Video Creates a Moving Difference

Originally published on Data Driven Investor on May 8, 2019

Going direct to video is a bad sign for movies, but it can spark marketing campaigns for businesses. Videos do more for brand storytelling than the printed word to engage potential customers.

Twitter is a great untapped platform for video, something Lindo Myeni intends to change. The award-winning influencer, content creator, social media strategist, and speaker explained during Africa Tweet Chat how video marketing and Twitter unite for success.

“It’s very important to consider that on Twitter, consumers are on the go and scrolling to discover what’s happening around the world now,” he said. “Short interesting video will do.”

If as the adage says, a picture is worth a thousand words, a video can explode a brand.

“As a digital marketer, video marketing means everything, if not a billion,” Myeni said. “If video consumers find it interesting, they’ll share with their followers via retweet.

“According to HubSpot, 64 percent of all video consumers are more likely to purchase a product online after seeing a video about it,” he said.

With the right tactics, entrepreneurs can maximize the use of videos on Twitter for their businesses.

“Video is Twitter’s fastest-growing advertising option,” Myeni said. “According to stats on Twitter, 79 percent of consumers would rather watch a video to learn about a product than read a written text. Brands should keep that in mind, especially when they launch new a product.”

Another option allows copying a whole tweet to video.

“It’s a great feature,” Myeni said. “It drives all the views to the owner of a video and serves as a reference to where you got it.”

With a high demand for content compressed in short videos, business owners need to get familiar with ways to beef up their Twitter marketing.

“Keep your tweet copy short. How short? Really short,” Myeni said. “Also keep your short video score high for engagement and completion rate. According to Twitter data, minimal tweet copy has a 13 percent higher brand and message recall.

“Always have a clear call-to-action,” he said. “As digital marketers, we’re technically trained to write copy that drives subsequent action. In terms of Twitter ads, video website cards generate better engagement. You’ll see double the click-through rates compared to mobile video ad benchmarks.”

Myeni advised businesses to show their branding or logo in the beginning of the video. This is a big help in a world where video completion rate is slow.

Going deeper, he described Twitter marketing strategies brands can incorporate through a marketing campaign.

“Always shoot vertical,” Myeni said. “Ninety-three percent of video views on Twitter happen on mobile devices. For that reason, it’s very important to create videos with mobile viewing in mind. Used closed subtitles in case your viewers watch it with the sound off.”

For return on investment, Twitter live streaming can boost content monetization.

“Twitter live video gives your audience real-time access to important moments and behind-the-scenes looks at preparation your product or before new product launch,” Myeni said. “Brands can go live to tease building up for a launch of your new range or product.

“At the South by Southwest conference, Twitter unveiled a new camera feature,” he said. “We can call it ‘Twitter Stories,’ simply swiping left on your timeline as you would on Instagram, but the opposite direction.”

If video marketing sounds intimidating, Myeni said it is relatively easy to start, resulting in great benefits.

“It’s no secret that video is among the most engaging content Twitter,” he said. “The good news is you don’t have to own a DSLR camera or expensive equipment to create an engaging, professional-looking video for your Twitter content. All you need is your phone.

“Engagement on videos on Twitter is amazing,” Myeni said. “Also consider that you will reach a larger audience and gain brand awareness.”

He noted that while almost all social media platforms support video marketing, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram do well for videos.

“It’s very important to experiment,” Myeni said. “Learn what works with your brand or your followers.”

About the Writer:
Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services. A writer by trade, he graduated from Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He enlisted in the Air Force and served for 25 years in public affairs – better known in the civilian world as public relations. He also earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Public Affairs. Since retiring, he has been a consultant and in the federal General Service as a public affairs specialist. He also acquired life and health insurance licenses, which resulted in his present affiliation with Largo Financial Services. In addition to expertise in financial affairs, he gathers the majority of his story content from Twitter chats. This has led him to publish about a wide range of topics such as social media, marketing, sexual harassment, workplace trends, productivity and financial management. Medium has named him a top writer in social media.

5 Proven Social Media Engagement Strategies for 2019

In the world of social media marketing, the word “engagement” gets thrown around a lot, but few brands actually know how to achieve it.

Brands might pursue the low-effort game of tweeting, ‘gramming, feeding Facebook, and Linkedin-ing updates about products, services, and educational content, but see little engagement.

Engagement just isn’t easy to produce. You have to be, well, engaging. In your business niche, the “like my page” approach probably isn’t going to be effective as you’d like.

Download Now: Free Social Media Calendar Template

Let’s look at ideas that could make you a force to be reckoned with. I’ve organized them into an AEIOU list. (I want to call it an acronym, but how would you pronounce the five vowels?)

A is for Ask

The best way to engage someone is to ask a question. “How are you?” and “How’s it going?” are popular options in conversion, but too dull for social media warfare.

“What’s your name?” probably won’t work and “What’s your email?” might come off as a bit too forceful. How about …

“What do you think?” Yes! That’s a winner.

People like to think things through. They like to hear from other thinkers. Certainly, they want other people to know what they think. Try prompting your audience with one of the following “What do you think?” strategies:

  • Probe their personality. Post a question that invites people to share their opinion or weigh in on something.
  • Play the “test your knowledge” game. It’s irresistible.
  • Post a poll. It’s easy to create polls on Twitter and Facebook. In addition to engaging your followers, you stand to learn meaningful things about them too.
  • Respond to my email. Email from brands are bound to ask you to click-through to read, watch, and try or buy something, but how often do they simply ask you to write back? I find this this be an enormously engaging strategy and have seen it work for my brand and many others. Notice I wrote, “Respond to my email,” not “our email” or “this email.” A human-to-human first person approach will be the engaging way to call this play.
  • Just ask. Interactivity 101: simply post a question. Whether done so in a social stream, blog post, online group or community, or on a Q&A site such as Quora, I’ve witnessed asking followers relevant, provocative, and timely questions creates some of the most engaging and thought-provoking social media activity of all.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Personality quizzes have been red-hot engagement magnets for years on Buzzfeed, and it’s easy to create them to promote your brand with a template-based tool such as ShortStack.

Nice going AARP. “Test Your Beatles Trivia Knowledge” engaged me, but you could have asked a few easier questions. I went 0–for-8 (and I’m a huge Fab Four fan).

This simple Twitter poll from Airbnb does a great job of engaging followers without any fancy tools.

E is for Expression

“E” is for “expression” because of the way social and mobile have collided, making the ubiquitous smartphone a personal expression machine.

It doesn’t matter how you create content. The camera might be front or rear facing. Audio might be on or off. Filters, emojis, stickers and so forth may be applied or not. Posts may be permanent or self-destructing. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Smartphone apps enable people to express themselves every which way, and so they do.

Here are a few ways you can encourage your audience to create content featuring your brand:

  • Hash it out. The hashtag has become the click-to-connect ticket for bonding with like-minded people. When you put something of interest out there, do a little hashtag research first, or hash out a unique phrase that reflects your brand. Hit that # key, and invite your followers to jump in and hashtag content related
  • Conduct media upload contests. Many social media fans adore Instagram and Facebook contests, and are especially engaged in the types that involve shooting and sharing original photos and videos. Contests may call for other forms of self-expression as well, such as: recipes, recordings, illustrations, poems, essays, and more.
  • Rally reviewers. Thanks to pioneers like Amazon and Yelp, reviews, ratings, and testimonials have been baked into the fabric of ecommerce selling spaces and beyond.
  • Showcase customers, partners and employees. Provided you’re doing something people like, consider creating advocacy programs featuring customers, partners and employees to catalyze your community, amplify your voice, and engage newcomers by giving them a platform to express themselves.

Let’s take a look at an example:

#KajabiHero is an impressive example of customer advocacy at work. Satisfied customers happily endorse the “knowledge commerce platform,” and wear their t-shirts proudly. They’re rewarded with special features, links to their websites, and social media support.

I is for Incentive

I’ve mentioned numerous forms of interactive content, some of them competitions, but have yet to introduce the term “gamification.” People like to play games, compete, keep score, and most of all, win.

Satisfy your audience’s competitive spirit by featuring compelling incentives in your promotions. As incentives go, valuable prizes loom largest, but you may be surprised how even small rewards prove to deliver a sizable lure.

I swept through a post that features 37 Facebook contest ideas to inspire fans to bond with your brand in an effort to extract some ideas you can use to encourage people to get involved.

The entry form on this promotion by Michigan’s Friendship Circle explains, each person who casts a vote for their favorite pair of hand-drawn Converse All Stars will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a free pair of the winner. The winning shoe was subsequently reproduced and sold as a fundraiser.

O is for Offer

Your engagement strategy doesn’t need to be interactive or gamified 100% of the time. Your brand can engage customers and prospects the old fashioned way, with attractive offers such as:

  • Instant coupons and discounts
  • Membership clubs (example below)
  • Pick your discount promotions
  • Free shipping

The link in Pura Vida Bracelet’s Instagram bio invites you to “join the Pura Vida Club.” BTW, the brand’s Instagram feed (1 million followers) bubbles over with joyous photos, mostly from customers, engaging questions, challenges, posts about charitable causes, and conversations.

Experiment with different types of offers to discover what your customers best respond to.

Facebook makes it easy to promote offers. A flavor of the Facebook ad portfolio is the “offer ad.” Offer ads can be redeemed online and/or be saved by Facebook fans to be redeemed in-store.

A help page from Facebook offers the following best practices:

  • Make discounts substantial. Offers with free items or with discounts of at least 20% off will reach more people.
  • Use an engaging image. Photos of people using a product often perform better than photos of a product by itself, and both generally perform better than logos.
  • Set an expiration date. Give people a few days to discover and claim an offer and allow time for your offer to be shared among friends. The ideal length of an offer is 7 days.
  • Promote your offer: After creating an ad for your offer, pin it to the top of your Page to help it get noticed.

U is for Utility

Engagement and utility are close friends on the web today.

Data from a research report about interactive contact from Content Marketing Institute and ion interactive reveals the top two reasons for using interactive content are (1) educating the audience and (2) engagement. 

A major majority of savvy B2B marketers put utility at the forefront of their content marketing programs. Useful content created to engage prospective customers could include tools, blog posts, video, infographics, downloadable guides, mini-courses, helpful email sequences, webinars, and much more.

Above is a LinkedIn ad from ConnectWise Automate that offers what appears to be a highly useful guide to help vendors price their IT services.

The ad is the pitcher… and here’s the catcher: a highly engaging and smartly designed landing page.

ConnectWise landing page.png

I love the question style headline, the directional cues, the 1/2/3 infographic vignette, the very cool bonus offer (a calculator), and the nicely designed form.

Utilitarian marketing ideas work offline too—and for any size company or individual.

I love the story from Jay Baer’s book Youtility about Taxi Mike. Jay calls an enterprising taxi driver he encounters a “one man Trip Advisor.” The driver created the Taxi Mike Dining Guide (above) and updates it regularly to handout to his passengers.

How will you AEIOU engagement with your brand?

A quick review:

(A) Asking Questions

(E) Invoking Expression

(I) Providing Incentives

(O) Making Offers

(U) Delivering Utility

I hope you found these ideas and examples useful — and engaging.

Originally posted in the HubSpot Blog July 12 2019
Written by Barry Feldman@FeldmanCreative

SEO Basics

A Guide to SEO Best Practices for Small Business

Resident SEO expert Ryan Eland brings you a guide on SEO best practices for small business. In this e-book, you’ll gain a high level overview of the primary things you need to focus on in order to have success in the search engines, as well as:

  • Keyword identification and placement
  • Content writing best practices
  • Proper metadata usage
  • Page load speed and SEO
  • URL structure
  • Proper image optimization
  • Mobile SEO

The Importance of SEO

SEO is difficult, but worth it. No other practice gives us such direct insight into what people want and are searching for. This means that search traffic consistently ranks up there with email for the highest converting web traffic. SEO is simply the process of positioning your answer—hopefully the best answer—on the first page of a search engine, so that people click to your website and find what they need.

People go to search engines for answers to questions: How to install a dishwasher? 8,100 searches per month. They go to search engines for directions: Where is Las Vegas? 5,400 searches per month. They go to search for emergencies: choking child, 480 searches per month.

If somebody has a question or a need, chances are the answer is somewhere on the Internet.

SEO is simply the process of positioning YOUR answer – hopefully the best answer – on the first page of a search engine – so that people click to your website and find what they need.

SEO Basics is an e-book wherein you’ll gain a high level overview of the primary things that you need to focus on in order to have success in the search engines—what is commonly referred to as “on site SEO.”

On Site SEO

On site SEO is everything on your website that you can directly control and change.  Because of this, on site is always a great place to begin.  When thinking about on site SEO, it’s helpful to think through activities that have the
highest “SEO Return on Investment (ROI).”

Through this book you will learn:
1. Keyword Identification and Placement
2. Content Writing Best Practices + Keyword Density
3. Proper Metadata Usage
4. Page Load Speed & SEO
5. URL Structure
6. Proper Image optimization
7. Mobile SEO

The Two Spheres of SEO

Getting your website and your content to rank well in search requires focus on two different arenas. This is where a lot of small businesses go wrong with SEO. They see it as a quick fix or an easy method to a waterfall of qualified leads. They focus in on one or two tactics and lose sight of the whole picture.

Beware of any service or agency that promises to skyrocket your website to the top by using a “secret formula.” The long and short is that SEO is no longer a game of cheap tricks and sneaky manipulations. It’s hard, intentional, and detailed work that pays off when done correctly.

To learn more about how SEO Basics can be incorporate into your small business Get The Resource Now.

 

 

 

The Free Social Media Tools You Should Already Be Using

If you want to learn more about a situation or get to the bottom of something important, you’ve probably been told to “follow the money.” You can apply this advice to business and leadership, too.

If you want to keep a pulse on industry trends and stay ahead of the curve, one of the first things you can do is look at how money in your space is being budgeted. Take influencer marketing, for example. Last year, influencer marketing took off, and so did the budget that companies allotted for it.

Now, look at social media through the same lens. Social media spending in the U.S. alone is expected to increase to more than $17 billion in 2019. A dizzily impressive figure, no doubt, but that kind of budget makes sense when you look at just how important social is to the way companies engage with their audiences, amplify their content marketing, and measure their successes. In fact, “The State of Digital Media” found that 66 percent of publication editors determine content success based on the number of social shares each piece yields.

Because social is so critical to building strong brands, it’s important for your team to maximize how they use it (and what tools they use) to make that job easier. There are plenty of free social media tools out there to help your team save time and money. To stay current on those options, check out the updated list below of eight free tools that can simplify your team’s social media marketing:

1. Facebook Insights

According to the same “The State of Digital Media” report, Facebook is still the most popular platform for sharing and engaging with content, so tools designed for that platform are especially valuable — and Facebook Insights is a good one.

Further, not only is Facebook Insights free; it’s easy to use, too. Your team can access it through an existing page, and the Insights feature can help your business track metrics on page performance, times your audience is on Facebook, and posts that receive the most engagement. Your team can even export these insights for more analysis.

2. SocialRank

I love Twitter; it’s probably my favorite social platform. I’m not as active on Instagram, but I know a ton of people swear by it. This is why SocialRank is so great. It helps manage your followers on both platforms — Twitter and Instagram — so you’re not just accruing followers, but you’re also getting to know who they are and what they like. Honestly, it’s great to have a ton of followers, but what good is it if you don’t try and get to know most of them? After all, they’re your audience — if you care about appealing to them, SocialRank is a solid social tool to add to your toolbox.

3. Likeable Local

Likeable Local is a unique social tool thatany company can find useful. Driven by a passion for small business success, Likeable Local helps generate leads and referrals through its platform, as well as share content to social platforms. It also offers tools to boost your reach and manage your online reputation through built-in keywords so you can engage in the right conversations.

Social media is evolving and only becoming more important to the way companies communicate with their audiences. Do your team a favor: Look into these free tools to make it easier to increase the reach, engagement, and impact of your social media marketing.

4. Social Mention

This tool can help your team track brand mentions and social interactions. Through a single search of your company’s name, your team can discern how often others are mentioning the name, whether it’s on the receiving end of positive or negative feedback, the reach of its posts, and more. Plus, it shows the top keywords and hashtags involving your company.

5. TweetDeck

If your team maximizes content by sharing it via multiple accounts, you’re probably familiar with the struggle of logging in and out of each account to launch posts. It takes time to sign in and out of different accounts to ensure as many possible audience members get the chance to engage with your content. Major headaches can surface when you’re bouncing around from sharing original posts, researching hashtags, tagging the right people, and replying to messages. With TweetDeck, your team can effectively manage multiple Twitter accounts with ease, all on one screen.

6. TweetReach

Free TweetReach snapshot reports provide fast, easy tracking of analytics for up to 100 tweets. Find out who’s been interacting with your company on Twitter, as well as what keywords, hashtags, URLs, or account names are receiving the most engagement.

The snapshot also includes insights into things such as: reach, exposure, tweet activity, tweet types, top contributors, top tweets, list of contributors, and tweet timelines. If your company uses Twitter daily or your company leaders are trying to identify potential influencers to work with, this is a great tool to ensure you’re getting the most out of your efforts. TweetReach also offers paid plans in addition to its free snapshot reports.

7. Buffer

Yes, I’ve mentioned Buffer in the past, and that’s because it really is a great, easy-to-use tool. Keeping up with sharing your content each day can be hard, and Buffer allows you to schedule multiple posts on different channels at once. This way, you can knock out a good amount of social distribution in one sitting, which is helpful for busy social media teams (and the thought leaders whose content is being shared).

8. LinkedIn

You’re probably already using this one, but hear me out. LinkedIn just released a new extension of its platform called LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms. This helps businesses accumulate and track leads. Because most people view the app on their phones, it can be a hassle to fill out a contact form. So instead of relying on users to fill out the forms, LinkedIn’s new application uses an in-app form that populates already stored information about an individual LinkedIn user, making lead generation for your business easier than before.

What are some social tools you’re currently using? Share them in the comments.

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Article written by John Hall.

John Hall is the CEO of Influence & Co., a keynote speaker, and the author of “Top of Mind.” You can book John to speak here.

I am currently the Cofounder and CEO of Influence & Co. – We help companies position key individuals as industry influencers and thought leaders. We focus on creating high-quality content, coming from our clients, that reaches their target audience online. Our clients range from startups to fast-growing companies on the Inc. 5000, as well as Fortune 500 brands.

How Working with a Virtual Assistant Can Improve Your Bottom Line

Do you work with a Virtual Assistant (VA)? Are you thinking about working with a VA, but aren’t quite sure how it would benefit you and your business?

Well, here’s an important benefit: Did you know that working with a VA can actually improve your bottom line and help you and your business make more money?

It’s true! The virtual assistant industry has been in existence for over 20 years, and in that time VA’s have helped countless business owners grow their companies by providing a multitude of services. Thanks to the rise of the gig economy over the last several years, more businesses owners than ever are working with Virtual Assistants.

So how exactly does a Virtual Assistant help your bottom line?

Let’s start with this: As a business owner or CEO, you probably have more tasks to do in a day than you can keep track of. A VA can take many of those tasks off your plate, and free up your time so you can do what you need to do to make money for your business.

A recent article from Entrepreneur.com, “3 Ways a Virtual Assistant is the Fastest Ticket to Growth in 2017,”  references how important it is for a business owner to consider working with a Virtual Assistant. In most cases, new entrepreneurs usually start out as “solo acts,” doing everything themselves without much help. Then as the business grows, as they begin to realize that if they want continued growth in their business, they’re going to need help, that’s where a VA comes in!

VA’s can take those time-consuming, everyday tasks like email and phone calls and organize them for you to make your daily communications more efficient; save you time. As a business owner or CEO, time is everything to you. Time is money; time is what you need to take care of your customers, your family, and yourself. A VA can give you back more time throughout your busy day and make things more manageable.

The article from Entrepreneur.com emphasizes the use of a VA as an Executive Assistant, and there are many great Executive Assistants in the VA industry. But VA’s can also do almost any task that can be done remotely. VA’s are also bookkeepers and accountants, social media managers, project managers, content marketers, event planners, and web designers. Nearly any job that can be completed remotely can be done by a VA.

What you pay a Virtual Assistant will depend on the tasks needed and the VA’s level of experience. But if you find yourself drowning in work and feel like you can’t keep up, then it’s time to think about working with a VA.

Hiring one or even several VA’s to help you is an investment. But the invaluable help that you get when you have a great VA working with you will make it worth every penny and improve your bottom line.

___________________________________________________

Article Written by Julie Stewart.

Julie is a Digital Marketing VA with over fifteen years’ experience in marketing for small businesses. Julie helps busy professionals promote their businesses and increase their online presence by coordinating their marketing needs, and assisting them with their websites, social media, email marketing and online content. To learn more about how Julie can help you increase your online presence, visit her website at www.jascreative.com.

The Ultimate Strategy For YouTube Video Marketing

When it comes to creating your own video products there are certain guidelines that you can follow that will help you figure out what content to include when creating the script for your video. If you keep these guidelines in mind during the planning and production stages of your video product you will have a much easier time creating it.

Perhaps, the easiest way to market your YouTube videos is to let friends, family members, or coworkers know that you have videos available for viewing on YouTube.  For the best chance of success, you are advised to email the direct links for your YouTube videos to those that you know.  If you just happen to mention having your videos on YouTube to a friend in passing, let them know what your videos are about or what your YouTube screen name is.  YouTube allows site visitors to browse through all of their videos or search for something in particular, like one of your videos.

Another one of the many ways that you can market your YouTube video is by having any of your videos appear on any websites or blogs that you have.  What is nice about YouTube is that you can easily get a few HTML codes. Those codes will enable you or any other Internet users to post a YouTube video online.  It is not uncommon for bloggers to insert a YouTube video in their blog, by using generated HTML codes. It is advised that you post your own YouTube videos on your own websites, but if you know of anyone else who has a blog, you may want to think about giving them the needed HTML codes to have your YouTube video appear on their blog.  In most cases, you will find that even strangers are willing to do so, as long as your YouTube video is connected, in one way or another, to their blog or website.

You can also market your YouTube videos on online message boards.  Online message board marketing can be done two different ways.  For instance, there are a large number of online message boards that let you discuss of share anything, in general, with other board members. You may want to think about posting links to some of your YouTube videos, especially if you think the other members would enjoy watching them.  If you belong to an online message board or forum that allows you to have a signature, you will want to look into doing so.  Your signature will always appear at the end of each of your messages; therefore, the more active you are online, the more exposure your YouTube videos are likely to get.

Lastly, know what you want your audience to do after watching the video content. Do you want them to fill out forms, go to recommended site, rate the video, respond to a poll, forward the video to friends or buy products and services? Be clear on your message by directly telling video viewers your call to action. If you are pre-selling (which should be your aim), your video content should make viewers buy the products you talk about.

Turn Your Customers into an Army of Brand Advocates

It’s what fuels your most highly satisfied customers to share positive information about the stuff you sell, whether that be online or offline—information that is far more credible than any form of paid advertising.

For this reason, brand advocates are worth twice as much as an average customer and are 75 percent more likely to share a great experience with their personal network. The positive word of mouth generated by advocates is two times more effective than paid advertising and drives 20-50 percent of all purchase decisions. This adds up to $6 trillion in consumer spending each year.

B2B brand advocacy—it’s a thing

And, it’s not just limited to B2C marketing channels. B2B buyers are now putting more weight on peer recommendations when it comes to purchase decisions. According to Google, 60 percent of business technology customers search for peer testimonials during the decision-making process.

The brand advocacy gap

Despite the value, there is still a wide advocacy gap. In the United States alone, less than 10 percent of brands have half of their social media mentions classified as having positive sentiment. To compound this, 80 percent of companies are not leveraging advocacy in their marketing strategies, and 58 percent have not identified who their advocates are.

This gap presents an opportunity for many businesses, despite the industry you are in. If you can cultivate a team of brand advocates, you’ll be much better positioned for success in the market.

But, how do you identify the ideal advocate? How do you cultivate them?

Strategies for building advocacy

There are many strategies your business can use to build advocacy among its customer base. Here are a few:

Focus on the relationship: What makes customers fall in love with a brand? A quality product, great service, and consistent experience. Always start with the fundamentals.

Share successes: Amplify the feedback and current successes of your current advocates—mention them on social media and feature their results in case studies.

Reward customers: Host special invite-only events, provide sneak peeks into new features, create a loyalty program and send exclusive offers. Give them the VIP treatment.

Solicit and act on feedback: Consumers love to feel like their feedback is heard and valued.

Those are a just a few ways you can start to build advocacy among your customer base. To dive deeper, check out the infographic below provided by the team at JitBit Helpdesk. It covers the who, what, where, how and why of brand advocacy, while highlighting its bottom line impact for your business.

jitbit-infographic-03.jpg __________________________________________________________________

robbie richards.png

Robbie Richards writes for JitBit, a company that provides live chat and help desk software to help businesses simplify and improve their customer support.

How to 10X Yourself Through Automation

We’re in a race against it, pressed for it, short on it, running out of it. If we could, we’d save it in a bottle.

Whatever your idiom of choice, we never have enough time. That’s especially true if you’re a small business owner. In “Defining and Achieving Small Business Success,” a report from Infusionsoft and Emergent Research, small business owners identified “time to get everything done” as one of their top three challenges.

Time may never be on our side, but at least technology can be. Automation software like Infusionsoft can save you from hours of manual tasks, like responding to repetitive emails, keeping track of leads and customers, and sending and collecting routine information. It does what you’d do if there were 10 of you.

Here’s how to 10X yourself by automating tasks and processes in your business.

1. Respond to contact requests

In a world of instant gratification, prospective customers who complete the “contact us” directions on your website want a response after a matter of minutes, not days or even hours. But you can’t afford to drop everything else you’re doing every time a new email hits your inbox. Automation can step in until you’re ready to respond in detail, triggering an email when a form is completed.

The message doesn’t have to be an impersonal “autoresponder;” it can look like you wrote it yourself, especially if you use a timer to delay it by 15 minutes or so: “Hi [Prospect Name], thanks for contacting us! I’m heading into some meetings, but I’ll be sure to get back to you later today.”

For more tips on how to make automation feel less automated, check out our e-book, This Time, It’s Personal: 20 Tips for Sending Automated Emails Without Sounding Like a Robot.

2. Send content and information

How many times each day do you send customers routine information like your price list, policies or schedule? Even if you’re only spending a couple minutes emailing links or attachments, those minutes turn into hours that you could save through automation.

Emails can be triggered via the completion of webform, as in the example above, or as a real-time response to an email in your inbox. With Infusionsoft, if you apply a note to the customer’s contact record, a prewritten email will be deployed (while the action is recorded in your database).

3. Follow up with leads

It doesn’t take long for a list of leads to become confusing. If you often dig through your inbox searching for email chains, trying to remember when you last checked in with a lead, you’re wasting time. Automation can do that for you.

With software, you can create an automated sequence in which emails are sent over the days, weeks, and potentially months you’re working to nurture a lead into a sale. Whether you’re sending content or the occasional “just checking in” note, automation ensures you don’t give up on a lead too soon.

If the automation software integrates with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, as is the case with Infusionsoft, that email history is posted to the prospect’s contact record so you can see which emails you sent—as well as which ones the prospect opened or clicked.

4. Continue the phone tag

Robocalls aside, you still have to pick up the phone, dial, and talk. But automation can handle the annoying part that often comes next: having to remember to call back again (and again and again) because you reached voicemail. You can create an automated sequence in which software picks up the phone tag. Leaving a note in the system triggers an automated “Sorry I missed you” email, while the software reminds you when it’s time to get on the phone again.

5. Identify the best leads

Your list of leads is long enough (hopefully) that you don’t have time to contact each one in the same day. And you also don’t have time to call prospects at random, only to reach the ones who aren’t interested—while the leads that are ready to buy may be slipping away.

Enter lead scoring, a feature in which software automatically identifies the most sales-ready leads based on criteria they meet. You set the rules for the scoring, which can be based on actions like content downloads and link clicks. The software then gives you a hot-or-not view of your leads, allowing you to prioritize the ones who are ready to hear from you.

To learn more about lead scoring, download the e-book, Score Like a Rock Star: Take Your Business to the Big Time with a Kick-Butt Lead Scoring Strategy.

6. Send quotes

If you’re in a business that involves quotes, you can use automation to reduce the back-and-forth process of sending a quote, waiting for the client to look at it (and perhaps reminding her to do so), and then repeating the process after the quote turns into an order. In Infusionsoft, you can trigger automation—like reminders or other follow up—when a quote is sent, viewed, accepted, declined, or paid.

7. Collect customer information

Offices used to dedicate entire teams to collecting and transcribing customer information. That manual data entry becomes a relic of the past if your automation software syncs with your CRM. When you collect customer information via a web form, a new contact record is created in your CRM, with each field automatically transferred to the record.

Bonus: Automating data collection also allows you to immediately send relevant information to your new contact. If the contact checks a box on a form indicating that she’s interested in boxing classes, for example, the software will tag her so she gets emails only about boxing, not about yoga.

8. Send appointment and event reminders

Automation removes the need for someone to manually remind customers about each upcoming appointment or event—and reduces the possibility of no-shows, too. With software, you can trigger automated reminder emails to be sent at a predetermined time, whether it’s five days before a consultation or 15 minutes before a webinar. The same is true for following up with a thank you, next steps, or a satisfaction survey after an event.

9. Collect paperwork

If you send a customer an important form to complete, the chances are fair that he won’t remember to do it—at least not the first time you ask. And you have more important things to do than chase paperwork. Automation can handle the reminders for you. Software can track whether the customer clicks a link to download or visit the form. Based on that behavior, the software can send automated email reminders until the form is finally back in your inbox.

10. Ask for referrals

Referred customers are more loyal and offer a higher lifetime value than customers acquired through other marketing efforts, according to a study in the American Marketing Association’s Journal of Marketing. Plus, it doesn’t cost anything to acquire them.

But there’s a catch: Many customers won’t give referrals unless you ask for them, and many business owners don’t have the time—or the comfort level—to do the asking.

Automating the referral request process ensures that you ask for referrals regularly and consistently. A purchase can trigger a later email to the customer in which you ask for a referral (and, potentially, offer a discount or gift as a thank you).

The customer may not realize the email is automated if you use tricks like merge fields, with which “Hi [First Name], I hope you’ve been happy with our [Product or Service Purchased]” becomes “Hi Mark, I hope you’ve been happy with our web design services”—personalized for each customer. With automated referral requests, you’ll be helping to grow your business, without even thinking about it.

Written by Amy Saunders

Amy Saunders is a content creator at Infusionsoft, where she helps small business owners learn about automation. Writing about business brings Amy’s work full circle: She began her career as a business reporter at The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio before becoming a features writer. After more than six years there, she moved to Phoenix, where she was an editor at a content marketing agency before joining Infusionsoft. As a lifelong Midwesterner, Amy promises to never take Arizona weather for granted and spends her free time riding horses, playing tennis and hiking in the sun. Follow her on Twitter @amyksaunders.

The Difference Between Static and Dynamic Websites

 

 

Usually people who are preparing to launch their first website do not know what a Web Page is and the difference between Static and Dynamic Websites.

But before telling you the differences, let’s understand exactly what a Web Page is first.

What is a Web Page?

As per Wikipedia, ”A web page or webpage is a document or information resource that is suitable for the World Wide Web and can be accessed through a web browser and displayed on a monitor or mobile device.  This information is usually in HTML or XHTML format, and may provide navigation to other web pages via hypertext links.  Web pages frequently subsume other resources such as style sheets, scripts and images into their final presentation.”

In simple terms, a web page is a document that a web browser can understand and be displayed on your computer monitor or other device, like a mobile phone or tablet.

Got it?

Okay, now let’s look into what a Website is…

What is a Website?

A website (also spelled Web site) is a collection of related web pages, images, videos or other digital assets that are addressed relative to a common Uniform Resource Locator (URL), often consisting of only the domain name.

For example, if you look at our Website – BusyGal Friday Websites – you’ll see that our site is a collection of several web pages, just like the one from which you are currently reading this blog article.

Now we can look into the static and dynamic nature of websites.

What is a Static Website?

Static Websites, work like a brochure because they present pre-defined, static information to the user.  Coded directly into HTML, in the same form as displayed to the visitor, generally, a static website may include information about your company, your products and services, via text, pictures, animations or video and interactive navigation menu.  There are many static websites on the Internet, you won’t be able to tell immediately if it is static, but the chances are, if the site looks basic and is for a smaller company, and simply delivers information without any bells and whistles, it could be a static website.  Static websites are the cheapest to develop and host, and many smaller companies still use these to get a web presence.

Static Website designs are similar to handing out a printed brochure to a customer.  They provide consistent, standard information to all website visitors for an extended period of time.  Although Static Websites can be updated periodically, it is a manual process to edit texts, pictures or other contents and requires basic website design skills and specialized software.

All updates need to be done in HTML or XHTML code, and if you have more than a few pages in your website (no more than 10), it’s really a tedious job to update the site on regular basis.  Moreover, if you yourself don’t know how to update using HTML or XHTML code, then it can be very costly to do so.

Advantages of static websites

  • Quick to develop
  • Cheap to develop
  • Cheap to host

Disadvantages of static websites

  • Requires web development expertise to update site
  • Site not as useful for the user
  • Content can get stagnant

What is a Dynamic Website?

In contrast to Static Websites, Dynamic Websites are suitable for larger websites where the owner may want to update the contents frequently, offer differentiated contents, or create unique web experiences for the visitors who visit the website.  Dynamic Websites can also offer personalized experiences to website visitors.  Although web pages are displayed using the same HTML or XHTML codes as Static Websites, Dynamic Websites generally make use of web programming languages to offer dynamic content to visitors.

Dynamic Websites, often have a separate interface from where owners can manage and update content themselves. They are also called “CMS Websites” – CMS stands for Content Managed Site or more widely – Content Management System. Depending on the owner’s requirement, a Dynamic Website’s CMS can have a number of functions that enables easy website maintenance, content-picture updates, news or events updates, or a more advanced platform with product catalog and e-commerce capabilities.

The main purpose behind using the Dynamic Website Platform is its automation capabilities.  A dynamic website operates more effectively, is easier to maintain, update and expand.  Compared to Static Websites, Dynamic Websites are much simpler to build, when you need more than few static HTML web pages.  This is why we, at Check Point Creatives, use this as our primary platform upon which offer our sites to you!

Dynamic sites on the other hand can be more expensive to develop initially, but the advantages are numerous. At a basic level, a dynamic website can give the website owner the ability to simply update and add new content to the site. For example, news and events could be posted to the site through a simple browser interface. Dynamic features of a site are only limited by imagination. Some examples of dynamic website features could be: content management system, e-commerce system, bulletin / discussion boards, intranet or extranet facilities, ability for clients or users to upload documents, ability for administrators or users to create content or add information to a site (dynamic publishing).

Advantages of dynamic websites

  • Much more functional website
  • Much easier to update
  • New content brings people back to the site
  • New content helps in the SEO – search engine optimization
  • Can work as a system to allow staff or users to collaborate

Disadvantages of dynamic websites

  • Slower / more expensive to develop
  • Hosting costs a little more

Which website platform is best suited for me?

You should decide based on your business requirements over next 3-5 years.  Our suggestion is to go for a dynamic website, because currently it is much more affordable and there aren’t too many differences in prices between static websites and dynamic websites.  Besides, dynamic websites can manage your static contents too.

Conclusion

So, now you know the basic difference between Static Websites & Dynamic Websites and you can decide which is best for you.

Whatever your decision, BusyGal Friday Websites is well equipped to provide you with quality websites and affordable web solutions, with its unparalleled professional customer support services provided by maWebcenters.

Visit us at BusyGalFridayWebsites and contact our team at 972.863.1128 or +1.800.861.4183 to learn more about how we can put our expertise and experience to work for you!

About BusyGal Friday Websites

We offer complete website design and marketing solutions that includes professional Website Design, Custom Web Development, eCommerce Solutions and Internet Marketing Services.  We developed our integrated solution to be as flexible and user-friendly as it is powerful. Our proprietary solution empowers every small and mid-sized business with the tools necessary to tap into the earning potential of the digital marketplace.  It’s one single resource packed with high-caliber features – eCommerce capabilities, SEO tools, social media widgets and fully customizable attributes – to create a completely unique look and feel that matches the vision of any business.

How to Create a Customer Experience that Increases Retention and Loyalty

Written by Jenny Beightol

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re operating in, competition is fiercer than ever. The Internet has made our world smaller and so connected that even small businesses must compete on a global scale if they want to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Because of this, one of the most important assets you can leverage has nothing to do with the services you provide or the products you offer.

It comes down to the type of experience you can create for your customers.

This, above all else, is truly the thing that’s most unique to your business. Customer experience affects everything within your organization, from how successful your outreach programs are to increases in retention and loyalty and more.

In one recent study, it was revealed that an incredible 86 percent of buyers said that they were willing to pay more for a better customer experience. And by 2020, customer experience will be more important than price and even product when it comes to differentiating one brand from the next.

Furthermore, 66 percent of customers surveyed said that they’ve switched brands primarily due to a poor customer experience—not a poor product or service.

If you truly want to create an unparalleled customer experience that increases retention, encourages loyalty, and increases revenue, you’ll want to ask yourself a few core questions.

Do you fully understand the customer’s intent?

If you want to create a true customer experience that will define your brand and drive your efforts, you need to first understand where your customer is coming from—whether that’s the devices they’re using, to the channels they’re on, and even to why they’re interested in your brand in the first place.

Take this for example: According to the 2016 Index, 95 percent of all customers use at least three or more channels and devices to resolve a single issue related to customer service. A further 95 percent use up to five.

If they’re sending an email on their smartphone, you need to be ready. If they’re sending you a tweet or a Facebook message, you need to be ready. No matter what platform your customers use, you need to be there when they reach out to you.

Home Depot discovered that DIY fanatics were turning to their phones to learn about how to build furniture. Furthermore, they were looking to YouTube for their content. So they built a content marketing strategy on the platform, creating valuable how-to videos:

 Home Depot Video Thumbnails.jpg

Customer relationship management (CRM) tools can be a great way to create a smart, connected experience across these channels. Not only does it allow for all information about a customer and their issues to be funnelled through a single source that everyone can access, but it also allows you to view historical data as well.

This will allow you to anticipate not just what the consumer wants now, but also the needs and concerns that will arise during and even after their purchase.

Do you know where the buyer is in their journey?

Where a customer is in their journey will affect everything—from the way that you should talk to them to the type of care that they need at essential moments.

The discovery phase is about education, whereas the awareness phase is about showing what you can do for your customer that nobody else can. Consideration and decision phases make the sale, but the language you use here will vary wildly from that which you will use in the discovery phase.

Content that aligns with the awareness phase can come in the form of blog posts, infographics, and videos that educate. Ebooks, whitepapers, and webinars are typically used during the consideration and decision phases.

The Buyer's Journey.png

Image courtesy of Ahrefs

You don’t just need to know how to properly communicate with customers in general, you need to know how to pivot based on where they are at this precise moment. The importance of this cannot be overstated.

Are you tracking the right retention metrics?

Retention metrics are fantastic resources to tell you not only what you’re doing right, but more importantly what you could be doing better.

Focus on where customers are located. Are your efforts using local techniques to their full potential? Do you know which devices your consumers are using? How you interact with users on desktop will be significantly different from your interactions with someone on a smartphone.

Are you aware of the customer’s purchase frequency? This will provide you with the type of valuable insight you need to optimize not just the customer experience but also the customer journey, guaranteeing that you’re always contacting the right people at the right time, no exceptions.

Is your entire organization aligned around the customer experience?

An old saying tells us that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If every department in your organization is not aligned around optimizing the customer experience, all of your other efforts will ultimately mean nothing.

Structure your marketing team around nurturing your consumers as they enter the sales funnel, making their way towards that important purchase. Foster an environment where your customer service and sales teams aren’t considered separate at all, but are instead individual parts of a much larger whole.

Your teams must know when a customer should pass from one to the other. In that regard, communication is key. When a customer needs to move from the marketing team to the sales team, they need to do so at the right moment for the best results.

Omnichannel support software will not only help you in these efforts, but will also increase the reliability of your structure as well. Interactions across all channels like email, phone, social media, and live chat will all become one, allowing your customer to receive a single experience regardless of how they choose to make contact at a given moment.

Are you using the right tools to create a personalized experience?

People don’t like to feel like they’re just “one of many”. They like to be treated like the unique individuals they truly are.

Therefore creating personalized customer experiences will go a long way towards increasing both loyalty and retention. Even something as simple as using email automation to send out targeted emails tied back to specific customer actions or at essential moments in the customer journey will let that customer know you don’t just care about the sale—you care about them.

Again, omnichannel support software will become essential to meet this goal. Infusionsoft and BLUE are just a few options that will help you centralize your customer communications, streamlining the customer experience, and allow all of your departments to offer personalized interactions, no exceptions.

In the end

These are just a few of the major questions to consider if you want to create amazing customer experiences at your business. Make no mistake: customer experience is the new battleground for marketers in the digital age and factors like these are only going to get more important, not less, as time goes on.

About the author:
Jenny Beightol is the Director of Words & Reputations at Belly, the leading digital loyalty and marketing solution for businesses. Her expertise in brand identity and customer loyalty comes in handy when playing the “Loyal Brands” edition of Trivial Pursuit. Tweet her which brands you love here

5 Questions to Ask Your Web Designer

Just as you would interview a new employee, you’ll want to interview candidates for your web provider as this will likely be an interactive and ongoing project.  Below are 5 great question to ask your potential Web Provider:

What will my role be in the process?

You know your business, designers know design.  Most likely, you will be asked to submit content (text, images, videos, links etc.) to be used on your website.

At WebSolutions by maWebCenters, you can login to your account and follow the wizard to submit your content, thoughts and ideas.  All of your submissions will be stored here so you don’t have to worry about big files, sending multiple emails or trying to keep track of everything.  Once you’ve completed the wizard, we will send you designs and other items for you to review, request edits or approve.

How do you manage your workflow?

This is an easy way to distinguish a seat-of-your-pants company from a professional company.  Web projects require a lot of interaction and pieces that need to be put together.  Organization and communication are critical which is why a project management system is necessary for the success of a project.

At WebSolutions by maWebCenters, each client is assigned a Project Manager who interacts with you and the various teams that work on your project. You will have an online account with access to every part of your project.  This account is also visible to your project manager and various teams who work on your project so that everyone always on the same page.

Do you design for best SEO practices?

There’s a difference between uploading your menu natively and simply scanning in a PDF or JPG of your menu.  The native upload will work serve you better on search engines.  Ask your designer how they keep the site’s organic SEO value in mind when they design.

At WebSolutions by maWebCenters, we don’t take short cuts and we will always advise you if there is a better way to do something.  Sure, it may take us more time to natively upload something verses scanning an image but the success of your website is our top priority.  We don’t have contracts to keep you locked in with us.  Instead, we have to earn your business each month and one of the ways that we do that is by doing things the right way.

What if I need more time to get you content?

Most design firms will charge you extra if your project takes longer than planned.  As a traditional business owner, you are probably very busy and would want to determine your web designer’s stance on this.

At WebSolutions by maWebCenters, we will adhere to our timeline commitments to 100% as long as we have everything that we need from you.  If you need more time to get us information, we will adjust our timelines accordingly but never charge you extra for that.  Our Design Packages clearly state what you will get for each product, even if it takes you a few extra weeks to gather some content or other info.

What kind of ongoing support do you offer?

Some companies only work on new projects and offer no ongoing support.  Some charge per hour, with minimum times.  Some include support. A website is never finished and is an ongoing project so you’ll want to know what the plan for future support is once your site is launched.

At WebSolutions by maWebCenters, we offer award-winning unlimited 24/7 support for your site.  We have specialists in Site Editing, Ecommerce, Domains/Emails, Digital Marketing and Social Media in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese.  In addition, you can always request to work with specific members of our tech support staff!  If you would prefer to have us manage your site for you on monthly basis, ask about our “Managed Monthly Membership” program.

Ask the questions and find the right provider for you.  Get more information at http://www.BusyGalFridayWebsites.com.  If you would like to discuss these or any other question that you have, feel to call us at 972.863.1128 or 800.861.4183.

Facebook’s New Algorithm Change Is Actually Two Updates In One

You already know that Facebook uses algorithms to determine who sees your updates and when – and they adjust those algorithms all the time.

(Which means that occasionally, you need to adjust your strategy, too.)

Facebook’s latest update is actually TWO updates – a couple of changes to totally different parts of the overall algorithm!

Updates like these can impact your visibility in the News Feed not just for individual updates, but for your Page as a whole – and that means you should definitely pay attention to them.

So, double the algorithm changes, double the fun!

Wanna make sure you’re playing by the rules?

Here’s what’s new and different:

Facebook is judging your authenticity

When Facebook is determining who should see your updates and when, it looks at two different types of signals.

Personal signals are specific to the user seeing an update. For example, if there are certain people on Facebook with whom you frequently interact, you’re more likely to see their updates.

Universal signals are specific to user or Page posting an update. For example, if a Page’s updates frequently score high engagement rates, its updates may be shown to more users.

(Think of Facebook like a very trendy personal shopper – it shows you items based on what it knows you like, as well as the overall quality of what’s available.)

Facebook Value Scores.png

One of Facebook’s most recent algorithm changes relates to universal signals. That means it has to do with your Page and what it posts – specifically, your authenticity.

Facebook has new ways of determining how authentic you and your updates are – and if you aren’t authentic, you could be in trouble.

But what does that mean, exactly?

How do they know whether or not you’re authentic?

It’s not like they can turn you inside out and check your label! (That would be weird and gross.)

On Facebook, authenticity takes different forms.

First, it can mean trying to game the system.

Facebook is usually forthcoming about what you can do to increase your visibility in the News Feed – but that also makes their algorithms vulnerable to exploitation.

Last year, for example, they explained that live video broadcasts would get higher reach than some other types of content.

Sounds like a good way to get people to share live video, right? (Which makes sense, because this is a feature they were promoting pretty heavily at the time.)

The good news is, it worked! What also happened, though, is that people found ways to exploit the system. By posting graphics-only “live videos” like countdown clocks, for example, they could enjoy better exposure in the News Feed without producing an actual live broadcast.

The result? Facebook had to find a way to crack down on people taking advantage of the algorithm – in this case, by limiting visibility for graphics-only live broadcasts.

Trump Facebook Poll.gif

Remember what we said about how high engagement rates can increase your visibility?

Some Pages explicitly ask people for likes, comments, and shares as a way of increasing their reach – a tactic that Facebook believes is dishonest and inauthentic.

Another sign of inauthenticity is posting the types of content to which users have certain unfavorable reactions – Facebook gives the example of Pages whose audiences frequently hide their updates.

Another example may be Pages whose updates are frequently reported – especially as Facebook is under scrutiny for issues related to the spread of “fake news.”

Facebook has used the habits of Pages that regularly share inauthentic updates to build a model that can automatically identify and predict whether or not other Pages’ updates are authentic.

The way they see it, Pages that frequently do things such as asking for likes or sharing updates that people hide aren’t exactly great examples of the authenticity users care about. The more you have in common with those Pages’ tactics, the less likely that you’re authentic, either.

So while Facebook isn’t sharing all the different ways that they measure authenticity – after all, they’re trying to prevent people from gaming the system – they’re making it plenty clear that taking shortcuts when it comes to quality isn’t the answer.

That’s one big algorithm update out of the way, but remember – there’s still another new update to talk about!

Here’s the other big change to keep in mind moving forward:

Facebook is tracking real-time changes more closely

Facebook’s algorithms are always working in the background, so that when you visit your News Feed, you’re seeing the information they think is most relevant to you at that moment.

The second update they’ve just made is to how information is processed in real time – specifically, information related to an update’s subject and its engagement.

Basically, Facebook may place a status update higher in the News Feed if:

  • It is related to a topic that is popular on Facebook at that moment (for example, if you share an update about the Academy Awards while the Academy Awards are being broadcast, and people on Facebook are talking about them)
  • It is getting a lot of engagement at that moment (for example, if several of your followers get into a real-time debate in the comments on one of your updates)

Does that mean that all of your updates should be relevant to what’s trending at that exact moment?

Of course not!

What you do isn’t always going to be that timely. (You’re better off not forcing it.)

What it does mean, though, is you should be prepared for the times when it is relevant for you to post timely, live updates.

The best way to do that? Plan your updates ahead as much as possible – even by using a scheduling tool that allows you to share evergreen updates more than once.

An overwhelming majority of marketers prefers planning their Facebook updates in advance over trying to do everything live, and with good reason: it’s too much work!

The more you can plan, write, and schedule in advance, though, the more time you’ll have later when there are appropriate opportunities to post live – and being prepared for those moments is especially important now.

What do YOU think of these updates?

So, Facebook is fine-tuning their ability to measure real-time signals, and they’re paying closer attention than ever to whether or not your updates are authentic.

What do YOU think of these changes, though?

Do they make sense?

Will they influence what you share?

Do they address concerns you might have, or that you’ve had in the past?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Source:  MeetEdgar Blog