Blog

May 26th, 2015

SocialMedia_May25_CBusinesses today rely on social media marketing to extend their online presence to potential customers. If you’re interested in social media marketing, chances are you already have a Facebook account to announce your company’s latest news and products. But when it comes to social media marketing, Twitter is another powerful tool to drive more traffic to your business and increase brand awareness. Still unsure of how to use Twitter to great effect in your marketing attempts? Here’s what you need to know.

Tweet regularly

Consistent tweeting indicates an active, healthy profile. If you only tweet only once a week, or worse still once a month, most of your followers will forget about you. You’ve worked hard to get them to follow you, so make an effort to keep them engaged by interacting with them on a regular basis. Make sure you tweet relevant or useful information, content your followers will read, retweet, and favorite. Come up with a tweet schedule and refer to it when you’re running out of ideas.

Follow trends

It pays to stay on top of the latest happenings in your industry. Try to put your business in the light by following relevant hashtags and trending topics. This way you’ll always have something new to share with your followers. Add trending hashtags to your tweets, in order to reach new users that have similar interests.

Use visuals

People tend to understand visual content more than text. You should try to create a dynamic experience for your Twitter audience by adding different types of media to your tweets, such as images and videos, which are proven to receive more views, clicks, and shares than plain-text tweets.

Retweet great content

Don’t be afraid to retweet when you see something worth sharing with your followers. Retweeting somebody else’s Twitter content has its own benefits - you create a good relationship with other influencers on Twitter, and it shows your followers that you’re an active member of your online community.

Track mentions

Know what’s being said about you by tracking brand mentions and keywords. This is a great method to provide distinctive customer service or to reach out to new customers. For instance, when someone is tweeting feedback on your products or services, take the opportunity to respond politely. And when you see someone tweet about their needs for a specific service you can provide, jump in to the conversation and introduce your company.

Integrate with other marketing efforts

Twitter is much more effective when integrated with your other marketing activities, such as email subscriptions. For example, if you’re running a promotion or contest via Twitter, let your email subscribers know about it, since they are another customer base who want to receive messages from you - that’s why they signed up in the first place.

If you want to implement Twitter to your business’s social media marketing campaigns, get in touch with us today and we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
May 6th, 2015

164_BizV_CWell, you created a business page for Facebook, you patted yourself on the back, kicked up your feet and waited for the flood of new business to come in. How’d that work out for you? Probably not so well. But this doesn't mean you should give up and turn your back on social media. This is a brave new world for all online businesses so you should expect a steep learning curve. To help you along, here are some tips about how to better track your social media ROI to see what’s working and what you should drop.

Why it’s difficult to track social media ROI

The reason many business owners find it difficult to track social media ROI is because they don’t understand the purpose of the platforms from the perspective of traditional marketing. It's all too easy to expect immediate payoffs and profits, not to mention increased business. But while social media itself moves and changes fast, businesses should remember it still takes time to increase brand recognition, build relationships and enhance a company's reputation, whatever the platform. It is brand recognition that produces more sales in the long run. So don't lose heart if you are not making progress in the first couple of months. If you play the longer game, you'll enjoy more success.

So how do you measure ROI?

It comes down to tracking everything you can, including:
  • Online purchases
  • Online contact forms
  • Video views
  • E-book Downloads
  • Social interactions (this includes Facebook likes, Twitter follows and more)

To track these, you can use any or all of the three methods below.

Tagging Urls

Tagging a URL is basically adding a “tag” or more characters/words to the end of the original URL. Below are two examples of a normal URL and tagged URL:

Normal URL: www.AllstarIT.com/harddrive.html.

Tagged version of the same URL: www.AllstartIT.com/harddrive.htm?utmcampaign=BannerAdharddriveAd&utm_small=BannerAd

Adding this tag allows you to easily track which of your social media campaigns are producing the desired results. Without doing this, you run the risk of of all your social media visitors being recognized as organic, rather than ones that have come from a specific campaign or strategy you’re implementing. An excellent tool to build your unique URL is Google’s URL builder.

Google Analytics

This is the most obvious strategy for tracking your social media campaigns, and Google has long been the market leader in tracking the success of online marketing. A Google Analytics account can be set up in a matter of minutes, and then makes it easy to track your campaigns. Go to Acquisition and then check All Referrals. Here you’ll see where people are discovering your site - be it a Google organic search or social media network.

Call Tracking

Call tracking is often used to track the ROI from Facebook ad campaigns, though it can also be used on other social media platforms. This tactic allows you to measure how many phone calls you are getting from your customers on social media sites.

To do this you list a different phone number on a particular social media page than on your business website. For example, if the number listed on your business website is 763-984-6577, you instead list 763-984-6555 for the social media page you’re tracking. By seeing how many people call the number listed on the social media page, you’ll gain a better understanding of how effective that particular page or ad is. If it’s effective, you’ll know to use whatever methods are working from this page or ad in your other social media efforts.

Want more ideas on how to measure social media ROI or to get more value out of your IT investments? Get in touch today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 14th, 2015

InternetSocialNetworkingandReputationManagement_Mar13_CDoes figuring out how to grow a social media audience for your business leave you scratching your head? Do you wonder if it even matters if you have a social media presence in the first place? If you’re asking yourself these questions, then look no further. Here’s why social media is important, along with some key tips that will grow your audience and get your business the attention it deserves.

Why social media is a must for marketing your small and medium business Social media is at the forefront of the “soft sell” revolution. In fact, social media advertising can sometimes be such a soft sell that, when you’re on the receiving end, you may not even know you’re being sold anything in the first place. For example, you may have a friend who posts fun articles from their blog or pictures of their artwork (that they actually make a profit from) on Facebook. You may enjoy their content so much that you decide to share it and pass it along to friends and family. Know what you just did? You just became a marketer for their business. That simple share may just have garnered them a new customer and more profits.

This is why it’s an absolute must to carve out your piece of the pie in social media. You’ll grow your fanbase, and potentially create a following of loyal supporters who are happy to market your business - some of whom won’t even be aware they’re doing it. Here are a couple of tips on how to grow your social media audience.

Publish content

Every piece of content you publish is an advertisement for your business, regardless of whether you’re directly selling a product or sharing fun information. Not only that, but if you publish valuable content often, your readers will know you’re a reliable go-to source for information on your topic. That leads to a good reputation, people spreading the word about you and, consequently, referrals. You’ll grow your fanbase and online presence simultaneously.

Be human, be genuine

Trust is key. To become a player in social media, your audience needs to trust you. And if you want long term success in social media, that trust needs to be genuine. People can smell a faker, even over the Internet.

So be human and genuine with your customer interaction and published content on social media. If you do, you’ll develop a fan base that truly loves you and will be spread the word about your business without being prompted.

Think about it, how many times have you recommended a business that you love to one of your friends or family? When you did this, you didn’t believe you were marketing someone’s brand, but helping your friend or family member out. You wouldn’t have done this if you didn’t trust this business or believe their product or solution to be genuine.

Give back

To take the point above a step further, why not do a community service project in your local city or town? This gives you an opportunity to document the experience on social media. As mentioned above, this content is free advertising. And if you do something that is unique and genuinely helps your community, people are likely going to share it - growing your fan base in the process. In the end not only do you win, but also your fans and community.

Want more social media tips to help you garner an outstanding online reputation? Get in touch and see how we can assist.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 13th, 2013

2013Nov12_BusinessValue_CTesting is an integral part of any project. It usually  happens near the end of the development cycle and is important in helping businesses figure out what works best and what customers will react best to. One of the more common tests used by companies the world over is the A/B test. While invariably useful, is it really all it's cracked up to be?

A/B tests defined

The concept behind A/B testing is to release two different versions of  what is being developed, to see which performs best. This can cover a wide variety of business processes from traditional direct marketing to websites and even email marketing.

A good example of A/B testing would be developing an email marketing campaign where two different versions of an email are sent out with the goal of getting people to visit a page on your website. Version A may have slightly different content and images from version B, and half of your list would receive A with the other half receiving B. You then track the responses and visits to your site to see which version has worked better.

The information gained from this type of testing can then be used to improve future email campaigns or products and zero in on what is really effective in getting clients to do what you want.

A/B tests can actually vary in purpose. The most common being testing the difference between two versions of the same idea. Other times version A is a current version, while B contains improvements and is sent out to gauge customer reactions to these new developments.

What benefits can a business gain from A/B tests?

Compared with other testing methods, A/B testing offers four concrete benefits:

  1. It's cheap - While it may incur costs developing different versions, most of the time this is fairly minimal, with small differences between them. And, when it comes to testing, you can usually just split the groups in half, with no need to develop completely new groups for each version. Finally, when the test is complete and data has been gathered, it is usually not time consuming or costly. You can usually just decide to use the one that performed the best - with little need to invest in any big changes.

  2. It can accurately measure performance differences - A/B testing makes it easy to measure performance differences between two options. You really just have to collect the relevant data and then compare the results. Beyond that, this type of testing makes it easy to measure the difference between two options, even if this is small.

  3. It measures actual behaviour - During the development stage, it can often be difficult to accurately guess how products or different versions will fare when released to the public. By employing A/B testing, real customers are the ones who are testing, so you can better judge and see how your target market will react. This can go a long way in helping you create desirable products and services that will be well received.

  4. It can resolve trade offs - When unsure about wording, strategy and outcomes you can conduct an A/B test to see which option works best. A good example of this is offering a coupon. Do you offer it in the email or do you put a code on your site? If you include this in an email, other customers may react negatively if  they don't get the same discount. A/B testing can help you figure out what style works best, while minimizing problems.

When should they be used?

When A/B tests are used correctly, they can be a valuable tool in helping you add value to your business. That being said, they aren't great for all types of testing situations. In general, A/B tests are most successful when they are applied to projects with these three parameters:

  1. There must be only one clear goal - A/B tests work best when there is only one goal or outcome to measure. For example, which version of an email gets the most clicks, or which page gets the most amount of visitors clicking on a 'call to action'. If you try to measure more than one goal at a time, the results can get complicated.

  2. The outcome must be measurable - If you cannot measure an outcome easily from this type of test, then you likely won't be able to pick an option that works best. For example, it is difficult to easily measure satisfaction from A/B tests compared to what customers prefer.

  3. Designs need to be complete - A/B testing works best when you have a complete, or near complete, product, email, etc. The key here is to conduct A/B testing and possibly make minor changes to implement the option that provided the better results. The options are viewed to then be the final version employed.

If your project meets these requirements, then A/B testing will likely be useful and could help you improve your business profitability. To learn more about harnessing and gathering data from these and other types of testing, please contact us today.


Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 26th, 2013

BusinessValue_July22_CBusinesses of all sizes are becoming increasingly invested in social media. One of the reasons for this is because they have seen how content that has gone viral has helped increase the name and value of brands and spread a marketing message. Businesses looking to replicate this usually have no idea about how to go about viral marketing though. However, there are actually tips you can follow to make your content more likely to go viral.

If you are looking to create content that has a higher chance of going viral, there are a number of key things you should be aware of.

Why content goes viral Before creating content that will hopefully go viral, you need to be aware of how and why content goes viral in the first place. At first glance, it would appear that this is determined simply on luck alone. In truth, however, although luck can be a factor this is only part of the reason. Content goes viral because it's shareable. Think of the last time you were told about a viral video or ad. Chances are, you heard about it on social media, and if you didn't the person who told you likely heard about it from there.

So, in order to go viral, content needs to be shareable, but not all content is share worthy. The question is, how do you create content that people will want to share? There are four factors you need to incorporate:

1. Content needs to be seen to be unique The vast majority of viral content is unique, as it often offers something new. If viewers of your content get the feeling that what they are reading is something different, they will be, a) more willing to consume it, and b) more apt to share it, if they like it. An important reality to realize is that most content on the Internet is not wildly original - someone has done something like it before. Therefore, if you read an article or see a video that interests you, maybe try thinking how you can improve on this and make it more interesting, relevant and practical for your audience. The content likely won't go viral world-wide, but it could go viral amongst your viewership, which is what's important, as this consists of your customers and potential customers.

2. People share what makes them look/feel smart There is a term associated with social media - social currency - that defines how a piece of content will make the sharer look. For the most part, content that makes the sharer look better, smarter and like they have something to contribute will be shared at a higher rate.

3. Content needs to be a trigger In general, humans rely on triggers for action. These triggers are stimuli, like sight and sound that evoke memory and association with products. A good example of this in action happened during the 2013 Super Bowl, where the stadium lights went out for the better part of half an hour. Because it was dark, people didn't know what to do. Oreo tweeted a picture that said, "You can still dunk in the dark." This tweet was retweeted over 10,000 times in less than an hour - going instantly viral. This was a clear message that it is highly likely that the next time this happens at a sporting event, people will remember Oreo. What Oreo managed to do was capitalize on a trigger - it's dark, reach for an Oreo.

In other words, if you can create content that capitalizes on common triggers, there is a higher chance that your content will go viral.

4. Content needs to be consistent It is important to realize however, that not all content will go viral; there is still some aspect of luck involved. To further improve the chances of your content going viral, you should strive to be consistent. What this means is posting on a regular basis and ensuring that whatever you post is consistent quality wise. If you do this, your content will come to be seen as valuable over time, and more likely to be shared.

If you take small steps to make your content generally more shareable, you will see the number of shares increase, bringing about more business, or at the very least cementing your brand image and reputation.

Looking for more ways to get your business name out there? Contact us today and we'll share our ideas with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 26th, 2009

twitterTwitter, the microblogging service used by CNN, Oprah and none other than President Obama seems to have taken the world by storm, and is fast becoming an indispensable tool for many small and midsized businesses as well

Twitter allows company owners to share short “tweets” or posts a maximum of 140 characters each to give quick, live updates to “followers” on the Twitter service. A few days ago, the Wallstreet Journal published an interesting article on how Twitter has become a life saver for many business owners in a crisis. One company used the service to update customers when their website went down because of a hacker. Another study from Warrillow, a consulting firm, says that small businesses are also using the service to search for deals and promotions online. In fact, according to the company, they use the service a whopping 7 times more than other social networks.

It’s interesting to learn the many ways that businesses are using services such as Twitter to their advantage. How about your business? Are you using it as well? Let us know!

Related articles:

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
October 2nd, 2009

social networkingSocial Networking websites are usually associated with consumer services such as MySpace and Facebook. But did you know that there are literally dozens of social networking websites out there specifically targeted toward businesses? InsideCRM.com’s editors have compiled a list of the top “50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs a Presence on” which is available online at their website.

This list is divided into five categories:

  1. Social-Media or Social-Bookmarking Sites, which allow users to share their favorite websites or track and vote upon various online articles and resources.
  2. Professional networking sites, which allow networking among organizations and individuals for business purposes.
  3. Niche sites, which target a specific community of users in a particular industry, profession, or with specific shared interests.
  4. General social media sites, which have business applications such as the popular Twitter service.
  5. Job sites, which are geared towards recruitment and talent management.

Head out to InsideCRM.com to find out more.

Related articles:

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
September 19th, 2009

More SMBs usingA recent study by the Kelsey Group reveals that more small and midsized businesses are using digital media, specially the Internet, to promote or advertise their business. Their study, conducted with research partner ConStat, indicates that the penetration of digital/online media increased from 73 percent in August 2008 to 77 percent in August 2009, while that of traditional media such as TV, radio, and print decreased from 74 percent to 69 percent during the same period.

This is a clear indicator that the Internet has become an important source for many businesses to generate and manage their business. Potential business can come anywhere – from their website, queries in search engines, online ads, and lately even social networking sites. According to the study, for businesses that track lead sources, the percentage that does so using the Internet has increased from 22 percent in 2008 to 30 percent in 2009.

Although the Internet can often be a scary for many SMB’s and their prospects place with threats such as spam, malware, phising, and more, this study reveals that it is still a source of tremendous value for those who know how to use it effectively.

Related Information:

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
September 10th, 2009

I read a very interesting article in this month’s Wired magazine (which can also be found online) about the “MP3 effect”; i.e. the current trend towards cheap and simple being good enough.

It’s been coined the “MP3 effect” because MP3s are a classic example of the principle in practice: Digital music files have become popular to the point where traditional studios have had to rethink how they distribute music or risk declining sales, even though CDs offer a far superior sound quality to MP3s. As the article says, “we now favor flexibility over high fidelity”.

Topic Articles
August 31st, 2009

email_marketingEntrepreneur magazine columnist Gail Goodman offers an insightful look into email marketing and its relevance in today’s social network marketing-crazy world. She argues that despite the rise of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogging, and other Web 2.0 tools for direct marketing, she argues that they will not likely displace email soon.

Goodman points out several arguments in support of her case. Among them: email is still valuable for relationship-building and meaningful interaction and dialogue with customers. Also, social networking has its place as a complementary channel to the marketing mix, and research from MarketingSherpa seems to bear this out. Another is that young people continue to use email despite their fascination with social networking sites.

If you rely on Internet, email, or direct marketing in your business, then be sure to continue using email as well.

Related articles:

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles