Monthly Archives: June 2016

Step by step: Make SEO, Content, Social Media & Email Work Together for You

puzzle with hand pushing in last piece of digital marketing puzzle We’ve met more than a few business owners who look at digital marketing tools as aliens from foreign planets.  What’s even more common is for them to look at each of these “UFOs” as all from a separate planet (or galaxy!), without putting all the pieces together and recognizing the potential of well-coordinated online marketing plan.

We’ve written about the ‘what’ of these online marketing tools: search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing, and how they are a must of any business marketing plan. Now we’re going to give you a general idea of how you can make them work together as an integrated marketing plan (think of it as a coordinated universe if we want to stick with space analogy), saving you time and effort in the process—and increasing your business bottom line, if executed correctly.

Start with a solid foundation: your website

What good is a stellar email marketing campaign if you don’t have solid website pages to send your audience back to?  What kind of sales numbers are you going to achieve if you entertain your audience on social media, but don’t have any more business info to give them?  Start with a well-built website (or hire experts to do it for you) with all the ‘must haves:’ optimized information about all your products or services, your business, and a way for people to reach you.  Optimize the content on your pages for search engines and your audience (use these tips), and use SEO to attract local customers searching for products and services pertinent to your business (see how this is all starting to come together?).   

Use your sales cycle to plan

Your efforts to market your website should follow your sales cycle.  For example, if you are a caterer, look back at your sales for the past year to dictate your marketing plan for next year.  Your sales team or customer service representatives would be an excellent source for this information; after all, they are interacting with your potential and existing customers on a regular basis.  An example would look like:

December-March Booking weddings (because of high engagement rate)

April-June Booking company picnics

July-August Booking weddings

September-November Booking holiday parties

This calendar is very simplified, but you can see how your sales cycle would drive your online marketing calendar.  Based on this basic example, the content you produce would match what your sales team is seeing from customers so your entire team can use the materials you produce to reach your targeted audience.

Use strategy to dictate content creation

Remember just because you’re following your sales calendar doesn’t mean you need to produce content that is entirely about selling your business.  You are trying to provide value to your customer, and you’re not going to attract new customers if you’re screaming “buy, buy, buy!” in their face.  It’s the wrong first impression.

What you should do is compile a list of subjects related to your calendar.  These subjects can stem from customers’ frequently asked questions or topics that your sales team feels would entertain your customers and draw potential customers (more ideas for content topics here).  If you outsource your content creation, make sure you connect with your marketing team on a regular basis.  Make sure you integrate big events into your calendar as well, such as a trade show or open house.  Use video, quality images, and other media as part of your plan—remember not everyone is driven to text alone.  Make sure you post content to a blog (this is a very common and effective content marketing tool, more info here) on a regular basis (this is very important), both to keep your audience’s and search engine’s attention (search engine optimization).

Don’t forget that your content is being produced to convert your customers; include links back to your website, search-optimized pages, and social media channels so your customers have an easy way to buy and ask questions.

Draft a strategic distribution plan (and stick to it)

Businessman sitting at table and screaming in megaphone on laptop while content marketingQuality content without a distribution plan is like a really good secret no one hears.  Add another dimension to your content calendar with ways you are going to share your content, such as social media and email marketing.  When adding this layer to your online marketing, keep the word ‘manageable’ in mind.  A good distribution plan is no good if you can’t execute it.  Remember, you don’t have to be on every social media channel out there, only the social media sites that fit your audience (we found a useful information on social media channels and demographics here).

Share your content as much as possible and make your content shareable so your customers can share it.  Make sure your sales team pushes it out as well.  Ask them to share it on their professional social media channels (if applicable) and via email.  Start building an email list of customers and potential customers, with the customers’ permission.  Use your content in emails, and drive the customer back to your blog, website, and social media channels so they have a variety of ways to contact you and buy your product or get a quote.

In addition to sharing content, don’t be afraid to share interesting articles and videos, notices with upcoming events (i.e. grand openings, trade shows, open houses, etc.), faces of your business, and interesting things you see on the job.  Keep everything you share somewhat professional; you don’t want to give your business a black eye by making one of these social media marketing mistakes.

How to make it ALL work for you

We wish we could give you a hard-and-fast plan with every online marketing tool integrated into an effective plan for your business (and we haven’t even touched out to add traditional marketing to the mix), but the truth is that every business and industry is different.  Plan accordingly, and be flexible.  Test out what works and doesn’t work, and outsource to the experts if you feel overwhelmed by “space age” online marketing.

12 Reasons You’re Not Getting Results on Social Media

Frustrated businessman in eyeglasses touching his head because he doesn't have any followers on social media“Why am I am not getting results on social media?”  “Why don’t I have any followers?”  Why doesn’t my business page get likes?” “Why don’t people like my posts?”  “How come my tweets don’t get retweeted?” “How can I get people to engage?”

There’s about a million different versions of these questions we hear from companies, usually accompanied by a healthy level of frustration.  If you’ve thought some of the same things—or vocalized them—this is the post for you.  While we can’t give you a specific reason social media isn’t working for you, (not without looking at your specific profiles, just ask us) we can give you some of the most common reasons businesses are not getting the results they set out to achieve on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat, and Pinterest.

You’re not where they are

One of the most common mistakes we see is from company owners and managers that choose a social media channel that they have personal profiles on—but not their customers.  Or they try to choose the biggest fish in social media, so they can try to reach as many people as possible; in reality, very few people in their target audience is on that social media site.  The result is a social media page targeted at customers but followed by friends and colleagues with minimal engagement.

The resolution: know who you want to reach, and research social media sites to find out what social media site has the demographics that fit with your target audience.

You don’t have a strategy

Too many companies jump on social media without a goal.  They’re on social media because everyone else is, or because it’s free.  The result is a mishmash of posts, little engagement, and a generic tone that doesn’t sound real and authentic.

The resolution: before you jump on social media, or as you make an evaluation of your marketing efforts, set a goal for your efforts and define the audience you want to reach.  You can set different goals for each of your social media channels and sub-goals for each of your marketing campaigns.  If you’re outsourcing your social media efforts, give input so you and your marketing team is all on the same page.

You don’t communicate with your social media marketing team

“There,” you think, “They can take care of my social media.  They know it better than me.  I don’t have to do anything!”  You’re partially correct; an expert social media team can manage your social media page and use their expertise to reach your audience.  However, they can’t do so without a key ingredient: personalization.  That’s what’s going to make your business stand out among all the choices they have to make.

The resolution: make an effort to meet or communicate with your in-house or outsourced social media marketing team on a regular basis.  Connect them with your sales or retail team so they understand what your customers want to know (frequently asked questions), the solutions to those problems, and your sales cycle.

You take the feast-or-famine approach

This issue is pretty easy to diagnose.  Look at your social media activity.  Do you post whenever you have time?  Is there regular activity on your social media account, followed by weeks of nothing?  Or do you post on one social media channel, while your other social media sites are a barren wasteland?

The resolution: when you set your strategy, select a manageable amount of social media sites.  You don’t have to be on every social media site to get results; choose the sites that fit the demographic of the audience you’re trying to reach.  Create a calendar of regular social media posts and content marketing that fit with your sales cycle—and stick to it.  The key to a solid social media strategy is regular and relevant posts.

You’re overselling

One of the biggest turn-offs of a business social media page is overselling.  Every post, every tweet, every interaction is about you, your products, and how they should buy from you.  Would you want a salesman screaming “buy, buy, buy!” at you over and over again?

The resolution: your business name may be on the social media page, but the page should not be about you.  Focus on your audience.  What do they want to know?  What makes them laugh (when appropriate)?  What can you do to help them?  If you need assistance with creating a customer-focused social media page, consult with social media experts who can help you decide who your target audience is, how you can attract them to your page, what kind of content they are interested in, and what times is best for posting.  Then, use the 80/20 rule as a guideline: 80% relevant content, 20% selling content.

You’re posting “stuff” they don’t care about

Blah, blah, blah.  If you’re posting boring content on your social media page, your followers are going to find someone else who posts what they want.  Know your audience, and what interests them.  One way to find this out is to listen to customers when they come in the store—or to talk to employees who interact with them on a regular basis.

The resolution: before you post, ask yourself, “does this content matter to me, or to my audience?”  Find relevant content that matters to your audience, and watch your pages to find out what resonates with your audience—and what doesn’t it.  Or create it by including content marketing as part of your online marketing plan.

You’re using sub-par images

Grainy images.  Boring pictures.  Social media is full of sub-par images that don’t resonate with their audience.  At the same time, statistics have shown that posts and tweets with images repeatedly get more engagement.

The resolution: find someone on your staff that can take excellent photos with their camera or mobile device (tablet, phone, etc.) or buy stock images that coordinate with your posts.  Another option is to outsource your efforts to an online marketing agency that has a wide variety of photos just for that purpose.

You bought followers

This is the equivalent of a ‘get rich quick’ scheme on social media, and a ploy that a lot of businesses fall for.  Just buy social media followers, and suddenly you have a huge social media following!  Poof! You’re set for the long-run.

The resolution: buying followers is a short-term effort that won’t help you reach your marketing goal.  Instead, try to build a strong targeted social media audience by spreading the word about your social media efforts through in-person and electronic interactions with customers (i.e. e-mails, e-newsletters, sales interactions, phone calls, etc.)

You’re not posting when they’re on

You post whenever you think of it, or whenever you have time.

The resolution: don’t just know what social media site your customers are on, but when they are on.  You can use insights on Facebook, measurement tools that monitor your followers’ activity, and testing on your own to determine when they are on and engaging with your brand.  If you don’t have the time to post when your followers are on, use scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer.

You have unrealistic expectations

Everyone wants to get on social media and BOOM! one of your posts goes viral.  The heavens pour down with followers willing to buy your product and services.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  That’s what most business owners and managers seem to expect from marketing on social media.  Unfortunately, that’s not how social media works (most of the time)—and often the followers you get are not interested in purchasing.

The resolution: take every measure possible to get results, but understand that social media is a marathon—not a sprint.  Set realistic goals for social media, such as messages that result in sales or a reasonable growth pattern that is in line with brand awareness.

You’re not responsive

Unanswered messages.  Comments with no response.  Every comment, message, tweet….it’s all an opportunity to engage with your customers and colleagues.  Don’t pass up these missed opportunities to build customer loyalty and show you care.  Your customers expect you to respond, and respond quickly.

The resolution: social media is supposed to be about conversations, so make sure you converse with your colleagues and customers.  Take our advice on dealing with negativity, and respond to every message and comment with a real voice so they know they are talking to a real person.  Even if you outsource your social media marketing, make sure you pay attention and respond quickly to inquiries (find more rules for excellent online customer service).

You’ve mixed business and anger

You’re angry about a customer reaction, so you post on social media how peeved you are.  A political situation leaves you seething, and all your social media followers know—and don’t like it.  Knee-jerk reactions may make you feel better, but a rash reaction to a comment or current event is not going to gain you followers on social media.

The resolution: there are two R’s to follow in social media marketing, and ranting is not one of them.  Be professional and real (you can be both) in all your social media interactions, and think through everything you post or comment BEFORE you take action.  Respond quickly, however, as customers respond a fast reaction.  If you have any questions, consult with the professionals before you post.