Posts Tagged ‘small business’
Monday, September 1st, 2014
Friday, August 29th, 2014
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Unfortunately, many businesses treat their contact page as an afterthought. They focus on their home page, blog and product pages, but forget to make sure their contact page is user friendly, optimised and strategically planned.
This is a dangerous mistake to make since your contact page can help you bring in more customers and convert leads to sales if you use it the right way. Here are a few tips to help you make sure your contact page is working for your business.
Link to it in Obvious Places
We’ve come to expect links to contact information in the main navigation and the footer of websites, so make it easier for your market to find your contact page by putting links here. But, don’t stop there. Also consider adding a link or even a contact form in a place where people won’t miss it, like on your sidebar for example.
Stick to the Word “Contact”
We’ve also come to expect businesses to use the word “contact” when linking to this kind of information. Don’t confuse people by using some other label on your navigation bar or even links. Keep things simple, clear and concise for best results.
Give More than one Option
You’ve probably seen those websites where the only contact option you have is to fill out a form. But, what if you want to speak to a customer service representative? Or, what if you want to visit a store location? Give people a few options to contact you so the process isn’t frustrating. Some forms of communication you could include are:
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Contact Form
- Social Media Accounts
- Physical Address
- Fax Number
One key thing to remember is that your customers need at least one private way to contact you. If you don’t offer an email address or phone number, you could be fielding customer support questions or even complaints on social media, which can be hard for you to respond to and can even hurt your brand and reputation.
Ask for Minimal Information
If you do use a contact form, don’t ask for more information than you need. People are becoming increasingly wary of online privacy and being asked to provide details a business doesn’t really need could scare off customers. For example, don’t force a customer to provide a phone number when you offer email support.
Optimise for Mobile
Remember that some of your site visitors could be using smartphones or tablets, so your contact page needs to be optimised for mobile devices. Make sure your page is easy to read, navigate and use even on a small screen so users don’t get frustrated and give up, leading you to lose customers.
Your contact page is one of the most important parts of your website so it’s important that you optimise it and use it strategically. The last thing you want is for your customers to be confused when it comes to contacting your business. Make it simple, easy and streamlined by optimising your contact page.
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Thursday, August 21st, 2014
Image courtesy of Sara Björk/Flickr.
Calls to action are vital to your Internet marketing tactics. Whether you are using social media, content marketing or advertising, most, if not all, of your pieces should include a call to action. This statement should ask people to do something that will help you meet your goals.
But, asking people to call you, make a purchase or “click here” gets old, and frankly, isn’t always very effective. To make your calls to action more powerful, try using some stronger, more creative verbs. Here’s a list of 8 words and phrases to help you get started brainstorming.
“Make a Change Now”
If your products or services can help people make a change, tell them that! Make the phrase more urgent with words like “now,” “right away,” or “immediately.” This is a phrase that will attract a market that isn’t happy with something and is ready to do something different.
“Let us Solve your Problem”
On the other hand, maybe your customers want you to solve a problem for them. Communicate the fact that you are ready and willing to do that with a call to action that tells people to leave things in your hands.
“Recharge” is a word that stands out and conveys a sense of renewal and energy. Calls to action that are asking people to relax, take advantage of new information or increase their energy are good candidates for a word like this.
Another powerful word, “reclaim,” is one to use with people that feel they have lost something you can replace. Some examples of this call to action might be “reclaim your time,” “reclaim your storage space,” or “reclaim your independence.” This is a word that not only asks people to take an action, but also inspires them.
“Make things Easier”
If your business is all about making something easier with a product or service, convey that idea and benefit clearly with a call to action like “make working out easier” or “make keeping your family safe easy with these tips.” One of the major benefits of phrases like these is that they all show value right away, which is attractive to an online audience.
People like to save, whether that means saving money, time, hassle or energy. This is a word that jumps out on social media and your website. You can also use this as part of calls to action related to discounts, as in “save 20 percent when you enrol this month!”
“Help” can be used in two ways: telling people you can help them or asking them to help you. Use this verb when you want to show people what exactly you can do for them to make the benefits of your product clear.
Or, use “help” to encourage people to reach out to you. For example, post “Help us choose the best poster for our event” on social media and solicit feedback from your market. This can be applied to anything from “help spread the word” to “help us understand what you need.”
“Get Exclusive Access”
Giving people exclusive access can help you build a buzz about a new product or make some online resources more valuable to your audience. People who have exclusive access may be more likely to feel valued and loyal to your brand.
The calls to action you use across your entire strategy and all of your tactics should work together to encourage people to respond the way you want them to. If you are trying to promote an event, your calls to action will be different than if you are trying to increase sales.
Choose some powerful words to make your calls to action more effective and make sure your content is aligned with your brand so you will see more results.
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Monday, August 18th, 2014
Image courtesy of Nongkran_ch/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Testimonials are valuable because they can help you reach your customers in a way few other tactics can. The popular idea that people do business with their friends is true. People like to hear from other people who are like them and are sometimes more likely to trust happy customers than they are a business.
There are so many ways you can incorporate customer testimonials into your marketing strategy. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Use them Strategically on your Website
Don’t hide your testimonials in a place on your site where no one will see them. Put them on your home page where people will see them, next to product information, on landing pages or on your sales pages. Use them at key places throughout your site where people are likely to be swayed by what your satisfied customers have to say.
Include them in Email Marketing Strategies
Another great place to use testimonials is in your emails. Choose the right testimonials for the right emails and lists of subscribers so they will attract and resonate with your readers. Keep these testimonials short and to the point when possible.
Post them to Social Media and Tag Customers
Get your testimonials in front of a lot of people by posting them to social media. Take it further by tagging the people who wrote the testimonial to encourage interaction and even more sharing. Keep in mind that you should get a person’s permission before publishing a testimonial with her name.
Use them for Infographic Content
Infographics are visual and give you an easy way to share a lot of information very clearly. Consider adding some testimonials to an infographic along with some statistics about your products, the number of people who use your services and the benefits you can provide.
Combine them with Images
Combine testimonials with images so they grab people’s attention and are more interesting. These kinds of photos can be shared on social media and your blog. Pair testimonials with pictures of your products, events, customers or just attractive images that help you build your brand.
Add them to Online Ads
Use testimonials on your banner and social media ads to communicate to your market how satisfied your customers are. These kinds of ads can be very persuasive and can help you build trust as people hear from your customers, not just your marketing team.
Try Using Video Testimonials
Mix things up a little by using video testimonials. There are lots of ways you could do this, including taping customers, showing your products in action and using a voiceover to read the testimonials or using an animated video that uses text to share the testimonials.
Display them in your Stores
Don’t forget offline marketing too! You can display testimonials in your stores on counters, walls or as part of displays. You can also include them in marketing materials like brochures, catalogs and other printed materials.
Using testimonials in your marketing efforts can help you build trust with your market and gain more customers. Start with some solid testimonials that prove your worth, value and benefits and then find creative ways to use them as part of your marketing strategy.
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Friday, August 15th, 2014
Image courtesy of Mike Linksvayer/Flickr.
Great pieces of content that bring excellent results all start with a good idea. Whether you are creating blog posts, articles, videos, social media posts, podcasts or images, you need to know what will resonate with your audience so people will respond to your calls to action.
The type of content you use will depend on your business and goals, but how do you come up with ideas that will stick and bring results?
Think like your Market
If you were a person in your target market, what would interest you? Put yourself in your market’s position and think about what kind of blog posts, videos or social media accounts you would look for and why.
Sometimes we think we know what our market wants and get stuck in a rut by continuing to provide the same kind content over and over. Take some time to stop and think like the people you are targeting to make sure you have their best interests in mind.
Ask Your Audience what it Wants
But, even when you try to think like your market, you may not completely understand what people are looking for, what they need and what topics or themes attract them. One of the very best ways to get ideas for successful content is to talk to your market.
Use social media, surveys, informal polls, focus groups and other tools to find out what your market wants. Through multiple-choice and open-ended questions you can uncover topics, needs and interests relating to your market and then use them to brainstorm ideas for content.
Find a Need and Fill it
The most valuable and effective content fills a need. It provides something your market is looking for and helps people solve a problem. The need you fill can be as basic as a need for entertainment or it could be as complex as needing how-to advice or even health resources. Find out what your market needs and then find a way to fill those needs with your content marketing strategy.
Watch Market Trends
Look into market trends like what people are purchasing, the services they are using, pop culture topics they are following, how they are spending their time and other trends to find out what might capture your audience’s attention. Of course, you don’t want to blend in with the crowd, but using popular topics and adding your own spin to them can help you get people excited while still standing out.
Find out what Your Market is Doing
Find out what your market is doing both online and offline. What social media sites do they use? Are they reading blogs? Do they spend a lot of time using their smartphones? What kinds of businesses, transportation and stores do they frequent? Information about what people in your market are doing is a great place to go for inspiration for content.
To get the most out of content marketing and encourage people to respond to your calls to action, you need to use compelling content that provides value to your niche market. Think like your market, ask questions and analyse trends, habits and needs to find ideas for content that will grab attention and work for your brand.
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Friday, August 8th, 2014
Image courtesy of Courtney Dirks/Flickr.
New social media sites are always popping up and the sites that are popular this year may not be as popular next year. But, before you open an account on any new social media site, whether it’s new or not, use this checklist to make sure you are setting yourself up for success.
Decide if the Network Matches your Market and Goals
Not every social media site is right for your business. Do your homework to find out if the people you are targeting use the site. You can do some quick research by looking into the site’s user demographics or go a little further by conducting some surveys.
Also consider whether the site and its features can help you meet your goals. For example, Instagram is a great choice for a business that wants to visually promote products while LinkedIn is a good choice for a business that wants to use long form content.
Set up your Bio, Description, Links and other Settings
Set up your account and make sure things like your bio, description, links and other settings are all complete. Take advantage of things like profile pictures, backgrounds and other features to brand your page so it looks like it belongs to your business.
Explore the Features
Take some time to explore all the features on the site. Look for things like posting options, notifications and extra features for businesses you can use to get even more out of the site. You may also consider looking into advertising options you can use later if the site is successful in helping you reach your market.
Start Posting Quality Content
Once your account is set up and your page looks branded, it’s tempting to start promoting it and building a following. But, before you do that start posting updates and sharing content so your account looks active and valuable before you actively promote it.
This simple step can help you gain more followers and avoid turning off users who take one look at your empty page and decide not to connect with you.
Interact with Others
As you start posting content, interact with other users on the site. Leave comments, join conversations and start connecting with others. This will help you start to build the foundation of your account so you will have some activity and a good start before you officially launch it.
Of course, as you start to interact with others you will probably begin to attract followers. This is great and a good way to begin building your audience.
Promote your Account
Once your account is completely set up and you have shared a few weeks’ worth of content or posts, you can start promoting your account and actively generating a following. By now, your account will look active and users will recognise the value it brings.
Add a “follow me” button to your website and promote your new account through your blog, other social media accounts and any other marketing channels you can.
Whenever you start using a new social media platform you need to do so strategically. Start by making sure the site is a good match for your market, business and goals and then lay a foundation with a complete profile and some quality posts before you start promoting it.
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Monday, August 4th, 2014
Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Negative reviews about your business can be hard to deal with whether they are online or not. But, online reviews carry a different weight. More people have access to them, they are more easily shared and they can quickly damage your reputation. So what should you do if you get a negative online review?
Never Respond Negatively
Responding negatively or getting into an online debate with a reviewer only makes your business look bad. It shows people you can’t handle feedback and that you don’t really care what your customers think.
On the other hand, when you respond professionally, no matter how negative the reviewer is you can turn a situation that could be bad for your business into something good. Remember that the way you respond to online reviews says a lot about your business.
Listen and Respond
First, don’t just ignore online reviews, even when they are negative. Listen to what your customers are saying and make changes if possible. If you can, reach out to the unhappy customer and try to answer questions or meet his needs.
Depending on the forum, you may want to leave a public response so others can see that you care what your customers think and add your voice to the conversation. When your customers see that you are listening to feedback and take constructive criticism to heart, they will be more impressed with your business.
Know when to go Offline
In some cases, it may not be appropriate to address negative reviews online. Neither you nor your customer wants all the details of a tough situation displayed on your Facebook page for everyone to read. Of course, you also don’t have the time to respond to every single online review.
If you can more effectively address a customer’s problem or need more information, leave an online response telling the customer how to get in touch with you so the problem can be resolved.
This simple response helps you serve your customers, show your online audience you are listening and avoid more negative online content.
Play by the Rules
Never use fake positive reviews to combat negative ones. Many review sites have strict rules against this and in the end you will only hurt yourself. Instead, embrace online reviews as a chance to learn what your customers are looking for and find ways to improve your online reputation.
Good reviews are obviously beneficial, but even negative reviews can help you if you handle them the right way. Respond professionally and listen to what people are saying. In some cases, you may notice a common theme across several reviews, which can help you identify areas where you need to improve.
You can also use online reviews as an online marketing tool by responding positively and encouraging customers to leave comments on your website, social media pages or even major review sites.
Positive online reviews can help you build a reputation and attract more customers while your professional and strategic responses to negative reviews can help you show your customers you are listening to their feedback and are willing to make changes to meet their needs.
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Friday, August 1st, 2014
Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
New research backs up the idea that we are very dependent on our smartphones and even proves that people aren’t using their phones for traditional phone tasks. Knowing how people in your market use their phones, you can more effectively target your customers and leverage your mobile marketing tactics.
Depending on your business, mobile marketing could play a key part in your marketing strategy and even help you reach more people. It could also help you accomplish things like increased brand awareness, site traffic and sales.
We’re Hooked on our Smartphones
Exact Target did some research into how we use our mobile devices. The company found that 85 percent of the people who responded to its survey consider their mobile devices a central aspect of their lives. The vast majority of people depend on their smartphone daily and feel that it plays a major role in their day-to-day lives.
We already know how prevalent smartphone use is. No matter where you go, people are glued to their smartphones reading news articles, using social media, sending text messages, playing games, shopping and browsing the Internet.
We’re doing more With our Smartphones
In Exact Target’s survey, 89 percent of the people surveyed feel that smartphones help them stay in touch with family and friends and keep up with events. The fact that people use their smartphones for more than making phone calls is no surprise, but the statistics that prove this theory are stunning.
According to a 2013 study by Nielsen, the vast majority of time people spend on their smartphones isn’t spent doing traditional things like making phone calls, sending text messages or accessing contact information.
In fact, the study found that only:
- 9% of the time people spend on their smartphones is spent sending text messages.
- 3% of their time is spent using the phone dialer.
- 2% of their time is spent using the address book.
This means that just 14 percent of the time people spend on their smartphones is used to contact people. So what are people doing the rest of the time? They are using mobile apps.
Your Business and Mobile Marketing
Mobile marketing can be loosely categorised into three areas: social media, Internet and apps. When you find ways to use each of these three areas to promote your business, your mobile marketing plan will be stronger.
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are commonly used on the go. Make sure your social media strategy is mobile friendly by remembering that people on the go are looking for short pieces of information.
Make sure your website is easily viewed and used on the small screen of a mobile device and consider mobile advertising strategies like paid search ads and banner ads.
Finally, consider whether a mobile app can benefit your market. Not all businesses need their own app, but if you can offer real value to your market and promote your business through an app, this tactic could be very beneficial.
Mobile marketing is absolutely essential right now as the majority of people feel they depend on their smartphone every day and are using it to access websites, social media and apps.
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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
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How can you be successful with email marketing if people don’t actually open your emails? You really only have a few seconds and a subject line to get people interested enough in your email to open it.
There are all kinds of tips out there on how to write effective subject lines, but the real key is to send emails with real value and to communicate that value in the subject. Here are a few ways you can start doing this at your business.
Give a Special Discount or Promote a Sale
Most people are excited by discounts, coupons and sales. Offer these in your emails and be sure to tell people about it in your subject line. Of course, you don’t have to offer a discount with every email, but if you do this on a regular basis you’ll attract and retain email subscribers.
Offer a Freebie
Discounts are great, but everyone loves a freebie once in a while! This is another great way to get people to open your emails and can help you show potential customers what you are capable of when you offer a sample of your work. Other great freebies include how-to guides, digital downloads, ebooks and tool kits.
Announce a New Product or Feature
Get your audience’s attention with an email subject line that announces a new product or feature. This is a great hook for current customers because it grabs their attention and shows them that you are constantly developing and improving the way you do things to satisfy your customers.
Promote an Event
Use email marketing to promote events. Whether you hold local events, national conferences, webinars or Google Hangouts, you can keep your emails fresh and current with details about how people can get involved. Be sure to promise a benefit in your subject line so people will want to open the email and participate in your event.
Tell People How to get the Most out of your Products
Keep your current customers interested and engaged by helping them get the most out of your products and services. Send emails that offer how-to information, tips, tutorials and ideas for using your products. This kind of information is useful to your customers but it also reminds them how valuable your products are and why they want to continue doing business with you.
Give Exclusive Access to a Product or Service
Giving email subscribers exclusive access to products or services piques their interest and can help you generate more sales. There are lots of ways to do this, for example, offer subscribers access to more content on your website or the chance to try your service before you officially launch it. This helps you build excitement, attract more customers and even make more sales as people get excited about and like your products.
To get results with email marketing you need to combine excellent content with great subject lines. When you do this people will open your emails and respond to your calls to action, helping you succeed.
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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
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Recently, LinkedIn made it possible for all users to publish content directly to the website. Now, it has announced a new feature called direct sponsored content that could help you reach more people and grow your audience.
The ability to publish content on LinkedIn and share it with your followers as a way to build your brand and showcase your expertise brings a lot of opportunity to your content marketing plan. But, this latest feature could do even more, making it easier for you to target your market.
Direct Sponsored Content
LinkedIn already offers sponsored posts that businesses can use to reach more people on the network. This new feature is very similar, but allows businesses to create sponsored content.
With the tool, your business can post content directly to LinkedIn’s feed, without posting it on our business page, and target it to a very specific group of people. Of course, the benefit of this is that you can make sure content with specific messages reaches the right people.
Your page’s administrator will have the ability to respond to comments on the sponsored content and can even track a few basic analytics like number of clicks, impressions, interactions and followers acquired for each piece of sponsored content.
To use the feature, you need to have a business page and use LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions. When you are logged in to your dashboard, you will see the new option to create sponsored content. You can see a video tutorial on how to start using sponsored content on LinkedIn’s content marketing page.
Should You use Sponsored Content?
If you already use sponsored posts or LinkedIn is already part of your social media marketing strategy, you should consider using sponsored content. This new feature can help you take your LinkedIn strategy to a new level and get more out of your account.
Even if your business isn’t using LinkedIn yet, now is a good time to consider adding it to your Internet and social media marketing plans. The site has grown and could potentially help you reach a large audience.
LinkedIn is a unique social media site because it attracts a different audience than many of the other social media sites. There are more than 300 million LinkedIn users with 15 million users in the UK alone. The site is also growing quickly, with more than two new users signing up every second. According to LinkedIn, there are 39 million students and recent graduates using the site, and this demographic is the site’s fastest growing group of users.
LinkedIn also says that its users did more than 5.7 billion searches on the site for professional-themed topics in 2012. These numbers tell us that LinkedIn is a major social network with users who search the site for content regularly.
If your business wants to target students, young professionals, industry experts and other businesses, LinkedIn is a great channel to use. To get the best results, use LinkedIn to reach this specific market, build a strong following, engage with other users and experiment with sponsored posts and content.
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Image courtesy of Stavros Markopoulos/Flickr.
The longer people stay on your site the more time you have to convert them into customers. When people browse your pages, read your blog posts and look at your products, they will be more likely to respond to your calls to action. But, how do you get people to stay on your site?
Many businesses unknowingly have elements on their site that actually drive traffic away. This checklist can help you find out why your site has a high bounce rate and how you can keep people on your site longer.
Your Site Doesn’t Look Professional
You only have a few seconds to make a good first impression with your website and if it doesn’t look professional, people will click the “back” button. A professional website tells visitors they can trust you and that you provide real solutions.
Make sure your site’s design is clean and professional. Copy, photos, graphics and other elements should also be professional and reflect your brand. An outdated site can look unprofessional and tell people you don’t keep up with technology, so keep your design current.
You don’t Direct Visitors’ Attention
When people come to your website, what is the first thing they look at? If your site is too busy, or too boring, people won’t know where to look first. This is a problem because you won’t be able to entice visitors to explore your site.
Choose a focal point and then work to make sure your design directs peoples’ attention to it. Strategically choose to highlight something like a new product, email subscription form or specific page on your website so you can achieve your marketing goals.
The Call to Action isn’t Clear
People need to know what to do when they visit your site. Whether they come with a purpose in mind or not, you need a relevant call to action that will grab their attention and encourage them to take action that will help you meet your goals. Sites that lack calls to action or that have unclear or confusing calls to action aren’t very successful.
Choose your call to action carefully, making sure it fits in with your overall business and marketing goals and speaks to your market. Then, make sure it is easy to understand, very clear and in a prominent place on your site.
You Make things Hard
If your call to action is clear but it is hard for people to respond to it, they will leave your site. For example, if you invite people to sign up for your email updates but the form is hard to find or use, people won’t follow through.
After you have established a call to action, make sure it is easy for people to respond to it. Don’t make it hard for people to work with your business, or you might just lose site visitors and even customers.
Driving more traffic to your site and decreasing your bounce rate is great way to make progress toward increasing sign-ups, making more sales, raising brand awareness and accomplishing all kinds of goals. These tips can help you make sure your site is visitor friendly and a more effective marketing tool.
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