5 Ways To Add Social Proof To Your Website

5 Ways To Add Social Proof To Your Website

5 Ways To Add Social Proof To Your Website

Social ProofThe term Social Proof seems to be popping up more and more in relation to brands and marketing, although the concept itself is far from new. For those of you who haven’t come across it, Social Proof is the positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something.

According to Wikipedia, “Social proof is a type of conformity. When a person is in a situation where they are unsure of the correct way to behave, they will often look to others for cues concerning the correct behaviour. When “we conform because we believe that other’s interpretation of an ambiguous situation is more accurate than ours and will help us choose an appropriate course of action,” it is informational social influence.”

So how does this relate to your business? Put simply, people want to see that others have worked with you, or bought from you, or would recommend you. They want to know that they are not a guinea pig for your services, and if they can see that other people have been there and done that, it makes it an easier decision for them to go ahead and do it too.

Leveraging Social Proof on your website is a great way to help you influence buyers, improve your conversion rates and enhance your reputation at the same time. There are plenty of ways you can achieve this, here are my top 5.

  1. Reviews

Product reviews are something we’re all really familiar with. They’ve become part and parcel of the way we buy. Think about some of the biggest sites on the internet: Amazon, Trip Advisor, eBay; they are all well known for promoting products via other peoples’ reviews. Whether you’re buying a holiday, a car or a blender the chances are you will look that product up online and see what has been said about it.

If your business sells products, then you need to make sure there are some reviews of those products for your other customers to read

  1. Testimonials

A testimonial from someone can have incredible power over other potential buyers. They show that you can be trusted and that you are approachable because other people who are independent of your business are telling them to choose you. Video testimonials can be particularly persuasive as the person watching the video can get a real sense of how genuine your business is. Well placed, well worded testimonials on your website can leave a lasting impression over and above any other words you’ve written.

  1. Case Studies

Case studies take testimonials to a whole other level, offering a more in depth look at a particular relationship. Buyers, especially those considering a more expensive purchase, or those thinking about embarking on a longer term working relationship with you want to be able to envision the entire process from start to finish. Case studies that take people on a journey of what to expect, perhaps even including a few bumps in the road, can prove to potential partners that you are in it for the long haul. By showing that you have established good long term relationships with existing customers from a similar background to your prospect’s  you are enabling those prospects to picture themselves working with you too.

  1. Endorsements

In certain situations finding someone to endorse your brand can work wonders for attracting new customers by positively impacting your brand. A local Celebrity, business leader or other well known figure who is happy to lend their name and a few comments to your website or marketing collateral can mean that they also bring their fans and followers to your brand too. By having a big name associated with your business you will be seen as a leader, which is the kind of powerful social proof that many brands aspire to. If an endorsement sounds like something you’d like to do, think carefully about who your ideal customer is and choose a figurehead that represents both you and them. An endorsement from an inappropriate name will only confuse your customers and may even turn some people off.

  1. User Generated Content

User generated content is any content that is posted by your customers. It might be your Dental patients posting pictures of their new smile to Facebook, or someone mentioning your Estate agency in a picture of them getting their new house keys. User generated content, particularly image and video is fantastic as it shows real interaction with your brand. One way to encourage this is to ask people make a short video and post it to YouTube, or to ask people who visit to check in on Facebook. If you run any kind of event then make sure to let people know that you have a hashtag for it.

It’s not always easy to get people to interact with your business, but if you persevere you’ll find that the more people who join in, then the easier it will get. Few people want to be seen as the only one liking something, or to be the only one with their name on your website. Flip that around, and if you have photographs of 20 happy customers who have all left great reviews of you online, then more people will want to join in with that.

Social Proof is all about people and relationships, and if you invest in your customers with a great service then they will be happy to share your business with their friends and family. Every single person you interact with has the potential to tell others. What will they say about you?

Brand Reputation Management in the Age of Digital

Brand Reputation Management in the Age of Digital

Brand Reputation Management in the Age of Digital

Online brand reputation management is something that many businesses don’t think about until they stumble across or become alerted to negative comments about their business online.

It often comes to light when searching for your business online that you notice some strange results, anything that could include blog comments, forum posts to whole articles dedicated to your business with bad reviews, negative sentiments or complaints.

brand reputation management

The alarm bells start ringing, you start to panic and worry about what impact these negative results are having on your business and how it could impact your brand in the future.

That’s where online brand reputation management steps in.

Online brand reputation management involves thorough research into what content, positive and negative, is currently accessible to the searching public. Once this is determined, a strategy needs to be devised that includes removal, where possible, of negative or off brand content, either through negotiation, mediation or providing more relevant content for the search engines to list.

For those comments that are from genuinely dissatisfied customers, simply responding and asking for the opportunity to make things right can be the greatest form of online reputation management as it portrays honesty, accountability and a willingness to rectify the situation.

Of course, not all situations can be resolved amicably, especially if the problem has had time to escalate into something bigger and this can result in a more concerted effort to find a solution that the client is happy with.

Everything discussed so far concerning reputation management has been reactive. By that, it is reacting to something that has already happened. The key to long term success with online brand reputation is to work fastidiously to promote good working practices and excellent customer service attitudes throughout your entire organisation.

By putting your customer front and centre of everything you do, you are being proactive about your brand reputation and this will be reflected in the positive feedback that your business receives online.

When you get into the position of exciting your customers through your excellent service and you get the feedback to prove it, make sure that you share those positive stories with as many people as possible by letting everyone online know how great other people think your business is.

Share your positive feedback through social media, write blog posts, produce a press release and syndicate across local and national news sites. The more internet real estate your business claims that paints your business in a positive light, the better it will be when those who know nothing about your business and are looking for reassurance before becoming a partner of yours.

3 Golden Rules of Online Brand Reputation Management

Work on Building a Positive Brand from Day One

brand reputation management

One of the most valuable assets for any business is their brand. Be synonymous with customer excellence, great value and great service and you will see the benefits online and offline. A business that has ten great, positive stories online versus a business that has two negative reviews will get more new clients through the door. Be proactive and see every new client as a long term business partner who will be happy over time to introduce their friends and family.

Make the Most of the Internet to Share Your Clients Positive Stories

There are many ways that your client’s comments, stories and feedback can be distributed on the internet. Embrace them and make sure that the positive sentiment about your business is being heard all across the internet.

Be Alert to What is Being Said About You.

You can do everything in your power to promote customer excellence but there will always be someone that you can’t satisfy. When it happens and the negative comment does appear, don’t panic, don’t sensor the comment, simply make it clear to prying eyes that you will do everything you can to rectify the situation.

Online brand reputation management is important to all businesses, not just celebrities, politicians and high profile individuals. It’s so easy for your clients and competitors to publish content online these days that it is in your best interests to be proactive, promote excellence and deal with negative issues in a timely and courteous manner.

Writing a Press Release that Makes a Bold Statement

Writing a Press Release that Makes a Bold Statement

Writing a Press Release that Makes a Bold Statement!

writing a press release

PR is all about getting positive, fact-based stories about your company, its brand, its products and its people appearing in the media. But it is also about fending off and managing negative stories and potential bad press. Online PR is now right at the centre of the marketing story because online reputation has never been so important.

Press releases are a great way to get your business both increased exposure online and to generate good one way links.

When writing a press release it is important to remember to:

Include a punchy title

Unless the headline is sexy and compelling in itself you will never attract readers, let alone get the reader to click on and read the entire press release.

Include contact details in case any further information is required

If you have presented the news in a way that sparks curiosity then give that reader every way to contact and get more information. Name, address, telephone, email. Make sure they are all included and more importantly make sure there will be someone on the other end to answer replies and build relationships.

Ensure you include targeted keywords

People read content, not search engines, so make sure that your keywords don’t detract from the message that you are trying to convey. Yes, include keywords in the title, in the body of the text and use the keywords you are trying to rank your website for as anchor text but don’t do this to the detriment of the copy. The priority when writing a press release is to make sure the copy is great and compels readers to get in touch.

Ensure it is newsworthy and if possible tie it into something current

When writing your press release, remember there are a lot of competing companies out there who want to get their company some free publicity too. Make sure that the news that you put out is worthy of getting to the top ahead of your competition’s.

Ensure it is free of typos and grammatical errors.

If you are sending your press release to an editor and it has not been checked, double checked and triple checked for typos and grammatical errors, the chances are it will not make the press. Editors can’t tolerate poor work, and neither should they have to. Give the editor the courtesy of making sure your press release is perfect.

Spin?

It’s nothing more than putting your best slant on what you have got. You are expected to dramatise things, of course, but don’t lie. And remember not to that say that something is “Amazing”, “the best in the country” or “spine chillingly great” unless other people already say so. Filling a press release with too many superlatives might alert the editor to your release being an advert more than a news item.

Never Assume

Press releases are a necessary evil, which more often than not get binned by journalists because they are boring or blatant pieces of selling. Never assume that a press release itself is good enough to be syndicated in the news.

Some ideas for newsworthy press release content;

  • New website or significant upgrade
  • New office opening
  • New Executives
  • Free consultations, trial offers and samples
  • Expert opinion on trending topic in your industry

Five final tips on writing a press release.

  1. Keep them brief and always support them with good material – photographs, research and contacts.
  2. Get them in the hands of the right person – better still, someone you know and are building relationships with.
  3. If possible make them exclusive – especially if it is an interesting story.
  4. See things from the journalists view point. They want to look good. Help them by providing them with something that is new, edgy, funny or interesting. Make it look as if it is for them and not for you.
  5. Local press want to fill their pages. Indulge this need by giving them great pictures and well written material. They will be grateful. A local slant is always helpful.

Ultimately, when it comes to writing a press release don’t be shy. If you have a great story to tell then tell it, print it, make it look important, publish (online, in print or both) and be proud, be praised and be prepared to attract more attention for your business.

How to Make Your Online Branding Brilliant.

How to Make Your Online Branding Brilliant.

How to Make Your Online Branding Brilliant.

online brandingFor many small or local businesses it’s not always easy to stand out from the crowd, particularly when almost any company you can think of already has a Facebook page, or a Twitter feed. Unfortunately, it takes more than regular social media updates to really make sure you stick in peoples’ minds; you need to create a brand personality that people will recognise, trust and enjoy hearing from time and again.

As every business and every brand is different you need to figure out what features best highlight your own brand. This is not always an easy task and is something that has made and lost fortunes for brand experts and marketers, at the same time many businesses can’t afford to spend the money or resource on expert help.

So how do small or local businesses make their mark in the crowded world of online marketing?

Here are 10 brilliant branding tips!

Remember your brand is valuable

Marketing and branding can sometimes be overlooked by small businesses who think of them as an unnecessary expense. If this is your attitude, then think again. Your brand image is one of your most important business tools. Online Branding is crucial, as for many people a quick internet search will be how they are introduced to your business. How much would it mean to you if everyone who visited your website became a customer? Probably quite a lot!

Protect your reputation

Anyone can write reviews or opinions of your business on the internet, and while some of these may be great, there may be a whole host of criticism out there on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ that is scaring potential clients away from you before you’ve even been in touch with them. Likewise, if people are saying good things about you then wouldn’t it be great to have those comments where everyone can see them? Set up searches or alerts to monitor your brand reputation online and make sure that if your business is mentioned, for good or bad, that you know about it and can address it.

Highlight your USP

Why should customers come to you and not your competition? Every business should have a Unique Selling Point, or a way to attract new clients. It might be that you do a great bespoke service, or you do home visits, or you have great aftercare – or it might be that you can be found at the top of the search engines while your biggest competitor is at the bottom of page 2!

Flaunt your size

Some people love the security of going with a big firm. Others like to know that they’re getting the personal touch of working with a small business. It might be that your small firm is just as good, if not better, than the international multi-million pound turnover business that does a similar job. Highlight exactly why you are proud of your size and make it part of your brand. Customers like to know what to expect, so if you’re a one man band then let them know why that works so well for you, or if you’re a small business with plans to grow then let your customers know that they are part of that.

Create a Buzz

online branding

It’s natural for people to talk about what’s interesting, so give people interesting things to talk about. The more your brand is talked about, the more people will hear about your name, and the more the word will spread, but it all has to come from somewhere. Whether you create a buzz by doing competitions, open days, offers, creating valuable content online or talking about new products or events, just try and get people talking about your brand. Try introducing a hashtag on Twitter, or joining conversations on Facebook.

Stay Relevant

No-one is interested in yesterday’s news. If you notice a lack of engagement from your customer base, then maybe what you are putting out isn’t entirely relevant to them. Understand exactly who your customers are and what they like. Use this information to make sure you’re hitting the right note with them. Read up on new trends within your industry, write opinion pieces, ask questions, or collect feedback. The more interesting and relevant you are, then the more people will choose to come back to you for further insights and the more likely they are to think of you when the time comes to buy.

Be an Expert

There is nowhere to hide with online branding. If someone asks you a question online then it’s in the public domain. Make sure that there isn’t anything you don’t know about your business or niche. If you don’t know an answer immediately, make sure you look it up and get straight back to the customer. Research your competitors, make sure your products and services are still relevant and needed, make sure your pricing is in line with market expectation and ensure that information on your small business website or blog is accurate. If you are not an expert in what you do, then customers will see right through you and move on to someone who can answer their questions.

Don’t lose Focus

online branding

You can’t and won’t get everything right all of the time. It can be easy to spend hours on end responding to comments on Social Media, or to get distracted when trying to write a blog. Try setting a time limit for getting each task done and forcing yourself to move on when you reach that time. Similarly, if something hasn’t been working and you realise you’re losing focus on the main goals then take a step back and re-evaluate.

Stick to your Values

Whatever brand image you try to create make sure you stick to it and replicate it across all of your online media. While each social network might naturally encourage a different style of follower you need to make sure that everything you do online reflects the true voice and values of the brand that you’re working so hard to promote.

Always try to improve

The internet changes and grows every day. Even if something works really well for you today, you might notice that in 6 months it doesn’t work at all. There are many household name brands that have been unable to keep up with the times, change and adapt as necessary in order to stay at the forefront of their marketplace. Don’t let this happen to you!

The last word on online branding is YOURS. Leave a comment below and share it with everyone.

Behaving Like a RAT Online Is a Good Thing!

Behaving Like a RAT Online Is a Good Thing!

Behaving Like a RAT Online Is a Good Thing!

online bradingPeople do business and buy from people that they know, like and trust. This has and always will be the case. So how can you position yourself online as someone who is authentic, knowledgeable and trustworthy to capitalise both financially and personally from the growing consumer demand for online services.

Berelevant online Brandingelevant.

It is nigh on impossible to be an authority on a plethora of subjects. Yes, there are people in this world who are so gifted that they can speak openly, candidly and with authority on many subjects but they are few and far between. The best way to make an impact online, and I mean really stand out from the hundreds of millions of others looking to do the same, is to be an authority in just one niche.

Don’t see this as limiting your potential: it is not. Check that a niche has an audience before you get started and then do everything you can to be seen as a thought leader. Write thought provoking articles about the subject, produce a video series, challenge some existing practices in the niche and introduce your own ideas. But most of all stay relevant.

If the niche is Dalmatian training techniques then talking about five star trips to Costa Rica is not relevant. Unless of course you held a Dalmatian training summit on the beach….

Stick with what you know.

Be anAuthority Marketinguthority

Of the entire internet community, 90% of people read content, 9% of people edit or curate content and only 1% of the internet community actually create content. Be one of the minorities, differentiate yourself from the crowd. Have an active voice, connect with other content creators and influencers by creating valuable content that is thought provoking and original.

The more relevant content you create, the greater the chance you have of people finding it, engaging with you and becoming part of your online community.

Seek out opportunities to provide content on other highly targeted and well visited websites. By doing this you will be able to highlight your knowledge, experience and thought leadership to others who are interested in your niche but may never have found your online portfolio.

Don’t be afraid of giving away too much, a well written piece that gives sound advice, some simple to follow tips that anyone can do or a thorough and in depth explanation into a process used within your industry will only stand to increase your stature, highlight your authority on the subject and make you stand out as a thought leader.

Be Be Trustworthyrustworthy

One of the biggest concerns of users online is who to trust. In fact that is not just online that is anybody in any relationship, personal or business. In order to conduct business with someone you need to be able to like them and trust that they will deliver on exactly what they say they can.

Make it easy for people to find and connect with you. Develop a brand where people can recognise you regardless of the platform it may be on. The more often people see your brand over the internet, the more likely they are to take the time to stop, take notice of what it is you do and how it can benefit them and more importantly, connect with you.

Take the time to interact and listen to people. Yes, people are using the internet to market their products and services but try talking about and listening to others. Future clients may be able to relate to the conversations and stories, this will help develop trust and they may then take the time to interact with you

Establishing your authority and personal branding online is not an opportunity to create something you are not. It is about highlighting your strengths, exposing the value that you can offer others and differentiating yourself from the masses. If you do this right then your business and brand will attract the targeted business partners to you.

15 Reasons Why Social Media Should Be Part of Your Online Marketing Strategy.

15 Reasons Why Social Media Should Be Part of Your Online Marketing Strategy.

15 Reasons Why Social Media Should Be Part of Your Online Marketing Strategy.

Whether you love or loathe Social Media in your personal life, it should be something you make an effort to get to grips with for your business. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these 15 facts.

1. In order to save 25% or more, 67% of customers will like a Facebook page and 17% will tweet or retweet a deal.

2. Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing

Social media and inbound marketing

3. Social media users who receive excellent customer service from brands spend on average 21% more than non-social customers

4. 74% of brand marketers saw an increase in website traffic after investing just 6 hours per week on social media

5. People are 25% more likely to buy a product that they would be proud to own if it has social media buttons next to it

6. 20% of Facebook users have purchased something because of ads or comments they saw there.

7. In an analysis of more than 60 Facebook marketing campaigns, 49% reported a return on investment of more than five times, while  70% had a return on investment greater than three times.

8. 53% of active adult social networkers follow a brand

social media and branding

9. Internet users spend 22.5% of their online time social networking

10. 91% of online adults use social media regularly

11. 44% of marketers have acquired customers via Twitter

social media and twitter

12. 55% of consumers share their purchases socially on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social sites

13. 77% of B2C companies and 42% of B2B companies have acquired customers through Facebook

14. Brands have seen a 46% increase in user engagement with the new Timeline format in Facebook?

15. Facebook users generate 2.5 times more page views than Twitter and almost twice as many as Pinterest (FB 7, Pinterest 4.1, Twitter 2.7) There you have it, pretty powerful numbers to convince even the most sceptical of social media users.

What are your thoughts on Social media for business? Have you noticed any particular trends from using it within your own business? Let us know! 

 

 

 

 

Sources

 

The Benefits of Social Media and Why it Matters.

The Benefits of Social Media and Why it Matters.

The Benefits of Social Media and Why it Matters

benefits of social mediaAs a business owner you can be inundated with activities that eat into your time and there are certainly many tasks that take priority over social media: winning new business, satisfying customer needs, fulfilling orders, working with suppliers and doing the books to name but a few. With all of these activities demanding your attention, why does social media for business really matter today?

You Can Build Relationships

By leveraging social media for your business you provide a platform, a community, where your customers can come together and engage with you as well as with each other to share the news about your blossoming social media presence. You can quickly build a community around your brand that is both engaging and cost effective.

You Can Get Valuable Customer Insights

Social media channels have analytics tools available. You will be able to track the number of interactions with fans and see exactly what your audience looks like in terms of key demographics, gender, age, location and more.

It helps Your Search Engine Optimisation.

Once your content is shared via Social Media, those links are there to stay. Even better, if people do visit your site and share that information with their friends, you’ll then have more links coming back into your site. Search Engines love links, and the more valuable links they see coming back to your site, then the higher up the Search Rankings you go. If a piece of content has been shared amongst the social media community, Retweeted and liked, you’re likely to notice more search engine referrals for it as well.

Social Media Provides Great Brand Exposure.

By keeping up with your social media campaign you are giving your brand great exposure. If you find that you get a positive response on social media sites, but can’t translate this into referrals, then there’s nothing wrong with asking why. Reaching out and connecting with people is one of the core foundations of social media. The more you ask the more you can learn and can put into practice the next time around.

It Can Enhance Your Reputation

Make a point to monitor the social networks for use of your name or brand, that way if anyone is talking about you, good or bad, you can join the conversation and add your take on things, thereby protecting and enhancing your brand reputation in the process.

The Internet is Social.

Social Media is not a fad and won’t be going away any time soon. In the last year we have seen new social media platforms like Google+, Instagram and Pinterest accumulate millions of new users over night.  Google decided to use Google+ as the hub of their local business centre offering, making it clear that social media will be even more important for businesses moving forward.

Over the last few years, social media has mushroomed, and in years to come although the popular sites and formats may change, being able to comment on articles, share opinions and reply to whoever you choose to are elements that we have all become used to. If one thing’s for certain, it is that the general public and Internet users will not be silenced!

Using small business social media as part of a well structured campaign is definitely worth it! There are lots of huge positives, so if it isn’t working for you today just tweak your methods slightly and try something new.

With any social media campaign, the more you give, the more you receive. As you build up your credibility and your online presence, your community will increase and you will see a rise in the levels of engagement you receive resulting in more targeted referrals back to your website, more leads, and more sales.

There are no guarantees with social media. What works wonders for one company may not even generate a whisper online for your business. Ultimately you just need to remember one thing:

Nobody cares for your business, they care about you!

If you can, translate that into conversations and relationships. It’s then that you will see the results.

5 Blockbuster Benefits of Email Marketing for Small Business

5 Blockbuster Benefits of Email Marketing for Small Business

5 Blockbuster Benefits of Email Marketing for Small Business

benefits of emailGetting someone to hand over their email address can be a challenge. Getting an email opened, read and then acted upon can be an even greater challenge.

That being said, if a prospect or a customer supplies you with their email address and opts in to be kept up to date, email newsletters are a great way to keep communication channels open, build relationships and prompt sales.

However, if you are not sure about the benefits of email and whether building email marketing lists is suitable for your business, here are some reasons why you should consider it as part of your digital marketing campaign moving forward.

The Real Benefits of Email Marketing for Small Business.

1. Establish your business as a trusted expert.

When people sign up to your email list they do so because you have promised to provide them information on a given subject. If through your email campaign you deliver incredible value, you are educational, enlightening and entertaining, then active members of your list will begin to see you as a subject matter expert. When they want to know something in relation to your field they will look to you for the answer.

2. Keep your brand fresh.

Sending targeted emails or a newsletter keeps your brand fresh in the minds of your customer. By sending content regularly, it offers you the opportunity to keep your users informed and how your services can help the consumer while at the same time continuing to build your credibility.

3. Build Relationships

Building relationships with your email marketing list is crucial. Everyone knows that people buy from people that they know, like and trust. Regular email is a great way to build the foundations of a strong relationship consisting of familiarity and trust.

Share with the readers a little about yourself and also mention a bit about your company and what it is doing but be careful not to go all out for the sale as this will drive people to the unsubscribe button faster than a speeding bullet.

Remember, relationship building first.

4. Drive targeted traffic to your website.

If your website is the hub of your online business, then building an email list and sending emails to inform subscribers of new content on your blog is a great way to increase traffic. Likewise, the regular updates should also further enhance your brand and reputation in the eyes of the people on your list.

To do this, simply send an email broadcast to your list providing a “hook” into your new blog post and then inform the user to click on a link within your email to view the post in its entirety.

Having loyal subscribers who are already familiar with your posts, reading your work also means that you will increase the likelihood of getting blog comments and increasing your social standing.

5. Create a library of compelling and actionable content that can be recycled

When you begin to build email lists you will need to create more quality content. Don’t be put off by this! Instead, see this as a great way to grow your content library. The more emails you write, the better you become at copy writing. When you find you are starting to get a good response from certain emails you can restructure that content and convert it into full blog posts or articles. This content can then be used to start the whole cycle again: Drive more traffic to you r website, attracting more new visitors, adding more people to your email marketing list and growing sales.

Email marketing is crucial element of any marketing plan. If the information you distribute to the people within your list is considered worthwhile, correlates with the reason they joined your list and you have a targeted and measured email marketing plan, then your brand and reputation will soar.

However, if the only content that you are sending to your email list is the latest sales offer then your audience will lose interest pretty quickly. Give your audience a reason beyond cost savings to want to open your email, give good advice, educate them about your product show them behind your business brand you are in fact a human being too.

The benefits of email for small business far outweigh the negatives. If your business can take the time to construct a strong email marketing campaign you may be able to reactivate customers who have been sitting idle on your database for years while at the same time engaging new customers that could be the lifeblood of your business moving forward.

Your Turn: What have the benefits of email marketing been for your small business?