Majority of SMBs doing SEO are in-housing

15 Apr

A majority of small businesses (SMBs) surveyed understand they should be doing SEO but only 36 percent have an SEO strategy in place and are actively pursuing it. That’s according to a survey of 529 small businesses, between 1 and 50+ employees conducted by The Manifest.

Beyond the 36 percent, the survey found another 23 percent planned to pursue SEO in 2019, and 15 percent said that they intended to in “2020 or later.” Whether these good intentions translate into action is another matter. A 2018 survey conducted by the same company found 44 percent of businesses spend time or money on SEO. However, that survey included respondents from larger enterprises (up to 500 employees).

Majority DIYing SEO. Most SMBs said they rely on in-house efforts for SEO (54 percent), although a substantial minority (42 percent) used SEO consultants and freelancers. Another 28 percent said they were using an SEO firm or agency. And 50 percent said they were using SEO software and tools. I assume the overlap is between those using an “SEO agency” and “SEO consultants.”

Nearly 80 percent of these SMBs were either “confident” or “very confident” in their self-assessed understanding of SEO best practices. However, the fact that the top SEO tactic mentioned was “social media marketing” casts some doubt on that finding.

Top SEO tactics among SMBs. The survey asked SMBs currently pursuing SEO, “What SEO activities does your company currently invest in?” Erroneously, “social media marketing” was on list of tactics and captured the highest response (63 percent). More than half of SMBs said a mobile-friendly website and keyword research/targeting are top SEO tactics:

  • Mobile-friendly website: 54%
  • Keyword research/targeting: 51%
  • Creating high-quality content: 48%
  • Local search optimization: 45%
  • On-site optimization: 40%
  • PPC advertising: 35%
  • Link-building: 28%
  • Voice search optimization: 21%

It’s interesting and somewhat surprising to note that 21 percent said they were doing “voice search optimization.” It’s not clear what that means to these businesses, however.

Methods for tracking SEO success. When asked how they tracked SEO success, these SMBs said “search traffic.” That was followed by “leads and conversions,” while only 4 percent said they didn’t track their efforts:

  • Web traffic from search engines: 25%
  • Leads and conversions: 19%
  • Number and quality of backlinks: 14%
  • Keyword rankings: 13%
  • Impressions: 13%
  • On-site engagement: 12%
  • I don’t track metrics for SEO: 4%

PPC advertising frequency. The survey also asked those doing PPC advertising about budgets and frequency. The largest single group (33 percent) spent between 10 and 30 percent of marketing budgets on PPC ads. The next largest group (24 percent) spent between 31 and 50 percent. The majority (82 percent) said they were doing PPC either “consistently” (45 percent) or “monthly” (37 percent).

Why we should care. The survey shows that while only a minority of SMB respondents are actively engaged in SEO, a substantial additional percentage recognize they should be doing it. That’s an opportunity for third-party marketing service providers and agencies that serve SMBs. But SEO doesn’t generally yield immediate results, which often makes its value difficult to prove and perceive for SMBs who tend to impatient and want immediate results.

Top 11 social media marketing tools for 2019

8 Apr

There are many social media marketing tools to improve your social presence. Which one is better for your business?

Social media marketing can help you improve your brand awareness, boost your engagement with your followers and even explore new opportunities with potential customers. However, it’s not easy to manage all social media platforms without the use of the right tools. There are many social media management tools to help you be more effective.

All the available options can make it hard for you to decide the right one for your business. We’ve compiled a list with 16 tools to give you an overview of some of the most popular options before you pick the best choice for your team.

Whether you’re currently using one of them or you’re looking to switch to a different one, this list with 10 social media marketing tools should be of help.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite helps you manage all your social accounts in one place. It is probably one of the most popular options in social media management and monitoring.

It allows you to publish and schedule your social media posts and you can also use it to monitor your mentions and the keywords that you want to track.

This way you can use the platform for all the stages of your content, from finding new ideas to publishing them and measuring their performance.

The paid plans allow you to integrate your boosting plans into the platform while you can even integrate hundreds of apps to make your social media marketing more effective.

It’s one of the most popular options among social media marketers and it’s also a good way to get started to social media marketing if you’re still getting to grips with it and all the tasks you need to complete throughout your week.

What you need to consider

There is a free version for those who want a very simple solution but it’s limiting the number of posts that you can schedule and the data that you’re seeing through analytics. If you want to give it a try, the free option lets you schedule up to 30 posts while you can link up to 3 social profiles.

The pricing plans depend on the features and the number of profiles and the users that you want to add. The bigger your team the higher the pricing. Some marketers don’t find Hootsuite’s UX appealing comparing to other tools while its advocates are focusing on its functionality and the features that you can have in just one platform.

The Professional plan at $19/month allows you to connect 10 social profiles for 1 user and it includes unlimited scheduling. If you want to involve 3 users, you will have to pay $99/month and you’ll be able to connect up to 20 profiles along with team message assignments, custom reports and exportable analytics.

A complaint that I’ve heard from fellow marketers about Hootsuite is that it hasn’t really changed its interface through the years and it can be overwhelming if you’re just getting started. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you can still get all the features that you need in one place, so the decision is yours!

Buffer

Buffer is a popular social media management platform that many brands use all over the world.

It’s probably the most popular option along with Hootsuite and they both have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Buffer is focusing on publishing and scheduling and this has been the main feature ever since the tool launched. The user experience is focusing on simplicity to ensure that you’re able to schedule and plan your content without having any problems.

The ability to load the posts in the ‘Queue’ help you load posts in your profiles without necessarily setting the time manually on all posts. This way you can automate your planning to ensure that you’re only picking your ideal times once through the Settings.

You can also reschedule your posts by looking at your Sent posts and picking the ones that can be loaded again to the Queue. The Buffer Chrome extension can also help you simplify the idea of curating content while you can even create quick images for your posts through their free tool, Pablo.

If you’re interested in monitoring the replies you can also sign up to Buffer Reply, which is currently an additional product for Buffer. Moreover, you can also sign up to get early access to their upcoming product focusing on analytics, Buffer Analyze.

What you need to consider

The free plan can help you get started to learn how to use the tool. However, it’s very limiting so if you’re thinking of scheduling more posts you might want to consider a paid plan. The free plan is currently let you connect up to 3 social profiles and you can schedule up to 10 posts. It’s similar to Hootsuite’s limits on the free plan, but it is limiting even more the number of posts that you can schedule (30 over 10). It also doesn’t give you access to analytics to start measuring your performance.

The cheapest option starts at $15/month and it lets you connect up to 8 social accounts for 1 user and schedule up to 100 posts. You are also able to access Post analytics to analyse the performance of your posts.

The Pro plan can be a great solution for small businesses that want to schedule their content and save time when planning ahead. You are even able to include Pinterest as an additional integration and load content to the Queue for up to 100 posts. You can also access the Content Inbox to follow up to 15 RSS feeds.

However, if you have more than one person in your social media team, you might want to consider the Business plan that let you connect 25+ profiles and invite 5/10/15 users to your dashboard. Moreover, the Business plan lets you schedule up to 2000 posts in advance and you are accessing enhanced Analytics and reports. The small business plan starts from $99/month with 25 profiles and 6 users and you can upgrade depending on your team’s needs.

Buffer’s biggest advantage is the simplicity and the UX that understands what social media managers really need. However, if you want to include the Reply feature to your tools, you will need to pay an additional amount per month, starting from $50/month.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is another popular option among marketers for social media management. Its goal is to “deepen real connections with the people who love your brand”. The messaging is focusing on improving efficiency and communication through social media, both within your team but also with your supporters.

It is a complete social media management platform and it also provides a social CRM and an all-in-one social inbox to monitor all your messages. It can be really useful when working as a team and you’re involving social media customer service in your business.

You can publish, schedule and draft posts while you can also monitor and profiles and keywords to keep track of what’s important for your business.

Their support can also help you ensure that you’re making the most of the platform and it’s useful that their site can help you understand how to tailor the products to your needs (brand, agency, freelancer, etc)

What you need to consider

Sprout Social has many happy marketers using it. If you’re working as part of a team then you’ll certainly enjoy the collaboration features, the smart inbox and the ability to blend the social CRM with your scheduling and monitoring.

The pricing plans start from $99/month, which can be considered a bit more expensive compared to other social media platforms. This plan is limited to 5 social profiles so if you’re interested in adding more profiles and make the most of analytics, then you might benefit from the Professional plan starting at $149/month. Except for the features of the Standard plan, it also involves engagement and trends reporting, campaign planning and reporting and also reporting on your team’s productivity.

It is also offering the option to purchase your own add-ons, such as Amplification and Social Selling to improve your social media success as part of your own funnel.

All in all, Sprout Social goes beyond social media scheduling and it can help you streamline your social CRM more effectively.  It might be more expensive than other options, but it depends on the features and the tasks that you want to include in your social media marketing.

AgoraPulse

AgoraPulse is a social media management and CRM platform to help you improve your social presence. It promises to simplify social media publishing, monitoring, engagement and team collaboration. It is focusing on simplified social media publishing to help you improve the success of your social content. From content labelling to queues for evergreen posts, the goal is to be more effective either on your own or as part of a team.

It can also be a useful platform for social CRM, managing your inbox, the comments and messages that you’re receiving on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and Instagram.

You can also manage the comments from your Facebook and Instagram ads, which makes it easier to monitor all comments in one place. It can also be a useful tool when trying to find new opportunities to build relationships through listening or even to find your brand’s best ambassadors.

What you need to consider

There is a free trial option and the Small plan starts from $44/month. It allows you to connect 3 profiles and 1 user while you’re having unlimited reporting, publishing, and mentoring. It can be a good option if you’re managing the social presence of a small business. However, if you want to bring your team together, access advanced sync of inbox monitoring and the option to monitor ad comments on Facebook and Instagram, then you might need the medium or large plans at $89 and $180/month respectively. The Medium plan lets you connect 10 social profiles and 3 users and the Large plan allows you to connect 25 profiles and 6 users. It is the most popular option, especially for medium-sized teams who want to make the most of the team workflow in their content by creating their own processes for drafts and approval. It

It is also useful to note that AgoraPulse doesn’t support Pinterest, in case you’re interested in having all social platforms in one dashboard.

ContentCal

ContentCal is a visual calendar that can simplify your social media content planning. Its simple and intuitive use makes it very appealing to marketers of all skills to ensure that they streamline their planning as much as possible. Except for the usual social media planning, it offers a useful visual overview of your posts across all platforms. The calendar plays a key role in this tool and it can include your posts from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

There is the option to create draft posts and the pinboard allows you to plan your ideas and drag them to the calendar when they are ready to go live.

It also features the option to auto-publish your posts to save time while you can collaborate as a team with user permissions and post approval.

What you need to consider

ContentCal is trying to meet everyone’s needs with their different pricing plans. There is a free plan for the social media enthusiasts who want to create their own basic version of a social media calendar to connect up to 4 social profiles while scheduling 50 posts per month.

For a freelancer who wants an improved use that is still affordable, there is the Pro version at $12/month that involves one calendar and up to four social profiles. It lets you schedule as many posts as you want and there is also a monthly calendar view and the function to search for your posts in the calendar. This plan also provides access to Analytics and a PDF export.

If you have two people managing a social media calendar, then the Company plan will be a good option. It starts at $39/month and it features 2 calendars and 2 users. You can also add more calendars and users at an additional cost. The different with the Pro plan is that you can now manage approval workflows, access comments to improve the collaboration within your team and use a professional video uploader. The premium plan at $80/month is still for 2 users and 2 calendars but it also features multi-calendar posting, sending Facebook posts to drafts, training and filtering of the Analytics.

If you want an even better option to save time with your social media posting, the AutoPilot plan at $399/month is taking care of the posting for you based on your needs and the type of content that you prefer. It’s an interesting option to avoid searching for content ideas simply to approve the suggestions that you’ll be receiving from the tool.

Zoho Social

Zoho Social can help you set up a smarter social media presence through a series of features that improve social scheduling, monitoring and measuring.

It allows you to schedule your posts in the times that your audience is most active by loading your posts to the SmartQ. You can re-schedule your content at the times of your choice while you can even create posts for a specific audience based on the timezone or the location.

You are also able to save time when scheduling your content by using the zShare Browser Extension to make the planning easier in the calendar.

When it comes to listening, you can organise your listening columns based on your needs to create your customised monitoring board. You can follow real-time updates and you can even turn your followers into leads by adding details to each contact. You can improve the CRM functionality by integrating the tool with Zoho’s CRM to make social media more effective for your brand.

You can also track your social performance through real-time analytics to focus on what matters. The reports can also be automated to receive them at the frequency of your choice. Collaboration can also be part of your reporting simply by sharing the stats within your team to hear their feedback and plan the next steps.

What you need to consider

Zoho Social is a useful social media platform that blends posting, monitoring and collaboration. Its integration with Zoho CRM and Zoho desk can make it part of a wider set of tools that can streamline your marketing and customer success to improve cross-team transparency.

If you want to try out the tool, there is a free plan with very limited functionality for 1 member and 1 brand that lets you publish content or use the zShare Browser Extension. It does not include content scheduling so it’s only a good option if you want to get the first exposure to Zoho’s platform. If you want to start scheduling your content, the Standard plan starts at $11/month for 2 members and 1 brand. You can publish, schedule, use the SmartQ for the best times and use the repeat posting. You also have access to Basic Analytics and you can create 5 monitoring columns. If you want to improve the tool’s efficiency, you might want to consider the Professional plan starting at $28/month. It lets you add 3 members and 1 brand and it involves bulk scheduling, custom audience targeting, 15 monitoring columns, advanced analytics and scheduled reports.

Both the Standard and the Professional plans can be integrated with Zoho Desk and Zoho CRM to turn your social media management into a team effort. If you’re using social media for customer service or lead generation, then these integrations might be really useful.

MavSocial

MavSocial can help you simplify your social media marketing and monitoring. It involves an easy-to-use campaign calendar to plan your posts in advance while you can even reschedule your most engaging posts. Except for scheduling, it also features monitoring for keywords, tracking your messages and comments across all networks and a digital library to organise your visual content.

An additional feature is the option to amplify your reach with boosted posts on Facebook, while you can even improve team collaboration by assigning roles for your colleagues and monitor the progress of each task.

It’s a combination of social media planning and a social CRM and it involves 6 popular social networks including WeChat for some of the plans.

What you need to consider

MavSocial can be a useful and cost-effective tool if you’re the only one managing social networks in your organisation. The first plan starts at $16/month for 1 user and 10 social profiles. This plan allows you to publish on 6 social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram), it has unlimited publishing and it still lets you access your social inbox, repeat publishing and bulk uploading.

The next plan at $65/month is granting access to 3 users and up to 30 profiles and it also involves social listening and ad comment monitoring. This can be a useful plan for a small team that wants to blend social media planning and listening. If you’re part of a bigger team and want to make the most of collaboration, then you will need to pay $166/month for 5 users and up to 50 profiles. Except for all the previous features, you are also able to manage a post approval process, boost Facebook Ads and track usage permissions for UGC content.

Thus, it can be a great solution on a smaller budget, while it can still be useful at a larger budget if you want to involve team collaboration, monitoring and UGC curation in one dashboard.

Sendible

Sendible is aiming to centralise your social media management. It’s a powerful dashboard for businesses that want to make the most of social media marketing. It allows you to publish, schedule, monitor, measure, improve your social content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

The social publishing can be easy to use and the social inbox can help you keep track of all the messages and mentions that you need to monitor.

You can also analyse the best times to share content and you can create your own reports based on your needs and your business goals.

What you need to consider

Sendible’s most affordable plan starts at $33/month and it gives to one user unlimited scheduling and 12 services (interactions per channel). You can create up to 10 queues in this plan, recycle evergreen content, bulk schedule posts, monitor keywords and access your priority inbox with a one-hour sync. You also have access to basic reporting, which makes it a useful plan for someone who wants an affordable option for social media planning and monitoring.

The Small plan costs $113/month and it involves 3 users, 48 services and 6 customised reports. It also helps you improve your team collaboration with post approval process and social profile grouping, while you also have access to 200+ charts to include in your customised reports. The Medium plan is even more powerful and it costs $219/month for brands and agencies that want improved functionalities for their social media strategies. You can invite up to 7 users in this plan and enjoy up to 105 services with custom team workflows and up to 35 analytics reports. You can also have a Priority Inbox with a 30-minute sync, integration with Bitly pro, 70 queues and a scheduled report delivery.

Sendible seems to be a useful tool for brands and agencies that want to have one platform for different tasks as part of their social media marketing but it might be more expensive for those who seek a simpler solution.

Lightful

Lightful is the first social media management tool made for nonprofits and social enterprises.

It provides an affordable solution for charities and nonprofits who want to improve their social presence.

As with other social media tools, it is offering publishing and scheduling options, a visual preview of your posts and a calendar to plan your week or month ahead.

It also features all the upcoming Awareness Days to plan your content accordingly and it allows you to load content to the Approval Queue to improve the collaboration within your team.

There is also a StoryBuilder feature to help you improve your campaign planning with the use of templates to get you started when planning the story of your campaign.

Its intuitive user experience is aiming to encourage nonprofits to embrace the power of social media marketing without necessarily needing a big budget for it.

What you need to consider

There is a free plan that lets you connect up to 3 profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) for 1 user. It is ideal if you’re just one person managing your organisation’s social accounts since you can still access the platform’s features scheduling up to 50 posts.

The Growth plan ($26/month) lets you connect up to 10 social profiles and 5 users and it is ideal for medium-sized organisations who want to improve collaboration efficiency in their and social media accounts. It is featuring an additional number of Stories in the Story Builder, the option to manage and approve your posts and enhanced access to post and page analytics.

If you’re a nonprofit exploring all your options, Lightful might be a more affordable option for adding multiple users and having an approval queue for your posts among all the other features.

The integration with Unsplash and GIPHY can also be useful when planning your visual content while the Story Builder templates can be handy if you’re just getting started with social media for your organisation.

Kenshoo Social

Kenshoo Social is a social marketing platform that can help both agencies and advertisers create more effective social media campaigns. It can help you simplify your social media advertising and your social media campaigns by focusing on ROI.

Kenshoo allows you to scale both your creative performance but also your analytical mindset to be able to prove the worth of your work to the rest of your team.

Its machine-learning and automation tools can make the social media planning easier while trying to create more engaging ads. You can also improve your engagement by building customised personas to manage multiple audiences across different channels. Your audience strategy can greatly benefit from this feature and it’s certainly good to have this feature when trying to understand your audience on every channel.

You can also improve your collaboration by streamlining the workflow in the way that it’s more effective for your team and your personalised needs.

What you need to consider

Kenshoo Social allows you to connect Facebook, Instagram, Snap, and Pinterest. It’s a more creative social media platform that can also help you improve your social ads through these channels.

The pricing is available upon request and they are also featuring some great case studies from different industries. Another advantage is Kenshoo’s experience with e-commerce and search products, especially if you want to bring together all these elements as part of your company.

It’s also worth mentioning that Kenshoo Social has also been awarded in our recent Marketing Technology Awards 2019 as Best Social Platform, which definitely gives it good social proof.

Tweetdeck

If you’re looking for a free scheduling tool for your Twitter profile then Tweetdeck should be one of the first tools to try out. It is built from Twitter to provide a free solution to Twitter scheduling. It allows you to plan your content, monitor your favorite hashtags and users and keep track of your mentions.

Tweetdeck’s interface may remind you of Hootsuite but in a simpler version that focuses on the key tasks of Twitter management and monitoring. It is ideal for someone who is just getting started on Twitter to understand how to use the platform. It can help you improve your Twitter marketing experience without necessarily paying a fee for it.

What you need to consider

There are many marketers who add Tweetdeck to their list of favorite tools. If you’re new to social media management and focus on Twitter then Tweetdeck can be useful for your business.

However, if you’re looking for additional flexibility and functionality, then you may have a look at one of the other suggestions that we’re mentioning in the post.

Overview

There are hundreds of social media tools that can help you improve your social strategy. Many of them share similar features but they all stand out with their unique user experience and how they can benefit your brand.

The ultimate choice of picking the right social media marketing tool for your business depends on your own needs. When it comes to picking a social media tool, here’s what you need to consider:

  • Key features: what are the features that you definitely need in a social media management platform? Are you focusing on scheduling? Do you need a monitoring dashboard? Will you need to integrate publishing with social CRM? Do you want to involve boosting posts?
  • Ease of use (UI and UX): not everyone is looking for a complicated platform. A good UX can play a key role in someone’s decision to pick one tool over the other. If you’re new to marketing technology, then this may be a very important factor for your final decision.
  • Budget: your budget will significantly affect your choice so make sure you align your budget expectations with the tools that you can find in this range.
  • Customer support: A good customer experience can make the learning curve of a new tool easier for your team. It can even make marketers loyal to one tool so always have a look at the support and training options when picking a tool.
  • Integrations: If you’re using many different tools, integrations can be vital for your social media management platform.

What’s your favorite social media marketing tool?

5 Social Media Marketing Myths to Ignore

1 Apr

Social media has become inseparable part of our everyday life. With over 2 billion active users it is the most widespread marketing medium available. While traditional marketing such as leaflet printing and distribution, TV ads etc. are still very much effective, using various social media platforms it is possible to reach out to thousands or even millions of people at one go. With the immense power of social media marketing it is definitely the top marketing medium and with that comes a number of myths which were popularly believed and propagated. Here are some top social media myths you need to let go of this year.

Myth 1: You have to be online 24X7

It is absolutely false that you have to be online and available 24X7, sharing new content. In fact, it is practically impossible to do so without compromising on the quality. Maintain a regular social media presence by posting quality content, sharing and replying to comments messages etc. In fact, constant social media posting can be quite annoying for your followers, so it is important to strike a balance.

Myth 2: You have to be on every platform

You do not need to have profile on every social media platform in order to new social media marketing so it’s best capability. Do your research on preferred social media platforms demographic and thus, opt for the chosen platforms of your target people. This will help you streamline your ads more effectively, aiming at the right group instead of fumbling around, trying to balance everything. Instead be on only as many platforms as you can handle efficiently.

Myth 3: Works only for online businesses

One of the biggest reasons why several companies stay away from social media marketing is because they think that it works only for the online businesses. Irrespective of whether your business is new or old, large scale or small startup, online or based at a physical store, social media marketing can be used to improve your business.

Myth 4: It targets only kids

Contrary to popular belief social media is not used by the young millennial crowd only. Hosting a total of over 2 billion accounts, various social media platforms are thriving people of all ages, from younger gen Z to baby boomers. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter what business your age group is targeted at, there is always the right place on social media to start at.

Myth 5: Influencer marketing is expensive

Influencer marketing can be as expensive or as affordable as you need. Depending on the number of follower’s influences charge their fees, therefore all you need to do is to find the right influencer for your budget. If you are unsure of spending money you can look for aspiring influencers who are interested in unpaid collaboration.

Social media marketing is surprisingly fluid and flexible. It is what you make out of it, and thus, with your honest effort and work, you can reap fruitful rewards.

How Social Media Helps Define Brands as a Marketing Platform, Make the Most of It!!

25 Mar

Did you know that 90 percent of all marketers say social media marketing has increased their business exposure? Or that 66 percent of marketers that spend at least 6 hours on social per week has seen more leads? With the advent of social media, traditional marketing methods no longer seem enough to sustain a business. Social connectivity has become the key to marketing and building the brand’s image for the buyers. Analytics and other measurement tools can enable entrepreneurs to find how they can take advantage of social media as a marketing tool and also how to use data to optimize their social marketing campaigns.

The Great Panorama of Sites

Social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are here to stay, which means that marketers can leverage this popularity and use it for their brand’s growth and also to pad their wallets. One of the greatest benefits of social media marketing is that it helps you reduce marketing costs, without sacrificing the results.

Not only can you reach a global audience with limited resources but social media can get you a target audience. Having access to all these customers will help boost traffic. When a new blog or update is put on the homepage, it can take time to get traction through Google, which means that few customers will know the new content if they are not searching for your product or service. Using social media for business also boosts your site’s SEO.

Understand Your Customers Better

Social media marketing will help you understand your audience. Social channels like Twitter and Instagram become effective marketing tools with the way they facilitate interaction with your customer base. As a matter of fact, many brands use YouTube to beta-test their ads before launching TV commercials. The reason is obvious: investment is low, the market is huge and the results are almost instantaneous. Brands for starters have started off by promoting itself in viral videos.

Another reason brands are taking to social media platforms to get their name out is that they have got most of the early adopters. Youth are the most likely target market for food delivery and car rental apps. It makes sense for brands to test their adoption online.

Also, by reading their tweets and status updates, brands can easily gain insight into the daily lives of users, thereby allowing you to gauge their behaviour as a consumer. Social media marketing, or SMM, can allow you to easily understand the kind of products that they are buying and why, their hobbies, the kind of posts that they share, the websites that they frequently visit.

This knowledge is bound to have obvious marketing benefits. If you understand your customer, you can write better content and more compelling posts, which leads to more traffic. But the benefits can sometimes go far beyond – it can help you in identifying customer pain points, refining your product strategy and also in improving sales.

Adds on Socia Media and Their Reach

Talking about social media ads, they have another plus point — they allow targeting and retargeting. Social media platforms offer highly targeted advertisement that can be customized based on the customer’s needs. For instance, Facebook ads can target customers by several factors — like age, education level, location, industry and even user behavior (the number and the kind of pages the user has liked).

Businesses that have high selling frequency can benefit more. Have you ever wondered why you see brand ads on your Facebook dashboard? Well, Facebook and Google allow you to retarget, making it easy for the brand to capture user information and share more offers with users that have used the service already.

Through social media, you can help get noticed and also earn media coverage. The success of an event heavily depends on effective promotion. And what better way for promotion than social media? An active social media presence is always an advantage. Brand image thrives on social media marketing. The way your brand is presented on social networking sites, nowadays, has more power to create an image in any potential customer’s mind than TV commercials. Since almost everyone is on social media and people constantly keep checking their phones, regular updates about the brand can also be given – like the launch of a new product or the betterment of an earlier service or sales and discount offers.

Brand Value and Loyalty

A strong media presence will also build brand loyalty. It can considerably reduce your customer response time as these days if there is a problem with your product or service, the consumer expects it to be solved right away. It was found in a report published by Texas Tech University that brands with an active social media presence are likely to have more customers.

Engagement with people on social media helps marketers develop a connection and a rapport, which in turn enables them to widen their customer base. It is a positive step in providing your followers with useful information and help, along with some entertainment that manages to keep their interest peaked. This will also project that you value your customers as people and not just a source of revenue. Customers will see you as an entity that cares about them and they too will be able to understand the brand’s vision. In the competitive business world of today, this has the ability to make a huge difference. Social media can also be perfect for a well-suited PR strategy.

Not only can you develop stronger relationships with your customers, but it will also enable you to acquire more customers. It has been estimated that 70 percent of business-to-consumer marketers have acquired customers through Facebook. So, yes, social media plays a great role than you can imagine in increasing your sales through its obvious innumerable benefits.

How to Ensure MailChimp Emails Actually Reach Your Users

18 Mar

If your emails are not reaching the inbox of your subscribers then your email marketing strategy will not be successful. The most crucial thing about your MailChimp newsletter and emails are their successful delivery. In order to do that, all you got to do is to authenticate your emails. In simpler words, you have to prove to the servers and subscribers that it is really you who is sending out the emails.

Why is authenticating necessary? Email, as you know, is a playground for spammers who use someone else’s email addresses to push out their own emails. MailChimp has its own authentication methods that you can use for this purpose. It provides a trackable identifier that indicates you are a genuine sender. More and more people are doing this and authentication by email marketers has increased to 67%.

Things You Will Need For the Authentication

You will need the following to carry out this important process:

  • Access to domain registrar.
  • Information regarding DNS to add records like TXT and CNAME to the domain.
  • A custom domain.
  • Time – it can take a day to process it.

Importance of Authenticating

This process is important because it has so many benefits.

  • It is a proof that you are who you say you are and will tell your subscribers the emails are coming from an authentic source.
  • It  shows the exact email address without appending some sort of gibberish link that makes no sense and looks like spam.
  • Mail servers like Gmail, Yahoo and others will trust you and not immediately send your emails to a Spam folder. Therefore your email marketing or newsletter campaign to be successful.
  • The trust will also increase among your subscribers as well.

If you are using MailChimp and still have not verified and/or authenticated your domain, it can truly ensure email marketing campaign will  reach its intended customers. We can help you get authenticated! Contact us for a custom quote today!

4 often-overlooked platforms for social media marketing

14 Mar

The social media marketing world does not end after Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The “big four” encompass about 90 percent of all social media marketing. According to a recent UMass-Dartmouth study, 91 percent of Fortune 500 level companies use Twitter, 89 percent use Facebook, 63 percent use Instagram, and 98 percent use LinkedIn.

However, a slew of niche social networks could help your social media marketing efforts.

Let’s look at the audiences you’ll find there, their potential uses for brand managers and which businesses might gain the most from them.

1. Quora

The stats:

  • 190 million users
  • 400,000 topics
  • 775,000 monthly visitors in the U.S. alone

Quora is essentially a Q&A site, so this is a great place for brand managers to establish authority by answering customers’ questions—and teach them about their products or services. A few simple queries can tell you what people are interested in.

2. Pinterest

The stats:

  • 250 million active users
  • 175 billion pins
  • 50 percent of millennials using Pinterest daily

Long tail-pins last indefinitely, and that means long-term engagement and traffic. Also, according to research, 87 percent of pinners have bought a product because of Pinterest. Finally, it drives a lot of traffic. According to Shareaholic, around 5 percent of all referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest—second only to Facebook.

3. Reddit

The stats:

  • 300 million users
  • More than 850,000 subreddits
  • 58 million daily votes
  • Average visit: 15 minutes, 47 seconds

Reddit isn’t a marketing play, as most social networks can be; it’s a community play. Microsoft uses Reddit as a customer service channel. It’s not marketing Xbox; it’s answering questions and addressing concerns about the product line. Redditors (site users) have a long history of calling out companies that try to market (the traditional way, at least) on Reddit. So, you have to take creative approaches, such as AMAs—“Ask Me Anything” sessions.  That concept started on Reddit, and it’s a great way for brand managers to interact on the platform.

4. Nextdoor

The stats:

  • 200,000 active neighborhoods
  • More than 17M recommendations
  • 90 percent of U.S. neighborhoods participating

There’s already a fair amount of “brand spam” on Nextdoor, with companies pitching their products right in the feed—which seems out of place. What really works well here, though, is government and nonprofit content. The city of Minneapolis offers regular posts about hyper-local events and programs, such as street sweeping and its 2020 strategic plan.

5 Best SEO Tips for 2019

11 Mar

Search Engines have become the go-to method of finding goods, services, and information for the majority of the world.

It is only natural that everyone is going to fight for that higher ranking in the results page, survival of the highest.

SEO the cheapest way to reach a huge number of people and of course, you can do it too.

Here are a few tips:

Content Structuring

The moment one is clicks on the link, the first thing they will look at is how the page looks. Which means, does the pages seem to contain information they are looking for and how easy or pleasant for them to navigate and go through the content.

Menu bars, logos, headers, footers, sidebars are some of the basics that need to be done right. Use the important keywords in these main structures.

Content Quality

Now, it is a widely established factor that content is one of the most valuable resources today.

Basically, a search query means the user is looking for information about something, if you have the most relevant and most engaging information, you will rank higher.

It may be simple to create content, but to create an engaging and optimized content, one will need to put in a lot of effort.

Research for the right keywords, use the words efficiently and make sure the content is reader-friendly and engaging.

The key is to identify what the audience needs and provide the same in a way they get the most satisfaction from.

Mobile Optimization   

More than 52.2 % search traffic comes from mobile searches and this is a trend that is only bound to increase in the future.

There is more than a 50% chance that you are reading this very article on you mobile.

So if your site is not mobile optimized, you are losing more than half the potential traffic.

Moreover, mobile friendliness is considered as a ranking factor in desktop too.

The more responsive and mobile friendly the page is, the better are the chances of ranking high on among both desktop and mobile searches.

Speed Up

It is not a marathon, it is a race. You page should be the Usain Bolt of web page loading race.

Loading icons are something of a nightmare for the modern web surfers; nobody has the patience to wait for more than a few seconds to get their information.

You can have all the useful information but, if your page takes more than few seconds, no one is going to bother to read it.

Use the available online tools to check how your page fares, Google itself provides the tool for this purpose. If it is not the optimum levels, find the solutions and fix it.

Business Profile in Google

Well, most of the search traffic comes from users of Google, only seems fair to seek support from Google itself for better rankings.

Set up your Business Profile with Google My Business.

It’ll help your business appear on searches among Google searches and Google maps searches and the best part is that this is all for free!!  Sweet isn’t it?

Now go on, people are looking for the information/goods and services you provide, makes sure you reach them first.

All the reasons you MUST update your WordPress Plugins

11 Feb

I always have a *facepalm* moment when I log in to a client site to get to work, only to find 10+ plugins with updates. If this is you, don’t feel bad, it’s also about 80% of my new clients so you’re not alone.

It happens so often that I have a pre-written paragraph that I send to them explaining why keeping things up to date is so important and how to do it. I also mention my monthly and quarterly maintenance packages in case they’d like someone to do it for them.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I honestly can’t blame my clients or anyone else.

It took a long time before I ran across an article explaining how important updates were. On top of not fully understanding, they used to scare the heck out of me. What if the update broke my website?! I’d heard of it happening to others and I wasn’t sure what I’d do to fix it if my website did go down. Would I lose everything?

Yes, plugin updates can occasionally cause problems, but the 2 minutes it takes to login via FTP and remove the broken plugin is much better than the possible alternative.

why it’s so important to update your wordpress plugins

Think of it like this. Most of the time, plugin creators aren’t making updates for the fun of it. It’s not like they’re sitting around their apartment bored and think “Oh, I’m going to go push out a random update!”

Yes, sometimes they add new features or make a few simple tweaks, but a good portion of the time the updates are due to bugs or security vulnerabilities.

Now, think of yourself as a hacker. Hackers are always looking for security issues to take advantage of. It’s literally what they do. If you were that hacker and saw a big security patch was just pushed out for a plugin, wouldn’t you quickly learn how to exploit that vulnerability and use it to attack websites?

I’m not an awful person so I’ve never done it, but that’s what I’d do! 🙂

In case you’re doing a quick scan and didn’t put those two pieces together, a good portion of plugin updates are done to fix security issues. When security issues are fixed and you don’t update, hackers know exactly where to attack your website.

Other than hackers gaining access to your website due to weak passwords, plugin vulnerabilities are the easiest way for them to get in.

some plugin update examples

I went ahead and looked up some of the more popular WordPress plugins to show you the kinds of reasons they’re pushing out updates. Let’s take a look at a few.

akismet

In October, Akismet pushed out an update that “closed a potential XSS vulnerability”.

What is XSS, you ask? It’s basically a security issue that allows hackers to inject their own code into web pages. Sometimes this is harmless, but other times it’s all it takes to allow someone to take over and possibly destroy your website.

wordfence security

Yep, security plugins have issues too. As a software developer, I can confidently say that no developer is perfect (as much as they want to be) and small bugs are easy to miss.

Like Akismet, an update to Wordfence “Fixed stored XSS vulnerability”.

You already know what XSS means, so I’ll just reiterate, sometimes these issues are nothing, but do you want to take the chance?

disqus comment system

The last quick example I’ll give is the popular commenting system, Disqus. Lately, they’ve released two separate updates with one of the items being “Security fixes”.

That’s all the information in the change log, but if you want to be safe here’s a place where you can assume the worse.

how to update your plugins

I’m sure you get the point I was making above. The amount of damage that can be done through these security vulnerabilities definitely warrants a few seconds of your time to complete an update.

Think about it, you could truly lose everything.

However, it does take a bit more work than clicking the little “Update” links if you really want to keep your website safe.

If you see the little orange numbers in your WordPress Dashboard, you know it’s time for some updates.

Update Your WordPress Plugins

Here’s the quick process I use:

  1. Complete a full site backup using BackupBuddy. (If you’re looking for a free option, try Duplicator)
  2. Complete plugin updates
  3. Make sure everything still works as expected
  4. Tadaaaaaaa

Now, I’ve personally never had a problem on my own website. If you want to be even safer you could follow this slightly longer process:

  1. Complete a full site backup
  2. Complete one plugin update
  3. Ensure everything is still working
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all plugins are updated
  5. Tadaaaaaaa

That way, if a plugin did break your website you’d know exactly where the problem was.

See? That wasn’t so bad!

Now that you know that making plugin (and WordPress!) updates is worth a few minutes of your time, go do it! Remember, take a complete backup of your site just in case something does go wrong.

3 Tried-and-True Ways to Get Your Small Business Organized This Year

4 Feb
Getting organized involves a lot more than just neatening stacks of papers and dusting off the clutter you have on your desk. Organization involves creating systems and procedures for all different parts of your business; this has the potential to help you become more productive and profitable.

The ideas below include some of the best ways you can become more organized in your small business. Try just one for slow and sustained improvement or make a plan to incorporate a new organizational process each month in your business this year.

Take Control of Papers and Documents

We’ll start with paper since that is the biggest disorganization culprit for most of us. What do you do with documents after you take action on them? How do you store papers for future reference? If you don’t have a filing system and/or a digital archiving system in place, now is the time to build one. Start by taking a look at the papers you have laying around. Make a keep pile and a discard pile, then shred or recycle all of the papers, magazines, newsletters, cards, notes, etc. that made it to the second pile.

Now that you have a better idea about the type of documents you’re working with, it’s time to create — or improve — your office filing system.

If you decide it’s time to start moving toward a paperless office, then you can start by scanning in and digitizing your receipts, using online invoicing and payment services like FreshBooks, moving to a digital signature program like DocuSign, and using the Cloud for data backup and archiving. If you collect business cards at events during the year, it may also be a good idea to invest in a business card scanner so you can digitize contact info immediately and ditch the paper cards.

Use the Right Productivity Tools

We all have our favorite apps and tools we use every day, although some are probably more useful than others. In fact, for every one productivity-enhancing app you use, I bet there is another one that is just not the right fit, but you keep using it because you’ve been using it for so long and you’re used to it. This is why it is so important to — at least once a year — take stock of the apps and tools you are using in your small business and decide if they still meet your needs. This is also a great time to consider if you have some gaps and find the right tools to fill them. Below are some of the top areas where many small business owners find productivity tools useful. These should give you a solid starting point for getting your productivity tools organized this year:

  • Contact management. From keeping track of your customers to remembering people you meet while networking, every small business owner needs a system for managing contact information. You can opt for a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) system like Salesforce, or for smaller scale management you can set up your existing Contacts app to work for your business.
  • Meetings and communication. Whether you conduct meetings face-to-face, on the phone or via video chat services, there is a way to make the process more organized. You can use a service like Do to get your meetings more organized — before, during and after.
  • Accounting and bookkeeping. Organize and streamline the way you invoice, take payments, and manage cashflow with tools like Quickbooks Online, Xero and Wave.
  • Travel and expense tracking. You can use apps like Expedia and TripAdvisor to make travel plans easier. Then, once on the road, apps like Expensify help you track expenses and make reporting when you get home a lot more organized.
  • Social media management. We all know how much time can be wasted on social media if you’re not approaching it in a systematic and organized way. This is why tools like Hootsuite and Buffer can be invaluable for small business owners.
  • Email management. If you use Gmail in your small business, you have access to quite a few Google extensions that can quickly get your inbox organized. If you’re using another email app, try SaneBox for automatic filtering, reminders and more.
  • Project management. A good project management app will help you track tasks, share files and collaborate with teammates all in one place and it can be one of the best tools you can use to get your work organized. Try Basecamp or Asana for an all-in-one project management solution.

Productivity is a very personal process and the apps you need will be specific to you the work you do and the way you tend to work. Take time to explore what your needs are before incorporating a new tool in your process. You may not need as many as you think.

 

Get Your Computer Organized

This is a big one for any small business owner who does the bulk of his or her work on the computer. You probably know that it does not take very long for your desktop to become cluttered with icons, your Downloads folder to get so full of strangely named documents that it is impossible to find anything, or your email inbox to get so out of control you start to think it really might explode. Not only is this horrible for your productivity, but it can also slow down your computer’s performance significantly.

Here is a list of things you can do right now to get your computer organized and back into working shape:

  • Clean up your desktop. There are a couple of ways you can go here, and it all depends on your work style and how you use your computer. You can get rid of everything from your desktop except for your trash bin (remember that the app icons on your desktop are just shortcuts — all of your actual apps usually live in your Applications folder). Or you can add a few shortcuts to your most frequently used apps and files. I tend to err toward the first option, going as streamlined as possible, but often using my desktop for easy access to files I am currently working on. Then I move them to their permanent home once I am finished.
  • Set up a digital filing system. Speaking of giving your documents a permanent home, this is where you create a filing system that makes complete sense to you so you can find the documents you need when you need them.
  • Update software. If your computer is set to automatically install the application and operating system updates, great. If it’s a manual process for you, you should check for updates at least bimonthly since many include security patches. Then, once a year, review the current versions of software you are using and make the decision if its time to upgrade.
  • Scan for viruses and performance issues. Regardless of what type of computer you have, all of them can get viruses or malware (yes, even Macs!).  Set up a regular computer maintenance plan to keep everything always running smoothly in your business!
  • Verify the integrity of your data backup. You are backing up your data, right? If not, skip everything else for the time being and do this one first. You can either use a Cloud-based data backup service like Carbonite, Backblaze or CrashPlan or you can use an external hard drive that you plug into your computer (I do both). With either option, configure the service or drive to conduct continuous automatic backups so you don’t have to do anything manually. Then, once or twice a year, go into your backup service or drive and poke around to make sure everything is there and accessible should you need to pull copies to your local computer.
  • Wrangle your inbox. Many small business owners have a love-hate relationship with their email inbox. They love it because it’s a highly productive and efficient communication tool; yet they hate it because it can quickly get out of control causing unnecessary stress. There are things you can do to keep your inbox in line, such as using automation, streamlining what you receive on a daily basis, and limiting how often you check email during your day.

The tips above will help you get your small business more organized immediately, but remember how fast things can get out of control. Pair these activities with a resolution to conduct a quick and easy review of your papers, productivity tools and computer status a few times a month so you can stay organized and prevent things from reaching overwhelming levels of disorganization.

10 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

28 Jan

When most people hear about standard operating procedures, or SOPs, they often think about a large corporation with hundreds of employees and pages and pages of documented processes. Rarely does one hear the words small business and SOP in the same sentence and we think that is a BIG business mistake!

Regardless of the size of a business, establishing SOPs can make life simpler for everyone involved – the entrepreneur, staff, business partners, and ultimately the customers.

What Is a Standard Operating Procedure – or SOP?

An SOP is essentially a step-by-step guide for handling routine tasks and recurring events in business. Along with the sequence of performing an activity, SOPs also usually include a timeline for completing each step. Some examples of where you might use an SOP in your business include:

  • New Customer/Client Onboarding SOP: Steps you take as a business to add a new customer
  • Customer service SOP: Steps to handle common customer requests and complaints
  • Blog Management SOP: Instructions on how to post on your website, standard components of a post, frequency and time of posting, steps to promote new blog posts via social media etc.

As a small business, following standardized operating procedures can save you time, allow you (and your team) to be more productive, eliminate a lot of errors, and improve compliance with industry guidelines. Here are ten reasons why every small business should have SOP.

10 Reasons Every Small Business Should Be Using Standard Operating Procedures

1. Better Manage Your Team

SOPs are a highly effective tool for managing your team. Here’s how you can use them.

Train New Employees Faster
For new employees, providing SOPs allows them a start point to learn about the business. It helps them understand the frequency of each process, what is entailed in completing, and the responsibilities of each person in the business. This allows them to get up to speed much faster and relieves you, or another team member, from having to spend countless hours training.

Improve Employee Productivity
After the initial training, SOPs act as a guide for staff to ensure that they perform tasks correctly and within specified timeframes. The more they follow the SOP, the more confident employees become in their skills. Improved employee productivity means you save on work hours, and at the same time reduce chances of errors in performance.

Prepares the Business for Delegating/Outsourcing
Once you are confident that a standard operating procedure is working well, you can delegate the work to a newer recruit, or outsource to a virtual assistant. This frees you up to work on higher level tasks to build the business.

Useful in Writing Job Descriptions
It can be difficult to evaluate the contribution of employees in a small business. SOPs form the basis for listing critical business processes as well as daily tasks and assigning responsibilities for each.  Therefore, they become the baseline document for drafting job descriptions of each member of your team.

2. Maintain and Improve Quality

Ensure Product Quality
How do you deliver the same product quality consistently? One way is to have quality checks at different phrases in your process. The other is to ensure that everyone understands the specifications of the final product. Manufacturers, as well as service organizations, can use standard operating procedures to communicate effectively with their staff on how they want things done to meet desired product quality standards.

Create a Benchmark of Service
While your customers may never catch a glimpse of your internal SOPs, they will certainly know how professionally you run the business. Having ‘Service’ SOPs ensures that each member of your team has a clear understanding of the expected outcome of service interactions. This could include the way a customer is spoken to on the phone, the resolution to a customer problem, or the time it takes to complete a customer order.

Ensure Business Continuity
To ensure continuity of business, it’s essential to identify a backup staff for each task. In the absence of the key staff member, someone else can refer to the SOP, quickly get up to speed and ensure that the work is completed correctly.

Identify Areas for Improvement
Over time, SOPs becomes a source for identifying opportunities for improving your internal processes, which could save additional time and money and further improve customer experience. Ideally, you should review critical SOPs at least once every three or four months to assess if you need to make changes.

3. Reduce Business Risk

Improve Compliance
If you are in a business that is highly regulated (e.g., food business, medical billing, financial advisory), you need to ensure that you continually follow the laws and regulations at every step. Documenting these requirements in your SOP serves as an important reminder for both you and your staff on steps crucial for compliance.

Reduce Risk of Accidents
Compared to many businesses, restaurants and bakeries, and manufacturers are relatively more accident-prone places of work. As the employer, it is your responsibility to ensure a safe working environment and SOPs can help you achieve that. As an example, at a restaurant, you can create SOPs for cleaning the work area, handling and maintaining dangerous kitchen equipment, and expected handling of any accidents.

Instead of being overwhelmed by the notion of creating a massive SOP manual for every single process in your business, start small. We suggest you start by noting down the steps you take the next time you perform a work task. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate form or follow any special formatting – it’s just a recording of each of the steps that need to take place to complete the process successfully.

Alternatively, you could make a video-based SOP for sharing information with your employees or contractors on the tasks that you handle and want to delegate to others. From the video, they can take over the process and write out the steps as well, so you have an official written SOP and the video.

At Sala Social Marketing, we are BIG believers in the power of standard operating procedures for every business. Don’t get intimidated by the process, though. Just pick one task (heck – it could be how you order supplies!) and get started. You’ll be glad you did!