Turn to the E-Market for Real-World Customers

communicationsThe oldest question in business is how to drum up more customers. It’s a question that can never be answered easily or conclusively due to the ever-changing nature of consumer behavior. However, the advent of the Internet makes it easier than ever for some companies to tap into new pockets of clients and customers. The holiday season alone accounts for $42 billion in online sales annually, as Comscore reports. How can you tap into an e-audience to improve your company’s bottom line?

Create a Discussion

Everyone enjoys having their opinion known, and the Internet represents the world’s largest forum. Having a detailed comments and reviews section for your web page or outlinking web pages ensures that more people are able to gain trust in a brand. According to Bright Local, only 15% of digital shoppers don’t take reviews into account when thinking about a purchasing decision, since the vast majority of e-customers put their full trust into a review that’s as short as a few words. Retail sales consultants especially need to take heed to customer reviews. A negative review will not necessary sink a product, but a lack of reviews indicate that nobody at all is willing to buy.

Turn Customers Into Sales Members

Few methods of expanding a customer market work as well as letting your existing customers sell the products to their friends and family. Not only do word-of-mouth customers cost significantly less to sign up, but they tend to be some of the most stable and profitable, and have higher elasticity, according to a University of Florida study. Generate e-leads by incorporating a referral system with your customers, providing them with the chance to get savings or rewards simply by passing along the brand to their networks. Specialty sales force members will find this particularly helpful for business-to-business (B2B) products or services.

Hunt and Gather

With a wealth of contact information floating around the Internet such as email addresses, mobile phone numbers, and social media links, there are plenty of dragnets out there working to harvest this valuable metadata. A sales associate with a high customer turnover rate, such as an insurance salesman looking for car insurance leads, can take advantage of leads profiling services that deliver the contact information for active, enthusiastic customers right to their doorsteps. These services reach out to potential customers, screening for location, demographics, or other information, and provide a sales agency with the resources needed to enlist new customers.

Social Spending

The lines between social media and online shopping have become blurred to the point where you can go to one site for both purposes. Generate new customers by incorporating social media information, hotlinking, and shares, but be wary of the pitfalls of this process. Since social media represents an active, dynamic medium of exchange, today’s users expect a rapid response to their inquiries—to the point where Lithium Technology reports that half of all average Twitter users want a unique response to their query within an hour. Create a compelling social media dynamic in order to recruit new customers, but keep the keyboards active and monitored in order to avoid the risks of losing customers before they ever pull out their credit cards.

Internet Marketing Strategy Articles for the Week of April 7, 2014

Here are the top Internet strategy, marketing and technology links for the week of April 7, 2014…

What You Want to Know Will Dictate What You Measure

Google Analytics Hacks

Google Analytics Hacks (Photo credit: Search Engine People Blog)

With so much data, it’s so easy to get caught up in all the numbers. Looking at the wrong numbers will result in faulty analysis and recommendations — you may fix things that aren’t broken, or not fix things that are. Or you may think you have the right solution to a problem, but not even be looking in the right place. While it may seem obvious, taking a step back to understand what you want to know first will help you choose the right measurements.

Step 1: State What You Want To Know

The first step is to state what it is you want to know — without using any measurements or metrics at all. For example, if a website has several links to its Careers page on the homepage, ‘We want to know what place on the homepage is sending the most traffic to our Careers page’. This is quite different from ‘We want to know where the most traffic is coming from that enters the site on our Careers page’. One is about the design of the homepage and the marketing there — the other is about external marketing efforts to the Careers page. We’re going to stick with the first for our example…

Step 2: Refine Your Data Needs

Now that we understand what we want to know, we can further refine our data needs to see if we have the right measurement in place. When we look at the homepage, we can see that there are actually 4 places that someone could click through to the Careers page: 1) Menu at the top of the page 2) Linked text in the middle of the page 3) Ad box in the sidebar 4) Menu in the footer of the page. Ok, so now we know there are 4 possible links a visitor could click, so in order to answer our ‘what we want to know’ question, we have to be able to tell the difference between each of these 4 links.

Step 3: Know Your Technologies

Unfortunately, the next step is fairly technical. In order to know if you can distinguish between the 4 links, you need to know 1) how your analytics package collects data and 2) how the links have been coded. In the case of Google Analytics, it treats all data that goes from one page to another as the same, if the links are the same (with a caveat explained in a second). This means that to Google Analytics, it can’t distinguish between the 4 links on the homepage in terms of how much traffic each sent to the Careers page. But there is hope… Google analytics allows you to add tags to links that can help you distinguish where traffic is coming from to the same web page. Which means that if the links were coded with these tags, the data will already be available. And if not, it can be if they are added. Other analytics tools may collect data differently and your content management system (CMS) can also impact how this works.

Step 4: Zero In on the Right Information

So now that we know what we’re trying to measure, what data refinements we need, and how our web technologies work, we can zero in on the right information in our analytics tool. In Google analytics, we’d look for traffic to the Careers page from each of the 4 tags on the homepage to provide information about what place on the homepage is sending the most traffic.

Good Measurement is In the Details

While this may seem complex, the first step — knowing what you want to know — is really vital for communicating your measurement needs to those that may help provide you with the metrics. Without this refinement, you may get back the wrong metrics, or your technologies may not be setup properly to provide them in the first place.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Just Like Anything, Internet Marketing Takes Patience

Zen Beach Stones at Home

Zen Beach Stones at Home (Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography)

In this instant-on world, where we can get access to just about any constant with a google search or an ipad app, we sometimes forget that not everything is instant. Good internet marketing is about providing the right message to the right people at the right time. Researching and figuring out what tactics and channels to use to find the right people takes time, and sometimes experimentation. Even with tactics in place, it takes time to build reputation, audience, and reach, all which may be in vain if the timing isn’t right. While internet marketing can provide results faster than many other channels, it still requires patience in execution.

Research Required

One of the benefits of internet marketing is the access to information that previously was either difficult or costly to attain. This valuable information can provide insights into where your audience is online, what they care about, and what they need.  Taking time to do research will help you tailor your messaging, tactics and even products to align more closely with what your potential customers want and need.

Experiment & Collect Data

Because the Internet moves so quickly, there is an opportunity to constantly experiment and collect data. Most marketing is a best guess based on research and previous experience. Internet marketing tactics allow marketers to test their theories relatively quickly and cheaply and collect data to improve results.

Analyze & Improve

The downside of so much information and data is that you can easily become overwhelmed with what to focus on. Analyze the data that provides direct information about how well your marketing is working — these should be your primary and secondary key performance indicators. Ask the ‘so what?’ question about each metric to move from a number to a recommendation on what to improve.

Patience Takes Dedication

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is to give up on marketing efforts before they have a chance to provide results. By being dedicated to patience and controlling expectations, internet marketing tactics can have the opportunity to show what they can do. Constant measuring and analysis along the way will help provide data that tactics are moving in the right direction.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leveraging Social Networking for B2B Lead Generation

Banking District

Banking District (Photo credit: bsterling)

Businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B) typically have much longer sales cycles than companies that sell to consumers (B2C). The products and services that are sold are usually much higher in cost, which requires more hand-holding during the sales process.  Salespeople are invaluable to B2B companies because they nurture relationships throughout the sales process. B2B companies, even when they do use social media, tend to overlook it as a relationship builder and a lead generation channel.

B2B Relationships Online Matter Too

If you’re building relationships with a customer in-person, and they’re online, that’s another opportunity to listen to their concerns, learn about their needs and provide value to the relationship. If you’re also online and your customers are connected to you and you’re not listening and responding, that can impact in-person relationships as well. In lead generation, referrals are often the best source, and social networking provides an opportunity to build relationships with those in your customers’ networks.

Your Customer’s Customers Are Your Customers

In B2B relationships, your customer also has customers. Social networking provides an opportunity to connect directly to your customer’s customers. This will help you understand your customer’s needs and wants and can help you provide them with valuable information for their own marketing and sales. Needs often will trickle up the sales channel, and social networking can give you advanced notice of benefits and features you need to build into your own products. In some sales channels, knowing when your customer’s customers are looking for a product can generate a lead for you that a customer may need a product or service from you.

Building B2B Brand Preference

Because B2B is built on relationships and trust, brand preference can be a strong driver of sales. Using social networking can help you build your brand’s reputation by helping your customers with questions and problems, as well as their customers. Increasing your reputation will help generate referrals.

Provide B2B Lead Generation Opportunities

One of the most difficult aspects of lead generation is knowing when a customer or potential customer is interested in your products. It’s obvious when they call or use a contact form, but there often is interest well before those touchpoints. Providing lead generation opportunities online and with social networking can help you tap into those who are earlier in the sales cycle, allowing you to provide valuable information to move them closer to a sale.  The easiest way to provide these opportunities is to build content that is valuable (hint: lose the marketing speak and opt for benefits and value instead) for those considering a sale and providing it through social channels, not only by posting on your online profiles, but by offering it directly to those who seem to have a question.

Closing the Sale

Just like in-person sales and marketing in B2B, social networking for B2B lead generation requires time and patience.  It means listening and responding to customers in a timely manner. If social networking is treated as an extension of in-person networking, it can be an extremely valuable lead generation tool for B2B companies.

How do you use social networking for B2B lead generation?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Improving Your Facebook Ads

facebook ads

facebook ads (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Facebook ads can be a relatively cost effective way to increase awareness and even to generate sales.  Social Media Examiner has an article — 4 Ways to Improve Your Facebook Ads — that serves as a good starting point.  The article mentions 4 ways to improve your Facebook ads: 1) Meaning of Colors, 2) Language that Reflects Brand, 3) Impact with Images & 4) Effective Targeting. I think two of the most important ways to improve ads (of any kind) are missing: 1) Providing Value 2) Catchy Wording.

State Value & Benefits in Ads

I think it’s important to remember in any marketing communications or advertising that customers want to know what’s in it for them. Instead of a list of features, they want a list of benefits. While Facebook ads have a set limit of words and images, these should be used to inform the audience of the value you are offering them. It’s important that messaging reflect your brand, in terms of voice and image, but without communicating value, you are relying on what the customer knows of your brand (which may be nothing at all).

Ads Have Only an Instant to Impress

Images and color certainly have an impact on how we feel and whether something catches our eye.  Once that attention is caught, even if only for a split second, it’s vital to do your best to communicate in a way that keeps the attention.  Obviously putting your value/benefit out there front and center is key, but also to word your call to action and entire message in a way that’s both easy to read and catchy.  The example ads for #3 in 4 Ways to Improve Your Facebook ads are great examples of having catchy messaging.

What ways have you improved your Facebook ads?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Getting Caught Up in The Wrong Numbers

Numbers

Numbers (Photo credit: RichardBowen)

Numbers, Numbers everywhere! With every social network we sign up for, and every online service we subscribe to, we’re given numbers measuring everything from followers to likes to page views.  It’s so easy to get caught up in all these numbers and to start to try to make them bigger and better.  Bigger is better, right? While internet marketing does provide fairly easy measurement tactics, it’s vital to focus on the numbers that are important to your business and its goals.

Tie Measurements to Goals

Numbers that aren’t directly tied to goals are nice, but may obscure focus from what’s really important.  Look for measurements that will allow you to directly understand how you’re doing on your way to your goals.  Secondary measurements that help you understand what tactics are working, and how are also important.  These measurements, primary and secondary key performance indicators, are what you should focus on improving.

Measure with Value

Measurements need to help you understand how your business is doing.  Look for measurements tied to your goals that provide value in understanding how you’re doing — how each tactic is working and how it can be improved. Valuable measurements tend to also be easy to understand, but there are measurement tactics that do need more analysis to be valuable. The key is to do whatever number crunching or analysis needs to be done to make a measurement valuable — otherwise it’s just a number.

Measure to Drive Action

Measurement without action is useless. Measurements need to be analyzed to provide insights that can be acted upon. A good metrics will help you understand how your tactics are doing and what you should improve. It may take analysis to get to the point of actionable insights, but if a number doesn’t provide any insights, it’s not the right number.

Continuous Measurement for Improvement

Just like marketing and sales, measurement is something that has to be done constantly to be valuable to the business.  If you just look at some numbers every quarter, it’s hard to know if what you’re doing is helping you achieve your goals.  While it’s not necessary for most companies to measure daily, regularly measure and analyze to provide recommended actions for your business to take to improve performance.

How do you measure success for your internet marketing?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Five Ways Mobile Apps Can Be Used To Market Your Business

Five Ways Mobile Apps Can Be Used To Market Your BusinessWith as much noise as there is in the world today, marketing is difficult – but many marketers overlook one simple thing that can revolutionize how marketing is performed. What is the one object that nearly everyone carries around in his or her pockets at all time? That’s right; their cell phone. Mobile applications can be useful for marketers to use, and can also be used to market to other people. Here are a few ways…

1. Get a feel for events in real time.

Apps like DoubleDutch.me are analytics apps for real life. This app can be used at conferences to get a feel for where people are paying the most attention, what booths have the most visitors, and more. DoubleDutch is a mobile event app which allows visitors at a convention to communicate with the other patrons through an Instagram ‘like’ feed, and answer surveys about their experience. The app also holds sponsorship opportunities within it to help pay for the cost.

2. Keep all of your social media tools in a single place.

Apps such as LastPass help you keep track of all of your passwords, so you don’t need to waste mental energy trying to remember individual passwords for individual sites; just remember one, and you’re good to go. Other applications can combine all of your social media networks into one, allowing you to manage contacts easily and keep track of them in real time. No more switching back and forth between Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and all of the other social media apps that seem to spring up constantly.

3. Post enticing photos of products or services.

Instagram isn’t just for posting pictures of lunch and cats. You can use it to post photographs of new shipments, new creations, or the services you offer, and get your customers excited about the prospect of shopping at your business. It’s one of the fastest growing social networks right now, and if used correctly, can skyrocket your marketing efforts. For instance, if you run a cake shop, post a photo of a cake fresh from the oven – it is guaranteed to make viewers want some of it.

4. Use social media to let fans and customers know of special events.

A great way to draw temporary and potentially lasting attention to your business is through special offers and events. Using Twitter, Facebook, and other apps, you can alert your base of fans and followers to flash sales, special giveaways, and more. Combining this with an email list is a great way to not only grow your list, but convert visitors into customers – once they’ve said yes to signing up for the email list, it isn’t hard to make the leap to buying a product.

5. Creating your own app.

This is a more in depth process than employing apps already in existence, but it can have benefits. By creating an app unique to your business, you can allow users to receive special discounts in store, create a point system where customers can work up to certain rewards, use it as an automated sale notification system, and more. Not to mention the branding benefits! While app creation can be a time consuming process, it can pay for itself by increasing your brand and bringing more customers through your doors.

Using mobile marketing is the way to go, and enables you to reach thousands of people in the blink of an eye – far more than a billboard could. Taking advantage of this opportunity is something everyone business owner should do.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Rethink The Psychology of Your Calls to Action

Thinking RFID

Thinking RFID (Photo credit: @boetter)

A call to action (CTA) button can be the difference between securing a successful online transaction and losing your potential customer to your competitor’s webpage.  To prevent an unfortunate turn of events, you, as the marketer or business owner, must learn what it is that makes your potential customers continue through your site and what causes them to flee the scene. This understanding and research can be primarily summed up by the study of CTA button psychology, or, in simpler terms, the reason people click what they click.

Color 

Color is a huge factor in CTA button psychology. For a look at how color choices can affect your marketing, take a look at this infographic. By choosing color schemes that match your company’s objective and purpose, the site visitor will subconsciously feel as though the calls to action are simply part of the overall process. For example, people might think the bank site they are visiting is secure because the blue color scheme encourages them to, just as customers are more likely to open a savings account if the button they must click to do so is green because of the color’s association with money.

In choosing a color scheme, you also want to be aware of what complementary colors are necessary to make your CTA buttons stand out. Orange, for example, can simultaneously command attention, while remaining welcome and friendly, which is why it is so often chosen for CTA buttons and internet marketing. The most important, or primary, CTA buttons should be in a color, like orange, that will attract immediate attention. Any secondary options you wish to give your site visitor should be in a color that stands out less.

levpn

In this example, found on the website of virtual private network service Le VPN, color contrast is used very well to make the green CTA button pop. They reserve this shade of lime green for highlights on their site, like the calls to action, which makes them very powerful wherever they appear.

Shape 

It is important that your CTA buttons look like they are legitimate virtual buttons. Keep the shape of the button to what would be a “normal” button shape in real life. Think of radio buttons, dials and power “on” and “off” buttons. All of these maintain a similar shape: round or rectangular. Maintaining these shapes will ensure that the visitor recognizes what it is they need to push. Paul Olyslager suggests that virtual buttons should have rounded edges because sharp angles push our eyes to where the corners are pointing, rather than to the center of our content.

empirecat

This example from Empire CAT, a heavy machinery dealer, has a clear “learn more” button in the bottom right of their slider. The rounded edges draw the attention into the text at its center, and the right facing arrow suggests there is more to see on the next page.

Size and Placement

The size and placement of your rounded CTA button directly correlates with the number of clicks and conversions your site receives. The primary CTAs need to be larger than any other secondary option and will more likely to be used if the user doesn’t have to scroll down to find them.

A great example of this is with the shopping cart. Often, you’ll see the larger “Proceed to Checkout” button with a smaller “Continue Shopping” next to it. Their color and size are almost always different from one another. Our eyes naturally gravitate towards the larger of the two. Making the primary CTA more visually significant will increase the number of visitors who go forward with their purchase.

customcarcovers

Custom Car Covers allows its customers to choose between PayPal and regular checkout. The iconic PayPal button is familiar, and customers who use PayPal will be drawn to use the service to check out. However, visitors who do not use PayPal still have an option – and the bright red ensures that it won’t be missed.

CTA Text

Keep your CTA copy simple and straight-forward. This is not the place to put a paragraph. Use the copy to give your visitors the confidence to know exactly where they are headed when they hit the button. “Proceed to Checkout” is a great example. Three words and you know exactly where you are going. “Continue Shopping” will put you right back where you were, looking at the last product you viewed. Joanna Wiebe, from CopyBlogger, made the suggestion that CTA copy be written in the first person. This solution will make the site visitor feel like the CTA is personal and just for them, as in “View My Cart.”

maxwellsystems

Maxwell Systems, a construction software provider, sells their products to other businesses. They know that free demos convert well for this audience, so they encourage visitors to check out the trials with big buttons that turn orange when rolled over.

By recognizing these factors in CTA psychology, you and your company will be able to understand and differentiate what works well for your visitors and what achieves the most conversions. Don’t be afraid to play around with and analyze how color, copy, size and shape affect the number of clicks you receive. By doing so, you will be able to optimize the experience for your site visitor and optimize your conversions.

About the Author

Adrienne is a freelance writer and blogger who loves analyzing what makes websites tick. To see more of her work, follow her on Twitter at @adrienneerin.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Developing Your Marketing Strategy: There’s an App for That.

Depositphotos_25525333_xsYour brand never sleeps, especially in the digital world. For you, this translates into always being on and always engaged in your marketing strategy. This doesn’t mean you have to be handcuffed to your desk — there is a plethora of apps and smart devices that can simplify your marketing efforts. Streamline your marketing strategy with these helpful tools to make marketing on-the-go remarkably simple.

The Right Device

The right device, with fast broad-band speed and hefty data package, is crucial to working on the go. While it may be convenient to work straight from your phone, it is easier to work from a tablet with unlimited data. Larger tablet screens give you the same flexibility you get from your standard smartphone, but with the increased screen space for easier viewing and typing. Plus, unlimited data from companies like T-Mobile means you won’t be bound in what you accomplish by an impending giant bill.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite’s social media platform can simultaneously schedule posts on all of your social channels, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. Do you manage multiple client accounts? You can manage them all from the same dashboard. As if that simplicity wasn’t enough, Hootsuite also allows you to create client reports detailing the analytics of each social platform’s performance. The app is available via both desktop and mobile apps.

Facebook App

Facebook is one of the most downloaded social media apps of all time. While posts can be managed from Hootsuite, Facebook’s integrated analytics and the ease through which potential clients interact on the site make using its direct interface a no-brainer. The Facebook app will track your page’s analytics on the go and, more importantly, will allow you to interact immediately with perspective customers.

WordPress

You already use WordPress to manage your content management system, but staying up to date with blogging is a tough task. Download the WordPress mobile app to make blogging easy, anywhere. You can even update your CMS straight from this free app!

Evernote

With Evernote’s incredible capabilities, it is hard not to make the app synonymous with your life. Evernote is a cross-platform app that offers countless features, from being your digital file cabinet, note-taking tool, daily journal, and task/project management system. It even has “If This Then That” support, meaning you can automatically send content from other services (like Gmail) to your Evernote account. Wherever you are, Evernote allows you to save your ideas, because you never know when your next great idea may strike.

About the Author

Richard Collins – Next-gen advocate, specializing in indie games and all things retro