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Archive for May, 2013

What to Make of Facebook Graph Search?

Posted on: May 28, 2013 by in Business Building
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The latest in a never-ending stream of Facebook rollouts is now here, and it’s called Facebook Graph Search. This is Facebook’s newest entry in the search game, and it appears as if they’ve really found a new and different vein. Still in Beta, Facebook Graph Search might not yet be accessible for you, (still only available in the US, and there’s a waiting list) but it is scheduled to rollout this summer. And so now is the time to begin to understand how this could help your business.

Facebook Graph search – What is it?

Facebook Graph Search is a search model where Facebook moves their search results from a model based on keywords, to one where it can use arguably its most valuable asset, the social data of all its users. You will see results based upon what your social spheres like, and view. For example, your search will bring back people who share your interests, websites, photos and videos they’ve liked or visited, as well as other connections you may share. These results are unique to you, since they are based solely off yours and your friend’s interests.

How can you use Graph search in your marketing?

One of the key takeaways people seem to be gleaning from the launch of Graph Search is it will go a long way towards removing pages which are attempting to game the system. Fake Likes and fans coming from strange locations outside of your common spheres, are often viewed with some skepticism. So say goodbye to the “I will get you 30,000 Facebook Likes” industry, where often people found all sorts of new friends and fans from Bangladesh!

Rather, this appears that it will greatly benefit businesses making a real attempt at engaging with social media. Some ways you can be ready for Facebook Graph Search are to:

  • Make sure your Facebook page profile is completely filled out with your information, so that users can locate and contact you.
  • Engage, engage, engage. Promote interaction
  • Go sift through what you’ve posted online, especially on Facebook itself, as your info will now be more available than ever! Delete any humiliating items before they come back to bite your business you know where!

Smart Business These Days is Embracing Design!

Posted on: May 25, 2013 by in Business Building
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Smart Business These Days is Embracing Design!

So you don’t feel design plays a part in first impressions? Guess again! A study by researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2012 revealed that it takes two-tenths of a second to form a first impression, give or take a nanosecond. This makes it ever more important, as the ability to obtain good design is growing, to make sure that we are doing all we can to acquire that favorable attention. This really is important for small business, as a poor design can often lead to trust issues, an important factor for smaller businesses working to build their brand.

How can we promote good design?

The first thing to do is to give this some thought. The competition has. Possessing a plan for presenting your brand and products to the world is largely accomplished by a carefully thought-out plan. Another critical finding in that study was that your logo gets the most attention, followed closely by images and social interaction. The visual elements matter a tremendous amount! So now that we have an understanding, there are basically no excuses left, as now cost is not any longer a viable excuse for getting good design work done. The advent of crowdsourcing sites like 99Designs, CrowdSpring and others have made what was once prohibitively expensive for small business, a very affordable item.

How can you expect to benefit?

The advantages of good design are more abundant and quite often less obvious than you may think at first. While a killer look for your website and graphics is a no-brainer, other elements like product packaging, advertising, and even infographics are being shared, Pinned and ReTweeted from your pages. This will have a massive effect on your site’s reach, and client base. Moreover, the good feelings that an exceptional design impart may be intangible, but not when you see your site’s traffic increase because of it! Have a cold hard look at your design elements today!

Top 10 Tips for Higher Email Open Rates

Posted on: May 21, 2013 by in Business Building
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Top 10 Tips for Higher Email Open Rates

Are your email open rates a source of embarrassment? Acting to increase them is a lot easier to accomplish than you might think. According to Epsilon.com, email open rates sport an industry average of around 27.4 percent, with wide variations for markets. Knowing your email open rates and ways to improve them should be high on your to-do list!

Toward that end, here are 10 top tips for improving your email open rates.

  1. Create something worth reading - No doubt, the most effective way to get your email opened is to write something your email list can’t wait to get more of.
  2. Don’t’ write War and Peace - No one has enough time in their day, and long emails that meander and don’t deliver on the promise are one way to keep them from opening again. Also, you’ll want to employ optimum sending times.
  3. Build great subject lines - This is actually the most significant factor in whether or not your email gets opened. Take time to write great subject lines.
  4. Use your first line effectively - Closely connected is the first line, part of which is visible in their inbox. This as well is valuable real estate, and don’t permit yours to be populated with things like “if you don’t see any images in this message.”
  5. Address their needs and concerns – Solve problems and offer solutions.
  6. Offer great deals and savings - Everyone loves to save a little and your email is a fantastic platform to pass on any deals or specials your business is offering.
  7. Teach - Presumably they are reading your email and or newsletter because they are interested in learning something from you. Don’t disappoint!
  8. Be entertaining - Don’t be StatMan. Don’t be afraid to inject humor, wit, and a bit of debate on occasion.
  9. Make your “From” line recognizable - Having your company name or the person who is branded as the sender imparts trust.
  10. Be sure and resend your unopened email - Super easy to do, resending your unopened email is a simple way to improve your open rates.

The Awesome Power of Video Marketing

Posted on: May 18, 2013 by in Business Building
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Quite often, the biggest challenge we’ll ever face in online marketing is extending the reach we have. One of the fastest and easiest ways to do that in 2013 is by using the immense power of video marketing.

The evidence is staggering: online video has become inextricably woven into the fabric of our daily lives. According to Nielsen, YouTube attracts more than 136 million unique viewers per month. Another very recent accounting done by comScore shows that in November 2012 alone the average viewer enjoyed 1,182 minutes of online video! That’s a lot of watching.

So what are some of the benefits of video marketing?

There are many, but let’s just focus on a the top five:

  1. Improve your search engine presence. Ranking videos high on YouTube and Google is significantly easier than ranking web pages. According to one calculation from a Forrester Research analyst, you have a 50x better chance of ranking video content (versus text content) on page one of Google!
  2. Increase your reach. Having your videos on platforms where millions congregate will help spread the word about your business quickly. According to Facebook, posts that incorporate a photo or video generate 120 percent more engagement than the average post!
  3. Improve your branding, trust and online authority. Simply putting a face to the name can lend authority to your business. According to a CMI survey, 46 percent of people say they are more likely to seek information about a company, product or service after seeing a video about it.
  4. Generate traffic and help with lead generation. A video that becomes popular can result in a great deal of new visitors and business.
  5. Catch a wave. You can respond to market events and news incredibly quickly (sometimes the same day) and reap the search benefits of first responders.

An example of how video marketing can make a difference

BlendTec, a Utah based company that sells commercial blenders, spent $50 on five videos, using the hook, “Will it blend?” Their videos showed them blending everything from iPhones to marbles.

These, short low-budget videos generated more than 35 million views, which helped sales grow from $2 million to $10 million in two years. Not bad for a $50 investment!

It’s no surprise, then, that 22 percent of U.S. small businesses plan on using video in the next 12 months to promote their business!* (Source: BIA/Kelsey)

Do You Make These 5 Common Social Media Mistakes?

Posted on: May 14, 2013 by in Business Building
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Social media marketing for your small business is tough enough without shooting yourself in the foot. Self-induced social faux pas are easy to commit, and hard to get over. Social media is not only important to include, but crucial to get right! While some 74 percent of brand marketers saw a rise in website traffic after investing just 6 hours per week on social media, in contrast to another 83 percent have abandoned a purchase after a bad or non-existent customer service incident. (Creotivo.com)

So to help you fend off the mistakes that may be looming in your social media marketing, here are five social media mistakes you need to avoid!

  1. Not engaging with your audience - Make sure you are actively engaging your social media audience. Seek advice, conduct polls, share funny stories (hopefully somewhat relevant) and ask their thoughts: they’ll gladly give them, and you’ll be far wiser and nearer to your goals in several ways.
  2. Boring, unexciting content - If you can’t build up any excitement about your brand, you won’t get other people to, either. Impart passion for your brand, enthusiasm about what you’re doing, and you’ll find this can be contagious. Generating a buzz about your business starts off with you!
  3. Constant promotion - No one wants to be constantly pitched to, and there is no place this is more true than in social media. Once you’ve developed a relationship and trust, it’s going to be much easier to insert the sporadic (soft) selling message.
  4. Not responding to customers - Sometimes companies are so pre-occupied either touting themselves or their products, they completely ignore or miss customers and prospects posting their concerns, questions or complaints on these very platforms! What goodwill or brand awareness you have can be destroyed very quickly by ignoring your customer service opportunities!
  5. No plan for social media - Not having a strategy for your social media marketing is practically asking for it to fail. You need to understand why you’re doing, and which platforms are ideal for you. (Not all are!)

We would be remiss if we didn’t share a link to a glaring example of what NOT to do! After the recent Boston marathon bombing, the food site Epicurious sent out a couple of unfortunate tweets.

How to Effectively Use SMS Marketing in Your Local Business

Posted on: May 11, 2013 by in Business Building
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Who could have believed text messaging, which was generally the land of the pre-teens, would morph into anything as useful and powerful as SMS marketing? In a very short time, SMS (simple message service) has shown as being a proven substitute for email marketing. Developing increasingly more popularity, it’s not easy to find anybody who is not using text messages in one way or another.

Why you need to give SMS marketing a long look

Without a doubt, the main reason marketers are giving SMS a chance is due to how folks are responding to texts. According to CallFire SMS text messages boast a 98 percent open rate as well as an eye-popping 83 percent are opened in the first three minutes of receiving them! What’s more, marketing promotions using text messages are being redeemed at 20 percent or higher, in contrast to traditional media such as coupons, newspaper ads, radio, or direct mail, that average redemption rates of a paltry two percent. CallFire also says that your ROI (return on investment) can be far greater than in traditional media. For example, a campaign with a monthly cost of less than $30 to send 1000 text messages, and redemption rates of 20 percent or more, works out to be less than .30 cents per customer acquisition. Not bad.

4 Tips for successful SMS marketing campaigns

  1. Deliver value – Whatever you’re texting them about, make it worth their time! Deliver value, financial or otherwise, with your message.
  2. Keep messages short and personal – This medium is dependant on trust and familiarity, so do your best to enhance that by personalizing your texts and keeping them short and to the point. Even marketing messages could have a friendly tone. A note like, “Hi Mark, Thank you for your business! We look forward to serving you again soon. Show this msg to receive 20% off your next purchase at [STORE NAME & PHONE NUMBER].”
  3. Include a call to action – You should definitely ask for the action you would like them to take. Saying something similar to “Text SaveNow to 123456 to get a 10% off coupon today” will set their mind to action mode.
  4. Track your results – SMS rocks! on the subject of measuring metrics. There are a number of things you can monitor on your campaigns, from click tracking to who opened what. So be sure to track and measure your results, to effectively plan the next campaign!

Give Daily Deal Sites Another Look

Posted on: May 9, 2013 by in Business Building
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You’d believe from all the hate that’s been written about daily deal sites, and how they are all history as a means to market your small business, we wouldn’t like them either. You’d be wrong. There’s an awful lot that goes into making daily deal sites enhance your local business, and a few well-publicized failures, shouldn’t be the reason to stop the daily deal model. As a matter of fact, when you look closely, the lion’s share of these “failures” had a whole lot in common, particularly a glaring misunderstanding of exactly how to run a daily deal promotion, poor negotiation of their deals, and not keeping track of their customers redemption and spending. Given that they had epic fails in these areas, is it any wonder they failed?

But why all the hate mail?

The well-publicized financial and structural changes Groupon and LivingSocial have been going through are often cited reasons for dislike. The press is only too quick to point out the unfavorable aspects of some daily deal sites. They typical point out things like spam complaints, a crowded marketplace of daily deals to choose from, “deal hoppers”, customers who hop from deal to deal and seldom become a regular customer.

3 Ways for you to help make Daily Deals work for your business

  • Know just how the money works! – You must know how the numbers work in your deal. Determine what your average sale is and don’t try to exceed it with a daily deal. Also, make sure you negotiate credit card processing fees, as many of the daily deal sites will pick these up.
  • Follow up with your new customers! – As many as 60-75 percent of these daily deal customers are trying you out for the first time, so it’s extremely important to have a plan to coax them back for a return engagement! Offer another coupon, or other incentives to ensure that you see them again!
  • Don’t go too big, too quickly – Start conservatively, so that you can learn the basics and not be overloaded by the deals, and leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.

Daily deal sites aren’t dead, you simply need to learn how to best use them for your small business.

Use These Marketing Automation Tools to Free Up Time and Money

Posted on: May 4, 2013 by in Business Building
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When marketing your company online is truly looked at and laid bare, it’s tough to ignore the mountain of tasks that face you and your staff every single day. Feelings of being overloaded and the uncomfortable suspicion that you’re forgetting something are always present. Every one of us face this. Online marketing is monstrously complex beast, and to tame it you have to employ some varieties of marketing automation to handle the amount of moving parts that marketing in multiple channels necessitates. Not doing so is practically choosing not to compete. Let’s check out some ways we can apply marketing automation.

Cool tools for marketing automation

While you will find a slew of tools available, from complete solutions which cover your small business from A to Z (fairly expensive) we’re going to concentrate here on some you can piecemeal together that can help in a measurable way.

Email autoresponder company – This is very likely the most vital piece to automate, for if you’re not utilizing an autoresponder to take care of your email marketing, you might as well not be doing it at all. Loading up your autoresponder with personalized content and marketing emails provides your customers and prospects the sense that they are being well taken care of. You will find many great email autoresponder companies out there, but some of the best are AWeber, GetResponse, iContact, and MailChimp.

Social Media – Tracking and running social media campaigns is often a logistical nightmare if you’re not using some sort of tool. There are plenty of good ones out there that allow you to keep track of and post to your social platforms. Check out HootSuite, TweetDeck and Buffer.

Automate all of the tasks you can! – The advent of tools like IFTTT and Zapier are making many marketers lives easier! These tools, while similar in design, each focus on automating tasks between two or more different services that you presently use. A true virtual assistant!

Be mindful that you’re not automating too many aspects, especially customer service. A few things require your touch, and this is one. Do yourself and your business a favor and check into automating at least some of your online business today!

Spring Cleaning Applies to Websites, Too!

Posted on: May 2, 2013 by in Business Building
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It’s that time of the year, when all of us get around to doing a bit of spring cleaning, this also ought to apply to your small business website, also. It’s far too easy to let this task go by the wayside, however the results of this is a progressive loss of visitors, a poor site reputation and perhaps sales. Although this can be a rather subtle way to poor performance, as you don’t normally see it happening, it’s still a very real problem.

So in the spirit of prevention, listed below are 5 ways you can make a huge difference in how your sites appear, operate and prosper.

  1. Are your pages loading quickly? – It’s been said you’ve got less than 10 seconds to load your page or most people will abandon and head for faster, greener pastures. If your site is image heavy, and full of flash, you may well want to optimize for faster performance. Moreover, Google will penalize your site in the search rankings when your pages load too slowly.
  2. Old products, programs, links lurking – Make sure you remove any old product, programs and links that are no longer pertinent. Almost nothing helps say your page is stale and dated more than your PDF download from 2008 that’s not only dated but unavailable. Dead links and 404 pages will also not help your search rank, either.
  3. Stale content and old images – Likewise cull out text and images that are no longer topical. Those awesome pictures from 2007 which feature people no longer working with you can probably be archived, don’t you think? People and search engines are both after fresh, current content!
  4. Refresh your social media – Ensure that your social media buttons not only link to your current social media sites, but that you’re current with them.
  5. Fresh content – Nothing will help as much as fresh, updated content, consisting of posts, videos, audios, and images. If you have posts on the first page of your blog that are over the age of a month, you might want to rethink your content strategy.

It’s spring, and time to get about cleaning. You’ll be glad you did!