Do You Know What They’re Saying About You?

September 18th, 2014

Are You Monitoring Your Social Media Channels?

Social media happens in the wink of an eye. Word travels so quickly that you may go to bed feeling wonderful and awaken to a firestorm. This can be definitely more apt to be true if you aren’t in the practice of regularly monitoring your social media channels. Keeping track of the conversations about you and/or your brand online can be far more than a reputation management best practice. Attention given to those in search of information early in the sales process could lead to a significant increase in conversions. Primarily, however, this is about creating a firewall between trouble and you. Heading the bad news off at the pass is the objective here, and there are a handful of quite simple ways to manage this, which of course is everyone’s fear. It doesn’t need to take all day, as shown in this HubSpot article.

How to keep track your social media conversations

  • Social media monitoring tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite are invaluable on the subject of saving time, and viewing most if not all of your social media in one place. They are simple to use, have free versions, and can make it easy to get in the habit of checking on your social media daily.
  • Google Reader and Google Alerts have been very useful tools to marketers who were focused on monitoring the buzz around their products or brands. Nonetheless, recently Google has decided to end Reader, and Alerts seems to be broken. Many are wondering how to find a useable alternative. Here are a couple you might look into: NewsBlur, AOL Reader, or Flipboard for mobile. For Google Alerts try TalkWalker or Social Mention.
  • Make sure you check your blogs, social networks, videos, and your Facebook pages for questions or concerns. Answering and dealing with these at the early stages will help you avoid trouble and also lead to greater sales and conversions.

Monitoring your social media world doesn’t need to take hours or anything special other than diligence. The key is getting and staying organized, and making use of the tools out there to make this task less burdensome. The rewards far outweigh the trouble!

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5 Tips for Developing a Raving Fanbase

September 16th, 2014

5 Tips for Developing a Raving Fanbase

If you’re trying to find new ways to grow your revenues, then you need look no further than your current customer base! You’d be hard pressed to identify a better way to promote your company than through the words and actions of your current and former customers extolling your virtues! And the best part is, most of the time it won’t cost you a dime!

Here are five tips to get your customers bragging about you and your brand.

  1. Strive to be outstanding - If your business isn’t attempting to be flat out memorable in everything you do, it will be difficult to create raving fans. There are ordinary businesses anywhere you look; it’s your job to go that extra mile, give that extra effort, and provide them a reason to tout your business. What’s nice though is that this will pay off exponentially!
  2. Connect with social media - Make sure you are connecting with your customers and prospects using social media. Very often companies will set up social channels, and then ignore them, often at their peril, as these can be conduits to problems, opportunities and relationships. Your customers will use them, to be sure, if they have a problem with you, so be sure to get ahead of this.
  3. Deal with problems proactively - When you do have a problem, addressing it quickly, professionally and generously is far and away the best way to score a few points with not just the customer in question, but all those who should view or hear about this, often through the customers themselves, whether positive or negative!
  4. Ask for reviews - Certainly the best place to create great buzz about your services and products is through the testimonials and reviews of your current and former buyers. Make sure you encourage satisfied customers to post reviews, both on the site and on merchant review sites like Yelp. This can help immeasurably, and more than 90 percent of people look for reviews before shopping.
  5. Treat your customers like you want to be treated – only better! - Creating a relationship with your customers, in which you regularly connect with them by asking opinions and offering free advice, is the foundation for fostering the kind of goodwill it requires for them to become a raving fan of your brand. Get enough of them shouting your virtues on the rooftops, and your problems are over!
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Is Your Website Costing You Sales?

September 12th, 2014

Tips for Making Sure Your Site Isn’t Preventing Conversions

It’s tough enough to get traffic and create a workable sales funnel. Don’t make it more difficult by shooting yourself in the foot with a dysfunctional and totally inefficient website. Small business websites are especially prone to these types of mistakes, as they may not have the technical expertise of larger businesses available to make sure they are properly functional. To that end, here are some ideas that will help you make your site eye-catching and useful to your visitors, and consequently end in more sales and conversions.

7 Tips for a Better Converting Site

  1. Make sure your website is fresh - Google loves fresh content, and so do your potential customers. Having old content populating your pages for years back is a sure ride to poor search rankings and disinterested visitors.
  2. Lousy website navigation - Ensure that any visitor to your pages can navigate your site effortlessly and efficiently. Have a link to your home page from every last page. If you make it hard to get around, they just won’t even try.
  3. Boring pages - Be sure you use white space liberally. Break up long chunks of text into digestible pieces, and make good use of sub-headlines. (also a search benefit) Don’t litter your site with ads, as this is another sure way to send visitors packing.
  4. Have a mobile version of your website - Since we are in a day and age when more than 50 percent of all of all search traffic comes from a mobile device, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a mobile version? Just sayin…
  5. Flash - There are two major problems with Flash. First Google has a hard time reading it, so it can effect indexing of your pages, and it makes your pages load very slowly, which effects search ranking.
  6. Fix any broken links - This irritates visitors, and is a black mark with Google. Especially be sure to take down any links to old products or programs that are no longer available.
  7. Employ strong calls to action - One of the most egregious conversion killer is simply not asking for the action. Make sure to employ strong and frequent calls to action in your pages.

This is but a short list, but definitely plenty ensure you are on the right track. Don’t make it harder than it is: optimize your site today!

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Is Your Website Costing You Sales?

September 11th, 2014

10 Ways Your Website Just Lost You the Sale

You’ve worked long and hard to develop a viable sales funnel and drive traffic to your website. It would be a pity to see everything go for naught by offering these visitors a badly designed and disfunctional site. It’s very easy for a small business to get into this trap, as most don’t have the resources of a large IT department to save the day. However, there are ways you can make certain that your pages reward you with sales and conversions.  Here are 7 tips to make your site more likely to result in sales and conversions.

7 Tips for a Better Converting Site

  1. Fresh Content - Nothing screams “Let me outa here!” like content that hasn’t been updated since 2010. Updating your sites’ content doesn’t just help you with sales and conversion, but with search rankings as well. This applies to products or courses that are no longer available as well. Take them down.
  2. Lousy website navigation - Ensure that any visitor to your pages can navigate your website effortlessly and efficiently. Have a link to your home page from every last page. If you make it hard to get around, they simply won’t even try.
  3. Boring pages - Be sure you use white space liberally. Break up long chunks of text into digestible pieces, and make good use of sub-headlines. (also a search benefit) Don’t litter your site with ads, since this is another guaranteed way to send visitors packing.
  4. No Mobile Version - More than half of all of all search traffic is now mobile. Enough said?
  5. Too Much Flash - There are two major problems with Flash. To put it simply, cram enough of it on your page and it’ll take eons to load. Also, Google has a hard time indexing flash.
  6. Broken Links - If you have broken links that don’t get the visitor where they want to go, they simply go elsewhere!
  7. Calls to Action - Probably the number one conversion killer is not having strong and effective calls to action, and in most cases more than one!

This is but a short list, but definitely enough to get you on the right track. Don’t make it more challenging than it is: optimize your site today!

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Dropbox’s big photo-sharing plans

September 9th, 2014

Dropbox is on a mission, according to TechCrunch writer Matthew Panzarino: The cloud-based file-sharing service wants to become your default photo library. As evidence, Panzarino points to the fact that Dropbox apps on the Mac now automatically detect, upload and prepare shared links for screenshots users shoot with their computers.

A subset of users

Panzarino writes that this new Dropbox feature is only going to benefit a subset of users, those like journalists, app developers and heavy Twitter users taking loads of screenshots. But that is not important. What is important is the fact that Dropbox has taken another step towards becoming the top photo-sharing service on the Web.

What it means to you

This can make life easier for you, mind you. Wouldn’t it be simple to have Dropbox detect that photo you just snapped on your smartphone and upload it automatically to your Dropbox account? That day might not be far-off.

A peek into the future

Will Dropbox succeed in its pursuit to become the cloud’s go-to site for storing photos? That’s debatable. There are lots of competitors now, and many more will surely pop up. But Dropbox has already earned raves from its current users. It’s not so difficult to imagine a time when Dropbox becomes the default photo-sharing service in the cloud.

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How to Keep Visitors from Leaving Your Site!

September 4th, 2014

3 Easy Steps to Help with Your Site’s Bounce Rate

You’ve just taken a look at your Google Analytics and are more than a little dismayed to see that a majority of traffic to your site are exiting within a couple of seconds. This is called your bounce rate, and if you’ve got one that is around 50 percent, then you will want to take some action.

So why is your bounce rate even important?

Google examines your site’s bounce rate as a part of its search algorithm, and a high rate can drive down your page rankings. Moreover, if most people are leaving as soon as they get there, your site is most likely not doing what you’d hoped it would. Often this can be caused by your site’s pages loading slowly, which could definitely cause people to move on. But presuming you’ve got that in check, the following are three ideas to help you keep visitors from bouncing off your pages!

  • Employ videos - Video is demonstrated to be a beneficial factor in retaining people on your pages longer. Videos as well as other multimedia content can keep users engaged, increase traffic and possibly increase sales and other desirable actions. YouTube embeds can also help your search rankings both in YouTube and Google. It’s interesting how the exact same content of 1500 to 2000 words viewed in a video, audio or other multimedia fashion will result in a far different result.
  • Make your content more readable - Resist the urge to plop large chunks of content onto a web page. Break it down into shorter, more consumable paragraphs, and be sure to use subheads, bullet points and lists to split up the visual look of it. The prudent use of images will help you get your points across also, and are nice to see.
  • Have related content within your pages - It’s a good wager that you’ve got content on your site that is more than a little relevant to what you’re posting. Make sure you link to any other content on your site that people will find interesting, and give them a terrific reason to stick around. For people with a WordPress blog, this is often as simple as using a Related Post plugin.
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How to Use Google Analytics in Your Small Business

September 2nd, 2014

How to Use Google Analytics in Your Small Business

Many of us grasp using Google Analytics to find out how our marketing efforts are performing can be a key to unlocking future success. However many people are overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the data facing them. You need to begin by answering the right questions: what are my goals, and what do I need to know to achieve them. Google Analytics can indeed be a perplexing mountain of data to decode, and without a plan you can get lost very easily. Let’s take a look at some ways to learn which metrics to follow, and the way to use Analytics to your best advantage.

Understanding which metrics you need

While each business will have somewhat different needs, the most useful common needs follow.

  • Total visitors - The number of both “unique” (first time) visitors, and total visits, which includes returning visitors.
  • Keyword phrases - Which keywords are people inputting to get to your pages? This is critical data, and will enable you to learn how to target your marketing.
  • Most popular pages - See which of your pages are receiving the most visits.
  • Visitors country of origin - Where in the world are these people coming from.
  • Referral pages - Seeing which pages are driving traffic to your site is extremely valuable information. This could be from affiliates, video, images, social media and many more sources.
  • Search engines - Which of the search engines are delivering the most traffic to your pages.

Google Analytics advanced features to help decipher the data

Three advanced features are incredibly useful when it comes to deciphering and sorting the data.

Custom reports lets you craft a version of Analytics that suits your business specifically. You pick out the data that’s helpful to you, and organize it in whatever way you need to.

Advanced segmenting offers you the opportunity to view various segments of your traffic, like mobile or tablet traffic.

Intelligence events, much like Google Alerts, sends a notification your phone or email when anything significant happens on your website, such as an up or down spike in traffic.

Don’t make the mistake of not using Google Analytics. Spend some time to make it work for you!

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iPhone or iPad slow? Take these steps

August 28th, 2014

Does it take your iPad ages to play your favorite videos? Does your iPhone’s Web browser crawl through the Internet? The odds are that your iPad or iPhone are old. And when these products get outdated, they get sluggish. The good news? You don’t have to spend the big bucks on a new iPhone or iPad. As an alternative, you can try taking some simple actions to boost the speed of your slow devices. Lifehacker writer Whitson Gordon recently offered some tips.

No Updates

Gordon recommends first that if you have an old iPhone or iPad you avoid updating to the latest version of the iOS operating system. There’s a reason behind this: All of the new features that come with the latest operating system consume more resources, resources that your old device might not have.

Avoid Third-Party Apps

The more you depend on Apple’s own apps — say, by using Safari as opposed to Firefox to surf the Web — the faster your phone or iPad will work. Apple’s own apps are designed to run faster on your iPad and iPhone.

Freeing up Storage

Lastly, if your iPhone or iPad is too slow, it’s time to take a hard look at the music, videos and apps you have stored on your device. Whitson suggests erasing any apps, programs or music files that you seldom access. A bit of pruning from you could inject new life into your sluggish device.

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What Can You Do with a Six-Second Video?

August 26th, 2014

What Can You Do with a Six-Second Video?

If you’ve experienced any videos from the new Twitter platform, Vine, you’ve probably been quite fascinated by them, but perhaps also confused as to the best way to utilize this new platform. What it will take, is a clear idea of your idea! You’ve got a mere six seconds to deliver your message, so time is an issue!

How other businesses are making use of Vine videos

Vine has witnessed businesses produce some very innovative and striking videos since they’ve launched. Despite the time limitations, some businesses have embraced the platform and are creating Vines that are getting significant attention and views. The key to winning with Vine would be to emphasize the quirky, fun and new parts of the products or messages you want to feature. Nobody expects an epic film, but on the other hand, they do expect to be entertained! Some ways companies are using Vine videos include videos about new products or people, customer service messages, and human-interest pieces. Businesses of every size are finding cool ways to employ Vine videos.

Here are some examples:

Lowes home improvement store has created some incredibly popular Vines sharing quick tips for the home, in their #lowesfixinsix Vine videos.

Bacardi is using short videos to share their favorite drink recipes featuring their rum.

One of their competitors, Malibu Rum, dove right in and made some cool refreshing Vines of their own!

Taco Bell used Vine as an integral piece of the product launch for their Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos.

General Electric is using Vine to showcase innovative videos that share science in cool ways.

Clothing retailer The Gap is using it to tout their products, via a sort of online video catalog.

Let your imagination run wild!

Companies are employing Vine videos in many ways, from product introductions to people and company messages. The great thing is that these videos take almost no time and effort to produce. Go over to Vine and find out if this sounds like something that your company can use. It won’t take long!

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Be Funny, Sell More

August 21st, 2014

How to Use Humor to Connect with Your Audience

The great 19th Century Irish playwright and humorist Oscar Wilde uttered these last words: “Either this wallpaper goes, or I do.” Why some enterprising wallpaper company hasn’t used this is beyond me, however it does go to underscore the reality that humor sells. Humor effectively disarms people, often by getting them to see your point in a way they hadn’t considered before, and initiates a connection where you may have had a tough time creating some with your latest PowerPoint filed with facts. Art Linkletter told us that laughter is the best medicine, and he was spot on. It might be the cure for what ails your company as well! Let’s consider 4 ways to use humor in your small business marketing.

4 great ways to use humor in your marketing!

Use pop culture to your advantage - Jon Stewart and the rest of the late night crowd have made careers around this, so don’t be scared to use current events to spice up you offerings. It’s not necessary to be completely relevant to your product or service, (but the ones that tie it in well are rock stars!) but merely to get your reader/watcher smiling and in a good frame of mind from the start. Showing events in a humorous way can get your content shared faster than Lindsay Lohan skipping rehab.

Make a funny video - Portraying your products or services in a humorous light can get people anticipating your videos wondering what you will do next. Making these doesn’t really need to be a major production either, as many shoot them on their smartphones, which is by far enough camera. Another good tactic here is to use animated videos with services like GoAnimate or Xtranormal easy to use apps to make your videos quickly.

Create funny memes - Who hasn’t encountered these on Facebook and other social sites? Incorporating this idea with the millions of users on sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr is a recipe for ridiculous traffic numbers.

Use humor in your content - Don’t be timid with respect to getting a little edgy with your content. The payoff will be that people will see you as more like they are, and not simply some stodgy firm bent on selling them a product. The more you connect on a shared (and funny!) level, the better people will like you and share your site.

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