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Posts Tagged ‘small business’

Will Facebook’s New Nearby Friends Feature impact Your Business?

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Facebook has announced a new feature that allows users to make their location visible to their friends and in turn, see where their friends are. The goal behind the new Nearby Friends feature, according to Facebook, is to foster more in-person communication and interaction and to spark online conversations about places.

The feature is optional and users can turn it on or off. They can also control exactly who can see their location and even set time limits for their visibility. The idea is that as people use Facebook from their smartphones while they are on the go, they can meet up with friends who happen to be in the same area. Users can also give recommendations for restaurants, shops and other sites when they see their friends are in a specific neighbourhood.

When the feature is activated on Facebook’s mobile app, users will be able to see the locations of their friends on a map, so finding friends is very easy. Nearby Friends will become available to users in the United States first in the coming weeks, and then it’s likely that all users will have access to it soon after.

Nearby Friends and Your Business

So, will this new feature impact your business? It has the potential to, but the question is how will you leverage it?

To use Nearby Friends, you’ll need to encourage organic interaction. You can’t set up a page, activate the feature for your audience or even actively use it in a way that benefits your business. What you can do is be aware that your market may be more inclined to talk about your brick-and-mortar locations on Facebook if they use the feature.

Also remember that friends are extremely influential and their opinions often mean more to people than messages and tactics from your business. For example, some people may be more easily swayed by a friend who sees they are in the same neighbourhood as your shop and recommends it than they will be by your own Facebook posts.

Keep in mind that not all of your potential customers, if any, are following you on Facebook. If your Facebook following mostly consists of current and past customers, the Nearby Friends feature could be a way for you to tap into the group of people who are likely to become your customers as people recommend and mention your business.

Businesses won’t be able to actively use this feature to promote their products and services, but the feature could make them more visible to a new audience on Facebook. The key is with the users. If your customers love your business enough to recommend it to their friends through Facebook, you may benefit from the Nearby Friends feature.

Whether or not this new feature will catch on and be embraced by users remains to be seen. How heavy Facebook users choose to use Nearby Friends, and how actively they participate, will determine whether or not your business will benefit.

In the meantime, you can encourage your customers to recommend your business to friends, offer perks to customers who refer new customers and continue to build your Facebook presence and community.

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How to Overcome 4 Daunting Email Marketing Challenges

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
Image courtesy of RaHuL Rodriguez/Flickr.

Image courtesy of RaHuL Rodriguez/Flickr.

If you use email marketing, you know that finding success is a matter of finding the perfect frequency, messaging and content. Email marketing is a tactic that can be extremely successful and bring big benefits if you can overcome some of the common challenges it brings.

At first glance, these statistics seem a little daunting, but they reveal key information that can help you enhance your campaign so it will bring better results.

Average Open Rate is 22.8%.

According to Smart Insights, emails from businesses are only opened 22.8 percent of the time. This statistic may not be very encouraging, but it does emphasise the need for businesses to give their markets a reason to open their emails.

If you know that most people don’t even bother to open marketing emails, you know that you need to make the most of the subject line and provide significant value if you want your market to read yours.

Average Click-Through Rate is 3.36%.

Smart Insights also reports that the click-through rate for marketing emails is 3.36 percent. This statistic, and the previous one, is based on research that examined marketing emails from 25 industries across the UK.

This click-through rate reveals that even if someone opens your email, the chance that he will click on a link in it is very slim. The solution to this challenge is to use enticing copy and give people a good reason to click on links in your emails.

Strategies like only showing the first paragraph of a blog post in the email, offering deals and directing people to valuable resources can help you increase your click-through rate.

21% of people report email as spam, even if they know it isn’t.

Convince and Convert reports that 21 percent of people report marketing emails as spam, even when they know they aren’t spam. This number is significant and means you could be losing subscribers who don’t feel your emails are relevant or offer enough value.

Avoid losing subscribers by providing content that interests your market, that people are looking for and that is relevant to your subscribers. The most successful email marketing campaigns will deliver value directly to your target markets’ inbox.

17% of people set up a new email address every six months.

Convince and Convert also found that 17 percent of Americans create a new email address about every six months. While we don’t know what the statistic is for the UK, email users here probably have similar habits.

What does this mean for your campaign? It means that the addresses on your list aren’t always accurate and that your emails aren’t always being delivered to or seen by your target market.

One of the best ways to overcome this challenge is to make it easy for people to update their email address and to constantly strive toward building a current email list. Just because people have subscribed once, don’t assume they are getting your messages. Add sign up forms to your checkout process, blog posts and in prominent places on your website to keep your list current and valuable.

These statistics highlight the particular challenges email marketing can bring and provide insight into how businesses can enhance their campaigns. When you understand why most campaigns fail, you can avoid these mistakes and problems and make your campaign more successful.

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Mobile SEO: Targeting Your Local Market

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

We recently blogged about how important and valuable mobile search and leads are and shared a report that revealed that mobile local searches have an 80 percent conversion rate. Your local mobile audience is one you don’t want to ignore, but how do you use search engine optimisation to target potential customers?

The key to getting this traffic, that brings leads, is to focus on mobile optimisation and local SEO and Internet marketing. When these things work together, you’ll target a market that has proven that it wants to make a purchase (see our recent blog post).

Get Your Site Mobile Ready

First, make sure your site is mobile ready by making sure it has a responsive design. You want your site to be easy to read, navigate and use on a small smartphone screen or a tablet.

Your site should also load very quickly and cater to mobile users’ needs. People who visit your site from mobile devices might be looking for different things and have different intentions. For example, they may be looking to find your location, log in to their account or find product information. Whatever your users are looking for, make it easy to find on your mobile site.

Use Local SEO and Internet Marketing Tactics

Using local SEO and Internet marketing tactics will help you get the attention of potential customers near your business and drive traffic to your site, which you can convert to leads.

There are all kinds of strategies and tactics you can use to build a local SEO and Internet marketing campaign, but here are a few good places to start.

Target Local Search Terms

Target local search terms that include names of cities, neighbourhoods, business centres, shopping centres and other geographical words and phrases. This will help you rank your site for local terms your market could be searching for.

Leverage User Reviews

User reviews on sites like Google+ Local, Yelp!, Yell and Touch Local not only help you build a positive reputation and generate business, but can also help you earn search rankings. Encourage your customers to leave a review by letting them know you have a profile on these sites.

Don’t Ignore Local and Business Directories

Set up an account on local and business directories to earn rankings and inform your market. Consider using Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Bing Places as well as local and industry specific business directories. Make sure your profiles are complete so you’ll get the most out of these sites.

Create a Local PPC Campaign

Don’t discount the power of local pay-per-click campaigns. These are a great way to get your business name and website in front of your local market and can help you drive valuable traffic to your site.

Local SEO and Internet marketing tactics are essential if you want to reach potential customers in your area. Start building a local marketing strategy with these tips.

Reach that valuable local mobile audience by using a combination of a strong responsive website and local SEO and PPC strategies to drive traffic to your site and increase sales.

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Getting more out of your PPC Campaigns

Monday, April 7th, 2014
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When you use pay-per-click campaigns, it’s important that you regularly look for ways to improve them. Best practices, your market and even your business all change, which means your PPC campaigns need to evolve with them.

But, where do you start? The best way to assess your PPC efforts is to look at what you are doing and what kind of results you are getting. If the results aren’t what you are looking for, change your strategy in ways that will bring bigger successes. These steps can help you make sure your PPC efforts will be successful.

Use your Marketing Funnel

Your PPC campaign should correlate with your overall marketing strategy. Look closely at your marketing funnel and decide where your PPC ads and tactics fit in. Ask yourself if you want your PPC campaign to intercept people as they become aware of your business, explore your products, decide whether or not to buy or when they are ready to make a purchase. Then, make sure the language, keywords and strategies behind your PPC campaign fit with that stage of the marketing funnel and target the right audience.

Choose Your Keywords Carefully

Don’t just use the first keywords that come to mind when you set up your PPC campaigns. Do some research and think carefully about your market and what words your target audience is likely to use. Some things to keep in mind include your brand, products, where in the marketing funnel a campaign falls and what kinds of calls to action you will be using.

Align Calls to Action with your End Goal

You already know how important it is that you use calls to action, but do your calls to action align with your end goal? Asking your market to do something that won’t help you accomplish your goals is counterproductive and won’t help your business.

For example, if your end goal is to make more sales, ask your market to take advantage of special pricing and make a purchase. If you want people to contact you, ask your market to call you and provide your phone number. It is essential that your calls to action and end goals work together.

Test and Track your Efforts

In most cases, your first PPC campaign tactics won’t bring the best results. You will need to test ad copy, keywords and other elements of your campaign to find out what works best for your business and audience. If you never try new things or test different approaches, you will never know if you are reaching your highest potential.

Watch your Competition

Watching your competition can help you find ways to enhance your own PPC campaigns. What keywords are they targeting? What kinds of ads are they using? When you know what other PPC campaigns your target market is exposed to, you know what you need to do to stand out and capture peoples’ attention.

Using PPC campaigns is a great way to drive traffic to your site and achieve other marketing goals. As you build and enhance your PPC campaigns, use these tips to make sure they are effective and that you will get the best results possible.

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4 Things that could be Holding Your Website Back

Friday, April 4th, 2014
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How long has it been since you revised your website? Many businesses set up their website and then don’t make changes for months or even years. If this describes you, you may not be getting the most out of your site.

When you take the time to look at your site’s analytics, rework your marketing messaging and add pages, you can find out what is working and what isn’t so your site will reach its fullest potential. These four things could be holding your site back, causing you to miss out on customer engagement and sales.

There is too Much Going on

Websites that are overrun with pictures, text, boxes and lots of links are overwhelming. If there is too much going on on your site, people will be confused and leave the site or worse, will take one look at your homepage and mischaracterise your business as unprofessional.

On the other hand, if your site is streamlined, has a design that complements the information and doesn’t distract from your message, it will tell your market that you are trustworthy and people will be able to navigate your site.

The Call to Action is Confusing or is Missing

Ask someone who isn’t familiar with your site to look at your homepage. Then, ask him what he would do first. This simple test will tell you if your calls to action are clear enough.

Your visitors should know how to do what you want them to do. For example, if your goal is to sell products, it should be very obvious how people can make a purchase. Making the path to responding to a call to action clear and easy is a simple way to make your site more successful.

You don’t Get Visitors’ Attention Immediately

You only have a few seconds to capture people’s attention online. When someone visits your website, she will quickly click the “back” button if she doesn’t see what she is looking for right away. Make your homepage clear and concise and use it to grab visitors’ attention.

To do this, combine images, design and copy to make your site stand out and to clearly communicate what benefits you can offer to your customers.

Important information is Buried

Along the same lines, be sure that the important information on your site isn’t buried. This means making sure the things your market is looking for and the most important parts of your site are on the homepage or just a click away. Don’t send your visitors through the frustrating process of having to search and dig through pages and pages until they find what they are looking for.

The goal is to make sure your site captures visitors’ attention and that it is easy to navigate. You don’t want to make it hard for people to use your site or to become a customer. When all the elements of your site work together to help you reach your goals, your site will become a powerful marketing and sales tool that will benefit your business in big ways.

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What it Really means to have a Mobile Site

Monday, March 31st, 2014
Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

You have probably heard over and over how important it is that your business has a mobile website. As more people access the Internet and your site from their smartphones or tablets, it becomes more essential that your site is mobile ready. But, what exactly does that mean? What makes a site mobile friendly?

In essence, mobile friendly means that a website can be viewed on a small screen and that it is easy to navigate on a mobile device. But, there’s much more to it than that.

Small-Screen Design

The first step is to make sure the layout and design of your site lends itself to a small screen. Looking at a website on a smartphone or tablet is very different than looking at one on a computer screen.

Things like menus, images and text will all appear smaller and if the layout isn’t designed for mobile, visitors will have to scroll up and down, left and right and zoom in and out just to see the entire site. Make sure the layout, images and menus are easy to use on a small screen so people won’t get frustrated and leave your site quickly.

Less Copy

On mobile sites, lots of copy can make the entire site feel heavy and overwhelming and even make the site harder to navigate. Don’t overwhelm your visitors or make it hard for them to find what they need. Use enough copy to get your point across and provide necessary information, but cut out any extra.

If you aren’t able to cut out much text, try reorganising it so it is more readable on a mobile device. Divide it into smaller paragraphs, disperse it throughout your site or use visual elements, like boxes or pop-ups, to contain text and grab peoples’ attention.

Fast Load Times

Trying to load a slow site is frustrating enough on a desktop, let alone on a smartphone. Keep in mind that people who are viewing your site from their phone or tablet are likely on the go. They want to be able to quickly check your site for the information they need. They don’t have the time or patience to wait for it to load.

There are all kinds of ways to make sure your mobile site loads quickly, including using fewer images and videos and fewer “extras” that can slow a site down. Check with your web designer or hosting company to find ways to speed up your mobile site.

Front and Centre Details

Since people view your mobile site on small screens and while they are out and about doing other things, they want to be able to find the information they need quickly and easily. They will get frustrated and give up if it takes too long or is too hard to find the details they are looking for.

Knowing this, you should design your site so that the most vital information, or the information that your mobile market is looking for, is front and centre. Put this information on your homepage or on a sub-page that isn’t hard to find.

Mobile websites are essential in today’s Internet marketing climate and can help your business be more successful. If you don’t have a mobile site yet, start designing one. If you do have a site, use this list to make sure it is as effective as possible.

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8 Ways to use Images in Your Internet Marketing Strategy

Friday, March 28th, 2014
Image courtesy of Jonathan_W/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Jonathan_W/Flickr.

Pictures bring an extra “something” to social media and Internet marketing. When your content has rich images, it’s often easier to capture your audience’s attention and convey your message.

There are so many creative ways you can incorporate pictures into your strategy and when you do, you’ll breathe new life into your online content and bring your messaging to a whole new level.

Highlighting Product Features

Don’t just tell your market about a product’s features, show them off with photos. These kinds of images can generate hype about a new product and help people more fully understand why your product is the best on the market.

Demonstrating Product Use

You can prove how useful and valuable a product is by demonstrating it through photos. Of course, you can also use videos to do this, but with a picture you can quickly show how something works or demonstrate results.

Dressing up a Message

Share short marketing messages, testimonials, information about discounts and other short pieces of text with an image to make it more interesting and so it will stand out online. You can easily use photo-editing software to put text on top of a relevant image.

Bringing a Remote Audience to an Event

When you host a product launch, conference or other event, chances are that there will be people in your market who can’t attend. Bring them to the event virtually by sharing photos, on your blog or through social media, as the event unfolds.

Connecting with others on Social Media

We recently blogged about how you can now tag people in pictures on Twitter, and most other major social media networks also allow you to do this. Tagging people in photos is one more way you can connect and interact with them on social media.

Getting Your Audience Involved

Ask your market to submit photos to get people involved and engaged with your brand on your website or through social media. Some easy ways to do this include holding a photo contest, asking people to submit pictures of them using your products or encouraging people to share photos of them at your location. You may need to offer an incentive, like giving a discount or holding a raffle, to get people excited about this.

Giving a Behind-the-Scenes Look

Sharing photos is a great way to let people get a behind-the-scenes look that makes them feel like they have the inside story and that they are involved with your brand. Take these kinds of pictures at your office, events, product launches and anywhere else that will give people a unique view of your business.

Making information More Shareable

When you combine information, in the form of facts or statistics, with an image, people are more likely to share it on social media. The most common form of this tactic is an infographic, but you can do this on a smaller scale by putting an interesting statistic on top of a relevant image.

Images let you reach your market, get peoples’ attention and even convey your messages in new ways. The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to including photos in an Internet marketing strategy, so assess your goals and find places where photos can enhance your strategy.

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How to Build Your Arsenal of Customer Reviews

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
Image courtesy of smarnad/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of smarnad/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Customer reviews can bring your website, landing pages, blog, product pages and entire Internet marketing strategy to a whole new level. When your market can identify with the people who are satisfied with your product, people will be more likely to become customers themselves.

But, how do you get all those customer reviews? There are all kinds of avenues you can use, but here are a few simple ways to start collecting them.

Ask Satisfied Customers

One of the most basic ways to get customer reviews is to contact satisfied customers and ask if they would be willing to provide one. Customers that are happy with your products and services will likely be willing to do this and give you good reviews. You can also send out an email to your list of customers asking for a review and providing an incentive, like a discount or free sample.

When you ask for reviews, you should ask for permission to use them on your website or other publications, whether you use a customer’s name or not.

Monitor Social Media

Monitor your social media accounts, and social media in general, to find positive comments from your customers. Then, reach out to the customer and ask if you can use the review or testimonial as part of your marketing materials. If your customers aren’t posting these kinds of comments write a post asking for feedback.

Be sure to thank customers who give you permission with a letter, discount, sample or other gift.

Publicise Review Sites you Use

If you have a page on Yelp, Google Maps, Epinion or any other review site, make sure your market knows about it. Most of these sites have rigid rules and regulations about how you can secure reviews, so make sure you fully understand and follow them.

Making your customers aware that you have a page can encourage them to leave a review. Try sharing a link to your review page on your website, blog, social media accounts or even printed materials, like brochures, business cards and catalogs.

Provide a Customer Feedback Form

Make it easy for happy customers to give positive feedback by providing easy access to a form they can quickly fill out. You can do this in your store or office, but you can also add a form to your website or blog. Link to this form in your marketing emails, from your order confirmation pages, on your email receipts and anywhere else where your customers will see them and be likely to fill them out.

Including these feedback forms as part of the purchasing or ordering process, or by sending a follow up email, with a link to the form, after a product is shipped makes it more likely that people will fill them out. When your customers don’t have to seek out feedback forms, but are presented with them, you’ll get more responses.

When you have an arsenal of user reviews to use throughout your Internet marketing tactics, it will be much easer to reach and persuade your market. Start collecting reviews now by using one or more of these strategies.

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The Incredible Benefits of Evergreen Content

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
Image courtesy of Raoul Pop/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Raoul Pop/Flickr.

Evergreen content is content that doesn’t expire quickly, or ever. In other words, it is content that is relevant and provides value for long periods of time. This kind of content is extremely valuable to your business and can bring several benefits that will help you be more successful.

Evergreen Content Defined

Lots of the content you produce, like blog posts, social media posts, and even some infographics, include information that becomes outdated. Pieces of content about social media features that are continually updated, products that are discontinued and current events all provide great value when they are published, but over time that value decreases.

On the other hand, things like tutorials, business descriptions and content about general topics usually continue to provide value over long periods of time. They are relevant for months or even years.

You do need a combination of these content types for Internet, social media and content marketing, but the benefits of evergreen content are often overlooked by businesses.

What Evergreen Content can do for You

So, what makes evergreen content so beneficial? The things it can help you achieve and the benefits it can bring are very valuable.

Establish your Brand Voice and Authority

Content that includes information that provides value for longer periods of time can help you establish your brand voice and authority. When you are always changing the content on your homepage, or main pages on your site, you begin to dilute your brand and confuse your market. Evergreen content helps you avoid this.

Evergreen content that highlights your expertise and that your market deems as highly valuable will also help you establish your authority and reputation as an expert, which will help you build your business.

Get more Social Media Traffic

Evergreen content lets you get more out of a single article, blog post, or video as you can continue to share it on social media long after it is created and it will continue to generate interest and traffic. Other kinds of content lose their value and an audience’s interest, so they won’t attract as many clicks.

Build Your Link Bait Foundation

Just as evergreen content can continually attract interest on social media, it can also attract more links. People are much more likely to share content that is relevant and current, so when you publish evergreen content, you are extending the period of time it remains relevant and is most likely to be linked to, bringing you more links and traffic.

Increase Your Rankings

More traffic, comments and links, which will accumulate with evergreen content, can lead to higher search engine rankings. When your site ranks well, it is easier for your market to find it and you’ll see more traffic and more sales.

Evergreen content should play a significant part in your Internet marketing. The value it brings is hard to beat and when you create it, you are making an investment that will bring long-term benefits to your business. Assess your content strategy to find out where you could benefit from evergreen content and make plans to add it to your marketing tactics.

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How to Set up an Effective Facebook Page

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Setting up a Facebook page is probably one of your first priorities when you start social media marketing, and it’s also the foundation of a successful Facebook strategy. Your Facebook page should be an online base where social media users can find out more about your business and interact with you. It will help you build your brand, reach your market and foster customer loyalty.

But, to get the best results from your Facebook page you need to keep a few things in mind as you set it up. If you’ve already set up a page, it’s not too late to make some adjustments to enhance it.

Take Advantage of Features that Allow for Branding

While there are some things you can’t change about your Facebook page, you can take advantage of some of the network’s features to make your page as branded as possible. When your market visits your page, you want people to know right away that they are looking at content from your business.

Use your profile picture, cover photo and tabs that link to things like videos, photos, events and your Facebook apps to show off your brand.

Get Your Page Verified and Link to Your Site

Facebook allows you to get your business’ page verified, which tells users that it is the official page for your business. Verified pages have a blue checkmark next to their name. When your page is verified, your market will know that they can rely on the content and will take your page more seriously.

The description you write for your business will appear on the top of your page, directly under your profile picture. Make sure your description is concise but adequately describes your business. This is where you should link to your website so that the link appears front and centre on your page.

Use Apps Strategically

Don’t be afraid to use apps, or the boxes that are directly under your cover photo, to build your other marketing strategies. For example, you can use them to link to your other social media accounts, promote a contest or even build your email list. You can use some apps temporarily for a special campaign or promotion, and some you can use continually for long-term efforts.

Make it Very Easy for People to Contact You

Sure, your audience can contact you through Facebook, but what if a customer wants to talk directly to a customer service representative? Make it very easy for users to understand how they can get in touch with you in multiple ways, not just through Facebook.

The simplest way to do this is to use your “About” page to post things like your phone number, an email address and a link to your customer support page on your website. Also be sure that your description isn’t so long that people won’t read it or that it buries your contact information.

When you take the time to make sure your Facebook page takes advantage of all the features the site has, that it is branded and that your market can easily interact with you, you’ll see much better results as you use it to market your business.

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