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8 Reasons Why You Should Be Utilizing EDDM

EDDM, short for Every Door Direct Mail, is a program started by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that helps small businesses mass market to every door of a neighborhood without using a mailing list or requiring a permit. Companies like pizza delivery, take-out restaurants, auto repair, carpet cleaners, home security, landscapers, gutter guards, chiropractors, dentists, veterinarians, salons, spas, and many more can benefit from Every Door Direct Mail advertising. How does EDDM work you ask? What are some of the benefits? Here are 8 reasons why you should be utilizing this effective marketing strategy for your business.

1) No Permit Required

Because inkjet machine processing is not required when processing EDDM, there is no permit involved, which saves several hundred dollars in upfront costs. Once you print your product (postcard, menu, brochure, etc.), it’s a breeze for a company like Hallen Media to handle the processing of your banded bundles and accompanying facing slips. Once delivered, the post office handles the rest.

2) No Mail List Required

There is no mailing list required for EDDM, which keeps a small business from having to purchase a specific set of data. You simply choose the neighborhoods and/or mailing radius that you would like to solicit. Every Door Direct Mail provides your business with a very efficient promotional tool, while reducing the mail preparation costs associated with lists and machine processing.

3) Pinpoint Drop Dates

For EDDM, there is no waiting on the folks at the bulk mail center to get around to your pallet of mail. No 7-14 day potential to be lost or delayed in the 3rd class mail stream. Because EDDM cards are delivered directly to the destination DDU, you can control exactly what day your marketing piece arrives in homes!

4) Oversized & Effective

Because the USPS disallowed anything under a 6×9 card for the EDDM program, you get the benefits of a very effective super-sized card. Combined with great creative services offered by Hallen Media’s experienced design team, the oversized cards create a fantastic return on investment (ROI).

5) Discount Offers

Direct mail marketing such as EDDM allows a small business to incorporate discount offers and/or call-to-action tactics. This helps to win over new customers and also brings back clients who may not have purchased in some time. Many retail stores often use this method because the coupon redemption encourages a store visit, but doubles as an incentive for add-on sales.

6) Lowest Postage Costs

EDDM is one of the most cost-effective methods of advertising for small businesses. The Every Door Direct Mail retail price for flats weighing no more than 3.3 oz is one of the most affordable saturation postage rates in the USPS system.

7) Print & Hold Budgets

Don’t want to spend your entire budget in one drop? No problem. Print 5k or 10k cards in advance and drop monthly to space out your ad expense and bring in customers through the front door in a steady stream instead of all at once! It’s a great plan for restaurants and similar businesses who need to control flow of clients.

8) Highly Trackable

One of the best benefits of EDDM is that if done right it can be highly trackable. Most companies experience great ROI when they set up their mailing program correctly. Coupon/Discount offers are the most common way of keeping up with response, however you can take it to the next level with tracking phone numbers and/or custom website URL’s.

Contact Hallen Media for Every Door Direct Mail

If you’re looking for guidance as you embark on an Every Day Direct Mail journey, there are companies like Hallen Media that can hold your hand through the entire process. We have over 17 years of experience in direct mail marketing and can find effective solutions to grow your business. Our experts have informed many clients of the benefits of direct mail.

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Why is Social Media Important?

Since the early 2000s, social media platforms have revolutionized the way people connect with one another. Today, there are 2.3 billion active users of social media worldwide. Business owners who take advantage of the ocean-sized lead pool created by social media channels will undoubtedly reel in a boatload of benefits.

Currently, the number of brands present on two or more social media platforms has surpassed 90%, and in 2016, Facebook reported reaching 50 million small business users. Despite this level of online presence, business owners consistently report that social media is the second most difficult marketing tactic to execute effectively (immediately behind Search Engine Optimization, AKA SEO). Business owners believe that learning how to properly utilize social media platforms is time consuming, and that their time would be better spent on other marketing tactics.


Don’t take the bait—social media IS important!

Remember the boatload of benefits discussed earlier? We didn’t mean this:

Making the effort to rock your customers’ worlds through the effective use of social media will pay off for your business, here’s how!

Social media increases your brand’s visibility

Just as there are plenty of fish in the social media sea, there are also a TON of boats looking to land a big catch. Ensuring your business and brand are present and active on multiple social channels will create the opportunity for consumers from different demographics to find and follow you. Also, half of consumers follow brands to indicate their loyalty, so a business’s current customer base will also increase brand awareness and visibility. The more followers a business has, the more likely it is to be seen. Additionally, if a business owner treats these followers as a sentient community rather than a stagnant lead pool, it will help improve customer service and brand image.

Social media improves your customer service

A business’s presence on social media creates the opportunity for dialogue with consumers, and 60% of followers expect a brand to interact with their followers directly through social media. With more than half of marketers utilizing social media as two-way street for communication, it is important for business owners to give their audience what it wants. By providing engaging content, exclusive social offers and genuine responses to feedback like reviews or questions, you will be able to build brand loyalty and lasting customer relationships with your social community. Did we mention that all of this comes with a minimal price tag?

Social media is easy on your budget

Old school marketing tactics like snail mail ads or flyers can be expensive, and it will undoubtedly take time to measure their ROI. Joining and posting to social media is free of charge—there’s no limit to how many posts you can publish, and your efforts are seen by followers immediately. Paid advertising on social media is also an option, and this tactic will allow you to target specific audiences you want to reach. The best part is that your budget for paid social advertising can be as large or as small as you see fit, it’s all designed to meet your business’s unique marketing needs. Investing in social media with time or money can help with more than just a business’s social accounts, too.

Social media can boost search engine ranking

Effective social media use will allow your business to harness the power of another internet beast.

You may recall from earlier that business owners find SEO to be the most daunting digital marketing tactic to take on. By fostering a social media following, providing content that will likely be shared, and interacting with its consumers online, businesses are able to climb the ranks in search engines. The better your ranking, the more likely you are to be found, and thus the social media cycle begins all over again!


Keep the fish biting

With so many benefits tied to using social media, you’re probably wondering how to move your business forward using such a powerful tool. Posting in social channels can be intimidating, and oftentimes you might be left wondering if you have anything worth posting at all.

Teach a marketer to fish…

It’s important to create social media content that provides value to your customers without hocking spam day in and day out. To succeed on social media you need to know your consumers and keep them entertained. Don’t have time to test the waters?

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5 Easy Tips to Climb Search Rankings

We’ve compiled five easy tips that businesses can use to climb search rankings with speed. We aren’t saying that you’ll appear at the top of the search results in a couple days, but we do guarantee that using these tips will help a business climb search rankings on all major search engines over time. Persistence and patience are key factors in search engine optimization, and while it won’t happen overnight, keeping these best practices top of mind will help your content rank.


Tip 1: keyword planning

It all starts with keyword planning

Businesses with great content on their websites tend to appear at the top of the search results, and great content has a focus on keywords. Before a webpage is created, your business must first determine what word or words you want to rank for. Keyword planning is not simple, especially for businesses that don’t understand how to plan. Your business cannot simply pick a word, type it a bunch of times and cross your fingers to appear at the top of Google search rankings. Search engines are not fooled by this. Keyword density is important, but it’s not the only thing that the search algorithms consider when ranking pages in search results, especially with new progress with Google’s RankBrain. There are many factors that affect local search, and it’s important to dominate the ones you have control of to move into the coveted Snack Pack.

Make target keywords niche, targeted and relevant

When keyword planning, be sure to use niche words, and target keywords that are relevant enough to get your business appearing in front of the right people online. If your local company wants to appear to the right local audience, you must be sure to be specific to your community. A local windshield repair company is going to have a hard time appearing for the keyword “windshield.” It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult for local companies to appear in the top few results for broad focused keywords. There is a much better chance to appear at the top of the search results if the keywords are narrowed down.

Keyword planning example

For example, a windshield company in Buffalo, New York wants to appear in front of local customers who may have a crack or chip in their window. They’d be much more successful aiming to rank for “rock chip repair in Buffalo” rather than the word “windshield.”


Tip 2: strengthen meta descriptions

Meta descriptions should contain your keywords

A meta description is a small description of what your webpage contains, it’s basically a summary of your business’s webpage in ~160 characters. These too must have a focus on keywords, and for smaller businesses such as local windshield repair companies, it’s important to have the right keywords in the meta description.

Meta description example

To keep this example consistent, “rock chip repair in Buffalo” was set as the Google search terms to see which businesses appear in the search results. It’s always a good idea to look at the business that appears first, see how they are doing it, and try to better their meta description.

In this case, this local windshield repair company that clearly knows what they are doing! As you look above, you can see that the meta description contains most of the words that we searched for. This is a fantastic way to target the specific search query of “rock chip repair in Buffalo” and to get frantic drivers with broken windshields through a business’s front door.

Help guide customers from page to page

Proper meta descriptions not only help in search result rankings, but they also give your prospective customers a summary of exactly what they may be looking for. Customers want it easy, they don’t want to spend a long time browsing for repair shops—they want to find answers easily and the solutions fast.


Tip 3: be unique

Search engine bots search for unique content

It’s tough for your business to be unique from the fifty other local companies that compete in your company’s industry. However, the content on your business’s website should aim to be unique and somewhat different from the rest in order to stand out in the search rankings. The reason being  that Google and other search engines search for original content when their bots are crawling sites. This means every site in a specific industry that has similar webpage copy will likely blend in, and the bots won’t declare those pages as original or unique. Don’t expect a local business page to appear high on the search rankings if it sounds exactly like every other local business page!


Tip 4: stay active everywhere online

The more online activity, the better

You business has to stay active online if you want to climb search rankings, make a name for yourself on places other than your company website. Your business can improve your local search by using data aggregators, or you can manually create listings on tons of directory sites.

Online mentions increase search engine influence

One thing many smaller businesses fail to understand is that business pages on reputable websites are so important! Social platforms like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn are an easy way for your business to index your name across various sources on the web. Likewise, review sites are hugely important! The more your business is mentioned online, the greater the influence you will have on search rankings.


Tip 5: blog

Blogs help keep web content fresh

Blogs are not only fun to write, but also a way to continuously produce new website content. Google’s algorithm specifically calls for continuous web content and publishing if your business wants to appear high on the search rankings. Google is pushing web developers and content writers to keep websites from getting irrelevant or outdated, making content marketing a healthy company strategy.

Blog with a strategy in mind

Your business should establish a blog plan, no matter the industry. If that same windshield repair company in Buffalo New York wanted to blog, maybe they’d write about the “Top 10 windshield crack horror stories” or “How a rock chip ruined this man’s day.” These types of articles are relevant to their industry, and are loaded with keywords about their business. Tools such as WordPressMedium and Ghost are all super useful in order to easily get started with blog publishing.

A blog presents a huge opportunity

It could be a funny blog, or serious industry stories, as long as the content that is being produced has a focus on their respective business industry. That’s just one example, but there are tons of opportunities for businesses in any specific industry. Don’t believe us that blogging is important? Here’s 58 reasons why businesses should run a blog.


Conclusion: content is key

Whether it’s keyword planning for the content you write, writing great meta descriptions, writing original content or blogging, it all involves the production of content. That’s because content is key. Implement these strategies and monitor your rankings. There are a variety of SEO tools, both free and paid that your business can use to do so. While your rankings won’t shoot up overnight, your business has a huge opportunity to improve your search engine rankings and outrank your competitors to get more business through your doors.

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What is Content Marketing and Why Does It Matter?

In the heyday of traditional marketing, attracting and retaining customers was an intimidating task for local business owners to accomplish, especially when the inflated budgets of larger businesses made it difficult to compete. Today, there are many different avenues for business owners to interact with consumers, and social media makes it easier than ever for business owners to reach potential customers through strategic tactics like content marketing.

Content marketing, also referred to as inbound marketing, involves the creation and distribution of relevant content that provides value to your business’s target audience. Content marketing can be shared with consumers in numerous forms: infographics, ebooks, white papers, case studies, how-to guides, etc. The main purpose of content marketing is to offer consumers value by presenting a solution to their needs, thus influencing the buying cycle.


Content marketing and the buying cycle

The main difference between traditional marketing methods and content marketing tactics is how each strategy affects the buying cycle for consumers.

The benefits of pull vs. push in marketing

Traditional push marketing methods like flyers, billboards or commercials seek to influence the comparison and purchase stages of the buying cycle by promoting or offering incentives that make a product or service seem superior to alternative solutions. Content marketing, or pull tactics, aim to increase consumer awareness and provide helpful information about the product or service your business offers as a solution. The beauty of content marketing is that it may lead consumers to recognize a problem or need in their lives that they would have otherwise been unaware of. This will draw them into your business when they are ready to buy, rather than knocking on doors or cold calling to try and convince someone to buy something from you now. Utilizing content marketing tactics in your business’s strategy also introduces several benefits, many of which are long lasting.


The benefits of content marketing

Content marketing serves as a means for your business to attract, inform and engage with consumers. Here are some of the benefits that can accompany an effective strategy:

Brand awareness

Publishing valuable content will lead consumers to discover your business and product offerings as they search for solutions to the problem they are facing. By making content available to consumers, your business will communicate an awareness of consumer needs, humanizing your brand with a personality that is friendly and helpful, as well as creating the opportunity for customers to form a relationship with you.

Brand equity

Content that is relevant to the needs of consumers and offers them a valuable solution establishes your business as a thought leader in your industry, which helps build a trusting relationship with consumers. Attaining this level of credibility will lead consumers to prefer your goods and services over alternative solutions, since they are aware of the unique value proposition offered by your business: that you are the knowledgeable experts in your field.

For example: why do avid cyclists go to smaller specialty bike shops instead of a big box store that offers bikes? Because of the level of knowledge and expertise that the smaller shop offers is something that cannot be easily replicated by the bigger box stores.

This is example is similar to how content marketing can work to increase thought leadership and brand equity for your business. By sharing your expertise in the form of content, you will boost your credibility with customers. They know that they can come to you for solid advice because you have provided them with relevant, helpful information in the past.

Effective long-term results

If the content your business releases is designed to be a mix of time-sensitive and evergreen pieces, your business’s content library will still be relevant to consumers as time passes. High-traffic content will also improve search engine rankings, and the consistent release of content can serve as a continuous source of interested consumers.


Content marketing: the main sell

Content marketing is an effective strategy to interact with consumers and introduce them to your business’s brand. By providing consumers with value before they even visit your store, you are building positive relationships and connections to your brand, resulting in long-lasting customer loyalty and brand equity for your business.

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Facebook Advertising vs. Boosted Posts

On the surface boosting content on Facebook seems like a pretty straight forward transaction. The more dollars you spend, the more eyes see your message. While that’s certainly true, to get the most value out of your dollar it’s worth knowing the basic nuances of how boosting on Facebook works. Truth be told, Facebook’s Advertiser Help Center rarely provides the answers you’re after on Facebook paid advertising, and true to form, it doesn’t provide a lot of guidance on the differences between boosting posts vs. ads either.

So in this article we’ll cover the differences between the types of sponsored ads on Facebook — a Facebook boost and a Facebook news feed ad—and which we recommend as the best option for your business depending on your needs.


What are Facebook sponsored posts?

Facebook sponsored posts are promoted posts that receive additional paid reach. Simply put, your business has the option of boosting a post or creating an ad: boosting increases the chances your post will be seen by followers (increasing loyalty), while news feed ads target users based on select criteria, external from followers (potential new customers).

Wait, why sponsor ads on Facebook when you can post for free?

The reality is, organic posts don’t go very far in today’s Facebook world. Unless you have a huge network of fans (50K+), achieving favorable outcomes through organic content in a 1.6B user world is futile. Based on Facebook’s current algorithms, organic reach has plummeted over recent years to the point where 50 million businesses are posting 1.5 times per day, reaching an average of 2% of their audience. That is what we call “tough sledding”.

Should we be surprised though? As the world’s largest social network, it was simply clockwork until Facebook turned to a Pay-to-Play model resulting in paid advertising on the social network giant. But before you start shouting big corporate obscenities, it’s still our opinion that Facebook provides the best advertising platform on the web or anywhere else in the business world. It’s just takes a little practice.

Advertising on Facebook requires a solid strategy

Like anything, you will need a strategy when tackling Facebook paid advertising. Depending on what your goals are, our quick advice is to put money on posts that have measurable ROI, like lead capture, promotions, contests and content meant to capture new customers.

Another fundamental rule is to always promote your own content. Even if it’s great material and related to your business, never pay to send traffic to someone else’s website.

Now, with all that said, let’s figure out which Facebook paid advertising delivery method works best…Facebook boosts or Facebook ads.


What are Facebook boosted posts?

Facebook boosted posts are promoted posts that appear higher on news feeds, giving a post a higher chance that friends and followers will see it. While boosted posts can be targeted by location, interest, age and gender, more advanced targeting options is reserved for ads on Facebook. And that’s really the rub with sponsored posts for your business. While it’s easier to create them, you are limited in refining the post to get the most out of your “boost juice” dollars.

What are Facebook news feed ads?

Facebook news feed ads are sponsored ads that appear right on the news feed of readers. Newsfeed ads denoted “sponsored” directly underneath the company’s name on the post you users know that the content could be coming from a source they haven’t “liked” yet.

News feed ads are created in Facebook Ads Manager (or Power Editor). Creating a news feed ad on Facebook is more involved than boosting posts, but, as with most things, more work often leads to more reward.

With news feed ads, you can set a specific objective for your ad that directly aligns to your business goals. You can choose from 12 objectives from three different categories: Awareness, Consideration and Conversion.
Notice how these three categories represent different areas of the sales and marketing funnel:

  • Awareness: for boosting posts, promoting a Facebook page, targeting people near the business’s location and increasing brand awareness
  • Consideration: to send people to a website, getting app installs, increase event attendance or get views on videos and collect business leads
  • Conversion: for increasing website conversions, engagement to an app, or to have an offer claimed

Facebook paid advertising showdown: who is the winner?

So you’ve probably come to the conclusion that Facebook news feed ads have a lot more power behind them and are geared toward ROI—especially seeing how there’s no price difference between the two formats.

Boosted posts do have a place—if your business is looking for a quick and convenient way to create awareness and drive profile traffic, then we say go for it, especially if you want to hit existing fans/customers. It takes all of five minutes to start raking in thousands of impressions for as little as $5.00.

If you are looking to achieve tangible marketing results, like capturing leads and driving revenue, my money is on news feed ads. If you want to really capture leads through Facebook paid advertising however, I suggest using Facebook lead ads.

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3 Tips to Make Your Website Actually Useful

Gone are the days of a “form over function” internet. Where once the simple novelty of seeing a business online, in any fashion, was often enough. Now, today’s more savvy audiences simply want to get where they are going. So with the priorities of today’s business websites being speed and ease of use, here are 3 tips that can make sure you are providing your customers the information they require in the best way possible to help you make conversions either on your site or in person.


1. Where is the business?

Contact information is the most important information you can have on the internet. Seems simple enough, yet many well-intentioned websites make this information difficult to find. Studies show that people will tend to look at the top left corner of your website first, like they’re reading a book. This is where the most important information should be, your contact info—don’t make customers scour the page looking for a way to find your business.

There is lots of data you can include in the contact information section. The trick is finding the balance of information overload vs. unnecessary vagueness. There are three things you need to specifically include:

Hours of operation

People seeking this information are likely close to buying, so having your hours of operation listed accurately and in a fashion that’s easy to read is a huge priority. Here are two examples, one bad and one good, to showcase how your hours should be listed online

Don’t do it like this
We are open Mondays – 8:00 am-5:00 pm, Tuesdays – 8:00 am-5:00 pm, Wednesdays – 8:00 am-7:00 pm, Thursdays – 8:00 am-5:00 pm, Fridays – 8:00 am-7:00 pm, Saturdays 12:00 pm-5:00 pm and the service shop is also open until 7:00 pm.

Looks hard to read, right? It doesn’t look nice, it’s hard to look at specific days, and you don’t know if the service shop is just open on Saturdays, or if it’s always open until 7:00 pm every evening.

A better example
Sales:
Mon 8 – 5
Tues 8 – 5
Wed 8 – 7
Thurs 8 – 5
Fri 8 – 7
Sat 12 – 5
Sun Closed

Service:
Mon-Sat: 12 – 7

Looks a lot nicer, right? It’s a lot easier to read and find the information you need. The most important part is to make sure the hours are accurate. Even if it takes an extra line to better explain a confusing set of hours, customers greatly appreciate knowing when they can expect your business to be open.

Address

Unless you’re an online retailer, your address is an essential part of your contact listing. But just like hours of operation there is are a variety of ways to share your location. Here is how we recommend it. Provide enough information so that Google maps can locate the business. For people in major cities, often times just your street address is sufficient. But if your business is a little tricky to find consider linking to a map application, or have the map right on the website. If you’re going that direction, make sure to use an accredited map engine like Google Maps, instead of a hand-drawn creation. People tend to be a lot more familiar with popular map formats and might get confused/scared at the sight of your beautiful artwork.

Phone number

This is the number where customers can most easily reach you. Businesses with multiple departments equipped with individual phone lines, might want to stick those on a “Contact Us” page. There’s no sense in cluttering your home page with 30 different phone numbers. Businesses should have one phone number on the homepage display to be a catch-all for any inquiries. Don’t forget an area code for those out-of-town customers. Make it easy for on-the-go customers to hit a button and have their mobile device ring the business instantly.


2. Who is the business?

You likely have a lot to say about your business so the real challenge here is the distillation of your story. Here, think of the company from the customer’s’ perspective; what makes you unique? Why are you better than their competitors? What do you do for customers? These question will likely shed light on the most important information to share, at least at the top of the page.

Once you’ve got your top level information cased, consider designing a way for interested customers to learn even more about the business. There you can dive deeper into your history, philosophy, and share any achievements or media coverage your business has had in its past.


3. What does the business do?

This is where functionality needs to be the highest priority. Customers are looking for confirmation that your business is what they are looking for in the moment they are searching. You can’t afford to have this information be anything but concise, easy to find, and extremely helpful. It’s challenging to know the exact right strategy for your business but a tactic we recommend is taking a look at your closest competitors for insight.

Look at those website and assume the perspective of their customer. If you like something about the way their website works, make a note. If you find something super inconvenient or confusing, again, make a note. Have these notes inform your approach.


Conclusion

A lot of people think a website should be an online version of your business. In reality, this is virtually impossible. A website is more like a messenger for your business. It’s a tool for relaying information about the business to potential customers. If your messenger is long-winded, confusing and tries to use flashy bright colours to grab attention, the customer is not going to be engaged. If your messenger relays all the information in a simple, concise and memorable way, customers will be much more likely to engage. It is quite likely a website is the first impression the customer might have of your business—remember, you only get once chance to make a first impression!

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How to #Hashtag

How hashtags can help you reach the out-crowd and engage the in-crowd

The facts are in: if you are not using hashtags, you are missing out! With a tweet with hashtags being 33% more likely to get retweeted, these handy hashtags can make the difference between #GameOver and #Trending when it comes to social media success. Hashtags are more than just a fad, they are a means of organizing information and standing out from the crowd. Hashtags are also a way to engage with millennials where they shine brightest – through social media savvy. With millennials beginning to outnumber previous generations, speaking their language has become increasingly important. Do not miss out on this opportunity to #GetSocial!


Hashtag basics

The hashtag (#) turns any word, or group of words, into a link that can be searched. When writing a hashtag, leave your grammar at the door – no punctuation, no spaces! The best way to keep your message clear is to capitalize each word #LikeThis, otherwise known as using CamelCase. Got it? Let’s move on!

There are two ways businesses can use hashtags to their advantage.

  1. To reach the out-crowd by joining a conversation that is already in progress.
  2. To engage the in-crowd by starting a new conversation.

Reaching the out-crowd

As a business, using hashtags to reach potential new customers is a no-brainer. How do you do this effectively? By joining a conversation that is already in progress! Start thinking about what words people would search when looking for a business like yours. If you don’t know where to start, remember the old saying, “Keep your friends close, and your competitors closer”! Follow businesses who are doing similar work to you on all your favorite social media websites – especially those who have a great following. What hashtags are they using, and how many? Keep in mind that less is more both in scope (as hashtags that are more niche have a more engaged following) and in presentation (as too many hashtags looks inauthentic).

For example, this, “Take a bite out of our best burger today! #BurgerLover #Foodie #CheatMeal” is better than this, “Take a bite out of our best burger today! #WhatsForDinner #Foodie #EatClean #CommonTable #OnMyTable #TasteMade #ForkYea #OnTheTable #FoodStyling #BeautifulCuisines #HeresMyFood #TheArtOfSlowLiving #FreshFoods #CheatMeal #BurgerLover #Foodstagram #BurgerLife”.

So, K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Social-Media-User! Using hashtags by joining a pre-existing conversation takes your business and puts it in front of someone who would have never found you otherwise. That’s something you can feel #Blessed about!


Engaging the in-crowd

The second way that you can use hashtags to build your business is by starting a conversation with the followers that you already have by creating an original hashtag. Brands from Calvin Klein (#MyCalvins) to Charmin toilet paper (#TweetFromTheSeat) have managed to create original hashtags that engage their audience in a way that builds their social media momentum. Original hashtags can be used for promotions, contests, events, or general brand awareness. Just be sure that when you are creating an original hashtag that it is clear, simple, unique, and catchy. No one will want to join your conversation if it’s confusing or boring.

Imagine if Coca-Cola’s classic #ShareACoke hashtag was #TakeACocaColaAndGiveItToSomeoneElse – not very fun or memorable! Original hashtags give your followers something to talk about and a way to interact with your business on a personal level.


Not all social media sites are created equal

Using hashtags is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each platform will have its unspoken rules of how many hashtags are acceptable. Where Instagram shows posts with an average of nine hashtags performing the best, Facebook posts get the greatest engagement with only one hashtag. Each social media site is unique in its function and audience, so take the time to explore the sites you want to use for your business before posting.


Are you #Trending yet?

These tips and tricks for how to use hashtags as a business are about more than getting ahead in a technological age. Hashtags, above all, are about building community. By putting a simple pound sign in front of a word, you are taking that message and immediately sharing it with someone who cares about what you do and how you do it. This tool is a revolutionary way to make your words matter and allow them to connect with not only a new customer, but a new spokesperson for your business. From #MotivationalMonday to #FlashbackFriday, use your new hashtagging skills to make both the in-crowd and the out-crowd your new #BFFL.

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Creating the Perfect Social Post

What makes for good social posting, anyway? In order to craft the perfect social post, we need to take a look at why people follow businesses in the first place.

  • Interest in services and promotions: People love sales! Don’t get TOO excited though. Over posting this information is also one of the leading reasons people unfollow a business.
  • Updates and information: People are interested in what your business is up to! Have new products? Moving locations? Getting an office dog? Post it!
  • Communication: Social media is for connecting. People want to talk to you, and they want to review your products and services. Make sure you’re responding to them: it shows you care about your customers.
  • Entertainment: Are you not entertained? People use social media to get a break from their humdrum day. Post content that will put a smile on their faces or give them something to think about. Hint: it doesn’t always have to be related to your business.

So now that we’ve got a good idea of what people want to see, how do we make the magic happen? When I write social posts, I use three main guidelines to direct me.


The 3 Golden Rules of Local Social Media Marketing

  • Does it provide value? People engage with content that is relevant to them. Consider whether the post is solving a problem, starting a conversation or educating. People love to share information that is new and exciting. In order to provide the best value to your followers and customers, the vast majority (up to 80%) of your content should be useful or engaging information. In fact, posts promoting the business should only account for 10%-20% of the content.
  • Is it emotionally engaging? People love stories, and they share content they connect with. Don’t be afraid to show the more personal side of your business. Really, who hasn’t teared up during a Coke ad or giggled at the Budweiser Clydesdales? Brands that go the extra mile to create an emotional connection with their customers stick in their memories longer. Why not post a cat video? Everyone loves a cat video.
  • Is it visually stimulating? 1200 pixels are worth 1000 words. We’re talking high quality photos, videos and infographics here! Posts that include visuals get way more (almost 650% more) engagement than those without. Keep in mind that not all visuals are created equal. The best ones are the ones that you take yourself, because they’re local, personal and relevant. If you don’t have the capacity to take photos, reposting from other websites and profiles is a great way to keep your page relevant. Quality stock photos are also great resources, just make sure to pay attention to copyright!

Creating content for social media is essential—you need to be present where your customers are, and they’re on social. While it is free to partake, creating an effective social media strategy and sticking to it takes diligence and determination.

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What is Online Reputation Management?

A business’s reputation used to be what they said about themselves in their advertising and the reach their customers had via word of mouth. Now, consumers are pushing out a company’s reputation and image collectively by providing real-time feedback online through review sites, social media, forums and other channels. Basically, if it is an online source and a consumer can say something about a business on it, then it is a channel where your business’s reputation should be managed.


Digital marketing and online reputation management for businesses

Online reputation management is a part of a greater digital marketing strategy that works alongside review management, business listings, paid search/ads, social media management and SEO to help your business stay competitive and relevant online. While your business should be managing each of these segments of digital marketing to maintain your online presence and (consequently) offline reputation, many businesses are not. They really should: four in five consumers surveyed use search engines to find local information from multiple devices to find store address, business hours, product availability and directions.


Online reputation management: your business has options

Your business’s reputation can be affected at anytime on just about any source across the web. You can use products (SaaS), services (outsource services) or people (outsource or hire a digital marketer) to cut down on your reputation management time expenditure. Even if your business tracks and constantly checks on social media, there may be sources that your business is unaware of such as a new review site from a listing that your business never knew that existed.

Your business should weigh the pros and cons of conducting online reputation management in-house or outsourcing, but there are definite best practices when responding to reviews that your business should be aware of. Maintaining your business’s online presence is one of the most worthwhile services a digital agency or local media company can provide your business and is one of the most worthwhile services you can invest in.


Why your business’s online reputation matters

An online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by consumers. Without them, there would be no reputation to manage and quite frankly, it would appear as if no one ever visited the business.

Ready or not, consumers are talking about your business

Whether a business chooses to manage their reputation online or not, consumers are talking about their favorite and not-so-favorite businesses. If a business simply ignores their reputation online, the consequences can be detrimental.

Unmanaged negative responses can create an angry mob mentality and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. While a business may not realize how exactly one instance can affect their online reputation, it is possible that only one negative post on a highly ranked site can actually be what shows up near the top of a search results page when a consumer searches for that business’s name.

Consumers Control the Conversation and Everyone’s Feedback Matters
Social media is a two-way conversation — businesses can no longer broadcast the message they want people to see. There is a democratic nature to social, with brands, consumers and everyone having an equal voice in a shared space. Customers can rave about a business or let everyone know they had a terrible experience. Social networks have dramatically changed the way businesses communicate. Today, consumers can converse with brands and vice versa as if they were talking to a friend. As a result, businesses have had to become more personable than simply a business entity and manage their social presence in a manner that reflects as such.

Reputation drives conversion

What people see online matters. Approximately 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—this is a huge shift in thinking that has become more prominent as time goes on. This trust in reviews translates to dollars, as customers put their money where their trust is. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that sees a one star increase on Yelp will see revenues increase anywhere from five to nine per cent.

As discussed previously, many businesses find that cultivating their digital profile on their own is too time consuming. There are reputation monitoring tools that make keeping up with customers way easier, saving time and money. Whatever your business does, it is essential that you are not perceived to be ignoring your customers online. The worst thing your business can do is appear unresponsive.


What makes a good online reputation?

Being present (listed online) and having a good reputation (reviews and reputation management) go hand in hand. Not being listed on a reference site customers use is just as bad as having bad reviews on that site. Building a consistent online presence and a positive reputation is important for both consumers and search engines. Some of the most important aspects of the online footprint include:

  • number of business listings
  • consistency of business listing information (name, address, phone)
  • overall sentiment in reviews
  • frequency or current velocity of new reviews
  • overall volume of reviews
  • social activity and engagement (especially with reviewers)

Customers now view social recommendations and reviews as more authentic, expecting \\reviews to be a mirror of the actual customer experience that they would experience themselves. This means that maintaining your business’s online reputation is gaining importance as each review is a perceived snippet of what your potential customer expects to experience.


Online reputation management: the main sell

According to Google, 9 out of 10 of local searches lead to action, with more than 50% leading to sales. If businesses have a good web presence, customers will go to them rather than the competitor. Once they’re in the store, 79% of customer use their smartphones inside to look at reviews or compare prices and 74% of them end up making a purchase. Those numbers alone make the opportunity clear: online reputation management is essential for your business to get consumers in the door to make the sale.

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Tips for Providing The Perfect Customer Experience

Amazing customer service may seem like a lot of extra work on a short-term basis, but it does improve your brand image and goodwill, which means a lot in the long run. No matter how big or small your business is, you must focus on making your customers happy. There are many ways to do this—with the strength of your product, with free incentives that you can offer or with amazing customer service experiences.

With all the competition out there, succeeding with your business nowadays is a matter of wills. Are you willing to provide the best possible value? Are you willing to offer your customers the perfect customer experience? If you are, then it’s time to get started at improving the customer service experience your company provides. Here are a few important tips to help your company provide your customers the perfect customer service experience.


1. Know your products and services inside and out

No matter the business or industry you’re in, knowing your offerings (products or services) inside and out is absolutely necessary. Customer service is, after all, all about helping your customers succeed with your products or services. Therefore, your customer service should focus on offering the proper suggestions, tips and solutions to ensure that success. Each and every employee (not just customer service) should know the ins and outs of what you’re selling. Helping your employees succeed by providing the proper training (regardless of their job description) is the first step in helping your customers succeed.

2. Be more accessible

If you want your customer service department to strive for success, here’s what you should know—customer service must be readily accessible to all of your customers. One easy way of accomplishing this is setting up more communication channels in which customer can connect with a customer service member when they have a question or issue. The minimum that you can do is to provide a phone number, an e-mail address and a mailing address. If your business can afford it, and really need it, develop an online support desk that can be instantly reached 24/7. This communication channel is usually required when the company reaches a big number of requests and website visitors.

3. Speed up your response times

Customers love quick answers. According to a recent report performed by Frost, 41% of customers suggest that their biggest frustration regarding customer service is when they’re put on hold. They want to be respected, and your company must give your best to solve everyone’s issues quickly.

4. Focus on the customer, not on the sale

Customer service is all about the customer’s feelings and experience. You must focus on their well-being and you must avoid thinking about combining customer service with sales or other aspects of your business. If you want to leverage your customer service system in order to make more sales, I’m sorry to disappoint you: it’s not that effective! The selling side of your business is totally different and you should focus on it separately. Continually work at ways that you can improve the customer experience to keep your customers satisfied and coming back for more.

5. Clear communication

Keep communication simple and ask straightforward questions when communicating with your customers. The truth is that we all communicate differently, so be prepared for communicating with your customers in different ways to ensure that they will understand whatever information you are trying to relay to them. If corresponding by email or online, grammar and spelling must be perfect or your credibility as a professional company will slowly vanish.

6. Over-deliver whenever possible

Over-delivering can help create loyal customers. On average, loyal customers can be worth 10x more than their first purchase. If someone gets treated right, they’ll often come back. They’ll perceive your company as a trustworthy authority or provider; therefore, over delivering from time to time helps your company’s reputation to grow positively. Find a way to reward your customers with a customer service issue for being patient. It could be anything. Nothing costly or hard to obtain. Ideally, this small attention should also deliver some value.

7. Find and fix your mistakes

Mistakes are a part of any business, after all we are all human. Nevertheless, do your best to make things right with your customers. When we’re talking about mistakes, we’re talking about a customer that hasn’t been treated right. Your business can make it right by offering them solutions, returns or future guarantees. Pay attention: if you’re not fixing your mistakes in time, your company’s reputation will suffer. People will start talking, reviewing, and sooner than later you’ll realize that your sales are dropping.

8. Test, fail, test again and ultimately optimize

Before reaching success in a customer service program, every business goes through a trial-and-error process. The marketplace and the customers within any industry tend to become more complicated as an industry ages or becomes more fragmented. If you try out a new product, service, or customer service initiative, don’t be afraid to fail. Know that “failure” isn’t failure, it is merely feedback—it lets you know what not to do so you can start focusing on things that might work. After you find something that works, begin the scaling process. Optimize everything until you find the balance that you’re looking for.

Conclusion

Businesses are always looking for new ways to make a name for themselves and an excellent customer service experience is one of those ways in which a business can afford to get a great reputation in. Competition is almost always growing in any industry and new strategies and actions must be implemented to keep up with the constant flux. Providing the perfect customer experience is just one way for your business to stand out from the crowd, win customers over and keep them coming back. It’s never too early or to late to create a customer service program that turns your customers into repeat customers, or ambassadors of your brand.