Monthly Archives: July 2017

5 Things Your Online Audience Wish You Knew

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customer with megaphone screaming out what she wantsYou may not see your social media followers. You may not know who your website visitors are. But those visitors should be the center of your online marketing strategy. From the second you figure out who your online audience is, it’s time to start crafting content for them. Here’s what they wish you knew—and what you should take to heart when marketing to them.

We LOVE images and videos

Would you believe that there are still businesses and organizations that are posting on social media and content marketing pieces without images? But the numbers say otherwise; statistics have repeatedly shown that posts perform significantly better with images and videos. Use these tips for choosing the best images for your social media and content marketing, and use them frequently (or outsource to a marketing firm that can produce quality images for your marketing).

We are not looking for your website

Unless they need you, the average customer is not surfing the web looking up random websites; instead they visit business websites when they want or need them. When they have a problem, they look for businesses or content that can help fix their problem. The takeaway? Don’t expect that customers are looking for you; instead you need to take steps to get your website at the top of the list and noticed. Contact a local optimization firm to optimize your website and get it listed at the top of searches by local customers. Create a rigorous social media, content, and email marketing plan to reach your audience with relevant and timely information so they notice you—and search for you when the time is right.

We don’t want to be yelled at (all the time)

While your customers understand that you’re trying to make money, they don’t want to be screamed at. They don’t want social media to be like listening to series of obnoxious radio ads. Instead, they want relevant and regular (and sometimes entertaining) content and social media posts. Don’t fill your social media and content marketing posts with “buy, buy, buy!” content. Instead, use the 80-20 rule for social media: 80% non-sales content and 20% sales pitches. Follow a regular calendar of social media posts  and content marketing pieces (or outsource your efforts to a marketing company that can keep up) for maximum results.

We want it easy

Don’t make your customers work; make your website and any call-to-actions easy to fulfill. Your website should be easy to navigate, contacting your company off of social media should be a walk in the park, and finding contact information on your next email should be extremely simple. One disclaimer: don’t make it too easy; you don’t want to get inundated by spam emails. Your time, and your audience’s, is valuable. Treat it like gold whenever you design a website, social media page, content marketing or email marketing piece.

We want to be answered

Marketing and customer service should go hand in hand. Don’t go to all the effort marketing your business without answering the inquiries PROMPTLY. The term “promptly” has taken on new meaning as well; today, customers expect a reply within two hours or less. Don’t leave them hanging; they’ll just move on to the next business. Assign a staff member to respond to every inquiry that comes in from social media, the website, or email marketing. Train them to respond correctly and promptly (more than once a day), and show what great customer service your business offers—even for those with negative feedback.

How do customers find your business website?

people looking at computer and tablet finding business websiteShocking fact of the day: people are not looking for your website. Unless they have a good reason to search for your website, unless they know it’s out there, your website is just another of the millions of websites out there.

So how can you get that perfectly designed, easy-to-navigate, branded website in front of the people who matter: your customers and customers-to-be? To get the answer, you need to look at the process through the eyes of the very people you want to reach. How do they find out about businesses? What channels do they use to find information?

Answering these questions comes with a somewhat annoying disclaimer: every customer is different and goes through the process differently. Customize your marketing to the channels that your target audience uses to find information.

Search engine listings

When people have a problem, they turn to the modern phone book: the internet. Indeed, statistics show that more than 90% of online experiences start with a search. If you want your website found online, and you want customers to use your website, you need to invest in two vital marketing tools.

Optimization is the process of optimizing your website for the search engines your audience uses to find you (i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). We’ve given you a few tips to get you started as you write the content for your website; the next step is to use optimization technology so your website shows up in search engine results pages of local users. To stay at the top of the listings, write and produce regular high-quality content (information on what makes content high-quality here) so your website is recognized as a source of fresh, user-friendly content.

Once your website is at the top of the listings, it’s time to keep on them on your website with mobile marketing. Mobile marketing is more than just a new age fad; it’s a necessity when research shows that more than three-quarters of Americans have a smartphone. Your website needs (note, NEEDS) to be mobile-friendly for search engines, who use mobile websites as a factor in the rating process, and users who click on your website. They aren’t going to stay on the website if they can’t browse it on their smartphone easily.

Email

Using email to contact customers is a marketing tool with one of the highest rates of return. There is a caveat; you’re not going to get those returns unless your email recipients want to hear from you. Don’t buy e-mail addresses. Build a solid e-mail list by asking for e-mail addresses at the counter, in your content marketing, on social media, through contests, or by offering a discount (other ideas to build your e-mail list here).

When you produce an e-mail, use solid content (to save time, recycle content you’ve produced for your website) and strong call-to-actions to make your recipients want to visit your website. Include strong headlines, images, and videos to capture their attention and keep it.

Social Media

Social media can be useful in two ways: to connect with customers on social media and as an unbiased third-party review of your company. First, social media can be a powerful way to regularly post relevant content that makes customers follow your company—even when they are not contacting you for a sale. Choose your social media platform carefully; it’s more important to create a stellar social media presence on one channel than to be mediocre on many different social media channels. To drive traffic from social media to your website, include posts with your website link in your marketing plan. If you create fresh, high-quality content marketing pieces, add that to the plan.

A solid social media presence can be useful for driving traffic in another way. Include your website in your social media profile and pin a post to the top of the profile with your website link. Users often use your social media page as a way to research your company, and see what past customers think of your business.

Review sites

Research has shown that 88% factor online reviews into their purchasing decision (Source: Search Engine Land). Powerful statistics like this show how important it is to have a solid profile on a review site. Include as much information about your business as is feasible, including your website. Monitor the sites for negative reviews, and use the reviews to showcase your excellent customer service. If you are concerned about the amount of time it takes to monitor the sites, contact a marketing firm that has the tools that can help you efficiently monitor your company’s profiles on the review sites for any negative reviews. Your website and business are going to benefit in the long-term.

7 Things Your Marketing Firm Wish You Knew

businessman on phone with marketing firm exec who is frustratedOnline marketing is important and evolving, and can seem like the dark (and unknown) frontier.

Or you don’t have time.

Or you hate marketing.

Whatever your reason for outsourcing your marketing, you didn’t invest your funds without expecting some results. And we’re sure your marketing firm can deliver (though we’re partial to a certain online marketing firm if you want local results) IF you hold up your end of the bargain. Here’s what your marketing firm wished you knew (and did) so you’re not that “one” client that expects the moon but isn’t getting results.

We need to be in the loop

You can’t hand over the keys to your marketing and expect results without contributing. Pictures from events, new products in your store, employees delivering excellent service…all these images are vital to an effective marketing campaign. Don’t expect everything for nothing; keep your marketing firm in the loop. Notify them of upcoming events. Return their calls or send e-mails and texts with information and images, then let them do the “marketing magic.”

Viral is not always a good thing

Every business owner seems to be chasing the magic rainbow: the viral video or image that immediately puts them in front of everyone in the world. The truth is that while there is some value in viral, instant fame comes with a price. A million likes on Facebook can actually lead to less engagement or a million views from random people who are not from your targeted audience (those likely to buy) are not going to help you achieve your goal of increasing sales. Think of marketing as a marathon not a sprint. Slow and steady progress with an engaged following wins the sales race.

A crummy website delivers crummy results

A website is more than a marketing nuisance; it’s the way your customers judge your business. A professionally-designed, easy-to-navigate, mobile-friendly, optimized website filled with well-written content earns their trust and sales. It also gains the attention of search engines who seek to deliver the best results to online users (read more about the optimization process here). Don’t skimp when building your new website (or expect the moon from a crummy website!); it is, after all, the foundation for a solid marketing plan.

Your customers are tired of being sold to

You want to increase sales. Your marketing firm gets that. But solid marketing efforts are relevant; your customers don’t want to be screamed at 24/7. Hard-selling posts can be included in your plan, but not every post and written piece needs to be a hard sell. Instead, use the 80/20 rule; 80% are relevant marketing pieces and 20% are targeted selling. (Avoid any marketing firms that tell you otherwise!) Your goal is to give them all the information they need to make a buying decision (content and email marketing are ideal for this), then provide fantastic customer service when they are ready to contact you for the sale.

Strategic tactics (and a plan!) are important

Many a business owner thinks that online marketing is like a point-and-shoot camera. Just post to social media, write up a few sentences, copy and paste a few lines from a brochure, right? This is where a plan and knowledge is really, really important. Don’t undervalue the strategy that a marketing firm can bring to your business; they can make sure that your content is targeted, website optimized, social media posts are scheduled for peak times for your targeted audience, and your email marketing is personalized—all to meet your goals. We know because we do this every day.

You’re overthinking it

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but we have talked to quite a few business owners who think that everything they do is not good enough for marketing. Not every image has to be professional and not every post has to be perfect. Today, relevancy—especially on social media—trumps perfect.

You don’t have time

If we had a penny for every client that said, “I’ll send that to you as soon as I have time” or every business owner that thought they had time to fill in the marketing blanks and never did, we’d be drowning in pennies. There’s no shame or blame in handing over your marketing efforts to the professionals, especially when you don’t have time. Be honest with yourself. An experienced marketing firm can cover all your marketing basis when you don’t have time; all you have to do is ask and give input on a regular basis.