Archive for the ‘Marketing Strategy’ Category

Using Twitter to Grow Your Business

Social Media

Social Media

Twitter is just one of a number of social networks that’s being used more and more often by businesses. For a growing amount of businesses social networking is taking over from email as a way to reach their contacts and friends. It is the ever increasing popularity of this social experience which is expanding growth within this new media.

New social networking sites are coming onto the market every day, but only a handful have a user base large enough to be effective.

Social networking is all about its users and not about how new a particular site is.

Twitter has become so popular that TV newsreaders and newspaper columnist recommend their twitter account at every opportunity, and every celebrity and politician worth his salt has an account. Although not everyone actually writes or Tweets the information themselves:that activity is often being done by someone else.

More and more businesses are now using Twitter as a means to collect customers increase their brand awareness and announce special offers, And by providing high quality, interesting information they give their company and website more exposure.

How can I use Twitter to send targeted visitors to my web site?

Twitter is an excellent way to drive leads and customers to your website, but first you need understand a few things before you start to implementing this.

Giving

When marketing on Twitter the number 1 principle is to give; if someone asks you for something or needs assistance then give it to them. This will show your followers that you truly care and have their best interests at heart. Anytime you can help someone you are creating or strengthening a bond with them.

Remember people do business with people who they like and trust so make people like and trust you. Using Twitter correctly is relationship building at its very best.

Every marketing strategy you utilize on Twitter will rely on how effective your relationship building skills are. It does require practice but in time you can succeed at this, and you will find it easy to send traffic to your website.

Giving to the Twitter community means you will receive from the Twitter community. You can send out tweets about special offers on your website, new information, articles, or any special offers that you have and people will be happy to visit. In business using Twitter works.

Automation

Did you know that some businesses automate the process of Tweeting?

Building a profitable Twitter following takes time and dedication. This is why it is criticalto automate the mundane task of updating your tweets. Automating as much as possible is also essential if you want to scale-up your business.

Successful Twitter marketing is not an overnight process and will require a modicum of time and effort but if you are patient in your approach and steadily build a long term relationship many of your followers will turn into customers.

How Technology in Transforming Business Online

Technology Helps Business

Technology Helps Business

Technology is transforming the way business is done, least of all in the arena of small business. As a small business, you have a unique advantage to your larger competitors in that your cost for adoption of new technology is minimal, and the difference the technology can make is invaluable.

Aside from being able to connect and communicate with a local consumer more easily and more efficiently than before, technology can also enable you to expand your business’s horizons – what started as a local “Main Street” type business can expand into a regional, or even international, player.

So, how does this happen? It is easier than you may think. Most obviously, technology enables you to conduct business via the Internet.

Whether you provide a product or a service, you can reach new consumers, check existing consumers, and obtain valuable market research inexpensively and with little upfront costs. The issue of state, regional, or national boundaries is essentially dissolved. In addition, technology also enables you to expand your operations through its role in communications.

You can message, IM, video conference, telephone, or interact on one of the many networking sites (both social and private). Lastly, technology has also opened shipping networks, so that it is possible for you to send a package, be it of a product, a signed contract, or a hardcopy of a service provided (e.g. engineering plans, business plan, photographs), to anywhere in the world, in as little as a few days, if you are willing to pay the extra costs.

However, this is considering technology at its broadest level. If you are like many business owners and managers, you may know that such technology exists, but have little conception as to how to adopt it. The truth is that any modern technology is easy to adopt – they have designed it to be so – you only need to know where to start.

The following is a list of new technologies and ways that small businesses can use them to advantage:

  1. Social Media: Social media (sites like Facebook and Twitter) add another dimension to your business operations. You are able to connect with current and potential customers in a whole new way. Not only are you able to provide information on your product or services and relay the news of your company, but you are also able to inquire as to what features or elements they prefer in your product/service offering, improvements they would like to see, etc. Further, you can run promotions in this way as well. The best part about social media however is that it is free to use and, unlike starting a blog without a unique domain name, you may actual gain esteem in the minds of many consumers for the fact of your adoption of the new technology.
  2. Conferencing: Instead of traveling hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to hold a meeting, you can stay on top of client relationships, project management, and interact with suppliers or distributors via video on your computer. Some technologies will even allow you to interface over a document – each able to read and manipulate the document. Again, the cost is minimal. After all, you don’t necessarily need a huge network like Cisco. As a small business, you can get all the features you need for free through Skype or even just using the video conferencing software already built into many messaging and operating systems, such as iChat on Apple devices.
  3. Networking Sites: Through free technologies, such as Ning.com, you are able to build your own social networking site. Use this technology to provide a platform for interfacing over a project, for internal communication within your company (particularly useful if you have employees in various locations, working various shifts, or if employees need to upload large documents), or providing a valuable communication point for highly integrated clients, suppliers, distributors, or subsidiaries. There are also many low-cist sites, such as Basecamp, that can provide similar advantages.

Communication: Lastly, consider communication. If your employees are wide spread, work autonomously, or travel frequently, you may want to consider providing them with smartphones. Smartphones can allow you to tether (meaning to use your phone’s wireless connection to get “online” with your laptop), access email on the go and respond professionally, open documents, search contacts, etc. Whereas a larger corporation may only be able to afford to do this for select employees, as a small business you would be able to provide smartphones to everyone for minimal cost, a large part of which would be tax deductible.

Business-to-Business: B2B Marketing Using Social Media

B2B & Social Media

B2B & Social Media

Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, receive a great deal of attention for their uses in business-to-consumer scenarios.

In these situations, social media sites can act as a way to build customer relationships, obtain market research, identify trends, etc.

If your company operates business-to-business, traditional social media marketing techniques, however, rarely make the grade.

In addition, using business-to-consumer techniques to appeal to a business customer can even devalue your company’s brand image, making your efforts look haphazard and dated.

For the business-to-business company, social media presents its own advantages and requires its own techniques:

Awareness

One of the most important things you can do to build your business is to build awareness. Using social media you can do things like post pictures, link to pictures and news stories, and post links to your company’s profile on industry sites. For example, if you have a fitness center, you could include pictures of your gym’s facilities and profiles of the trainers you employ. You could also post links to any news coverage your gym receives and post links to your gym’s profile on any local weight loss groups. Alternatively, if you sell steel buildings, you could post pictures of the various types of steel buildings you offer and the assorted ways your buildings are used (e.g. warehouse, grain storage, soccer stadium). In addition, you could post links to your company’s profile on group pages centered on farming, industry, fitness centers, etc.

In each example, you are building awareness of the products you offer and the ways in which those products can be used. While you may have many of these elements on your website, including them in your social media will ensure that when someone is looking to fill a need, your company can be found easily.

Broadcast and Engage

More and more people, including business owners and managers, are looking to social media to find information on companies and products before ever using a search engine. As such, having adequate information available where your customers look is critical. An increasing number of businesses are searching for business-to-business companies using the medium of social media, however the level of buy-in is variant – Some companies may do an amazing amount of business through social media while others may only get on social media sites for personal use. One of the easiest ways to catch the attention of the entire range is to broadcast and engage.

Broadcast industry news, trending topics related to your business, new product development, new technology, etc. Essentially, give your potential customers a reason to visit your social media page. The goal is to establish your business as an expert in your industry or, in other words, as an industry resource. Once you have established your company as such, business customers will visit your profile or “friend it” just to get an update on what is happening in the industry.

 Further, engage your business customers (current or potential) in the same way. For instance, if you have a graphic design company, you would want to broadcast market research reports and findings, the relative successes clients have had using your services, etc. In addition, you would want to engage your business customers by responding to comments as “the” business, such as you posted the results from the latest Nielsen report and one of your customers writes something like “So, Facebook really is taking over the Internet.” Instead of responding as a friend (e.g. “Yeah, my kids are always on the site”), you would want to respond, “Yeah, apparently, over 50 percent of consumers get on a social media site everyday. Did you know, according to the report, over 60 percent of new business is found one those types of sites?” In this example, you keep the focus on the business and demonstrate your attention to market trends.

Credibility

Broadcasting and engagement in this way can build your credibility, but social media sites can build your company’s credibility even further. How? By integrating your profile with your customers.

For example, ask your customers to write the comments regarding your products or services on your Facebook wall. Including this sort of element on your Facebook profile is similar to the “Testimonials” pages seen on many websites early on. As the comments are actually posted by your customers, their statements are seen as more genuine than ones you would publish to your website, making your business all the more credible.

Are You Tracking the Right Online Data

Tracking Data

Tracking Data

Whatever method, or methods, of marketing you choose to use for your small business, you are generating data. You gather information on the effectiveness of the method by seeing what ad or set of wording draws in the most leads.

You can see what promotions drive the most traffic to your site and/or the most sales to your business. In addition to this, you also have data such as unique site visitors, whether those visits were made by clicking on a link or typing in your URL, etc., as well as the information you gain from social media.

With so much data available, it can be difficult to know what is worthwhile to track and how to apply the data from tracking those variables in a way that creates real value, as opposed to an arbitrary historical or industry comparison.

What to track

Knowing what data is appropriate to track is more about what you are trying to discover than what you are actually tracking. A single piece of data may be used in a variety of calculations and, depending on your business, most calculations can be derived in a variety of ways. To use a very basic example, think about the reports of traffic to your site. If you just took that number and looked at it simply, perhaps in comparison to traffic from previous days/weeks/months or looked at it relative to other websites, you would be able to rate the relative performance of your site over a set period. However, that simple observation tells you nothing about whether a new campaign is catching on or whether the traffic is due to someone putting a bad review on their Facebook wall.

Instead, base what you track on what you need to know.

What to look for

When you know what to look for, you can establish systems to automatically record those factors. For example, do you need to know if a campaign is working? Then, you will need to track the click-throughs that result from the campaign ads versus your traditional advertising. Likewise, if you need to know what geographic location you are getting the most traffic from, you will need to analyze the IPs of your traffic.

When you focus your analytics on finding answers to specific questions, you can be sure that none of your resources (time or money) are being wasted tracking items that have little real weight.

What’s your intent

Lastly, tracking the right data may also be about intent. While it is important to find answers to certain questions, in some cases intent is just as important.

Engagement

Take for example the concept of “engagement”. If your business requires a high level of engagement, meaning interaction, conversations, samples, etc., you may be using social media to make those initial connections and provide some of the legwork for you. If this is the case, your analytics should reflect that.

Sentiment

Sentiment comes into play when you consider your brand image and it is commonly used by larger companies. The idea is to see what people think about your product or service. This is commonly accomplished through social media (in some cases even provoking the dialogue) and product review sites. Instead of listening to the dialogue simply, use your analytics to see the frequency of a suggestion, complaint or applaud.

Traffic

The amount of traffic sites you advertise on or interact with is just as important as the amount of traffic your site receives. By measuring the click-through and purchase rate of ads placed on a particular site, you can see whether that site is a good choice or not.

Using Technology for Customer Retention

Technology Helps Business

Technology Helps Business

Marketing as entered a new phase where virtual communications are the standard and being “on-line” is a given. Potential customers search for products/services, look at websites, read reviews, email questions, and get an idea of the company’s concept or brand through social media.

While these elements are important, the comparative success of marketing techniques is largely variable from one industry to another. However, any business, regardless of industry, size, location, or target market, loses 30 percent of its customers each year.

In spite of this fact, the marketing budgets of most firms are 80 percent or more focused on finding new customers, as opposed to retaining customers.

Customer Retention

Customer retention is a serious issue and it can serious affect the bottom line. In order to solve the quandary as to why customers go elsewhere, you have to start by asking yourself a few fundamental questions:

  1. Why did they come to you in the first place?
  2. Did you deliver on that concept?
  3. Did they go to a less costly competitor, one with better service, or one with better products/services (e.g. more features, specific features)?

The fact is that almost 70 percent of customers leave because they are unhappy with the service they receive. Their complaints, while they may include something such as may clarity of rules (e.g. certain items/services excluded from a sale), communication (e.g. received no response to an email or phone call, no notice of a delay in delivery) is a far bigger issue.

Communication Tools

To this end, a variety of services, many of which are free or of very low cost, have emerged. They allow you a framework for communication with your clients: complete with a calendar of milestones and expected completion dates, a place to upload files (including the very large ones difficult to email), a message board to ensure communication between all parties, a common information board (e.g. contact information, project outline), and an overview of what has been uploaded, posted, or added most recently. There are three main players: SharePoint, Basecamp, and Google Wave. Each is very different from the other.

SharePoint

SharePoint is a creation of Microsoft. Its primary function is to facilitate communication within a team; the primary focus is on content management. SharePoint is the best in situations where there is a volume of documents integral to the project, as SharePoint has great sorting features. It also allows for customized workflows and certain automation of processes. It works well in situations that include a large number of players, a large number of documents, and a high need for customization. It is commonly used at an organizational level and is common in larger companies.

Basecamp

Basecamp is a simple program. It is allows its users to share documents, post messages, upload files, record milestones, and have an overview as to what has happened with regard to the project most recently. It is best used in environments where a company has a variety of projects ongoing, each with varying timeframes, and in scenarios where there is a different level of involvement for each player, such as one suppliers may be involved in two projects while another may supply necessary components to all but one project.

Google Wave

Google Wave is an amped up version of Google’s Gmail system. It has a shared calendar, capability for real-time updates and chats, and document sharing. Google Wave is the newest of the three main players but, owing largely to the ease and familiarity of the Gmail system, many users find it easy to use. Accordingly, email integration is the easiest of the three systems profiled here. It is most useful in scenarios that benefit from integration – Google Wave is able to integrate into other websites. It has less of the project management focus (as in Basecamp), but is not quite solely at the organizational level.

In addition, some companies will opt to create a private group on a social media site, such as Facebook or Linked In, or take advantage of a create-your-own network site, such as Ning.

 

The Concept of “Team”

Whatever method you choose, success in business is all about the team. When you start a business, the focus is on building your internal team. As that business grows, the concept of “team” is expanded to include suppliers, distributors, customers, and complementary product producers. Keeping your standard of communication and team integration high can help ensure that you retain a greater percentage of your customers and, in doing so, achieve success.

Paid Search and Social Media Make Effective Marketing Partners

Marketing Partners

Marketing Partners

Both paid search and social media have been steadily incorporated into many business strategies, but if you have not integrated these two powerful marketing tools, you may find you are missing out on a huge opportunity.

Inasmuch as the return-on-investment, conversion-obsessed world of paid searches can seem a world away from the viral and community-based marketing seen in social media, their differences are exactly what makes them complementary.

On the one hand, paid search is all about lead generation, sales and conversion. Other than the handful of words describing your site, paid searches offer little in the way of branding. Social media on the other hand is all about branding when used for your business.

You create an active dialogue with consumers and that dialogue builds trust in your brand and expands the concept of your business’s brand to form an identity. By creating content in your social media that engages your audience, you can develop paid search campaigns that are targeted toward that audience.

A recent study by GroupM Search, M80, and ComScore found that when an audience is exposed to a targeted social media campaign, they are almost three times as likely to search on the terms used in that campaign. In addition, an audience exposed to a good social media campaign is almost twice as likely to search with the intention of buying. The study also found that brands had a 50 percent higher click-through rate when their target audience was exposed to both social media and paid search. The study illustrated that social media builds a stronger brand awareness and, thus, is able to drive paid search. This results in more impressions, more clicks on those impression and a higher quality score, which in turn means that your ads will be placed higher on the page.

Here are several proven strategies for bringing paid search and social media together effectively:

Optimize your social media.

When your social media is tagged and indexed, complete with metatags, potential customers will be able to find you when they search for your brand content or product/service offering.

 Use keyword advertising on social media sites.

When you run an advertisement on certain media sites, such as Facebook, you have a unique ability that traditional ads do not offer – you can make your ads appear only to those people who have certain interests, as listed in their profile.

 Let social media influence your paid search campaigns.

For example, pay attention to what is trending on Twitter or what the key topics and discussions are and create paid search campaigns that include those keywords.

In the beginning, integrating your paid search and social media campaigns can be trial-and-error. Expect that and use it. Spend some time running experiments, such as turning your social media off to see if it makes a difference or finding out which keywords tend to help the most people find you. The key to being effective in marketing of any type is knowing where your traffic comes from and why.