Posts Tagged ‘small business’
Friday, September 19th, 2014
Thursday, September 18th, 2014
Image courtesy of Boykung/Flickr.
Content marketing is an extremely popular form of Internet marketing and one that can bring a lot of benefits to your business. Using things like blog posts, online articles, infographics, images, videos and other types of content can help you reach a variety of business and marketing goals, but what is it about content marketing that makes it so valuable?
Each company and campaign will get different results, but some very common benefits that come with content marketing are just a few examples of what makes this strategy so invaluable.
Telling Your own Story is Easier
To build your brand and promote your business, you need to get online and tell your own story. Using content marketing allows you to tell your market, the public and even the media all about who you are, what you value and what kinds of benefits you can offer your customers.
Failing to tell your own story means you will lose control of the message and speculation, social media complaints and misunderstandings will follow your business, which will weaken your brand and make it harder for you to grow.
Statistically, Consumers Prefer Content over Ads
According to Ragan Communications, 70 percent of consumers would rather get to know a company through articles than advertisements.
Of course, ads do have their place, but content can do things ads can’t. People know when they are being advertised to and quite frankly, they know that ads don’t provide as much value as content. Online articles, blog posts, videos and other types of content make it possible for you to provide real value to your market.
Use content to provide tips, educate, offer insight and give your customers excellent resources they will actually use. This approach tells people that your goal is to help your customers, not just overwhelm or annoy them with advertisements. It will also help you position yourself as the go-to solution in your industry.
An Opportunity to Build a Trusting, Beneficial Relationship with your Market
Ragan Communications also reported that 90 percent of consumers feel that custom content is useful and 78 percent feel that businesses that use custom content are interested in creating a positive relationship with them.
What does this mean? It means that when you use content marketing, you have the unique and valuable opportunity to build a trusting relationship with your market. When you create this kind of relationship, your customers will benefit as you provide the best resources and products available.
But, you will also benefit because you will build a stronger brand, gain more loyal customers and create a reputation that helps you attract new customers. Content marketing is one of the best ways to build a strong relationship with your market, and that relationship can bring big benefits.
These are just a few examples of the benefits content marketing can bring to your business. This strategy can help you achieve all kinds of business and marketing goals, and it’s one that you can easily tailor to your needs. Start getting these benefits and more by implementing a strong, comprehensive content marketing plan at your organisation.
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Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
Image courtesy of Sarah Reid/Flickr.
Using a marketing tactic called social proof is a great way to show off your reputation, tell potential customers that people are satisfied with your services and make more sales. But what exactly is social proof and how do you use it?
Social Proof Defined
Social proof is online content from your current customers that helps you promote your business. Sometimes this is organically created as customers are satisfied with a business and other times businesses create it as part of their marketing strategy.
Some common forms of social proof include:
- Social Media Posts
- Social Media Interactions
- Online Reviews
- Case Studies
- Statistics about Sales and Customers
The purpose of using social proof is to show your market or potential customers that others are happy with your services. People are often more likely to listen to people like them rather than marketing or sales material.
What’s the Big Deal about Social Proof?
There’s enormous power behind social proof. According to KISSmetrics:
- More than 70 percent of American consumers read reviews before buying a product.
- Almost 63 percent of consumers say they are more likely to buy something on a website if it has product ratings and reviews.
These statistics alone show how much user reviews can influence potential customers.
But, social proof can do more than that. It can help you build a reputation as a business with satisfied customers. When your online presence proves to your market that you provide top-quality services and are invested in making sure your customers are satisfied, you’ll reap big benefits.
This kind of reputation and presence can help you grow your business and even make more sales. Social proof is all about showing people what you can do for your customers so people will want to work with you.
How you can Start Using Social Proof
To start using social proof at your business, decide on a few tactics to use. Look at the above list and decide whether online reviews or case studies, or any of the other forms of social proof, would be best suited to your business.
Then, decide how to illustrate that social proof and disseminate it to your market. For example, statistics about your sales and customers could be organised on an infographic you will share through social media.
Case studies could be posted on your website, emailed to your subscribers and shared on social media. Online reviews could also be posted on your site, or you may want to link to third-party review sites. Testimonials could be used in blog posts, videos or just short snippets of text on your website.
You can also leverage organic social proof by interacting with your customers on social media and your blog so that others can see that you value their input and thank them for their compliments. Interaction also shows your market that you are active in listening to your customers and provide excellent customer service.
There are so many ways you can use social proof, so the trick is to decide what kind of information would be most persuasive to your market and then finding the right way to use it.
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Friday, September 12th, 2014
Image courtesy of Marco Paköeningrat/Flickr.
Facebook has announced a new resource, called Facebook Media, that is designed to help marketers find better ways to use the site. Social media marketing can be very effective and when you know how to leverage all the tools available to you, your marketing can be even more successful.
What’s in the Resource?
According to the announcement, Facebook Media will highlight ways brands and public figures are finding success on the social network. It will help marketers find ways they can use Facebook to promote their own business and build their brand.
The new site includes sections like “Get Started,” “Best Practices,” “Success Stories,” “Support” and a blog.
Each of these sections is full of tips to help businesses set up a Facebook page and then grow their audience. They include tips on what kind of content to post, ways to engage followers and how to use various features.
The site has a wealth of resources that will be valuable to beginner social media marketers and experts who are looking for more creative ways to leverage the site.
How can I use the Site?
In essence, Facebook Media is a one-stop shop for tips, tools, ideas and success stories for marketers. It is the perfect resource to go to when you set up your first Facebook page and then as you look for ways to make it a more valuable social media marketing tool.
Because there are so many resources on Facebook Media, you can use the site in so many different ways to enhance your marketing strategy.
Start the Right Way
To lay a strong foundation and set up a Facebook page that will bring results, it’s important that you take certain things like branding, settings and content into consideration. This new resource can help you set up a page the right way.
Learn how to Perfect your Strategy
Even if you’ve been using Facebook for a while, there are always things you can do to perfect your strategy and get better results. Facebook Media lays out some best practices you can use to make sure you are using Facebook to its fullest potential.
Find out What Works for Others
Of course, your business will require its own unique Facebook strategy and what works for one business may not necessarily work for yours. However, finding out how other brands find success on the site can help you get creative and find ideas to try on your own page. You may try strategies or techniques others are using or success stories on Facebook Media might inspire new ideas.
Where do I get Started?
To start taking advantage of this amazing new resource, head over to the new Facebook Media website. You can browse the categories, immediately start reading about others’ success on Facebook, search for specific topics and even sign up to get email updates about Facebook news and best practices.
Using Facebook Media is an excellent way to learn how to get more out of the site. We offer Facebook marketing services; so if you would like social media marketing assistance, contact us.
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Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
Kissmetrics revealed some information from a study done by Comscore and one of the most interesting statistics it found was that 78 percent of searches from smartphones result in a purchase. This is higher than searches from laptops, with 61 percent resulting in searches and from tablets, with 64 percent resulting in searches.
It is telling that 78 percent of searches from smartphones lead to a purchase. People use their phones while looking for products and details about them, business information, prices and other information they look for when considering buying something.
Another study, done by Google and Nielsen found that most people, 48 percent, who do research on a mobile device start out by doing a search.
The most common products that were purchased after a search fell into the automotive, home and garden and apparel and beauty categories. Fewer people do mobile research by starting with a branded website or app.
These facts emphasise just how valuable SEO is when it comes to making more sales, finding new customers and growing your business. So how do you make sure your mobile search engine optimisation strategy is ready to turn searchers into customers?
Simple Mobile SEO Tips
Use Mobile Keywords
Remember, people doing searches on their smartphones are likely to use slightly different keywords than they would on their computers. Potential customers are also likely to use different kinds of keywords than people who aren’t interested in making a purchase.
Try to use the kinds of keywords your customers would use on their smartphones. This could include your business name, product names, phrases that describe your services and words that are used when searching for prices.
Use a Click to Call Feature
Make it so easy to contact you from a smartphone search that nothing gets in your customers’ way. On your website, use a click to call feature so all people have to do is tap on your phone number to connect with you.
Google recently unveiled a new ad feature that allows businesses to track phone calls that result in their paid search ads. Using this is another great way to enhance your mobile SEO campaign.
If you sell products at brick-and-mortar locations, local SEO techniques can be especially valuable. Consider using keywords that include your location and using search ads that are geographically targeted.
Prepare your Site
Mobile optimisation can only go so far. If you really want to bring in potential customers through their smartphones, you need to make sure your site has a responsive design that makes it easy to use on small screens and while on the go.
The layout, amount of text, navigation and other elements of your mobile website need to be conducive to a smartphone so site visitors can browse your products, find what they are looking for and make a purchase.
There are lots of studies out there that show just how influential mobile search is when it comes to making more sales. To take advantage of this, don’t ignore mobile SEO and make sure your website is easy to use on a smartphone.
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Monday, September 8th, 2014
Image courtesy of Laia Ros/Flickr.
Earned links, or links that other people build to your website naturally, are valuable in the world of search engine optimisation. These links show Google that your website is an excellent resource and a legitimate source of content and information.
Getting these valuable earned links requires a mix of social media, public relations and marketing tactics.
Make News and Share it
One of the best ways to earn links is to make news. Things like new product launches, fast growth, new leadership, new locations and events are all types of stories that media outlets will want to cover, with a link back to your site.
Share newsworthy stories and information through press releases and by reaching out to news outlets and journalists. Also, don’t be afraid to think creatively to find connections between your business and current events to get media attention.
Become a Thought Leader
When your business becomes the go-to leader and source for information, you can build earned links to your website. For example, if you are a well-known expert on technology as it is used in education, journalists, bloggers and site owners will contact you for information and quotes for their content. These should all be linked back to your website.
Become a thought leader through your content marketing and social media plans by standing out as a resource that is valuable and reliable.
Build Relationships with Bloggers
To get to the point where people reach out to you for your thoughts and opinions as an expert, you’ll need to build your reputation through Internet marketing. You will also need to build relationships with journalists and bloggers so you’ll be the first person or business they reach out to when they write about your industry.
Building relationships takes time, but you can start by emailing bloggers when you have information they might be interested in covering, sending them press releases, inviting them to events or asking them to write a product review. Make sure you foster relationships that are beneficial for both of you, and don’t focus only on what relationships can do for you.
Be Involved in your Community and Industry
Getting involved in your community through events, research, volunteering, publishing white papers, offering samples, sponsoring other organisations or events and in other ways will help you get your name out there and become part of conversations about your area or industry.
As you build a reputation as a business that is very involved, your name will naturally come up in news reports, blog posts, other websites and forums online, which will help you get earned links back to your website.
Of course, you can’t expect to be able to passively wait for earned links. You need to continue with strong Internet marketing campaigns and actively promote your business and services.
As you make and share news, become an industry leader, build relationships with content creators and become highly involved in your community and industry, you will start to earn links back to your website, which will help you gain higher search rankings.
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Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014
Image courtesy of Ian Page-Echols/Flickr.
We usually think of webinars as a way to connect with, train and educate employees, team members and sometimes even our customers. We don’t often think of them as a promotional tool, but when you use them the right way webinars can be a powerful part of Internet marketing.
Search Engine Journal published an article explaining just how effective webinars can be when it comes to getting more social media shares, making sales and even getting higher search engine rankings.
According to the article, a Content Marketing Institute study found that webinars are the third most effective content marketing tactic due to real-time delivery and behaviour scoring.
But how do you make sure your webinars are more than just a conference call? How do you turn them into powerful marketing tools?
Choose the Right Market
Obviously, webinars that are designed for your employees aren’t going to give you the marketing opportunities webinars designed for your customers will. Think carefully about your market and which of your audiences would be most responsive to a webinar.
Some common groups to target with webinars include current customers, past customers, potential customers, people of a specific demographic or people that are involved in a specific industry.
Use Promotional and Educational Content
The most effective webinars use content that is both promotional and educational. People don’t want to sit through a commercial for your business or product, and your webinar shouldn’t be full of sales pitches. Instead, use content that is valuable to your audience, that helps you position yourself as an industry leader and that is educational.
Then, add small “touches” of promotional tactics to make sure the webinar is also a marketing tool. Some easy ways to do this are:
- Putting your logo in a prominent place as the sponsor or host.
- Using examples or case studies from your clients.
- Offering free samples through a link on your website.
- Referring people to your blog.
- Encouraging people to contact you for more information.
- Asking people to connect with you on social media.
- Holding the live webinar at your location while broadcasting it online.
To get marketing benefits from your webinar your content should be carefully designed to be educational and beneficial while still promoting your business.
Make the Webinar Accessible in Multiple Ways
Make it easy for people to participate in your webinar. Of course, you should broadcast it online on your website or YouTube channel so people everywhere can participate. But, you may also consider live tweeting the webinar, posting a link to your webinar on your blog, using multiple social media channels and even allowing people to attend in person.
Doing this makes it more likely that a lot of people will participate and also gives you more ways to market your webinar, and also your business. Creating a buzz on social media and getting more traffic to your website before and during your webinar can help your marketing efforts.
Recycle Webinar Content Later
Don’t stop using your webinar for marketing purposes when it’s over! Recycle the content by posting the video and audio, as a whole or as short snippets, on your website and sharing it through social media.
Other ways to recycle webinar content include using the same ideas, themes and sources to create blog posts, podcasts, infographics, articles and white papers. All of these can be used as part of your Internet marketing, content marketing and social media marketing strategies.
If you use them the right way, webinars can help you educate and provide value to your market while still promoting your business. Use these tips as you plan your next webinar so you’ll see more benefits.
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Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Image courtesy of Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones/Flickr.
Google has updated its product ads so now shoppers can see if a product is available near them and even browse related products at the same store. This new update will make it easier for businesses to bring in shoppers and even make more sales. It will be available to Google Merchant Center users and your business will be able to start using it soon.
When you use Google Merchant Center, you can update Google on what products you have available, how many you have in stock and what their prices are. You can do this for each of your store locations so a shopper can find out if the location closest to him has what he is looking for.
Now, people using desktop computers and smartphones may see ads from your business for your products. The ads will include information on the price, availability and location of the product.
This update makes it even easier for you to use ads to make sales, since your customers will know right away what kinds of products you have available at your locations.
The second part of this new update is called local storefront. If a user clicks on one of your product ads, she’ll be directed to your online, local storefront where she can browse similar products, their prices and their availability.
This means you could make additional sales more easily. If someone finds an ad for a product she is looking for, she may also discover more, similar products she also wants to buy at your location.
How to Use the new Features
Right now, these features are being used by a select number of stores and brands in the United States. But, Google announced that they will soon be available to businesses everywhere. In order for your ads to display what products you have in stock, how many you have and what their prices are, you must use Google Merchant Center. The information you provide will stay up to date so your ads will reflect current information.
Businesses will pay for the ads on a cost-per-click basis, so your cost will depend on how well your Product Listing Ads perform. You will not be charged for clicks or interactions on the storefront interface. In other words, you will pay for the initial click from customers who then go on to browse the rest of your inventory, free of charge to you.
These new features will make shopping easier for customers while making it simpler for you to promote your products. You’ll be able to tell customers exactly what you have in stock and even let them see what kinds of related products you have in your stores.
This blend of online advertising with local search is a good fit for businesses that have brick-and-mortar stores and are working to increase their sales. You can prepare to use the new features by signing up for Google Merchant Center so that when the features are widely available you’ll be prepared to take advantage of them and enhance your advertising efforts.
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Monday, September 1st, 2014
Image courtesy of Andreas Levers/Flickr.
Your business doesn’t have time or resources to spend on content marketing strategies and tactics that don’t work. It’s imperative that you track your results and measure your success so you can enhance your campaigns and spend time doing things that work.
The way you measure success will depend on your goals, but there are some signs that could mean your content marketing strategy is working and its return on investment is worth your time and resources.
Increase in Site Traffic
When you publish content on external sites and link back to your own website, you have the opportunity to increase site traffic. Guest blog posts, articles on outside sites, social media posts and news coverage can all help you drive traffic to your site where you can convert visitors into customers.
More Social Media Shares
Great content gets shared on social media. You’ll know your content is interesting, compelling and entertaining to your market when it is shared more frequently on social media. Share content through your own accounts and then make it easy for site visitors to share your content on your website with sharing buttons.
Better Brand Awareness
When you use content to become a resource and industry authority in your area of expertise, you can increase brand awareness. People will begin to associate your business and products with high-quality services. This can be achieved with content on your own site as well as content you publish through guest blogging opportunities and article submissions.
As you raise brand awareness and position yourself as an industry leader and a business that provides the best products, you will also increase customer loyalty. Use content that provides value to your market and that proves why you are the best in your industry. Customer loyalty can also be strengthened through social media, so be sure to share your content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites.
Increase in Sales
One of the biggest benefits content marketing can bring is an increase in sales. Use content to increase brand awareness, educate your market about your products and illustrate why people should choose you over your competitors. As you do this, you will see an increase in sales. Content can be a powerful sales tool that allows you to persuade people to try your products and then keep buying them.
A Growing Email List
A large email list can help you accomplish all kinds of goals, from increased sales to better brand recognition and even more loyal customers. When you consistently provide great content people will want to hear from your business. They won’t want to miss your blog posts, videos and tutorials, so they will sign up for your email marketing list.
Be sure to make it easy for people to subscribe and use your content to prove to people why they should sign up. For example, add a sign-up box under each of your blog posts and tell people they can get your posts right in their inbox if they enrol in your email list.
Excellent content can bring valuable results for your business. When you plan strategically and use the best forms of content, publishing platforms and tactics for your business, you could see these, and even more, benefits.
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Friday, August 29th, 2014
Image courtesy of hyena reality/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
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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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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