Select the correction level from Low to High, to determine how much back up data you want in the code – the higher the correction level, the more reliable the code, but the more “crowded” your code will look and potentially the less information your code will be able to transmit
Select what you want the QR code to do on your prospect’s smartphone (Step 2)
In 2005, only around 5 percent of Americans were using social media. By 2016, this number had grown to nearly 7 out of every 10 citizens. This tremendous growth makes it relatively easy to understand why so many businesses utilize social platforms today. They often wonder, though, whether they should hire a social media manager or do it themselves. As it turns out, there are various benefits to outsourcing this task.
They Know What Works
A local business owner may think social media marketing is nothing more than posting a few promotions and photos periodically. In reality, it’s much more than that, and social media managers understand this. They do it for a living, so they’re able to keep up with emerging trends and focus on what works for specific industries. Business owners who are focused on running their company rarely have this type of knowledge or the time to utilize it.
Generation of Original Content
Content marketing is one of the most effective promotional tools out there, and social media is the perfect place to disseminate this content. Fortunately, social media managers typically can produce content or have others create it for them. This content can be geared towards promoting the business – even if it doesn’t appear to be – and branded content can be shared instead of material from other sources.
Take on the Competition
There are two types of competitors out there: those who have social media managers and those who don’t. Companies that attempt to handle social platforms on their own are essentially all on equal grounding, so businesses that opt for a professional can outpace each of them. This equates to terrible news if a company has foregone hiring a social media manager when one of their competitors hasn’t.
A social media manager can do wonderful things for a company’s marketing strategies. While there’s no doubt that anyone can post to a Facebook page, it takes a real professional to do so in a profitable way.
It might sound an odd thing to say, especially in the middle of a recession, but there really has never been a better opportunity for businesses to thrive and prosper. We are literally in the middle of a cultural and marketing revolution where all the traditional rules of advertising and marketing are being re-written.
A few years ago if small and local businesses wanted to expand and attract a bigger client base, they would have to spend an inordinate amount of money on marketing and advertising.
The only way to reach a national or International audience would be to advertise in the national press, on the radio or on television.
This was (and is) beyond most local company’s means. Not many businesses have a marketing budget that would allow them to spend millions on a national or even local TV advertisement.
It was also frustrating for the consumer too. Finding businesses meant searching through the Yellow Pages and then ringing around to see if the company could provide what they were looking for. If they wanted to buy a product and it wasn’t available in their local area, they would have to travel to get it. Or in some cases, they could order via a catalogue or mail order company.
In addition, there was the uncertainty of whether the retailer they were buying from was reputable, especially if it was in a town or city that they were not familiar with.
With the fantastic invention of the Internet, how things have changed!
Consumers have ditched the Yellow Pages to find companies selling goods they want and they no longer have to travel to another part of the country to locate and purchase goods. They now rely almost entirely on the Internet to guide them to products and services that they want.
They are able to read online reviews from other consumers informing them all about both the product or service and the retailer themselves.
They don’t even need to be sitting in their homes or offices to do this. That information is freely available right there at their fingertips on their mobile phones.
It could not be easier.
It has also had knock on benefits for the retailers too. The internet is an essential, cost effective marketing and promotional tool.
Local companies now have a platform to compete on an equal level with the ‘big boys’ and can promote their business to the world. They no longer have to spend millions advertising to a national and international audience. Effective marketing is a mere drop in the ocean to what it used to cost and in a lot of cases it can be done free by word of mouth on social networking sites and in the search engines.
Then, just when you think that things couldn’t get any easier, Google decide that they want to show you some love by making an even easier and more effective way for you to promote your business with the launch of Google Plus Local.
What Is Google Plus Local?
If you are not familiar with Google Plus Local you are going to love it and be very excited.
Google created Google Plus Local as a way to combine its search engine, social networking and business directory features.
What this means is customers can now search out and find detailed information on local restaurants, shops and other services without having to do multiple searches. Everything is linked and available at their fingertips.
Google’s aim is for every business to take advantage of this powerful and popular tool and use their dedicated page as an effective advertising platform for their company.
Google assigns each business its own page. On your company’s very own Google Plus Local page you can include maps, contact details, photographs and other important information relating to your business. Once your page is set up and ready, your customers can use the page to rate your company, write reviews and add photos. Your page will be visible in Google search results and on Google maps.
Google WANTS your company to be found and makes it easy for customers to discover you.
It has added a feature called Zagat ranking and is an important feature of the business directory. Zagat uses a 30 point scale to rate different aspects of a company. For instance, if you owned a restaurant, customers could rate your food, décor and service using a rating system from ‘poor’ to ‘perfection’.
It gives you an opportunity for your business to shine on the Internet and bring customers flocking to your premises or to use your services.
Everybody knows Google. It is the most popular and important search engine on the Internet. It constantly evolves and changes to make the search experience even better for both the consumer and retailer.
Google Plus Local is based on its predecessor; Google Places. Google Places gave businesses the option to include a map and some basic information about their business, and in most cases this would rank it on the first page of a Google search.
That was enormously successful and was a huge help in getting local businesses found easily by customers looking for their types of products or services.
The most significant change with this new and updated version is its complete integration with the ‘Google Plus’ social network, which some claimed was Google’s answer to Facebook.
While the social networking aspect of Google Plus is not as successful or popular as Facebook at the moment, it is gaining more and more members as businesses catch on to how powerful this concept is for their company.
Your business page will now be included in Google’s index, making it much more visible in searches.
People’s searches results will be heavily influenced by their friends and families reviews and ratings.
Through your Google Plus Local page you will be able to respond and interact with your customers directly so that you can build a rapport with them and gain customer loyalty.
People using the Google social network can share and post comments linking to your business.
How Your business Can Use Google Plus Local
The main benefit of this service is its ability to increase the profile of your business. It also allows you to connect with your customers on a more personal level.
However, just like any other form of advertising, to make the most of your Google Plus Local page you need to develop a clear strategy.
For example, a plan of action would be:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
As part of an official Google service, your page already gets a boost in the search engines results. But to make the most of the service, it is still important to continue focusing on SEO. By including relevant keywords, keyword phrases, backlinks, regular updates and other SEO content you can guarantee to not only improve your business’s listings placement but also make sure that your competitors never beat you in the search engine rankings. (Don’t worry if any of this stuff has bamboozled you. We are on hand to help you or do it all for you. The important thing is not to let it put you off or decide to bury your head in the sand and try to ignore it. The internet is not going away. So in order for your business to be given a fighting chance you need to start now).
Integrate social networking
We are all familiar with Facebook, Twitter and the importance of Pinterest but don’t ignore the Google Plus social networking site. Google rewards businesses handsomely with higher rankings when companies interact with their customers on the social networking site. It can dramatically improve your profile in the local area.
Making the most of Zagat
The customer ratings you are given will be a very prominent part of your page. Don’t let this scare you. Even the best companies get occasional bad reviews. By encouraging your customers, whatever their comments, to leave a review, you can ensure that you get representative overall results.
Dealing with any negative feedback
As mentioned earlier, every business, no matter how good it is, will get a negative comment from time to time. It is impossible to please everybody all of the time. However it is wise to develop a strategy that deals with negative comments as soon as they occur. Always act in a professional and engaging manner which will stop it causing damage to your reputation.
Potential customers won’t mind the negative review but what they will be interested in is how you handle it. If you rant and rave, call the person who left the comment ‘a liar’ and insult them then new customers won’t deal with you. If, on the other hand, you are courteous and professional and offer a solution, it will reassure new customers to trust and buy from you or use your services.
What Can you Expect From Google Plus Local?
Better Search Ranking
You will definitely see better search rankings. This is important as statistics show the majority of people only visit sites on the first page of their search results. Of that page, the top 3 results are far more likely to be visited than any of the others.
By using Google Plus Local to get your company’s page into this prominent position, you can guarantee more visitors to your website and get more sales.
Once you have increased your search engine rank, placing a link to your official business website on your Google Plus Local page will significantly increase its traffic and the number of customers you will get.
How to Begin
We know that the internet world is daunting for many small businesses. Our worry is that local businesses will either put off taking action or try to completely ignore the internet and kid themselves that it isn’isn’t happening.
Please don’t do that.
If you would rather spend more time running your business and less time trying to promote it online, hiring an online marketing expert like us is the ideal solution. We know exactly what we are doing and can get fast results for your business so you can speed up the process of gaining more customers.
If you or your company has never tried to implement a Google Plus Local strategy before, you could try and do it yourself. To be honest, any action is better than doing nothing at all.
However, there are lots of potential pitfalls to run into. Adding content that yields a very low search engine result, or building up a bad relationship in the social networking area with your customers, are just a couple of the potential problems you could face.
Why not make sure that your company’s Google Plus Local Page is in the hands of professionals who will not only improve your earnings and profits but also help ensure your business’s survival in the future.
Please contact us today. We are here to help and are looking forward to hearing from you.
On average in one year, we will share 415 pieces of content on Facebook, we’ll spend an average of about 23 minutes a day on Twitter, tweeting a total of around 15,795 tweets, we’ll check in 563 times on Foursquare, upload 196 hours of video on YouTube, and send countless emails.
More than ½ of mobile users take calls and search online while using the bathroom.
Places Where QR Codes Are Most Likely Read:
Retail outlets 29%
Despite the Facts Some Local Businesses Are Still Ignoring Mobile Users:
17% Run a mobile Friendly site
31% Have customised their main site for mobile users
39% Still haven’t done anything to make their site mobile friendly.
80% of consumers say negative reviews have STOPPED them from buying a product or service even if it’s been recommended by a friend.
Source – Harvard studies
If Twitter was a Country it would be the 12th largest in the world.
PUBLICITY – It doesn’t just magically happen. For small businesses to stand out in an era of information overload, with wall-to-wall news and media coverage, you need to be ingenious and have something that will get you and your business noticed – like establishing yourself as a local authority on within your field.
Here are a few marketing ideas that could put your business in the spotlight and make it more newsworthy:
Build Relationships Up With Reporters
A number of journalists have been known to complain how annoying it is to be inundated with irrelevant press releases from small businesses that they have never had previous contact with. You can understand their situation. They receive hundreds of press releases per week, all of them vying for attention and trying to get some column inches for their own business.
However, social media makes it much easier to get connected with reporters and build up a relationship with them, and it is an avenue that most businesses overlook.
For example you could easily start making a Twitter list created around your local and national journalists who cover small businesses. Build a relationship with them in the traditional way. By talking about common interests, and responding to their queries that are not necessarily work-related, you are using your exchanges to build up a relationship that will grow over time. Try and monitor your list, keeping a close eye on it throughout the day to make sure you are the first to respond to any of their queries for information in your area of expertise.
Help A Reporter Out
Alternatively you can literally help a reporter out by answering their requests for information instead of trying to get your press release published. HelpAReporter.com (HARO) is one of the best ways to start getting press coverage and incoming links from online media sources.
It couldn’t be easier, as it is free and simple to sign up. All it takes is an email address and some basic contact information. Once signed up it won’t take long before you start receiving emails from reporters looking to connect with experts for interviews. While not all of the interviews or contacts might not actually transform into anything, it is simply too good an opportunity to pass up – it is free and easy to do. All it takes is one good story and it will give your business the promotion it deserves.
Don’t just focus on text. In fact, your next viral marketing content might not be text at all. With the popularity of Pinterest, Instagram and other social media, statistics indicate your chances of gaining explosively publicity are much higher if you use visual content.
A report by SEOMOZ, a well-known and respected Internet marketing site, said that posts with videos attract 3 times more inbound links.
SimplyMeasured.com also found that since the introduction of the timeline feature, visual content results in 65% higher engagement on Facebook than text alone.
Marketingsherpa found that website visitors spend a huge 100% more time on a webpage that contains video, and videos attract 300% more leads.
These statistics show that it certainly makes good business sense to use more images in your marketing.
You might be convinced. You may even see the wisdom in trying to get free publicity for your business. What you might not actually have is the time or the confidence to do it.
That is where businesses such as ours can help. We can look after your marketing campaigns for you and turn your business into a market leader, beating your competitors and attracting brand new clients to your business.
Why not give us a call and see how we can help you. Our contact details are on page 3, and we offer a free consultation to help you explore your options.
Just as you get to grips with Twitter and Facebook, along comes another social media platform for you to get used to.
If you have not already heard of Vine, you soon will as it has, as the name suggests, been spreading in popularity online like a weed.
Vine is a Twitter owned company that was launched early in 2013. It allows users to record short six-second clips that play continuously on an endless loop. This tiny six-second video is considered to be the equivalent to the 140-character limit on Twitter.
Think of Vine being like Instagram except with videos instead of pictures.
Users add these videos to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and it is incredibly quick and easy to do.
So you may be asking yourself, ‘who wants a six second video and why would it be useful to my business?”
Well the answer to the first question is simple: Millions of people. Vine has already attracted over 13 million users in less than 6 months after its launch. There are thousands of blogs and sites that are dedicated solely to finding the bet vine videos and sharing them for everybody to see.
In answer to your second question here are some reasons why Vine is an effective way to promote your business:
Present Your Raving Fans
If you have a customer who raves about your product or service, no doubt they will be very happy to agree to provide you with a testimonial. As the Internet is so visual, having video testimonials is the perfect way to showcase your testimonials. However, most customers, even if they love what you do won’t be too thrilled about the idea of appearing on camera for a long time to create a testimonial for you. Many of them will be camera shy and not comfortable in front of the camera.
But how about this for an idea: Instead of having then speak, why not have your happy smiling customer hold up cards with words that best describe your product or business. A six second video of your thrilled happy customer holding up cards such as “Saved Me Money”, “Easy to Use” and “Friendly Service” is the perfect way to get your message across and intrigue potential customers to look at what you are offering.
Display Your Work For A Client
Instead of just having a static portfolio of your work on your site create an animated one on social media instead. It is such a simple idea that even small businesses without a large advertising budget could do. It will help spread the word about your product or service far quicker than any ad in the local press could.
Whet Your Customer’s Appetite
Vine is perfect for creating suspense and intrigue, particularly if you are launching a new product or service or even adding an update.
You can start generating a buzz by giving your viewers a sneak peek. Simply link viewers to your website or information page where they can find more details.
Engage With Your Followers
The majority of your customers will be well clued up on social media and how it works. It is now part of everyday life. So use Vine to engage with your followers and starting a conversation by using a Vine video.
There are so many inventive ways that you could do this. For example one bookstore owner doesn’t ask what book his followers are reading. Instead, he gives visual clues as to what HE is reading and gets his followers to try and guess what it is. Genius!
Give A Tour
People are naturally curious so why not treat your followers to a sneaky behind the scenes glimpse of your business. You could do this from a variety of different angles such as showing off a cool piece of equipment in your workshop, or putting faces to the names of the staff in your business. The list is endless and will thoroughly engage your clients.
Show Before and After
If you are in the home improvement business, a landscape gardener, a beautician, an interior designer or any other kind of business where clients expect to see results then Vine is ideal for showing impressive before and after results. If the effect is really good then it will quickly go viral and have people rushing to your site to find out more.
Celebrate the Holidays
You can show that your business is getting into the holiday spirit by creating fun videos and messages for your clients. This will help you to engage with your followers. You can also make them into marketing related videos by putting some promotions in the mix too showing your products relevant to the holidays.
Whatever you decide to do, it will go down well with your followers and they are bound to reward you with positive comments and spread the word about your video making sure it gets lots of exposure.
Send Out Video Invitations
Use Vine to build up interest around any event that you might be planning by sending out a personalized invite to people that you want to visit your store, enter a contest or attend a seminar.
This is a particularly effective promotional idea: If you are attending a trade show get people to visit by doing a vine based “Where’s Wally” type promotion. Get your followers to watch the video and see if they can spot your logo at the show then offer a prize for the correct answers when they visit your booth. It works a treat.
Social networking has done a lot to ‘humanize’ companies and Vine is no different.
An excellent way to gain a new audience and potential customers is to show off your company being charitable or even of your and your employers having fun. If your company is throwing a Christmas party for example, post a video of your employees singing a Christmas carol. It is a nice touch and a fun way to interact with your customers.
Getting Followers To Your Trade Show Or Conference
We mentioned a great idea above for getting people to visit your trade show but here is another effective way that businesses are using Vine to great effect:
Use a Vine video with your conference hashtag to let people know when the conference or trade show is starting. You could even show a video of the speaker or your booth in the video too. It is a perfect way to attract a targeted audience and get additional visitors to your event.
Bring People Inside Your Store Or Restaurant
The Internet is global but Vine is ideal for local businesses marketing to a local audience. Show your fans and followers how attractive your store or restaurant is and invite them to come and visit. You could even host a special event to bring extra footfall into your business.
Hopefully this article has provided you with inspiration and shown you how effective Vine can be for your business.
However, just before you dive in here are another 3 tips that will really help your videos to shine and encourage fans to spread the word and make them viral.
Think Before You Press Record
What makes Vine so different to many other video marketing strategies like YouTube for instance is this: you can’t upload something that you have already made. You cannot edit your video or go backwards once you get started. It really is a “one-take” process.
So with this in mind it’s important to know exactly what you want to record before you begin. Start by creating a simple storyboard or sketch out what kind of shots you want before you begin. Plan carefully what you want to film, the angle of the shots and how long you want each shot to appear for.
Consider lighting and Stillness
I know it sounds obvious but your vine video will work best if you have proper lighting and a series of steady shots. This is even more vital to remember if you are going to be using Vine to brand yourself online or wanting to show off your products and services.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just spend a few extra minutes planning your location and perhaps invest in an iPhone tripod to help keep your shots steady. It will make all of the difference to how well your videos will be received.
Sound Or No Sound
A lot of Vine videos don’t have any sound in them and that is fine if you don’t want sound in yours either. However, it may sound obvious but the Vine app will still record sound when it is being used. If you really don’t want sound in your video then you are going to have to find a very quiet location to film your video and try not to breathe too heavily when creating your video.
If on the other hand you WANT sound in your video you might want to consider buying a dedicated mic for your phone or experiment with the mic that comes with your iPhone headphones.
Using Vine To Reach A Global Audience and How We Can Help
If you have already experimented with Twitter you will know firsthand how effective a tool it is and why so many successful businesses use it as part of their marketing strategy.
With the addition of Vine it will help keep your audiences engaged and reach an even bigger and broader audience than ever before.
Businesses are experiencing great results because the short videos create memorable impressions on their target audience and promote the business or product very fast by encouraging their target audience to spread the word and make the video go viral.
Businesses need all of the help they can get to get their product and services out there in front of the general public. By using social platforms such as Vine it is one of the best opportunities to grow your business through self-promotion and advertising.
Like all effective marketing strategies it can take a while to get to grips with how the media works or how to use it to its fullest potential.
This is how we can help. We have the experience required to help your business reach a much broader audience and attract brand new customers.
If you need any advice or would like to ask more about the marketing services we provide please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be glad to help.
A Two-minute Crash Course: Vine in 6 easy steps
Download and install the Vine app for your iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android phone.
Create a Vine account using your Twitter profile or email address.
Find people to follow by going to your profile and clicking the People icon at the top right of the screen. You can also go to your settings and use the Find People option under Friends.
Connect your Facebook account to share videos on Facebook as well.
Click the video camera icon to start recording videos. Tap your finger on the screen to record and release stop recording.
When you’re finished, click continue to share your video on vine, Twitter and Facebook.
It is that easy. Now you can get creative and make your brand go viral.
Imagine how cool it would be to be invisible…You could sneak into the cinema and watch films for free (providing no-one sits on you) while pinching popcorn from the person next to you, think of all the major events you could get up close to, the conversations you could listen in to…you would be able to observe life from a totally different perspective.
But what about the downside? How lonely would it be if you couldn’t interact with people? After all, who would be able to listen to a bodiless voice without thinking they are going mad? You would get injured by people walking into you. How would you get a sales person or waitress to sell you clothes or food?
After the novelty had worn off, the negative effect of being invisible would start to outweigh the initial fun. So when would it definitely NOT be a bonus to be invisible? If you were a TV actor, perhaps?Or a safety steward?In these situations, it is impossible to be successful unless you can be seen.
Why Being Invisible Online Is Fatal For Your Business
Now let’s think about a business. Many businesses would love to be invisible for taxes, but joking apart, what about the impact it would have on your customers?There are absolutely no advantages to being invisible to your customers, and yet still today, that is exactly how some businesses appear (or rather don’t appear) to their customers.How could this happen to you?
When it comes to making an informed purchase decision, customers are much more savvy today.They won’t just take your word for how good your product or service is. They will research companies and products online, looking for the best solution for themselves. You may have the best product in the world which will match their demands 100% better than any other company but if they can’t see your business quickly you won’t even enter the running for their business.
If you have a suspicion your business may be invisible to a lot of your customers at the moment, there is no need to panic. Unlike the original Invisible man, your visibility can be restored with a little work.Here is some great advice on how to restore your company profile to the attention of your customers.
Is Your Business In Plain Sight?
For any local business, customers who live within 5 – 10 miles are their lifeblood. While some businesses may have a local customer base slightly further afield, local customers will be your most important consumer. This is especially true if your business provides services they can’t get remotely. For example, who gets their teeth fixed by email?
As we mentioned earlier, customers want to make a much more informed buying decision. They want to research what products or services are available, which local businesses can supply them, what price they are and which company offers the best value and service. What’s more, they want to be able to look online whenever and wherever they may be – at work, out having a coffee or just generally on the go. Smartphones and tablets have made the internet portable so your business needs to be able to go where the people are.
But having a website isn’t the end of it. It doesn’t automatically follow that the website you see on your desktop computer will display correctly and be user friendly when a person looks at it on their smartphone. Don’t assume it is, CHECK! By looking at your site on a smartphone and trying to navigate around it, you can make sure visitors to your site get the experience and information you want them to see quickly and easily. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile devices, it may be slow to load or clumsy to navigate. Smartphone users have notoriously short patience levels. If a site takes longer than 5 seconds to load they will simply go off to look at the next site.
Search engines are constantly being refined and people choose to use their mobile devices rather than a physical directory like Yellow pages. Today, the results from search queries are being delivered to people based on the location they are searching from, so local businesses near to the position of the searcher are shown first. That is only a plus for your business if the search engines can find you in the first place. So when was the last time you checked how visible you are in search results?
First, try a general search. Type in your business name. Can you see your business website listed? You should also be able to see other accounts like your Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Local pages, as well as reviews and articles that mention your business.
Next, try a more specific local search on Google maps. Go to http://maps.google.com. In the search box type in your city and the type of business you run. What the results bring up is a local area map with 4 – 10 little red balloon-shaped markers that have a letter on. Down the left hand side of the screen you will see the letter key for the markers, giving the business name and web address of each of the markers.
Here, you will see all the competition in your area marked out. As you hover over each marker, information about that business is shown. This page is great for making your business stand out from the competition especially in a highly competitive market. Can you see your business here?
One final check to do – try typing just your business telephone number into the search box. Ideally you should see your website, all your Google entries and any other inline directory you have added your company details in. But what do you see in the results? Are your details there or can you only see sites offering to reverse trace the number?
Do these checks give you confidence about the visibility of your business on the internet or are they confirming your worst fears…that no one out in cyberspace can find you?
You needn’t worry. Nothing is irreversible. With a little work on your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), you can turn it around. Is it all that vital? Yes it really is. If you have a local business that relies on customers coming through your door – say a dentist or restaurant – if your customer can’t find your business first on their mobile device while they are out and about, they will find a competitor instead.
As a business owner, you will have witnessed first-hand how the Internet has had a huge impact on customers buying habits.
In fact by now, unless your business is based in a cave in the outer reaches of Siberia you should have either set up a website or at the very least had somebody seriously suggest that you should.
Having a website and online presence is no longer an option for businesses any more. Without being online your business is going to miss out on huge opportunities.
Despite all of the evidence, it is surprising to discover that there are still some business owners who remain skeptical, not fully convinced that having a website really is necessary.
One of the most common reasons given to us for not going online is the business owner feels a website would take too much time and energy to set up or that they are a luxury not a necessity.
Others claim it would be a waste of time. They get enough business from passing trade so they don’t need to bother going online at all.
Even if a business is doing well from passing trade at the moment, it is still good sense to go online. If you don’t, not only will your current customers who use the internet for as part of everyday life be surprised that you are not online but you will lose thousands of potential new customers.
Here are some reasons why having a website is worth far more than the small cost of setting it up and running it.
1) Sell to a wider audience
Your bricks and mortar business is restricted to passing trade and how many people are in town that day. If you want to reach out to a wider audience traditional means of advertising in the local press, radio, TV and flyers are very expensive.
On the Internet however, you can easily expand your brand to a global audience for a fraction of the cost or even free using clever online marketing and search engine optimization.
2) People look for local businesses online using their smartphones
Smartphones can literally put your business at your potential customer’s fingertips. Statistics show customers regularly use their smartphones to find local businesses close to where they are. If they are using the Internet to search online for local businesses, your business really needs to be there so that they can find you. If it isn’t, they will just buy from your competitor instead.
3) You can be open 24 hours a day
How much would it cost in staff wages and electric bills if you were to keep your bricks and mortar business open 24 hours per day? Would you not be excited if you could keep your business open 24 hours a day without losing any money in the process?
Not just that but you could be receiving orders from all over the world no matter what time it was.
That is exactly what the Internet allows you to do. Even if your business does not actually sell a physical product, people can always contact you via email or learn about your business without waiting for you to open during your normal business hours.
4) People use the Internet to find out more about businesses they already know about.
Don’t think you should be online so that only brand new customers can find your business. One of the most common ways people use the Internet is for your existing customers and people who already know about your business to look online for research. They want to know things like: What time does the local coffee shop open? Are there any special deals at my dry-cleaners? Does my favourite Chinese restaurant have vegetarian options? If you want your customers to be able to know everything about your business, a website is the perfect way of making the information available whenever they want it.
5) Build a loyal following
Although the Internet is a huge, think of it as more than a vast wilderness to try and promote your business. The Internet is a community and with sites like Facebook and Twitter you can communicate and engage with your customers no matter which part of the world they come from as if they were your friends.
This allows you to connect with your customers on an emotional and personal level, which is much more effective than an ad in a local newspaper or a flyer. When you engage with them you will build a loyal following of fans and customers who will buy from you again and again.
6) Your competition is already there
Spend a few minutes on Google and search for businesses similar to yours in your local area. The chances are your competitors will already have a presence on the Internet. If they are, why let them steal all of the customers when you could have a website quickly and easily?
7) Stay current
Having a website means you can always appear up to date to your customers. You can share the latest news, update your inventory, add relevant information you think your customers should know and even answer customer’s questions almost immediately.
So while your bricks and mortar business might not be open 24 hours a day, your website is. It is too good an opportunity to miss.
8) Promote your site for free
Google wants your business to succeed. It is your company’s best friend. It is constantly improving to make sure that when people search for businesses like yours, they will find you. Being found on Google is completely free and will boost your profits.
When you see the potential you will soon want to explore other avenues of online marketing, all of which deliver equally exciting results and a huge profit for your business.
If you have been putting off setting up a company website or thought that it was too expensive and complicated, please contact us and you will be in for a very pleasant surprise.
Not only will it be cheaper and easier than you imagined but you will be delighted with the extra sales that you will receive.
Every so often we come across a client who refuses to acknowledge the positive effects the Internet would have on their business and think it is completely irrelevant to them. This is particularly the case with regards to social media.
“Oh my client base doesn’t use Facebook or Twitter” or “Our business isn’t aimed at kids.They are the only ones who use Facebook and Twitter. Our customers prefer the traditional methods of marketing”.
Can you believe that?
It is so frustrating for us as we can see their business struggling and we want to help them so much but there is not a lot we can do when they point blank refuse to reach out to a larger audience online using the Internet.
For anybody else who doubts the power of online marketing using social media platforms, here are some hard facts and figures that will make your head spin. The numbers are staggering and it shows the global impact that social media marketing is having on all aspect of business and personal life.
There are now over 1.15 billion Facebook users. People have been saying that Facebook has peaked but that figure is a 21% increase in just 12 months. Facebook is still the most popular platform and is now part of every day life.
We have talked a lot about Google+ recently. It has become the second biggest network during the last 6 months and continues to grow at a fast pace. It is finally reaching a point where Internet users are starting to become aware of it and are curious about how to use it.
Google+ now features in thousands of retweets, shares and traffic on the internet every day, which is a good indicator of how popular it is and why it shouldn’t be ignored.
Recent stats recorded on ExpandedRamblings.com reveal that Google+ has 343 million ACTIVE monthly users.
At the time of writing, Twitter is preparing to be floated on the stock market. Who would have predicted that when it first appeared?
Twitter is every bit as much a part of everyday life as Facebook and Google are. Almost every television program is using Twitter to obtain feedback and comments. News reports follow and report events based on Twitter comments. Everybody from movie starts to politicians use it to full effect to attract millions of followers and admirers. They know that it is a perfect marketing tool.
The concept is so easy and its power stems from that simplicity because it offers real time feed and news breaking capabilities.
According to a MediaBistro.com, the figure released in August 2013 show that Twitter has over 500 million users (35 million of those are in China alone).
Over 170 billion tweets have been sent, which averages out at about 400 million tweets PER DAY.
These are truly mind-blowing figures.
Facebook and Twitter are the platforms that create the most noise but LinkedIn, which is one of the older social networks, has been quietly working on making its platform more social over recent years and should not be ignored. In fact as a business this is the platform you should definitely be exploring to reach clients and contacts within your industry.
Again, the most recent figures reported by ExpandedRamblings.com reveal that LinkedIn has now exceeded 238 million users.
YouTube is the world’s most popular online destination for video sharing and creation and is absolutely fantastic as a marketing tool.
After revealing that every single one of the Ad Age top 100 brands had run advertising campaigns on YouTube, the social media giant recently reported this statement on its very own blog:
“….And today, we’re announcing a new milestone: YouTube now has more than a billion unique users every single month.”
The words ‘one billion users’ just rolls off the tongue and is too big to comprehend, but to put things in perspective and to show how enormous this figure is, the blog continues:
“What does a billion people tuning into YouTube look like?
Nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube.
Our monthly viewership is the equivalent of roughly ten Super Bowl audiences.
If YouTube were a country, we’d be the third largest in the world after China and India.”
There was a lot of excitement when Facebook first bought this fun and quirky image app company for $1billion. It hit headline news all around the world.
A lot of analysts thought that Facebook had more money than sense but it turns out to be a wise investment as it has helped Facebook move into mobile advertising and continues to grow every month.
From its launch in 2010, Nitrogr.am reports that there are over 150 million active users and over 16 billion photos have been shared (an average of 55 million photos every day).
Instagram is a great social media tool that will help your business to engage with your customers, build relationships and increase your sales.
Pinterest very quickly captured the public’s imagination soon after it was first launched.
The online “pinboard” social media platform has had a huge impact on how we use the Internet, even influencing the new Google+ design.
We have written about Pinterest before in previous articles but will be returning with another article very soon to show you just how powerful a marketing tool this is for your business.
To convince you of the popularity and influence of Pinterest, here are some facts and figures which again come from ExpandedRamblings.com:
There are currently 70 million users and Pinterest receives 2.5 billion page views EVERY MONTH. The average shopper on Pinterest spends between $140 – $180 on products.
Vine is relatively new and if you haven’t heard about it before, then you will find the article in this month’s edition very informative. Suffice to say, even if you have never heard of it before you will soon be hearing a lot about it over the coming months as its popularity spreads.
To put you in the picture mediabistro.com reports that 5 Vine videos are tweeted every second.
On the 20th August 2013 Twitter posted a tweet to announce that VINE had reached 40 million users and that figure is growing every day.
This is a huge growth considering it was only released earlier on in the year.
Tumblr is another company that was bought by an Internet Giant, this time Yahoo. The purchase was greeted with a lot of consternation especially from the Tumblr community whose audience are typically young and tech savvy.
Despite reports that the Tumblr users are deserting the site, Quantcast still report that it has 245 million unique visitors every month.
Despite being one of the oldest social sites (it was launched in 2009) it is one of the less mentioned platforms.
However you should not underestimate it, as it is particularly useful for bricks and mortar business giving them a stronger online presence. It is a perfect way to build a strong relationship with your customers by rewarding them with special offers and other benefits.
The number of users is around 30 million. Again, watch out for our future article, which shows you how to use this excellent business tool.
Why Your Business Needs Social Media Marketing
As you can see, rather than being something to ignore, social media marketing has become an indispensable tool to build relationships, engage with your customers and increase sales like never before.
The success in social media marketing comes from building strong and long-lasting relationships with your customers over months and years. You do this by providing them with the type of content and expertise that they will want to share with their friends, colleagues and family.
This approach will help to attract and keep loyal customers and is an approach worlds away from most traditional forms of advertising and marketing.
As the Internet evolves, so does social media. It is an ever-growing, ever-changing sector and as a result it is daunting for many businesses.
This is where we can help. We can help you with your social media campaigns while you concentrate doing what you do best, and that is running your own business.
If you had no idea how big social media marketing was until you read this article, or you have struggled running your own successful campaigns in the past, please give us a call and let us show you how we can significantly increase your profits.
“It’s only a mobile phone! What’s the point in making a website for that? You can’t see much on them anyway? If they’re interested they’ll look at it on their computer.”
What are we talking about? We are talking about how a website looks when someone uses a mobile phone or tablet to view it. Many, many small businesses have not chosen to make their website mobile-friendly, but does it really matter? Do small businesses really need to spend time and money to make a more design-responsive website?
Before making any decision that could cost money, a business is wise to look at whether there is a demand for what they are considering doing, but most importantly, whether it will have a positive, beneficial effect on their business and hence on their profits.
When the first cellphones were introduced back in the mid 1990’s, it was hard to imagine that these heavy, clumsy, over sized ‘portable’ phones would dramatically evolve into a tiny device that fits into the hand and would be capable of letting people instantly communicate verbally and visually globally with one another.
What was once science fiction is very much now science fact. All manner of daily activities are logged, recorded and shared on these devices. And once people had the capability to access the internet on their phone, regardless of where they were, smartphone development really began to accelerate. This portability has led to the rise of the mobile device but the decline in traditional desktop computers sales.
If you still need proof of how popular smartphones and mobile devices are, The Guardian newspaper reported in July 2013 that 90% of all phones sold were smartphones, with over 1.8 billion smartphones in existence at that time. Leading social media site Facebook recognized the importance of being mobile-friendly to its users. Because people were posting details of their lives as they lived them, it was crucial Facebook was able to offer a smooth and easy user experience, which could fit into the portable devices people carried with them. Facebook’s designers claim it can be viewed and used smoothly on around 7,000 different portable devices. The fact that there are so many different mobile devices is mind boggling.
There can be no doubt that if you want your business to prosper, you need to keep up with how people are shopping and where they are going to shop. Gone are the days when most people took time out of their evening or weekend to sit browsing on their desktop computer. People can access the web at anytime and anywhere they can get a mobile signal. It’s no longer about how a site looks; it’s all about speed – how fast they can get the information they are looking for?
People are internet window-shopping whenever they have a spare 5 or 10 minutes waiting for a bus, sitting in their car, on the park bench in their lunch hour or in the coffee shop. They don’t want to look at a pretty site design. They want a responsive site that loads quickly (less than 5 seconds), is easy to navigate around on their small device and a site where it is quick and simple to find the information they want.
How Do I Know If My Site Is Mobile-Friendly?
That’s easy…just have a look! You may have looked at your site on your computer when your designer first finished it, but that may have been a number of years ago now, before mobile technology really came to the fore. You need to see if you have a responsive web design that will adapt itself seamlessly to the main percentage of mobile gadgets.
Take a look on your own phone, as well as on other mobile devices. Type in your web address and see what comes up. Notice:
How fast the site took to load up fully
How does your site header and logo appear? Can you see them both in full or are parts of them missing?
How does the navigation bar appear? Can you access all the different tabs or buttons easily?
Is your home page showing up with some of the content cut off? Or is everything laid out in a simple, easy to access template?
If your site isn’t there in full and quickly, then you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, and that can be a big concern for your business. Over 80% of all local searches done on the internet are now done on mobile devices. Almost 50% of 18-25 year old website visitors consider their mobile phone as their primary computer, and that number will only go up, not down, as children grow up with more advanced technology. So if your customer is looking for you, the response of your website to their mobile device will determine whether or not they even browse your site.
There is no need to panic just yet. There is nothing here that can’t be changed or improved upon. Here are some really useful tips to consider when looking to make your website more mobile-friendly:
1. It’s Mobile
It might seem an obvious thing, but it is sometimes overlooked. There is no point creating a mobile site if nobody goes to it. When someone types in your web address on a mobile device, they don’t use a separate mobile URL. It’s the same one as your main website. So make sure your server is set up to recognise mobile devices and to automatically direct them through to the mobile version.
2. Less Is More – Part 1
It’s pointless creating a mobile site if you cram it so full of content that the user has to wade through screen after screen of text to try and pick out what they want. Because your information is being viewed on a much smaller screen, realistically you can’t add all the in depth information you would have on a site viewed on a computer.
Your visitor hasn’t come to your site to learn more about you. They are there because they want something specific – your address, contact number or a product. So don’t cram each small page with as much text as you can get on, but add less (but more relevant) information to your mobile site in a condensed form. You want to make your visitor work less, not more, to find what they are looking for. If there is something that needs further explanation, like a full product description, then don’t be afraid to add in a link back to your full site.
3. Less Is More – Part 2
It’s not just the content on your site that needs to be trimmed down. You need to look at simplifying how your visitor navigates around the mobile site. No-one wants to have to click here, then there, swipe and scroll and click again just to find your telephone number. Consider why visitors will use your mobile site and then put useful information within easy reach and the minimum of clicks.
The way your navigation looks is also important. Users want to be able to scan the home screen and immediately see where they need to be to get what they want. So keep your navigation clear and concise – don’t hide your navigation behind images. It is too confusing especially when they don’t have the roll over or hover features. It may look great on your main site, but it will annoy, frustrate and finally put off many visitors through the lack of friendly usability.
4. Less Talk, More Action
The rule to remember is mobile users have less time to talk and want to use that time to get the information they want and go. They certainly don’t want to have to fill out a 20 field opt-in form just to get a little information. The more fields a user has to fill out, the more unhappy they become.
When you need information from your mobile visitor, make sure you only add fields that are ABSOLUTELY necessary, and not what type of movies they like or whether they drink a brand of cola. You will engage your visitor more by giving them what they want quickly than by getting them to give you non-essential information.
5. Don’t Forget – It’s Your Site
Just because your mobile site is going to be viewed on a small screen doesn’t mean you have to leave out the most important thing – Your Brand Identity! When someone comes to your site, whether it’s the mobile site or your full website, they should be able to identify it immediately as yours. So use your corporate colors and logo together with your brand style on both sites so your visitor is confident both sites belong to the same company – yours!
6. Bigger Is Better
How many times have you tried to tap the screen on your phone and missed the tiny button you were aiming at? Fingers come in all shapes and sizes. You wouldn’t expect a 6 foot 3 inch wrestler to have delicate slender fingers.
You may not be able to give people the option to change the size of button, but you can increase the button size to ensure visitors have a much easier time selecting the button they want.
The other thing you need to make bigger is the font size. It might seem logical that because you are using a smaller device, the text should be smaller too. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Because everything is being scaled down, you need to increase the size of font, otherwise your content will be unreadable. But this can work to an advantage. You can highlight features or areas of the screen by the selective use of color and larger, bolder fonts to pick out certain words and help the user understand the page more quickly.
7. Communicate The Essentials
It is easy to assume that visitors to your mobile site come there for exactly the same reasons as visitors to your mobile site, and so you arrange your site information in the same way. But is that actually the most likely explanation?
Visitors using a computer at home do not necessarily want the same thing as someone who visits your site on a mobile device. If someone local to your business is visiting your mobile site, they are most likely away from home using their mobile device because they want to know something more physical about your company. They could want to know your address or what hours you are open so they can make a personal visit. Or they may wish to contact you to make a booking or ask a question. They may even want to know what services you provide.
Whatever you eventually decide are the reasons someone would use your mobile site, make sure those pieces of information about your business are some of the first things that they can see and access.
8. Make Sure It Works!
Once you have made all the adjustments and changes to your mobile site, don’t forget to check everything works. Just because you can see your click-to-call function pops up, it doesn’t automatically follow that it will connect to your number. So check every pop-up, link and interactive function to ensure not only that they work, but that they work the way you want them to. Nothing is so frustrating to your potential customers as something that doesn’t work.
The whole aim of making your website more mobile-friendly is to increase the positive experience of your users. If people can come to your site and get the information they need quickly and easily, they will return back the next time confident that you have what they want.
Very few mobile browsers return to a site that is slow to load, complicated or makes them spend ages hunting down what they need. There are plenty of other businesses that do have mobile-friendly sites and they will move on to those sites without a backward glance.
By putting these guidelines into practice, you can make your user’s experience a positive one for them and a profitable one for you.
Social Media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are excellent ways to keep in touch and engage with your customers. However, because of their success many people claim that email marketing is dead and no longer relevant.
Don’t listen to them, as nothing could be further away from the truth. Email marketing is alive and well and is still one of the most powerful and effective methods of online marketing and for keeping in touch with your customers.
What is email marketing?
First let’s establish what email marketing is and then show you why it is so effective in business.
Email marketing is when a visitor comes to your website and subscribes to your mailing list, which allows you to keep in touch with them via email. Having a mailing list such as this is essential if you are selling a product or service. Email marketing allows you to establish customer loyalty, trust and brand awareness, and encourages your subscribers to buy from you more often.
As you can see, it has many benefits. It is a powerful marketing tool but unfortunately, email marketing seems to have a bad reputation with some businesses, who don’t fully understand it.
Some companies think if people see an email that isn’t’t from someone they know, they will immediately consider it spam and delete it, and then think badly about their business.
While this may be true in some cases, (mainly because companies haven’t take the time to nurture their list), with responsible marketing you can make email marketing campaign work extremely well for your business.
Email marketing versus social media marketing
As we mentioned earlier, social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are excellent ways to engage with both potential and existing clients. They are perfect platforms for word of mouth advertising, strengthening the relationship with your existing audience and putting you in front of a brand new audience.
Both of these things are essential to your business. However, you don’t have much control over who sees your updates or even when they see them.
Not only that, but you are not fully in control of these connections, as Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter are constantly making changes without warning that could impact the way you connect with your followers.
Social media is important but it doesn’t give you the ability to contact people one-on-one the way you can with emails. With email marketing you are able to fine tune your promotional campaigns and build a list of people who are actually interested in what you have to offer.
With Twitter for example, your message is competing with hundreds or even thousands of other Tweets from companies promoting similar products or services to yours. The same is true on Facebook.
Even if you have thousands of fans, they probably follow lots of other pages as well, which dilutes your message. Yes, the same can be said about emails but if you send a personalized email and they open and read the email you will have their undivided attention even if it is just for a few minutes. There are too many distractions on social networks with chat options, latest status updates, new photos to see and so on.
That is why it is so important to try and convert your followers to your email marketing list as early as you can. Once you do it puts you in full control because they are now YOUR contacts. The only way you will lose them is if they decide to unsubscribe from your list.
How do you get your social network followers to join your list?
It is not hard to do. You simply have to give them a reason. For example you can offer them something in exchange for their email address.
It could be a special report, a how-to guide, an answer that addresses a particular problem or issue that your audience cares about, exclusive VIP information or some kind of special discount or voucher especially for your email subscribers.
You need to choose something that has immediate value to your subscribers, as well as something relevant to your target audience.
It doesn’t end there though. In fact that is just the beginning because if you want to keep your list active and not lose these valuable contacts, you need to think about how you can consistently deliver information that continues to keep them engaged and makes them want to open the email from you.
Treat your email subscribers like royalty
Customers who visit your offline business or who speak to you on the telephone expect to be treated special and rightly so. No doubt you are well known for excellent customer service and provide a great buying experience when you see your customers face-to-face. You need to apply this same experience to your email marketing list.
When somebody takes the step to subscribe and trust you with his or her email address they are in effect saying “I like what you offer and would like to get to know you better”.
They have invited you into their email in-box. You would never want to abuse that trust and relationship by bombarding them with sales pitches that constantly promote your products and services. You need to nurture your list. Be informative and helpful, as well as sending offers or news that you think they will want to know about.
Try not to view your mailing list as a mass of faceless names. Imagine your ideal kind of customer and talk to them one to one, as if they were in front of you.
It will help make your emails more personal and informative which will strengthen the relationship you have with them.
Create a newsletter
A newsletter is an ideal way to keep in touch with your mailing list. It provides the perfect mix of news, updates, special offers and information about your business to create engagement with subscribers and allows them to get to know you better. It is also an excellent way to encourage calls to action, perhaps with time limited offers for example.
The key is to provide relevant information that your ideal customers would like to read. Be sure not to bore them to death. It needs to be interesting and passionate.
Build a strong connection with your subscribers
Over time the connection between you and your subscribers will grow. This increases the loyalty they have to your business and will result not only in increased sales and profits but will also give you many other benefits. It will provide your company with new opportunities, referrals and mutually beneficial collaborations as well as gaining brand new and repeat customers.
An email list provides your business with repeat business
In the offline world you might decide to place an advert in your local press or invest in flyers or other advertising media.
The chances are, if enough people see your advert you will get some new customers.
With an email list, you have the opportunity to nurture and bond with your subscribers, so long term you end up with, loyal customers who will buy from you time after time.
Email marketing is one of the most powerful strategies for building a large core of new customers online in addition to your regular local customers in your bricks and mortar business.
Once you realize the power of sending out emails that result in creating extra sales and leads, you will soon be able to build a marketing campaign that becomes more profitable than the one before.
It is one of the cheapest most effective forms of advertising
Email marketing is still one of the most cost effective ways to promote any business. Over time you will be able to build up a mailing list with thousands of potential customers who are interested enough in what you have to offer to trust you with their email address.
You can communicate with these subscribers absolutely free and every time you send an email out it will result in many more sales. All for free.
Don’t underestimate the power of email marketing
As you can see email marketing is far from dead or obsolete.
Email marketing allows you more control over the message, including when it goes out and who sees it. Not only that but subscribers have made the active decision to give you permission to contact them which means that they are very interested in what you have to offer.
This gives you the opportunity to build a strong relationship with them. It is this relationship that gives you the power because people do business with people.
If you have looked after your list well they will have grown to like and trust you. In the end you will stand a much better chance of getting the sale than your competitors.
Now that you can see the power of a successful email marketing campaign we hope it encourages you to create campaigns of your own and continue to build a stronger relationship with your online customers.
Creating a successful email marketing campaign and building a relationship with customers who have entrusted you with their email address is a huge but very rewarding responsibility.
Done properly, you will see your profits soar. Done badly and not only will you see your sales decrease, but you could also damage your brand.
If you have any doubt whatsoever or simply want some advice on the best strategies for email marketing please contact us. You will be pleased you sought our advice and we will be able guide your business to a very profitable future. We look forward to hearing from you.
6 Strategies to boost your email marketing campaigns
Make it interesting
Be sure to include lots of useful information in your messages. You must make it interesting. Don’t just send out sales pitches or make it just about you. Include information that is genuinely useful and interesting to your target audience or unique special offers that are not available to elsewhere on your site. If your subscribers feel you are only sending emails because you want sales from them, they won’t feel valued or special and they will hit the delete button, unsubscribe from your list or not bother reading your emails any more.
Have a visible link where the person can unsubscribe if they want to
This might sound negative but it is actually a positive thing. It puts your readers at ease because they feel they have control and are not being forced into anything. By law you must have an unsubscribe link in your email. If you try to hide it all you will do is frustrate and anger your subscribers, which is completely the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve.
Receiving feedback from your readers is essential to strengthen the relationship you have with them, and for enhancing your email marketing projects. You can actively ask for feedback, opinions or suggestions from your readers. You can also get passive feedback by using email marketing programs, which track information like how many people open up your emails, or clicked on the links contained in them. All of this feedback is useful to help constantly improve and engage with your readers more.
Target the right people
This is good old common sense. If you bug the wrong customers with your emails all you will achieve is annoyance on their part. It is a waste of time for both you and them. You are better off fine-tuning your campaigns to an audience who actually want to hear from you.
Make the messages mobile friendly
More and more of your customers now access their emails on their mobiles or tablets so it is important your emails are correctly formatted to be sure they can be easily read.
Create exclusive offers just for subscribers of your mailing list
Nothing tells subscribers you appreciate them more for allowing you to contact them than by sending an exclusive special offer that can’t be found anywhere else on your website. These can be discounts, free delivery or any other deal you think would encourage more customers to buy.
All of these suggestions will help you to have a smoother and more successful email marketing campaign.