Tips for Embracing Green Marketing in Your Small Business
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Archive for April, 2013

Tips for Embracing Green Marketing in Your Small Business

Posted on: April 26, 2013 by in Business Building
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Green Marketing can be a practical way to capture the fancy of environmentally conscious consumers. This is not just a sensible way to conserve our precious natural resources, but it has developed into a hot political and social topic in our communities. The most obvious reason to embrace Green marketing is to manage our available resources with an eye toward good stewardship. Having said that, you would be smart to keep your business’s public image in mind as well, for the image it projects is often a deciding factor for many people nowadays. Many will opt for an eco-friendly choice over another company that doesn’t practice Green marketing on principle alone.

How can you attract socially conscious consumers?

Don’t be shy about advertising that your company is adopting a green marketing initiative. Using the media is an important way for many companies to emphasize their green practices, while boosting their public images and generating positive reputation. As per a report by D S Simon Productions, “media initiatives with a corporate social responsibility focus generates 35-50% more positive media coverage on television, radio, web and social media than comparable programs without the CSR hook”. See about developing “green teams” in your company that can get employees fired up to do their part as well. This can help brand your business as one that really cares about conservation and green marketing. Seek out organizations like EarthShare to help with this.

How Arya Cleaners parlayed their green initiative into brand awareness

Arya Cleaners, a dry cleaner in Chula Vista CA, went all in for green marketing and it paid off handsomely. Replacing their natural gas burning water heaters with a new technology that transfers heat from the boiler to their commercial laundry machines, replacing their company vehicle with a fuel efficient clean burning delivery van, and also by using wet-cleaning technology that reduced their use of PERC (perchloroethylene), a harmful chemical solvent used by dry cleaners, by 90%, are a few of the steps they took.

These changes contributed to Arya Cleaners being named a CoolCalifornia.org Small Business Excellence Award Winner, being a Certified Chula Vista Clean Business, and getting the Mayor’s award for excellence in 2009 for green friendly business practices. Arya has clearly succeeded in branding themselves as being an eco-friendly business. The methods are different for each industry, but the results can be well worth the effort!

 

No email newsletter? You’re missing out!

Posted on: April 24, 2013 by in Business Building
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To many people, the e-newsletter may seem like a relic of a bygone era, a period when we used painfully slow dial-up Internet services like AOL and “surfed” the net using Netscape. Despite becoming a little long in the tooth (in Internet years), the e-newsletter is still an exceptionally powerful marketing tool your business shouldn’t ignore. E-newsletters remain an incredible medium for engaging customers, building authority and driving sales. The Direct Marketing Association says that every $1 spent on email marketing creates $40 in revenue. Aweber tells us that 77 percent of small business owners report that email helps them increase revenue.

Not your grandmother’s e-newsletters anymore!

Don’t be buffaloed into believing that your e-newsletter must be as bland and un-sexy as those you’ve made the mistake of opting in for. Here are some eye-catching examples of e-newsletters that rock! Also, ensuring that you’re not just selling, but engaging your audience with useful, compelling content. Kayak, for example, isn’t just about telling you about the latest travel deals, but rather getting you salivating on the thought of travel and fun. Additionally, they go out of the way to engage their readers.

Quick tips for an engaging e-newsletter

Here are some tips for writing an E-newsletter that will get opened and acted upon!

  • Talk as if you’re talking to a friend – Customers respond to a friendly tone, and are far more likely to engage.
  • Encourage communication – Give them every chance to respond and specifically ask for it!
  • Be specific and don’t ramble – Keep on topic, and don’t be boring!
  • Offer useful content – More than anything, offer content that’s fresh, useful and that resonates with your list.
  • Hit emotional hot buttons – Stirring up emotion makes your writing come to life, and will frequently promote more reader engagement.

Don’t let this golden opportunity to reach your list in a more meaningful way slip by. Create an e-newsletter today!

 

Take Control of Your Online Reputation Management

Posted on: April 20, 2013 by in Business Building
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Spend any time thinking about your online reputation management? That’s what I thought! According to a study by Erik Qualman of Socialnomics.com nearly three-quarters of consumers report they trust the information provided by online reviews. Also some 80 percent have changed their mind about purchasing a product after reading only one negative review online, and more than 84 percent reveal the fact that they see online reviews as being a trusted source of information.

You must take negative reviews seriously and take measures to counter the damaging effects!

Let’s take a look at five proven methods to do that.

  1. Look at your search engine results monthly – Monitor your company’s name in Google at a minimum of once per month. Use Google Alerts or mention.net to notify you when there is any activity involving your company name or important keywords. Also, look beyond the first page of the search results; negative entries can gain traction and end up on the first page tomorrow.
  2. Respond to negative content promptly – Make an effort to contact the origin of the negative content as soon as possible, especially if they are a disappointed customer. Be polite, helpful, and seek to address their concerns in a positive manner. DO NOT get into a flaming match with them. You will end up the loser every time!
  3. Use your company’s name in your page optimization – Be sure your pages and other content are using your company’s name in keywords, tags, URLS, and titles. The more pages you own that bear your company’s name, the better the chance Google will view your site as the authority for this keyword (your company name) and give you higher rankings. Also, most negative content will most likely not have done any SEO.
  4. Create more content channels with your brand – You can use free blogs like WordPress.com, Blogger.com or even subdomains of your own site for this, along with your social channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and Google , will help keep your company name prominent. Post fresh content to these channels as well, so they maintain their search positions.
  5. Ask for reviews – Your very best choice for an effective online reputation management tool is to ask your best customers for reviews. Don’t be pushy, but encourage and even reward reviews. This is also your best method to obtain social proof!

Follow these tips to preserve your good name! Trust us…you’ll be glad you did.

Facebook Ads – The Image is the Thing!

Posted on: April 16, 2013 by in Business Building
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Utilizing Facebook ads generally is one of the most expedient and effective ad platforms for obtaining visitors to your sites, offers, and for various other purposes for your website. A Facebook Ad campaign is a snap to put together, has great demographic targeting tools, and can be up in minutes. One thing to understand is that the answer to having the best results and return on investment (ROI) is via the use of the most relevant and effective images available. It’s been shown that imagery is 70-89 percent of the success or failure of a Facebook ad campaign. Let’s examine some useful tips to get the most from your Facebook ad images.

5 Great Image Tips for Facebook Ads

Creating an ad that makes a real impact and statement for your product or services is a matter of standing out from the rest. Listed below are five ways to do just that!

  1. Use high quality stock images – Since your images are going to end up very small, make certain you’re purchasing from a reputable resource. Fotolia and iStockPhoto are two of our most favorite. The XS size of available images is going to be fine, as even these are cut down to the size of a postage stamp (110×80 pixels).
  2. Crop your photos to deliver maximum impact – Crop your photos tightly to focus on the most important aspect of your ad. Cropping faces from the eyes to mouth is the most impactful technique for riveting people images. Also, make sure that your model’s eyes have life. When utilizing product images, get close!
  3. Employ eye-catching colors – Using bright, visually arresting pics can do wonders for your clickthrough rates. Too many people opt to blend in with the pervasive Facebook blue, and therefore consign their ads to a form of “banner blindness”.
  4. Choose the most attractive images you can find! – Unless you are going for a certain statement, select the most attractive photos you can get. People are attracted to beauty. Period. This is not to say that sometimes beauty can’t be trumped by cute, funny or outrageous.
  5. Employ humor if you can – Everyone loves a good laugh. If you have the opportunity to inject a giggle into your ad, don’t pass it up! This will definitely result in a higher clickthrough rate!

For some great illustrations of these ad-image principles in action, check out this great article at Search Engine Watch.

The Pros and Cons of Developing a Mobile App

Posted on: April 13, 2013 by in Business Building
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Mobile site or mobile app? That’s the real question. Do you need one or the other, or both? Understanding your businesses’ needs will go a long way toward helping you decide if you should invest the time and money needed to develop and put into play a mobile app for your small business. Does a mobile app make sense for your company? What are the costs, both in developing one and in maintaining one? Have you got someone capable of updating it? You will need the answers to these and many other questions before you can really come up with a wise choice. Let’s take a peek at a few of the pros and cons.

Developing a Mobile App: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • More than 50 percent of adult Americans use smartphone technology
  • Enables you to brand your products and services more easily
  • A great tool for increasing customer loyalty and retention
  • Users spend more time on apps
  • Mobile apps usually load faster than mobile sites
  • Mobile apps are available offline, though users will have to login to perform any actions, such as purchases

Cons:

  • A mobile app has to be made for each platform, iPhone, Android, Windows, or any other platform
  • Mobile apps need constant maintenance, in terms of fresh content along with technology updates
  • Not as simple to optimize as a mobile website
  • Mobile ads could very well serve the purpose
  • Can be wildly expensive! While there are some Do It Yourself solutions, they are minimal in functionality and difficult to update.

We all know there are as many uses for an app than you could ever imagine, however some are superior to others. Here is an example of how apps were developed in the health care market. Making sure your app is useful and not a mere novelty goes a long way toward helping you make your choice. While it’s pretty much a given that you need a mobile version of your website, the question of whether or not you should shell out what could be big bucks for an app is one you need to look at thoroughly. Take your time to weigh the pros and cons for your business before you leap into building a mobile app!

Top Social Media Tips – How to Engage with Ease!

Posted on: April 9, 2013 by in Business Building
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Long, long ago in an internet far away (roughly a year ago) it was relatively simple to rank your site’s pages in the search engine results. All you had to do was optimize your pages, have great, original content, and to collect a vast number of backlinks .

Ahh, the good ‘ol days.

Google, in their quest to create a more relevant, social selection of search results, has made the game somewhat more elaborate. In addition to being sure we are still performing most if not all of the aforementioned named tasks, social signals now are playing a vital part in the Google search results algorithm, the formula designed to determine where our pages rank in the search stratosphere.

What in the name of Twitter are we supposed to do?

So how do we do this without tearing out all of our hair? Listed below are three easy ways you can quickly increase customer engagement, expand your audience, and boost word of mouth concerning your business.

  1. Utilize visual media – Anyway you slice it, most of us now would rather watch rather than read. Regardless of whether we are driven to this by a lack of time or the fact that it’s simply easier, that is the state of the world nowadays. Backing that up, Facebook reports that photos and videos attract 53 percent more likes than text alone.
  2. Do it later in the day – Customer engagement by way of likes, shares and follows, are occurring later in the day, based on this infographic. (See, you wanted to check it out, didn’t ya!)
  3. Be quick to reply – Getting folks to respond to you is difficult enough: don’t leave them hanging! Make sure you develop the practice of responding to comments, tweets and status updates at the earliest opportunity. You’re trying to engage, not find a way avoid this!

Don’t be like Freddie!

Professional golfer Freddie Couples was asked once why he never answers the phone. His reply was, “there might be someone on the other end.” Don’t be like Freddie! Engage with your followers!

Content Marketing: What It Is and Why You Need It!

Posted on: April 5, 2013 by in Business Building
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The buzz for 2013 has centered on the necessity for content marketing to be a vital aspect in your online marketing efforts moving forward. This could be a term you’ve heard yet not understand specifically just what it means. Content marketing is the practice of creating, collecting, and publishing fresh content for your visitors. This manifests in a variety of forms, from seemingly simple blog posts, to articles, reports, whitepapers, videos, audio podcasts, ebooks, and more. We live in a world that craves information, and the more of it you can give visitors to your sites, the more authority you will earn in not just their eyes, but also the search engines . They can then reward you with higher rankings, more traffic, links, and sales.

Content marketing is getting ever more popular!

According to BusinessBolts.com, this year some 74 percent of businesses intend to do an increased level of content marketing. Only 4 percent are not. Many reasons exist for this, including cost-effectiveness, near-instant results and control over the medium. With content marketing you can shape your message, control the flow, and utilize a variety of mediums to get your content to your market. For example, an article or blog post can be written, posted on your site, excerpted in social media, made into a video or audio and social bookmarked across the web. Repurposing your content for various platforms is the order of the day. In addition, this can happen often, and an entire content marketing campaign can be realized quite swiftly.

A real-world example of how content marketing can rock your sales

The New York Times recently profiled a Northern Virginia company, River Pools and Spas, that was watching as their sales tanked because of the housing recession of 2008. Orders shrank from six per month ($50,000 a pop) to less than two. What had been a $250,000 yearly spend on radio, TV and pay per click advertising, was now out of the question. Instead, owner Marcus Sheridan went on an ambitious content marketing campaign consisting of blog posts and videos, and in just a short time had not only recovered but exceeded pre-recession levels. In fact, Sheridan attributes nearly $2 million in sales to a SINGLE article he wrote on how much a fiberglass pool should cost!

Content marketing can and should be a major piece of your online marketing strategy for 2013. The great thing is that it’s all within your control!

Does Your Email Look Grim on Mobile Devices?

Posted on: April 2, 2013 by in Business Building
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It’s hard enough to make sure your email marketing messages make it through without making the task more onerous. Making certain you are optimizing your marketing emails can be the difference in success or failure in your campaigns, particularly as mobile email open rates are growing rapidly.

Mobile email open rates are on fire!

According to a study by Knotice.com, mobile opens accounted for 36 percent of all email opens in early 2012. Also, it’s by far (by 74 percent!) the preferred method of communication by online adults. And it’s not simply phones on one platform either. ReturnPath reports that iPhones make up 59 percent of the open rate share, iPads 26 percent, Androids 14 percent and Windows phones and devices under 1 percent. The takeaway here is that it’s not just phones, and not necessarily out and about.

Here are a few tips for optimizing your emails for mobile

So just how can you go about optimizing your marketing emails? Not to fear, we won’t leave you in the lurch! Here are some must-do tips that help make sure your messaging appears the way you’ve intended it to!

  • Keep your messages short. People, especially on mobile devices, have a short attention span. Create punchy, enticing subject lines and material that keeps your reader engaged.
  • Keep image files small, as large files take significantly longer to load, you don’t want people leaving before they even get a chance to see what you’ve got!
  • Try for a font size of at least 14. Something smaller may just be automatically changed, and mess with the way you’ve laid out your formatting.
  • Make sure any calls to action are adequately sized for easy tapping. The average adult fingertip measures around 45 pixels, so keep that in mind.
  • Test your emails on various platforms before sending them out. Better safe than sorry!

Optimizing your emails isn’t an option if you’re hoping to win with email. You must get on this today, as you can be sure your competitors will!