2020 – The Year In Review

2020 The Year In Review

It’s been a whirlwind of a year, and here at Top Of The List we are counting our blessings for the wonderful clients, developers, vendors, and community members who have made this year not only tolerable but actually pretty great! 

From Covid to algorithm updates to industry disruptions, there has been no shortage of excitement in the digital marketing world. Here are some of the biggest highlights of our year, both for Top Of The List and the online marketing industry.

Grand Rapids Nonprofit Uses Online Marketing Services From Top Of The List

In January of 2020, Top Of The List was contacted regarding an opportunity to support a local nonprofit organization’s digital marketing efforts. The Job Post, a social enterprise of Guiding Light mission, is a job staffing and recruitment agency that matches qualified, eager workers with employers in the Greater Grand Rapids area. 

The Job Post Logo

Top Of The List was incredibly drawn to the prospect of helping The Job Post because of its unique employee benefits and its mission to serve the local West Michigan community. In addition to matching employees with employers, The Job Post:

  • Provides transportation support, necessary work supplies—such as steel-toed work boots—and other benefits not typically offered by an employment agency. 
  • Guiding Light feeds its “Back To Work” and other program participants into The Job Post.
  • All profits The Job Post receives are funneled back to Guiding Light, creating a sustainable model of funding for an integral organization in the Grand Rapids community.

From assisting the homeless and individuals in recovery to regain independence and join the workforce, to helping anyone ready and eager to work, The Job Post is truly a different type of staffing agency.

Since February, Top Of The List has been managing the Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Paid Search, and Social Media Advertising for The Job Post. The effort increased their visibility and branding significantly, despite the Covid pandemic year. In addition, we provided content, design and development for their website, moving it from a single-page site to the one it is today. This has helped hundreds of folks in West Michigan find employment and helped employers fill their hiring gaps. 

Finally, Top Of The List worked with The Job Post, video marketing team Fusion Graphic Consultants, and The Job Post client Professional Metal Finishing to create a video. It shares the heartwarming story of how The Job Post came to be, its mission, and how they are helping companies and individuals throughout West Michigan. You can see The Job Post video here!

Covid Sweeps The Nation Impacting Search Strategies, Business Operations

We all know the story here. Covid’s impact on businesses throughout the world still isn’t fully known, but it’s clear that the pandemic forced a major shift in strategy for every organization. 

In-Person Services Move Virtual

Many businesses offering in-person services moved to a virtual environment. Grand Rapids flooring store DeGraaf Interiors was one of these businesses. The company typically offers in-home design consultation for customers looking to redesign their space. Consultants enter a home and make recommendations for everything from kitchen backsplashes and countertops to bathroom shower renovations to new hardwood flooring for a single room or even a whole house. But with Covid, these interactions weren’t very practical. 

virtual services menu from DeGraaf Interiors

DeGraaf Interiors began offering virtual design consultations, allowing clients to interact with the company while receiving the same benefits they would in their own home. Additionally, DeGraaf leveraged virtual design tools to preview how various materials would look in their homes. Of course, all of these options were highlighted both on the website and in digital advertising, giving DeGraaf a significant advantage over competitors who were slower to adapt!

Online Retail Becomes the Name of the Game

Retailers also made major shifts in strategy. Online retail was the name of the game this year and making this the top priority was critical to staying afloat in a Covid environment. Amid this huge increase in online sales, the shipping and fulfillment aspect of retail reached an unprecedented level. Port Logistics Group, a shipping and logistics company, and its partner company Whiplash, an ecommerce fulfillment provider, felt the impact. 

Workplace Safety Port Logistics Group Whiplash

The companies adopted Covid worker protocols to ensure workers in warehousing and fulfillment centers were safe, critical to maintaining the ability to keep up with the extraordinary demand. The companies also worked hard—along with a killer digital marketing team—to ensure retailers knew they were poised for taking on the extra load. As retailers frantically searched for logistics and fulfillment providers who could keep up with high-volume orders, Port Logistics Group and Whiplash got their name in front of these retailers with Display Advertising, Paid Search Ads, and by optimizing their website for all types of panic-induced queries on the search engines.

Covid Protocol Transparency a Must

Regardless of the type of business, transparency in Covid protocols was also important to both business patrons and the search engines! Customers wanted to know what to expect when visiting brick and mortar business locations or allowing service technicians into their homes, and Google expected business owners to relay this pertinent information via their website and Google My Business listings. At Top Of The List, we worked with all of our clients to ensure things like mask mandates, temporary business closures, and social distancing were evident when customers searched for businesses. This kept the public informed and kept the search engines happy.

Top Of The List Google My Business Listing with Covid Protocols

Top Of The List Becomes A Google Partner for Paid Search

While Top Of The List has been actively managing PPC campaigns via Google Ads for more than 10 years, this year we finally achieved Google Partner status. Becoming a Google Partner requires that Top Of The List staff have passed Google Ads product certification exams and are up to date with the latest product knowledge. In addition, Top Of The List needed to meet monthly ad spend requirements, which involved managing quite a large number of accounts in order to reach this quota. This requires significant expertise, our clients’ faith in our paid search marketing strategies, and the ability to run successful campaigns to maintain the monthly ad spend requirements. It is an incredible honor to have earned Google Partner status, and we look forward to maintaining this status for years to come.

TOTL Staff Members Attend Pubcon Virtual Digital Marketing Conference

Conferences across the country felt the significance of Covid this year, as mass gatherings were simply impossible. Luckily, technology now allows for most of these conferences to move to a virtual environment. One of the most influential conferences in the digital marketing industry, Pubcon, thankfully followed suit. Pubcon features a slew of masterclass sessions and presentations from top industry professionals about the ever-changing world of search engine marketing and digital advertising. Top Of The List makes it a priority to attend this conference each year, and this year was no different! 

Pubcon 2020 carolyn shelby and brett tabke

Some of the latest developments in the search world included Schema markup (no surprise), new link-building strategies, Covid strategies now and in the future, optimizing marketing with influencer content,  and much more. These new developments are always scrutinized by our team and when their efficacy is proven, implemented for our clients. We love being able to offer these cutting-edge digital marketing strategies to our clients, adding great value to their online marketing efforts and giving them a leg up over the competition. 

Web Design & Development Now In Top Of The List Portfolio Of Services

One of the biggest internal developments at Top Of The List this year was the addition of Web Design and Development to our digital marketing services portfolio. Technical SEO specialist Mandie Alietta completed her degree in web development at Grand Rapids Community College this Spring, and with it brought a fresh perspective in web development. This combined with her background in SEO gives Mandie – and Top Of The List – a huge advantage in web development services. 

web design and development services

When designed by a developer with an SEO background, websites are built from the ground up with an SEO-friendly foundation, making them ready to perform well in search from day one. Paired with our other digital marketing services, web development from Top Of The List offers companies a competitive edge in online visibility that most standalone developers or digital marketing companies can’t provide. 

Top Of The List Named A “Best Digital Marketing Agency in Grand Rapids”

We were very excited when a website called Expertise.com named us one of the best digital marketing agencies in Grand Rapids. The website’s mission is to help others find the right highly-skilled professionals—both in their field and in their geographical area. This makes the selection process for those looking for those services that much easier. Using a proprietary research and selection process, Expertise.com identifies the top service professionals in over 200 different industries across the top cities in the United States.

Voted 2020 Best Digital Marketing Agencies in Grand Rapids Award from Expertise

Unlike some other “best of” awards out there—where the company actually pays the firm to be one of the “best”—Expertise.com chooses the best. While they do allow businesses to submit a listing, only businesses that surpass others within their criteria are chosen as one of the best. 

Looking Ahead to Digital Marketing in 2021

As we look ahead to the new year, we reflect on just how much we accomplished in 2020. It’s clear that partnering with businesses who truly seek to have a positive impact on the world around them has been incredibly rewarding for many. We look forward to seeing what 2021 brings – here’s to a safe, productive, and prosperous year ahead – for all of us!

About the Author

Nicole Vesota

Nicole Vesota

Vice President & Project Manager

Nicole has been working in online marketing since 2007 when she joined Top Of The List. She loves creative endeavors and spending time with her daughter.