Archive | January, 2017

5 Ways to Truly Engage Your Social Audience

30 Jan

What do you consider social-media marketing? For most businesses and brands, the answer is simple: an opportunity to publish relevant content, grow your follower base, and generate both thought leadership and engagement.

But what if we told you that in limiting yourself to this definition, you’re missing out on what might be the most important part of social media marketing?

Everyday, countless members of your target audience discuss topics that relate to your brand, either directly or indirectly. They don’t care whether you hear about it or not, and they’re not taking special steps to comment and discuss their topics of interest on your social media channels.

To engage this audience, you have to know where to find these conversations, and how to engage with them. In other words, you have to engage in social listening. It sounds reasonable, but only few brands do it; in fact, only 24% of businesses engaged in social listening in 2015. Don’t be one of those people, and build your social listening strategy using these 5 steps.

1) Prioritize Social Listening

Should you really spend a significant part of your resources browsing through social media posts rather than posting your own? While most brands understand the general value of social listening, they don’t quite get just how important it can be to business success. The answer to that question, though, is a clear yes.

Consider Twitter. Of all the Tweets about your brand, only 30% actually include your Twitter handle. Even more importantly, only 9% use the @ in addition to your handle. In other words, 91% of updates that you should know about will never show up in your notifications. If you don’t search for them yourself, you may never know about them.

In addition, if your goal is to grow your brand awareness, you should think beyond your brand and toward your industry. Experienced content marketers already know about the importance of reaching beyond promotion and toward thought leadership.

If you can find relevant discussions within your industry, the value of injecting thoughtful and valuable information without directly selling your product is immense. Of course, that’s impossible to do if you don’t know how to find these conversations.

2) Find Relevant Keywords

Once you and your team understand the true importance of social listening, it’s time to build a strategy that helps you structure and scale the process. Similar to SEO, building that strategy begins with finding the keywords and phrases your audience regularly discusses.

Naturally, that keyword list should include the various iterations, abbreviations, and even misspellings of your brand name. The more variations of your name you can come up with that members of your audience may actually search for, the less likely a comment about your product or service will slip through your cracks.

In addition, begin to research industry-specific phrases that tend to encourage discussion. A graduate school looking for potential students, for example, may want to begin listening to keywords such as graduate schoolgrad school application, and goal statement (a crucial part of the application process).

Finally, consider including keywords for your competitors, as well. You may not want to directly engage with all of the conversations concerning your competition, but it’s valuable to understand the greater discussion not just around you, but your entire competitive environment.

Social listening would be impossible without a number of tools that can help you conduct automated searches through social media for the keywords you found above. Fortunately, a number of services can help you streamline that process without a significant time investment.

Some social media management tools, like HubSpot and HootSuite, offer integrated listening services. Others, like Social Mention, are free but require manual searches. Yet others, like KeyHole, and NUVI offer more comprehensive, dashboard-based services for a fee.

4) Create an Engagement Strategy

Of course, even the best keywords and tools matter little if you don’t know what to do once you actually find relevant discussions for your brand. That’s why the majority of your time should be spent not listening, but responding to the relevant conversations you find on social media.

To streamline that process, create an engagement strategy. You will find all types of comments, from complaints to praises, comparisons, and general industry discussions. Create a rubric that allows you to be strategic about the best response to each type of comment.

You should also be strategic about the various networks on which these discussions might occur. A comment on LinkedIn, for example, requires a very different type of response than a Tweet. Understanding the medium should be a core part of how you engage with each user.

5) Evaluate and Adjust

Finally, as is the case with any type of marketing efforts, build your social listening strategy in a way that allows for adjustments over time. Not every response will be viewed favorably. Some users may feel they are intruded upon, while others will use it as an opportunity to lash out at your brand. Keep track of your wins and losses over time, in order to better understand how you can best treat each individual comment.

 

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Smart Ways to Grow Your Email Marketing List

23 Jan

There’s a lot of hype surrounding new marketing strategies like social media and mobile applications. But having a strong email list is still a must for small businesses. If you’re looking to grow your subscriber base in 2017, here are 50 ways you can grow your small business email list.

How to Grow Your Email List

Include a Sign Up Form on Your Website

To get people to sign up for your email list online, you need to make sure you have a working sign up form displayed prominently on your website. The form should include a description of what people will get by signing up, along with any other information you require from them.

Offer an Incentive

It’s also essential that you tell people what’s in it for them. Don’t just say you’ll send regular updates or offers. Tell people if they’ll get discounts or free content or other helpful resources.

Be Clear About Your Offerings

You should also be very specific about what you plan on sending and how often. If people aren’t sure about what they’re signing up for, then they aren’t likely to sign up at all.

Reassure Subscribers About Spam

People also want to know that they aren’t going to receive a bunch of spam. So along with your signup forms, tell people that you won’t spam them or sell their email addresses to any third parties.

Create a Free Download

To get people to sign up, you can also create exclusive items that they can download for free just by signing up. This might include forms, worksheets or other downloadable resources.

Write an eBook

If you want to really entice more signups, you can write an ebook and offer it for free for anyone who signs up for your email list.

Include Testimonials

To show people how helpful your email list can be, you can include a testimonial on your landing page or sidebar from someone who found it to be a great resource.

Have a Sign-up Sheet

You don’t have to only collect email addresses online. You can also include a sign up sheet in your store or physical location for people who want to sign up.

Request Emails During In-person Sales

You can also go out of your way to get people to sign up for your list simply by asking people who are making purchases if they’d like to leave their email addresses.

Reward Sign-ups

You can also offer a one-time reward for people who sign up, like an exclusive coupon code that they can use within the first year.

Include a Link on Your Business Cards

You can also use your business cards as a way of letting potential subscribers know about the benefits of signing up for your email list. Just include a link and some information on the back.

Start a Club

For local businesses or those who want to grow customers through events, you can start a club and use your email list as a way of distributing relevant information.

Have a Name for Subscribers

Even if you don’t have the capacity to start a club, you can make your email list seem like an exclusive club by having a specific name for the group or encouraging interaction in some way, like through social media hashtags.

Host a Giveaway

A contest or giveaway can also be a great incentive to encourage sign-ups. Just ask people to leave their email addresses as a way of entering.

Sponsor a Giveaway on Another Site

You can also increase your reach even more by sponsoring a giveaway on another website or with another business.

Invite People to an Event

If you have an idea for a one-time event that might interest some potential subscribers, you can ask people to sign up in exchange for a ticket or event information.

Provide Helpful Online Content

If you want to show people that you can provide them with great content via email, then you need to first show them that you can create great content in general. That means you can start a blog, YouTube channel or other content strategy to showcase what you have to offer.

Create Content Upgrades

Once you create great content, you can add extras like worksheets or additional information that people can only get if they sign up for your email list.

Have a Password Protected Part of Your Website

Or you could create a whole section of your website that’s password protected, and then only offer access to that section to your email subscribers.

Start an Online Community

You might even consider adding a community feature like a forum or even a Facebook group and granting access to those who sign up.

Cross-promote with Other Businesses

You can also connect with other relevant businesses or industry experts and promote their email list with your subscribers and have them do the same for you.

Encourage Email Sharing

Your subscribers can also be a great help in promoting your email list. Ask them to share their experience on social media or share their favorite emails with their contacts.

Visit Trade Shows

If you promote your business at trade shows or other events, include a sign-up sheet or contest that people can enter by signing up for your list.

Collect Emails from Mobile App Users

Or if you want to create your own mobile app, you can offer it for free to those who sign up for your list.

Have an Opt-in on Order Pages

When people make purchases on your website, you can create an option that lets them opt-in while completing their order.

Make Order Confirmations Work for You

Once people have already completed their orders, you can send them a confirmation email that also includes an easy way to sign up in case anyone missed the form on your website.

Include Email Requests with New Orders

Or you can include a sign-up card with the actual package you send out with purchases so people can sign up if they’re happy with the experience.

Include a Sign-up Link in Your Signature

Your everyday emails can also provide opportunities for more email subscribers. You can include a simple sign-up link in your signature for those who are interested.

Add it to Your Social Profiles

You can also include a sign-up link in your social media profiles along with a quick description or incentive for signing up.

Join a Networking Group

If you want to appeal to other professionals in your area or industry, you can join a networking group to meet relevant contacts.

Offer a Free Service

For service-based businesses, you can offer a free consultation or simple service in exchange for people signing up.

Speak at an Event

To share your expertise and show people the kind of information they might get by signing up for your list, you can speak at industry conferences or events.

Give Away Regular Downloads

Free downloads can be great one-time incentives. But you can also attract new subscribers by offering freebies on a regular basis and publicizing them.

Preview New Offers on Social Media

Each time you create a new offering or exciting piece of content, make sure you offer a preview on social media so that your followers can see what they might be missing if they aren’t already signed up.

Create Separate Opt-ins

If you offer a variety of different content to subscribers, some people might not want to sign up because they don’t want to receive all of that different content. But if you separate it into more specific lists, like one just for discount offers and one for curated content, you might attract more sign-ups.

Have QR Codes on Signage

On any signage or print materials, you can make it really easy for people to sign up for your list by scanning a QR code with their smartphones or mobile devices.

Add a Call to Action on Facebook

Facebook also makes it really easy for you to add a call to action to your page. So you can make your call to action the ability to sign up for your email list.

Publish Offers on LinkedIn

If you have content that includes upgrades or requires a password, you can share the link on LinkedIn to increase visibility and gain subscribers from that platform.

Promote Exclusive Content on Pinterest

On Pinterest, you can also share any visually appealing content that includes a link to sign up for your list.

Share Your Expertise on YouTube

Or if you create YouTube videos, you can include calls to action that encourage people to subscribe.

Mention Relevant Influencers on Twitter

On Twitter, you can tag relevant brands or influencers when talking about your emails to increase visibility.

Include Calls to Action on Blog Posts

If you blog for your business, you can also include calls to action at the bottom of each post to encourage more sign-ups.

Partner with Influencers

To increase visibility for your business among relevant consumers, you can partner with influencers and then direct new visitors to a landing page with your sign-up form.

Host a Webinar

If you have relevant expertise to share, you can also host a webinar and allow people to sign up for free by leaving their email address.

Ask for Sign-ups from Direct Mail

If you have a direct mail list, you can ask those people to go paperless by signing up for your email list instead.

Request Emails on Sales Calls

And when you or your team speak with customers or prospects during sales calls, you can also collect emails or encourage people to sign up.

Include Social Sharing Buttons

You can also encourage people to share your emails or any other content you might offer by including social sharing buttons that make it really easy for them to send your content to others via email or social media.

Ask for Help from Employees

Your employees also might be able to help you spread the word by promoting your list with their own contacts.

Consider a Pop-up

Though pop-up windows might be annoying, they have shown to be effective for promoting email lists on websites. So it could be worth considering.

Create Great Email Content

And finally, if you want to get more email sign-ups, you need to share great content via email. Whether that’s discounts, information, downloads or other types of content, you need to make sure it actually lives up to the hype.

Social Media Tips All Business Owners Must Read!

16 Jan

To make sure you’re maximizing your success on social media, I’ve compiled my top 10 social media tips below. If you’re wondering how to take your social media marketing to the next level, or feel like you’ve hit a plateau when it comes to the results you’re seeing, this article is for you!

1. Create a social media plan for each channel

Before creating a social media account on a particular channel, the first thing you should do is develop a social media plan (a separate one Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.). This plan should outline your goals, objectives, audiences, tone and voice, posting schedule, types of content you’ll post, and success metrics.

2. Use a social media management system for scheduling, analytics, and posting consistency

Whether you have one social media account or many, I highly recommend a social media management system to help you post content consistently, manage your time, and discover via analytics, which content is working and which isn’t. I use Hootsuite and would suggest that system, but there are many others that a lot of organizations have great success with.

3. Pay attention to the copy

When it comes to social media, content is everything. Pay careful attention to not just the update itself, but the image, and if it’s a link post, the caption/description and headline. Your post copy should engage people and draw them in in a short and concise way. Think about the “WIIFM” acronym which stands for “What’s in it for me?” If your copy doesn’t give people a reason to click, doesn’t provide value or help your audience in any way, you’re missing the boat.

4. Create a content library

It can be hard and time-consuming to come up with content on the fly. That’s why I recommend creating a social media content library that you continually update and can use when you can’t think of any content to post. Using your social media management system, you’ll schedule your content for the next few days or weeks and this is where your content library will come in helpful. This library can’t account for things that have recently come up that you’ll want to post, but for evergreen content that you think is social media worthy, a content library can be very useful.

5. Use images on Twitter

Twitter is a cluttered environment with a lot of people and organizations competing for attention. That’s why you should always include images with your tweets; not only do they take up more real estate in users’ news feeds, but they help draw people in so they click on your link. As well, Convince & Convert found that sharing images on Twitter increases retweets by 150%.

6. Post one piece of content multiple times

Next time you write that great blog post, e-book (or any other type of content), don’t just post it once and forget about it. Instead, write multiple different updates that link to that content and schedule the updates out over the course of the next week or month. If your blog post is on Facebook advertising, for instance, you might have one update that reads “Check out our top 5 Facebook advertising tips,” another that reads “Learn how to be a Facebook advertising champion,” another that reads “Learn 5 secrets for winning Facebook ads,” etc. You get the gist.

7. Experiment with ads

Advertising can help dramatically increase the reach of your posts. On Facebook, only about 3% of your fans will see any given update. So if you want to increase the chances of success on social media, I recommend experimenting with ads, analyzing their performance (did they help you reach your objectives, was the ROI there?) and then potentially allocating some budget every year into social media advertisements.

Facebook has robust targeting options to ensure you serve the right ads to the right people; you can target ads to your website visitors, upload a list of your active email subscribers, and even reach just those who have engaged with your content on Facebook in the past.

8. Keep a close pulse on the industry

You need to keep your finger on the pulse as social media is constantly changing and new features continuously emerge and evolve. Subscribe to social media blogs to keep yourself informed of any relevant news, changes and updates.

If you don’t make an effort to keep yourself informed, you’ll find that your social media will become increasingly less effective and your audience will start to pay more attention to your competitors than you. If a new a feature comes available and you don’t take advantage of it because you don’t know it exists, you could miss out on a great opportunity to better reach your objectives (such as leads or sales).

9. Watch your competitors

In my last point I alluded to your competitors. You should keep an eye on what they’re doing (and not doing) on social media. What kind of content are they posting? How often are they posting it? How are they engaging with their audience? If you see that something they’re doing is effective, you may want to do something similar, or may be able to draw inspirat on from it.

10. Use contests and promotions

A huge benefit of social media is that it gives organizations the chance to engage with their audience and contests are a great way to facilitate some great engagement. And when it comes to promotions, offering your audience exclusive content or discounts are an excellent way to provide value through your social media channels and give people an incentive to continue to follow you.

Supercharge your social media success by following the tips I’ve discussed in this article. Although each tip may take some time to master, you’ll find that it’ll be well worth it. Good luck!

6 Tools To Turbocharge Your Content Marketing in 2017

9 Jan

A fresh year presents the perfect opportunity for your brand to recap its 2016 content marketing performance: You may want to examine ways to build upon those past lucrative strategies and reexamine under-performing ones. Did you meet your goals? What new tools are available to enhance your content marketing game plan for 2017?

And exactly how are you going to increase your value in 2017?

One important development in 2016 was the major changes unveiled by Facebook. Content-marketing-centered businesses were deeply affected by Facebook’s News Feed algorithm changes, which drastically decreased organic reach. Publishers reported up to a 42 percent decrease in referral traffic from Facebook. These unexpected changes indicate that brands need to be increasingly focused on their own audience reach and retention in 2017.

Now is the time adopt new technology for the new year. To help you get started, here are six tools that will turbocharge your content marketing strategy in 2017.

Buffer

Buffer is a smarter way to post your content to social media. It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of social media tools and can really help with streamlining your social media syndication efforts.

Buffer lets you connect all of your social media profiles into one central hub. From there you can schedule content to all of your social media assets with just a few clicks. What sets Buffer apart is its post analytics, which helps you dish out content to your audience at just the right time.

Using Buffer to streamline your social media publishing saves time and eliminates any headaches from juggling multiple social media profiles. This gives you more time to focus on creating quality content, and less time scheduling it.

Almighty.Press

Almighty.Press is a content-discovery tool that goes well beyond measuring basic engagement metrics such as likes, tweets and share counts. The intuitive platform connects you with a real-time filterable news feed of trending content from around the globe.

The virility of the content is measured using its Almighty Force algorithm. This allows brands to track trending content before it becomes saturated. The end result is viral content topics that arrive ahead of your competitors’.

Using Almighty.Press to identify, track, and publish trending topics before they are saturated will give your content the edge to conquer engagement algorithms employed by many social networks.

SumoMe

SumoMe offers an array of solutions to help grow your audience and improve the reach of your content. Most notably, SumoMe provides a list-building tool with an exit intent feature which tracks a user’s mouse movement to identify when that user intends to leave your website. This can be used to trigger a pop-up message with related posts, an email opt-in form or a custom special offer.

Brands can improve conversion rates on any page with full-screen calls to action that slide down from the top of the view port after the page content has loaded, encourage email opt-ins and promote the brands’ most recent blog post or product.

Additionally, SumoMe provides responsive share-button solutions that complement your website. Handy analytics and A/B testing for your share-button placements are baked into the app. These features work to maximize your on-page social engagement.

Using SumoMe tools can help increase the frequency with which your content gets shared across social media platforms. Having more shares and more email opt-ins is always a good thing.

Ninja Outreach

Ninja Outreach makes finding influencers easy. Simply enter a keyword to discover thousands of business leads, social media influencers and niche bloggers. Ninja Outreach provides data and contact details for over 25 million contacts.

Ninja Outreach also provides a platform to find, contact and manage influencers. With this data, brands can select a pool of influencers and create outreach email templates directly from their dashboards. This makes it easy to find leaders in any niche. From there it is easy to track email opens, clicks and replies.

Using Ninja Outreach to find influencers will save you a significant amount of time and establish connections with people who can significantly increase your content’s reach.

SendGrid

Email is an effective way to build customer relationships. SendGrid’s platform allows for integration with almost any website, giving you the power to reach all your subscribers. SendGrid makes it easy to create email funnels that can be A/B tested right down to the last detail, allowing you insights into what is working and what isn’t.

Use SendGrid in conjunction with SumoMe to create winning email capture forms that are complemented by well-timed emails for maximum engagement with your audience.

Taking time to set up and test your email campaigns can yield fantastic results for almost any content marketing effort. Once set up, SendGrid will streamline your email outreach, allowing you time to focus on other aspects of your business.

Pushwoosh

Pushwoosh is a handy service for sending notifications to desktop computers, mobile devices and applications.

Any content marketer worth his/her salt will know the pain of ever-increasing punitive action from Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. In today’s fast-moving climate, it’s wise to not have all your eggs in a single basket.

Finding new and reliable ways to reach your audience is one of the most important parts of a content marketer’s role. Pushwoosh provides an intuitive desktop and in-app notification system that reaches 100 percent of your subscribers by notifying them directly via their phone or web browser.

Need to address only Spanish-speaking users who made a purchase last year? Customers who recently spent more than $1,000? Easy as breathing! Use tags and filters along with other segmentation features to tailor a personal push message that will find its user in the right place, at the right time.

You can link your sites’ RSS feed directly to Pushwoosh, and they will automatically send out notifications to your subscribers when you publish new content. Pushwoosh can also be connected to Almighty.Press, giving you the ability to find fresh, relevant content and syndicate it with your audience.

Final thoughts

What’s even better about all of these tools? They can be used in combination to increase your brand engagement.

You can identify content with viral potential using Almighty.Press, then automatically queue the content for social media syndication using Buffer. Once users visit your site, you can use SumoMe to increase the chances of a social share or email opt-in.

In addition, use SendGrid and Pushwoosh to keep your audience updated with the latest content. Ninja Outreach can find you those ever-important influencers to help get your content in front of the people that matter most to your business.

Use just some of these tools in 2017 and your content-marketing efforts are almost certain to produce better results than they did in 2016. Better yet, why not use them all in one turbocharged work flow?

Beyond Google and Facebook: 4 Reasons to Look at Other Online Marketing Channels

2 Jan

As people search for brands across multiple channels, the complexity of targeting right customers with right messages is greater than ever before. Digital advertisers have relied on web cookies since the last two decades, but with the advent of smart mobility, this old strategy won’t work. Brands need to connect with consumers directly and then measure every campaign outcome, to appeal to different platforms.

While Google is still the search engine leader, Bing is surging ahead in grabbing search engine market share, while Yahoo! Is trying to recover lost ground with its new services. In social media marketing, it is essential that businesses think beyond Facebook for better results too, as other social sites are making headway in various demographics.

Analysts believe that advertisers should apply sound marketing strategies on sites other than Google and Facebook, since people-based marketing is quickly moving beyond what these tech giants have created. Leveraging Facebook and Google’s success, one can find that by relying on “people-based” solutions, advertisers can devise ads for real people and not some stored cookies.

Advertisers will now dive deeply in addressable media, to utilize people-based targeting outside Facebook across multiple publisher sites. Top digital marketers, including GSK, Nestle and Reebok, have expressed the need to spend on addressable advertising and work beyond closed ecosystems, without limiting their presence.

Here are four reasons why marketers should look for alternative online marketing channels:

Google has introduced high cost-per-clicks on paid search

In terms of costs involved, some courses are expensive to market on Google Paid Search. Google CPCs increased by 23 percent year-over-year while Bing saw a jump of 15 percent in the same period. But Google costs have been way higher than Bing costs. Google Paid Search needs better cost per conversion ratio, too, and Bing is definitely a worthy option.

Bing’s Search market share has risen considerably

As mentioned earlier, Bing has increased its limited market share considerably. The most recent comScore Search Share report revealed that Bing boosted its market share in U.S. to more than 21 percent, last December. Google has garnered about 64 percent of the market in the same period. This means that marketers need to address the void, and pay attention to Bing for a rounded view of the process.

Paid social sites are providing better opportunities

Paid social marketing is touted as a highly cost-effective way to drive awareness about new ideas and offerings. Other social networks besides Facebook, like LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, deserve equal importance nowadays since they offer cost-effective options to derive leads. These “awareness” platforms are now “ROI” platforms, owing to their reach and demographic targeting abilities. Social media functions work very well for sponsored ads, and organic social media marketing also boosts the overall value of paid marketing.

The digital ecosystem binds all elements

The digital world includes several components that interact with one another, so marketing across multiple avenues within the online ecosystem should be a topmost priority for marketers today. For example, display marketing has been a major factor in the rise of paid and organic search traffic to a variety of websites. Twitter has a strong business following because of its real-time messaging ability.

It is time to go beyond the oft-used channels and use those best practices on other chosen platforms. One can adopt the ‘custom audience’ approaches that have helped in Facebook and Google marketing for even better ROI.