Online Marketing Archives - BuildFire

The Ultimate Guide to Customer Journey Marketing

If you don’t have a plan for customer journey marketing, you might as well close your business for good because you’re wasting your time.

You might get a sale here and there with your efforts, but you’re sales will flat line pretty quickly without a plan. If you really want to make money, you need to focus on long term repeat customers.

A fraction of repeat customers will account for a majority of your sales. Not only that, they cost less than acquiring new customers and are willing to spend more money on you.

In this guide, I will reveal how to develop a customer journey marketing plan from start to finish so you can attract loyal fans and create a sustainable business.

Continue reading “The Ultimate Guide to Customer Journey Marketing”

How to Build A Massive Following with Effective Content Curation

The internet is inundated with content. The challenge for today’s internet users is not finding information, but discovering quality content that they can trust, learn from and share. And herein lies an opportunity for content marketers to build a following of loyal subscribers.

Content curation has helped Dave Pell of NextDraft build an email list of over 160,000 subscribers and earned Maria Popova of BrainPickings over 350,000 Twitter followers and 150,000 plus email subscribers. It also helped Rand Fishkin of Moz rack up an impressive 374,000 Twitter followers (and increasing!) and build a highly engaged audience.

It’s no wonder then that 68% marketers swear by content curation as a content marketing tactic, according to a report by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. But great content curation doesn’t come easy.

This article discusses how you can discover the best content, save it in way that it is easy to share and the best tools to help you get the job done.

 

Discovering Great Content

This step involves a major chunk of work, and is perhaps the most difficult to crack.

Most content curators either share great content that everyone’s sharing, or average content that no one’s reading. Your job is to hit the sweet spot: find content that people will devour with a passion, from sources they are yet to discover themselves.

In this section we explore four major sources to discover content that separates the good curators from the great:

 

Communities

Communities are virtual meeting points for like-minded people sharing content they’re passionate about. Sounds like fun? It is!

Communities give you access to a great deal of content relevant to the subject you’re interested in, all in one place, and you can instantly see what type of content resonates with your audience.

Here are a few examples of the most popular communities:  

 

Reddit

Billed as “the front page of the internet”, Reddit is an all-too popular online community for link sharing and discussion. While the front page of the site itself can be a little daunting, it’s great to keep a tab on the hottest news on the internet.

You’ll have to dig a little deeper than the front page though to find really unique pieces of content for your curation efforts. Reddit has various subreddits for specific topics, from broad ones such as Startups, Books, and Movies, to niche topics such as Personal Finance, Visual Representations of Data and Android.

Reddit has a robust set of moderators and strict posting policies, keeping spam content at bay. Be sure to check out not just links with the most upvotes, but also those that look promising to you. Subscribe to a few subreddits and check in for a few days to see if it makes sense to stay. Beware of subscribing to too many though, or you’ll soon have a front page cluttered with pointless links.

 

Quora

Quora’s premise is simple: ask questions, as basic or complicated as you like, and get answers, often from experts such as Seth Godin, Lena Dunham, James Altucher, and Robert Frost.

Quora is more than a question-answer website though. It expertly blends fascinating questions with expert and first-account answers that make for a great read. Some of the things discussed on Quora include life in prison, global warming, making of TV shows and a crew’s opinion on a film they worked on.

I’ve found Quora to be a great tool for finding new writers, blogs, personalities, most importantly insights into things I’ve never thought about myself. All in all, Quora is an awesome tool to add to your content curation box.

 

Niche Communities

While the first two communities are general in nature, you might want to branch out into niche communities to find highly targeted content for your audience. Some examples of these include Growth Hackers, a community that dissects startup growth, and Hacker News, a place for tech geeks.

There’s a community for everything; you name it and you’ll find it. A simple Google search will throw up niche communities on any topic you’re interested in. For instance, my search for “online community for dog lovers” lead me to the 18 Social Media Networks for Pet Lovers.

 

Newsletters

Email is still one of the most popular means of receiving and consuming content, and curated newsletters are a gold mine of interesting links and news. Newsletters go a step further than communities, with their content. Instead of simply aggregating and serving you the most upvoted links, newsletters provide you with the cream of the crop.

Now, your goal with newsletters is to discover new sources, blogs and websites that you’re unfamiliar with, rather than simply copy-pasting or tweeting out the links they contain. You might be tempted to share one brilliant article or two, but don’t make it a habit.

Here are some examples of great newsletters that you might want to dig into:

 

NextDraft

Dave Pell, writer of the Next Draft, refers to himself as the “Editor of the Internet”, and rightly so. His newsletter is packed with the ten most important links of the day, along with his often-entertaining views on the same. The email is peppered with news that is relevant, fascinating and unique, on a wide spectrum of topics such as politics, entertainment, and business.

 

SwipeFile

A personal favourite, SwipeFile is a newsletter for “people who want more from their work”. It contains riveting links on topics such as business, self-improvement, productivity, and just great content in general. Overall, I find this newsletter a great source of new websites, blogs, and writers to follow.

 

Niche Newsletters

Just as there are niche communities, so are there niche newsletters. Ones that have a laser sharp focus on a particular topic. One example is Hiten Shah’s SaaS Weekly, a staple for SaaS businesses. You can use a tool like Letterlist to find a newsletter specific to your niche, or try good old Google search!

 

Content Curation Tools

While each of the sources discussed here can be referred to as a content curation tool, the ones in this section are a bit more specialised in nature. The other sources mentioned are good sources of content discovery, but the following tools are designed specifically to simplify your job as a content curator, helping you find and save great content with ease and share it in a jiffy.

Here are some of the best content curation tools to add to your arsenal:

 

Feedly

Feedly is one of the best tools out there for staying up-to-date with all your favourite sources in one place. If you’re unsure where to start, the app has a handy set of collections you can explore. Collections are tagged and arranged into topics such as fashion, marketing, news and tech. Each of these contains a huge list of sources you can choose from.

Once you figure out which sources you want to follow, be it a blog or website, you can then create one of your own. When you click on a collection, it looks something like this:

With Feedly, you can also see how popular a particular website or blog really is,how many posts it puts out per week, and also how popular its individual posts are. Additionally, the tool offers save-for-later and quick sharing options that are a boon for curators.

 

Nuzzel

The premise of Nuzzel is simple: a daily email with the most popular stories from your Twitter network. Instead of sifting through a barrage of tweets from everyone you follow, you get to see the most popular stories of the day, all in one handy email.

Not just that, you can also choose to follow Nuzzel feeds of people you like, and get updates from the people they follow. The website also has other features such as “Recently Read Stories” and “News You May Have Missed”.

 

LetterList

With so many useful newsletters out there, keeping track of the best ones, or simply finding one in your niche, can be a bit of a task. LetterList does the work for you by featuring some of the best newsletters on topics such as design, growth, startups, travel, tech, and more.

It features a lot of the regulars that you might be familiar with such as Austin Kleon’s Weekly Newsletter, SwipeFile, and NextDraft, and others I hadn’t heard about such as Breaking Smart, Strands of Genius, and NowIKnow.

Flipboard

While Feedly is more of a replacement for Google Reader, Flipboard is your tool to keep track of news from all your favourite sources. This means you can select topics you’re interested in keeping a tab on, and Flipboard will present you with stories on them. You can organise articles into read-it-later lists and even create your own magazine if you like.

One of the features of Flipboard that I’ve really found useful is the newsletters they send. They have various newsletters such as a Daily Digest of all topics you follow, and Ten for Today, Flipboard’s own picks of the most interesting articles for the day. You can choose to unsubscribe whenever you like, or change the frequency of the emails.

 

Social Media

This one’s a no-brainer, but most people don’t use social media for the powerful content curation tool it is. The key to finding great content on social media is to use its various filters and keywords, and focus only on the people who share the type of content you want to read.

Let’s take a look at two of the best social media tools for content curation:

 

Twitter

If you take a look at the list of people you currently follow on Twitter, chances are it isn’t half as organised or focused as you’d like it to be. Result: only noise that drowns the great stuff. Even if you’re following a whole lot of people on Twitter, be sure to arrange them into Twitter lists so you can read the tweets of your most important sharers in one go.

As far as finding people to follow is concerned, there are a couple of ways to go about it. You can search for keywords you’re interested in  and look for people who share content related to it. Another good tool to use is Buzzsumo, to see who all have shared your favorite articles and then check out their feeds.

Avoid following news outlets that you already follow on Flipboard or Feedly. And remember to keep refining the list of people you follow from time to time, to stay on top of the best content. Don’t be too obsessed with follower counts, go for interesting, share-worthy content instead.

 

Pinterest

You might know Pinterest as a tool to collect recipes and home decoration ideas, but it can be a lot more than that. The website can be a great source of finding new content to share, that is relatively fresh and hasn’t been shared a million times already.

Pinterest is not really a mainstream social media tool and thus, less saturated with done-to-death links. You can expect to find off-the-beaten path links, and websites and blogs that are yet to be discovered. You can use its refined search feature to find highly targeted content on topics you love.

 

Saving and Filtering Content

While you now know all the various sources to discover brilliant content, it will all amount to nothing if you don’t know the art of saving and filtering content. This is critical and what separates you from the average content curator.

Read on to find out how you can best select and save content for your own curation:

 

Choose A Few, But Reliable Content Discovery Methods

There are so many ways to discover content, but if you subscribe to every newsletter and download all of the apps above, you’re likely to get little else done during the day. It helps to try out all of the tools one by one and see which ones stick.

Try not to have more than three to four ways of discovering content, including communities, newsletters, content curation tools, and social media. If you have more than that, all you’ll be doing is sorting and filtering content. Also, for tools that offer targeted content, throw in a few offbeat topics in the mix, to “accidentally” help you discover new favorite sources.

From time to time, you will come across a website that you absolutely love. To know if this particular website is worth bookmarking, all you need to do is look around and find out how often they post, how many comments and shares they receive, and if the website is well-designed and formatted. These aspects usually provide a clue to a website’s reliability.

If it does check all the right boxes, add it to your own list of go-to websites. On days when your feedreader is barren, it helps to have your own little arsenal of websites with great content you can always rely on.

 

Find Your Hidden Gems

If you’re sharing content that everyone else is, you aren’t doing it right. Your audience really needs you to find the hidden gems for them, so that they don’t have to plod through a dozen websites. This may take a little, or a lot of, digging and reading.  

Look at how the pros do it: Maria Popova of Brain Pickings reads a whopping 10-20 books a week, in addition to gleaning articles on the internet.

And this is the daily routine of Dave Pell, writer of NextDraft, as shared on Product Hunt: “Each morning I open about a 100 news tabs and then begin my process of finding and sharing the day’s most fascinating news in the NextDraft Newsletter and App.”

As you can see, great content takes time to find. That doesn’t mean you spend hours every day simply finding content, but dedicate a reasonable amount of time to find truly unique content.

 

Save Articles To A Read-It-Later App

It helps to save all the articles you find interesting in a read-it-later app. This prevents you from getting distracted with other links while reading.

Apps like Flipboard and Feedly give you an option to save articles for reading later. If you don’t want to keep switching back and forth between apps, you can save all articles together in Pocket and then read them. This also makes it easy to share content; more about it in the next section.

 

Sharing Content Quickly

As important as it is to spend enough time on finding and reading quality content, so is it essential to spend as little time as possible on sharing all of that content.

In this section, we explore tools that take the hassle out of the content sharing process:

 

Tools For Social Media

If you’re sharing a large volume of content on social media, say tweeting every hour or so, you can’t expect to do it manually. Even if you do use a social media scheduling app, manually adding links one by one to the app could take a while.

In this section, we’ll discuss tools to help you speed up the process of sharing on social media, so you spend no more than 15-20 minutes on sharing per day. There are two types of apps you need for automating the sharing process on social media – if-this-then-that apps and scheduling apps.

Remember we told you a read-it-later app would be handy? Here’s where you’ll know how. The premise is simple. When you perform an action on an article in your read-it-later app (Pocket, for example), your if-this-then-that app is triggered to add that article into your scheduling queue.

For instance, let’s say I mark an article as a favorite in Pocket. This action triggers it to be added to my social media scheduling queue.

Let’s take a look at two of the most popular if-this-then-that apps to understand this better:

 

IFTTT

IFTTT, or If This Then That, helps you to connect two services so that when you perform an action in one service, another action is triggered in the other service.

IFTTT already has existing ways you can automatically add articles to your scheduling apps. For instance, you can add articles you favorite in Pocket to your Buffer queue, as well as automatically Buffer articles you save for later in Feedly.

 

Zapier

Zapier is another popular way to “make your apps talk to one another”.

Zapier also has existing “Zaps” or workflows such as Buffer new Pocket favorites, Buffer new tagged Pocket items, and share Pinterest Pins via Buffer.

And now on to the social media scheduling app:

 

Buffer

You may know what Buffer is by now, an app for scheduling posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.

After automatically adding all of your content to your Buffer queue, you can customise each post so as to add value, add images of your own and then schedule it for a suitable time.

While there are many social media scheduling apps out there, Buffer is easily the most popular, and also has ready workflows for adding articles automatically on IFTTT as well as Zapier.

 

Tools For Email Newsletters

Emails existed way before social media did, and so did these tools. In this section, we look at the different tools you can use to make an appealing curated newsletter:

 

MailChimp

MailChimp is one of the most popular email software, letting you automate tasks such as welcoming subscribers, running ads, and engaging with subscribers easily. While it is more of a specialist for ecommerce and online selling, itcan also be used to make simple newsletters.

 

TinyLetter

TinyLetter is a specialist for newsletters, with a simple email writing experience. Additionally, it also has features to help you build your list with landing pages and social media.

 

Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor gives you beautiful email templates to work with, that look great on all devices. It also provides you with signup forms and more to grow your email list.

 

How To Be A Content Curation Rockstar

If you really want to take your content curation to the next level, you need to do more than subscribe to a few newsletters and schedule content quickly. You need to infuse curated content with your own personality and present your own side of the story, so that it truly shines.

Here are a few tips to become a pro content curator:

 

Pick A Niche

NextDraft is for the day’s most important news, SaaS Weekly is for SaaS, and Austin Kleon’s newsletter is for creatives.

As you can see, picking a niche helps readers know what to expect from you and decide if you’re worth following.

See how NextDraft’s Dave Pell picked his niche for the newsletter:

“I felt like, “Well, if I want to be somebody’s news source, I need to cover everything and make sure that, if there’s something happening at the US Embassy in Iran that’s on the front page of the New York Times, I have to cover that because it’s big news.” But then I decided, “No, I just want to focus on what I have something to say about and what I found particularly interesting that day.” That’s really when NextDraft started to take off.”

Don’t try to make your newsletter or Twitter feed “a little something for everyone”. Try to cast your net too wide and you’ll end up being a generic newsletter, that no one finds any value in.  

 

Add Your Own Point of View

One of my favorite comics, Zen Pencils, provides an excellent example of how you can add value to existing content. The comic illustrates a famous quote, in a meaningful and interesting way. While this is not exactly a curation example, you get the point.

You don’t necessarily have to be a cartoonist in order to make it more valuable, but it’s important to add value to the content you’re sharing. Merely sharing the headline of the content, on social media and elsewhere, is plain boring.

Take a cue from Austin Kleon’s Weekly newsletter:

Source: Austin Kleon’s Weekly newsletter – Don’t mess with my fantasy

The newsletter contains ten links about creativity, writing and reading in general, along with the writer’s commentary, related links and reads, making for an overall, highly valuable newsletter.

You can also add your favorite snippets of the content, just like Jimmy Daly from Swipe File:

Source: Swipe File – Happiness does not equal Productivity

If you’re looking for inspiration for better sharing on social media, take a look at how Rand Fishkin shares articles:

Source: Rand Fishkin’s Twitter

Note that he even adds a new image for good measure.

The bottom line is: tweak headlines, add your own viewpoint and jazz it up!   

 

Make it Interesting With Visuals

While you have may heard over and over the importance of visual marketing, here are a few statistics to consider, from an article on the Buffer blog:

Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets, 89% more favorites, and 18% more clicks.

Images also help you add additional value to existing content. While you can always use images existing in the article (which tools like Buffer help you with), you can also take it a notch higher by finding your own images.

There are various places to find royalty-free images. Be sure you always cite sources of images, and play with different visual forms such as videos, infographics, GIFs, and more, to keep it interesting.

We hope this article provided you with enough fodder to kickstart your content curation efforts.  Do let us know your own ways of discovering, sharing and curating content in the comments below!

 

About the Author: Farheen Gani is a freelance writer and content marketer.. She writes about the best tools for startups, marketing and PR, and major startup ecosystems at StartupBlink. Say hi on Twitter!

Top 7 Copywriting Elements to Include For an Engaging Website Copy

A high bounce rate is when visitors to your website leave only after visiting one page. This can be problematic because you miss a lot of opportunities to convert these visitors into customers. So how do you keep your bounce rate at a comfortable level and keep your visitors engaged?

Look no further because copywriting has many of the answers you’re seeking. Read on below to know how to improve your website copy—the pro way!

 

Have a Site Content Strategy in Place

Analytics and marketing company, Kissmetrics, swears by developing the right content strategy when it comes to effectively drawing in your ideal customers.

A haphazardly written copy gives the impression that you’re unprepared and haven’t done the right research to matter to the people you’re trying to reach. A strategy keeps this from happening and helps you make the most out of your website.

A good strategy starts with an understanding of your audience.

Ask the right questions and find the answers to them. Who are they? What are their pain points? What do they value the most? These are just some of the questions you should answer before drawing up a strategy. By knowing the answers to the above, you’ll be able to draft your site copy to address all relevant concerns your audience has.

 

Eliminate Buyer Concerns by Anticipating Them

Convincing your website visitors to explore more of your business means you have to eliminate any concerns they may have. And the number one way to do this is to anticipate what their considerations would be.

Whether it’s about a potential purchase or a question about a product of yours, make sure that all their concerns are addressed.

This kind of preemptive measures adds value by showing that you’re sincere about being a part of the solution to their needs and problems. Whatever way you use to address their concerns, make sure it’s something that’s interesting and in line with what your audience would want.

 

Foster Genuine Interest in Your Prospects

Now that we’re on the subject of sincerity, copywriting isn’t just all about using the right words to sell or engage your audience but caring so much about them that they can’t help but buy from you.

Being interested is as simple as doing research about your audience and being open to their opinions. You can do this by cultivating a genuine interest in your prospects. When you’re sincerely interested in your visitors, persuading them effectively becomes much easier. As you get to know more about them, you’ll likely find something that catches your interest.

If you want to take your understanding deeper, you could even interview them, visit online forums or discussion groups they frequent. This will give you an insider knowledge on what’s on their mind.

Remember to write with one person in mind and come across as someone who wants to help them improve through what you’re offering. The only way to do this is to foster genuine interest in your audience.

 

Know Their Desires and Talk in Their Language

The urge to buy is mainly based on desire. A good web copy would be able to pinpoint and channel the desire of their target buyers. This conveys that you understand your audience and that your business or product is a part of the solution to their problem.

To do this, you have to talk using words that will get through to them. Make sure to address the benefits your business can provide and is something they actually want.

Talk in their language by stalking forums and places on the web your target audience hangs out. Take note of the words they’re using and employ the same terms in your copy. Both of these will fittingly convey how important you find your audience to be.

Don’t just say that your weight loss pill will “reduce your fat levels”—it won’t be very appealing. Instead, you want to describe what reducing fat levels mean in terms that tie together with the picture of the outcome they want to achieve. In this case, you can say that having lower fat levels could mean a better looking body and more muscles for fat burning.

As Dale Carnegie says, think from your audience’s point of view before asking for the sale. Ask yourself: Why would they want to buy from me?

Before you go on and write your web copy, visualize what your visitors would want to know. And figure out the most compelling reason why they would want to know more about you.

Asking this one question will make a big difference in your web copy. Remember, your copy should be all about your target audience. Make them feel important with the above tips and watch your bounce rates improve.

 

Use Facts to Build Credibility

Anyone can spout a mile-long list of everything that’s positive with their product or service. But making such kind of declarations without substantiating it is the fastest way to make your readers doubt you.

Why? Because people don’t like non-specific answers that don’t give them a good idea of what a business or product is about. This is why ultra-specificity is one of the four tenets of great copywriting.

To keep this from happening, make sure to use facts and specific figures that support your claim.

For instance, instead of saying “I’ve helped launch numerous successful campaigns last year” use a specific number like “I’ve launched 67 successful campaigns in 2016 alone.” This helps give your claim credence with a simple tweak.

 

Incorporate Relevant Emotional Triggers Into Your Copy

Amazing web copy always consists of the right emotional triggers. In fact, there are around 15 emotional triggers you can use in your copy.

Without the right emotional triggers, your copy can come across as downright unappealing and boring. Usually, copy that doesn’t make your visitors feel anything is either solely factual or doesn’t have enough information to pull your audience in—which is a one-way ticket to a high bounce rate.

To make sure your copy prompts people into visiting more of your site, pinpoint what your target audience’s desires are. Once you know that, you can choose the type of emotion you should incorporate in your copy. If their foremost desire is to make money, include words and phrases that elicit images of abundance and wealth like “financial freedom” or “money mindset,” to name just a few.

Strike the Right Tone

With the right tone, you can turn around a lifeless copy into one that has personality so people will be more inclined to act on your message.

Not using the right tone or taking on a formal tone are probably two of the biggest mistakes any business can commit. For one, it creates a divide between you and your audience which can make it harder to engage them. When that happens, your website visitors won’t have any second thoughts finding a business that can relate better to them.

Unless you really have to, chuck the formalities to promote a better connection with your audience from the get-go.

Having an approachable, casual tone is as simple as minimizing your use of jargons especially when your target audience isn’t too technical. When people read something they don’t know the meaning of, most often than not, they would just leave instead of searching the meaning of the word you just used.

For every visitor you alienate, you’re potentially losing a sale or long-time customer in the process. By taking on a warm, friendly tone, you’re making your readers feel welcomed which will no doubt convince them to get to know more about your business.

 

Go Beyond Using Adjectives and Buzzwords

Buzzwords are phrases that sound fancy but lack any meaningful significance that can clearly convey what your business is about. Words like “synergistic approach” or “disruptively innovative” often leave readers confused or don’t even make a dent in their consciousness.

More than just having a vague meaning, these phrases often promise the moon and if you can’t back that up then your credibility will take a hit.

For example, there are only a few disruptively innovative companies out there that have transformed their fields. But with the word being thrown around by almost every budding startup, you’d think everyone is really in the business of revolutionizing whatever it is they’re working at.

Using the latest buzzword only gets stale overtime. Moreover, including it in your copy may make it harder for your business to stand out. Your website visitor might think, “If everyone’s disruptively innovative then why should I pick you over any other competitor?”

Make sure you don’t muddle your differentiating factor by using buzzwords that don’t let you stand out or only serve to confuse people.

 

Have a Brief But Punchy Messaging

If the goal is to spark interest, you have to use a succinct, punchy messaging that will keep your visitors’ attention.

The key to this is to resist from rambling every service or accolade you got. Not only will you lose your audience from boredom but your visitors will feel overwhelmed from the deluge of info you just spilled.

That’s why your best bet is to craft a concise, strong message that makes it easy for your visitors to easily grasp your business value from the get-go. If you’re clear about that, the right visitors will naturally want to know more about you and explore other pages on your site.

Make sure to only choose essential information that are bound to give you the highest return. Simply put, lead with your strongest point. So for example, you’re in the business of selling cupcakes and your business has just been voted “best vegan cupcakes” by a local bakery mag. You can make that the lead point of your messaging for a simple way to position your unique selling proposition.

 

Keep Your Visitors Reading

You can also keep your visitors from clicking the “back” button by employing the copywriting technique known as “greased slide” or “bucket brigade.” It uses phrases or words that smoothly transition your ideas and offers. Although originally used for sales letters, it can also work on website copy or blog content as well.

Some examples would be, “Here’s the deal” and “You might be wondering.” Using these words build anticipation in the reader’s mind because it promises a better thing than the one you just read. And who doesn’t like anything that’s more advantageous, right?

Make sure to spread the use of grease-slide words in key places in your site copy to help your visitors read along the entirety of your content.

 

Have a Brand Story in Place

Having a brand story in place is a great way to differentiate your business from your competitors. Aside from this tremendous benefit, it also serves the purpose of hooking in your readers.

A relatable and engaging story is highly likely to pique the interest of your visitors and make them want to explore more of what you’re offering. A good brand story’s benefits are twofold—it differentiates your business and ensures that your brand has a fighting chance of being memorable even to first-time visitors.

 

Don’t Forget the Call-to-Action

No matter how engaging or awesome your copy is, you have to have a compelling call-to-action at the end. Not including this extremely important element in your copy will leave your visitors confused on what to do next or how to act on their interest.

Make the most out of your call-to-action by making sure that you offer something of value like a free resource or a discount. A call-to-action is also an awesome way to highlight your most important benefit. Some awesome examples of CTAs include “Send me this month’s best specials” or “Discover a coffee, tailored to your taste.”

 

Getting the Results You Want

Reducing your bounce rate should definitely be one of your priorities if you want to beef up your site to be a highly engaging sales tool. When you successfully enact the above tips, you will no doubt strengthen and enhance your website’s brand messaging.

I’ve repeatedly seen from experience how incorporating the above-proven elements can ensure that you’re effectively communicating your value so your first-time visitors would want to know more about your business and reduce your site’s bounce rate.

The key is to get your bounce rate down to an acceptable level that’s pretty much within your industry standards. Do keep in mind though that no matter how well-written your web copy is, you’re bound to have a couple of wayward visitors who aren’t just interested in what your business is offering.

Lastly, your web copy is just a piece of the overall puzzle. There are other factors that could be affecting your bounce rates as well. It’s always worth testing each element by changing it in order to know what can make the biggest difference for your business website.

 

About the Author: Jeanne San Pascual is a freelance copywriter with a passion for information and anything that’s unconventionally interesting. She specializes in delivering data-backed website and SEO copywriting that sells. If you need copy that’s sure to convert, contact her now!

21 Best Marketing Blogs You NEED To Read

Which blogs do you follow and read?

If you’re into digital marketing, then you need to identify marketing blogs that will nudge you to keep at your game.

You already know there are thousands of online marketing blogs out there and it gets overwhelming for marketers and businesses to find and read the right ones.

But I’ve done all the heavy liftings for you. If you religiously follow and read the blogs below, your insights, experience, and conviction will take on wings and your business will fly.

It’s high time you stay updated on everything that’s happening in the marketing industry worldwide.

Here’s a list of 20 best marketing-related blogs that you should read and learn from:

 

1. Unbounce

Unbounce is the official blog run and owned by Unbounce which is a platform that helps marketers create, convert, integrate, and optimize landing pages.

Their blog covers topics related to landing pages and conversion optimization. It publishes scientifically-proven tips and best practices about landing pages.

If you’ve always struggled to create landing pages that convert and do the job, Unbounce blog is where you’ll find all the answers.

22 Brutally Honest Landing Page Critiques is my favorite post from Unbounce blog that criticizes 22 landing pages and shows you what’s wrong and how it has to be fixed.

 

2. Copyblogger

Are you struggling with content marketing and copywriting? Copyblogger is the place you should be.

Brian Clark and Sonia Simone are the two big guns behind the blog. You’ll get to learn the best tips, guides, and strategies on copywriting that will make you a better blogger and copywriter.

My favorite post from Copyblogger is The Ultimate Copy Checklist: 51 Questions to Optimize Every Element of Your Online Copy. This post will make you a better copywriter than you are now.

 

3. QuickSprout

The QuickSprout is a marketing blog by Neil Patel where you’ll find guides and tips on everything digital marketing with a focus on traffic generation. If you religiously read QuickSprout, I’m sure you’ll never have to struggle for web traffic again.

My favorite article is none other than The Beginners Guides to Online Marketing. If you haven’t read anything on online marketing, this guide will be more than enough.

 

4. Marie Forleo

As a marketer, there are times when you need motivation or life-changing advice from an expert. Marie Forleo is the blog where you’ll find ideas and resources that will help you change your life.

Let’s start your journey with Marie from this vlog: What to do when you feel useless and alone.

 

5. Mirasee

Mirasee is a brand founded by Danny Iny. The purpose of Mirasee is to provide businesses with resources and education that help them impact their audience and change the world.

This is what exactly you’ll find on their blog. It covers topics ranging from businesses to audience engagement to digital marketing to case studies and more.

My favorite guide is their inspirational 10 lessons from debt to 7 figures. You’ll not earn 7 figures exactly but the lessons you’ll learn will change the way you do business and earn.

 

6. HubSpot

Inbound marketing seems to be incomplete without HubSpot. The have a massive marketing and a sales blog where you’ll find data-driven blog posts, case studies, templates, guides, expert opinions, and everything about inbound marketing.

If you cannot find it anywhere else on the web, chances are, you’ll find it at HubSpot.

State of Inbound 2016 is my favorite report by HubSpot that shares data and information that is worth millions.

 

7. John Doherty

This blog is run by John Doherty, who is an entrepreneur, marketer, and a top consultant. John mostly writes about SEO and content marketing. One of best things about this blog is that you’ll find exclusive case studies and best content from around the web. John reads, summarizes, and shares the best content on marketing with his subscribers every week.

One of the most insightful posts and my favorite is SEOs are Growth Hackers. Do read it.

 

8. Content Marketing Institute (CMI)

Joe Pulizzi founded CMI who is a content marketer, entrepreneur, author, and speaker.

Content Marketing Institute (CMI) publishes new articles on content marketing and copywriting every single day. Not just that you’ll find content marketing guides and templates but they talk about recent news and events in the content marketing space.

I love the post by Brody: 12 Things to Do After You’ve Written a New Blog Post. It is old but still valuable.

9. Buffer

Buffer isn’t just an interesting social media scheduling app, their blog is even better.

At Buffer blog, you’ll find posts on social media marketing, digital marketing, case studies, and posts on news and trends. The real beauty of Buffer blog is their in-depth and detailed blog posts that cover every topic in extreme detail.

The first thing that you should read on Buffer blog is the Sidekick case study: 7 Powerful Social Media Experiments That Grew Our Traffic by 241% in 8 Months. You’ll love it.

 

10. Econsultancy

Econsultancy is an ecommerce data-driven blog that publishes content on marketing and analytics. It publishes statistics and opinions on marketing and ecommerce. If you plan to learn more about ecommerce, econsultancy is your best bet.

My favorite blog post on the blog is: What marketers need to know about Facebook’s ethnic affinity ad targeting. If you get a chance, do read it.

 

11. BigCommerce

BigCommerce blog provides you with some of the best and latest content on eCommerce. The blog posts regularly on the topics related to ecommerce, ecommerce design, payment processors, shipment and fulfillment, ecommerce marketing, and more.

If you want to stay updated on what’s happening in the ecommerce industry, stick to the BigCommerce blog.

My favorite recent post is: Instagram Shopping: The Future of Mobile Ecommerce + 19 Tips to Increase Conversions Now.

 

12. 9Clouds

9Clouds is an inbound marketing blog that is must for those in the automotive marketing niche. While you’ll find articles on pretty much everything on marketing but since 9Clouds is an automotive digital marketing platform, therefore, most of their content is based on automotive marketing.

My favorite article: An Excerpt From the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

 

13. GetResponse

Get Response is an email marketing platform that helps businesses with email marketing, landing pages, marketing automation, and more. Their blog is one of the best in the market that talks about marketing, productivity, automation, and email marketing.

Nobody writes better than Get Response on email marketing.

My favorite article: How to Start a Video Content Campaign the Right Way

 

14. ConversionXL

Founded by Peep Laja, ConversionXL is the leading conversion optimization blog that publishes resources, guides, courses, and case studies on conversion optimization.

If you plan to learn more on how to get better at conversion optimization and how to grow revenue, subscribe to ConversionXL.

My all-time favorite blog post is: The Beginner’s Guide to CRO. It is a collection of several valuable articles that will enable you to get better with conversions.

 

15. Social Media Examiner

There is no better blog on social media marketing than Social Media Examiner.

Not just social media marketing but they publish on other marketing topics too like content marketing.

Whether it is new research, case studies on social media marketing, latest events and conferences or talk shows, Social Media Examiner is every marketer’s best resource.

My favorite article on Social Media Examiner: Essential Facebook Marketing Resources: A Complete Guide.

 

16. Inside AdWords

Inside AdWords is the Google’s official blog about Google AdWords. They post the latest news, best practices, guides, and updates about AdWords.

You’ll not see new posts very often but every time they post, you will learn something awesome and probably before your competitors.

Subscribe to the Inside AdWords blog if you use AdWords, you’ll never regret it.

One of the best recently published articles is: A fast start to 2017 for click-to-call ads.

 

17. GetApp

GetApp is a home to more than 5200 apps for businesses. They blog about business apps including the best marketing apps, marketing plugins, marketing software, and more.

GetApp blog has several articles on employee management, business, customer engagement, sales, analytics, and more. You’ll find everything on apps and latest tools at GetApp.

My favorite article is: How to Choose Marketing Automation Software: A Handy Checklist.

 

18. Marketo

Marketo blog is a leading marketing blog that publishes extremely valuable and insightful articles on marketing.

The blog covers all types of marketing topics including automation, content marketing, modern marketing, lead management, branding, etc. There is hardly anything that you won’t find at Marketo.

One of the best things about Marketo blog is that it categorizes its posts on the basis of B2B and B2C that makes it easier to find the right content.

My favorite article is: The Definitive Guide to Engaging Content Marketing.

 

19. GetFeedback

GetFeedback is an online survey software. They publish insightful content on topics related to customer experience, surveys, salesforce, audience engagement, and data collection and analytics. If you’re planning to create a consumer survey to collect data from your customers, GetFeedback blog will provide you with some great articles.

My favorite post is: 3 Ways to Increase Retention with Customer Feedback.

 

20. Wistia

Wistia is a video platform for marketers and businesses. Their blog is your best resource for video marketing. It publishes tips, news, guides, and case studies on video marketing that will be helpful for video marketers.

My favorite article: Your Business’s Videos Should Include Faces. Here’s Why.

21. G2 Crowd

 

G2 Crowd’s Learn blog is an educational resource for leading marketing, sales, design and general business topics. The blog consists of ultimate, long-form guides, resource roundups, infographics and other valuable content.

 

My favorite post is: how to build a website from scratch.

 

Conclusion

Essentially, you’re what you read and who you follow. If you frequent blogs that inspires you to do your best work and impact your world, you’ll be fired up to do just that.

These 20 marketing blogs aren’t the best, but they will keep you engaged all year long, and prepare you for what lies ahead. Constantly reading new posts on these blogs will keep you updated on latest happenings in the marketing industry, and help you build a thriving business.

18 Mobile Marketing Trends For 2017

Are you planning to increase spending on mobile marketing in 2017?

If so, don’t do it without understanding the trends where mobile marketing is heading in 2017.

The understanding of how the mobile marketing is shaping itself and how things will be in the current year and beyond will help businesses, marketers, and agencies in getting a step ahead of their competitors.

More importantly, you need to be excited about this mobile revolution that’s already happening. In short, become passionate about it. After all, a study by Smart Insights found that mobile marketing is one of the top-rated digital marketing techniques in 2017.

Your passion for mobile marketing is what gets you to where you need to be in the foreseeable future. This passion will fortify you against harsh circumstances and help you overcome obstacles like negative customer feedback.

With so many mobile marketing trends listed on this page, I don’t expect everyone who reads this post to keep an eye on it — save those that have one or more things to do with mobile marketing or are passionate about it.

The following 18 mobile marketing trends for 2017 will put your business in the right direction.

 

1. Rise of Mobile Apps

The mobile app revenue is predicted to reach $77 billion in 2017. It is expected that there will be 197 billion mobile app downloads in 2017 which was 149 billion in 2016.

This will force businesses to start using mobile apps. More and more businesses will create apps to increase sales and to engage with their customers at a personal level.

Mobile app downloads are expected to increase year after year for the next few years. This means money invested in a native app won’t be wasted.

 

2.Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is among the top three priorities for businesses and marketers for last 5 years. A fairly decent number of businesses are already into marketing automation.

Mobile marketing automation is not an exception.

Businesses are expected to use mobile marketing automation to collect customer information, email, and even phone numbers just like they do so for the desktop.

Marketing automation is growing overall in all forms and this will continue to happen in 2017.

 

3. Messaging Apps

Messaging is said to be the new medium.

Think of Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. Statistics show that 6 of the top 10 most used apps are messaging apps.

Messaging apps will take over social networks in next few years in terms of active users because instant messaging apps like WhatsApp are private as compared to social networks like Facebook.

People prefer messaging apps.

Marketers will use messaging apps to connect with their customers at an individual level. Instant messaging apps will become the connection medium of the future.

 

4. Mobile Security

While businesses will continue to invest in mobile apps and will continue to spend heavily on mobile marketing, mobile security is one field that shouldn’t be ignored.

Business apps are not as secure as some of the large apps like Evernote. This is where businesses and marketers will spend heavily in 2017 and beyond.

Just like SSL certificates are now a must-have part of any website, something similar will soon happen for apps.

 

5. Location-Based Marketing

More than 66% of marketers say that location-based marketing is the most exciting mobile opportunity. Last year, beacon messages generated $44 billion worth of retail sales in the US alone.

This year won’t be an exception.

Location-based marketing is personal, targeted, and well-timed, and this is the reason why it works and will continue to work for brands in 2017.

According to Steven Rosenblatt, the president of FourSquare, the location-based marketing will evolve in 2017 in following ways:

  • Location intelligence companies will emerge
  • The strategies for marketing will evolve
  • Brands will shift towards location-based marketing

 

6. Big Data

Big data is said to be the key to mobile marketing. According to Business Insider, mobile marketing is shaped by the growth in big data.

There will be an increase in the number of big data marketing apps especially for mobile marketing that will help brands get customer insights and predictive analytics. This is one of the leading digital marketing trends for 2017 as pointed by Smart Insights.

How your business deals with big data and how it uses it to get better with mobile marketing is the real question.

 

7. Mobile Popups

Google has already announced that it doesn’t like mobile popups. It has taken action against websites that were using mobile popups. Websites that use popups on mobile are not appreciated and will likely lose their search engine rankings.

This is the biggest trend of the current year for mobile SEO — which drives valuable outcomes for businesses.

What’s more important is how marketers deal with it.

Will there be an alternative to mobile popups? Let’s wait and see.

8. IoT Marketing Applications

It’s expected that there will be more than 75 billion connected devices by 2020. This means there will be more devices connected and communicating by 2020 than the total number of people on this planet.

How do brands use IoT to connect and use marketing to bring more customers onboard will be an important trend in 2017.

 

9. Augmented Reality

The massive success of Pokemon Go means a lot for mobile marketers and so does Snapchat’s augmented reality lenses. It’s expected that augmented and virtual reality will strongly impact mobile devices and mobile marketing.

Forbes says that augmented reality technology will be a $5.7 billion industry by 2021.

We will see an increase in the use of augmented reality mobile apps and devices. The use of such apps will provide mobile marketers with analytics that they don’t have access to now.

This is one trend that will reshape how you do mobile marketing.

 

10. Mobile Video

Content for mobile devices will get more sophisticated especially mobile videos.

eMarketer reported that video ad spending for mobile will cross $6 billion in 2017. Live video streaming is expected to get better along with 360 video experience.

Mobile videos will evolve and the big brands like Google and Facebook will take their video experience for mobile users to another level as more users will be accessing the internet from their mobile devices than from desktops.

This is why mobile video market is expected to reach $13 billion by 2020.

 

11. Google AMP

Businesses and marketers will continue to use Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to serve their users better on mobile devices. Google AMP improves user experience.

Businesses that have used AMP see an improvement of up to 90% in CTR.

It’s expected that AMP will be a major player in mobile marketing for 2017, especially how marketers deal with forms because AMP doesn’t support forms.

This is something where marketers will work in 2017 and we might see a solution or maybe an alternative to forms for mobile.

In 2017, almost all the brands will have no choice but to use Google AMP to stay ahead of their competitors on mobile search.

12. Mobile-Only Social Media

Mobile-only social media and messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Instagram will evolve and grow in 2017.

Statistics show that the Instagram users grow by 50% month after month and this means a lot for marketers.

People are in love with mobile-only social networks. This leads to a major trend for mobile-only social networks where we will see more social networks switching to mobile-only and there will be new entrants (preferably niche social marketing) for mobile.

 

13. Android Instant Apps

Android instant apps will become a common trend in 2017.

An instant app is one that works without installation. These apps provide quick mobile experience. We will see a massive increase in the number and quality of instant apps.

 

14. Artificial Intelligence

A fairly decent number of mobile apps use artificial intelligence and this will be a common trend in coming years.

Artificial intelligent apps will be the next big thing for mobile marketers. Think of an app that finds stores and suggests people products based on their interests and buying patterns?

This will soon become a reality.

Apps like Siri, Google Now, and Skyvi are already available in the app stores that use artificial intelligence.

 

15. Voice Search

More than 20% of searches on android devices are voice searches. The accuracy rate of the voice search is well over 92%.

Mobile voice search will be a massive trend for 2017. Businesses will optimize their websites for voice search.

 

16. Mobile Site Speed

This is different than Google AMP.

Mobile site speed plays a crucial role in customer experience and this is why Google is way too serious about the mobile site speeds.

Websites that load faster earn more than websites that don’t. So it is not just a ranking factor but site speed is linked to revenue too.

It’s something that marketers will continue to spend money in 2017.

 

17. Mobile Remarketing

Research shows that only 6% of people use an app after 30 days of installing it. This happens to be a major challenge for mobile marketers.

It is, therefore, expected that mobile remarketing will be a major trend in 2017. Marketers will have to get in touch with their customers through mobile ads to persuade them to come back and/or to use the app again.

Brands and marketers will spend more on app remarketing in 2017 to make sure that their customers don’t stop using their apps.

 

18. Mobile Programmatic Marketing

Statistics show that programmatic spend will increase for mobile significantly by 2019. Mobile video programmatic marketing will account for 28% of total spend by 2019.

According to eMarketer, mobile will represent as much as 75% of all programmatic ad spend by 2017.

Programmatic marketing is shifting from desktop to mobile. This is a massive trend that all digital marketers should take into consideration when crafting a mobile marketing strategy.

 

Conclusion

As a business and a marketer, think of ways to capitalize on these mobile marketing trends for 2017. Devise means to take advantage of these trends before your competitors get ahead of you.

This will put you in the driving seat and help you make informed decisions on what the future holds for mobile marketing.

10 Tips to Get Your Brand Listed on Top Lists

Getting your brand listed in top lists is an excellent way of increasing popularity. But what can you do to get there? It is all about drawing the right people’s attention. Today’s massive information flow makes it hard to stand out. If you want to get on top lists and stay there, you must make a constant effort. Here are 10 tips to help your brand get to higher ranks.

 

1. Focus On Your Destination

The first thing you need to focus on is your destination. You need to know where you are heading. Take the time to do a proper research and select those lists that interest you the most. It’s not about finding your name in several tops. It is more about being in the right category. You are not the only one who needs to get ranked. You also get to evaluate the official lists and decide which are the best.

Here are some criteria to ease your analysis:

Visitors

Relevant tops are those that most people appeal to. You need to get your brand mentioned on lists that are constantly viewed by thousands of visitors. Try to figure out how popular they really are. Look at how many comments they get, search them on social media and check their position on Google pages.

Credibility

The lists you need to put your name on must be authoritative. This means that they should be a trustful source. If there is a lot of research and relevant arguments behind that list, it’s reasonable to want your name on it.

 

2. Make A Top of Your Targeted Lists

Now that you have a clear vision of your favorite lists, it’s time to organize them. After a thorough analysis, you are well in your right to state your preferences. Make a top of the most appealing lists you want your brand to be on. This will help you plan future steps. It might take some time and effort to get there, so you need to prioritize. Select 3 to 5 names and focus on them first. Starting with the best lists can really ease your job in the long term. If you get accepted on those lists, many others will follow their example and will also include your brand. It will ensure credibility, and then the whole process will flow organically.

 

3. Try to Approach the Authors

Most business owners don’t consider this possibility. It is a matter of personal choice. You can either wait until you get listed or deliberately approach the authors and ask them to rank you. This might seem too pushy, but it’s a chance worth taking. This strategy works well with entrepreneurs who have an objective point of view of their niche. It’s easy to consider your business a success from the start, because you’ve put work in it and you expect people to appreciate it, but today there aren’t many niches that are left uncovered and competition is fierce. Contacting authors eases the process of getting recognized, because changes are that if you don’t pitch them, they won’t hear about your brand. Try to reach out to the tops’ authors and state your intention. Invite them to check out your brand and politely suggest them to consider including it in their selection. Be sure to emphasize on your strengths and why your brand is different from others in your niche.  To increase your chances, refer their top in one of your recent posts. It will show your commitment to their judgment.

While waiting for their answer, focus on your marketing plan. There are several strategies you can implement to increase your popularity and get listed.

 

4. Work on Your Customer Feedback

There are authors that simply rely on their own expertise when they post tops. Many others simply collect ideas from several different lists and come up with their own rank. However, the most thorough authors will also look at customer’s feedback before making up their mind. Therefore, you must make sure there is plenty positive feedback on your brand. This means you must make people talk about your business. Invite them to post comments and share their opinion on your products.

Another great strategy is posting several customer feedback surveys. These are relevant sources, and can be enhanced by following the examples of a few companies and offering incentives. Then, draw more attention by sharing some of the results and how they helped you improve your business.  Also, you can include review systems on your products and a testimonial page. Make that the people who leave testimonials have a change to upload a photo and state their real name. This will increase you credibility in the eyes of potential customers, as well as the authors you’ll be pitching.

 

5. Have an up to Date Web Page

Your web page is the first impression people get when they check your brand online. Even if you are not running an online business, an up to date site is mandatory. If you currently have a website that looks as if it was launched 10 years ago, make some adjustments. You don’t want your prospects to leave your page because it is not user-friendly, too plain, or doesn’t load immediately. People might spend less than 2 minutes before deciding whether they’ll continue to navigate your site or not.

So, there is little time for you to engage them. You must make your page interactive and interesting. Use plenty suggestive images, effects, and videos that will draw visitor’s attention and convince them to stay.

You should focus on creating intuitive and exciting landing pages that will engage the customers in wanting to learn more about your brand and products. You should make sure that you website has great navigability, with every page beaning available at no more than three clicks away. Emphasize on great visuals such as custom banners, infographics and take full advantage of video.

 

6. Take Advantage of Social Media

Learn how to leverage social media channels. Nowadays everyone is out there posting comments and photos on social sites. This is the place to be if you want to get included in authoritative tops. You should strengthen your social media presence by posting on several channels. Having a Facebook page is a must, but you should also go on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus and even SnapChat, if you think your business can profit from it. Post regular content that advertises your products or simply relates to them through relevant information. Also, make sure that you post relevant content that applies to the format of the social network you’re using in order to maintain and improve user experience. You should keep in mind that using social media to promote your brand has certain rules. The most important rule to craft you advertising efforts by is that social media is where your audience is, but they’re not there for you. So, try by all means not to be intrusive, not to promote yourself excessively, but try to offer value.

Another useful strategy is using videos. People are sometimes more inclined to watch a short video than reading an article. On Facebook, you can frequently post and share videos to boost engagement.

One last thought, ask everyone to share. It is vital to get in touch with as many people as you can and nowadays this happens mainly on social media.

7. Post Enough Content

Your company must become an active presence on top social media platforms. How do you achieve this? You should write enough content on a regular basis. No matter where you post it, make sure you do this weekly. The recommended average is around 4 posts a week. Reviewers need to see you are involved in what is going on out there. Of course, they also expect you to show you’re knowledgeable.

This means that all your content is relevant for your domain. Your blog posts, for example, should focus on topics and offer practical solutions. The same goes for the videos you post. You might want to share a tutorial that promotes your brand. It’s a good idea, but make sure it is also useful. Offer valuable content, don’t add more spam to the web.  The key is to be on all mediums, but only if you believe in it. For some entrepreneurs, having an online presence is a hard task to follow, and the result isn’t positive and anyone can see that they’re there just because marketing rules tell them to be. Nowadays, there are content strategies available for every type of business. Even an apparently boring B2B niche can take advantage of social media and content marketing.

 

8. Make It SEO Compliant

This topic has been haunting digital marketing for a good while. Don’t worry if you don’t have an entire marketing team by your side. It is not rocket science to understand what SEO is. If you are already familiarized with blogging and social media, here are some basic principles you should also keep in mind:

  • Keywords: they help people find a specific topic. Relevant keywords will rank your content better on Google results. So, choose the best keywords that fit your business profile, that have a high search volume and optimize your content accordingly.
  • Link building: Gaining links from high authority sites that are relevant to your niche will boost clients (and reviewer’s) trust. Links are a vote of confidence and they will also help you rank better for various keywords, get referral traffic and many more advantages.  The main link building strategies focus around creating guest post, profile links, syndicated content, and comments. Be sure to stay away from directories and spammy websites, because you might get a penalty from Google and your rankings will drop.
  • Don’t over optimize: over-optimization makes your content unattractive and hard to follow. Don’t forget that you’re writing for humans, not for search engine tools. Google has perfected its search algorithms with the inclusion of Rank Brain and Hummingbird. These algorithms use A.I. and conversational search to provide better results. So, you can stay away from keyword stuffing techniques and can focus on providing relevant information to your readers.

 

9. Become a Public Figure

All your marketing efforts aim at one goal: increasing brand awareness. It is important to become a constant presence on social media, but you should follow the same tendency offline as well. This will increase your chances to get ranked in top lists. If you drew authors’ attention online, they will want to find out more about your activity.

It is important to promote your business at various public events. You could participate in fairs and symposiums. Make sure you let everyone know you were there by posting photos and reviews. Making donations at a fundraising can also help you gain notoriety. This is a good chance to find your name in tomorrow’s newspaper and get more credit.

 

10. Use Traditional Marketing as Well

Online marketing is the most common way to promote your brand nowadays because it’s fast and affordable. However, traditional marketing like print media, television or radio advertising still stand strong. Most people appeal to both online and traditional media channels, so make sure your name is mentioned in both environments. Relevant lists usually include names that also have references in newspapers or magazines. If you can afford a TV add or have the chance to attend a TV show, do it. This will leverage your position.  Also, you can try to adapt traditional marketing strategies to your digital marketing efforts. For example, there are many TV adds that rely on storytelling, and you could implement this in your video strategy.

Take your time to think about these topics and figure out what will make your business benefit the most. Always focus on your strengths and make sure that your presence is relevant to the mediums you choose. With the right mindset and careful planning, you’ll get listed on those ranks sooner than you imagined.

 

About the Author: Barret Selby is a career coach, motivational writer and entrepreneur. He is always up-to-date with the latest trends and he likes to share his experience with fellow business owners and people at the start of their careers in order to help them make the right choices. He’s latest project is called JobDescriptionsHub and focuses on providing a better understanding of various jobs and their related tasks.

How to Find the Sweet Spot of Marketing for Your Restaurant

Cupcakes are nothing if not for the sweet taste of icing. Just like a cupcake, your restaurant won’t appeal to the masses unless you absolutely nail the sweet spot. Simply put, the sweet spot of restaurant marketing is where a given amount of effort put into a combination of marketing factors results in maximum response. 72% of consumers take interest in integrated marketing approaches. This means that your sweet spot lies in the right blend of traditional, digital and dine-in marketing efforts!

Let’s face it, consumers are evolving. They are now online, and with different trends emerging every now and then, their interests are bound to change. In the increasingly competitive and saturated restaurant industry, finding your restaurant’s sweet spot is more important now than ever.

Sounds daunting? Don’t fret. Here’s what top restaurants do to find the right mix of marketing efforts.

 

1. Build Your Buzz Online

Online presence has recently become a priority for many businesses. Virtually everyone is on the Internet these days, and it’s a great platform for you to get your restaurant’s name out there.

But how do I make my restaurant stand out from the sea of competitors? Good question! We could spend all day listing all the different methods. But for now, let’s dig deeper into two very important initiatives – social media and search engine optimization.

Get personal on social media

75% of consumers use social media regularly, which makes it your go-to platform when it comes to engagement and content distribution. For starters, you can create free accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Google+. Once that’s done, it’s makeover time! Consumers want an identity to associate your brand with, so avoid using the default display icons provided for by the site. Use your restaurant’s images and logos for your account’s background wallpaper, display icon and banners to build up your online identity.

But you know what they say; it’s not all about the looks! Post high quality photos of your restaurant’s enticing menu items on Instagram to whet your customers’ appetites! But don’t just stop there. Connect with your diners by leaving comments on their posts and replying to any feedback they leave on Facebook. Always remember that engaging with your restaurant’s customers is the first step to creating a loyal community  of diners online.

The next question you may ask is: When is the best time to post on social media? Broadnet created this simple infographic to illustrate the optimal timings for posting content on different social media platforms:

image-1

If you’re not keen on managing your restaurant’s social media accounts on your own, give HootSuite a try. It’s almost like having your own social media manager! Curate scheduled messages and HootSuite takes care of the rest for you. If a customer engages you on any of your accounts, rest assured that you will be notified.

Tackle search engine optimization

When we search for something on Google, Yahoo or any other search engine, it’s only instinctive to click the first few links that show up on our search page. As a restaurant, you’ll want your website to be one of those links. Well, guess what? Search engine optimization (SEO) can get you there!

So how do I get started with SEO?

Here are two words you need to get acquainted with: keyword research. Google’s job is to dish out information relevant to users while yours is to get Google to select your restaurant’s website as that most relevant, go-to source.

Take a look at these 15 tips to learn more about how you can make use of SEO to build your restaurant’s online presence.

 

2. Go Back To The Roots of Traditional Marketing

Being called “old-fashioned” may be an insult in the fashion world, but that’s not the case when it comes to restaurant marketing. Digital marketing is undoubtedly having much more than a moment, but you wouldn’t want to miss out on consumers who may be less tech-savvy! Be it collaterals, brand partnerships or television commercials, traditional advertising still has an impact on consumers. For starters, let’s take a look at two of the many traditional methods of marketing: television commercials and brand partnerships.

Get your customers talking

Never underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing. It’s one thing seeing restaurants promoting themselves and another hearing satisfied customers recommend a restaurant to you. In fact, 84% of consumers are more likely to trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services as compared to any other source of recommendations. More importantly, it’s more cost-efficient as compared to  TV commercials and editorial features which are luxuries not every restaurant can afford. The sweetest part about it is that once the first few referrals are made, it could potentially multiply and translate into many more customers. How’s that for growing your consumer base?

If you’re wondering how you can get diners talking about your restaurant, here something you could start with. If there’s one thing people attend and talk about afterwards, its events. Your restaurant could organise a live music show with an up and coming local band or perhaps a fundraiser with a local charity. You can then invite your regular customers to take part. Chances are that they’ll share their experience at your restaurant’s event with family and friends and who knows, those people might feel inclined to check out what your restaurant has to offer!

Engage in brand partnerships

Your restaurant is cruising on a long road to success. Why not partner with another business to speed your way through? Many companies have been co-branding for awhile now, and you can too. Merging marketing strategies with other respectable businesses can help to build your restaurant’s credibility. After all, they say two heads are better than one. What’s more, you gain access to a bigger consumer base and twice the marketing budget! In other words, you can think less about money constraints and more on how you can create a creative campaign, service or product irresistible to your consumers.

But it pays to be careful. It wouldn’t be wise to partner with just any company. There are many factors to consider before agreeing on a brand partnership and at the end of the day, the goal is to work with a brand which complements your restaurant’s, even if it isn’t F&B-related.

For example, your restaurant can partner with a WiFi service provider and leverage on WiFi marketing. WiFi marketing platforms adds value to your restaurant by directing diners to a custom branded login page. This is something big names in the F&B business, such as Starbucks and McDonald’s, have been doing. What’s more, it’s also effective in increasing your brand recall!

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Krispy Kreme’s advertisement for its free WiFi.

 

3. Offer Dine-in Exclusives

You’ve promoted yourself online, and you’ve caught the attention of your consumers. Now they’re dining at your restaurant. Don’t rest on the laurels of your marketing efforts just yet! Anyone who has stepped into an F&B outlet would have experienced dine-in promotions. The point of these promotions is to make your diners feel exclusive. It can be in the form of discounts, promotions, free samples or even loyalty rewards. Here’s a look at how you can follow in the footsteps of well-known restaurants to create your very own dine-in exclusives!

Entice diners with ongoing promotions

At times, consumers shop with no specific product or brand in mind. In these cases, 64% of them are likely to select the brand which offers them an in-store deal. If your restaurant has yet to launch dine-in promotions for your customers, you’re on the losing end. Start placing brochures or stickers on each table at your restaurant to easily inform your diners of ongoing deals.

Don’t know of anyone who could help you design your brochures and stickers? Be your own designer with Canva or Photoshop! If you’re foreign to designing, Canva offers amazing templates for beginners to use to create brochure designs. Meanwhile, if you want to design a brochure from scratch, Photoshop gives you the tools you need  to do that.

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Pizza Hut’s dine-in promotion and discount brochures.

Start a Customer Loyalty Program

If you’ve been to Starbucks, you’d know that they have a very popular customer loyalty program.

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But Starbucks isn’t the only one adopting such a program. Truth is, many companies are planning to put more dollars into their loyalty programs this year. Which is why you should too!

But hold your horses; before you create a rewards system, ask yourself, what kind of rewards would be optimal in attracting diners and increasing brand loyalty?

Don’t have a clue? Check out this infographic by L2 for an insight to the types of loyalty rewards systems you can adapt to your restaurant:

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Once you know what your frequent customers like, it’s as simple as setting a goal for them to achieve (e.g. entitlement to a free meal), deciding the action they need to take to progress (e.g. with every $50 spent) and offering an early advancement in the program as a bonus (e.g. VIP rewards).

You’d want to chew on the fact that 81% of those who joined a loyalty program continue to participate because of how easy the program is to understand. Customers can even access the loyalty program through your mobile app. So remember to keep your restaurant’s rewards system simple.

 

Finding Meaning Behind Your Restaurant’s Sweet Spot

Having the right mix of tactics is important, but before that, there is one thing you have to establish. You wouldn’t walk into a dark cave without a flashlight in hand, the same way you shouldn’t launch your marketing efforts without a goal in mind. Regardless of platform, consider this: What is the theme, purpose and intended outcome of my restaurant’s marketing effort? This will serve as your guiding light in creating effective marketing initiatives.

While they should work effectively as standalones, you could also make your different marketing efforts complement each other. For instance, you could share your newly-launched dine-in promotions with diners on your social media accounts with a simple ‘Hurry down to our restaurant to enjoy exclusive dine-in deals going on for a limited time only!’.

No doubt, it all sounds very simple. With that being said, it’ll probably take you more than one try to find the sweet spot that works best for your restaurant. So, what are you waiting for? Get down to exploring different platforms and discover what truly works for your restaurant’s brand!

Don’t forget to take a look at this infographic by Oddle which summarises all you need to know to find the sweet spot for your restaurant’s marketing!

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25 Reasons to Integrate Live Chat into Your Business

Picture this: you’re shopping online and you found just what you need, except you want to make sure the product description is accurate before you go to the checkout page. How would you go about doing this?

You can dig around the website until you find some additional information, or you can dial the customer service number, take a deep breath and be prepared to spend the rest of your day trying to navigate the frustrating phone tree menu.

What most customers in these types of situations – myself included – want is to have somebody from customer service reassure them quickly yet kindly. The last thing they want to do is forage through the website for hours until they lose sight of why they even came there in the first place! And I’m sure most customers are also not too keen on being put on hold and having to deal with customer service representatives who couldn’t sound more disinterested if they tried.

 

Solution? Live Chat!

This is why live chat is heaven-sent, if you ask me! Websites that have an integrated live chat service regularly get a high customer satisfaction rate. It has been shown time and again that most online shoppers prefer chatting with customer service in real time rather than talking on the phone or having an endless back-and-forth email conversation.

An average live chat customer service takes 42 seconds to solve any issue or question on the website, so it’s no wonder the usage of live chat has been rising over the years. Live chat service is used nowadays by e-commerce businesses from many industries.

Both small business owners and global industry leaders rely on live chat to interact with their customers, knowing that building a long-term relationship with clients starts with good customer service.

If you are a business owner looking to improve your website’s performance and overall success rate, live chat is the way to go. There are many advantages to using live chat: it’s fast, convenient, and cost-effective. With an integrated live chat service, you can cut down on your phone bills and save both your customers and employees’ time.

With live chat service, everybody wins. Online business owners will notice their conversion rates climbing once they introduce live chat while their customers will reward them with loyalty and good ratings.

Keep reading to learn more about the ways live chat can help you sell more, spend less, and earn customers’ trust.

 

Does Live Chat Really Work?

In short: yes! Not only can using live chat help increase your sales rate, it can also dramatically improve the relationship with your customers. Live chat is a customer-oriented service, and as such, the customers’ testimonies are the ideal yardstick to measure the effectiveness of live chat.

Here’s what the customers say: 63% of online shoppers who used live chat later reported they were more likely to return to the site. Since turning one-time buyers into regular customers is every online business owner’s dream, there’s no doubt live chat is the way to go for everyone looking to give their website a boost.

What about customer loyalty? It turns out live chat works wonders here too. It’s a well known fact that businesses who put the effort in maintaining an honest relationship with their clients based on mutual trust are the ones whose success can stand the test of time.

Customer service can make or break the first impression of your business, which is why it’s crucial to win over the customers the right way. According to the customers themselves, live chat is a particular favorite of theirs for good customer service. Consider this: 40% of online buyers who had used live chat were more likely to make purchases from the same site at least once a week, compared to only 22% of those who never chatted.

The verdict is in: Live chat really does work! And if you’re still on the fence about whether integrating live chat into your business is the right move, just take a look at this example from Mexico, the country where live chat has proved to be a huge success.

 

Live Chat: Best Channel for Customer Service

Online shoppers have spoken, and they have said live chat is their favorite channel to use or customer service. An overwhelming majority of 92% customers pick live chat over other channels, including phone, web form, email, Facebook, and Twitter.

The one thing that sets apart live chat from other channels is that its customer satisfaction is based on “good” and “bad” rating provided by the customers at the end of the chat. While all other channels depend on “good” and “bad” ratings provided through a follow-up e-mail survey submitted to the customer after their problem is solved.

This allows live chat agents to see how the customer is rating the conversation in real time and adjust their response accordingly. In the long run, live chat ratings also help companies gain a better understand of their customers’ preferences for customer service.

 

Mexico: The Land of Live Chat

For increasing conversion rates and encouraging customer loyalty, live chat knows no borders: businesses all around the world have improved their success rate with the help of this effective service. There’s one country, however, where live chat is popular: Mexico.

Agents working in Mexico handle a high volume of chats every single day. In fact, Mexican chat operators handle the most chat conversations out of any other place in the world. The results? I’m glad you asked. Mexico is the country with the highest customer satisfaction rate of 94.11%, according to their live chat leader. With so many happy customers, it’s hard to deny the effectiveness of live chat in Mexico, but what about other countries?

For customer satisfaction rate in countries where live chat is widely used, Australia comes second after Mexico with a rate of 93.59%. Canada ranks third with customer satisfaction rate of 88.36%

We all have to suffer through difficult conversations in real life, so why not follow the Scandinavian example and keep live chat fast, simple, and as straightforward as can be. In terms of response time, live chat agents in Denmark are the fastest., Denmark is also where customers can expect to receive the most concise answers.

Wait Time vs. Customer Satisfaction

The faster you answer your customers, the happier they’ll be, right? Well, not quite. For optimal wait time and its relationship with customer satisfaction rate, it’s a little more complicated than that.

Live chats where wait time is between 200 and 250 seconds received the lowest customer satisfaction rate (68%). Surprisingly enough, chats where customers wait longer than 250 seconds receive a marked increase in satisfaction rate (83%). Keeping customers waiting between 0 and 50 seconds equals a satisfaction rate of 86%. Confused yet?

Let’s get to the point then: the highest customer satisfaction rate (90%) is measured with live chat whose wait time is between 150 and 200 seconds. It turns out keeping wait time below 200 seconds, but longer than 150, is the recipe for a high customer satisfaction rate.

 

Chat Duration vs. Customer Satisfaction

Keeping chats concise and to the point is important if you want your customers to give you good ratings. Still, this doesn’t mean you should write in code and race against time to finish a chat as quickly as you can. Customers use live chat to ask about all kinds of things, and it’s not always possible to give one-sentence answers.

While the duration of a chat will depend on the question customer asks, chat operators should make sure they keep the conversation going for at least 10 minutes. Chats that last only 5 minutes get a customer satisfaction rate of 78%, while those that last 5 minutes more receive an 84% satisfaction rate.

As a general rule, agents should aim to chat with customers for 15 minutes. This is when the customer satisfaction rate rises to 88%. For comparison sake, 20-minute chats get a rate of 85%, chats that last 25 minutes have a slightly higher rate of 86%, half hour chats have an 80% satisfaction rate, while the lowest rate is the results of chats that last longer than 30 minutes.

Once again, more doesn’t always mean better. If a company is swamped with chat requests and tries to answer as many as possible without paying sufficient attention to the quality of conversation, the customer satisfaction rate will drop.

For instance, companies that handle 7,000 chats per month have a customer satisfaction rate of 81%, while companies that handle about 1,000 chats less every month have a rate of 83%. How much is too much? Companies that try to juggle 8,000 and more live chats every month have the lowest satisfaction rate

So, what’s the magical number then? It turns out that companies with the highest customer satisfaction rates are those that handle around 1,000 chats per month.

 

Are You an e-commerce Business Owner? Here’s What You Need To Know:

  • E-commerce industry has the longest live chat wait time at 1 minute 13 seconds.
  • The customer satisfaction rate of the e-commerce industry reached 50% in 2015.
  • Global customer satisfaction rate in the first quarter of 2015 increased to 95%.
  • The best news is that global live chat usage has been rising since 2009 when 385 of companies used chat for their customers. In 2012, 43% of companies were using live chat, and two years later, the percentage of companies that realized live chat can work wonders for online businesses grew to 58%.

If you own an e-commerce website and are still wondering whether integrating live chat into your business can make a noticeable difference, just take a look at these real-life examples from some of the biggest companies in the world who swear by live chat to keep their sales rats high and their customers satisfied:

 

Orbitz

From 2013 to 2014, Orbitz reported a 40% increase in US consumer traffic (7% of which originated from mobile device) thanks to live chat. All the while, Orbitz maintained their high customer satisfaction rate.

 

Dell

Dell is another company that knows all about the benefits of live chat. The technology giant reports that 30% of its website visitors engage through live chat, which generates 40% of the company’s revenue. Dell has also reported a 30% increase in chat usage over the years, and a third of their sales in the US are made through chat.

 

Sears

American department store chain Sears has increased its revenue by 20% by using predictive chat. The company enjoys an enviable customer satisfaction rate of 90%.

 

TotalGym

Another impressive example comes from fitness equipment store TotalGym. During the fourth quarter of 2014, almost 40% of online orders on TotalGym’s website came from buyers who had used live chat.

Before you check out the interesting infographic below, here are a few more surprising facts about Live Chat:

  • Over one third of Older Baby Boomers (ages 57 to 67) and the Golden Generation (68 and over) are already using live chat for customer interaction
  • The most popular time to use live chat is between 10am and 3pm local time since this is when over 50% of all chats
  • The average number of chats a company deals with in a month is 1,143 while 274 is the average number of chats an operator handles in a month.
  • Did you know it takes an average company 48 seconds to answer a chat?

Now you have read about some of the benefits of live chat, I’ll let you enjoy this cool infographic from skilled.co with 25 visualized reasons why using live chat is the best decision you can make for your business.

 

About the Author: Colin Cieloha is an American author and content marketer at Skilled. He writes about everything that will draw his attention with a focus on the mobile and e-commerce space. When he is not writing he is spending his time traveling the globe and snowboarding. You can follow him on his Twitter at @ColinCieloha or on Linkedin.

21 Game-Changing Social Media Trends in 2017

Social media is expected to grow above and beyond expectations this year.

In 2016, social media saw massive growth accumulating 1.9 billion mobile users and 2.3 active users worldwide.

If for some reason, you weren’t able to capitalize on the emerging social networks and if your business doesn’t use social media marketing to its fullest, don’t panic.

Social media is not going anywhere soon. At least not in 2017.

So you should be using it to promote your app.

Social media is one of my favorite marketing strategies.

The game-changing social media trends discussed below will show you why.

 

1. Social Messaging

One of the most common trends that will prevail 2017 is private social messaging.

WhatsApp has 1.2 billion monthly active users while Messenger (Facebook) has a billion monthly active users.

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People prefer using private social media messages more than communicating and engaging on social media. This is the reason why the top four messaging apps have more active monthly users than the top four social networks.

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People now prefer using messaging apps more than social networks. Statistics show that a quarter of all the apps were uninstalled after a single use except messaging apps.

This shows the trend as to where your customers are heading and where you should head in the future.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a consultant, public speaker, author, or an expert who looks for keywords and does SEO job for clients, you need to consider these trends and how you can integrate them into your strategy.

Since your target audience is now shifting to private messaging, you’ve to interact with them at the same level. This is the reason why Facebook released Messenger Conversation from Facebook ads that allow advertisers to start a new conversation from an ad.

Brands like Hyatt are using Facebook Messenger to offer 24/7 customer services to their clients.

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Meghan Keaney Anderson, the HubSpot VP Marketing says:

“Maybe we shouldn’t be thinking about messaging in terms of apps at all, but rather as an evolving infrastructure.”

We will see more brands using private messages to interact with their customers. Just like brands have secret Facebook groups, in the next year, we might see groups on WhatsApp from brands.

Besides, we might also see brands offer advertising opportunities to businesses allowing them to run their ads within the messenger. Who knows?

 

2. Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is the next big thing in the tech industry. Though it is still new but it is expected to get more popular in 2017.

Brands like GoPro, Facebook, and vTime are investing big time in VR and there is a reason why they’re doing so. It will grow. These brands will make VR grow.

For instance, GoPro has released several VR clips on its YouTube channel.

Not to mention the vTime, the first VR powered social network. It allows the users to interact with their friends in virtual locations. vTime is changing the way people use social networks and how they interact and socialized on the internet.

There are several ways how VR will impact social media in 2017.

VR video clips will rule the social network in coming years. GoPro and TOMS are already doing it. We will see more brands doing it in 2017 and the same videos will make it to the social networks.

Internet users appreciate video content more than any other type of content so it is highly unlikely that VR won’t be making to social networks very soon.

If brands can come up with better VR headsets that look nice, we will see VR changing our lives. In any case, it will be a massive trend in 2017.

 

3. Social Ecommerce

All the leading social networks allow their users to purchase products within their apps. Think of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and recently Snapchat.

Social media is reported to the second most favorable network that users visit when looking for something to buy online.

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The survey also asked consumers if they will be interested in buying directly from social networking sites, and a good chunk of them responded that they will love to do so.

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In another research by Animoto, 4 times as many consumers will watch a product video and 84% reported that they have liked at least one company video in their newsfeed.

Yes, consumers are already into it so as social networks. Social commerce will be a big trend in 2017.

Twitter has already tested a buy button and Snapchat has started testing ecommerce features already. Over 31% of users purchased on WeChat in 2016 which is double than the previous year.

Social ecommerce will grow exponentially in 2017. Get your brand prepared to sell on social networks. Whether it be ads on social networks, product videos, or direct buying, social ecommerce will rule 2017.

 

4. Live Video

Live video is still new but we saw it taking Facebook by storm in 2016.

When Facebook announced Live Video in 2016, nobody knew that it will get so famous among people and businesses alike.

Facebook has announced that it will roll out a 360-degree video for live users. This will be available for all the pages and will be available in 2017.

On the other hand, YouTube has already launched the same feature.

Vimeo has recently launched 360-degree video. These videos will be viewable on a VR headset but Vimeo is offering some nice perks to the users who will upload 360-degree videos.

Instagram and Twitter have also launched live video streaming features in the last quarter of 2016.

This is a big opportunity for businesses. Live video allows you to interact with your audience and customers in real-time.

Statistics show that 43% businesses plan to invest in interactive videos in 2017. This is because videos are watched like crazy.

The image below shows how live streaming on Facebook reached a new milestone and broke all previous records on New Year’s Eve.

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Something bigger will happen in 2017 and across multiple social networks that will offer live video streaming this year.

There are several ways you can use different video types for your brand in 2017.

For instance, use live videos to interact with your customers. You can answer customer queries, you can run a product tutorial or anything. Live video once a week on your preferred social network will keep your followers engaged.

5. Ephemeral content

Ephemeral content refers to the type of content that stays alive for a very short period of time usually for a few moments or up to 24 hours.

Think of Snapchat. It uses disappearing content sharing trend and it is not hated by the users.

Recently, Instagram launched a similar disappearing video feature and a disappearing messages feature. The ephemeral content and messages will continue to grow in the next year.

Why?

Because this is what people like.

Snapchat has seen massive growth in last couple years. It is the fourth most popular app among 18-24-year-olds.

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Youngsters seem to love ephemeral content and they will continue to do so in 2017.

A study by Shutterfly showed that Americans take more than 10 billion photos every month. Interestingly, 50% of respondents haven’t looked at their old pictures in the last month. They’re just forgotten.

This is the reason why Snapchat content is super-engaging. This is the reason why Facebook tested the same idea for its messenger.

Snapchat has several case studies to show that content that disappears after 24 hours is more engaging because users make the best use of the available time during which they can interact with the content.

The same trend will grow in 2017.

We will see more of ephemeral content on social networks from brands. According to Search Engine Watch, ephemeral content is one of the growing content marketing trends in 2017.

Get yourself prepare to create short and disappearing content for your brand to boost engagement on social networks.

 

6. Chatbots

A chatbot is a computer program designed to interact with the humans on the internet. It is a chatting robot.

Facebook has launched its chatbot for the Messenger. These chatbots are used by businesses to interact with their customers and followers via messenger. Businesses can create their own chatbots for messenger and can personalize it for their business.

Since it is getting hard for businesses to maintain a decent response rate on social networks, therefore, a fairly large number of businesses are now switching to chatbots to respond to customer queries on Facebook.

Facebook Messenger is not the only social network that is using chatbots. Slack also uses chatbots to communicate with the customers.

In 2017, a fairly large number of businesses will switch to Chatbots because consumers preferred customer service medium is a social network and it’s not easy to tackle several hundred queries daily.

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To meet customer expectations in terms of response time, more businesses will start using chatbots in coming years.

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Consequently, social networks will start offering chatbots to their users.

 

7. Social Advertising

Social networks are smart just like search engines. They use algorithms to personalize the organic social content based on what their users will love.

This makes it harder for businesses to have their posts seen.

This is why brands spend massively on social advertising year after year. According to Content Marketing Institute, paid advertising on social ads increased year after year. In 2016, the social ad revenue crossed $1.53 billion throughout the globe.

Adobe forecasted that social media spend will cross $41 billion in 2017.

Statistics show that the total social media advertising increased year after year in the US and is expected to cross $11 billion in 2017.

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Paid content in social networks will continue to rule social networks in 2017 and will grow exponentially in coming years.

This is because businesses will spend heavily on social ads to make their content seen.

However, when you’re running ads on a social network, you need to ensure that the content is useful and valuable else your target audience will ignore your content.

 

8. Crackdown On Fake News

Millennials use the internet as their main source of news. They don’t prefer watching TV or reading the newspaper.

More than 90% of people use the internet to access news.

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Consequently, there has been a rise in fake news from websites that use fake news deliberately to drive traffic. Social networks are getting serious about such fake news and are fighting against all such fake news.

Facebook, for instance, has already taken steps to crack down against fake news. Germany, on the other hand, is about to impose a fine on social networks that won’t be used by anyone to release a fake news.

Similar rules might be imposed on social networks in other countries and this will force social sites to initiate a crackdown against fake news.

You’ll see strict rules from social networks in terms of what businesses can post and what they cannot post. This will definitely impact businesses as to what they post.

9. Mobile Ad Growth

Spending on mobile ads will grow exponentially in 2017.

Twitter mobile ad revenue is expected to grow in 2017 and the mobile format is expected to increase more than desktop.

More than 80% of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from mobile ads.

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Adweek conducted a survey of millennials about their experience with ads for Snapchat and Instagram. The results were mixed but it was reported that people remember Instagram ads more than Snapchat ads.

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As the number of mobile users is increasing at an alarming rate, therefore, you’ll see an increase in social mobile ad spending in 2017.

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You should craft a clear social advertising strategy for your brand with a focus on mobile ads. The social mobile ad spending will increase in coming years, your competitors will spend on the same, and you should start spending on the same.

 

10. Artificial Intelligence

Snapchat facial filters are powered by artificial intelligence are found to be interactive and engaging.

Since it’s a much-liked feature, other social networks are already investing in the artificial intelligence.

Facebook is testing its facial lenses for mobile. Instagram Stories is another AI-powered feature that garnered over 100 million active users in two months.

Facial lenses is, however, one feature.

The investment in artificial intelligence is expected to triple in 2017. Facebook, Google, IBM, and other giants are investing heavily in AI.

LinkedIn acquired Bright which uses machine learning to offer better jobs to candidates.

Artificial intelligence will drive social media in 2017. We will see investment new features from other social networks that will help users.

According to VentureBeat, AI is essential for social media.

This means you’ll see more of it in 2017. Social networks will invest in AI to stay ahead of the competition and to make their customer’s life fun and easy.

This will open new doors for business in terms of interacting with the customers, social ads, and networking.

11. Rise Of Employee Advocacy

Employee advocacy is the promotion or marketing of the business by its employees. It is more than a simple promotion of the organization.

There are organizations that have a solid employee advocacy programs that help them boost engagement and brand awareness.

Altimeter reported that employee advocacy has grown by 191% since 2013. Some 45% businesses reported that it is their most important external objective.

Businesses will invest in employee advocacy more than ever in 2017. This is because customers prefer connecting and interacting with people instead of businesses.

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Employees are one of the most trusted spokesperson to communicate a topic.

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Statistics show that 31% of high-growth businesses have a formal employee advocacy program and one in every five employees is estimated to be an employee advocate.

The ROI is exceptional in terms of user engagement.

Topgolf used 300 employee advocates who were responsible for sharing updates. This increased likes by 220%, 60% increase in reads, and 31% increase in total shares.

With the growth of social networks and a whopping increase in the use of messaging apps, businesses will invest more in employee advocacy so that they can reach more people effectively.

 

12. Snapchat Users Will Switch To Instagram

This is an interesting trend.

It’s expected that Snapchat users will move to Instagram after the launch of Stories.

When Instagram launched Stories, it received 100 million daily active viewers. This represents two third of the Snapchat’s entire user base.

Instagram has a much bigger audience (600 million users) as compared to Snapchat’s audience (150 million).

Instagram offers a whole lot of other additional features as compared to Snapchat such as permanent portfolio and the ability to use insights from Facebook too for advertising.

Snapchat offers limited means to measure and analyze progress as compared to Instagram.

Experts predict that Instagram will kill Snapchat in 2017. We will soon see brands and influencers shifting from Snapchat to Instagram. This will drive individual users to Instagram too at a massive level.

This is a big prediction for 2017 and if it happens, it will be one of the biggest upsets.

Consequently, there will be a rise in the use of Instagram and Facebook in 2017. With Instagram’s growth, Facebook will grow and it will persuade more businesses and influencers to get involved in Facebook for deep insights.

Prepare your business for the transition if it happens the way it’s predicted.

 

13. Business Features

Social networks will prioritize business features and will follow the footprints on Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram, for instance, launched its business tools in 2016. This shows the trend as to where it will head in 2017.

Businesses use analytics to see what works for their social media campaigns. They cannot go without in-depth analytics. Social networks know it and they will get better with analytics in the future.

Statistics show that 92% of executives and businesses use analytics for marketing insights. Another survey reported that 36% of businesses use social media analytics.

In order to fulfill the needs of businesses, social sites will continue to offer better insights to marketers and businesses. This means the social networks that don’t offer a reliable and powerful analytics and business tool (such as Snapchat) might launch theirs in 2017.

Once they do, businesses will have access to more powerful insights. This will eventually help businesses grow.

 

14. Social Media Skills Gap

The social media skills gap is widening.

The research by Capgemini Consulting revealed that nine out of 10 businesses reported that their employees don’t have the necessary skills to use social media as a business tool.

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This skill gap will widen in 2017 because businesses aren’t ready to invest in training their employees any time soon.

This costs billions of dollars to businesses every year as said by Ryan Holmes:

“The real price of the skills gap often goes unnoticed: billions of dollars in lost opportunity.”

As a business, you should start training your employees for digital skills with a focus on social skills. This should be considered as an opportunity.

Though social media courses are being taught to undergraduates in some universities but it will need time to see its impact in the labor market. Businesses will experience the same skill gap in 2017.

 

15. Personalized Content

Personalized content will rule social networks in 2017.

After all, this is what consumers expect. According to a survey, 61% US consumers reported that getting relevant offers is more important keeping their online activity private. They love getting personalized offers.

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When the content isn’t relevant, people get frustrated. Some 70% of people reported that they get frustrated when the content they see is not relevant to them.

But marketers and businesses lack insights into what their target audience needs.

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This calls for two trends in the social media for 2017.

  1. Businesses will invest more in analytics. Social networking sites will offer analytic tools and business features so that businesses can better track their followers and offer them with personalized content.
  2. Businesses will spend more on retargeting. Facebook retargeting ads will be used by more businesses to offer relevant and personalized content to their target audience.

 

16. CEOs Will Start Using Social Networks

CEOs are not on social networks.

The Fortune 500 CEOs aren’t much active on social networks. According to the 2015 social CEO report:

  • Some 61% of CEOs has no social presence at all.
  • Only 60% of CEOs having Twitter accounts were actively using it.
  • Not a single Fortune 500 CEO is active on all the six major social platforms.

This was 2015, though.

Things started to get better in 2016.

Facebook’s Business Influencer program attracted CEOs to on social networks like Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

On the other hand, LinkedIn Pulse is used by several CEOs and has more than 500 influencers.

It’s expected that more CEOs will join social networks and will become active on at least the leading social networks. But it will take time.

When CEOs will join social networks, it will bring a lot of their followers on these networks since they’re the real influencers with massive following.

This will increase the number of people who use social networks significantly. More people will join social networks and this will drive ad revenue.

It all depends on the CEOs and how social networks attract them.

We might also see influencer targeting programs from other social networks to bring them on board.

 

17. Social Influencers

Social influencers will grow like anything in 2017.

There are three major reasons why 2017 will boost social influencers.

  1. The old school advertising techniques don’t work. Over 47% online consumers use ad blockers. They don’t like seeing those annoying ads.
  2. Influencer marketing is found to be a much better marketing approach. More than 84% marketers reported that they plan to use at least one influencer marketing campaign in next 12 months.
  3. The CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are expected to start using social networks in 2017. This will give a boost to social influencer marketing.

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Emarketer reported that 48% of marketers will increase their influencer marketing budget in 2017.

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This year will be a year of social influencer marketing. Brands will focus on hiring influencers on social networks.

 

18. Merger And Acquisition Of Social Sites

If there’s one thing that’s certain, it is that there will be more social networking sites merger in 2017 than ever.

Facebook acquired Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus Rift, Faciometrics, Infiniled, and several other businesses in last few years.

Twitter acquired Periscope.

In 2016, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for a whopping $26.2 billion.

This will continue in 2017 and it will be harder for new social startups to join the mainstream without getting acquired by a giant.

As a business, you’ve to keep a close eye on these mergers and acquisitions. Channelize your social media marketing budget and content based on what’s happening around.

Such mergers also create innovative ways that will help you as a brand. For instance, if Microsoft integrates LinkedIn profiles within Microsoft 365 apps, imagine how this will impact your business and marketing.

 

19. Organic Social Traffic Hard To Acquire

Social networks are getting smarter. They use algorithms to show most relevant content to their users.

This makes it hard for businesses to acquire organic social traffic.

For instance, Facebook changed its News Feed algorithm several times in 2016 and even in 2017.

The purpose of these updates is to prioritize the posts from friends over other sources. So if someone has liked your page, your post won’t be get as much organic views unless the user choose to see your posts first in the News Feed.

GetApp conducted a survey from 500 small and mid-sized businesses. The survey asked from the respondents that how effective Facebook is at driving organic traffic to your website. Most of them reported that it is not effective at driving organic traffic.

Only 9% said that it is effective while over 25% reported that it is not effective at all.

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Clearly, businesses will continue to struggle with organic traffic on Facebook and other social networks.

Consequently, businesses will have no option but to run ads. Social networking websites will be primarily used as paid marketing channels for businesses in 2017.

Competition and average bids will ultimately increase for social ads in next years.

 

20. Standardization

Social networking websites are moving towards a standardized platform.

What works for one site is copied by the other site. Users see similar features on all the social networking websites.

For instance:

  • Instagram introduced Stories make it look like Snapchat.
  • Facebook is also testing disappearing messages in the Messenger.
  • Vimeo has launched VR videos copying YouTube.
  • YouTube is testing a community feature that will allow its users to post and share text and images. This is a feature that makes it quite similar to Facebook.

What does this mean?

All the social networking websites will offer similar features to the users.

The trend will rise in 2017.

There will be similar features available with all the social networks in 2017 if things go as planned. This will make all the social networks similar and standardized.

 

21. Superior Customer Experience

In 2016, 23% of B2B marketers said that they plan to have a customer-centric organization culture. The same trend will follow in 2017.

Consumers still aren’t satisfied with what they get from businesses. A large chunk of consumers feels that only 1% of businesses are able to meet their expectations.

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Statistics show that 63% of millennials say that they use social networks to stay updated about their favorite brands and another 51% say that social opinions influence their purchase decisions.

Businesses will focus more on offering superior customer experience and services to their customers through social networks in 2017.

We will see well-managed pages and social accounts. Regular updates. Quick response time.

Besides, businesses will invest in social media experience too in 2017. The idea is to offer a better experience to the customers on social networks so as to boost engagement and conversions.

This spending will rise in the coming years.

 

Conclusion

Capitalize on these 21 social media trends for 2017.

Ask yourself if your business and its social media marketing strategy is going in the right direction.

If you’re developing a mobile app to keep up with the trends, make sure you understand the costs.

Is your business prepared for these trends?

Do you have the resources and workforce to deal with these trends? It’s never too late to plan.

17 Powerful Copywriting Hacks To Boost Your Conversions

Copywriting is an art, but it’s not the same art as writing fiction. To get the results you want, you need to know how to craft your blogs and posts so they draw customers in. Are you looking for bigger conversion rates? Then you’ll need to work on your copywriting. Here’s some of the best hacks to get the most from your copy.

 

1. Think About Your Language

The kind of copy that’s bound to turn customers off is the hard sell, ‘buy it now!’ style of writing. Customers are put off as they feel pressured into deciding there and then whether they even want your product. This creates negative feeling towards you and your product, so it’s more likely that it will turn them off rather than drawing them in.

When writing your copy, try adopting a friendlier, more relaxed tone. As writers at UK Writings say, ‘The better your copywriting, the more you’ll be trusted by customers. And they lead to more customers with the snowballing effect.’ Imagine you’re chatting to a customer over lunch, not trying to give them the hard sell in a show room. Focus on what your product can do for them.

 

2. Create Engaging Headlines

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Your headline is arguably the most important part of your text. It’s the part that readers will see first, and has the most work to do in persuading them to click through and read. Therefore, you need to work hard on your headlines. Popular headline writing techniques include writing headlines that ask questions, such as ‘Do You Know What’s Really In Your Supermarket Shopping?’ You can also try writing lists, so your title could be ‘9 Ways You Can Improve Your Diet Without Even Realising It’.

If you’re still unsure as to whether your headline is engaging, try using the ShareThrough Headline Analyzer. Paste your headline in and it will give you a thorough breakdown of how it shapes up.

 

3. Post Consistently

You hear it in every post about content, but it’s true. If you want to boost your conversion rates, the only way you’re going to do so is by bringing readers to your site. New, updated posts put up regularly will help you do this.

You don’t have to post every day or even every week, but you do need to be consistent. It is difficult though, when you’re spinning several plates at once. That’s why there are writing services out there like Ox Essays who can help you get these posts written. They’ll take your briefs and create excellent blogs that really give your readers something to think about.

 

4. Get To The Point

Once your reader has been brought in by your headline and is now on your website, get to the point. Make sure you deliver on the promise of your headline in the very first line of the post. If your reader has clicked through and doesn’t see what they came for right away, they’re going to just click away.

Think of that first sentence as your abstract, or declaration of what that post is going to do. The rest of the post is then designed to flesh out your argument and give readers the real meat they’re looking for.

 

5. Use Images With Your Text

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Copywriting isn’t just about the writing itself. You need to break up your text with images, in order to keep the reader’s interest. That’s because large blocks of text can feel exhausting to read through, so most people simply won’t bother.

There’s several ways you can insert images naturally into your text. Try ordering infographics that complement your text. They look great, impart a lot of information in an easy to digest way, and will help illustrate your point nicely. There’s also a theory that including photos if smiling faces in your text can improve conversion. This is because if the images are seen on your website, it gives the impression that you’re friendly and approachable as a company.

 

6. Set Yourself A Word Count

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Longer posts are better, right? Not always. Think about the average attention span of your reader. If you can’t grab their attention instantly, then they’re just going to go elsewhere. This is even more true on social media, as readers will just scroll away if the post is too long.

The way to stop this happening is to write shorter posts that have more relevant content in them. When you sit down to write, set yourself a word count. Many set around 500 words, as that’s around the same size as one 14 piece of paper. What you set will be up to you, but don’t go too long. To check the word count of your posts, try using the Easy Word Count tool.

 

7. Use Formatting To Your Advantage

Breaking up text as much as you can is always a good idea. As with images, it helps break up the text and make it much more readable. If the reader doesn’t feel like they’re ploughing through a mountain of text, they’ll be much more likely to make it to the end.

The way you format will be individual to you, but there are plenty of ideas to get you started. You can use bullet points to create lists, and sub headings to introduce different ideas or points. Highlight your most important facts, and keep sentences short to get the most out of your writing.

8. Check Your Grammar

Poor grammar has blighted many a company’s copywriting. The points contained within could be highly useful, but if no reader can comprehend what is being said, then there’s no point posting it. Using good grammar shows you to be professional and reliable, so it’s vital that you get it right.

If it’s been a long time since you sat in on an English class, that’s easier said than done. Luckily though, there’s plenty of help online. Try using the Academized  Grammar Handbook to get you started, as it has lots of helpful tips for the beginner. Always take advantage of your tools and resources.

 

9. Create And Use A Style Guide

All the best websites have style guides they use when they’re writing their copy. These are designed so every piece of content they create follows the same formula, so the work is consistent. It differs from company to company, but it often includes elements such as size and font of your text, the images used, and the grammatical style of the copy.

Put together your own style guide. Think about how you want your posts to look. If your writing is always consistent, you look much more professional to your customers.

 

10. Never Skip Proofreading

Proofreading your writing is arguably the most important step in your work. That’s because no matter how good a post is, and how thoughtful the content is, it will fall down if there are spelling or grammatical mistakes in it. Would you respect a company that posts blogs without checking them first? Exactly.

That’s why it’s vital you always proofread. Spend the time to really get to grips with your post and look for the errors that have occurred. If you don’t have time to proofread, or you feel you don’t have the skills, then look at hiring a proofreading service such as Australian Help. They’ll do the heavy lifting for you, and edit out any errors before you publish the piece.

 

11. Make Your Call To Action Relevant

Many copywriters fail when they don’t include a proper Call To Action in their text. If the customer gets to the end of your post and doesn’t know what to do next, then you’re going to lose their custom. Instead, make sure you include a Call To Action that makes it clear what they should do next.

The best way to do this is to place a button at the end of the text, which tells the customer what to do. Don’t use words like ‘submit’ or ‘next’ on their own, as they don’t mean anything out of context. Instead, use a phrase like ‘Start writing my resume’ or ‘Buy your ingredients in here’ to tell customers exactly what happens next.

 

12. Use Paragraphs And Quotes Appropriately

use-paragraphs-and-quotes-appropriately

When writing, keep to the ‘one idea’, one paragraph’ rule. This means that for each new idea you introduce into your text, you start a new paragraph. This breaks up your text and helps the reader follow your train of thought.

A good way of backing up any ideas you introduce is by using third party sources. Use relevant quotes and your writing will be much more reliable and trustworthy. When you do this though, make sure you’re citing your quotes properly. Failure to do so can appear to others as though you’re stealing the content, even if you’re not. Use a tool such as Cite It In to help you get it cited correctly.

 

13. Focus On The Benefits

There’s a school of thought in copywriting that you need to tell the customer all about the features of your product. You can bombard them with all the features you like though, and it still won’t tell them how it will benefit them.

That’s why it’s a much better idea to focus on the benefits your customer will receive if they buy your product instead. Think about how it will make their life better, how it will solve a problem that they didn’t even know they had. Be switching your focus, you can really boost your conversion rates.

 

14. Use Your Keywords

Keywords are vital for your posts to start showing up on Google and other search engines. They tell them that your post is relevant to what the searcher is looking for. If you use the right keywords, you’ll have floods of visitors, and therefore lots of new leads.

The best way to get your keywords is to think like your customer. What might they be looking for, if they come to your site? Boil down the words and phrases they may be searching for, and be sure to use them in your text.

 

15. Key Into The Customer’s Emotions

Everyone is always feeling something. You can be happy, sad, confused, anxious, elated, or fed up, and that’s just for starters. There’s always emotions guiding what your customers do, so keep them in mind as you write your copy. How are your customers feeling? How do you want them to feel?

For example, you could be a company that sells cordless vacuum cleaners. Your customers may be fed up or irritated by the vacuum cleaners, as the cord is always snagging on furniture. It’s your job to make them happy they’ve found a solution in your product.

 

16. Be Honest

No customer is going to trust you if you promise them the moon on a silver platter. The product or service you provide is obviously great, but it’s not going to be the answer to everyone’s prayers. That’s just not possible.

Instead, the answer is to be as honest and authentic with your customers as possible. Tell them exactly what your product can do. Focus on the strengths it does have. If you’re open and upfront about it, you’ll gain much more respect.

 

17. Tell A Story With Your Writing

tell-a-story-with-your-writing

You may not be writing fiction, but you’re still looking to engage the reader. If you get too technical, it’s gets boring and who’s going to stick around for that? Instead, try telling a story with your post. You can show just how the product works, but in a more engaging and interesting way.

For example, if you sell TV dongles for watching online content, you can tell the story of a group of friends trying to watch a football game that was being streamed online. They can try watching it in a bar, or on a laptop, but find that watching it on TV is the best way to enjoy the game.

There’s a lot of information to take in here, but all of these tips will help you create much more engaging, interesting and useful copy. Give them a try and you’ll see for yourself.

 

About the Author: Brenda Berg is a professional with over 15 years experience in business management, marketing and entrepreneurship. Consultant and tutor for college students and entrepreneurs. Self motivated results driven individual who is encouraged to travel. Connect with Brenda on Twitter.

8 Data Trends Worth Paying Attention to in 2017

There’s no doubt that last year was a great one for tech. Things like smart devices (IoT devices) are becoming mainstream. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are already present in healthcare, the automotive industry, retail, and a bunch of other industries. Apps are growing, but also transforming with the help of virtual reality and chatbots. All of these technologies are creating mountains of data that need to be sorted, analyzed and acted upon.

If you are to keep up with the competition, you’ll need to use as many of these new technologies as possible, and that also means you need to be up to date with all the latest data trends. As technology advances, and our understanding and implementation of data widens, the trends surrounding data change. Below you will find what we believe will be data trends worth paying attention to this year.

 

Complying With The GDPR

Without a doubt, GDPR is the single most important thing related to data, not just in 2017, but in 2018, 2019, and further down the years. GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, is a European Union document that aims to regulate how businesses, those that have customers in the EU, use and share the data they gather. Considering the size and the importance of the European market, it is safe to say that GDPR will affect pretty much every company, regardless of where it is in the world.

Created to replace the Data Protection Directive, it will enter into application on May 25 2018. Until then, companies have to coordinate their data management practices with the GDPR, or risk severe fines.

The GDPR says companies that fail to comply with its guidelines risk up to €20 million in fines, or 4 percent of their annual turnover, whichever is greater.

Recent market research in the UK, for example, has shown that more than half of companies aren’t even aware the GDPR exists, let alone what it regulates, and how severe the fines are for not complying. As the deadline moves closer, more companies will become aware of the new digital business landscape and will hastily start preparing. That will result in significant changes in how businesses handle data, including which data they collect, which data they keep, and for how long. It will also mean changes to the methods used to gather the data, and methods of keeping it safe.

 

Qualitative Analytics

User experience has become one of the main focuses for both desktop and mobile businesses, and qualitative analytics allow organizations to measure and improve that experience. Being able to understand how your app behaves in the wild, how users are interacting with it, what are its pain points and biggest advantages, those are just some of the things traditional, quantitative analytics cannot provide.

With user session recordings, app professionals can learn how users interact with their apps. For example, if users are confused by a settings menu or impatient with a ‘slow’ screen. This qualitative data can help app professionals pinpoint exactly what elements are causing friction within their UX and optimize confidently. This data can also enable them to see what makes apps crash or freeze, consequently giving them a powerful shortcut to bug troubleshooting and patching.

With touch heatmaps, on the other hand, app professionals are able to see on an aggregate level exactly which parts of their app’s UI are being used more, and which are being neglected. They can also understand if their UI design and gestures are intuitive for their users or generating unresponsive gestures. Ultimately, this qualitative data can help them confidently redesign their app’s interface, add new features, bolster usability, and validate design A/B tests.

User experience is at the very core of app development in 2017 (including mobile), and qualitative analytics will play a major part in perfecting that experience. That’s why we believe qualitative analytics data will have a huge impact on businesses in 2017.

 

Putting Unstructured Data To Use

We know what unstructured data is and how it’s created. We also know, thanks to IBM, that four fifths of all data created nowadays is unstructured. The problem, however, lies in the fact that unstructured data carries a lot of weight. It’s not some irrelevant trash data that only occupies space and gives nothing in return. In fact, it is essential to knowing a company inside out. It is often considered the company’s ‘secret sauce’, as unstructured data often hides the thought processes that lead to great success stories. Therefore, it is only logical that one of the bigger trends we’ll see going forward is how to make good use of unstructured data. According to Sinequa’s Director of Consulting for North America, Jeff Evernham, this will represent a ‘fundamental shift’.

Unstructured data has been around before, so why the sudden burst of interest in 2017? Mostly because we’ve invented technologies which help us tackle these mountains of data with more ease. Technologies such as language processing and cognitive search abilities are necessary to pull out relevant information from a pile of, well, everything.

With the help of machine learning and data visualization, we will able to make sense of unstructured data, which is bound to give some valuable insights on, for example, the company workflow, where new revenue streams could be uncovered, and where significant savings can be made.

 

Drawing Insights Out of Dark Data

Organizations are becoming increasingly aware of dark data – huge swathes of information that is gathered on customers, employees, partners and clients, but which is never used. With data analytics’ increasing importance, and the CDO role (Chief Data Officer) entering the boardroom, a trend of drawing insights out of dark data is picking up. There are two reasons why organizations will pay more attention to dark data. The first one is that the GDPR will force them dissect it. The document is very clear about which data organizations can keep, where and how long. GDPR doesn’t care if it’s dark data or not. The second reason is that they now have the awareness, and the ability, to put that information to good use. For example, server log files can shed light on certain user behavior, which can result in an improvement of services, and / or user experience.

 

The Transformation of The Data Scientist Role

A few years ago, ‘data scientist’ was one of the hottest jobs you could land. Back in the day when data-driven decisions were just picking up as a trend, everyone wanted a data scientist to be able to analyze large amounts of data.

Trends do change fast, that’s a fact – but data scientists are still a hot role, despite suffering changes. The number of organizations, from various industries, employing data analysts and Chief Data Officers is growing by the day. But their job description is changing, thanks to the insatiable human desire for improvement.

With every passing day, data is getting bigger and bigger, to the point where humans are no longer able to analyze it on their own. We’re not talking just about data volume. The number of different insights that can be drawn out of this data is also growing, and we have come to a point where humans hardly suffice.

Luckily, machine learning and AI technology is improving, and it is changing what data scientists and Chief Data Officers (CDO) will be doing in 2017 and beyond. Instead of doing the non-creative job of analyzing data and presenting the results for the boardroom, or other executives, data scientist will be tasked with coming up with creative, actionable solutions based on that data.

 

The Death of Data Silos

Data, in all its forms, shapes and sizes, is essential for making data-driven decisions. But in order to get there, all of the data needs to be gathered in a single place, and analyzed as a single entity, in order to be able to draw valid conclusions. At this point, it is easier said than done. Large enterprises are using vast amounts of apps for their everyday activities, and the data those apps create are usually clustered in data silos, which are then spread around the organization.

With data being scattered around the organization in different silos, you cannot make data-driven decisions. In the words of Cyfe’s Ben Carpel, “silos are the bane of productive and profitable businesses.” Organizations around the world have noticed the trend of data siloing and have identified it as one of the biggest threats to their business. That’s why it is safe to assume that one of the bigger trends we’ll see in 2017 will be killing off of the data silo.

Once again – easier said than done. Large enterprises currently use between 300 and 400 cloud apps, resulting in a sea of data. As we move into 2017, organizations will slowly start to break data silos apart and bring all data under one roof, one app at a time. We might not see the final demise of data silos in 2017, but we will most definitely see its first steps.

IoT Attacks And Security Measures

Data comes with a price, and big data comes with an even bigger price. Hackers have always been out there, looking for vulnerable places to get a hold of valuable information. This year, the Internet of Things (IoT) will grow substantially, and with it – the threat surface.

The IoT threat surface (all of the different devices hackers can attack), currently comprises of 6.4 billion devices, and by 2020, it will grow to 20.8 billion devices, according to Gartner. The more devices out there, the harder it is to stay safe. On the other hand, it will become much easier for cyber-criminals to get what they’re after.

We can expect more digitally connected cars, home appliances, meters and wearables, not to mention traffic lights, city lights or parking meters. All of these will create an enormous amount of data which cyber-criminals will definitely be after.

Luckily enough, we humans are very good at keeping our digital assets safe</sarcasm>. In 2017, we can expect to see a lot more IoT devices, a lot more data generated by those devices, a few high-profile data breaches, a few responsible people getting fired, and a lot of tough security measures being implemented.

IoT, and the data these devices will create, is a significant business growth driver, revenue driver and user experience booster. Make sure to stay vigilant. Stay up to date with the latest security trends, industry standards and recommendations.

 

Managed Services in The Cloud

For the past couple of years, many companies have been experimenting and toying with the idea of big data in the cloud. A recent report by O’Reilly, which you can find on this link, says a vast majority of companies testing big data in the cloud are very likely to expand their use of similar services. In other words, whoever has tried it, loved it, and will be looking for more.

It makes sense. Managed services nowadays are being used for a number of things like storage, AI, data processing or analytics. With proprietary solutions, companies can focus on the task at hand, and not on the tools, freeing up much needed time.

However, we don’t expect everything to be moving into the cloud. Various reasons, like complying with the GDPR, or being limited by legacy systems, will force companies to go for a combination of cloud and on-premise solutions.

Such a mix bag of technology will also transform the required IT skillset for workers in the industry. In 2017 and beyond, data and IT experts will be required to manage a mix of solutions including hybrid clouds, on-premise solutions and cloud solutions.

 

Final Thoughts

Data will continue to have an enormous impact on businesses all over the world. In the past, we have learned that mountains of data can be collected, analyzed and acted upon to improve businesses and products. Now, we are learning how to govern data, how to make sure nothing gets left behind, and how to make sure we’re interpreting the data correctly. We’re also slowly understanding how to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to aid us in analyzing data, and how all of that can lead to not only great business experiences, but to great end user experiences, as well.  

 

About the Author: Hannah is the Head of Content at Appsee app analytics. A UX and mobile app enthusiast, she has a great affinity for discovering and sharing unique insights and resources with the mobile tech community. Hannah also loves photojournalism, classic rock, and pretending that she’s the only one with a “foodie” Instagram account. You can follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahLevenson.

6 Mistakes Harming Your Email Marketing

Every year, millions of dollars are spent on email marketing. The race to present a product or service to customers drives an ever-growing industry of copywriters, campaign creators, graphic designers and brand managers. More and more, however, companies are creating the tools for entrepreneurs and small business owners to create their own digital strategies and become in-home marketing firms. This is great news, but only as long as you know how to work it.

Email marketing isn’t as straightforward as in-person sales. Your company’s message is vying for precious little space in a consumer’s schedule, and is easier than ever to simply skip over. So what divides successful email marketing from unread inbox clutter? We offer a few tips to keep your work sharp and effective so that your clients get the message.

 

Bad Subject Lines

The purpose of a cover is to sell a book. The purpose of an email subject line is exactly the same. Think back on which emails you open every morning. What drives you to click? Chances are, there’s a strong subject line that piques your interest. Experts estimate that 33% of all opens come from subject line alone. If one-third of your clicks rely on something, it’s foundational important. Brevity is the soul of wit, so keep your subject lines short and to-the-point. Make them crackle with energy. Use them to hook your clients, either emotionally or by appealing to their wallets. Ideally, your subject line should convey the soul of your marketing message.

And here’s what you shouldn’t do.

  • Don’t repeat your name. Emails come to us showing by a sender and a subject line. Use the sender field to get your name out there. The subject line is where you sell this particular email. If you don’t know why you’re sending the email, the customer won’t either – and they won’t open it.
  • Don’t oversell. Customers will call your bluff, according to e-marketing group Selligent. If you claim that your product works wonders, make sure it does. If it only helps in small amounts, don’t overstate your case. Overselling customers is a great way to lose email subscribers and ding the reputation of your company.
  • Don’t get wordy. The fewer characters, the better. Subject lines with 30 characters or less tend to have better results, in part because mobile displays typically show only the first 30 characters. Don’t miss out on the phone viewership. Keep it short – and avoid all caps. It can read as angry.

 

Not Knowing Your Audience

Nobody likes receiving spam. And, worse, it’s useless from a business perspective. The amount of customers who buy from unsolicited emails is virtually non-existent. So make sure that you’re emailing only people who want to get your email. Post a sign-up button on your web page and social media outlets, and be sure to have an “unsubscribe” option attached. In the meantime, be sure to keep away from these audience pitfalls:

  • Avoid generalizing. In the hyper-personal digital age, one size does not fit all. Instead of creating one generic email for all of your customers, break them down into bite-sized chunks of consumers and sell to that audience. You can categorize customers by location, age, product or service need or even history with your company. The point is to make it personal.
  • Timing, timing, timing. Just like comedy, a good email marketer nails the timing. HubSpot found that click-through rates were the highest on Saturday and Sunday for product-selling emails. The next-best solution was between 10 a.m. and noon on weekdays. However, if your clients tend to prefer mobile devices, consider sending your emails between 6 and 8 (both morning and night). TailoredMail.com found that those hours garnered about 15% clicks for mobile readers. Your best bet is to make sure you’re sending at a time when your customer is likely to see your email — and has time to read it. (On the flip side, most unsubscribes happen on Tuesdays.)
  • Too much of a good thing. The number one reason that customers opt-out from email marketing campaigns is, by far, because they receive too many messages. Consumers, like you, are busy people. Don’t waste their time with unnecessary verbiage.

 

Poor Wording

There’s no faster way to lose consumer confidence than through bad writing. Don’t buy into the idea that you can be lazy with words and your clients will still “get the message.” When you’re dealing with customers, your words not only sell your product, they sell your business. Clients will instinctively judge you — your attention to detail, your carelessness, how clear your thinking is — by your writing. Don’t let them down; your credibility rests on it. Time spent crafting carefully worded copy can pay big dividends down the road, so it’s worth your time to get it right. Here are some quick tips to rev up your writing:

  • Words to cut from your writing. There’s a reason we still have spam filters: because they work. But you don’t only want to avoid getting spammed out; you also want to keep from triggering any negative responses from potential buyers. Cut this words from your writing, and you’ll see more engagement: Discount, Partner, Specials, Don’t, Final, Complimentary, Obligation, Limited-Time, Money-Back, Click Here, Order Now, and Urgent.
  • Bad grammar. Your diction communicates just as much about your product or service as it does about your company. Be sure to run your email through a spell-checking program before you send it. Even better, have someone else read it. If you can’t get another set of eyes, give yourself a few hours away from your copy before you edit it again. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll catch. If you’re hopeless, try using a grammar and spell-checking service like Grammarly.
  • Accentuate the positive. Negative words lead to negative emotions, which aren’t conducive to a sale. Instead, try to frame your emails in more chipper tones. The overall feel of your email should be honest and straightforward. Don’t hide behind trite clichés and doublespeak. UnBounce suggests that marketers avoid aggressive language and focus on meeting very specific customer needs.

 

Image Issues

A good, vibrant image can increase engagement. But beware. Images come up with hassles. And if you’re not prepared to thoroughly vet your image from a variety of angles, it may be best to leave it out altogether. The best email campaigns use images precisely and sparingly in order to make specific points and drive traffic toward a particular point. Here are a few rookie mistakes that happen over and over again in email campaigns:

  • Forgetting the link. Make your images clickable! Most of us have been conditioned to expect that clicking on an image will take us directly to a website. Don’t go against the grain on this one. Especially if you’re featuring a main image or a company logo, make sure there’s a linked URL behind it. There’s nothing more frustrating for consumers than trying to buy a product only to have your phone simply display a bigger version of the image. And make sure the landing page you link to is related to your image. It’s confusing for customers to click on an image that advertises one item only to be taken to a company’s home page, especially if that item isn’t listed there. Use the right link.
  • Bad sizing. Before you hit “send” on your campaign, be sure to test it out. A beautiful display in your browser may look confusing or awkward on a different platform. Be sure that you’re optimized for mobile viewing, and that your images will size correctly for phone readers.
  • Making too many assumptions. Some folks out there are all business and set their email clients to “text only” mode. You need to make sure that your emails accommodate that audience as well. Check it for yourself and be sure to include multiple HTML links throughout your email – not only on the image – just in case. The same ideas hold true for colorblind individuals. Don’t think that everyone sees the image in exactly the same way that you do.

Failing to Engage

Don’t think of your marketing email as a one-sided conversation between you and a faceless void. Instead, think of your campaign as the beginning of a dialogue between your company and potential customers. You want to follow all the same rules you’d follow face-to-face, and then some. Chief among them, don’t ignore the customer. Internet surfers have notoriously short attention spans. If you don’t engage with them, they’ll lose interest or find information elsewhere. Here are some guidelines to help you engage:

  • Don’t be unreachable. Interested customers should have easy ways to contact your company with questions or concerns. Responding to customers is invaluable. And it’s only fair. If you’re asking them to consider reading an email from you, you should extend them the same courtesy. Encourage your clients to reply back or have a dedicated email address specifically for questions from subscribers.
  • Don’t think you know best. Too many marketers want to bask in the glow of their expertise. But it’s foolish to think that you’re meeting all of your clients’ needs, even if you’re doing good business. Forbes recommends that email marketers do regular surveys of their customers. This way, clients have an incentive to converse with you – and you have a reliable way to test the waters about new products and services. It’s a win-win situation that most companies fail to take advantage of.
  • Address them by name. Dale Carnegie famously pointed out the power of using people’s name, and his wisdom holds true in email marketing. Researchers at Stanford and the University of Chicago found that adding the recipient’s first name to the email’s subject line increased open rates by 20%. That simple maneuver also led to a decrease in unsubscribing by a whopping 17%. That’s a lot of mileage for a simple action. In this instance, name dropping is a very good thing.

 

Forgoing a Test

There’s no single key to effective email marketing, and every business will have different needs. But these guidelines will set you on the right track. But once you’ve pieced together a professional email marketing campaign and are ready to send it, don’t think you’re finished. A final, crucial part of email marketing is still ahead of you. As you begin to build a subscriber base and listen to customers, throw in some A/B testing. That’s what marketers call sending slightly different copies of your emails to customers in order to note which of the two options gets more responses. It’s a crucial tool, but one that too many people get wrong. Follow these tips to increase the productivity of your tests.

  • Gather your data. A/B tests can only help if you have to know your audience’s general patterns. So gather data on normal opens, click rates, sales, and engagements before you start an A/B test. The fewer changes you make, the more you can extrapolate from what you learn. But not matter what you change, you need to measure it against a base. Load up a spreadsheet before you begin.
  • Make a plan. Decide what your end goals are and then create a strategy, advises Kissmetrics. If you want to drive more clickthroughs to your home page, consider changing the size of your logo or putting in another hyperlink. If you’re aiming to sell more products, try changing the headline. Whatever you do, make sure that you follow through with it and collect as much data as you can. Even if your business is small, the more you can increase your sample size, the more the data can tell you. Be sure to send out both versions of your test at the same time. An A/B test doesn’t do much good if the A version is sent on a Monday morning and the B version disseminates Friday evening. Reduce the variables and send your tests simultaneously.
  • Be selective. SmashingMagazine advises companies not to surprise loyal customers with an unannounced change. If you’re considering a substantial re-do of your website or email template, try it out on new customers first. And once you start an A/B test, stick with it until you have enough data to draw a firm conclusion. Don’t chicken out and go with your gut. A telling A/B test is one that gives you confident results. Once you know what your customers prefer, use that information to make all of your material better.

 

About the Author: Piers Golden is a freelance blogger at EssayPro and has been writing professionally since 2013.

18 Effective Social Media Management Tools to Improve Your Social Marketing

Do you want to grow your business with social media?

You need to become good at managing your accounts. But it’s easier said than done.

Yes, managing social media accounts on different social networking sites can be overwhelming especially if you are an agency owner, you own multiple businesses, or you have to manage multiple social media accounts as part of your job.

More than 90% of the businesses use more than two social networks to engage with their customers.

When there are as much as 2.3 billion active social media users out there, businesses have a solid reason to use social networks to take their marketing to the next level.

The following social media statistics for 2016 shows why every business should use more than one social network.

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Of course, managing multiple social accounts is a pain.

Around 60% of the businesses and marketers say that measuring ROI for their social media marketing is one of their biggest challenges.

In another study, 49% of the marketers said that social media marketing is the most difficult type of marketing they do.

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Do You Really Need A Social Media Tools?

Yes you do. A social media management tool helps businesses and marketers manage, monitor, and analyze social media accounts and activities.

Not sure if you need a social media management tool? The following statistics will reveal why it is the right time to start using one:

a).  More than 52% of the marketers find it difficult to measure ROI.

b).  Forty-eight percent of the businesses lack a robust social media marketing strategy.

c).  Some 67% users are of the view that brands do not do a great job of dealing with their customers on social networks.

d).  Over 81% of the businesses reported that they will increase the social media marketing budget if they can better track ROI.

e).  More than 42% of the social media managers have no clue how they can make use of the data collected from social media and how to hook it to the business strategy.

f).   As much as 86% of the marketers do not know which social media marketing tools they should use.

g).  Over 42% of the customers expect to receive a reply from a brand on a social network in less than 60 minutes. (Source)

h).  Businesses are unable to respond to 8 out of 9 important customer messages on social networks and it can take more than 3 days to respond to a valid customer query. (Source)

While your business might be running smoothly and there must be a lot happening on the Facebook page but who knows, you might be underutilizing your resources and losing customers at the same time.

In essence, every business needs social media management tool, at least one if not more. If you don’t use one, you are leaving food on the table.

The following 18 tools will help you manage your social media accounts, engage with customers, analyze and monitor progress, and will help you stay at the top. Ultimately, this will lead to higher profits for your company.

 

1. HootSuite

HootSuite is one of the leading and most used social media management tool that lets you manage multiple social media accounts and profiles all from a single easy-to-use dashboard.

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It supports 35 different social networks, is available in 16 languages, and it is used by 744 top 1000 fortune companies. It is an enterprise level tool that is used by 1600 enterprises and it crossed 10 million users back in 2014.

It is one awesome tool that your business cannot live without.

Here is a sneak peek of what you can do with this tool:

  • Manage social media accounts and profiles from one portal.
  • Create, schedule, and send posts and messages to all the accounts simultaneously.
  • Engage and collaborate with customers at a personal level without failing to respond on time.
  • Advanced analytics help you track, monitor, and analyze your social media marketing.
  • Increase social media reach with more than 80 different apps.
  • Assign tasks to your teams.
  • Manage multiple campaigns smoothly from the dashboard.
  • Available for all types of businesses including enterprises.
  • Comes with a free plan for small businesses.

Case studies like these are encouraging and show how powerful, effective, and result-oriented HootSuite is.

Unfortunately, businesses do not use this amazing tool to its fullest capacity. It is much more than a mere dashboard to use all social media accounts.

It has some of the best features that are not available with most of the other similar tools such as it measures your team’s performance, reports that help improve ROI, and third-party smooth app integrations.

 

2. Buffer

Buffer is an easy-to-use app that helps you track engagement, schedule posts, and measure the performance of individual posts by engagement numbers.

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It is more of a post-scheduling app that is widely used to schedule posts and track and monitor them.

As Moon said, “Sharing more than once is an essential part of providing your audience with the value you promised them. If you don’t share your links a few times, they may never see any of your updates.”

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Sharing a single post or any resource multiple times using different messages can double your traffic and sharing your message multiple times has the chances of getting your post viral. Buffer is just the right type of tool to achieve it.

Of course, Buffer is not just about scheduling your posts, it has a powerful analytics tab that will reveal information and statistics beyond your imagination. Other perks offered by Buffer include:

  • It has built-in support for shortening links.
  • You can assign tasks to team members.
  • Not just that you can schedule posts but you can set the frequency of the daily posting.
  • It supports multiple profiles and accounts.
  • It has a browser extension and mobile apps that make it a piece of cake to use Buffer on the go.

In simple words, Buffer allows you do pretty much of all these three:

  • Planning the social media post
  • Implementation
  • Measuring

What else do you need?

 

3. Sprout Social

Are you struggling to communicate with your customers? Do you find it hard to keep your users engaged on different social networks?

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Sprout Social is exactly the type of tool that will aid you in staying connected with your customers on five leading social networks including:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+

Besides it integrates with Google Analytics, Feedly, Bitly, Zendesk, and User Voice. Yes, Sprout Social helps you integrate Zendesk with your social networks, assign customer tickets to your team members, listen to customer queries, and keep track of everything. A lot of brands are already using Sprout Social. Trello is one of them.

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Trello has replied to more than 2K messages in three months using Sprout Social. “Sprout allows us to build a better product by hearing and engaging from our users and better supporting them”, says Brian Cervino of Trello.

Brands like Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Wahl, Raen, Hurrdat, and many others have had massive success with Sprout Social.

Over 30% of the customers reported that they will switch to a competitor if a brand doesn’t reply them on time, while another 36% customers have bashed at least one company on social media for poor customer services. There is no solution but to use Sprout Social to listen to your customers and to engage with them.

Sprout Social has a lot to offer:

  • It helps you and your team collaborate seamlessly.
  • You can link and use multiple social media profiles from a single dashboard.
  • Its social CRM is definitely the next big thing in the market.
  • Monitor, track, and analyze social interactions, response time, team performance, and much more.
  • Create, publish, and schedule social media posts.
  • Integration with third-party apps is a huge add-on.

 

4. SocialOomph

As much as 6000 tweets are sent every second. Are you doing any special thing to make your tweets stand out from the crowd?

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Are you sure your followers read your tweets and messages and posts on other social networks?

SocialOomph is the tool that automates pretty much everything. Schedule social media posts, messages, and send auto-messages to new followers on Twitter.

These are some of the basic features of the SocialOomph:

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It is capable of doing much more.

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If you think automated tweets are worthless, you should read this case study. Automated tiny tweets changed the life of this girl forever. It’s no joke!

SocialOomph is a powerful tool and can magically do awesome things for your business if used right. Here is an overview of what it offers:

  • Works with Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, RSS feeds, blogs, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Plurk, and App.net.
  • It will automate everything ranging from posts to direct messages to photo uploads to video shares and more.
  • You can add unlimited accounts, monitor profiles, create reports, and devise a better social media marketing strategy with its analytics.
  • Other cool features include SPAM filter, mimic follow, keyword searches, profile filters, and many others.

 

5. IFTTT

IFTTT is an interesting and a unique kind of social management tool that puts you in the driving seat. You can create recipes to control your social media automation. It is a social media automation tool that gives you full control over everything.

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In a nutshell, IFTTT connects two social networks and lets you create formulas (known as recipes) using ‘if this then that’ logic.

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An action on Facebook will trigger a responding action on Twitter (or any other social account). For example, a customer query received on Facebook can be posted on Twitter as a post.

In reality, this is an exceptional tool that doesn’t just automates but it connects and link multiple apps and social accounts together. IFTTT works with all the leading social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and others.

There are hundreds of recipes already available on the IFTTT website so you don’t necessarily have to create a recipe.

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Not just social media but it works with tons of other apps and tools.

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You can work with multiple apps, social networks, and can automate your entire business and social networking. It is not just easy but fun.

Not sure how to get started with IFTTT? Don’t worry, Moz social media automation will help you with it and here are a few ready-to-use IFTTT social media automation recipes.

 

6. Oktopost

Oktopost is the social management tool for businesses which helps them gain leads and earn money. It is different from the other social management apps in the sense that it focuses more on the analytics and tweaking your strategy.

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The real power of the Oktopost is its ability to track clicks on the posts, profiles, and networks. This is clearly something that is not common with other tools.

  • Social media automation.
  • Ability to run multiple campaigns from one account.
  • Editorial calendar will keep things on track.
  • Lead attribution and customer acquisition are perhaps the best features of the Oktopost analytics.
  • Content analysis and data portability are a couple awesome features.
  • Keep track of the customer engagement and social interactions.
  • Team collaboration is super-easy with Oktopost.
  • Social reach amplification helps you generate leads.

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Panaya reaches 23% conversion rate using Oktopost. The director of marketing at Panaya says:

Oktopost is invaluable for tracking leads and analyzing the value of our social media activities. This enables us to ensure that our social media campaigns are effective, fully optimized, and reach the right people at the right time.”

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Source: https://www.slideshare.net/oktopost/co-direct-case-study-32436717

Oktopost is used by businesses all over the globe and most of their customers are able to gain a competitive edge with this amazing tool.

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Get on the train and improve the way you interact with your customers on social networks.

7. Tweepi

Do you take Twitter lightly? You shouldn’t because Twitter has 1.3 billion accounts. Whether it’s for fun or random thoughts, the fact is people use Twitter – businesses should use it too.

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Tweepi is all about Twitter. It is a Twitter management tool or more precisely, it is a tool to get more followers and to grow your business on the Twitter.

Here is how Tweepi works:

  1. Find relevant users on the Twitter based on interest and other filters.
  2. Engage with the right users using mentions and other tactics.
  3. Increase brand awareness and get new followers.

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Twitter is growing rapidly and the businesses that are not on Twitter will suffer. It is least likely that a business in 2016 is not on Twitter. The problem isn’t to be on Twitter or not to be on Twitter but the issue is making it convert for you.

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Generating leads, get targeted followers, and drive traffic to your website is the hard part of the Twitter strategy. This is where Tweepi is great. It makes Twitter work for businesses by doing all of the following.

  • Follow the most appropriate people.
  • Reciprocate your followers by following them back.
  • Identify and unfollow irrelevant people.
  • Identify inactive users.
  • Grow your business on Twitter using geo-location, filters, and multiple account management.

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Perhaps the best thing about Tweepi is that it lets you get rid of the useless followers. There are hardly any other tools that let you do this.

Having hundreds of useless followers on Twitter is of no use at all. It makes analysis and monitoring difficult. Why waste resources on analytics and reporting when you have nothing but irrelevant users following you?

 

8. CrowdBooster

Need a simple yet effective management tool to track and analyze your social media marketing strategy for Facebook and Twitter? Try CrowdBooster.

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CrowdBooster is all about Twitter and Facebook analytics. Nothing fancy here. It will provide you with clean real-time data from your social accounts.

It’s one of the best tools that has the potential to give a decent boost to user engagement. It’s all based on measuring your campaigns – to improve them.

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It is useless to spend heaps of money on social media marketing if you cannot measure the progress and engagement. CrowdBooster is the most appropriate tool for small businesses that measures and optimizes your social media strategy.

Here is how it does it:

  • It generates ready-to-use reports that can be exported to Excel with one click.
  • It only works for Facebook and Twitter thus it keeps you focused.
  • Based on the real-time analysis, it gives suggestions on the best time to post. You can schedule posts.
  • It also finds the most engaged users on both the networks.

CrowdBooster has the potential to keep track of everything that’s going on Facebook and Twitter. For small businesses, it is no less than a blessing. It will change the way you interact with your audience.

Perhaps the best feature of CrowdBooster is its ability to suggest the best time to post on Twitter and Facebook.

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As pointed here, this is one of the best features.

“This is by far the most impressive aspect of Twitter analytics on the site. It feels like they may have gone a bit overboard with the analytics offered beyond this, such as looking at your followers and follower growth, which provides too much information without any real need.”

 

9. DashBurst

Are you struggling to source images, videos, articles, audios, and other types of content for your social accounts? Sit back because DashBurst has got you covered.

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DashBurst is a social network and content management tool for creators and designers.

Now you don’t have to worry about images and videos to post on Facebook and Twitter, you can get everything from it. The best thing about this tool is its ability to post content on social networks automatically.

For example, if you like an image, Burst it which means to repost it on the DashBurst network. The same image can be scheduled to go live on your Twitter account as a new post.

In essence, DashBurst doesn’t just provide you with content but it acts as an automation tool that will publish content on your social networks.

Besides, you can curate content and create your own boards – just like you do on Pinterest.

Social media posts without images and visual content perform poorly. More than 46% of the marketers say that a photograph is critical for their marketing strategy.

Facebook posts with images get 2.3 times more engagement than posts without an image.

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DashBurst solves this very issue of the businesses. It is an open content network that allows hundreds and hundreds of ideas and content pieces to post on your social accounts.

DashBurst is a relatively different kind of a tool for social marketers but it is indeed very useful.

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10. SocialFlow

Does your business spend a major portion of its marketing budget on social PPC campaigns? SocialFlow is the best tool for businesses that helps them keep track of paid and free social media campaigns.

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SocialFlow is the most appropriate tool for social media publishing and advertising.

  • Find the best time to publish posts.
  • Schedule posts for massive reach and engagement.
  • Increase ROI and revenue per customer with detailed analysis, reporting, and insights.
  • It guides you where to spend money for best ROI. Which posts to boost, when to boost them, and what results to expect from the campaigns.

Forrester Research summed it up nicely:

“At its best, this new breed of SRPs goes one step further to automate actions based on these insights. Witness SocialFlow’s ability to automatically post content at the right moment.”

When posting on social media, timing is everything. An awesome tweet posted at the wrong time will not get any attention while a poor tweet at the right time will get all the attention. Understanding when to post on social networks is the real key.

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Instead of scheduling posts manually, why not do it automatically? This is where SocialFlow comes into action.

It suggests the best time to post based on the past data from your own social accounts. It doesn’t look at anything else which makes its prediction top-notch.

SocialFlow has taken the social media post timing to another level. It has already helped several brands including BBC, Allrecipes, New York Magazine, and many others.

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11. Audiense

Previously known as SocialBro, Audiense works similar to SocialFlow. The only difference is that Audiense only works with Twitter and Instagram. It’s the official Twitter partner so you can expect a lot from it.

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It helps you target and engage with your followers and target audience on social networks like never before. It’s an all-in-one Twitter and Instagram tool for businesses.

  • Find key influencers.
  • Find the best time to post on Twitter.
  • Increase user engagement.
  • Track and analyze competitor Twitter accounts.
  • Monitor the timeline of your followers.
  • It recommends the type of posts based on competitor analysis and follower analysis.
  • Increase followers, reach, engagement, and ROI with recommended tweets.
  • Create ads and schedule them.
  • Detailed analysis and reporting.

DHL Africa reached more than 65K influencers on Twitter in more than 45 African countries in 2015 using SocialBro via HaveYouHeard.

Adami, the social media manager at HaveYouHeard said:

“We were able to help share DHL’s love of Africa, rugby and CSR projects with the use of Audiense. The tool helped us identify top influencers in both Africa, and the world, making it easier for us to gain leverage on the twittersphere.”

Audiense is the tool that you should use if Twitter is the main social network that your business is hooked to.

 

12. Socedo

Managing social accounts is one thing and generating leads from social networks is a different game entirely. You must have noticed that most of these tools just help you manage social accounts. Thanks to Socedo because it is different.

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Socedo is a social lead generation tool that helps you find and identify leads from Twitter and LinkedIn. Now this is an amazing software because generating leads mean real business. What else does a business needs?

But wait, there is more…

  • It finds the best and the most appropriate followers and potential leads based on their interest.
  • The leads are automatically entered in your sales funnel.
  • It tracks the prospects in real-time.
  • Create multiple campaigns and manage all of them from Socedo.
  • Ability to A/B test different messages, posts, images, and other variables.
  • You can create workflows for qualified leads. The workflow can be customized based on the individual customer journey.
  • It pulls all the information about the leads from the social networks including their job, email address, postal address, company, etc.
  • Easy integration with third-party tools and software such as CRM software, Marketo, Hubspot, and others.

Socedo is one of the few social media management tools with hundreds and hundreds of success stories. Some of the top brands like Lenovo, Ceros, Inside Sales Team, and others.

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13. TweetDeck

TweetDeck is the official platform owned by Twitter. It is an extremely simple-to-use browser that lets you monitor your Twitter accounts. You can manage multiple accounts and it works smoothly with teams.

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You can share your Twitter account with others without sharing your password.

  • Track your Twitter account and feed in real-time.
  • Schedule tweets.
  • Manage multiple personal and business accounts.
  • Activate alerts and notifications based on keywords, mentions, and interests.
  • Share accounts with your team.
  • Personalize your feed based on your personal and/or business preferences.

TweetDeck is a simple and easy-to-use tool that is often compared with other big names like HootSuite and Buffer.

Though it has no match but for small businesses that are only interested in basic Twitter management such as scheduling, real-time analytics, and managing multiple accounts from a single dashboard, there is nothing better than the free TweetDeck.

 

14. AgoraPulse

AgoraPulse is more than a scheduling tool for social networks. It is a complete CRM software that works smoothly with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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You can use AgoraPulse to:

  • Manage multiple social media profiles and accounts from a single account.
  • Get better with social engagement by monitoring and responding to tweets, messages, and comments on time.
  • Use filters to moderate content and posts.
  • Real-time integration with social networks.
  • Create, schedule, and publish simultaneously to all the profiles.
  • Track mentions and use keywords and filters to find opportunities on social networks.
  • Monitor hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
  • Assign tasks to teams. Collaborate and work together.
  • Graphical reports that show engagement, audience, and brand awareness.
  • Identify your best content and posts.
  • Competitor analysis and comparison.
  • Define and measure ROI.
  • Identify the best day and time to post that will boost engagement.
  • Identify top followers, commenters, and reward them.
  • The powerful CRM tool helps you build strong relationships with your audience right from the dashboard.
  • Run Facebook contests and manage them.

Yes, AgoraPulse is a feature-rich tool for marketers. There is still a lot more that you will explore.

Not to mention the amazing case studies and customer reviews that you will find all over the internet.

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Jason How compared the HootSuite with AgoraPulse and the results were astonishing. While HootSuite is very famous but it costs over $2K a month if you have to use it at its fullest capacity while AgoraPulse only costs $199 a month.

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It depends on your business preferences. If Facebook is the most crucial social network for your business, then AgoraPulse is the tool for you. However, if your business needs to be on multiple social networks, HootSuite is more suitable.

 

15. Tailwind

Tailwind is the only tool, in this list, that focuses on Pinterest. Most of the other tools rely heavily on Facebook and Twitter but Tailwind is specifically developed for brands that want to focus on Pinterest and Instagram.

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Tailwind helps you in creating, managing, scheduling, and measure growth and engagement on Pinterest and Instagram.

  • Optimize pinning with scheduling and advanced analytics.
  • Create boards to increase engagement.
  • Manage multiple accounts and assign tasks to teams.
  • In-depth analytics let you measure success.
  • The complete 360-degree view of your brand.

Three sisters received well over 20K Pinterest followers in five months and sent over 500K visitors to their blog in 5 months. Tracy (one of the three sisters) says:

“Before using Tailwind we were only pinning between the hours of 7am to 11pm, Tailwind has shown us how valuable is to pin on a 24-hour time frame, and now we can pin all day thanks to Tailwind.”

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Amy Morrison is one of the few Tailwind users who managed to be in 1% users by total repins.

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Tailwind app will make your business shine on the Pinterest with its easy-to-use user interface and detailed analytics.

 

16. ViralHeat

Argyle Social was the old name of the ViralHeat. It has now been rebranded.

ViralHeat is a B2B social media monitoring, lead generation, and customer engagement tool. It is a very powerful social media management tool. Unfortunately, it does not get as much attention as some of its competitors.

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It is more of a lead identification and lead qualification tool that merges social data from different networks. This leads to identification of prospects and boost user engagement.

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So what can you do with this tool?

  • Monitor social media conversations and see what people are saying about your brand.
  • Real-time analysis and social insights are useful in measuring and increasing ROI.
  • Publish and schedule posts on multiple social accounts.
  • Robust reporting reveals trends worth monitoring.
  • Sentiment analysis is a valuable tool that lets you identify and understand the sentiments of the people about your brand on social networks.
  • Identify negative social mentions via Sentiment analysis.
  • Manage teams with intuitive workflow management tool.
  • Find influencers in your target market and build relationships with them.
  • Find qualified leads on social networks.
  • Integrate apps and software with your ViralHeat account.

ViralHeat supports these social networks:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Google+
  • Tumblr
  • YouTube
  • Foursqaure
  • WordPress
  • And many others

The Info-Tech Research Group ranked ViralHeat as the innovator in the social media management tool industry. No doubt, it offers a lot to the marketers and businesses.

Aubrey Hinkson, the marketing and communication head at Georgia Regents Medical Center, said:

“We ran into problems posting photos with another tool and with Viralheat we don’t have any of those issues. It’s been great.”

The ViralHeat has not just helped the Georgia Regents Medical Center with social media management but it is trusted by more than 10K brands.

 

17. Percolate

Percolate is a simple-to-use tool that lets you manage all the social accounts from its dashboard. You can create, schedule, and monitor social posts.

image29

It is a fairly massive software that covers pretty much everything ranging from content management to enterprise marketing management to growth marketing to social media management.

So social media management is just one thing that it does.

image35

For social media managers, they can use it to:

  • Plan
  • Create
  • Execute
  • Analyze

It supports a whole lot of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and many others.

As for the features, there is hardly anything that it misses. Percolate increases the brand awareness, lets you manage campaigns, and it monitors the progress of social activity in real-time. Here are the amazing features:

image30

There are hundreds of Percolate case studies and success stories but the most prominent among them is the GE’s case study.

Here is what Katrina Craigwell, the Head of Global Digital Programming at GE, says about the Percolate:

“The new planning system that Percolate developed for our team is allowing us to scale our content strategy in a very meaningful way. Seeing all of our campaigns in a single location and collaborating with our colleagues has never been easier. The planner is helping us extract more value from our content and align a diverse set of teams across our organization.”

If there is one tool that you have to choose from the list, select Percolate. Period.

 

18. Raven Tools

The Rav1en Tools is a complete marketing platform that tracks and monitors SEO, social media marketing, paid marketing, and much more.

image14

With its marketing platform, businesses can access, track, and analyze data from more than 20 sources including social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

Perhaps the best feature is its advanced reporting that tracks everything about your business on the internet. The Twitter and Facebook reporting will help track engagement and the best performing posts.

Raven Tools, unfortunately, integrate with social networks like some of the other tools we have discussed so it doesn’t allow users to schedule posts, respond to social messages, etc.

The comparison between HootSuite and Raven Tools reveal that HootSuite is still better in terms of SEM.

image20

Nevertheless, Raven Tools is best for businesses that need to analyze their complete business from a single platform.

 

Conclusion

If you’re among the group of digital marketers who devote most of their time building social influence, and engaging with the target audience, then you need to increase your productivity with any of these tools.

In fact, just one of these social media management tool can improve your efficiency and generate better results.

I wrote this in-depth post, and my objective is to give you a better idea of how to use 18 of the most powerful social media management tool.

Have you tried using any of these social media tools to manage your campaigns? Do you have any social media marketing tips for making the most of each social media management tool? I’m looking forward to your comment.

5 Growth Hacking Case Studies and What You Can Learn From Them

Growth Hacking is a term coined by Sean Ellis-the first marketer at Dropbox. It has rapidly attracted the attention of start-ups and marketers across the globe. According to Wikipedia, a formal definition of growth hacking is

Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most effective, efficient ways to grow a business.
In simpler terms, growth hacking is the right blend of marketing and product development activities to find what works for your business.

In this post, we’ll talk about how the growth hacking funnel works and how some of the top start-ups have used it in a brilliant way.

source-forbes-com
Image Source: Forbes.com

 

The Growth Hacking Funnel

The growth hacking funnel defines a clear pathway as to how start-ups and growing businesses can implement this form of data-driven marketing.

Broadly classifying, the funnel is based on AARRR model which can be further substantiated as

  1. Acquisition: This part talks about awareness of your business. It focuses on how to gain maximum awareness in a cost-effective way and a short period of time.
  2. Activation: Once people know about your business, why should they sign up with you? This part talks about how to on-board users in a smooth way.
  3. Retention: When users have started using your product/service, what will make them come back again and again? Retention is all about keeping your customers for life.
  4. Referral: One of the best marketing channels is word of mouth. People trust their friends and network more than anything else. This part aims at solving the problem of maximizing referrals.
  5. Revenue: When all the above points are put into a scalable process, managing cash flow and revenue is the next step.

image-source-growthrocks-com

Image: GrowthRocks.com

Let’s now talk about some interesting cases of growth hacking and what we can learn from them.

 

#1 Case: Airbnb’s Growth Story

About the company: Airbnb helps you find homes and rental spaces when you are travelling. The experience they offer is different from your standard hotel experience. As of Oct 2016, the company has over 12 million rental locations available online and 100 million users.

So how did Airbnb become so big?

After raising the initial round of funding, the founders focused their plans to grow the company in an exponential fashion.

In the world of internet marketing, it is all about getting traffic from some other platform to your own. The founders understood that Craigslist was one of the platforms where their target audience hangs out.

With a very smooth messaging, Airbnb encouraged people to share their listing on Craigslist as well. Here is what the message read:

airbnb

This resulted in exponential growth for Airbnb as their listings were much better (than the regular Craigslist one) in terms of images, structure and appeal.

Key Takeaways From Airbnb

Understanding where your target audience hangs out and building the right form of awareness at that platform works really well.

 

#2 Case: Hubspot’s Growth Engine

About the company: Hubspot is one of the biggest inbound marketing software used by companies across the globe. It is used by marketers, entrepreneurs and business development professions.

How did Hubspot hack growth?

Hubspot practices what it preaches. Both the co-founders were focused on building content and tools that would generate inbound leads which could be further converted into paying customers.

image-source-ph-creative

Image Source: Ph-Creative

Hubspot invested extensively in:

  • Building valuable content in the form of blog posts, eBooks etc. for marketers and sales professionals.
  • They launched free tools like website grader and Twitter grader which help you understand your site’s and Twitter performance. Till date, Hubspot has received millions of requests for using these tools.
  • Hubspot also invested in webinars to teach people about marketing and sales.

The conversion rates on inbound leads that came through these efforts were phenomenal.

Hubspot began with just 3 customers in 2006 and last year (2015), they did $186 million in revenue.

Key Takeaways From Hubspot

Investing in content, educating and helping your target audience can build a lot of credibility for your business. This credibility will then turn into paying customers at a much better rate than outbound marketing.

 

#3 Case: Paypal’s Viral Growth

About the company: PayPal needs to no introduction. It is used by millions of individuals and businesses to send and receive money online.

What made PayPal what it is today?

Paypal’s growth engine was so strong that they went from 1 million users in March 2000 to 5 million users in summer 2000.

They understood the concept of activating users with an incentive. With every sign up, PayPal started giving $20 initially. Once things started looking good, PayPal reduced it to $10, then $5 and eventually nothing.

image-source-quora-com

Image Source: Quora.com

Note: PayPal had already tried different forms of advertising and found out that this method got them the lowest cost per acquisition.

Key Takeaways from PayPal

Understanding how to activate users with an incentive can be a crucial part of your business success.

#4 Case: Dropbox’s Referral Growth Engine

About the company: Dropbox is a cloud storage company headquartered in San Francisco, California.

What Led To Dropbox’s Growth?

As any other online marketer would do, Dropbox was initially invested in digital ads.

“They were incurring a cost of acquisition of over $250 for a product which was priced at $99”

However, they quickly figured out that it was not going to work out. They shifted their model to referral marketing that took them from 100,000 to 4,000,000 users in 15 months.

Dropbox launched a simple referral program where you could invite your friends and win free cloud storage space. The program looked like this

image-source-referralcandy-com

Image Source: ReferralCandy.com

Other than that, they also made the process of inviting a friend super-easy

image-source-referrralcandy-com

Image Source: ReferrralCandy.com

Key Takeaways from Dropbox

Word of mouth marketing works better than anything else. If you already have customers who love your product/service, you should consider encouraging them for inviting their friends/network to use your product/service.

 

#5 Case: Buzzfeed’s Viral Story

About the company: Buzzfeed is a media company that publishes interesting content including social news and entertainment.

What Made BuzzFeed Viral?

Buzzfeed started as a side project when one of its co-founders was working at Huffington post. The team started getting a hang of why people share content, how stories spread and what makes someone engage with content.

One of the first memes that got viral was a girl standing outside a burning house. The look on the girl’s face indicated that she set the house on fire.

image-source-buzzfeed

Image Source: Buzzfeed

Over the years, Buzzfeed has evolved its content as the Internet changed. However, at the core, the team knows what makes people click and what influences social sharing.

The most recent post in 2015 was this one which asked people to guess the true colour of the picture (#whiteandgold or #blackandblue)

image-source-buzzfeed2

Image Source: Buzzfeed

Key Takeaways from Buzzfeed

Understanding what engages people is something the internet revolves around. If you can create content which resonates with your audiences and qualifies as “worth-sharing”, you are on the right path.

 

In A Nutshell

The above case studies talk about how growing businesses can implement marketing in a way which is data driven, resonates with your target audience and is scalable. If you can understand how your customers discover your business, why they sign up with you and what makes them become a paid customer, there’s no limit to where you can go.

Which growth hacks have worked for your business?

About the Author: Shivankit Arora is a growth hacker and the founder of a start-up marketing agency, Marketing Masala You can connect with him on Twitter to know more about growth hacking and start up marketing.

5 Steps to Improve Your B2B Leads Through PPC

 

PPC is just one of the many ways that are effective in getting leads for your B2B business. However, it may not be the easiest way out there. It will take a lot of time and effort on your part to get the technique correctly. Are you ready to go through the process? This is one of the first things that you should prepare yourself for. There will be a lot of trial and error in going through all this, but it will surely be worth your while because not only will you learn a lot, you will also know about the strategies that will work well for you and your business.

But when you do get it right finally, you will realize that it surely drives revenue while the other techniques simply eat up your resources. If you ever feel that this is related to your situation, you have to know how you will be able to improve your B2B Leads through PPC. Doing so will ensure you that you will get a greater ROI while also reducing the resources that you waste. This way, you won’t have to spread your resources so thinly by trying out all of the strategies all at once without proper planning.

So for this post, we will see how it is possible for anyone to get it right and improve your B2B leads. How we’ll go about this is that we will have an analysis of each of the stages of marketing through PPC. Doing so, you will see the things that you need to change in your campaign so that you can also produce better results. It may sound daunting at first, but if you give it time and commitment, you can surely make use of these steps for your campaign.

Let’s start with the first one!

 

1. Know Your Customers

Businesses doing PPC campaigns, either B2C or B2B, see poor results because they are not targeting their audience correctly. There are many ways on how you can improve your B2B leads. Today, there are many features that can help you in your PPC campaigns. But the primary thing that you have to ensure is that you know who your target customers are.

If ever you are still unsure of this, then if you ever commit mistakes in your targeting, it will certainly have an effect on your campaign in the long run. So to make sure you are targeting the right audience, you have to have not only the data but you also have to understand the crowd that you want as customers.

For this step, one thing that you can do is to create a Buyer Persona. What this will do is it will help you in developing a portrait of what an ideal customer is. With the information that you have gathered, you can use it in targeting your audience, making sure that the right people will see your ads. This will ensure that you are not wasting time and resources showing your ads to people who are not interested in your products and services in the first place.

In making a Buyer Persona for your campaign, it will also help you if you can add other details that are beyond the traditional information in a Buyer Persona. With such information, you will be able to target your audience in various ad platforms. And this will allow you to make the most of your ads.

An example of this is thinking about which keywords your audience would use in Google Search if they are looking for a business such as what you have. You also have to have an insights of the sites that they frequently visit. Knowing this will help you in your Display campaigns and your AdWord Search campaigns.

Another thing that you can add to the Buyer Persona are the possible interests of your ideal customers. You have to think about the kind of publications, products, individual, and companies that might have an influence on them. Knowing so will help you more on your Facebook campaigns.

In addition, it will also do you well if you have an idea on what kind of industry or companies your ideal customers work for. Information such as the sector, job title, their skills, as well as the size of the company will help you in your campaign. This is especially important for your LinkedIn campaigns.

If you can successfully develop all these things, you will start seeing the picture of the kind of crowd that you want to show your ads to. If you can successfully show your ads to the right crowd, it will naturally give you an edge because you can expect your ads to perform well. This is because the audience will find the ads relevant to their needs and interests. They will likely engage more, and this improves your lead quality.

 

2. Clearly Articulate Your Offer

This is an important point that you ought to bear in mind, most especially if you’re into B2B sales. Most B2B companies have no problem providing the solutions for their customers. The problem is that there is not enough educating going on as to why this solution is needed, to begin with.

There are many cases wherein the customers do not even know about the benefits of your products or services. They might now know how they will use those in their own businesses. When the situation is like this, the customers might not engage at all immediately because they don’t know what to do about your services and products. For example, if you offer outsource contact support, you have to make your market understand the benefits of engaging with your services. To do this, what you can do is invest your time in making webinars, videos, case studies, customer testimonials, and blog posts. In getting busy with your PPC ads, don’t forget your content marketing campaigns because that is how you educate your crowd.

 

 

3. Experiment

One of the things that you can also do is to experiment with other advertising methods. But there is a catch here. You see, the format is not the problem. You ought to make use of the many features available on the platform you have chosen. An example here is in Facebook and AdWords where you can do retargeting or remarketing.

With AdWords, remarketing will do you well in reaching past the website guests in many ways. You will be able to reach them through search listing with the use of remarketing lists for search ads. Also, it is possible to reach them through other sites through the use of display marketing. Remarketing is a good move when it comes to encouraging people to buy your products and services this time around if for example, they weren’t able to do so the first time.

What you can do here is on your blog, create contents that will be helpful for the reader. The contents can highlight the benefits that your reader will receive if they decide to engage in your products or services. A remarketing ad that you can make here is you can offer the readers an ebook that has more information about your services.

At this point, the leads that will be engaging in your offer will be of higher quality. This is because now, they are more qualified. Other than that, they are also more familiar with your expertise as well as your brand.

There is another thing that you can do. You can use features for audience matching. These are available in many PPC platforms. For example, on Facebook, there is an option there for Lookalike Audience. In AdWords, there is something called Similar Audiences. By using these features, you can ensure that your ads can be shown to the crowd that will more likely engage and be converted. This may be a lot of work, but it will sure be worth your while.

 

4. Check Your Landing Page

Landing pages can have a great impact on the quality of the leads that you are going to get. When you optimize your landing page so that you get to improve your lead quality, it may not immediately mean that it will also improve your lead quantity. Here, you would want to make it a point the right crowd will be entering their details on your landing page, not just getting more and more people to do so, regardless of the quality. What you can do here is to be aware of the number of form fields you are using in your landing page.

You may immediately assume that with lesser form fields come greater conversions. However, this is not so. By having a number of form fields, you immediately get to filter out the visitors who are really interested. You get to tell if the visitor is interested because they gave time and effort in filling out the necessary fields.

Other than that, B2B companies can give more to these visitors by making sure that they give out quality content in various form. This will already be easy because by now, you should already know a lot about your clients. It is also possible to filter out high-quality leads. For example, in LinkedIn, they know the best prospects are those who have higher budgets for advertising. This kind of information helps in improving the chances of leads being converted along the way.

So now, if your landing page currently has just two to four form fields, you ought to think about adding more. You have to make sure that these forms will be able to separate the low-value leads from the high-value leads. Consequently, this will be reducing the submission of lead forms, but this will also provide improvement in the quality of the leads.

Another thing you have to remember is to use the language that your audience is using. If they are using technical language, use that as well. Don’t try to dumb down your page. If you use their language, they will be assured that you know what you are talking about and they will be more interested in the information that you have to offer.

In addition to that, you have to make custom landing pages for each of the ads that you make. This helps in improving your conversions because this will make sure that the visitors who click on the ads will have a customized experience.

5. Bid Sufficiently

There’s probably nothing here that is new for you. But for the sake of a complete strategy, make sure that you bid enough when it comes to your ads. If you feel that you have done everything that was suggested here but the ads are still getting leads of low quality, it might be because the ads themselves attract low-quality leads because of your low bids.

What you can do is to raise your bids up to the top end of what is the recommended amount provided by the platform for PPC. After that, give it some time, about a couple of weeks. This can do the trick. However, if you still think that it’s not working, maybe you have to review your strategy and study how you target your audience. It’s not a failure at this point. You ought to learn from these experiences, so you’ll know how to improve your strategy. Remember that all of the steps are important. You may be missing out on some of them. That’s why it is important to be careful and keep track of the steps you have made.

 

Takeaway

By making sure that you understand how to better improve your B2B leads through PPC campaigns, you get to improve your overall strategy. Here, we have provided you the steps on how you can make things better. To review, you can look at your target audience and how you are targeting them. You can think about allocating higher bids for your ads. Lastly, what you need is to take action. All of these are good plans, but you have to take the necessary steps to accomplish your goals.

 

About the Author: Patrick Panuncillon is an search engine optimization strategist at LinkVista Digital Inc, specializing in article writing and web analytics. With almost a decade of experience in the digital marketing field, he is now leading a team of young professionals in the Philippines. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

10 Secrets To Crush It With Email Marketing

A smart business will always incorporate email marketing into their strategy, since it’s the simplest and most effective way of getting your message across online. It might seem outdated, but properly handled email marketing can be incredibly effective in keeping and attracting your customers. Contrary to popular belief, email marketing is now more relevant than ever before. On an average scale, people today check their inbox about 75 times in a single day. This means email is still a form of efficient marketing for ecommerce, and business shouldn’t ignore it.

To appeal more to your customers and use email to your advantage, you need an efficient campaign. Here are some secrets to help you make email marketing more effective to both existing and future customers.

 

1. Build a Powerful Preview Message

For security reasons, a lot of people do not open up their email immediately, especially when they are coming from an unknown source. Instead, they use the preview pane of their email provider to check what it is all about. Take that into consideration and include the most relevant information in that excerpt that will be visible in the preview pane. Test out different email providers and know your limits, in order to select the best eye-catching phrases or your email, even if it will not be opened. Here some examples of email subject lines that might entice your audience:

  • Use flattery, but do it right. Don’t bait & switch. For instance, if you go for a subject line such as “Your amazing photos”, don’t make an attempt to sell services once a visitor has opened the email. Flattery works wonders when recruiting people for all the right reasons.
  • Unexpected subject lines – “Are we boring?” This phrases was used in an email marketing campaign for SVN. At the time the campaign was launched, their open rate was 30%. In an attempt to centralize and prioritize their list, they launched an email subjected “Are we boring?” The response they got was outstanding, and email open rates skyrocketed to 50%.
  • Share top-quality content from the very start of an email marketing campaign. If you’re hunting for visitors, but you want them to become loyal customers, you need to give them the best content from the start of the relationship. This way you’ll have their undivided attention.

 

2. Use colors That Compliment Your Style

It might be tempting to use the craziest colors when you are launching a new line or sending a very important, exciting announcement, but don’t forget that your brand must have a unitary look and your goal should be to make yourself remembered by the customer as a consistent and strong concept. There’s a psychology of colors in marketing you should know more about. There’s no secret that color has a different effect on the way we feel, and savvy marketers have been using colors when crafting campaigns for ages.

In today’s digital world, color still matters. You want to entice your audience and convince them to open and read your emails. But you won’t be able to do that if you use sparkly colors, huge fonts and bold text everywhere. Stay away from bright yellow and go with hues that are warm and appealing to the eye – navy blue, warm red, black, orange, etc. Do your best to integrate your email layout and design into your overall esthetics, choose colors that will complement your logo and stick to a certain font and style, because building a recognizable brand is million times better that sending flashy messages that will not be connected to you later.

 

3. Keep Image Sizes Low

You might want to put the best high resolution picture in your email, but think about all the many ways it can go wrong because of the screen resolution or browser settings of the recipient. Keep it simple and hard to mess up and upload image size up to 72 dpi. They will still look good and not get blocked by the email provider settings for being too large.

Furthermore, you need to keep in mind that most people use their smartphones or tablets to open emails. Large images won’t fit, and you risk losing that customers just because he was unable to see your company’s image, brand, logo or promotion offered.

 

4. Use Spacing Smartly

While you don’t want to have a message that spreads out too much, you will need to use spacing wisely, especially to separate images from text or keeping ideas delimited from each other. Layout rules are more important that you think, because missing a single space between a photo and a block of text underneath it can give your email an unprofessional, sloppy look that is very easy to avoid. Just go with your guts, use your eyes and separate the elements of your email.

 

5. Don’t Get Adventurous With Fonts

Yes, you have a certain brand image and it’s really important for you to show your text in gothic font, let’s say. This might turn into a disaster, as many of the customers might not have non-standard fonts installed on their computer and browsers can behave weirdly with them, so stick to conventional fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri or Georgia for your text. If you want something fancy, display it as an image instead.

When editing your text content it will look amazing in your editor, all centered and OCD satisfying, but think of how it will look like in an email. The safest strategy is to keep your text justified to the left, because the browsers and devices are so varied, that one of them might behave weirdly and not show all the centered text.

 

6. KISS

Keep it short and simple. Your email must get the message across and be remembered, so keep the phrases short and relevant, use simple words that can be visualized and do not overwhelm the reader. We live in a world of advanced technology. But it’s also a digital environments packed with pitches, ads and interruptions everywhere we look. You might think that what you’ve got to offer is unique, but if that something doesn’t entice your audience, it doesn’t really matter.

It is fundamental to keep in mind where you are, and make use of good matters to make direct mail marketing appealing to customers. Getting into the private inbox of a customer is more like getting an invitation to that customer’s home for supper. If they ask that you take off your shoes, you need to comply. That’s the rule of the house. With direct mail marketing, the exact same principle applies. Behave properly and don’t make them feel like you’re violating their privacy. Remember … it’s their house and you’re just a “guest”.

 

7. Get Customers To Open Your Envelope

In spite of today’s advances in technology where nearly every adult individual has at least a smartphone and a laptop, some people still use their mail. However, direct mail is rarely used to receive letters from friends and family. Savvy marketing companies use this rather old-fashion and outdated method to make themselves known to the masses. The first goal of a successful direct mail campaign is to merge it with your online marketing goals, thus creating a seamless experience.

“You’ll get mail!” – Sounds like a cool email that announces a receiver that he will soon get a letter in the mail from your company. Opening that mail should announce that your customer is actually about to receive something. Make that something count. Get them curious to know what you’ll send them, and as soon as the envelope arrives at their homes, they’ll want to see what’s inside. If you’re aiming at a 100% open rate, then make that mail lumpy. Offer a promotion, a sample of your product, a discount, something to exceed their expectations. Make it personal, captivating and relevant to open it!

8. MailLift

If you haven’t heard of MailLift before, you need to do your homework. MailLift is an API targeted at direct mail marketing; it permits business owners to integrate their customer service software (CRM) into their messaging system. For example, it can be used to craft a message and then have it transcribed into a letter written by hand and send out to customers. Why is MailLift a pioneering marketing method? Well, because it permits you to perform mass mail customization effectively.

MailLift adheres to a brilliant concept. The tactic used is meant to get both emails and direct mails opened by customer. As a business, you should be willing to welcome both positive and negative feedback. It will help you improve and perfect your strategy. This 2016, there’s still lots of cost-efficient ways businesses can automate their personal emails without making them sound tacky. Always keep in mind that the goal is to preserve an open-click rate; use outreach.io for some help, and you’ll be able to keep your audience properly engaged.

 

9. Value is King

The majority of direct mail pieces deserve to be called “junk mail”. To make yours stand above the crowd, you need to put your creativity to good us. Provide value that blends with your business mantra. There are lots of amazing things you can do to spice things up; and you don’t have to spend a fortune on a killer direct mail strategy to grab attention. For example, you can begin with delivering curated content. Use techniques that are creative (folds or punch-outs) to provide customers with real guidance and advice that they can actually use. Be bold and people will be curious to know what else you can give them.

However, don’t insult your customers’ intelligence by making use of tacky tag lines or subject lines such as “FREE CASH”. They won’t even open the envelope or email, and instead of making yourself stand out, they’ll run to mark your email as “spam” or throw away your postal mail straight to the garbage. ALL CAPS emails are not at all enticing. They’re bothering and too showy for the eye, and people won’t be interested to know more. Also, you might want to stay away from multiple exclamation points “We have what you need!!!” It sounds too “dangerous” so to speak, and your intention is to make them interested, not scare them off.

Add an innovative touch to what you’re planning to sell. Make a point and steer clear of see & say graphics. They’re too elementary and they don’t entice the brain; quite the opposite, they create confusion.

 

10. Content Personalization

The printing industry has changed a lot in the last couple of years. At this point, everyone can have one-off pieces shipped to their loyal customers, at the most convenient price. A lot of printing companies today provide the ability to assemble content dynamically with the use of custom information and personalized templates. This will permit you to craft the right plastic card printing material for your targeted audience, thus making them feel closer to your company. But it depends on what your brand has to offer. Visual personalization is equally important. Regardless of what you have to offer, your ads, letters, and billboards must look “delicious”. They should entice, grab attention and awake an interest. Pictures, samples of a product and discounts are highly recommended.

Making direct mail marketing more appealing and attention-grabbing for prospective customers is easier said than done. But it’s not something impossible to do either. As a savvy business individuals, you have to put the needs of your customers first. Whatever you do, make sure to do with the customer in mind. What would they like to see from you? Prove to them that you can grab their attention with direct mail, and do it wisely. Don’t fall into the old habits of other companies. Choose a business model and adhere to its principles to the letter. Commitment and dedication will eventually make you stand above the competition.

 

About the Author: Steve Brown is the writer to this article. He is a regular contributor at many sites and mainly focuses on business related topics. He also works for a site Nlink Tech offering IT support services.

The 8 Essential Social Media Metrics That Matter

Most social media advice out there is about “more, more, more.”

More followers, more likes, more re-tweets, more click throughs, more ads.

So on and so forth.

And I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had enough of it.

I mean, I know social media is a great thing and is an incredible opportunity for business owners, but at the same time…. I don’t feel like it, okay?!

I don’t feel like dedicating half a day every day to my Twitter feed. I don’t feel like mapping out a Facebook strategy and then hiring a part-time virtual assistant to implement it for me. And I sure as heck don’t feel like using Pinterest for anything more than collecting delicious vegan recipes and Harry Potter jokes.

And honestly?

I really don’t think I’m the only one.

Sure, we’re all highly ambitious entrepreneurs that get a high from working hard and seeing our efforts pay off.

But we’re human, too. As much as we might like to, we can’t do everything.

We need to relax sometimes and give ourselves permission not to do things.

So, in this post, I’m not going to chastise you for using social media too much or not enough.

I’ll trust that you can find the right balance for you and your business. You’re smart enough to do that and don’t need me policing and micro-managing you about it.

Instead, I’m going to talk about the social media metrics that actually matter, so that when you do sit down to go through your Twitter feed or have a Facebook planning session, you get the most ROI for your time invested.

Because honestly?

You work too hard not to have every minute you spend working count.

 

Why Number of Followers & Likes Really Doesn’t Matter

If you want followers on Instagram, you can pay a software to do it for you.

I get a spam follow or comment from someone hoping this will work magic for them every single day, and I don’t even have a popular Instagram account.

I can feel flattered that they liked three of my posts, left a “nice photo!” comment, and followed me…. or I can just ignore them, because I know a week from now the software they’re using will automatically unfollow me and this “relationship” they tried to establish with their modern-day spam will be entirely one-sided.

Basically, if you want more followers, you can buy them. If you want more likes, you can post a motivational quote imposed on the top of a gorgeous stock image.

And those things might feel exciting and play into our natural human urges that want us to feel liked and be desired… but those things aren’t playing a part in your overall funnel or doing much (if anything) to increase your bottom line.

Instead, a social media like should only be the very first part of your funnel… and not even a necessary one at that.

It’s where people should start becoming familiar with your brand and your message… so they’ll eventually sign up for your lead magnet and enter your sales funnel “for real.”

(And, hint: you can have a wildly successful online sales funnel without social media. Really. Social media is honestly just icing on the cake.)

So let’s get into the eight metrics that actually matter, shall we?

Note: not all of these metrics will matter for every single business, either. Proceed with caution and try to take notes on only the metrics that feel like they’ve got a high level of resonance with your business.

 

1. Engaged Commenters & Number of Average Comments

Spamming aside, comments are a sign that people are actually reading what you’re posting and engaging with it on a high level.

Personally, I “like” a lot of pages that show up in my newsfeed, but that I never actually engage with besides that.

Their content is good, but for the most part, I’m not a paying customer.

There are a few brands and bloggers, though, that I follow and answer every question they ask me that shows up in my news feed.

And most of the time, I’m a proud and happy customer of these people… or probably will be in the very near future.

Because here’s the thing: just because people “like” your page or follow you doesn’t mean they’re sold-out loyal fans of whatever it is you offer or teach.

Instead, it’s usually the people who actively engage and comment on your stuff that actually matter the most to your business.

So instead of trying to grow your likes or your follower count so that maybe some of them will be the kind of people who engage via comments, strategize ways to prompt the fans you’ve already got to be actively engaged.

This way you know you’re making the most of the work you’ve already done to collect those followers, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how having an active “community” in your comments will really draw in others.

 

2. Bounce Rate

When your analytics dashboard calculates bounce rate, it’s the number of people who come to your website and leave it after only viewing that one page.

So if you’re leading traffic to a landing page with no menu—even if it has a high conversion rate—it’ll have a high bounce rate because people are only looking at that one page.

So if that’s the scenario for your social media posts and ads that lead back to your site, bounce rate is something you can disregard.

But, if you’re using social media to drive traffic to a cornerstone, evergreen blog post, for example, bounce rate is a really important metric to pay attention to.

And basically, it answers this question: Do visitors find your content exciting enough to stick around?

If not, they bounce.

If yes, they click around to check out a few more pages before leaving your site.

So if you’ve got a navigation menu present on the page you’re sending social media traffic to, the goal is to have a really low bounce rate.

By paying attention to this metric, you can see what types of content your social media followings are most interested in, what topics they don’t care about, and which topic generates the most interest overall.

With this information, you can better attune your social media strategy to what those audiences are after, increasing loyalty via those channels and getting the most bang for your buck as far as more bottom-line metrics like email subscribers, clients, and sales.

3. Visits vs. Unique Visitors

Time for some definitions:

  • Number of visits: each time a person visits your website, it counts as a visit.
  • Unique visitors: counts each person only once.

So yes, getting more and more unique visitors is important… especially for those times when you’re hell-bent on growing and scaling your business.

But if you’re only after unique visits, you’re missing out on the real potential of having a social media strategy in the first place.

(Don’t get me wrong. This metric is important because it validates your marketing efforts.)

So in addition to lusting after more unique visitors… also lust after getting them to come back, again and again.

So, for example, if you have 1,000 unique visitors and 1,000 visits every month, that means that every person is coming to your page once and not coming back.

But if you’ve got 1,000 unique visitors and 3,000 visits every month, that means that on average, each visitor is coming back to your site two more times every month, which is incredible.

Social is about driving more and new traffic to your site, but in my opinion, the real power of it lies in “staying in touch” with your target audience on the days and weeks they aren’t on your site. You stay top-of-mind so they remember you even when there’s not one of your unopened emails sitting in their inbox or they’re not going through one of your free email courses.

Because beyond using social to drive more visitors to your site, when you use it to drive previous visitors back to your site, you drive them deeper and deeper into your loyalty and engagement efforts.

They dig deeper into your content every single time they come back, and over time, become “sold” on what you do—which either means they become a newsletter subscriber or they buy something. (And we all want all of our visitors to buy something, don’t we?)

It’s probably lighter and more fun than the seriousness that you get into on your site, but it’s still really beneficial to make sure you’ve got a high-touch strategy going on.

And honestly, the more touches the better.

According to the Online Marketing Institute, it takes 7-13 (or more!) touches to turn someone from a cold visitor into a viable sales lead.

 

4. Time on Site

Imagine these two scenarios of someone who “bounced” from your site:

  • A person who scrolled down the page and five seconds later closed your tab.
  • A person who spent time reading your blog post until the very end and opted in for your lead magnet at the end of it.

Obviously, there’s an entire spectrum of options and user behaviors between these two points, but I think every single one of us would favor behavior more closely resembling the second option than the first one, right?

Even if they left without visiting another page and gave us a “bounce.”

So, in conjunction with your bounce rate for traffic that comes back to your site from social media, time on site can give you a big hint about how well you’re doing.

Oh, and remember how you can’t really measure bounce rate if you’re using social media to lead traffic to a leading page with no menu?

This metric… along with actual conversions, of course… is perfect for measuring the success of those campaigns.

By asking your friends and family to read through your site for different periods of time to see how far they get, you’ll get an idea of how far your social traffic is getting down your page. (Or, you know, you could just use a heat map software to tell you this exactly.)

 

5. User-Created Funnels

Most of the time, when the word “funnel” is thrown around in internet marketing conversations, it represents the steps we design and the emails we send out so our leads and prospects consume the content we want them to consume at the moment we want them to consume it.

Usually, this helps us build ourselves up in their minds, and if we do it correctly, leads to more conversions than if we just let our site visitors take a jab at our site and our content for themselves.

And while you should absolutely construct these funnels to lead visitors through, it’s equally important to pay attention to the funnels visitors create for themselves.

Which means that when they follow a link you share on social media to an evergreen blog post, they might click on the links and call to action buttons you’ve placed within the post…. Or they might instead read the post, click on your About page, look at your pricing, and then read your team profiles before they close your tab.

Of course, plenty of people will follow the funnels you’ve set up for them.

But knowing which funnels most social visitors create for themselves tells you a handful of really helpful things:

  • How familiar the already are with your brand
  • Whether they came for just the blog post or they’re looking for more
  • What pages you need to optimize for funnel conversions if you haven’t already

These funnels are super easy to see within Google Analytics.

All you have to do is log into Google Analytics, scroll down to click on “Behavior” in the right-hand menu, and click on “Site Content” under “Behavior Flow.”

There, you can choose to filter through landing pages, all content, exit pages, or specific content pieces. In my opinion, all content is a great place to start for generic data. But if your social media campaigns are all about landing pages, check those out.

For an overview, just click on “Behavior Flow.” (I LOVE this visual and find it so helpful!)

 

6. Organic Mentions

Obviously, you want other people to share your content for you.

It’s a big reason why we so compulsively put social share buttons on our websites and actively ask for shares at the bottom of our posts.

So when people share are content via these buttons, it’s great. It means our efforts have paid off.

But what’s even better than this is when readers become so engrossed in everything you’re saying that they give you an online shout out without being prompted to do so just because one article’s social media teaser text was pre-written with your Twitter handle in it.

Particularly if you have a large audience—or dream of having a large audience—a mention tracking tool like Mention is a great way to get notified when people are talking about you without taking any of your active brain power to search for those mentions.

When you’re getting mentioned on social media—that is, in a good way—you know you’re doing something right.

And tracking these mentions is a wonderful way to engage with the people who mention you, join in on conversations about you, and grow loyalty and interest via your social media channels even more.

For example, Ecosia, a company that’s a charitable search engine focused on planting trees, uses Mention to track articles that mention their business model and to make sure that all the information that’s published about them is correct.

It’s an incredible way for them to build brand awareness, and to engage in spots across the internet where interest is building.

 

7. Subscribers, Leads & Sales

Baseline metrics, in other words.

Or in another, more explicit set of words: your bottom line.

Or, in my “humble” opinion, the only metrics that really matter.

Unfortunately, a lot of social media marketers and well-meaning business owners stop measuring before they get to these metrics because they measure click-through rates.

And actually, (again, in my opinion), measuring the click through rates doesn’t really matter for much.

So what if very few people click through on one of your ads? If you have a small exclusive audience, it only matters that the people who do click through are converting in some way, right?

I think so.

But I think the reason so many people get caught up on clickthrough rate before they ever even consider these bottom line metrics is because the companies who offer their platforms for running ads emphasize click through rates a lot.

But you know why they emphasize them?

Because they charge per click.

So, the more clicks you get, the more money they make.

(Side note: focusing too much on click through rate was how all that annoying click bait was born.)

Click through rates aren’t unimportant… after all, you do want traffic from your advertising efforts. But what’s more important is to not place the importance of a clickthrough rate over the importance of a conversion rate.

Unless you’re getting absolutely zero traffic (or close to it) from your ad campaigns, as long as you’re getting decent conversions from the traffic you do get, click through rate shouldn’t be a top-of-mind thing that you’re constantly concerned about improving.

 

8. Amplification Rate

Again, this metric is more about measuring engagement than it is about numbers for their own sake.

Basically, what your amplification rate shows you is your opportunity to “amplify” your message from the number of followers you’ve already got.

It measure shares and number of followers, yes, but it puts both of those metrics into a more meaningful context.

The way you calculate it is this:

Take a piece of content and total up the number of times it was shared during a certain period of time. The number of shares can be overall or exclusive to one social platform.

Then, divide that number by how many followers you have on the channels you counted the shares for.

So if you had an article that was shared 300 times on Facebook and you have 5,000 fans there, the equation looks like this:

300 / 5,000 = 0.06

Then, multiply that number by 100 to see your amplification rate as a percentage. So in this example:

0.06 x 100 = 6%

With this number, you know how much you can expect your message to spread just based on your followers.

If you realize it’s a number you’re not happy with, you can find ways to increase it.

But if you realize it’s much higher than you expected, you can pay more attention to that particular social platform to get your message spread even more.

 

Conclusion: Track What Matters

Alright, now with a show of hands, how many of you who were tracking Facebook likes and Twitter shares are still going to track only those things?

None of you?

Yeah, didn’t think so.

To be fair, you were probably smart enough to not only track those kinds of things in the first place, but I hope I’ve helped you re-focus on the social media-related metrics that are actually important to your business’s growth.

Right now, the most important social media-based metric for my business is what kind of website path the people are taking. What I want to know is what they (my audience) wants to know from me after they come to my site, so I check out the paths they forge after they click through from a LinkedIn or Twitter post.

From there, I know what content they’re most interested in, so I can grow my business with more of that content.

What were the best ideas on social media metrics that came up for you while reading this post?

15 Powerful Social Media Tips For 2017 That Will Boost ROI

Social media marketing can be a great way to create new leads and ultimately increase your ROI. However, the multitude of strategies and platforms out there can be difficult to wrap your head around. In the information below, we’ll go over some of the top social media marketing tips for 2017 so you can start implementing them into your own marketing plan.

 

1) Use Snapchat Stories and GeoFilters

Snapchat is a huge potential market. In fact, over 100 million users watch about 10 billion snaps a day. By creating your own Snap stories and geofilters, you can tap into that massive audience.

Geofilters allow Snapchat users to add a brand’s logo or other design to their snap photos. You can create your own Geofilter for your business or event for as little as $5. Not only are they relatively cheap, but Geofilters are a great interactive advertising tool as well.

Snap Stories, on the other hand, allow you to show videos and photos to people who follow you on the social platform. This can be a great way to show off your company culture or even new product launches. For example, Pixar recently had a Snap Story where they took followers on a virtual tour of the Pixar campus in Emeryville. They also shared short interviews with some of their interns about why they became animators and what they love about Pixar.

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2) Get Specific with Target Audiences on Facebook

The beauty of Facebook’s Ad Manager tool is that it allows you to create an audience based on very specific criteria. One of the more useful of which is the ability to target by Life Events.

Facebook’s Life Events feature allows people to let their friends know about a new change in their life by adding it to their timeline. For example, say you own a bridal shop. When someone changes their relationship status on Facebook to engaged, it’s added as a Life Event. You can now have Facebook display your ads to these people directly. Obviously newly engaged people are very likely to be looking for the types of products and services you provide, which makes them leads.

You can also target people based on interests, recent behavior (such as going to church), estimated income, relationship status, education level, and more. Using these types of filters can help you narrow down your audience to only those who are most likely to be interested in your brand.

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3) Make it Look Good

When advertising on social media, visuals are very important and so is the messaging. You must remember that most users are scrolling past an incredible amount of content--your ad must stand out in order to gain their attention.

Be sure that your ad is aesthetically pleasing and feels compelling enough for the viewer to click on it. In other words, you want them to be enticed but relaxed enough to click through to your landing page.

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Take a look at the ad above from Slack, a cloud-based communication service for the workplace. Not only is the ad visually striking, but it also does an excellent job of explaining their product in a fun and meaningful way. Slack’s marketing department knows that most people in the workforce detest sitting through pointless meetings. Keeping this in mind, they crafted clever copy that would greatly interest their demographic: less meetings and time saved. And who doesn’t love a unicorn?

 

4) Use Custom Hashtags

While the primary use of hashtags is to help people find content based on categories, custom hashtags can be a great way to get people interested in your brand and encourage them to share your content. Moreover, you can use the same hashtag across multiple social media platforms.

Take this custom hashtag from Marvel, for example. In 2015, Marvel created the hashtag #MarvelHalloween. Hundreds of fans used the hashtag alongside photos of their own Marvel halloween costumes. Not only was this free advertising for Marvel, but it was a great way for them to foster consumer engagement with their brand.

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5) Forget About the Landing Page

Landing pages have long been a standard practice, but a new and rising trend has many advertising skipping them altogether. This is because social platforms like Facebook have integrated call-to-action buttons into their ads. For example, you could add a button that says “call now” or “shop now” which allows consumers to reach you immediately instead of having to go through a landing page. Eliminating landing pages allows you to decrease the amount of steps required which will increase the rate of conversion.

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6) Research Trending Topics Before You Create Your Content

Twitter can be a great resource for researching engagement for potential content topics. For example, say you tweet an article or photo you found. Measure the amount of engagement it gets using Twitter analytics. If it performs well, it may be a good idea for you to create your own content on that topic. You can also take a look at Twitter’s trending hashtags in order to get an idea of what people are sharing and discussing.

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7) Rework and Recycle Your Best Copy

If you’ve ever created an ad in AdWords, you know that quality score has a big impact on where your ads are displayed. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have similar metrics for their ads: Relevance Score and Quality Adjusted Bids, respectively. These scores are important because they can either decrease or increase your cost-per-click.

If you’ve already seen success with the ads you’ve created in AdWords, try using the same or similar language in your ads on social media sites. In addition to saving you some time and effort, it’s likely that you’ll see similarly positive engagement rates.

 

8) Pay Attention to the Data

Once you put up a new ad on social media, you’ll need to regularly monitor its performance. For one, your ad may not perform as well as you thought it would and you may need to make some adjustments to your copy or your target audience. Secondly, sometimes even ads that were once performing very well can start to slump. This is due to “audience fatigue.”

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This ad, as you can see, is not performing very well. This is due in part to audience fatigue--people interacted with the ad in the beginning and then lost interest after seeing it a number of times.

Audience fatigue happens when the same users are shown the same ad over and over. In order to avoid this, you’ll need to regularly refresh your content. You may even want to try creating similar variants of the same ad. Keeping your content updated can help you increase engagement and your ROI.

 

9) Take Advantage of Remarketing

Remarketing allows you to target people who have already shown interest in your product or service. For example, say someone shops around on your site and abandons the items in their cart. By using remarketing ads on social media, you can display these items to that user and encourage them to come back to your site and complete their purchase. This technique is a great way to get a second chance at conversions you may have missed.

 

10) Monitor Engagement for Your LinkedIn Posts

LinkedIn Publisher allows you to monitor the people who are engaging with your content, and it’s a great way to establish professional relationships and foster conversation surrounding your brand. Simply go to the analytics page of your last post and click on “Who’s Viewed Your Posts.” This will display a selection of viewers and stats for the last week. You can also see who has liked, commented, or shared your posts. This helps ensure that you’re responding to comments and targeting people who show interest in your brand. You can even reach out to people who have shared your post.

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11) Make an Impression with Facebook and Instagram Carousel Ads

While Facebook and Instagram are a great places to advertise your products and services, there’s also a lot of competition. Make your ad stand out in the crowd of other advertisers with captivating images and ad copy. There is also a relatively new feature that allows you to display a carousel or slideshow of images within a single ad. You can even add transitions, music, or narration. These types of advertisements are a great way to increase the quality and potential engagement of your content.

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12) Use Live Video Broadcasting

Live video has become incredibly popular across various social media platforms, including Facebook,Twitter, and YouTube. Live video on social media allows brands to reach consumers directly and create an interactive experience. For instance, you could host a live question and answer session. Because it is live, there is a sense of urgency that encourages people to log on and view.

Companies that use live platforms to market their products and services have seen much success. For example, Benefit Cosmetics began producing a weekly live show called “Tipsy Tricks with Benefit!” which they air each Thursday. On the show, the hosts drink wine and try on products while they answer questions from viewers. Their first broadcast gathered 42,000 live viewers, and they have continued to see success in later videos.

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13) Embrace Virtual Reality

While it’s still evolving in many ways, virtual reality (VR) has begun popping up all over social media. In June of 2016, Facebook started supporting 360 videos and photos. Since then, many companies and organizations have used the feature to release an amazing and entirely unique online experience. Snapchat filters are also an example of augmented or virtual reality, and they can be a great way to reach people and generate excitement around your brand.

As far as marketing is concerned, you could use these VR features to produce interactive ads for your audience. With the right content, virtual reality ads may just sell themselves.

Check out this awesome 360 video from Coachella:

No doubt they’ll be selling a few more tickets next year.

 

14) Social Media is Now Mainstream Media

Social media isn’t just about poking and tweeting at your friends anymore. Many people rely on social media platforms like Facebook for news and media coverage as well. The distinct advantage of social platforms as a media and news source is that they provide updates in realtime and users can converse about it in the comments.

So what does this have to do with social media marketing and advertising?

It’s important to know how people use social media in order to best target them. Instead of focusing on selling your products or services through blatant advertisements, you might want to try a different approach that could better appeal to your audience.

You may want to consider focusing on brand image and storytelling. For example, publish updates that are relevant and newsworthy to things happening outside of your company. If you have a blog, produce content that relates to your product or service without being a direct sales pitch. This type of content may have a better shot at resonating with viewers. Finally, you should always pay attention to real world events and tragedies. A tasteful post to show your support can go a long way.

 

15) Turn Your Employees into Brand Celebrities

A popular new trend that many companies are taking advantage of is to turn employees into brand ambassadors. For example, you could have a writer from your company set up their own public Twitter and Facebook accounts for professional updates. This way readers who enjoy the content your employee produces can follow them individually. Essentially, you can turn your employees into celebrities for your business, which is great way to generate excitement for your brand.

 

Conclusion

Using these tips, you’ll be able to improve the quality of your social media content and advertisements and begin increasing your ROI.

 

About the Author: Andy Beohar is VP of SevenAtoms, a HubSpot certified agency in San Francisco. Andy develops and manages ROI positive inbound and paid marketing campaigns for B2B & Tech companies.

Create a Loyalty Marketing Program as Good as the Airlines

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty darn loyal to my airline.

The fact that I booked a round-trip flight to Rio de Janeiro for approximately $60 in taxes just from points I’d earned from being “loyal” to them pretty much did it for me.

That, and the fact that just because I carry their credit card means I get a free checked bag on domestic flights. (If you knew me, that’d sound totally bogus. I’m definitely a carry-on only type of traveler. But that ‘bonus’ still gets me.)

And the fact that I can earn loads and loads of points for even more free flights like the one to Rio just for using their credit card.

It also helps that they’ve partnered with a credit card company that’s got incredible customer service.

Oh, and that time I missed my flight so they so kindly put me up in a hotel for the night while I waited for the next available flight.

I use American Airlines, by the way. And no, I have absolutely zero financial motive to recommend them to you.

I just want to show you how over-the-moon in love I am with them.

Honestly, I might be more committed to them than I am to my boyfriend, and I like him a lot.

Only time can test that commitment level, but as far as the business lesson here goes, I think you can see how crucial it is to have some sort of loyalty program.

Because feelings aside, the data tells us it’s important too:

  • It can be up to 10x more expensive to get a new customer to buy than to sell to an old one.
  • Old customers spend an average of 67% more anyway.
  • The average US household actively participates in 12 different loyalty programs.

Yeah Chelsea, but my business isn’t an airline. I can’t afford to give away free flights or hotel nights.

Believe me, I get it.

I’ve got a business too, and I sure as hell can’t afford those kinds of things for my customers.

But I’ve realized that if I want my business to grow in the way I envision it—for it to be this wonderful, helpful place where people’s connection to what I teach can help them grow their business… and for me to make good money doing it… I’ve got to find ways to make people loyal.

I send out emails to my list every time I publish a blog post, but I’ve started to focus on customer loyalty a bit.

For example, every time someone buys a success planning session from me, I treat them to a hot beverage of their choice.

And if we aren’t in the same city, I send them a $5 Starbucks gift card for them to buy the coffee for themselves.

The effect of this is two-fold:

  1. Hot drinks light up parts of our brain that make us “warmer” to each other.
  2. Buying them something, even though it’s included in their fee, invokes the reciprocity principle that’s innate in us as humans.

And I find it works pretty darn well.

But what if your business isn’t exactly like mine?

What if you’re not an airline or a B2B agency/service provider?

What kind of loyalty marketing program can you put in place that will keep your customers loyal, but not cost you an arm and a leg?

In this post, we’ll run through 5 different examples of great loyalty marketing programs to spark ideas for your own company.

 

1. Up-Front VIP Fees

You know how Amazon Prime costs $99 per year upfront?

The exchanged benefit that customers get for paying it is free two-day shipping on most items on the website.

Further, because the cost is so low for year-long fast & free shipping, Amazon actually loses up to $2 billion per year according to analyst estimates, just because that kind of fast shipping is normally really expensive.

But, because individual customers have each fronted nearly $100 for the service, they feel more obligated to make that fee worth it, and are more likely to shop on Amazon for their needs.

In fact, in 2015, the average Prime customer spent $1,500 per year on Amazon, whereas the average non-Prime customer spent $625.

So, basically, this particular loyalty marketing strategy is an exercise in reverse-psychology: charge people upfront for benefits that most companies would make you “work” for, and watch people become fiercely loyal out of their initial investment.

So think about it for yourself: what are some ways you could apply this principle to your company?

Hint: Works best with businesses who have large customer bases, such as B2C.

 

2. Proofs of Purchase

Remember back in the day when you’d collect proofs of purchase from cereal boxes and mail them in with the $5 you begged from your parents for some cool, exciting prize?

Or when McDonald’s used to host their Monopoly game every year so that when you collected a certain number of stamps, you’d win a free meal? Or maybe even $1 million?

Or even how sending in box tops and tabs from coke cans meant your child’s school or a medical organization could get more funding?

It’s all the same idea: to keep people coming back, to make them “prove” their loyalty to you, and in exchange, they get something from you.

This type of strategy works really well with commodity items like cereal and fast food, because they’re things people would be buying anyway.

The only difference is, with the promise of a “prize” for buying one brand over the other, people can easily make the choice to buy your product instead of your competition’s.

My mom still collects bottle tops and enters coke points online every week.

Even though she hasn’t redeemed them for anything in a long time, she has gotten really cool stuff like a tea pot, an olympics-themed tote bag, and magazine subscriptions absolutely free in exchange for being a loyal Diet Coke drinker.

Most of you reading this blog probably don’t do the marketing for internationally-recognized brands, but the concept is still the same.

I think every single local coffee and sub shop I go into has some sort of loyalty card where if I buy a certain number, I get one free. This is kind of the classic, go-to example, but what if instead of a free drink or sandwich, you got a little creative and offered them something else?

Like a $5 gift card to a local grocery store? Or a free item they can take home with them and use?

Suddenly it’s a little more interesting than saving $6 on a sandwich, isn’t it?

With the novelty factor a little more interesting, people are suddenly way more enticed to participate in your loyalty marketing program and keep buying from you.

3. Be Charitable

Surprisingly, you don’t always need to give something directly to the customer for them to be fiercely loyal to you.

If you show an interest in giving back to funds and causes you know they believe in, you can almost always incite loyalty.

Better yet, you might not even have to be the one to start this type of loyalty program—you can just join in on a successful one that’s already happening.

On a national scale, we’re all familiar with the Box Tops for Education campaign.

Since nearly everyone agrees that children’s education is important, this campaign has been around and successful for years. Heck, I remember it from when I was in elementary school.

It works like this: you collect box tops from General Mills products you buy, clip them off the top of the box before recycling, and send them with your child to school.

Every box top is worth $0.10 donated to your child’s school, so the more your participate in buying General Mills products, the better.

Genius, isn’t it?

And yes, this program is exclusive to General Mills… but let’s say you run a restaurant where you sell cans of coke or beer to your customers.

Instead of just shuffling the cans off their tables when they’re done, you can ask them to remove their cans’ tabs and put them in your collection box for the Ronald McDonald House.

You’re not out anything, but the fact that you’re being charitable—and giving your customers the opportunity to physically participate and feel good about themselves—means that people who eat (or rather, drink) at your restaurant will be instantly more loyal to you because you’re “good.”

(I don’t know a single person who isn’t all about helping sick children feel better.)

 

4. Multi-Company Partnerships

If you run a business selling kitchen cabinets and counter tops, you’ve probably noticed you’ve got a few different types of customers:

  • Residential DIY customers who are one-time customers re-doing their kitchens
  • House flippers, who come back to you multiple times for each new project they take on
  • Contractors who do the planning and building for their clients, but need a good place to buy the cabinets from

Depending on which customer type was the most common and most profitable for you, you could form a partnership with another business that serves the same target audience and offer some deals together.

Let’s say the contractors are your most common and most profitable type of customer.

If a lot of these contractors are assisting in full-on kitchen renovations, you could partner with a flooring company or an appliances dealer to offer combined packages at a slightly discounted rate, but that would ultimately mean more sales for all parties involved.

Your partners will be loyal to you because you’re bringing them more business, and your customers would love you because you’re getting them deals they can’t get anywhere else.

It’s a win-win-win scenario.

 

5. Short-Term Contests

If you’re in a business slump and need a fast boost, running an attention-getting campaign in the form of a contest is a great way to create feelings of attachment towards your brand.

Particularly if you’re giving away your own services.

I see loads of companies trying gimmicky contests where they’re giving away free iPads, and I can’t help but cringe when I see it.

Yeah, iPads are cool and a lot of people would want a free one. But a lot of people who aren’t part of your target market will probably join in on the contest just for the sake of the iPad without caring about your actual business.

This means they create more work for you without adding anything to your business in the long run.

Instead, give away a free session. Or a free set of sessions. Or a gift basket of your products or products related to the services and expertise you offer.

If you work in the natural health niche, you can probably assume that a lot of people in your target audience like Apple products.

But the promise of an iPad is so far disconnected from your vitamin assessments or your chakra-aligning massages that people will get excited about the iPad without even considering your services.

Instead, if you gave away a set of three massages and a custom-tailored 30-day supply of supplements, that’s be a prize your target audience would still be just as crazy about, but it’s a prize that would only attract the right people.

Plus, during the duration of the contest, you’ll do a lot of talking about the benefits for the prize to get more people to sign up, so people will become attached to those end benefits and be more likely to buy from you later on, even if they aren’t winners.

 

Conclusion

Okay, so, got any ideas flowing yet?

Like I mentioned at the beginning, just because we don’t have the budgets of big-name airlines to keep our customers loyal doesn’t mean we can’t have customers that aren’t over-the-moon in love with us.

In fact, quite the opposite.

Buy only spending $5 on someone who’s already decided to spend at least a few hundred with me, I only off-set my immediate profit by a few bucks, but I raise the long-term profitability of that client significantly. (Remember how I said I buy my new clients a hot beverage?)

That, and because my business is so small, it automatically has that personal, one-on-one feel that bigger companies like airlines spend boatloads of money trying to to replicate. (It’s like a loyalty feature that’s automatically built in!)

But beyond these really simple measures, doing things like hosting a contest or giveaway, doing a proof-of-purchase promotion, forming customer-benefitted partnerships, being charitable, and offering “exclusive” VIP options are great ways to build in even more loyalty to your business—making your competition more or less irrelevant.

What are some other ways you build loyalty in your business? Let us know in the comments, and help your fellow small business owners spark their own ideas too.

The Ultimate 4 Step Business to Business (B2B) Marketing Plan

Do you feel overwhelmed with the prospect of B2B Marketing? There’s certainly one hell of a stigma attached, and there’s no end to fear-mongering list posts on why B2B Marketing is so much harder than B2C.  If trying to come up with a high-level B2B marketing strategy stresses you out, you aren’t alone.

Once we peel back all the fear and anxiety that’s been piled on top of B2B marketing, putting together a solid strategy is as simple as knowing the right questions to ask.

So…let’s start with, why is B2B Marketing so much harder than B2C marketing anyway?

Short answer: it’s not!

Slightly longer answer: Because you’re making it harder. What you need to do is reframe that fear.

There are many people…and I happen to be one of them…that believe business to business marketing is actually far easier than marketing to consumers.

Convincing someone to purchase your product or service when you can tie it directly to their bottom line (or their promotion) is a piece of cake.  Of course, you’ll need to find the people who are actually committed to improvement…but once they’ve started receiving value from your company, they have a vested interest in providing feedback that continues to improve their experience – it only makes their job easier.

Your buyer should have clearly defined goals – they are ultimately either trying to increase cash flow or establish brand recognition for the long term.  You do need to put in the work upfront to know what these goals are, but once you do, the job of your marketing is simply to deliver value and demonstrate authority in that space.

Actually, let me make that even simpler.  Your marketing has one job: prove you understand your customer and that you know how to solve their problems.

Marketing doesn’t have to be hard – in fact, you most likely know everything you need to know to optimize what’s already working in your business.

In this article, I will take you, in 3 simple steps, through establishing a marketing strategy, implementing that strategy, and iterating until it works.

You’ll learn the exact questions you need to be able to answer about your business and your clients in order to create a winning strategy.

This article is going to be super helpful for you if…

  1. You’re selling a product or service to other businesses and you want to scale or automate your marketing efforts
  2. You’re just getting started with a product idea and you have no idea how to turn it into a business

There’s no magic bullet or secret technique – it’s just learning to understand the true purpose of marketing, then putting a system in place to make sure you know where to focus your attention.

Once you really take the long view on your marketing efforts, you’re not going to have to worry so much about your day-to-day marketing decisions.  With a clear plan defined, you’ll know what the best next steps are no matter how your campaigns go.

 

Stop Making B2B Marketing Harder – Plan First!

Look, I get it.  This isn’t the sexy part of business – you want to see all kinds of bar charts and graphs with exponentially increasing numbers of social shares or likes.

[example of a useless graph – number of people who think our cat’s with construction equipment pictures are cool vs. actual sales]

But if shares and likes don’t correlate to purchases, you’re wasting your time and possibly headed towards burnout and the end of your business.

So our absolute first step…as in, do not pass go, do not collect $200…is coming up with a solid strategy that you’ll use to qualify your decisions every step of the way.

But before we do that…let’s make sure we’re on the same page.  Not everybody has the same understanding of what marketing is, and I define it quite broadly.  Kinda like this guy:

“Marketing is not only much broader than selling; it is not a specialized activity at all.  It encompasses the entire business.  It is the whole business seen from the point of view of the final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view.  Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise.” — Peter Drucker

pablo

Caption: So Peter Drucker agrees with me.  No big deal.

“Peter F. Drucker,” by Jeff McNeill is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The long and short of it is, your B2B marketing strategy should inform what you sell, how you sell it, who you sell it to, and how much you charge them.  Marketing even informs your customer service and how you implement feedback from users.

But everything relies on building a solid strategy as the framework…

 

Step 1. Develop a Strategy

Yes, every single article on marketing starts with “first, let’s put together a strategy.”  But let’s be honest…every how-to article ever should start with this advice!

“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”

-Winston Churchill

pablo 2

“Churchill,” by Matt Brown is licensed under CC BY 2.0

And yet I still talk with business owners and clients who want help fixing a non-converting ad or an opt-in that no one is downloading. That conversation usually goes something like:

Me: So tell me about what you’re trying to accomplish with this feature.

Client: Well, I want people to learn more about me.  And also to get a sense of what our product can do for them, and how it works, and how it will save them time.  Wait, should I be offering a coupon in that first email or is that too desperate?

Me: Wait, hold on…you need to prioritize those goals.  What’s the number one thing you want your visitor to do?

Client: Well, they’re all important!

Me: Of course, but what’s the first thing they need to do before they’re ready to buy your product?

Client: Um…

Right, so…that’s not going to get you very far.  We have no idea…

  1. What the potential buyer is supposed to be doing at this stage of the buying process.
  2. How to measure the success of the campaign.
  3. How to tell if a successful campaign will actually result in increased revenue.

And it’s not uncommon!  Smart Insights reveals that “47% of businesses are doing digital marketing without any kind of digital marketing strategy.

1a. There’s No Way To Fix A Problem Without Knowing Why It’s A Problem In The First Place

The first priority when setting a strategy is knowing your goal.  A problem is only a problem that needs fixing if it’s preventing you from reaching your goals.

As you can already tell from the above example, you need to know a good deal about your sales process before you can start identifying those goals.

In sales and persuasion psychology, it’s been long established that getting people to say yes to small things makes it easier for them to say yes to increasingly bigger things.

So your sales process is very much a series of small conversions.

Neil Patel explains it this way: “When [leads] respond affirmatively to the first request, they will later agree to the larger, because they want to justify to themselves that they are indeed the type of person who responds ‘yes’ to such requests.”

On top of this, for most businesses, the purchase comes down to a key decision that’s made during the sales process – sometimes much earlier in the process than you’d expect.

As an example, I had one of my clients (a startup architecture firm) look back over all her contracts for the previous 24 months.  She found that the clients who were happiest with her work – and, not surprisingly, who she most enjoyed doing work for – had come as references by several heads of construction companies in her network.

The goal became to optimize that one step: make referrals from those connections the focal point of her marketing strategy.  She now operates with a constant waiting list, to the envy of many of her fellow architects who’ve been in business for decades (who’ve factored the ‘lean times’ into their yearly projections).

So, how did we get there?  You can follow this process:

  1. Identify your top outcome goals (e.g. identify the offer your market responds best to, move leads from cold to ready-to-buy, get people registered for an event, etc.)
  2. Prioritize those goals  (it may not make any sense to generate lots of traffic until you have one or two solid ideas for the offer you want to make, for example)
  3. Propose solutions that would help you achieve your goals (e.g. facebook ads to test Call to Action headlines and lead magnet offers, content marketing that addresses the biggest concerns that stop your market from buying, publishing pieces in trade publications, etc.)
  4. Determine the best way to deliver your intended solution to your audience (e.g. attending conferences, running ads in trade publications, hosting an event, an autoresponder series, etc.)
  5. Break that down into a minimum viable solution (try out your presentation for a 100 with a small group of local business owners over coffee, test out ads for your webinar before ever writing the script, etc.)
  6. Set campaign milestones (e.g. 10 new opt-ins daily, 50 scheduled demos per week, etc.) so you don’t label something a failure that’s actually succeeding

This whole process is incredibly powerful, and literally every successful business on earth is doing this. Ryan Deiss goes one step farther and actually calls this whole ‘funnel’ process Customer Value Optimization.

So the best way to develop a successful strategy is start looking at the sales funnel you already have in place (and if you’re just starting out, don’t worry…I’ll explain how this whole process can work for bootstrappers at the end of the article).

1b. Marketing Strategy Starts With What’s Working Right Now In Your Business

Your sales funnel is the process a potential customer goes through in order to become a buyer.  The primary function of your marketing strategy is to scale the funnel that’s already working for your business in order to optimize the value of every customer.

ASF Sales Funnel 1

Source: https://blog.artstorefronts.com/caveman-romantic-art-seller/

Some of you will have already put a lot of thought and prep into your sales funnel, so if that’s you, bear with me while I introduce a couple of key terms we’ll need as we put together our strategy.

But, real quick, if you’re one of those people who likes to say that you don’t have a funnel, stop right there.

If you have customers, you have a funnel.  In fact, if you have a list, you still have a funnel, it’s just not monetized.

Traffic Sources

Every sale started with a potential customer who was learning about your company and solution for the very first time.  Someone told them about you, or they found you on google, or your niche blog post answered one of their nagging questions.  Those are your traffic sources, which is more of a digital term and isn’t always used to refer to offline sources for leads, but they all serve the same function for our the purposes of our strategy.

Lead Capture

Next up, every sale you’ve ever made went through an initial conversion process…in other words, they said yes in some small way.  Maybe it was to get on a phone call, or to download a white page, or to view a demo.  Most likely, no money was exchanged.

Once money has been exchanged, even if it’s just paying $1 for some small asset (commonly called a tripwire in the digital marketing world), they become much more than a lead.

Nurturing From Lead to Buyer

Don’t think that tiny purchase is what you’re going to rely on for business income.  As Bryan Harris bluntly puts it, There are a lot of reasons to sell a product for $5.99, but making money isn’t one.”

Psychologically, the power of tripwires relies on human’s many, many cognitive biases. We can’t get into all that here, but the short version is: the sooner a lead pays you, the sooner they will buy more.

Ryan Lee makes a solid case that ‘tripwire’ sounds a lot like we’re tricking a lead into becoming a customer….  So if taking advantage of common, irrational mistakes made by human beings makes you feel a bit icky, just remember – it’s up to you to make sure your product or service is truly beneficial to your target market.  If you know it will help make their businesses and lives better, than marketing becomes a moral imperative.

Follow Up

Any good marketing strategy is going to involve lots of follow up.  And not just after the sale, but after every yes you get from the potential buyer.  Each step is an invitation to a greater relationship between your business and theirs.

Think about this.  What does a funnel look like if you looked down instead of across?

top down funnel

Each time a potential customer says “yes” to you, they are letting down their guard and asking to come closer to your inner circle.  And your marketing strategy needs to honor and respect that level of trust.

So while there’s going to be a good deal of “lead nurturing” in the early stages, and more follow up and quality assurance in the later stages…it’s helpful to think of all these conversion moments in terms of conversations that build a relationship with your leads and customers.

1c. Conversations That Build Relationships

Brian Clark calls building “real relationships with those who can help get the word out” one of the three most important things he’s done to build his online business.  You need to figure out:

  • What kinds of questions are your leads asking at each stage of the buying process?
  • How can you anticipate and automate the answers to those questions?
  • What does a lead absolutely need to hear/see/know/believe at each stage before they’re ready to move on to the next?

When you know the answer to the above questions, you’ve got the bulk of your marketing strategy.  Here’s an example:

John has a SaaS app that helps local service businesses set appointments more easily.  Most of his customers contacted him after seeing his presentation at the local chamber of commerce.  A few customers joined after being referred by his other customers.  His site gets a decent amount of traffic thanks to mentions in a few online publications specific to his industry.

His churn rate is higher than he would like, but after talking to some other business owners, it sounds like it’s within the normal range.  So he’s not going to prioritize that.

Ultimately, he wants to focus more of his time learning from users and creating even more value with the features of his software.  At present, he spends most of his time answering pre-sale questions by phone and email, and then with onboarding.  Therefore, his marketing efforts will focus on:

  • Generating content that answers his leads’ most common questions right as they arrive on the site
  • Creating copy that walks a site visitor through the same sales process John goes through with buyers over the phone
  • And creating an autoresponder sequence that walks users through the first 14 days of using the software, making the onboarding process mostly automated

1d. The Next Step is To Think Bigger

At this point you’ve established a prioritized list of goals to achieve with your marketing, and you’ve identified how you’re already achieving those goals (to some extent) in your business. Now we’re going to look at how we can expand that into something much bigger by doing what already works at scale.

Before we actually go bigger, we need to set some milestones that allow us to measure the success of our efforts and the progress we’re making toward our goals.

We want to avoid this scenario that Seth Godin points out: “When you measure the wrong thing, you get the wrong thing. Perhaps you can be precise in your measurement, but precision is not significance.

In our example above, John’s going to be predominantly measuring the success of his efforts by seeing how often his new content is being accessed, how well the sales copy converts compared to his sales phone calls, and how the total time on site is affected by switching to the autoresponder onboarding sequence.

Once the numbers seem adequate – and a lower conversion rate than his old method might still be okay, since it will allow John the time he needs to focus on feature improvements – John will decide to either optimize his organic traffic or run Facebook ads to test how well his funnel converts with paid traffic.  Either way, he will pick one source of traffic and scale it fully before moving on to another one.

 

Step 2. Put Your Strategy To Work

We want to be systematic in how we implement this strategy.  You’ll notice everything that’s gotten us to this point is basically just prep work.

Well, we’re not done getting ready yet.

Remember when I said we wanted to start with the minimum viable solution?  This goes for everything in marketing.

As Pamela Wilson over at Copyblogger points out, when you start with a solution in mind instead of your audience, you are building your business backwards.

There’s no reason to put all of your time, budget, and energy into a campaign before you know if it can convert.

That means testing:

  • The method of delivery (is the webinar the right format, would it be better as an ebook?)
  • The length of the content
  • The title or headline of the content
  • The offer for the content
  • The way you offer the content (a button on your home page, a sidebar ad, article specific calls to action (CTA) in each blog post, in person, over the phone, etc.)

Ultimately, you’ll also want to know how people convert at every single step of the process.  For example:

  • How many people who came to your website clicked to opt-in?
  • How many of those people actually opted-in?
  • How many opt-ins confirmed their email address?
  • How many then downloaded the content?
  • How many actually consumed the content?
  • How many follow the CTA in the content?

And so on.  As you can see, there’s an infinite number of things you can monitor and test, so let’s lay out the absolute basics:

  1. The less things you are testing, the easier it is to find the problems.  In other words, don’t split-test multiple headlines, white page lengths, brand voices, etc. all at once.  Just set it so that half of your visitors see one CTA headline, and the other half see a different one.  (This is commonly referred to as a split test.)

You’ll probably have numerous customer avatars that you’re trying to appeal to, so you can write a CTA for each of them and see which convert the best.

  1. Let’s simplify that some more: if there are two possible free offers you could make, you can split-test each of those using the method we just laid out.  Half of your visitors would get an offer like “The Best Times to Reach Out to PR Connections”, and the other half would get an offer like “The Best PR Email Template”.Since we’re going “minimum viable” here, don’t write either of them until you start getting opt-ins.  Prioritize the one that gets more requests.
  1. And hey, we can simplify even more if we want.  Turn your website into a landing page that has the bare minimum information the lead needs to get to the next stage of your product.  Maybe it’s simply a site with a quick explanation of your product, and the only options are to either opt-in for a free resource or to schedule a demo call.The less options a visitor is given, the better.  Psychologically, they are more likely to not feel overwhelmed and actually go where you want them to…and from a testing perspective, you get a much better sense of how enticing your offer is when there’s only one.Note: From an SEO standpoint, this may not be the best long-term solution…good thing we have a prioritized list of goals to see where organic search traffic fits in!

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Does your site answer the main questions your target market is asking…in the right order? In other words, is the first thing a new visitor sees something that doesn’t matter until much later in the sales process?
  • If you can speak to the customer in their own unique voice and explain their problem better than they can, they will trust you.  So the copy on your website needs to be written for them and not for you.

That’s it, pretty much.  If you get distracted by the latest marketing craze or your supervisor starts demanding an updated explainer video, you can go back to your prioritized goals and see how this new concept fits into the strategy.

If it doesn’t, it’s an easy No.

 

Step 3. Iterate and Improve Your Strategy

Keep iterating and improving until you’re getting good conversion rates at each step.  Then fully optimize a traffic source before you move onto the next one.

For example: Let’s say every $5 you spend on facebook ads results in a $200 sale. You can keep increasing your budget, but since you are targeting a very specific list, eventually you’ll milk this avenue dry.  This isn’t B2C, right?  You have a limited number of potential customers in your targeted industry and eventually all of them are going to see your ads on one channel.  So the next step would either be to try another ad network or to see about improving the conversion rate on the purchase.

Charles Ngo spent 6 years struggling to turn a profit online, but once he picked one traffic source (facebook ads) and focused specifically on that, he was able to replace the income from his job in just 3 months.

Once you’ve hit your milestones, you can start all over again with a new strategy that takes into account your current business needs.

For example: Sales might now be coming at a decent rate, with a highly effective funnel and onboarding sequence.  You could now focus on making sure your current customers’ needs are being addressed. You can create content, email sequences, and webinars that make them feel important to your company, and direct them to under-used or brand-new features.

But now that you know how to effectively strategize, what if you’re stuck starting a business – or launching a new product or service – from scratch?

 

Step 4. Marketing Strategy When You’re Just Starting Out

You now have a good sense of what to do once your business is rolling.  You know how to leverage what you’re already doing well and market it into a super tight and profitable business.

But meanwhile, you might still trying to decide on your logo, brand colors and fonts, and website hosts.  You don’t even have a single client.  How can you put together an effective strategy?

So first of all…STOP.  You have everything you need right now.  Remember when I said in the beginning to take a look at the solutions you already provide to customers, turn them into evergreen materials, and test them as minimum viable solutions?

Let’s take a look at Amir Khella’s Keynotopia product.  He turned a solution he created for himself into a super popular product.

It’s an old story at this point – Amir launched Keynotopia back in 2010 and wrote-up the whole thing on his blog – but I can’t think of a better example of how simple it is to use a basic marketing strategy to create something entirely new.

So let’s break down his strategy here and see how it applies to the framework I laid out above:

  • Amir wrote a blog post about a successful solution he used for himself
  • He offers to share the minimum viable solution in exchange for email addresses
  • This allows him to directly ask for feedback on the usefulness of the potential product
  • After collecting the feedback, he published another blog post that explains how he and others have used the solution (case studies) and includes a link to buy a more complete solution

How freaking simple is that?  And six years later, people are still buying the product.

It’s not even a complex marketing strategy.  Granted, Amir already had traffic when he implemented this, but traffic isn’t hard.  If you don’t have people you are regularly talking to, then that’s simply your first step.  There are plenty of articles out there on how to start building an audience but to keep it simple, you need to be able to answer these questions:

Where are your potential customers?  What are they doing?  What are they watching, reading, listening to?

If you know the answer to those questions, traffic is a breeze, because you know where to target them and what kind of mood their in (which informs the tone of your delivery).

 

Conclusion

An old aphorism goes, “If I had 5 minutes to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first 2 and a ½ sharpening my axe.”  That is the essence of why we spend so much time strategizing, and the rest of the time just following the plan.

I just want to make the following crystal clear:

If you go in with a plan, consistently improve along the way, and keep your priorities in sight, you will succeed.

Success might mean finding out your proposed solution isn’t the right fit for your target market…but that just saves you the time and money to go try another solution.

Good luck!

About the Author: Rick Richards is a content creator, idea generator, and creative problem solver. He helps innovators build rock-solid digital content strategies that drive their businesses forward. Explore his work at rickwritesforyou.com or Connect on LinkedIn.

The Ultimate Guide to Customer Relationship Marketing

If you don’t have a plan for customer relationship marketing, you might as well close your business for good because you’re wasting your time.

You might get a sale here and there with your efforts, but you’re sales will flat line pretty quickly without a plan. If you really want to make money, you need to focus on long term repeat customers.

A fraction of repeat customers will account for a majority of your sales. Not only that, they cost less than acquiring new customers and are willing to spend more money on you.

In this guide, I will reveal how to develop a customer relationship marketing plan from start to finish so you can attract loyal fans and create a sustainable business.

 

Planning

To get long term repeat customers, start from the very core of your business. Plan from the ideation phase of your business to attract and wow your initial buyers so they’ll return. Here are four ways to set yourself up for lifelong fans.

1. Defining Your Purpose

It’s not good enough to state your mission statement or list your “core competencies”. The “synergized” business speak of yesteryear not only sounds pretentious, it doesn’t even do a good job of explaining what you do.

Knowing the purpose of your company will guide every future decision you make and permeate through every aspect of your business.

Your purpose tells the world what you’re about and gives a reason for customers to support you. In fact, having the same values as a company is the number one reason why customers feel like they have a relationship with a brand.

Take a look at the company Ten Tree. They promise to plant 10 trees for every product purchased and provide a token you can register to see where your 10 trees are planted.

image-32.jpg

What started out as a small venture for two university students four years ago has now expanded across North America because of their company purpose.

Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to define your purpose

i. What are you personal values?

The founders of Ten Tree were inspired by spending time in nature and wanting to give back to the environment. How do you spend your time? What do you read that makes you feel passionately angry or overly excited? If you ran into a classmate five years from now, what would you want to be able to tell them about your life?

Start writing down your thoughts and see if you can pick out three to five values you would want to live every day.

ii. What are some of your personal values that you can transfer to your business?

For each personal value listed above, think of how this value will be important to long-term business success. Can this value be maintained even if your company has a terrible year of sales? If your company grows, is your value scalable?

iii. How will you communicate your purpose to your customers?

Customers will research you before they buy so you’ll want to establish a no-brainer approach to consistently deliver what you promise. One way to do this is to create a simple table to ensure every part of your business represents your purpose.

Landing Page Website Content Email Campaigns Social Media Sales
Value 1
Value 2
Value 3

2. Keep It Consistent
Consistency plays a huge role in letting customers know what you’re about. By developing a cohesive message across all of your advertising platforms, you’ll build brand awareness that will make you easily identifiable.

Think of when you were driving and didn’t look very hard at the signage, but you knew exactly what store you passed. It’s the same thing with your customers when they are scanning social media.

One company that does consistency extremely well is Lush Cosmetics. Lush is a cosmetics company that brands itself as “fresh handmade cosmetics” made by “happy people making happy soap”.

This message is perfectly displayed in their stores, with all products left unpackaged in their raw form. For products that need containers, a sticker with the face of the employee who packaged the product is displayed.

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Miran Rijavec/Flickr

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The face of an employee on Lush packaging

i. Craft your logo with intention

Your logo will be everywhere, so it should be easily recognizable. To create a great logo, use the DISCO technique:

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If we look at Lush’s logo, it’s simple and clean.

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It also has a distinct font that makes it instantly recognizable among its competitors on social media.

ii. Think of your colors

Colors can be a useful tool for getting a customer to understand the personality of your brand.

In one study done by Lauren Labrecque and George Milne (2011), they provided the same logo (shape and size) in 10 different colors. The study showed that if you want to appear sophisticated, black is your best bet, followed by pink and purple.

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Going for sincerity and reliability? Use yellow, white, and pink.

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If you’re looking to make a bold statement, the study also showed that color saturation plays a key role. A high saturation means you are more ‘rugged’ whereas a lighter saturation is seen as being more sophisticated.

Lush’s logo denotes that the brand is committed to consistently delivering high quality products. The company also integrates the color green, which typically corresponds to earthiness or being environmentally conscious.

iii. Watch the style and tone of your writing

Whether you are writing a blog post, press release, or posting on social media, your voice should allow anyone to become more familiar with your brand and what you’re about. Lush Cosmetics does a fantastic job again crafting an organic, homemade message with their earthy product descriptions and by listing their ingredients:
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Use consistent language to emphasize your unique selling points and to communicate your business purpose.

3. Identify Your Target Customers

If you’re doing branding right, you won’t appeal to everyone. Be the best solution for a smaller group of people who will feel like your business is exactly what they need. This creates customer loyalty which means better profits for you.

To identify your target customer, ask yourself:

What brings my customer pain? And how am I going to solving it?

One example of a company identifying their target customer is Michelob Ultra beer.

Their commercials show young, fit people who are motivated to get up early to exercise before they start work:

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Their pain pain point is wanting to still drink alcohol while maintaining a health conscious lifestyle.

They reward themselves at the end of their work day with a low carb, low calorie beer:

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To determine who your target customer is and how you are helping, answer these questions:

i. Personal Details

  • How old is your customer?
  • What is their gender?
  • What kind of hobbies do they have?
  • What sort of family situation are they in? (willingly single, married, widowed, etc.)
  • How do they spend their free time and money?

ii. Education

  • Does this person enjoy learning?
  • What is their education level?
  • Did your customer gravitate towards a certain subject in school?

iii. Employment

  • What kind of work does your ideal customer do?
  • How many hours do they work?
  • Do they have a large amount of disposable income?

iv. Personality

  • Is your customer introverted or extroverted?
  • Are they a homebody or do they enjoy traveling?
  • What does success/failure mean for them?

4. Know Your Competition

Part of planning is knowing what you’re up against. Competitors can provide valuable insight on how they retain customers, or how they lose them.

i. Check for reviews

See what sort of positive reviews your competitors are getting. Likewise, see if there are any trends in their negative reviews and make it very clear how you mitigate that problem within your company.

Let’s take a look at Frog Box, a reusable moving container company:

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A useful tool is Similar Sites to see competitors you may not have known you had, and Spyfu which lets you see your competitors and the keywords they rank for.

Here you can see Frog Box’s top competitors from Spyfu.com:

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Other useful tools are Yelp, Google reviews, Amazon reviews, Consumer Reports, and Yahoo.

Frog Box consistently gets reviews noting friendly and prompt customer service:

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However, there are a few negative reviews that describe how the boxes are not as clean as expected:

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If you were to start a reusable moving box company, you could see how customer service is paramount to customer satisfaction. You could also differentiate from Frog Box by emphasizing your cleaning process for the reusable boxes.

ii. Check social networks

The number of likes and shares on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media networks are all great indicators of how well your competition is doing with certain types of content.

In an interesting article by Austen Allred, he describes helping a friend brand his handcrafted neckties. They go through the process of getting into the mind of the person who would be attracted to handcrafted ties.

They found that their customers would use hashtags like “craftsmanship” “artisan” and “dapper” in their captions, and pictures giving off a handcrafted vibe received the most likes:

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By researching their competitors’ media strategy, the necktie company sold $4,000 worth of ties in one day.

iii. Interact with your competitor

If you want to know what your competitor is doing, order something from them. It can be quite easy to assess a business by interacting with them as a customer. How easy is it to navigate their website? How is the customer service, order fulfillment, and packaging? Was there any customer satisfaction follow up?

Alternatively, you can call directly and state who you are and what you do. You may be surprised with how open they are to answering questions. We love talking about ourselves and your competitor may be more eager to share information with you than you think.

 

Attracting

Before you have repeat customers, you’ll need to market your company to acquire customers first. To set yourself up for happy customers that will return later on, set up your websites so it attracts your ideal buyers. They’ll feel like your solution is tailor-made for them, and they’ll be much more likely to want to spend money on you down the road.

1. Generate leads through SEO

i. Find the Long Tail

If you haven’t heard of this yet, Jamil Velji describes long tail keywords here. Long tail keywords are easier to rank for when you’re starting out, and you can target your ideal customer. They’ll land on your page and it’ll be like they found the solution that was made EXACTLY for them.

Let’s take an example keyword: the best backpacks.

Now go to the beautifully named KeywordShitter.com and input “the best backpacks”. It’ll spit out hundreds of suggestions for long tail keywords:

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Now you can pick a handful of keywords that you can try to rank for.

Next, open Google Keyword Planner and estimate the traffic level for each long tail keyword.

Google Keyword Planner also gives ad group ideas for like-terms:

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Next, go to SEMrush.com or WebSEOAnalytics.com and look up the difficulty to rank.

The lower the competition for the keyword, the higher your website will rank in Google’s search results.

ii. Optimize On-Page SEO

Google needs to ‘know’ what your website is about so it can show appropriate websites in their search results. To optimize your website, follow this checklist adapted from Austen Allred:

  • Your keyword is in the <title> tag
  • The title tag is less than the viewable limit of 65 characters
  • Your keyword is in the first <h1> tag
  • Your page contains additional header tags (<h2>, etc) with your keyword or synonyms of your keyword
  • All of your images have an <alt> tag that contain your keyword
  • Your keyword is in the meta description
  • Your keyword is in your URL
  • Your keyword appears in the first paragraph of the copy
  • Your keyword or synonym density should be around 1% and 2.5%
  • The page is original content not taken from another page

You’ll be way more likely to be matched with customers who are looking for exactly what you offer if you follow these steps.

2. Create Engaging Content

Now that you’ve done research to reach your ideal customer, make sure your website is easy to read. Here are a few pointers.

i. Add images or video

People are visual creatures and love to share images or video that they find interesting. In fact, brands saw a 65% increase in engagement when Facebook introduced the timeline feature.

Infographics are also effective when displaying information or statistics:

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Image from CMS Wire

Some great tools to help you add your own images and infographics are Canva, and WeVideo for making your own videos.

ii. Respond to comments

Treat your customer’s time with respect. They found you, listened to what you had to offer, so now it’s your turn to listen to them.

If they took the time out of their day to ask a question, compliment you, or even criticise you for something they don’t like, respond and do so in a timely manner. Appreciate that they took time out of their day to interact with you.

iii. Provide a solution

To attract your initial customers, offer something useful that they’ll want.

The premise of this is the foot-in-the-door technique. It’s an old marketing tactic that shows how we love to comply with larger requests once we agree to a smaller request first. The customer will feel like you’ve already given them something of value so they are more likely to reciprocate in the future with larger requests.

An example of this is PinchofYum.com, who offers a free eCookbook with 25 recipes.

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The highly successful site run by solopreneur Lindsay receives over 2 million visitors per year and made over $30,000 in July 2016.

iv. Stop speaking like a robot

Speak to your customers how they want to be spoken to. Depending on the product, it’s probably better to speak in a conversational tone. Don’t overthink it too much – just write like you’re talking to a friend. It builds a rapport with your audience, appears more credible, and easier to understand.

Converting

You’ve done all of the tough up-front work of planning and attracting your prospective customers. Now it’s time to actually convert them into paying customers.

The key here is offer as much value as you can.

1. Engage Customers with Social Media Marketing

You should always put as much effort into marketing as you do into your product. It’s how you will reach your customers and how repeat customers will know your latest promotions.

i. Set goals that are specific, measureable and attainable

It’s useless to say “I will use Instagram to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences”. Think of your social media marketing in terms of actionable and measureable steps. Something like “I will increase my followers by 50 people per week and create my own hashtag contest by ‘x’ date” is much more specific and useful.

If you do this, you’ll have parameters that are easy to track, and have the ability to correct course if need be. Some useful tools to set social media goals are Zapier and Hubspot.

ii. Use good etiquette

It’s great to use hashtags, comments, and likes, but don’t go overboard. It should go without saying to never directly say “check out my page!” but a lot of businesses still do this.

Only comment or like something when it is relevant to your business and customers will respect you more.

iii. Images

If you are using Instagram or Pinterest, or decide to post an image on Facebook or Twitter, be cognisant of your brand (as discussed in the ‘Planning’ section). Your social media should always embody your message in whatever image you post.

For example, where would the people who use your product be seen? Would the image setting be in the street? A park? At work?

Think of the image composition. Would there be a lot of space around them (aka. negative space)? Are they in a hectic city scene?

What actions would your model be doing in the image to convey your brand identity?

Look at Zevia, a zero calorie stevia-sweetened soft drink:

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The images are colorful and they evoke a sense of happiness and lightheartedness. What do you want your brand to portray through images?

iv. Create your own hashtag or social media competition

Customers are much more likely to interact with you if they get recognized themselves.

Cheerios is a great example of this with their Bring Back The Bees campaign. By offering to send out packets of wildflower seeds upon request, they far exceeded their goal of 35 million packets and ended up sending 115 million instead. The success of the campaign was lead by customers posting pictures of the flowers they grew and using the hashtag #bringbackthebees:

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Branding a movement will make your business memorable and encourage social media followers to develop a relationship with your business.

v. Create an editorial calendar

Having a consistent posting schedule keeps your brand relevant in the eyes of the customer without spamming their news feeds. Create a calendar like a mini storyboard:

  • Are there any promotions coming up? If so, create some hype around it with behind-the-scenes images
  • How often will you post?
  • What time of day does your customer typically spend time on social media?
  • How and where will you promote and cross-promote your content?

vi. Use influencers

Depending on your business, reach out to social media users with large followings to act as ambassadors. Of course, pick an influencer that consistently lives the message of what your business represents.

Nutrabolics, a health and fitness supplements company, does a good job of this. They find people competing in bodybuilding competitions on Instagram and send them their products for review.

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As a result of their ambassador program, Nutrabolics has greatly expanded their market share across North America.

2. Email Marketing

Social media is a fantastic tool to market to your customers, but email still reigns supreme in converting customers according to a study by SocialTwist.

They looked at 119 social referral campaigns ran over an 18 month period for brands like Barnes & Noble and Unilever. In every campaign, the customers were invited to share information such as special offers to friends and family through social media and email.

Of the 3.2 million people included in the campaigns, 600,000 became influencers who shared material and 300,000 became customers.

The interesting part of this study is that out of the 300,000 new customers, more than 50% were swayed by email. In comparison, Facebook had a conversion rate of 22% and Twitter, 26%.

Email is still King of the Internet Jungle so here are some tips for your future marketing campaign.

i. Email at the right time of day

When you send emails greatly affects the click through rates of customers.

If you are dealing with business-to-business (B2B) customers, the majority open their emails between 11am-2pm.

The best day to send an email to B2B customers is on Thursday. This is because Tuesdays are busy with clearing backlogged work and Wednesdays are the day where B2B customers tie up any loose ends. Weekends are not a good choice because this is considered leisure time where emails are not checked as frequently, and Monday mornings are never a good idea because of the many emails waiting for folks when they return to work.

For Business to Customer (B2C), the same holds true that Thursday is the best day of the week to send marketing emails. However, customers are more likely to check their emails after 12pm, with the peak hours falling between 2pm-5pm. Thursdays are also ideal because customers are starting to plan for the weekend.

Demographics also play a huge role in the timing of marketing emails. If you are targeting college age consumers, the peak time to check email is 12pm. Conversely, those over 40  are likely to be checking their emails around 10am.

Mobile users have a similar click through rate as desktop user, however, those on mobile devices are more likely to open their email between the times of 8pm-11:59pm.

ii. Don’t forget mobile users

Interestingly, around 54% of the population checks emails on their phone, yet a whopping 91% of small businesses are not optimized for mobile. This is an unfortunate lost customer marketing opportunity because they have a higher click through rate of around 4% compared to 2% for desktop users.

Here are some quick tips to make sure your emails look great on mobile:

  • Have a one column template so it’s easy for mobile users to scroll
  • Increase the font size
  • Your call to action should be immediately obvious
  • Think of the hand position of your readers when they’re on their phone. Most are right handed, so they’ll be scrolling with their right thumb. Make sure any links are close to the right side of the screen.

iii. Give something away

With an already cluttered inbox, it’s even more difficult to get a customer to open what you send. So how do you get a customer to open your email? Offer free stuff.

One test done by Bluewire Media showed that offering a free eBook increased their conversions from 10% to 33%. When they offered expert interviews, their click through rate was a respectably high 7%. The key takeaway from this is to offer something useful.

Still have questions about email marketing? Christopher Meier’s article will take you through the steps.

3. A Clear Call-To-Action

On your website, have a call-to-action (CTA) where customers are compelled to take immediate action. This can be signing for updates, downloading a special offer, or buying your product.

A good CTA makes your customer excited to know more about you and what you offer. A CTA should be:

  • Clear and concise so the customer knows exactly what they’ll get (e.g., click here to download a PDF)
  • A completely different color from the rest of your copy
  • Large and easy to see
  • Followed by a thank you page

A great example of this is MailChimp:

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They make it clear that you’re joining a brand trusted by another 12 million users, and the sign up is free.

4. Other Customer Converting Methods

i. Set up a loyalty program that rewards repeat purchases.

This can be a points program, discounts on future purchases, or exclusive offers.

Not only do loyalty programs increase your repeat customer rate, but those customers are also way less likely to buy from your competitors. A study by ZenDesk showed that 69% of people will buy from you again with a loyalty program.

ii. Set up a referral program

People love being part of a group. Creating a referral program taps into this need to be part of a tribe. If you do so, 78% will spread the word for you without you even asking.

Delighting

Delighting a customer will make them far more likely to buy from you in the future. Conversely, if there’s a misstep here, there’s an 86% chance they’ll switch to your competitor for their next purchase.

To offer spectacular customer service, here’s a step by step mini guide for good customer service.

i. Communicate, communicate, communicate

When you’re starting to craft your customer relationship marketing plan, it’s easy to get lost in your own head thinking everything is clear and there can’t possibly be room for interpretation.

Get a friend to ask questions and grill you on your business. It is likely you’ll discover concerns you haven’t thought of.

Also, respond to questions and concerns promptly. Quick responses have shown to increase revenues. In one study done by Twitter, customers were willing to spend an extra $20 with an airline if they were responded to within 6 minutes.

ii. Do what you’ll say you do

If you say you’ll respond within 24 hours, or deliver by a certain date, do it. If there is extenuating circumstances where your promise can’t be met, let your customer know before the deadline has passed.

Never, ever let it get to the point of having a customer track you down to see what the status is. You will lose consumer confidence and never get it back. In fact, 82% of consumers stopped doing business with a company due to bad customer service.

iii. Use positive language

Offering the same product or service in a positive light is very powerful tool. We’ve evolved to react positively towards positively framed scenarios and are much more likely to buy something if there is a perceived added benefit to us.

A basic example would be giving two people $30. Person 1 gets $10, but you give them an extra $20 for a total of $30. Person 2 starts with $50 but you take $20 away.

Guess which person would be happier?

When there is certainty that we have something to gain, the decision to move forward is easy for us.

iv. Close the call

You should be able to end a conversation with a customer confirming that they are satisfied. Your customer should feel like their questions or concerns have been acknowledged and taken care of.

If you do this, it’ll show that you care about getting it right and you’re willing to find a solution to their problem. When this happens, they are much more likely to become repeat customers and cheerleaders for your business.

This is why Amazon has been so successful.

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They are quick to offer refunds if a customer isn’t satisfied and even provide a shipping label for ease of returns. No wonder their Amazon Prime renewal rate was 95%.

iv. Record every interaction

This might seem like a bit much, but you should keep a record of every interaction you have – whether it’s jotting down notes or a recording a conversation. If you see a trend in questions and concerns, it’s much easier to integrate that sort of information up front down the road.

Buffer does a great job of this.

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They have a team of “happiness heros” who make it their priority to excel in customer service. Buffer knows that it’s 6-7 times more expensive to attract new customers and 8% of repeat customers are 40% of total sales.

Measuring

You’ve made it this far – you’ve planned, attracted, and converted your visitors into customers. You’ve put all the safeguards in place to delight your customers, but how can you know for sure they’re happy?

Measuring customer satisfaction is a great tool to show how you’re really doing in the eyes of the people buying from you. Here are some ideas to measure how likely they will be a lifelong, repeat customer.

1. Customer Follow Up Surveys

The survey is a common approach to collect data on customer happiness. It consists of asking your customers how satisfied they are, and could contain follow up questions.

i. In-App surveys

One great type of survey is the In-App survey. It’s usually only one or 2 questions on your website, and you will receive the most responses this way. Survey Monkey is an easy tool to use for this.

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ii. Email surveys

To get a more in-depth view of how happy your customer is with your business, use email surveys. The response rate isn’t very high (10-15% according to SurveyGizmo) but they do allow your customers time to think and write responses that can be truly helpful. Google Forms is a great tool for email surveys.

2. Social Media Monitoring

Social media can have a huge impact on how your business is perceived. Whether you offer great service, or someone feels like you’ve done them wrong, it’s being shared across the internet and you need to monitor it.

Remember this guy and his song about United Airlines breaking his guitar?

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The unresponsiveness of United that prompted this song caused their stock to plummet 10%, corresponding to $180 million in losses.

It’s not just for damage control, though. If customers are satisfied, they will advertise for you too so it would be great to get on social media and respond with appreciation.

Concluding Remarks

While you’ll need to acquire customers first before you can hope for returning customers, repeat customers should be your main end goal. They are your best source of reliable income, are lower maintenance, and your biggest champions. The 5 steps (Planning, Attracting, Converting, Delighting, and Measuring) to customer relationship marketing will be sure to please your customers and turn them into loyal fans.

About the Author: Sacha Doucet is a freelance writer who is passionate about helping businesses connect to their customer base. When not helping businesses connect with customers, she gives actionable steps to increase profits and reduce unnecessary spending.