the Southeast Concrete Masonry Association and inspiring continued exponential growth through digital marketing. Since starting with the SCMA in 2017, LeadPoint Digital has been an integral part of making the SCMA a national leader and advocate for concrete masonry being the trusted building material of architects, engineers, contractors, and more.

Where to Start Marketing My Business?

Brad will be giving a workshop to members of the SCMA on how to start marketing their concrete masonry unit producer businesses through a quality website and search engine marketing.

‍How to Get Started on Social Media & Generate Revenue?

Brad will be giving another workshop to members of the SCMA on how to get started and generate revenue on Facebook and Instagram.

Learn More

As a certified digital consultant with many other certifications from Google, Brad possesses a pool of knowledge that leads our clients with the goal of creating long-term exponential value. Throughout his 15+ year career, Brad has been the digital advisor for a national marketing agency, other regional marketing agencies, and Fortune 500 companies.

His accomplishments have many recognizing him as a digital marketing thought leader.

Want to get to know Brad or learn more about what digital marketing can do for you? Contact us.

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Another Win for LeadPoint

Senior Digital Marketing Strategist Carrie Cousins, who joined LeadPoint Digital in April, has earned her Facebook Community Manager certification. This certification is awarded to candidates who pass a stringent exam testing proficiency in community-building strategies, best practices, and knowledge of the skills and tools needed to lead, moderate and engage an online community.

“Since Carrie has joined us, she has brought invaluable expertise to our content marketing and social media marketing programs for our clients,” said Brad Timofeev, managing partner of LeadPoint Digital. “This certification supports that Facebook and Instagram see the same value we do in our social media marketing plans and results.”

Elite Accreditation

The Facebook Community Manager certification is an elite accreditation in digital marketing, involving rigorous testing and security. A certified Facebook monitor conducts the assessments under strict protocols to ensure no cheating or foul play.

Cousins is also a Certified Digital Consultant, has a Google Certification, and has won awards from PRSA Blue Ridge, American Advertising Federation, and Outdoor Media Summit.

Achieving the Facebook Community Manager certification recognizes the expertise Cousins has developed in her years as a digital strategist helping clients build online communities and scale and sustain their Facebook presence while improving engagement with their followers. This certification is a great asset to help scale and sustain Facebook followers, and improve engagement with those followers, for LeadPoint Digital clients.

Enhance Social Media Engagement

The LeadPoint Digital team believes in continuous learning and understands the value of earning industry accreditations that help us guide our clients in making the best marketing choices for them. Our team has certifications from Facebook, Google (Analytics and Ads), Yelp, Yext, and more.

LeadPoint Digital can help you grow your social media presence and engagement. Contact Brad Timofeev for more information.

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What is the Digital Marketing Funnel?

There’s a well-known concept in marketing that most people understand – the marketing funnel. The marketing, or sales, funnel is a concept that helps you understand the process from creating awareness and interest all the way to generating leads and conversions.

When it comes to digital marketing, there’s a similar funnel. The digital marketing funnel has four levels: High Funnel, Mid-High Funnel, Mid-Low Funnel, and Low Funnel. Each level requires a different advertising message and a different measurement of success.

High Funnel

This stage often represents your potential customers’ first exposure to your brand. The messages you put out for this audience should generate top-of-mind awareness. They’re meant to get people familiar with your brand and what you provide.

Advertising at this stage doesn’t produce an immediately high conversion rate. It’s meant to make impressions and capture the attention of potential buyers. With commitment and time, high-funnel marketing will drive sales to the lower portions of the funnel and closer to a purchase or relationship.

Digital marketing at this stage is typically paid and might consist of display ads and sponsorships on newspaper and local news websites, or a network of sites.

Internet radio also falls into this category. Traditional forms of high-funnel advertising include sponsorships, billboards, and bus and bus bench advertising.

Mid-High Funnel

At this level of the funnel, you’re still creating top-of-mind awareness, but your audience is already aware of your brand and what you do. The message is typically value-based (features, benefits, perspective, etc.) and designed to separate you from your competition.

This form of advertising still doesn’t have a great conversion rate, but because of the type of message it is, it’s more likely to push people down the funnel.

Digital marketing in this stage of the funnel is still primarily paid, such as display advertising on interest-specific websites, or sponsorships that are related more closely to your audience’s interests.

Because social media advertising can be targeted based on demographics and psychographics, it can be an effective channel for reaching people at this level of the funnel. Streaming audio and video also float between the high funnel and mid-high funnel.

Content marketing is the most popular form of digital marketing that falls in the mid-high funnel.

Television and terrestrial radio are complementary channels in traditional advertising.

Mid-Low Funnel

Once you hit this part of the funnel, you’re starting to drive sales. Advertising messages should be incentive-based and include coupons, promotions, and exclusive offers. The goal at this stage is to move people to action.

Digital marketing in the mid-low funnel is a mix of paid and organic. Email marketing, re-marketing, text message marketing, and, in some cases, social media. These channels deliver a targeted, incentive-based message to your audience.

Equivalents in traditional advertising include direct mail, newspaper ads, money-saver ads, and coupon books.

Low Funnel

Low-funnel marketing provides the best immediate return on investment (ROI). Messaging is 100% call-to-action, encouraging your audience to contact you.

Companies spend most of their digital marketing budget in this stage of the funnel. It includes search engine optimization, search engine advertising, and local directory advertising because search engines and directories are where people go when they’re ready to buy.

In traditional advertising, that used to be the phone book or direct mail pieces.

Applying Digital Strategy

After you’ve identified which audiences you want advertising to reach, you apply appropriate digital marketing and traditional media tactics. Digital marketing can be an effective way to move prospects through the buying cycle.

LeadPoint Digital can help you to identify which forms of digital marketing will help you meet marketing goals. We’ll help you create a customized plan with a focus on business objectives and lead generation for different parts of the market funnel and sales cycle.

Contact us to learn more.

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