Monthly Archives: November 2015

8 Tips for a Successful Holiday Online Marketing Campaign

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holiday online marketingIf you haven’t started crafting your plan for your holiday online marketing efforts yet, it’s time to get started—and not give up. With more than $460 billion spent every year on holiday gifts in the United States and millions of users online every day, you’d be foolish not to use online marketing to make your customers aware that you can help them check off a few boxes on their gift list.

While that all sounds well and good (and easy), there is a difference between a holiday marketing campaign and a successful marketing campaign. The difference? Value. We’re not just talking about a discount, or giving your customers the best deal, but delivering value to their doorstep (and on their computer and smart phone). That value can be advice, information, answers to their questions, entertainment, products, services, customer service—any resource that solves their problem. So how do you plan a holiday online marketing campaign that delivers value to your customers? As you wrack your brain for holiday marketing ideas, our gift to you are the guidelines that make your marketing plan successful:

Target your efforts

You can’t run an online marketing campaign without social media nowadays. It’s a missed opportunity, but don’t feel like you have to be on every social media channel: on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and all the other social media platforms. Be strategic about your social media marketing efforts. Target your efforts to social media channels where you know your customers are, and focus your efforts. If you’re a bridal salon, focus on Pinterest and Instagram. Both social media channels have a strong female demographic of followers, and are very visual social media platforms. If your business caters to other businesses, focus your efforts on LinkedIn and Twitter which are proven B2B marketing tools.

Don’t oversell

Yes, your products would make great gifts. Yes, the world should know. But remember that social media marketing is not advertising (though you can take advertise on social media). “Sell, sell, sell!” tactics are an act of sabotage on social media, and decrease your chances of engagement with your followers. That doesn’t mean you can’t sell your products or services on social media, it means that you shouldn’t ONLY sell on social media.

Identify their pain points

frustrated womanWhat do your customers want to know? What resources can you provide and share that answers their questions? The holidays may be the jolliest time of the year, but it does bring with it a bit of holiday stress (and cleaning and hustle and bustle) as well as questions about gift choices, how to make life easier, and how to handle any holiday crisis that may arise over the holidays.

Invest in media

Videos and graphics are not optional in a successful media campaign. A wide variety of visuals is a must-have to capture your customers’ attention. Make sure you know the ideal size for each of your social media channels; if you are using Instagram, make sure your photos are high resolution for best results.

Create lists

A list is one of the most popular kinds of content that capture people’s attention, so use it. Create a holiday countdown on social media, or a list of gifts (perhaps a list of funny or unusual gift ideas?). Don’t feel your lists have to be solely about your products; remember you are trying to bring value to your customers.

Tell a story

Storytelling is still one of the most effective strategies in online marketing. Use it to your advantage in your content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing efforts. Include photos and videos for optimum results.

Don’t treat your online marketing as a standalone effort

digital marketingToo often business owners and managers don’t let the proverbial left hand know what the right hand is doing; they think that traditional marketing channels is its own animal, and online marketing exists in a bubble. In short, integrate your efforts into a marketing plan so you can use a consistent voice and brand across traditional and online marketing channels.

Bring in back-up

The holidays are crazy both professionally and personally. Don’t be afraid to call in the professionals for assistance in your online marketing. Outsourcing can be the solution that guarantees that your business runs a successful holiday marketing campaign, so you don’t end up with a bag of coal at the end of the holiday season.

5 Ways to Make (and Keep!) Your Online Customers Happy

online marketingLet’s just say it: a significant part of your online marketing efforts should be focused on keeping your customers happy. Sure, we use other terms to describe the concept—customer satisfaction, enhancing their digital experience, customer service, etc.—but really the crux of your online marketing strategy should be focused on your customers and how you can keep them happy with you now, and interested enough to come back. The truth of online marketing is that there is no magic recipe, no standard road map for that goal. And with the advent of new online marketing tools, social media platforms, and search engine optimization strategies, the “magic recipe” for customer satisfaction is continually evolving. Yet even in the midst of all the digital evolution, there are some hard and fast guides you can use in your pursuit of customer happiness.

Know who your customers are

Take the number one rule of marketing to heart when writing optimized content for your website or blog, or emails to send out: know your audience. You’re not going to keep your customers happy if you don’t know the type of customer you are trying to satisfy. Create a buyer persona of your “typical” customer, and create content and emails for that customer type.

If you’re an outdoor gear store with a younger audience, create marketing pieces with information and tips for your customers’ next adventure. Are you a bridal store who caterers to younger brides? Answer the questions you hear in the story on your website, in emails, on your blog, on social media—wherever you have a social media presence.

Know where your online customers are

Once you identify your key audience, don’t randomly dive into online marketing without being strategic about your efforts. Target your efforts where you know your customers are. If you are considering using social media to connect with your customers, do your research. Choose a social media channel where your target audience spends a great deal of their time. Don’t feel you have to be everywhere online; be realistic and strategic about your online marketing efforts.

Engage with them

We often talk about using engagement to measure our social media and online marketing tactics; what about measuring how we engage with them online? Do you just throw social media posts and content out there and see what happens? Do you respond to emails that come in through your website, social media comments and questions quickly? Remember that one of the unique elements of online marketing is that it’s a two-way street; take advantage of that to the fullest. Engage with them, deliver excellent customer service and don’t be afraid to say thank you. It’s refreshing—and too infrequently done, by our standards.

Give them what they want

Is your content relatable to your audience? Can they relate to the problem you are writing about or choosing content about? Does your content relate to the age group of your audience? One way to choose relatable content is to listen to your customers, or talk to the people that do, and write content that answers their questions. You can also put your content marketing in the hands of professionals that can. Remember social media is not about JUST selling to your customer (though you can certainly do that some of the time)—that goal is met by posting and sharing relatable content that helps them, and about listening.

Being relatable can be especially challenging if you feel your industry is “boring,” but that’s where it pays to be creative—and to know your voice. Don’t try to be humorous in an industry where it’s not appropriate (such as for a funeral home). However, we’ve seen heating and cooling businesses, pest control companies, tire shops, many “boring” shops create relatable, entertaining online marketing pieces.

Don’t stop

Online marketing is not a feast or famine exercise; successful online marketing is regular and consistent. Allocate your time accordingly; create a strategic plan that uses all the elements of a successful online marketing plan and execute accordingly. If you need assistance in drafting a plan, or executing regular and relatable content, enlist the help of an online marketing firm. It’s a move that makes you and your customers happy; a bonus in your efforts to keep your customers happy.

4 Ways Everyone Can Tell You’re a Social Media Rookie

social media roookie mistakesThis post comes with a disclaimer: we’re all still learning about social media. Everyone is; social media is constantly evolving, and new strategies are being developed every day. That being said, you don’t have to look like you’re new to the social media “game,” even if you are a rookie to social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. So how do you avoid walking around with a metaphorical “I’m new here” sign on your back? Avoid these common rookie social media faux pas:

You only share content about you

Don’t confuse social media marketing with traditional advertising. This is more than just a space that says, “buy, buy, buy!” Creating a valuable social media presence is all about giving value to your customers, and not just on selling. That means sharing content, graphics and information that your customers find valuable, including but not limited to information about your company. Use the 80/20 rule: 80% of your posts, tweets, etc. should be valuable (even fun depending on your company’s voice), and 20% should be about you.

Don’t be afraid to share content from other sources. If you are a pet store, share tips, articles, and memes that your customers find interesting. Add in pictures of pets that come into your store, fun pictures of your employees (with their permission), sales happening at your store, and notification of community events you’re involved in. The result is a social media presence that your customers find relevant and interesting, building their trust and bringing them in the door.

You have a million different social media pages, BUT…

The BUT is that you’re not good at any of them. A tell-tale sign of a rookie business is a mishmash of social media pages that don’t have relatable, regular and relevant posts specific to the social media site, the key to a solid social media presence. They’ve jumped in with good intentions, but 1) don’t have the knowledge of what to post to that specific social media channel or 2) tons of social media pages but no time to post to those pages.

What’s almost worse is when a business links two social media pages and automatically cross posts. The result is a long Facebook post that Twitter users can’t even read because it’s too long; a LinkedIn page with short Tweets that obviously weren’t intended for LinkedIn and don’t give LinkedIn users value. It’s disastrous. Every social media site is different; create posts and tweets for each platform, even if you’re sharing the same content.

How do you avoid this particular social media black eye? Plan ahead. Choose your social media channels strategically, and focus on those channels. Knowing what social media site fits your brand (check out this infographic to match your customer demographic with the right social media platform) is almost as important as what you put on those social media channels. Are you a bridal shop? Consider Pinterest, which is a visual social media channel with a strong female user demographic. A business focused on B2B marketing? Consider LinkedIn, one of the leading social media platforms among professionals.

You don’t have to confine your social media presence to one social media site, of course. But if you do have a presence on several sites, know your social media site and their audience or hire a social media marketing company that does. Finding your niche in the social media world is as wonderful as a compatible marriage. It’s a match made in heaven, where your business achieves results—and your audience gets the content they want.

Feast or famine social media presence

Ah, the famous “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” error. Or, in this case the “your intentions are bigger than the amount of time you have.” These rookie businesses post when they have time, post a lot, and then….post nothing. You’re not going to keep your audience’s interest with this fast or famine approach to social media. Be regular; the definition of regular is different on each social media platform. If you can’t give regular social media updates and blog posts, outsource to marketing experts. It’s better to have updated social media channels than irregular posts and dated information. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing.

You don’t respond

This is one of the worst mistakes a business can make on social media: not responding to their customers in a timely fashion. Remember, social media is a two-way forum. If your customers ask a question, or leave a review, you need to respond quickly. Studies have shown that your customers’ expect a response on social media, and that they are responding a response within an hour (or two at the most). That doesn’t mean you need to stay awake all night responding to customers, especially if you put your business hours on Facebook. It does mean that you need to reply as quickly as possible, even if the review or inquiry has a negative tone.

If you get a negative review or comment, don’t ignore it. Instead, use this as a chance to listen and provide excellent customer service. Deleting a negative comment only angers your already angry customer and makes it look like you have something to hide. Your customers are taking the time to engage with you, now it’s your turn to return the favor. If you don’t have time to post and respond to your social media inquiries, hire help to make sure that you meet your customers’ (and potential customers’) expectations.

Remember, not to treat social media marketing like it’s an isolated effort. Integrate your social media marketing into your marketing plan so you have a clear, consistent voice in all your marketing efforts—and the excellent results of a well thought-out, strategic marketing plan. Don’t be afraid to ask if you have any questions about digital marketing; watching and learning are two sure ways to lose that rookie label.