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by Lori Cowen
I was engaging in my favorite late-night activity recently, multi-tasking in bed by watching back-to-back Jimmy (Kimmel then Fallon) and reading. While catching up on the latest news and
entertainment of the day on my iPad, I came across a headline that stirred me from my almost slumber. Jumping out at me in the dark from my backlit companion, were the words: Study:
Social media a bust for small businesses. How could this be I thought to myself? This statement
goes against almost everything else I have read in recent months in Social Media Examiner and
Mashable --and also does not jive with what the small business owners I have spoken to are
saying. But as I got deeper into the copy, I realized it was another case of the headline writer
missing the bigger picture of what was actually being reported.
A realignment of expectations
The article was citing the results of Manta’s recent survey. The most disturbing statistic revealed is that nearly two- thirds of small businesses don’t see a return on their investment in social media. But as I read on to see why those questioned in this study were not happy with the results of their efforts, I soon understood it’s more of a perception problem. What bothers me most is how many people just saw the headline and didn’t read the rest of the article which told a different story. The primary issue is that most small business owners start out with unrealistic goals. They either had the wrong expectations going in, were looking for a quick fix, or felt managing all their activity was a time suck. What they really need is a realignment of expectations and perhaps some professional guidance on how it should be leveraged. Too many are trying to do everything themselves so it’s no wonder they are feeling overwhelmed. According to a new infographic released by AWeber, a whopping 88% of small business owners are the primary marketers for their business.
The greatest untapped marketing opportunity
What was probably most incongruous is that despite the majority’s reported unhappiness with
ROI, just about half those surveyed did say they are spending more time on social media than
they did in the previous year. Social media and online marketing are not going away any time
soon and those that opt not to use it, or worse yet use it incorrectly are doing so at their own
peril. Another article I read not too long ago said something that really stuck with me: The ability of small business owners to tap into the personal networks of their customers is in all likelihood the greatest untapped marketing opportunity in existence. That’s the true power of social media. What small business owners may fail to understand is that it cannot necessarily be bought--and it takes time to develop. Generating buzz via social media is very organic and can be difficult to measure. However when done effectively, the rewards can be tremendous.
Persistence and a little patience
Buried deep in the article was this very telling quote from Pam Springer, CEO of Manta. She
says that "small businesses get returns from social media — they just don't know what they are when they see them". She says it's "good news" that companies are spending more time on social media. If they're really getting no returns, "it's probably because they don't know how to launch a successful social-media campaign, and they give up too fast if the campaign falls flat". Aha! That’s a truer analysis--and a far cry from social media being deemed a failure! Why didn’t they lead with that?
So what are the benefits of social media?
Here are 6 Benefits of Social Media for Small Businesses that actually many small business owners overlook:
1. Social Media increases website traffic and with a steady stream of fresh content, helps increase your Search ranking--8 of 10 small business owners who are actively engaged report gaining 1/4 of their new customers this way!
2. Social Media helps you create a personality for your business and can establish you as an expert in your field (via blogging).
3. Social Media can reward your loyal customers with discounts such as Facebook Check-in promotions.
4. Social Media makes it easier to share reviews and generate word of mouth--7 of 10 customers say the trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
5. Social Media brings in customers with geolocation--97% of consumers search for local businesses online.
6. Social Media can help you connect with other local businesses for advice or cross-promotions.
Four small business owners share their positive experiences with Social Media
Jen, a hair salon-owner in Bergen County, NJ has been posting on a regular basis for the past 2
years and says the ROI is much better than newspaper advertising which she used to do. She gets especially good response from Before & After photos and on new product information. She also generates likes when she shares her re-cap of what went on at the Salon that week (it provides customers with an inside view--a la reality TV). While she does not tweet or use LinkedIn, she does upload photos on Instagram and also has created some beauty boards on Pinterest. She is currently in the process of re-vamping her website.
Deidra, a personal trainer and Fitness Studio owner in Columbus, OH says persistence pays off
and has a goal of three contacts per month via Facebook and electronic newsletters. She mixes it up with coupons, special promotions, and exercise or recipe tips. She has been especially pleased with Living Social promotions for bringing her new members. She runs these 3 to 4 times per year and reports her conversion rate is 70-80%. As far as FB, what generates the biggest response is when she gives accolades to clients who have reached a milestone in their weight loss. People like to see other peoples success--it motivates them to keep going.
Michelle manages all of the e-mail marketing and social media for a retail luxury jewelry store
in Ridgewood, NJ. She regularly sends out e-mail campaigns via Constant Contacts and also
posts on Facebook several times per week. She has found that inspirational/funny quotes and
cartoons seem to generate the most likes and comments. She understands that people don’t like to be sold to on FB and instead tries to entertain or offer valuable tips. She also noted that the e-mail that generated the highest open rate was one that had the subject line of “Sad News” and informed the long-time customers about a death in the owners family. Sharing this type of news made the customers feel like they were part of the extended family and they responded with their condolences. Michelle as also learned over time that social media is most effective when it builds off of one another. For example she recently had an article appear in a local newspaper. She followed this up with an e-mail to the customer base, and then a post on Facebook which included a link the the article. She has tapped into the power of synergy.
Lisa owns an organic skin and body care company in central CT. She posts on Facebook and Twitter a few times per week and also has recently started sending out e-mails with targeted promotions, usually tied to a season or holiday. In addition to promotions, she also plans to send out informational newsletters on topics such as the importance of sunscreen. She believes brands engaging with customers is always important as it builds loyalty and awareness. And above all, she finds interacting with her customers in this way to be fun. Lastly, she mentioned that she takes the time to follow her competitors online, especially bigger companies that she admires.
Most people know Facebook could potentially help them grow their businesses, but getting the page and manage it properly can still be a daunting task for many folks.
Here are seven easy steps that will build a solid case and show your client the real value of Facebook.
Mistakes to avoid with Facebook PPC Ads
Targeting broad groups
Many marketers target the largest groups possible. This is a mistake. These groups are more expensive and less targeted. Rather than using broad terms for your niche like “yoga” or “digital photography,” focus on specific interests. Research which magazines and blogs your customers read, who they follow on Twitter, and which related products they buy.
Using bad photo
Do not forget that the most important part of your ad is the image. You can write the most brilliant copy in the world, but if your image does not catch a user’s eye, you will not get any clicks.
Do not use low-quality images, generic stock photography, or any images that you do not have the rights to use. Do not steal anything from Google Images. Unless you’re a famous brand, do not use your logo. Close-ups of attractive faces that resemble the target audience are the most effective.
Creating ineffective ad text
After seeing your image, users will (hopefully) read your ad text. Here you can sell them about your product or service and earn their click.
Despite the 25 character headline and 90 character body text limits, we can still use thefamous copywriting formula AIDA.
Forgetting about testing
Finally do not forget about testing. Testing is the best directive you can get to achieve success. Do not just place a single ad and have it run for the rest of its lifetime. Instead, dispatch different ad units which differ in the ad copy, ad image, etc.
Get to know your customers
To be most effective, you need to shift your attitude, and put your focus always on the customer ﬁrst. Really get to know your customer. Connect and engage with them. Find out what makes them happy, what annoys them, who inﬂuences them? Where do they most often read their e-mails and check their
Facebook news feed? If it’s on their mobile phone, you need to make sure your e-mails and posts are optimized for mobile viewing. Recent study by IDC shows that the average smart phone user checks their Facebook app 14 times per day and spends an average of 2 minutes and 22 seconds per visit, totaling in 30 minutes per day. Yet, FB still ranks third behind checking e-mail and using their browsers. Where do your customers fall on this spectrum?
So how to focus on a customer first?
As Dale Carnegie said more than 75 years ago in 'How to Win Friends and Inﬂuence People' and Barry
Feldman reiterated recently on Copyblogger:
"You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years in trying to get other people interested in you."
This philosophy still rings true today and is core to some of the greatest customer vision. Meaningful experience with your customers and potential customers is the key to your business success. Striving for excellent customer service and continuously going the extra mile to make sure that your clients are satisﬁed with your services should be the aim of every online marketing agency. Very often it is those small agencies that can give you a personal touch. Big or medium-sized agencies lack and hardly ever offer cookie-cutter solutions. Take the time to listen to your customers and understand their speciﬁc business needs. All your clients really want is that you take some of the burden off them so they can concentrate on what they do best-run their businesses-and not have to worry about social media or SEO. Finally, make the process very ﬂexible because by now you should get that it is not about you. It is about YOUR CUSTOMERS.
by Paulina Podbiello @yelayaa
1.Define Your Readers
Before you start putting together email campaigns, you should define your audience.
Once you define the group or groups you want to send to, you may even want to write down a few bullet points to help define them a little more. Maybe a few key words that describe the people in the group and what the group will want to get out of your campaign. This will help you keep your newsletter content relevant to that group.
2.Determine Your Purpose
Now that you know who you are talking to, you can outline the main purpose of your email marketing. Your purpose is the reason you are sending people email. Be clear and concise.
3. Outline Your Goals
Defining a few goals is an important part of an email marketing plan. Goals give you a way to assess whether your marketing efforts are successful or not. There are different types of goals for example you might want to increase subscribers for the first year or focus on increasing click-rates. Ultimately you may want to set your goals around increasing online sales or repeat sales.
4. Determine Your Frequency
Sit down with your calendar and think about what frequency makes sense for your audience and your content. You have to do that in order to build a relationship with your audience.
5. Create a Timeline
You have already done so much but now take a minute or two to write a timeline for creating each email newsletter. Add deadlines in your calendar for when each step should happen in order for you to send your campaign on time.
After completing those 5 steps you will be able to create an effective marketing plan that will help you grow.
by Alicia Porrata @aliciaporrata
It is not about search engines, it is not about high traffic... It IS about your customers
During my last networking event in New York City I was approached by a person who needed SEO services for their wellness business. One of the first questions I was asked was 'Will you get me to rank #1 in Google'. I then replied with a question 'Why do you need to rank #1 in Google'? I was not surprised that the answer was 'To get high traffic'. But WHY? The person did not know how to answer this further. This is actually a problem that many people with little knowledge about SEO face. Great rankings are great, but why do your business needs them? Whenever I meet with someone who is knew to SEO, I tell them, it is not about search engines, it is not about high traffic, it IS about your customers!
Is #1 in Google a waste of money?
A good SEO agency or an SEO consultant knows that SEO is about making your website visible to the people who are relevant to your business, namely targeted customers. Knowing your target audience is the first step in your SEO strategy. This is the step that many of those guaranteeing #1 in Google do not follow at all.
High traffic is great but what if people who visit your website are not interested in your product or service? This would be a waste of money wouldn't it? In order to focus on your targeted audience an SEO consultant should conduct a comprehensive research to be able to use SEO in order to benefit your business as a whole and not only to impress you with high traffic.
Google warns against SEO agencies that promise #1 in Google
Still not convinced? Then maybe Google will convince you that trusting agencies who guarantee you those rankings is NOT a good idea? . Same as an attorney cannot promise you that he is going to win your case or a doctor cannot say that your surgery is going to be a successful one, an SEO agency CANNOT guarantee you rankings. Google says:
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google.
What is more important than ranking #1 on Google?
I hope you are now more aware that paying for ranks does not get you far. What is more important, is to focus on building great content and make your website visible to your relevant customers. By introducing Penguin, Google wants you to optimize your website that is relevant to people and not to search engines.
by Alicia Porrata @aliciaporrata
Keyword Research is important!
Working with my past clients and even some SEO agencies I realized how they ignore the importance of keyword research in their SEO activities. However, keyword research is one of the single most important part of your SEO strategy! It is not enough if your company called "True Value" shows a desired result when searching the company's name. Because who is really using this keyword when looking to buy a hammer in New York? Only those who already know your company!
This is why keyword research is not just important, it's critical to your business. It's the modern day equivalent of being properly listed in the phone book. Only now it is more complicated as there are million of phone books, with hundreds, if not thousands of more categories that you are competing against.
Hammer VS hardware store in Greenwich Village: Case Study
Using the earlier example, lets say a potential customer wants to buy a hammer. You hired an SEO agency which optimized your website to use ‘hammer’ as the main keyword. Your traffic is great but there is no increase in hammer sales at your store. Why is that?
When searching for 'hammer' it brings over 300,000,000 results that are not necessary related to buying hammers. This keyword turns out to be very competitive and not necessary relevant to what your customer is looking for.
The solution here is to a proper SEO keyword research, a detailed analysis of what people search for . Once that demand has been properly determined, a website can be properly constructed to deliver keywords to be found by the search engines.
If you understand that the person is more likely to search for ‘hardware store in Greenwich Village’ instead of ‘hammer’ you may also discover that the competition for this keyword is incredibly lower and more relevant to your business:
Even many SEO agencies forget about keyword research. However, it is vital for effective SEO and Google Adwords. You might be tragetting the wrong audience and even though you rank well for a specific keyword, you need to be sure that it attracts relevant customers.
If you would like to learn more, read Keyword Research guide
Is your business using keyword research? Send answers to @aliciaporrata
About Alicia Porrata
An Online Marketer and an SEO Specialist with 5 years of experience in IT, and eCommerce. Her role involves serving small businesses and start-ups with analytics and recommendations to improve the customer acquisition funnels by incorporating marketing and technology together.
You can find a fuller profile on Google+ or LinkedIn
If you'd like help improving your online marketing, email email@example.com
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art and science of empowering your website to be found via search engine sites such as Google, Bing, Yahoo! and many others. It is part science because some of the dos and don'ts are hard and fast; and part art because there aspects that require extraordinary creativity and analysis.
Many people say something to the effect of, "I don't need to do anything because if I type my company name in Google, it finds me." If it didn't do that, you're really in a lot of trouble! That's the easy part. If your business is called, "Yummy Caterers" and searching for it directly yields the desired result, it's because there was an exact (or at least a close), match. And then when you ask them, "So how many new customers or leads does your website generate for you," they reply with something like, "Not much. I have no idea why."
This is why SEO is not just important, it's critical to your business. It's the modern day equivalent of being properly listed in the phone book. Only now there are multiple phone books, with hundreds, if not thousands of more categories.
It's quite understandable when a small business owner's eyes glaze over when one starts to talk about SEO. The task can be daunting for the novice.
What small business really needs is someone who doesn't know you exist. In other words, new customers.
Using the earlier example, a more realistic search would be something like, "Caterer, East Hampton, NY." But maybe someone is looking for something like, "Caterer East Hampton, NY for kids birthday party." All of a sudden you realize there's a massive case of, "I don't know what I don't know."
The solution is keyword research. A proper analysis of what people search for answers the "demand" side of the supply & demand equation. Once that demand has been properly determined, a website can be properly constructed to deliver that "supply" of keywords to be found by the search engines.
Omisem specializes in, and has built its reputation on taking a holistic approach to website development that encompasses SEO from the ground up.
We would love to show you how we can help you grow your customer base with a no obligation discovery session to see if and how we may be able to help your company not just survive, but thrive!