Check Out These 3 Way to Utilize Google Hangouts in Your Business

November 13th, 2014

Google Hangouts are a terrific platform for melding your online video marketing with your social media. Directly connected to your Google+ account, it has the advantage of being super easy to use, and fast. You can go online and create a Hangout, and begin broadcasting in minutes, and then after that find it uploaded to your YouTube channel for you! Sounds like a perfect business medium to me.

Not only that, they’re free of charge. This makes it easy to decide to use Hangouts at least in part for your business, but the question remains, how? Which ways are best incorporate this platform into my marketing mix quickly and easily?

Let’s have a look at 3 ways you can do just that!

3 Great Reasons to Incorporate Google Hangouts into your Business

Another choice for webinars - Using webinars in your small business can be cost-prohibitive, especially if you are using a state of the art platform like GoToWebinar, which can set you back over $500 if you have a decent sized audience. Hangouts, alternatively, are free to run and most of the heavy lifting is done for you, including the recording and rendering of the video. This can make it really easy to use Hangouts for webinars on the fly, customer service tutorials and more.

Showcase your business - Hangouts are a very simple way to get the word out about your business, showcase products and services, and even conduct a product launch. Introducing your business to a new market segment, neighborhood or audience is also a terrific use of the platform. The viral aspect to using a Hangout in colaboration with your social media channels, especially Google+ is a great way to extend beyond your own reach.

Customer engagement and service - The best feature of Google Hangouts as it pertains to a small business is the ability to connect with your audience in a very personal hands-on fashion that will lend itself greatly to your efforts to brand yourself in your market as a leader. Moreover, using a Hangout as a customer service tool, like holding a tutorial on how to best use one of your products, goes a long way toward establishing good will and social proof for your business.


How Will Local Search Be Impacted by Google Pigeon?

November 11th, 2014

Local search had been spared much volatility following the Hummingbird update last fall, but that’s all changed now with the Pigeon update.

The stated objective of this update is to more closely tie local results with what the standard web ranking signals now are. This is presumably done to make rankings more consistent, and increase the quality of the results. While it’s unclear whether it will succeed in those aims, there are a few ramifications that are clear, and the effects they are having is quite real for some local businesses.

Let’s have a look at 3 ways Pigeon is evidently impacting local search, and what if anything there is to do about it.

3 Initial effects Pigeon is having on local search

  • This is a win for the brand directories - If you happen to be a large brand directory such as Yelp, TripAdvisor or, you are enjoying the ride. These sites are seeing as much as a 10 percent rise in traffic and rankings, often appearing multiple times for a local search query.
  • A far smaller Google Map presence - The area covered in a Google Map listing for local has shrunk considerably, giving fewer businesses a shot at being included, and thus creating more room for more directory results. It also makes it more difficult for businesses located in the suburbs to find their way in there as well.
  • Down with the 7 pack - The 7-pack of local results has vanished for most search terms, only appearig for the most popular queries. Instead they’ve been replaced with a 3-pack of results or sometimes none at all. This results in a traffic loss for sites no longer in the 7-pack of around 16 percent a month! That should get your attention.

The Pigeon update still has a lot of shaking out to do, and there may be more adjustments to come, as there always are with this kind of algorithm shift. The best thing that local site owners can do at this point is make sure they are well-optimized in the local directory results, as that may be all you get for a while.


How to Come Up with Social Media Posts that Get Clicks

November 6th, 2014

Social media is a fantastic thing, and even though it may be a struggle to work it into your day, it can reap benefits that didn’t exist even a few years ago.

So after all the hassle to ensure that you’re posting regularly to your special mix of social media channels, you discover that these posts are not producing what you envisioned, namely clicks to whatever it is you want to send them to, you’re ready to pull out your hair and toss the entire social media initiative into the trash can.

So now what, should you junk it all? Absolutely not, instead use the following 3 tips to goose your social media audience into clicking on your links and heading where you want them to go!

3 Ways to get more clicks from your social media posts

Use calls to action - You’ll want to actively ask for the click and the share. Don’t just assume that because what you have waiting for them on the other side rocks that they’ll somehow know this and click. Tell them what to do! It’s not pushy, it’s marketing. Use the power of their subconscious to your benefit; people will often do just as instructed, if instructed.

Give them something to look at - These days all of us love to watch videos, look at images, pore over infographics and otherwise engage visually. Very often you can kill two birds with one stone with just the promise of a video or infographic that can be had for a click, which gets you both what you want.

What’s in it for me? - People need a compelling reason to click through. This is where you can make the decision easy for them by offering a valuable bribe that practically guarantees the click. The only way this doesn’t work is if your call to action is weak or nonexistent, or you don’t deliver real, relevant value. There’s nothing that will draw the wrath of a reader quicker than a marketer who is attempting to deceive, so make sure the bribe matches their interests.


Check Out These 10 Email Marketing Best Practices

November 4th, 2014

Keeping up with all of the trends in marketing can be a full-time task, and it’s no different with email marketing. Within the last several years there have been changes made that only make an already effective technique even more so. However like all business models, there are some best practices you’ll want to follow to get the best results possible. Let’s detail some of those for you here and now.

Here are what we consider ten best practices for email marketing right now

  1. Use short, attention grabbing subject lines - Avoid spam words, and make sure you are being bold without straying into untruth. Tell them what to expect.
  2. Mobile optimized emails - If you’re not mobilizing for mobile now, you’re missing out, as some 67 percent of all emails are now opened by way of a mobile device.
  3. Personalize the “From” line - Using an impersonal return address such as will probably get trashed.
  4. Use a call to action - Several, if possible. And make certain at least one of them is above the fold.
  5. Keep body of email short - Brevity is the clear winner these days, when everyone is pressed for time. Use short, clear paragraphs and text.
  6. Include videos and pictures - Visual content is extremely popular these days, and there is a lot of evidence that it converts far better than mere text.
  7. Benefits over features - No one wants to know the specific features of your gizmo or service; they want to know how it will make their life easier, and how fast!
  8. Don’t be a stranger, or a pest - Each audience in each market is different, but suffice it to say you need to mail enough to be front of mind in your market without being intrusive.
  9. Encourage and enable social sharing - Using social sharing effectively doubles your click through rate. Any more questions?
  10. Deliver valuable content - The best thing you can do to get better results from your email marketing is to consistently deliver awesome content. Doing so will brand you a star in your niche, and word will get around.

Check Out How You Can Utilize Visual Marketing to Energize Your Business

October 31st, 2014

One of the fastest growing segments of content marketing is a little something called visual marketing. Essentially this involves utilizing and optimizing images within content and as content, and then making the most of the enormous reach and viral nature of social media to spread this content all over the place.

The reasons behind why this works so effectively are well-documented. It’s known that the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and we retain 80 percent of visual content versus 20 percent of textual. For marketers, the rubber really hits the road when you discover that visual content drives 84 percent more views and 94 percent more clicks than text.

What are some best practices for visual marketing?

Employ large doses of social media - Who has heard of Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube? These social networks are excellent avenues for enabling you and others to share your visual content all over the place.

Make sure to add a visual aspect to your other content - Blog posts with images get clicked on far more than ones that don’t, and shares are correspondingly higher as well. There are several places to find great visuals, or you can create your own with resources like Canva and PicMonkey.

Be sure to optimize your visual content - Do your best to optimize your images and videos with keywords in the title if appropriate, and an specific description of the image or video. This makes a substantial difference in their ability to rank, and also for people to locate your content.

Use Slideshows and Infographics - Two very easy but extremely effective ways to utilize visual content is through the use of slideshows and infographics. These both are search engine favorites, and get loads of direct traffic and shares also.

Okay, let me provide you with one more bit of stunning data that will get you thinking: Did you know that the average Pinterest user clocks an average of 1 hour and 17 minutes on the site compared to 36 minutes on Twitter and 12.1 minutes on Facebook? Let’s hear it for visual content!


See 9 of Our Favorite Social Media Tools

October 30th, 2014

Choosing a social media tool set to handle the massive tasks before you is almost as bad as the problem it’s trying to fix. How to figure out which of these tools are really necessary, and what they can do for you can be difficult.

Clearly there is a need though, as keeping up with social media for your business is not for the faint of heart. It will take a well-thought out strategy, dedicated staff, and several well placed tools.

So let’s have a look at some of these social media tools, try to give you a clear picture of what they do, and if you need them.

9 Social media tools and why they’re remarkable

These tools cover many different areas and tasks. Assuming you’ve determined the social networks you’re concentrating on, there are some great tools here to help!

Tweetdeck - A fantastic tool for Twitter that organizes all of your Twitter activity onto one “deck”. This gives you the capability to see at a glance what’s happening.

SharedCount - Just how popular is your content? This tool shows you exactly how much play your content is receiving and where it’s being shared.

TweetReach - Another Twitter tools that shows you how far your Tweet is reaching, showing you data such as who is retweeting you and what their influence and reach is also.

LikeAlyzer - A pure Facebook analytics tool, this one gives you the ability to take an in-depth look at your Facebook pages and even gives suggestions on what you can do to improve them.

Klout - Klout collects information on your various social profiles and comes up with a popularity score of 1 to 100. What’s your Klout?

Mention - Would you like to know who and where your brand or name is being mentioned? This is the tool for that! It can track anywhere, and send it to you in an email once a day.

IFTTT - This very unique automation app works with over 90 different channels including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram to automatically update your services using “formulas” you concoct. (If this, then that)

Buffer - Buffer is an automation tool that permits you to schedule social media posts and updates to your accounts. Buffer currently covers Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn Twitter and more.

Hootsuite - The most well-known of these tools, Hootsuite is an incredible social media management tool that enables you to keep track of up to 100 accounts on many social media sites, all from one centralized dashboard.


Think Yelp Doesn’t Matter for Your Local Business? Think Again!  

September 25th, 2014

Reasons Why Yelp Is Still a Must for Small Business

You might have heard that Yelp was pretty much history, and it wasn’t important to your small business today. That was likely your competitor talking!

Yelp is still not just relevant but also essential for small business in this era of instant social signals spreading your reputation across the Web. To demonstrate this further we decided to share a ton of the reasons why your business should still concern yourself with Yelp. This ought to open your eyes about the opportunity that Yelp still presents.

10 great reasons to use Yelp

  • 90 percent of Yelp users state that positive reviews influence their buying choices, and most of those reviews are written ones.
  • 93 percent of people that conduct research on review sites typically buy things at the businesses they search.
  • There is an $8,000 average improvement in annual revenue for small businesses that use Yelp for their business.
  • There is a $23,000 average increase in revenues for those who chose to advertise on Yelp.
  • 77 percent of Yelp users report an improved focus on customer service after using Yelp.
  • Despite all of this, 87 percent of small businesses still haven’t embraced Yelp in a meaningful way.
  • Reviewers that praise your “customer service”: are more inclined to offer 5 star reviews.
  • Each star earned results in a 5-9% jump in revenues earned.
  • Yelp favors small businesses over large chains.
  • Yelp’s new “Call to Action” button can bring customers directly from your Yelp page to your website where a transaction can occur.

Review sites like Yelp offer a tremendous opportunity for small business. With so many consumers using online reviews and basing their shopping and purchasing decisions so heavily on them, it would be wise to take full advantage of such an obvious outlet for positive feedback regarding your site. In addition to that, the chance to promote, solidify, and engage about your brand is invaluable.


Give Your Visitors a Virtual Glimpse of Your Business with Google Business Photos

September 23rd, 2014

Google Business Photos – A Quick Path to Trust

One of Google’s latest offerings is the introduction of Google Business Photos. This is the virtual presentation of your place of business in a panoramic 360 degree picture located in search, your Google+ page or in Maps. You also have the option of embedding it on your site or social media properties.

How does Google Business Photos benefit you?

Implementing this can help you in a number of ways. First, it can help create more trust in searchers. They are able to see your business in all its glory, and get a feel for the type of place you have. It’s as if you’re welcoming them inside. Second, this program really makes your listings stand apart from the crowd. You may have done well and gotten yourself on the first page of Google, however this listing, featuring a panoramic shot of your business, will be by far the most interesting item on that page. Third, you’ll gain from the authority Google will assign your business. You’re going to be recognized as the primary site for your brand, which will help in many ways, not the least of which is reputation management.

How do you get started with Google Business Photos?

It’s tempting to run right out and start snapping away with your camera, but you should know that Google requires these images to be made by a Google Business Photos Trusted Photographer. That’s mouthful to say that these professional photographers have been trained in how to create these for Google. You need to hire one on your own, but it’s worth the cost, as they know how to present your business in a way that will work well on Google. You make the appointment, and then plan on “staging” your shoot. It usually takes about an hour or so, and Google wants to see as few humans in them as is possible, we’re talking ambience and atmosphere, minus people here.

If this looks like a great way to enhance your Google+ Local listing, then you need to get the ball rolling today!


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!


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!