Monetize Your Website: 4 Tips to Make Your Website Work for You

So, you spent loads of money building the perfect website that is both efficient and reliable, all while clearly communicating your brand to the world – now what? It’s time monetize your website.

Let’s back up just a little bit… Is your website quick, easy to navigate, and accessible both on mobile devices and desktops? Does it clearly communicate your brand’s message to your ideal audience?

Your website is the most essential marketing tool you have – it can truly make or break the consumer experience with your brand. The most important tool you have needs to work well, for humans and search engines, in order to drive success and growth for your business. The first step in monetizing your website is ensuring it has been built for success – if it’s been awhile since you’ve checked in on your website, it might be time for a website audit. Our CMG team has the experts to do a deep dive on your site and check its functionality. Once you’re confident in your website, we can move forward on making it profitable.

Here are 4 ways to monetize your website:

Banner ads are a simple and effective way to monetize your website. Google Adsense is a popular place to start when implementing banner ads. Once you’re approved by Google, you’ll be able to arrange these ads on your web page, and you’ll also get to choose what type of ads are displayed on your site. You’ll get paid when someone clicks on the ad. How much you get per clicks depends on the many different factors. Adsense has a calculator tool on their website, so you can estimate just how much you’ll be able to make.

Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates is an affiliate marketing program. It’s the ideal option for bloggers, publishers, and, content creators. The best part is that it’s free for anyone to join! All you have to do is sign up, recommend Amazon products (by linking them on your website), and voilà – You’ll get beaucoup bucks. You’ll get a commission when someone uses your link to make a purchase. With a little bit of leg work, you’ll be monetizing your website in no time. If Amazon’s offer is enticing, you can sign up for the program here.


Open up shop! Selling items related to your industry is a great way to bring in the bucks. For 2022, it’s projected that online retail shops worldwide will rake in $5.4 trillion. Another great thing about online shops is that you can reach a larger audience with your inventory and sell worldwide if you wish. We created an e-commerce website for our friends at Camacho Coffee.

Online Courses or Ebooks

Beyond ads, our next suggestion to monetize your website is to create more profitable content. As your audience grows and gains trust in you, they are viewing more of your content. While the majority of your content may be free, we suggest building out a few long-form, quality content pieces for a price. This will look different for every business, but online courses, ebooks, or guides are common ways to monetize your website. This method comes with an added benefit: you’ll be able to narrow down which consumers are more serious and nurture those leads further down the marketing funnel.

Monetizing your website can look different depending on the company and industry – but our CMG team has the experience and creativity to get your website where you want it to be. 

Contact us today to get started on your new website.

6 Steps To Creating A Strategic Marketing Plan

It’s Called Strategy.

Everyone and anyone can market a brand or a product. Google can teach anyone the basics of marketing and populate an abundance of “How-Tos” and step-by-step guides. But there is only one effective marketing plan, one that can only be learned through experience and a long list of trials and errors – a strategic marketing plan. 

At CMG, we have been through it all with our clients. We have clients in various different industries and have seen what works and what doesn’t necessarily work for them. Even if in the same industry, no two companies will have the same marketing solutions for their goals. As we grow and add on new clients, we have learned that in order to set each client up for success we have to build a strategy that is unique to them. 

Building a strategy looks different from client to client, but the fundamentals stay the same. Here are 6 steps to get started on building your own strategic marketing plan.

What is your mission?

It’s time to get on the same page with your team. Go back to the basics: What is the mission and vision of your company? Not having a direction from the beginning will lead to chaos from the very start of trying to market your brand or product. Having a clearly defined mission and vision will lead to clearly defined goals you want to reach.

Define your target audience.

 Once clear goals are established based on your unique mission and vision, then you can work backward to create a strategic plan to achieve the goals. This involves breaking down everything from looking at who your target audience and consumer is to where to target geographically and on what platform. Marketing comes with many options, but usually, only a few actually make a difference with your audience.

Some questions to help define your audience:

  • What do they do for work?
  • What do they do on the weekends?
  • Where do they hang out?
  • Do they drive?
  • What decisions are they making right before and after they buy a service?

Set SMART Goals.

We’ve all heard this before – SMART goals. Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely goals. If your goals don’t have these elements, then they will be impossible to track. Take some time to think about how your big picture goals can be broken down into SMART goals.

It’s time to think about messaging.

So you have clearly defined your mission and audience, and have trackable goals – now what? Cue the creativity. What the heck is your messaging going to say? Above all else, your messaging should match your goals – what you say should be reflective of your goals and relatable to your audience. Still stuck on what to say? Think through your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Taking time to think through these different pieces will lead to your key messaging.

Let’s talk tactics.

Messaging is established, now how do you get the message to your audience? There are hundreds of different ways and tools to start putting your message out there. It’s easy to get lost in all of the possibilities, but remember it isn’t about using it all, it is about thinking strategically and utilizing necessary tools based on your company and unique audience. When determining which tactics to use, think about time vs. money and what is actually worth the time. And remember, at the end of the day all the money in the world on marketing tactics is useless if your website is not running properly. 

Track your success.

The thing about strategy is that it never really ends. Tactics, messaging and goals will inevitably change as time goes on. Tracking metrics is the best way to see areas of opportunity or even where your efforts may not be worth the money or time being put into it. Track, analyze, adjust and keep going!

Ready to get even more into the details? We are marketing nerds who thrive off of coffee and talking strategy. Contact us today to get started building a strategic marketing plan.

How to Reinstate your Google My Business Account

Google My Business is a crucial component to any business’s SEO, but sometimes things go wrong and your account can get suspended. Don’t stress — we are here to help!

Why was my Google My Business account suspended?

Unfortunately, Google’s reasoning for suspending accounts is sometimes vague. In general, those reasons can include: someone logging in from a different location, too many users being added to your account in a short period of time, or not following community guidelines. 

Regardless of WHY your account has been suspended, it’s important that business owners quickly address this issue. Google My Business is crucial to a small business’s SEO — according to market research, the average business is found in 1,009 searches per month, with 84% of these coming from discovery searches via Google My Business. 

How Can I Reinstate my Google My Business Account?

First, get in contact with the account owner or administrator on the account. It’s at this step that you may realize it’s not actually you but does need to be. The business owner should always retain primary ownership and allow others to serve in a manager capacity. 

Here are the steps to take in order to reinstate your Google My Business account. 

  1. Ask for reinstatement
  2. Hear back about reinstatement 
    • The team at GMB will review, investigate, and resolve most requests within 3 business days.
    • If it’s been more than 3 business days, reply to the email you receive. It is very much okay to be the squeaky wheel. 
    • If you have a storefront, attach a photo to your reply.
  3. Reply to a denial 
    • If GMB mistakenly denied your request (which happens all the time), reply to the initial report email. 
    • In your reply, include an eligibility justification and summarize how your business operates.
    • If you have a storefront, attach a photo to your reply.
  4. Fix issues after reinstatement
    • For the security of Business Profiles, Google can’t share specific reasons why any profile is suspended.
    • If you have issues with your reinstated profile, reply to the email with information on your problem, and Google will  investigate.

Still Need Help?

Sometimes working through web forms is both daunting and complicated. We get it.

Our team at Columbia Marketing Group is Google Certified and happy to help the small business owners of Columbia, Missouri and the larger Mid-MO region. If you are a business owner with any Google My Business issues, please feel free to call us at (573) 499-1830 or email us at

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Unfortunately, as hard as we all work to please our clients, things happen. Mistakes get made, clients may have unreasonable expectations, or bad communication just happens. When responding to negative comments or reviews, it’s essential to keep in mind that it’s not just the initial reviewer that will see the response; it’s the whole internet, and that speed is of the essence. 

First things first

The first thing to do is to acknowledge that the customer had a bad experience and promise to immediately look into it. Even if the company wasn’t in the wrong, being sympathetic may help defuse the tension raised by the poor review. 

Move it offline 

Try to move the conversation offline as quickly as possible. This can be done by offering contact information to the reviewer so that they can talk on the phone or in-person to a customer service rep or the head of the department. This shows both the offended party and anyone else reading the review that you were responsive and attentive to their needs as well as their privacy. 

Confirm their identity and problem 

Be specific and know the customer. Rephrase what the client complained about when you’re responding. Try paying attention to who they are. Do they have a name on their account? Can you look at their account? It’s important to confirm this person was actually a client. The sad reality of our world is that there are trolls out there whose daily job/hobby in life is to spread hate and discontent. If this is one of those times for you, acknowledge they are upset, confirm that you can’t find them listed as a customer and would like to take the conversation offline to better serve their concerns. It’s important to say this so that others reading reviews can identify that this is likely a troll. 

Be brief

Keep the responses as short and well mannered as possible. A long-winded reply may come off as the company trying to defend themselves and the situation. This would beg the questions, why and what do they need to defend? Three to four sentences should provide enough information for everyone to understand that the company cares about the customer and their experiences and that they want to work on improving the situation. 

Don’t use business names 

When responding, try to avoid using the business’s name or any relevant words relating to the company. Words corresponding with the company may show up in online searches, dragging up past problems after they were resolved. It’s counterproductive and would demand more work. 

Last but not least, always respond

Be smart and act quickly when responding to negative comments, keeping the reputation of the company in mind. The very worst thing that can happen is to not respond to negative reviews as it shows other potential customers two things: 1) you aren’t attentive and 2) the offended customer was likely right. 

For more information or help in communicating to your clients or dealing with reviews, please contact Erica Pefferman at

What Does This Dress Code Mean?!

A Casual Guide on how to dress at every event.

As if dressing every day wasn’t hard enough, we now have events Friday, Saturday, and Monday all with different dress codes. With more and more clothing options every day, it has begun to feel impossible to pinpoint exactly what we should wear.

At CMG, we’re event creators. We’ve devised a quick go reference for whenever we’re in a fashion rut.

So, take a breath and put down your grandmother’s Emily Post. We put together a quick guide for the four main dress codes you’ll encounter.

Formal/Black Tie

This is THE chance to go all out.  Jazz it up with jewelry and hair accessories. Color-wise stick to jewel tones or black to instantly pump up your look.

Be mindful of your hosts’ desires and the goal of the event whether it’s a dinner, wedding, or a fundraiser. Makeup is the bow on top of a great outfit. Use it to tie your entire look together.

Failsafe: A long, fitted black gown with a sweetheart neckline will flatter most shapes. Pair your dress with a statement heel and simple eye drop earrings for a simple, yet elegant look.

Something for the Fellas

First off, wear a real tie, not a clip-on. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, guys. Wear a dinner jacket with matching pants. Traditionally, men wear a matching waistcoat or cummerbund as well, but these days that is not a requirement.

Black tie optional: formal dress not required, but a more fashionable cocktail dress or long gown will work. Men should wear darker colored suits. Chinos are not an option.

Black Tie Dress
Black Tie Attire for Women
black tie male
Black Tie Attire for Men


Pay close attention to your invitation. The location and purpose of the party will sway your outfit choices. A cocktail hour before a wedding reception is a different experience than a company reception.

If you want something different, a shorter or knee-length dress in rich color is foolproof. If you want a maxi look, go for flowy material like cotton or chiffon. Hand-held bags like clutches or tiny purses will keep your outfit on the formal side.

Failsafe: Your LBD, little black dress, investment pays off here. Pair with your favorite heels, but the ones that are fashionable and somewhat comfortable. Cocktail parties usually mean two-plus hours of standing.

For the Fellas

Wear dark suits with a tie. Think navy or charcoal gray. Black will be too formal, but if that’s all you have, try losing the tie and loosening a button.

TIP: Don’t even take your new pants home before dropping them off at the tailor. $20 at the tailor will change your life.

Cocktail Party Dress
Cocktail Attire for Women
Cocktail Attire for Men

Polished Casual

You may have recently been invited to a party with a polished casual dress code. I’ll answer your first question: No jeans. No denim skirts, shirts, vests, or denim of any kind. Think cocktail with flats–a step up in comfort but not in style.

This is a great opportunity to bust out your party pants, party blazer, or party tank top. And by party, we mean sparkle. This take on smart-casual is more about the ability to mix pieces in a polished way than about the actual pieces themselves. Let the function, location, and other guests guide you.

Failsafe:  Jump into a jumpsuit for an instantly smart look. Statement earrings, shoes, or a bag will turn your look up a notch.

For the Fellas

Fitted. Tucked in. The no denim rule applies to you as well. But, your chinos with leather loafers or lace-up oxfords are welcomed. No boat shoes.

Polished Casual Attire for Women
Polished Casual Attire for Men

Business Casual

The less formal cousin of polished casual, business casual

While most often connected to office wear, business casual can escape the cubicle during weeknight event, especially if that event is a happy hour.

Transition this look from the office to happy hour by freshening up your makeup, adding accessories, and shedding a layer.

Failsafe: Blouse and a fitted pair of trousers or slacks. Add earrings or a colored lipstick for some personality.

For the Fellas

Both a well fitting button up and slacks, but don’t worry about a jacket or tie.  See our polished casual example.

Business Casual Woman
Business Casual Attire for Women
business casual male
Business Casual Attire for Men


Finally, your bell-bottoms and high waisted jeans can see the light of day!

The elevation of your look will come from the cut and textures of your garments. Try a fitted skirt with a billowy satin blouse and flats or wedges. Remember, there will always be cameras around. Casual does not mean yoga pants.

Failsafe: Think summer dress for the warmer months and dark denim with a ‘going out’ blouse for the cooler months. 

For the Fellas

If you’re wearing sneakers, try to elevate the look with fitted chinos or a dark wash, high-quality denim. T-shirts are ok if complemented with a stylish jacket or accessory.

Casual Woman
Casual Attire for Women
Casual Male
Casual Attire for Men

The end-all rule: If you don’t feel comfortable don’t wear it! Confidence will win out the best dress every night! Shine bright as yourself. The best part about fashion is that it’s an expression of who you are.

Jingling All the Way to Post Engagement- How Holiday Content Can Boost Your Brand

The stockings are hung, Santa is at the mall, holiday hits are on the radio… Christmas is here! But I thought this was a blog about marketing, why are we chatting about the holidays? Because seasonal posts may be the answer you need for engaging audiences all over social media. If you are experiencing low user engagement through typical posts on your brand’s social media, fret no longer, we’ve got a solution that might just do the trick.

Here at Columbia Marketing Group we try to implement the 3 E’s when creating content for social media. These E’s are Entertaining, Emotional, and Educational, so ask yourself when you post 1) Is this entertaining? 2) Will this cause an emotional response from the user? 3) Is this educational? If you can get at least one of these E’s in your post, you are likely creating quality content that will help build your brand. Ideally, you would strive to get 2 or even 3 E’s, if possible.

So how do posts about the holidays fit into this equation? Not only do the holidays elicit an emotional response from users, typically excitement or nostalgia, but they are also entertaining, timely, this content is usually easily generated, and often gets higher engagement than a typical post. There’s something about snow on the ground, presents under the tree, and classic films on the silver screen that make you relish in anticipation for what’s to come. When fans and followers see these yuletide posts come across their news feed it allows them to feel these emotions.

This holiday season, Santa is checking his list, not once but twice, so make sure you dot your I’s, cross your T’s and incorporate the 3 E’s into your winter social media strategy. Happy Holidays from the team at Columbia Marketing Group!



5 Things You Need to Know About Facebook Advertising

One scroll through Facebook and you’ll see a plethora of posts tagged “Sponsored”. Businesses pay for these posts to get users to complete a call to action, turning users into customers or advocates with just one click.

Whether you want to start advertising on Facebook or improve your results, here are five things you need to know:

  1. Know your audience.

Facebook retains enormous quantities of information about its users, such as age, gender, location, job, hobbies, etc. A good first step in creating a successful Facebook ad would be to narrow down who you specifically want to target. While creating your Facebook ad, you can filter recipients by any of the categories mentioned and more. You can be super specific – even if you are looking for single moms, over 34, from Nebraska, who have an interest in bird watching (seriously!). 

  1.   Use the right images.

People are drawn to striking images with appealing colors, words, or objects. A good photo will get a better response from your ad, so put your eye to the test and find attractive photography with creative angles and interesting features.

  1.   Text IS important.

The image may grasp the users attention, but the text will likely be the differentiating factor in impression versus engagement (following the CTA). Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Little bits of information are going to get a better response than long winded paragraphs.

  1.  Set a realistic budget

Like any marketing strategy, you have to make a realistic budget, Facebook is no different. Knowing that you are not going to be able to reach the entire United States with just $10 per week is paramount. Set realistic parameters that all parties are comfortable with.

ProTip: Make sure you adjust the duration of the ad before publishing, it is very easy to accidentally spend $100 per day when you meant to spend that over the course of a month. Check and double check before you submit your ad, you won’t regret it!

  1.    Use a call to action

A call to action (CTA) is an instruction or directive that encourages the user to act in a particular way, achieving the primary goal of the campaign. “Download”, “Buy Now”, “Connect”, or “Like” are a few examples. For Facebook, limit the number of CTA’s to one and your Facebook ad is going to get a noticeably better response. 


Like anything, Facebook advertising is something that takes practice before you get it right; but once you create, analyze, and optimize your campaigns, you’ll learn what works best for your business and start seeing results.

If it still sounds too time consuming or confusing, contact CMG. We would be happy to lend a hand with your social media advertising.