Don’t Let Bad Reviews Sink Your Ship!
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Archive for August, 2013

Don’t Let Bad Reviews Sink Your Ship!

Posted on: August 29, 2013 by in Business Building
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Voicing one’s opinion online can be transformed into a bloodsport on occasion and nowhere is this more true than in the realm of online reviews. Opinions matter, at the very least insofar as they affect your business, and ensuring that you manage your online reputation is much more important than ever. Negative reviews are going to appear. You can’t please all the people all of the time. What’s key however is making sure that they don’t influence much of your  audience, and that your brand is viewed as one that cares and addresses concerns that happen, not contests, refutes or hides from them.

How to deal with a negative review

Here are three steps to proactively overcome the occasional negative review.

  1. Customer service must be a top priority - Many times the reason companies are in the position of dealing with a particularly nasty online review is that they neglected to attend to business as soon as the problem first appeared. Oftentimes the customer attempted to connect, but received no response, and felt as if they had no option but to air their problems online at a review site. A great deal of this can be avoided by taking a proactive approach with respect to monitoring your onsite and social media channels, so you’ll know when a problem appears.
  2. Deal professionally with people - Whatever you do, don’t inflame the problem by resorting to vitriolic he said, she said types of encounters online. It will NEVER work in your favor, even if you are right. Remain professional, generous, and remember you are aiming to keep a customer, or at worst not lose more of them! The real problem customers are few, and not worth the possible damage they can do if you get into it with them!
  3. Encourage good reviews - One of the better ways you can actively really make a difference is by inviting and even rewarding positive reviews of your products or services. Get enough of these routinely, and the occasional negative review won’t stand a very good chance of remaining high in the search results. To the contrary, they will most likely supply you with more customers!

The the main thing in managing negative reviews is to be aware when they occur, handle customers with respect and professionalism, and make managing your online reputation a high priority! In this time of instant communication, you more or less have no choice!

How to Use Humor to Connect with Your Audience

Posted on: August 26, 2013 by in Business Building
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Okay, here’s a freebie for someone out there. It’s totally perplexing why some sharp home décor company hasn’t used humorists Oscar Wilde’s last words in their advertising: “Either this wallpaper goes, or I do.” Plain and simple humor sells. It puts folks in a good frame of mind, and effectively disarms them to where they forget you’re in reality selling them something. Art Linkletter wasn’t kidding when he opined that laughter is the best medicine, and it could be just the prescription your business has been searching for!

4 great ways to use humor in your marketing!

Take advantage of pop culture - This is a generation which has typically left the evening news in favor of the likes of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and the other night time mavens that have built careers around the daily misfortunes of celebrities, sports stars and politicians. It’s all fair game, so don’t hesitate to use your share when you can find ways to make it humorous. Having your audience smiling and in a good spirits right off the bat can go quite a distance toward helping build rapport with them.

Make humorous videos - It only takes a few moments on YouTube for sufficient evidence to persuade anybody that a funny video gets loads of eyeballs! Even the lamest concept, shown in a quirky way will get views and be shared widely. It doesn’t take a degree in cinema to make it happen either. Many simply shoot them using their cell phone, o if you wish to go all the way, use an app like GoAnimate or Xtranormal to create quick and visually interesting animated videos.

Create a visual mashup - A good way to take advantage of both humor and the wicked hot photo-sharing world is to create a humorous meme. These are practically required on Facebook, and can be a great ice breaker and are also able to be shared far and wide though Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and other sites.

Use humor in your content - Don’t be shy when it comes to getting a little edgy in your content. The payoff will be that folks will see you as more like them, and not just some stodgy firm bent on selling them a product. The better you connect on a shared (and funny!) level, the better people will like you and share your site.

Where Should Email Rank in Your Marketing Mix?

Posted on: August 24, 2013 by in Business Building
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The bottom line when it comes to our marketing efforts is how well they convert, that is, succeed in getting us the actions we desire, whether that is opt-ins to a mailing list, direct sales, click or other responses. Throughout the years, email marketing has been a standard regarding this, supplying new customers and sales. Recently as the attention has shifted to the far more exciting and sexy world of social media marketing, email has sometimes ended up being the unloved stepchild, and largely forgotten, at least as far as popular marketing methods go.

That is what we call, a HUGE mistake!

While definitely not as “new” and exciting as the latest social media darling might be, email continues to perform at what can only be termed as outstanding levels! A significant new study by Custora sheds a lot of light on exactly how rewarding email can still be in the hands of smart marketers. Rather than being in decline, customer acquisition using email has quadrupled in the last four years, and these customers were at least 10 times as valuable as those received from either Facebook or twitter. This is due in no small part to the fact that we are a lot more used to seeing marketing show up in email, while it’s still fairly new to social media. In time the social media platforms may in fact prove useful in this regard. It’s just not happening at this point, so you would be smart to allocate your marketing activities accordingly.

How to allot your marketing efforts

Given that email boasts an ROI of $40 for every $1 spent, and social media far south of $1, efforts really should be made to use your social media to funnel to your email lists. Getting your brand in front of people and showing what you can do is a good use of social media at this moment. In spite of all the buzz surrounding using social media to replace email, the data shows different. Don’t commit the mistake of sending email to the dustbin just yet!

How to Use Instagram in Your Marketing

Posted on: August 20, 2013 by in Business Building
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We’ve all witnessed as Instagram is the latest web property to soar to stratospheric heights, and with their acquisition by Facebook, it appears as if that’s not likely to slow down anytime soon. What’s been fascinating to notice however is just how innovative marketers are starting to use the platform in ways you might not have thought possible.

Let’s hear it for Kuwaiti ingenuity!

As reported by Kottke.org, many enterprising Kuwaitis are using Instagram to sell nearly anything you can imagine. Some examples include makeup services, Manga, fashion items and sheep. Yes, that’s right, sheep. Even though you may find that selling sheep over Instagram might not work as well in the U.S., you’ve got to give these herdsmen a lot of credit for finding and adapting this wildly popular platform for use in their local economy. They merely find list their wares they wish to sell, affix a price to it, and wait for responses on their phone. As there is no payment processing as yet on Instagram, these transactions occur in another fashion, but that’s hardly stopping anyone.

What lesson can we learn here?

The most obvious reminder here is that to take advantage of a popular platform’s traffic, you’ll want to apply a bit of ingenuity and lateral thinking to the mix. While Instagram was not created to be a sales platform, it has the capability to do so, if even only on a rudimentary level. What ideas can you think of that might advance your business? Some marketers are using Instagram to promote CPA (cost per action) offers. Given the social sharing aspect, and the huge traffic on Instagram, this was inescapable. Other people are using it to direct to squeeze pages for list building purposes.

Might want to get about it now, however, as given that this is now a Facebook property, it’s very likely change will be a part of its future, so strike now while the iron’s hot!

Why Your Small Business Needs Marketing Automation Software

Posted on: August 9, 2013 by in Business Building
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Many people make the mistake of thinking that marketing automation software is mainly for email marketing. While it clearly had its birth there, what we’re referring to is a much more sophisticated application.

Marketing automation software is defined by Wikipedia  Marketing automation refers to software platforms designed for marketing departments and organizations to automate repetitive tasks. Marketing departments, consultants and part-time marketing employees benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes that are then interpreted, stored and executed by software, which increases efficiency and reduces human error. Originally focused on email marketing automation, marketing automation refers to a broad range of automation and analytic tools for marketing.

So how does this benefit your small business?

When it became clear that some 93% of B2B buyers are using the search engines to begin their buying process, it became incumbent upon businesses to find a method to streamline the inbound marketing process, and make it far easier and less time intensive to look after. Marketing automation software is the tool which makes this happen, allowing marketers to more easily manage all aspects of your lead generation process. Software such as this will not only get traffic to your site, but will also begin them down the buying process with offers and relevant emails and other content. It will also segment your leads by source, interests and any other considerations.

The way this works is that the system relies on a complex series of rules to trigger action items; which can be either more content, an offer, or follow-up email message. This gives the visitor exactly what they are looking for and frees up your staff for other tasks. One particularly important thing to note is that if you decide to opt for a marketing automation software, there will have to be a commitment keeping the content funnel filled, as this is what it operates on.

If your small business is struggling to stay up with all that you are tasked with, or you have the desire to bring your business to another level, then you may need to take a close look at marketing automation software.

Which Email Marketing Application to Choose?

Posted on: August 5, 2013 by in Business Building
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Having a terrific email marketing application to use is an important part of your online business marketing. Some of the things you’ll need in a service include one that will deliver your emails promptly and consistently, but in addition has the tools required for you to properly analyze your efforts. You also have to have the capability to send and schedule emails, the cabability to use both plain text and html, email tracking, analytics, a form builder and more. So which do you pick? There are numerous capable services, though each has its own quirks and advantages. In order to help you choose we’ve covered five of the most popular ones used by online marketers, and given you a running start!

5 Top email marketing applications

  • AWeber - AWeber has gained a reputation as one of the best, due in large part to best deliverability in the industry. They also have quite explicit policies about the makeup of your lists. No adding lists you’ve purchased or otherwise come across into their system; they must be very clean. They stress double-optin, and even while you can do single optin, you have to jump through some hoops to do so. They have an easy to use interface, good reporting, and their forms builder is easy to use. Prices start at $19 a month.
  • GetResponse - This service is a favorite among many affiliate marketers, and they’re very friendly to them. A bit more lax on list composition, and possessing a good form builder, GetResponse is a excellent option for getting started. GetResponse offers a 30-day free trial, and prices start at $17 after that. (deals are available!)
  • MailChimp - A good place for newcomers to start, as they offer a free option (no autoresponders) and are inexpensive to boot. They boast some impressive analytics reports including tweet trends, goal tracking, revenue charts and social analytics, good deliverability, and integrate your social media services. They’ve got premade templates you can utilize, but their builder is sub-standard. Still overall, MailChimp offers great value for the money.
  • iContact - For people who are into simple to use interfaces, iContact may well be your best choice. Not to mention that they are also attractively priced, starting at around $10 a month. iContact integrates with lots of other services as well, such as SalesForce, Analytics and more. One bad thing is they offer no customer service on the weekends.
  • Constant Contact - ConstantContact is a lot more than an email service provider. This is both a plus and a minus. They provide a number of other services, such as apps and integrations, a daily deal application (a la Groupon) and also give a free trial. One major downside is that they have the lowest deliverability among the major services, and the site itself is confusing and difficult to navigate.

Your email marketing service can be one of your most lethal weapons in your marketing arsenal. Choose wisely!

5 Ways to Use Location Based Marketing in Your Small Business

Posted on: August 2, 2013 by in Business Building
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There’s no more disregarding the fact that business is heading to your local area. You prove it to yourself daily you go out of the house equipped with your smartphone, ready, willing and able to seek out and conduct business and pleasure while on the go. So, since this is where the business is, it’s wise to ensure that your business is planted firmly in the path of this wave, and be able to profit from location based marketing.

5 Ways you can profit with Location Based Marketing

  1. Complete your local listings – According to Yext, businesses are sacrificing at least $10.3 billion dollars a year just by neglecting to get their business information updated and available on their profiles and sites. This is a cardinal sin, and one that ought to be addressed immediately. If your company is not being found, your competitors will be! Be sure to get your listings correct on sites like Google Local, Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, MapQuest and any others you use.
  2. Incentivize reviews – Nothing makes someone want to help you like you providing them with a reason to! Rewarding people who review you can be a simple, cost-effective way to engender social proof, and a number of happy customers as well!
  3. Shower your customers with perks – Related to the above, make sure it is worth their while to return time and time again. There are many ways to do this including coupons, a loyalty program, backlinks and more.
  4. Employ coupons and daily deals – Entrepreneur tells us there are two ways that we can engage through location based marketing. One is by pushing ads out to them, and the other is by allowing your business to be in a position to be “discovered”. Both are essential elements of a winning campaign.
  5. Be responsive to your customers – Nothing speaks care like you talking back to customers or prospects who are asking questions. This shows you give a darn, and this also translates into extremely positive word of mouth! (or mouse) On the other hand, if you fail to do this and leave people un-answered, you’ll soon feel their wrath!

Location-based marketing is a smart to capture and develop your local area, and begin to turn it into a profit center for your small business.