Posts tagged branding

How to Take Your SMB to the Big Time Online

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Every small business owner has received spam mail offering the greatest SEO service for the lowest rates if you take advantage of their special offer today. Before you get sucked into dealing with some guy in his mom’s basement who is more likely to get your site penalized by Google than improve your ranking, check out these tips for marketing your own business online.

Rule the Local Listings

No, I’m not talking about the Yellow Pages. Everyone else throws that out just like you do. I mean local Internet listings like Google My Business and Yelp. Getting positive reviews on Google My Business may even boost your ranking in a local search. Google hasn’t specifically said this in any of their updates, but pay attention next time you search for a local business. It always seems that the ones with ratings are listed first. Plus, while Yelp may be at the center of some controversy, you can’t deny the fact that they get tens of millions of unique visitors per month.

Encourage Reviews

You can’t stop disgruntled customers from leaving bad reviews. Your best shot at a great online rating is to get your good clients to leave a review. While asking for positive reviews is discouraged by sites like Yelp, there’s nothing wrong with signage that reminds customers to leave a review. QR codes that go straight to the review site are also a great reminder.

Survive Mobilegeddon

The latest Google update weights mobile sites heavier than ever before, and that trend is only going to continue from here on out as mobile search continues to dominate the industry. You need a website, not just a Facebook page, and it has to be mobile-friendly.

Select a Social Platform

Don’t try to tackle every form of social media yourself. Find the one or two sites that are best suited to your business and use them successfully. Instagram is by far the fastest growing platform and is currently the strongest as far as customer engagement is concerned. Of course, your business has to lend itself to posting photos.

In Conclusion

Your business must have an online presence to survive in the modern business world. Just don’t go broke paying someone who doesn’t know what your company needs while there are so many other things you can be doing to get your brand out there. Marketing your own business online has never been easier, too.

 

The Importance of a Well-Worded Welcome Email

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It’s a common and expected practice to ask new customers for their email address. Unless they opt out, this means your customers will be receiving either email updates or a newsletter from the company. When someone first signs up, they get the company’s welcome email. How important is this email when it comes to whether or not future email campaigns will successfully reach the consumer?

The fact is your welcome email is a part of effective email campaigns, and such welcome emails have a tremendous impact as opposed to bulk emails. Your subject line is a vital part of whether or not the email gets opened. What are some trigger words to remember and which should you forget?

Subject Words That Increase Open and Click-Through Rates

  • Sale
  • News
  • Bulletin
  • Video

Subject Words to Avoid

  • Save
  • Report
  • Webinar

Another thing to pay attention to is the timing of your welcome email. Conversion rate increases when a welcome email is sent immediately after the consumer signs up. Welcome emails that are sent as a batch at a later time see a sharp decrease. It simply isn’t personal. Plus, the consumer may no longer be thinking about your brand.

Your return address also makes a big difference. No one wants to open an email from a generic or a NOREPLY email address.

Next, you need to pay attention to the copy. Using the wrong wording can land your email directly in the spam folder. For example, many receivers flag email that throws around terms such as:

  • Prize
  • Bonus
  • Free

Using all caps or tons of exclamation points also throw up a red flag.

Those are a lot of don’ts. What should you do in your welcome email?

Don’t forget to WELCOME THE NEW SUBSCRIBER! Let them know up front how often they should expect to hear from you. For example, “Thanks for signing up for our weekly newsletter.” Make sure you also explain your privacy policy. Encourage the subscriber to add your email address to their contacts to keep your correspondence out of the spam folder.

Handling the welcome email properly is a big first step in successfully communicating with a customer via email.

Why Entrepreneurs Should Pay Top Dollar for Marketing

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People seem to have gotten the idea that businesses should pay for services based on the amount of income that the company has. When it comes to marketing, that is a ridiculous idea. Sure, a smalltime marketing firm may try to charge a bigger business more if they think they can get away with it, but in reality a new startup will require more work on the part of product branding strategies. Here are a few reasons why.

Your brand is still in its infancy. That means the message that your brand is trying to get out is still being tweaked. Startups often require a great deal of trial and error. That is on the part of the owner and not the marketing team. Everytime the boss decides to try something new with this startup, the marketing staff has to adjust campaigns on the fly to keep up.

Your brand is starting at the ground level. Branding takes time and effort. When you first start out, it takes a lot more time and effort than once a brand is established. When you watch a Coke commercial, you may often think, “They could [insert your idea here]. That would work great!” Now try to come up with great marketing material for a company no one knows, trusts, or has dealt with yet. That is an entirely different beast.

Your situation is more desperate. Whether you are starting off with your own money or you took out a loan, most people can’t afford to have their startup crash and burn.  That results in entrepreneurs putting a ton of pressure on their marketing agency, sometimes more than a corporate giant with tons of liquid assets would. If a marketing firm messes up a campaign for a Fortune 500 company, they lose one of their best accounts. If they mess up your advertising campaign, your business may go belly up.

All of this having been said, I love working with new businesses and helping them get their feet under them. Just remember not to complain about the bill. Know that your marketing campaign is often tougher and results in more stress than the ones we put together for our biggest clients. Ultimately, that is because we want you to succeed.

 

Understand What Snapchat Is Before You Start Marketing

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To get the most out of your Snapchat marketing campaign, you have to understand what it is and what it is not. Here are a few simple understandings to guide you.

This Is Not Your Ordinary Social Platform. Snapchat has intentionally distanced itself from existing social media formats. It is designed as a platform for communication and creation of content. Treating the app in this way will help you to avoid developing campaigns as though you were designing them for a social network.

Shift from Creation to Consumption. Snapchat was originally designed to create and share content with individuals one-on-one (not a great marketing tool). The focus has been shifted to mass consumption with the addition of the Discovery Channels and the Our Story feature. This makes it possible to obtain enough views for content to make marketing a feasible goal.

A Young Demographic. If you want to reach 14 to 28-year-olds, this is the place to engage them. More than 50 million users in this age range exist in the US alone. The average frequency of app use is between 14 and 22 times per day. That means there is an entire generation that is glued to this app and waiting to be marketed to by your business.

Snapchat Is Not Intended for Organic Growth. This has been an issue with social media as well. Snapchat has been very straightforward about this, however, and they recommend using special events and brand storytelling to reach new users.

Snapchat is emerging as a tool to create brand awareness and engage the younger generation. If this is your goal, then your business should be interested in using a Snapchat marketing campaign. After all, with millions of users in its primary demographic who open the app over a dozen times per day, this is an easy to leverage format.

The Art of Turning Loyal Customers into Advocates

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Thanks to social media, it is now possible to take your loyal customers and turn them into brand a advocate. However, you cannot expect an ambassador for your business to be willing to go without compensation. Here are some suggestions on how to use incentivized marketing to turn a repeat customer into your company’s personal brand agent.

First of all, it is important to understand that the younger generation does not necessarily trust branding. Yes, they may have heard of your company and seen the commercials, but most Millenials want confirmation from a friend that a product is worth purchasing. This means that turning customers into advocates is a vital part of modern marketing. Everything from brand awareness to customer acquisition is affected by reviews and social media shares/likes.

More than one-thirds of consumers in the US now shop on a mobile device. Combine that with the fact that the average smartphone owner checks their device every six minutes, and you have the recipe for where you want to have your advocate promoting your brand.

So how do you create advocates? Rewards, rewards, and more rewards! Developing different rewards levels for advocates and creating the right amount of incentive to perform various social media actions is the key. You can’t put yourself out of business by offering ridiculous deals for just tweeting about your brand, but by developing a point system that gives the customer enough of an incentive to keep taking action, the benefits will quickly outweigh the promotion. Some brands have even rewarded consumers for posting a selfie while in their store and using a particular tag. Others give points for checking in at a shop, retweeting (or reposting) the brand’s Twitter or Instagram post, and other social actions that promote the brand.

It will take a little math, but developing such a rewards program can take a regular customer and turn them into an ambassador, a brand advocate, for the company.

Tackling Your Giant Competitors

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Well-established corporations have some serious advantages over startups. For example, their brand may be well known and respected in the industry. They also have credibility with banks and can acquire funds quickly. Plus, steady income allows them to sink money back into marketing campaigns. The digital business world, however, has made it feasible for a small business to compete successfully with a giant rival. Consider some factors that are leveling the playing field in our modern business environment.

PR Nightmares

Thanks to the Internet’s ability to catch an error and spread it around the world faster than a company can respond, many corporations have been involved in scandals requiring major apologies to the public. When this happens, an opening occurs, and new businesses can sneak in to grab some disgruntled consumers. This is one way that technology has served to even the odds between corporations and small business branding.

Strategic Focus

Technology has also led to the depersonalization of customer service and marketing techniques. Many automated technologies leave consumers with a bad taste in their mouth. Whether it is a campaign aimed at quick traffic or boosting revenue with ad dollars, customer relationships are what suffer. This is another area for strategic engagement on the part of smaller businesses.

Of course, many of these technologies are an excellent way to contact new consumers in your target audience. There is a balance to be struck, however. You still need to reach the widest audience possible while maintaining personal relationships with your potential customers.

Small Business Branding Advantages

Providing solid customer service and personalized services are two ways that small companies can catch up to their larger competitors. Another benefit of the tech age is the ability of small businesses to not seem that small online. Consumers get small business service while feeling like they are shopping with a larger company. The quality of your product will keep that illusion from being shattered.

How Instagram Topped the Social Media Site Twitter

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In December of 2014, Instagram announced that it hit the 300 million mark when it comes to active users on a monthly basis, finally surpassing Twitter after years of being in the social media competitor’s shadow. How did the photo sharing site catch up to and finally outdo its uber-popular counterpart?

It probably all started when Facebook opened up the piggy bank and purchased Instagram for an obscene amount of money ($768 million). Suddenly, Instagram went from becoming popular through word of mouth to being owned by the biggest name in social media. With over 1.3 billion Facebook users, maybe 300 million Instagram users should sound like too few.

Instagram is a much more manageable form of social media for most people. I don’t know about you, but I could never possibly see every tweet from every account that I follow. On Instagram, however, I can check a couple of times per day and see everything. It is just a very convenient way to see diverse content without being spammed by a ton of stuff I don’t care about.

It is unfortunate that Instagram is a little restrictive as far as digital marketing is concerned. It’s basically just a customer engagement tool as far as businesses are concerned. Plus, if companies lose credibility over an employee posting a 140 character tweet, imagine what would happen if they posted an offensive image (especially if you count a picture as 1,000 words)?

In short, Instagram is all about user engagement, and that is what makes it such a popular social media choice. For businesses who want to venture into the Instagram world, keep in mind the reason people check their Instagram. Sell less, and work on brand perception more. They’ve added about 50% to the user base in the past nine months, so the app must be doing something right.

Visual Content Is Your Homepage’s Key to a Lower Bounce Rate

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Would you walk into a shop for the first time if it had a terrible window display or perhaps none at all? For all intents and purposes, your homepage is the window display for your e-commerce site. That means you need to convince customers to come in and stay a while with the enticing visual images on your homepage. You cannot leave them out. You cannot clutter the display. So how do you draw consumers in, and is the homepage really that important?

One customer relationship management company reports that clients more than doubled their conversion rates simply by adding a background image to the homepage. So yes, visual displays can make all the difference when it comes to making a sale versus having a consumer check out the homepage and then go elsewhere. What are some considerations when you are selecting the images that will greet website visitors?

Do not just rely on stock images. Studies have also shown that conversion rates rise when images of real people using the items that are for sale are used. When someone sees an actual human using your product and enjoying it, they are more likely to feel that they will like the product as well. You just cannot convey that same feeling with a picture of a product against a solid white background.

Image quality is important as well. After all, if your image quality is poor, why should a consumer assume that your product quality is any better. Also, your customers will be shopping from various devices. Be sure that the image will load well across platforms, look right on screens of all sizes, and not soak up a consumer’s data plan if they are on a mobile network.

If your e-commerce site is suffering from a high bounce rate, it may be time to add or change the images you are using to attract customers.

 

Social Media Affects Sports

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Social Media Affects Sports: Here’s How You Can Take Advantage

Sports have always been connected with social gatherings. If you go to the game, you are surrounded by thousands of people, and a camaraderie forms as you all cheer on your favorite team and jeer the enemy. Even at home, important sporting events often result in watching the game with friends, enjoying some good food and drink, while rejoicing as your team triumphs or shouting at the screen while they get decimated. There are also sports bars that let people come together to watch the game in a public forum. Nowadays, social media affects sports, and in a variety of ways.

Around 35 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 admit that they are frequently using sites like Twitter or Instagram to post sports related content. Many fans now commiserate over losses and boast over victories by tweeting and posting pics with hashtags that attract fellow fans or insult fans of competing teams.

So, how can you benefit from knowing that sports fans are not just watching the game, but engaging one another via social media? (By the way, they are doing this while the sporting event is on, likely during the commercials we wish they were watching).

Nearly 75 percent of people who use the Internet are actively using social media. That makes social media a must when it comes to engaging consumers and building your brand’s reputation. Clearly, it’s time to use social media strategically to engage sports fans during the game, and perhaps even at live events.

Now that you know that social media affects sports, use this knowledge to the benefit of your brand. Make sure that during the game, whether live or on TV, fans know what hashtag you want them to use. This connects your brand with the game they are watching. You get a large audience, increase brand awareness, and create engagement all at the same time. It’s a great way to associate your brand with the good feelings that come from the sense of community people enjoy when they watch sports.

YouTube Celebs

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YouTube Celebs: What Brands Can Get

We all love a good Cinderella, rags-to-riches, story. YouTube creates these stories all the time by taking ordinary folks and making them overnight celebrities. But there is a difference between YouTube celebs and Hollywood celebs. People who hit it big on YouTube give us the sense that they belong to the common people. We made them who they are by watching, subscribing, and telling everyone we know about their talent. We love that. These people are real. Hollywood celebrities are like gods and goddesses looking down upon us from Olympus. They make the tabloids. Meanwhile, YouTube stars seem like someone you would have over for dinner.

Over 50 million people are regular YouTube users, so it’s a large pool to swim in for marketing purposes. How can brands create the right content to get a foothold in a world that has rejected Hollywood glitz and glam and replaced it with cosplayers, acoustic singers, funny news shows, and video game streamers? Here are a few ways to connect with your target audience.

First of all, put it in the budget for 2015. Plan on spending money to produce video content for a YouTube site. Also, don’t be afraid to partner up. Sponsor one of these little hometown heroes who are now world renowned. YouTube personalities are well established, and this is what the YouTube community loves. Hollywood has tried to beat them and has failed. Your brand is better off trying to join them. Also, be interactive. People are on YouTube because it’s down-to-earth. This is where you make your brand feel like the person they invite over for dinner instead of the giant who lives up the beanstalk protecting their goose that lays golden eggs.

Focus on the allure of YouTube instead of trying to change it. It’s a great way to humanize your company in the eyes of people, while creating engaging content that improves brand perception. If done right, you and your brand can be a YouTube celeb too.

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