Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category
With more companies likely to tighten their financial budgets going into 2012, ask yourself if your business has the financial stomach to spend more on marketing, about the same as this year, or even possibly reduce what you spent these last 12 months.
That thought especially holds true with online marketing, given that your company has a real-time impact with both current and potential customers in a matter of minutes, something that cannot be achieved through more traditional ways like newspapers, radio ads, flyers, newsletters etc.
According to a recent The CMO Survey, even with an up-and-down economy forecast to continue into 2012, chief marketing officers are looking to add to spending on all aspects of marketing in 2012.
This will especially be true when it comes to funds for social media marketing (see more on importance of social media in marketing below). The survey also goes on to note that companies will likely grow spending for marketing hires, likely around 7.2 percent on average in the next year.
That being said, those companies looking to reduce their marketing expenditures in 2012 have ways to cut back and still get some bang for their dollar, however they need to be creative to say the least.
The last thing companies will want to do is turn down or even off their marketing engines to the point that the competition takes advantage of the downswing.
In the event your company is thinking about trimming the marketing budget for the New Year, keep several factors in mind:
- Stay the course – Keeping your marketing awareness and staying engaged is less expensive than having to try and get it back down the road when the economy improves;
- Exude confidence – When you slash your marketing expenses out of what appears to be fear, current and potential customers may lose faith in your abilities. The common perception when you make such a move is that your company may be lacking some stability, therefore leading customers to question you;
- The competition likes you – When a company slashes its marketing budget, a competitor sees an opening. The competitor, who may in fact have cut back some too, could seize the opportunity to pitch their message to some of your current customers or leads you were pursuing. If that happens, you could find yourself on the outside looking in when it comes to getting that business at some point;
- Vendors may be willing to work with you – Businesses have to remember that not only are they looking to save dollars here and there, but many they work with are too. The companies you work with for your promotional items, printing, display, etc. are more apt to want to work with you than lose you altogether as a client. Just because financial times are tough does not mean there may not be some deals to be had;
- Re-evaluate your marketing techniques – Whether you are cutting back or not in 2012 on your marketing operations, take the time now to review 2011. What has worked with your marketing plans? What did not work? What are some techniques you would like to try but have hesitated in doing so up to this point? Use the last 12 months as a guiding tool for the next 12;
- Are you properly using social media? – Even though social media is there for the taking, too many businesses still do not take advantage of all it has to offer. With sites like Facebook and Twitter just to name two, companies should be sure to have fan pages set up and maximized to the hilt. Be sure that your marketing team is taking the time and effort to share and tweet pertinent information about the company, its products and services. Given the fact that more businesses will be transitioning from initial adoption of SM marketing to a more reflective and refined campaign, they are apt to want data that clearly defines the cost-effectiveness of such campaigns. Having another year of experience with social media techniques, more companies will likely show more sophistication when it comes to properly surfing the social media channel. As a result, they will seek more tools that properly enable tracking, measuring and bettering their returns on investment.
Take a look at your marketing techniques, go into 2012 with a plan in place, and market your company to success.
Dave Thomas, who covers among other subjects’ document management and HR software, writes extensively for Business.com, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.
With the holiday season right around the corner, does your small business have its e-mail marketing campaign in place and ready to go? If not, you could be left scrambling at the last minute.
For those in the retail business, for example, the holiday rush can be an opportunity to make up for lackluster sales earlier in the year. For small businesses that have a tough time selling over the holidays, it can place them in a very precarious position heading into the next year.
In the event your company’s got questions regarding its e-mail marketing opportunities with the coming holidays, here are some thoughts to consider:
- Make sure your distribution frequency is good – Another important item to keep in mind is that your distribution frequency is solid. Be sure to check the activity from your mailing list a year ago at this time, making necessary adjustments along the way. Prior to the holiday email cycle starting, push out a re-engagement campaign to get less active members engaged. That can include a special email to folks who haven’t opened or clicked in the last several months or a holiday survey to determine what subscribers want from you this season. Also look into having an added opt-in with a holiday campaign to grow the distribution frequency just for those customers seeking it;
- Stand out from the crowd – It is important to remember that your subscribers’ get inundated with email promotional content leading up to the holidays. That being the case, you need your online marketing message to stand head and shoulders above the rest. Make sure you give the subscriber incentive to want to read your message and not hit the delete button;
- Get your message out early – Start the message campaign early and inform your subscribers the importance of doing their business sooner rather than later with the holiday rush coming up. Make sure that your promo emails are done in plenty of time so that they get to the consumer sooner than your competition’s does;
- Engage your social media channels – Given the importance of social media in today’s marketing efforts, make sure you engage the different social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) to target additional audience members. The great thing with social networking sites is it is a free other than a little time and effort. Be sure, however, you don’t use SM just to promote endlessly. Take the time to engage with both present and potential customers regarding your products and services. Bottom line…. be engaged;
- Be relevant after the holiday rush – It is a given that many shoppers look for bargains right after the holidays, so give them a reason to want to come back to you in 2012. Offering incentives to stick with you after the holidays is a great way to go about that;
- Be a mobile player – With more and more individuals using mobile devices to stay in touch with the world, be sure your campaign can accommodate such needs. When designing copy and images, make sure they will work smoothly with mobile devices. This brings on added importance given that many individuals will have their mobile devices with them while shopping etc. You can provide them with valuable deals and offers right at that time.
The bottom line is that the holiday season demands much attention from consumers; make it so that you’re at the top of their shopping wish list.
Dave Thomas, who covers among other subjects vehicle insurance writes extensively for www.business.com an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.
Does your company want to get its feet wet in the social media world, or is trying to and spinning its wheels? If so, what can be done to improve the situation?
- We have a blog because competitors do and we don’t want to seem out of the loop.
- We have a blog due to the fact we wanted a way to promote our brands and services.
- We have a blog for the simple reason our owner likes to talk a lot and this was one way for him/her to spout off.
So, what would you say is the correct answer to the three options above? If you said the last one, maybe your company needs more assistance than some realize.
While choice number one may be part of the reasoning for your blog, number two should be the obvious choice. Quite simply, company blogs are great tools to not only promote your goods and services, but stay in the social media loop.
With that being said, don’t just write to write.
- Your company’s blog needs to have worthwhile content on it so people will read it in the first place.
- Secondly, it requires regular updating so that readers will come back to it and search engines are more likely to pick it up. If you update it once in a blue moon, not only will readers be gone but the search engines will pick up more worthwhile entries.
- Another reason that readers will come and go from a company blog is if they are leaving valid, appropriate comments and you are not responding. Would you follow someone if you left them several comments and they ignored you? Companies need to take the bad feedback from consumers with the good, so respond accordingly, but do respond.
Companies need to determine if the blog materials they’re covering are appropriate for their readers in the first place. Relevant information draws people to blogs, so know what you want to write about ahead of time and be concise.
Are you placing relevant internal and external links and keywords in your company’s blog?
While SEO writing may not be for everyone, it is not rocket science either. If your company covers the auto insurance industry, your blog better be insurance related in order to drive more worthwhile traffic to it.
The most important item brings us full circle to the first point….why are we blogging in the first place?
Some companies decide its best to hire full-time staff to write, edit and oversee blogs. It allows for the boss/bosses to delegate one more item to professionals who can get the company’s message across.
Others, meantime, decide to do it on their own and give it more of a personal feel from the man or woman at the top.
Both ways can have their advantages and disadvantages, so decide what is best for your company. If you try one approach and it is not working for a period of time try another until you find the right solution.
A company blog can be a very useful tool to drive business your way; determine how blogging can best serve your business and get writing.
Dave Thomas is an expert writer on items like a document management systems and is based in San Diego, California. He writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs at Resource Nation.
Blogging is considered to be one of the most effective methods of pull marketing. Prospective buyers are drawn towards the valuable content offered in the blog.
Another channel that can be used for sharing valuable content to increase your inbound marketing reach is to publish and engage in social media. Sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn have proven to be great tools for B2B companies, and Facebook is not far behind.
Twitter, a micro-blogging community, provides a portal to learn the behaviours and habits of the end consumer. For B2B companies, this is a fantastic tool to understand their customer’s customer.
LinkedIn is a social media portal designed for businesses and business-people to connect with each other and share knowledge, ideas, and opportunities. This has become the go-to tool for finding experts, employment opportunities, and potential employees.
ActiveConversion recently conducted a webinar on SEO, Content, and Social media. This webinar examined inbound marketing and the value of content in generating thought leadership and credibility for your company, products, and services.
Martha Boulianne also recently published this blog on FoundPages, that discusses the value of blogging and outlines eight ways to improve a corporate blog.
Here are the main points suggested by Martha on improving your corporate blog:
1. Spread the word.
2. Add quality content.
3. Blog early, blog often.
4. Link to your own old posts.
5. Add links and images to your blog posts.
6. Write comments on related blogs.
7. Write title tags for both your readers and Google.
8. Cover topics that need attention.
- Corporate Blogging Tip: Use Your “More” Tag (socialtimes.com)
- Guilt-Free Business Blogging – 7 Ways A Blog Can Grow Your Business (blogherald.com)
- Corporate Blogging: You’re Doing It Wrong (blogs.sitepoint.com)
- Whiteboard Friday – Corporate Blogging Tips (seomoz.org)
Marketing used to be only for the bigger companies. They were the only ones who could afford major marketing campaigns on buses, signs and in news print. These days, SMBs are getting a huge boost in everything. Even in the B2B market, SMBs are able to compete with the larger businesses. It all has to do with the ability to market their company online. The biggest key to the marketing online is the ability to properly use a few key marketing techniques. This way, they get the attention that they need as well as the revenue that they deserve.
There are three main components any business will need if it is to have any hopes of being able to get the kind of B2B business it is looking for. They need to be able to have a website which takes advantage of everything that SEO has to offer. It is necessary to have a working knowledge of the social media sites to use them correctly. It is also necessary to be able to market through means like email. If you have mastered these concepts, you will be assured of having a great business with a lot of success.
Using SEO for Marketing
Of all of the different online marketing techniques, one of the most important is the ability to draw people to your website without having to pay any money at all. By using SEO material, it is possible to make sure that those searching for the things you have to offer will be able to find your website. They will learn about your company through the kind of content that you have available so that they can see how your company will benefit theirs.
Using Social Media for Marketing
Purchasing managers spend just as much time online through social media sites as anyone else. They want to find out about the businesses that they are buying from before making a purchase. Make sure that all of the content which is on your social media site will properly represent your company to any possible clients. This way you will be able to build a loyal following of people who will receive every piece of marketing that you attach to Facebook posts as well as the posts that make to your Twitter account.
Using Email for Marketing
Email is still something which is checked every day by individuals and businesses alike. It is possible to gain the attention that your company needs by sending out different emails. This way you will be able to market everything from a digital security system to the services and products other businesses might want to purchase. Gathering email addresses is possible through your social media pages as well as through your website. Using them will help you to get the word out about the latest that your company has to offer.
Author: Matt Kraustrunk, Resource Nation.
Resource Nation provides free tools, tips, and purchasing advice for business owners and entrepreneurs in over 100 business categories ranging from phone systems to credit card processing. Whether it’s connecting businesses with local and national pre-screened vendors, or offering easy service comparisons on a VoIP service, Resource Nation empowers business decision makers by providing the information they need to make smart choices.
There is a little used tactic in the world of marketing – it’s called education. So why do I need to educate my customers? If you help to educate them, you are building a relationship.
A relationship based on knowledge gained, is very strong. If you want a repeat customer, teach them about your area of expertise. Give them the knowledge that makes them confident about the market you are an expert in. This far increases the likelihood that they will use your product or service.
Reciprocity is a strong force. Foster a more informed customer, and they will recommend you to others!
So how does one to this? That is where blogging, social media, webinars and whitepapers all provide you the opportunities to not only reach your target audience, but to teach them. After all it’s better than a banner ad (push/outbound marketing), and a whole lot more fun!
- Why marketing and teachers share a love/hate relationship (bilingualmontessori.wordpress.com)
- SEO, Social Media and Content: The Three Musketeers of Inbound Marketing! (B2B Marketing Blog)
- There is More to Marketing than Marketing (B2B Marketing Blog)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media and content are collectively the three most important components of inbound marketing. For this webinar, we’re calling them “The Three Musketeers of Inbound Marketing”. Between them, they are capable of winning you the best qualified leads in this modern marketing battle of quality lead generation from various online medium.
View this live Webinar which took place on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 12:00PM MDT.
Inbound marketing “pulls” potential buyers towards your business and your products. In today’s shifting marketing paradigm, where your potential buyers research and dissect all the available options before they contact you, there is also a need for a strong inbound marketing capability. After all, you should be among the few that your potential buyers read and investigate about. Inbound marketing is executed with strategies such as: search engine optimization (SEO), relevant and compelling content, and social media.
- How SEO can help you get found on the internet?
- How social media, marketing content and blogging can contribute towards a more informed inbound lead generation strategy?
- How marketing automation generates leads from various sources, and how it can help you make intelligent decisions?
Many small to medium sized oganizations are taking the leap to starting up a company blog. Blogs often get neglected until there is a major press release or news event, which can be very infrequent for SMBs in products and services. It is common to see a company blog that hasn’t been updated in months, or over a year. It can be a struggle to come up with ideas to blog about therefore, I wanted to offer help ideas that will have you blogging on a regular basis.
My company is a services company, what can I blog about?
Projects in the works, recently completed projects
If you offer development services, post about projects that have been recently completed. For instance, if you are a realtor, post about recently sold properties. If your organization works with other larger organizations, post about that. These kinds of posts will help re-enforce confidence in prospects and highlight services that your existing clients may not know you do. It’ll also keep you top of mind of your interested prospects and clients.
Highlighting processes in the way you deliver your services to your clients can be the differentiator between your company and your competitors. It’s important to pitch your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and it can be better received if it’s passively served via your blog.
My company is a product company, what else can I blog about?
Your products are your bread and butter and when possible they should also be the focus of your blog.
New Products or Vendor/Suppliers
It’s not uncommon for companies to bring launch products and fail to appropriately announce it. Use your blog as a channel to highlight when your company has something new to offer and the problem it solves.
Sometimes an organization has many products. With so many choices, prospective customers may find it hard to find the right product. Other times, product information pages can be too limited for customers to get the information they want. Highlighting products, particularly ones that are of high popularity can help your company around those issues. It’s particularly effective if images or videos are available with these postings.
Product Promotions or Discounts
Everyone likes a sale, particularly if you sell consumer products – a promotion/discount announcement can be picked up by one of the many popular consumer deals sites online.
Other Common Topics
- Success Stories
- Commentary on industry events or commentary from other industry leaders
Posts that reference well known individuals are particularly effective in driving traffic from searchers online. Both commentary and client success stories help establish credibility for your company, which helps to differentiate your company and reinforce confidence in prospects.
I’m Still Stuck
Sometimes you just don’t have anything to talk about. At those times, you have to defer to the backup plan.
- Best posts of July, September, 2009, etc
- Links to other industry blogs…
If you choose to blog about another blog or resource, you should notify the person you are promoting and many bloggers will make a post about it, hopefully crediting your company or blog. This will help build up your blog’s network and credibility.
The Most Common Mistake
The most common mistake for company blogs is to only post company news or press releases. Although those types of posts can be a part of your company’s blog, they should be the minority of the posts. If you make this common mistake, the only people who will read it will be your company’s staff or your competitors.
I recently had the pleasure of attending the Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference, which is a leading search & social marketing event, on Aug 18 in San Francisco. It was great to hear from the industry’s best! Personally, I checked out conference talks about Local Search, Mobile Marketing, Competitive Research, Twitternation & Automation, and B2B Lead Generation Management/CRM Integration. I also had the opportunity to go down the expo floor and checked out vendors pushing the latest and the greatest they had to offer. I can’t possibly cover everything from SES, but I wanted to boil it down and bring you my personal highlights.
Jeff Pulver, Tracy Falke and Paul Madden provided a wonderfully heated panel on Twitternation & Automation. Jeff highlighted that Twitter has empowered individuals to connect in ways that has incredible reach, impact, both globally and individually. His background and stories were inspiring. On automation, it was clear to many within the audience that automation and management systems were necessary to cost effectively leverage channels like Twitter. Tracy did a fantastic job on explaining this well, and brought attention to tools like SocialOomph to help in those efforts. B2B Marketers in particular should take note of twitter and social media automation tools to conserve their precious time spent in social media efforts.
Finally, Paul showcased how a whole ecosystem of almost fully autonomous Twitter personas can be established and leveraged to create ongoing massive influence on Twitter. It was both eye opening and interesting to learn the impact that such automation could have with social media if just a dozen companies implemented automated ecosystems of thousands of Twitter personas. The impact it can goes beyond the Twittersphere but also how it can be manipulated to impact real time results on search engines is something Twitter and Google will likely have to address in their algorithms and policies.
The Mobile Frontier is here
Sandeep Aggarwal, Cindy Krum and Michael Martin presented a panel on mobile marketing. Sandeep’s presentation made clear that mobile isn’t just an emerging market but a fundamental channel for online interaction. B2B business websites receive significant mobile exposure. Individuals in B2B are among the largest adapters of smartphones. Smartphones are frequently the primary method of accessing online content for individuals in B2B industries.
Mobile browsers doesn’t just impact the way visitors interact with media and content, it also impacts search engine optimization. Cindy commented that mobile SERPs (search engine result pages) are already showing differences from non-mobile SERPs. Inevitably search engines will be moving towards tailoring algorithms for mobile devices for mobile optimized sites. It’s important to start setting up SEO strategies to be prepared for that now.
It’s not all about the ‘i’ devices either; Michael was great to point out that Android is a growing player and is faster in growing market than the iPhone. This is particularly important for businesses who are considering jumping onto the ‘Apps’ craze, and selecting which device platform to develop for. Regarding ‘Apps’, it was acknowledged that iOS is the big gorilla right now.
‘Pay per’ Advertising Expo
Online advertising management and automation systems seemed to be the big thing on the expo floor. Every other booth was for automated online advertising management which offered one stop shop for managing PPM campaigns on AdWords, MSN, Yahoo, Facebook, etc. Pricing for many of these systems are based on charging a percentage above each CPC run through their system, Google’s DoubleClick (whom Google acquired in 2007) is a solution that offers this pricing model. A similar breed of products was a competitive analysis system that allows users to dig into competitors online marketing efforts to see what/how they are doing in different channels. Mark Munroe, a panelist on the Competitive Research panel, recommended AdGooroo SEM Insight and Spy Fu as good candidates for doing competitive analysis for paid advertising (e.g. Adwords).
The other big thing on the expo floor was the ad networks. I want to mention them because many of them were offering a cost per acquisition (CPA) model of pricing. Although these networks aren’t going to replace your AdWords, the CPA model makes them a fairly low risk channel to add into a marketing mix, particularly if you are in e-commerce.
BJ Fogg’s keynote was about how technology allows us to create or change behavior. BJ was fantastic in illustrating the mechanics of how it needs to operate, and where it fails. It’s worth checking out to help frame your mentality towards online marketing as it’s fundamentally association with BJ’s topic. Adam Singer did a more in-depth review of the keynote for TopRankBlog: http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/08/persuasive-technology-ses-keynote/
The days when all you needed for online marketing was a nice website have long passed. In order to be effectively represented online, you’ll need effective campaigns on several critical platforms. The platforms vary depending on the type of business you are in, but for those of you still finding your footing; here is a short checklist of platforms you should consider.
- Website: Since its 2010, you should have professional website. If you don’t have one, get on it.
- Bonus Points Wikipedia Entry: Businesses haven’t fully embraced Wikipedia but it is the authority for information reference. Having a Wikipedia entry will become increasingly important for online credibility and exposure.
- Blog: A critical platform for establishing credibility with the online community and search engines. If your organization doesn’t have a blog, you are missing out on establishing yourself as an online authority in your industry.
- Bonus Points Periodical Press Releases: Press Releases still have their place online, particularly when pushed out with a service like PRWeb.com. It can do more than just a blog posting or website update as it pushes to many channels, allowing for more exposure and credibility.
- Twitter/Facebook Fan Page: Twitter and Facebook are the kings of social networking and an increasingly important platform to promote dialog between companies and the online community.
- Bonus Points LinkedIn/Foursquare: LinkedIn and Foursquare aren’t for everyone, but depending on the kind of business you do, these maybe valuable platforms to reach potential customers.
- YouTube: YouTube continues to be a predominately an entertainment focused community, but its reach is undeniable. If you have how-to videos, or a business presentation, they are good candidates for YouTube.
- Bonus Points Webinar: Webinars are a great way to interact with customers and the community. Webinars add great value for any customer base.
Search Engine Marketing
- Google AdWords: This isn’t a must but for those of you who are just starting out, or struggling in competitive markets, pay-per-click campaigns with Google can get you that exposure when you need it.
- Bonus Points Pay-per-click on Facebook/LinkedIn/Yahoo/Bing: Although Google is the most recognized player; pretty much every major platform (Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Bing, etc) has a similar version of the pay-per-click program. They may present a less competitive and more targeted environment to push marketing efforts.
Depending on your business and goals, the platforms mentioned may not be critical. Also keep in mind that just because you are represented on these platforms doesn’t necessarily mean you are being represented well on each platform. However, how to assess your effectiveness on the various online platforms is the topic for another post.
Do you have other platforms that are critical to your business’s online marketing strategy that you feel should be on this list? Please share it with us in the comments.