Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Social Media Presence?

Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Social Media Presence?

We’ve worked with countless businesses over the last few years,

to help them improve their online reputation and to help them grow and reach new clients. Social Media has become an increasingly important part of a businesses online presence, and an area that the vast majority of businesses seem to think they are comfortable and happy to use without guidance.

The problem is, that using social media for your business is vastly different from using it for your social life. In personal terms, you use sites like Twitter and Facebook to catch up with friends, share photos, gossip and find out about what’s going on in people’s lives. You don’t have a particular goal, or target to meet and can either share as much or as little as you’re comfortable with. 

In business, whatever your line of work, your social media should be used to help you win more customers, to help solve your customers problems, or to spread the word about your business to potential new customers. Do you see a pattern here? Social Media for your business is part of your business marketing, and you shouldn’t go into it with any other attitude.

With that in mind, I’m continuously surprised at the number of supposedly professional businesses who make very basic mistakes with their social media presence. Mistakes that can undermine the hard work they’re putting in in the real world to grow their reputation and business, and can even damage their perception or put new customers off.

Here are some of the most common errors that I come across that you could easily fix to improve your reputation.

Broken Links From Your Website

Broken Link to TwitterHaving links from your website back to your social media pages so that people can follow you is great – provided those links work! If you put in the wrong link to your social media pages then your visitors will be confronted with images like these.Broken links to Facebook

You’ll have to hope that those people are keen enough to search for your pages so that they can find and follow you some other way – the chances of this are slim as most people have too short an attention span. Fix the problem by fixing those links!

No Profile Picture

No Profile PictureThere is no excuse for not having a profile picture. Having no profile picture suggests that you can’t be bothered to complete your details, or that you have something to hide. Even if you are actively using your account, having no profile image suggests otherwise. Given how easy it is to take a picture on your phone and upload it to social media it’s hard to justify not having an image even if your account is new – you can take an image and upload it within seconds. If you have a business account, then you don’t even have to have a picture of yourself – you could use the business logo. Using a logo or image gives your business an identifiable “face”. It means that your customers and prospects know that there is someone behind the brand.

Protected Account

Protected Twitter accountAs a business, in order to grow you need to consistently attract new followers. Those new followers over time could turn into leads, referrals or clients. If, like this company on the right, you have a protected account it means that people can’t follow you unless you approve them first. It might seem like a small step to take, but it puts a lot of people off. Ask yourself what you are hiding by keeping your tweets private? If something needs to be private then there is probably a better way to deliver it than via Twitter. Do your business a favour and make your Twitter account public.

Profile Instead of a Page

Businesses should have a dedicated Facebook page. A page is different to a profile that you will have for yourself. The image below shows a business with a personal profile page, which is actually against the Facebook terms of service. As a profile, you have friends meaning that you have to either request or approve someone to be friends with you. Pages have fans, meaning anyone can Like the page and follow the updates. Pages and profiles also have different permissions when it comes to interacting in Groups and promoting offers. Pages also give you access to useful stats and insights, whereas profiles don’t. Profile not a page

If you’re using a profile for you business, close it down and set up a genuine Business page.

For more tips and advice on how to manage your business’s social media presence then you can download my free guide, 49 exclusive social media tips for business.

What are your biggest bugbears that you’ve come across with business social media accounts? Let me know in the comments!

Social Media For Business Free Download

The Many Uses Of Social Media

The Many Uses Of Social Media

To get the most out of social media for your business,

You need to think of it in a completely different way than you would for your personal life. In business, social media isn’t just about liking everything your friends do, or sharing pictures of all your meals. You have to consider all the ways that you can use social media.

Customer Service

Social media is great for customer service. Not only can your customers get in touch whenever they have a question, but other people can see your answers too. This means that you may answer one question that benefits multiple people in one go. If you’re lucky, other customers may even see the question and answer it for you! Even if you are asked difficult or awkward questions publicly think of it as an opportunity to show the positive and helpful side to your service to let other customers know that you’re willing to deal with any problems.

 

Reputation Management

Your public image is a huge asset to your business – or at least it should be! Social media allows you monitor what is being said about you, try searching your business name on Twitter and see what comes up! You can also use social media to share positive feedback from your customers, and as an added bonus, now that Tweets show in Google for branded search terms if anyone Googles your business they’ll see your recent messages and know you are proactive about your brand’s image.

 

Getting Feedback

Because of the instant reactions on Social Media, it’s great for getting a snapshot of public opinion. On Facebook you can post quick polls on group pages, on Twitter you quite often see people asking “RT for X or Favourite for Y”. Next time you are working on something and need some advice, why not try asking your followers and see what they actually want? The answer might surprise you, and cause you to take your work in a slightly different direction than you’d intended.

 

Lead Generation

Whilst it’s almost impossible to sell anything directly over Social Media, what you can do is use it to find yourself some great leads and prospective customers. Social Media is excellent for building up trust in your brand, and helping people to get to know and like you. These things are key to converting followers to customers. Make sure that from each of your social media pages there is an obvious way for people to find out more about your business, sign up  for email updates, or to check out your latest offers.

 

News Updates/PR

In the not too distant past, businesses that had an announcement to make had no choice but to try and get a story published somewhere. Now, every time you have any news, whether it’s a new CEO, a great Customer Case Study or a regular blog post, you can get it out to the whole world at the click of a mouse. There is no excuse not to publicise your brand on social media! In fact, the more you put out there, the more it will do to help spread the word of your business!

 

Brand Awareness

Social media allows smaller businesses to compete against much larger rivals in a way that isn’t possible with traditional media. Whereas big brands can spend a fortune on television adverts, that’s out of reach for small businesses. However, those big brands will still use social media, and YouTube, and smaller businesses will show right alongside them. For that reason, social media is great for brand awareness.

 

Networking

Whoever your ideal customer is, they will be on social media – it’s just up to you to find them! Different social networks have different networking styles. For example, on Facebook you should try and join groups that are relevant to your business. You can also join groups on LinkedIn, but on LinkedIn you can optimise your profile so that people can find you more easily in search. On Twitter you can follow conversations via a certain hashtag, something that many groups do regularly.

 

What other ways do you like to use Social Media? You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, so why not follow us on your favourite network and let us know more about you.

 

If you enjoyed these tips and would like to know more, then download a FREE copy of my ebook, 49 Exclusive Social Media Tips for Business

 

Want to know more about how we help businesses to stand out online then check out our Social Media PackagesSocial Media For Business Free Download

7 Ways To Win New Customers!

7 Ways To Win New Customers!

Every Business needs a little inspiration from time to time - so here's 7 Ways To Win New Customers | www.bigthinkingonline.com

New customers, clients or patients are the lifeblood of any business.

For small businesses in particular, keeping a steady flow of new clients coming through on top of serving existing clients and tackling the day to day running of your business can be a constant struggle.

 

So, for any business that needs an injection of inspiration as to how to continually attract those new faces, here are some of the best tactics to add to your toolbox.

 

  1. Ask Your Customers To Refer Other People They Know.

Asking for referrals is definitely something that you should be doing. If you have given a great service to someone and they are happy, the chances are that they will know more people in a similar position to themselves who may also need your services.

 

If you ask every customer you work with to refer 3 people you know, you then get a “warm” introduction to a new group of people who will already have heard good things about you from their friend.

 

  1. Follow Up With Old Leads

We’ve all lost out on a few customers in our time, but getting a no doesn’t have to mean that you’ll never get a yes. It’s always worth keeping up a good relationship with anyone who you have never quite done business with, because as circumstances and requirements change you could find that you have another opportunity.

 

Similarly, just because that person wasn’t the right client for your business doesn’t mean that they won’t know someone else who might be – referrals can come from anywhere, but they typically come if you ask for them!

 

  1. Build Up A List Of Email Subscribers.

A list of email addresses allows you to stay in regular contact with a huge number of people cheaply and simply and in a non-intrusive manner. An email list is a great way to send out updates about what your business is working on, offers that might entice people back to you and most importantly, it’s a great way for you to build your authority by offering incredible value and be seen as the thought leader in your niche.

 

The next time that person needs something along the lines of what you do, they’ll remember your details because they see your emails and know that you can help, and that you want their business.

 

  1. Be Active On Social Media. 

No matter what your business is, social media is the main place where all your customers will be online. For many people, social media is their main experience of the Internet, it’s where they see recommendations to buy, read their news and chat to their friends.

 

The trick for businesses to do well on social media is to be friendly and conversational rather than sales focused. Asking and answering questions on Twitter is a good way to join the conversation there, try searching using relevant hashtags to find topics related to your business.

 

  1. Join And Participate In Relevant Facebook Groups.

If you manage a Facebook page for your business you’ll know how hard it is to reach more than a few of your fans with any given post. That being said, Facebook is still an incredibly powerful tool for businesses and shouldn’t be ignored. Try joining some of the millions of groups there are and joining in conversations, offering relevant advice and sharing appropriate updates from your business.

 

It might take a little searching to find the right groups for you, but it is worth it. Try searching for local groups if your business is location dependent, or groups geared at business owners, women, or groups for certain hobbies and interests that your business may align with.

 

When one of your page updates does well, consider boosting it as an advert. Typically if one of your posts gets a far higher than average engagement Facebook will ask if you want to boost it. It’s worth considering, because if your core customers and fans like the update, then the chances are that an extended group of people would also like it and you can raise your profile relatively cheaply to a much larger audience.

 

  1. Write Every Blog Post As Though It Is Directed To Your Ideal Customer.

Posting regular updates to your blog is a fantastic way to be seen as an expert, and to stick in people’s minds as someone they can turn to for advice, information, and eventually when they need your service, as a paying customer.

 

The thing to remember about blogging though is that you need to be consistent, not just with the frequency of what you write, but the actual content itself.

 

If your blog topics are vastly different every time you post then it will be hard to grow a regular reader base as they will be put off by the fact they never know what they’re going to get.

 

For example, readers of this site know to expect updates about Internet Marketing related topics, such as SEO, Social Media, Web Development and Online Reputation. What you won’t see on this blog are updates about holidays, family life or what I eat.

 

  1. Make Sure Your Website Is Search Engine Optimised. 

SEO is a great tool, and you should use it to your advantage. If your site is correctly optimised, then it won’t matter if people don’t know your business name, because when they search for the service that they need, your business name will appear.

 

It’s particularly powerful for locally based businesses, because if someone searches for a Dentist in their town you only have to compete against those few other Dentists near to you in order to show in the Top 3 of the Search results. A well optimised website can help attract a steady stream of new customers.

 

So there you have it, 7 ways to get new customers! I’ll even throw in a bonus number 8… Cold Calling! It may be unpopular, but it still works.

 

Have you tried any of these tactics for customer acquisition? What has been most effective for you? 

How to Choose A Good SEO Agency

How to Choose A Good SEO Agency

SEO can boost or harm you business, so don't risk it! Read How to Choose A good SEO Agency | www.bigthinkingonline.com

 

If you think it might be time to put an SEO Strategy in place,

but have no idea where to start, then here are some questions to consider before you call in the professionals.

 

What Do You Want To Achieve By Implementing SEO?

The most important step to take first is to understand for yourself why it is important for you to implement an SEO strategy for your business. If the only answers you can come up with are along the lines of “because I’ve heard I need it” or “because I want to rank at the top of Google” then I suggest you don’t have a clear enough goal.

 

If you can’t explain to yourself why you want SEO then you won’t be able to hire someone to do the job you want doing.

 

Instead, establish some goals that you want to achieve. It might be to increase the number of leads or phone calls you get by a certain percentage, it might be that you want to be known for a different service than people currently use from you, or perhaps you are launching a new product. If you know your goals, it will be easier for an SEO agency to provide the plan that meets your needs.

 

Get To Know Some Of The Basics Of SEO

I understand that the point of hiring an expert is because you need them to do a job that you can’t. However, in order to make sure you are getting the right job done, it makes sense to know enough of the subject matter so that you don’t get confused by jargon, and that you are confident enough to ask and understand relevant questions. Think of the last time you made a significant purchase, whether it was a house, a car or a new phone you probably did some research. Investing in a good SEO strategy for your business is no different, if you do your research you’ll be more satisfied that you made the right decision and that a good job has been done.

 

Ask Around

If you know anyone else who has a business, whether or not they are in a similar industry, why not ask them about who did their SEO? What did they like or dislike and what would they recommend?

 

Get In Touch

Find an Agency, or a few agencies, that you’d like to find out more about and get in touch! Talk about your goals and what you want to achieve and find out how they would approach the issue. Don’t expect specifics at this stage, a good agency will want to do a little research on your specific issue before giving you any solid feedback.

 

You should, however be able to get a sense of how they approach their work, if they are methodical or seem a bit slapdash. You’ll be able to get a sense of how knowledgeable they are about their industry, or whether they are just hoping for a quick sale. You’ll also get an insight into their personality and if you think they’re someone you’ll be able to work with.

 

Find Out What The Bigger Picture Is

SEO is not a “one stop marketing shop”, meaning that on its own it won’t solve all the problems with your online presence. If the SEO Agency is going to be tasked with revamping your site so that it’s better placed in the search engines, it could mean that more work is needed across the site in order to give you a better result. For example, if your website is old and outdated the technical structure you have just may not support a robust SEO strategy.

 

It might be that your website needs completely rebuilding in order to support your SEO campaign, if so, can the same agency do all the work, or will they want to outsource?

 

Experience

Whilst there are plenty of SEO Agencies around, not all of them are equal! It should go without saying that a good SEO Agency will be able to show you examples of how they have helped other clients achieve their goals. Be very wary of anyone who guarantees you a top ranking – this is almost impossible to guarantee through organic SEO, especially for competitive keywords.

 

There are also agencies that specialise in particular niches or industries, choosing someone who specialises in working with similar businesses to you can have an advantage that they are familiar with the key words and terms, or the disadvantage that they are already working for a competitor in your area. Always check whether or not they offer any exclusivity in their contracts.

 

How Do They Track And Prove Results?

One of the best things about online processes is that almost every aspect can be tracked and measured, this allows a great transparency to businesses who are relying on others, such as an SEO Agency, to complete work for them.

 

Find out how your chosen agency plans on tracking their progress against your goals. How will this be communicated to you? How often? What are their processes for ensuring goals are met, and do they adapt these without telling you?

 

The more you can understand about how your agency works, then the easier it will be for you to trust them to do the job.

 

Are You Ready For A Long Term Partnership?

Don’t ever think that SEO can be done once and the results will last forever. It is an ongoing exercise. Search engines constantly update their algorithms, your competitors constantly tweak their own websites and therefore if you want to stay current your SEO will always need to be worked on. Make sure that whoever you choose to work with you are happy with their style of working, as to get any real benefit you’ll probably have to work together for a minimum of 6 months. 

 

If you want to know more about our own SEO offering and the businesses we’re currently working with then get in touch! We’d love to hear from you! 

 

Is Your Online Image Letting Your Business Down?

Is Your Online Image Letting Your Business Down?

Is your online image letting your business down? | www.bigthinkingonline.com

Businesses Seem To Fall Into Two Clear Categories Online:

Those that know how important their online presence is and who stay on top of it at all times, and those that don’t.

 

I’ve lost count of the number of businesses I’ve come across online whose website hasn’t been updated in years, doesn’t give any helpful information and leaves me wondering how any of their customers even know to contact them.

 

There are also businesses whose Facebook pages haven’t been updated since 2012, or whose Twitter profile still has an Egg as a profile picture.

 

Twitter Egg

 

In business, image is everything and the picture you show to the outside world is what the public take away with them. So if someone’s had a referral from a friend that your business is the best to call for their situation, and they look you up online and see that there are no contact names on your website, you haven’t tweeted in 6 months and there are no testimonials from any other customers to back up what their friend has said, the chances are you will not win that person as a customer.

 

For many businesses, even those with a terrible web presence, image and reputation are everything. Most people wouldn’t go to work in their scruffy looking tracksuit that they wear round the house, and most businesses take pride in the appearance of their office and reception area. Wearing dirty clothes to work or not responding to a client question for several weeks is usually a big no-no, so why do so many businesses forget that their web presence is often the first way that new customers will come across their business, or the easiest way for someone to get in touch?

 

The answer is that many business owners feel confident that they are already doing well enough, or that they invested in a website years ago and it doesn’t seem to do anything for them so why do more, or that they simply can’t afford to invest either time or money in improving their online presence.

 

These answers, and others, come up time and time again. Sadly, these businesses are missing out on their biggest pool of potential customers.

 

Your online image is more than just your website. It’s everything related to your business on the internet, so that includes all your social media channels, and importantly what is being said about you in other places online by other people who may be former customers, business associates, rivals, friends and family… just about anyone!

 

All of this information about your business online is what your audience is using to build up an instant snapshot of who you are, what you do and if they want to work with you. To make the most of your online presence, all these things must be a true reflection of your brand, its principles and values, your mission and your motives. If what you see online doesn’t show who you really want to see then your online image is letting you down.

Is your online image a True Reflection of your brand?So how do you go about improving your online image?

First of all, take a step back and imagine you’re looking at your online presence through the eyes of a potential customer, then ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • Does your website instantly portray what you do and your defining purpose?
  • Is your business branding consistent across your website and social media channels?
  • Are you consistently attracting ideal clients/customers/patients via any of your online media?

 

If the answers to these questions are no then it might be time to re-think your online strategy, because you are letting your business down. It might seem a daunting task, but in reality there are simple systems and strategies that you can use to help get back on track.

 

If you want to know more about how we can help you streamline your online image so that you attract more of your ideal customers then email us today to arrange a free online strategy session.

 

Have you had any experience of businesses whose online image doesn’t match their real life brand?

Effective Email Marketing in 5 Easy Steps

Effective Email Marketing in 5 Easy Steps

Email Is Still One Of The Best Ways

To keep in touch with both your customer base and people who are interested in your business but who may not be customers yet. We’ve all received countless business newsletters, some good, some terrible and many that don’t get read at all.

 

So how do you make sure that the email updates you send from your business fall into the “great” category?

 

  1. Create Compelling Content

The first thing you need in order to conduct a successful email campaign is some fabulously written copy. Regardless of your subject matter, there are four elements that you need to nail.

  • A Compelling Subject Line: This is what entices your readers to open the email. You have one short line to get your point across and convince someone that your message is worth reading. Think of how many emails land in your inbox every day, and how many of those you open. What is it that makes you click?Create Compelling Content

  •  

    One Central Idea: People are busy, so don’t confuse them or waste their time with multiple or scattered thoughts. Make sure that after reading you email, there will be no doubt in anyone’s mind as to what you were talking about.

  • A Clear Call to action: Why are you sending this email? No matter how compelling your subject line, and how concise your point it, if you’re not asking people to do anything after reading your message, there is virtually no point in sending the mail. Do you want people to watch a video? Click through to your website? Reply with a comment? Whatever action you want them to take, make sure you ask them to do it in a way that leaves no confusion.
  • Relevant to Your Audience: This should go without saying. If people have signed up to your mailing list to hear news and updates about your business, don’t send them photos of your Cat (unless your business is cat related…) Keep your newsletters on topics around what your audience expect to hear about from you – otherwise you will not hold their attention for very long.
  1. Make It Look Professional

If you’re sending out a newsletter, or a group marketing email then you must make sure that your email looks professional rather than spammy. There is no excuse to just write the email in your regular mail format and copy and paste everyone’s email addresses into the BCC line, or even worse, the CC line.

 

There are plenty of mail programs out there that allow you to make smart email newsletters, or to prepare any other kind of group mailing and these are often easy to use and relatively inexpensive. If you’re not sure where to start take a look at Mailchimp, iContact or Aweber.

 

  1. Ensure Compatibility

    Compatible across all Devices

 

Don’t assume that just because when you check the newsletter on your own browser that it will look exactly the same and perfect to all other readers – it’s often not the case. There are so many options for people when it comes to different web browsers, and the different email packages that your list are using themselves may also format your email differently. There’s also more chance that people will read your email from their smart phone than from their desktop, so make sure your message is mobile optimised.

 

It’s also wise to give people the option to view the email in either HTML or Text format. Finally do your best to ensure that your email won’t end up in their spam filter by running it through a spam analysis checker.

 

  1. Know Your Audience

If you want to stay on the good side of your audience then adopt a policy of “one size does not fit all” when it comes to your email updates. This might mean you have to keep several different email lists and send slightly different messages to each one. For example, you might want to send a certain offer to customers who are on you database to thank them for their loyalty, or to let them know of a new service you’re offering before the general public see it. Alternatively, you might want to have a different welcome offer for prospective customers who have signed up through your website.

 

  1. Track and Analyse

Being able to track and subsequently analyse everything that you send out means that you can get a great understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Every time you send something out, compare it to your previous message. You’ll be able to build up a picture of what headlines work the best to get people to open your mail, what topics people respond best to and more. Good analytics can tell you which links in your emails are getting the most attention, and which ones you may need to tweak in order to get them to work for you. You should also pay attention to the number of emails that bounce, and if necessary remove them from your list.

What is your most effective tip when it comes to Email Marketing?

5 Tips For Building Successful Joint Venture Partnerships

5 Tips For Building Successful Joint Venture Partnerships

Partnering with another Business to promote each others services is a sure fire way to grow your customer numbers and boost your profile. Here are our top tips on how to do it successfully! www.bigthinkingonline.com

 

For Any Business, Winning New Customers

and generating new leads is a huge part of the daily grind. Without new customers even a business with incredible customer retention will run dry sooner or later.

 

One of the best ways to reach out to a new group of prospective customers or clients is to form a joint venture partnership with another like minded business where you send each other leads or referrals for a mutually agreeable term.

 

If you think this wouldn’t work for your business, you’d be wrong. All it takes is for two businesses who may want to target similar customers for different reasons to figure out a way to get each other’s clients through their doors.

 

For example, a Dentist could team up with a local hairdresser and offer a tooth whitening deal to the hairdresser’s customers, or the hairdresser could offer half price highlights to anyone who has had treatment at the dentist.

 

Partnering your business up with another business can be one of the quickest ways to access a whole new pool of targeted clients, or to raise your business profile in a new area. It’s a great way to reach out to a new audience, and yet many businesses are missing out on this great resource.

 

The reason that joint ventures or partnerships are such a good promotional method is that you are tapping into a group of customers who know and trust your new business partner. They have a history with that business and a relationship, so they will trust recommendations that come from that business.

 

So what exactly does it take to reach out to another business and convince them to help you promote yours? Here are my top 5 tips on the Dos and Don’ts of seeking out new partnerships.

  1. Build A Friendship:

    Almost every successful partnership begins with some kind of prior relationship. If you’re not sure where to start, try going to some local networking events or if there is a particular business that has caught your eye why not approach them directly and introduce yourself?

  2. Make Sure Your Offer Is Awesome:

    Don’t expect to throw an idea out there and for your prospective business partner to accept it straight away. Show them you mean business by offering a fantastic customer experience so that there will be no bad reflection on either party. Take the time to understand how this partner will be able to support the offer (or not!), for instance if their customers go back to them with questions about your deal, what will they do?

  3. Keep it Personal:

    Do not use a template or cookie-cutter type email when approaching a potential business partner. Take the time to write a personal email, or even better pick up the phone and call them. The more personal the message, the better chance for a response.

  4. Don’t Approach By Asking For Something:

    The fact is, even if you are offering this partner a commission for sending their clients your way, you are still asking for a favour. Approaching someone for the first time and asking for a favour gives them no reason to trust you or listen to you, they may even delete your email without a second thought. May I remind you of point number 1, build a friendship first!

  5. Bring Value:

    Once you’re on the way to building a great relationship with your potential joint venture partner find out what their needs are first and see if you can help them out. Support your partner and bring value to the relationship. By proving that you are willing to help, you also increase the chances of them wanting to return the favour and help you out too. You’re also building a far more solid foundation for any future working partnerships and business referrals.

 

Have you had any success in building joint venture partnerships with other businesses? Let me know what has worked for you in the comments below!

Why You Should Use Education Marketing For Lead Generation.

Education Marketing

Why you should use Education Marketing for Lead Generation.

Almost everyone who uses the internet is using it to look for information. Whether they’re researching a holiday destination, looking at cars or getting ideas for a project, the vast majority of browsers are browsing for information. That’s what education marketing is, delivering information that your customers are looking for.

Whilst many of these browsers aren’t planning on buying anything straight away, the chances are that they’ll remember the sites they’ve visited and what they’ve seen there so that when the time comes to make a buying decision they will go back to that same trusted source where they got the best information from.

Whilst every business and every purchase is different, the idea of providing information or education to generate leads can be applied to pretty much any niche. By offering information for people to read on your website you’re taking the first steps to building a relationship with that person, they are getting to know about your expertise, your personality, and whether or not they want to trust you with their money.

Millions of Bloggers and website owners cottoned on to this a long time ago; by writing engaging content that keeps people coming back to their websites week after week they’ve been able to make a living from simply providing information for other people online. People go back to the same sites time and again if they like what they see there.

When people come back time and again it’s because they feel they are getting a benefit from the content on that site. They will see that website as an authority on its topic; they will start to rely on that information, or will look forward to new updates.

This method of marketing is not for those needing a quick win. It’s likely that ninety-eight percent of people who visit your website aren’t going to buy anything. It’s also highly likely that the vast majority who visit you website will never come back; it might be that the information they found there wasn’t exactly what they were looking for or that what you sell doesn’t suit them.  

What matters is to keep in mind the type of customer you want to attract and write as though you are talking to them. Keep producing information that sets you apart from your competitors, even if it is something as simple as giving your opinion on industry news, or reviewing new products. As long as you keep reaching out, your targeted audience will find you and keep coming back.

The good news is that once you are known to someone as an expert then you will be the first one that they turn to when they are in a position to buy, or use your service. In fact, 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content and are also more likely to buy from that company (Custom Content Council).

The trick to keeping people coming back is not to sell. The idea behind Education Marketing is to educate. Instead of posting new offers every week, think about Case Studies, How To Guides, White Papers or special reports. If your information is compelling enough, people will gladly sign up to receive further updates from you and you can start to build up a subscriber list of names and email addresses. And these subscribers are the ones who you can think about selling to directly.

Although this is not a quick win, there really is nothing to lose, after all, by providing information and education online you are building trust, loyalty and credibility with your readers which in the long run  will help you to add further value to relationships which will translate to increased customer retention and higher revenues.

How to Get Maximum Impact From Customer Testimonials

How to Get Maximum Impact From Customer Testimonials

How to Get Maximum Impact From Customer Testimonials.

customer testimonialsNo business can function without customers, and the best customers are happy customers. As a business owner, or Account Manager there is often no better feeling than getting glowing, positive feedback from a customer or client, especially when that customer testimonial is written down and can be posted for all the world to see.

Why is it then that so many businesses who go to the trouble of collecting this valuable feedback from happy clients then just add it to a file and never let it see the light of day again?

Positive feedback from customers is one of the best assets that your business could have. It allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors, it proves you do what you promise, and it shows potential new customers that others have tried and tested your process and are happy with the outcome.

Perhaps one of the most common uses of customer testimonials is to create a Testimonial page on your company website. Whilst this is great and it certainly means the reviews are in the public domain, it’s not a proactive use of your great asset, as it relies on people already being on your website in order to see them. Instead, go the extra mile and use the great reviews like a magnet to draw people into your business.

How?

Local business review sites such as Yell and Yelp are great for collecting reviews, not least because these sites rank well with search engines. Reviews that your business gathers on directory sites can be used to help strengthen your search engine position, particularly as Google + Local now collates information from many of these directories and displays them on your business’s Google + page. By encouraging happy customers to leave reviews you can also negate the impact of any negative reviews that have already been left there. Unfortunately, people are more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one, so if this has happened to your business then don’t bury your head in the sand. Encouraging positivity is one way to deal with this.

If you are asking a lot of customers to leave reviews (and you should be!) it’s a good idea to set up a specific page to capture their reviews. This way there is one clear place for customers to go and post, rather than giving them a choice of multiple review sites. It also saves your customers from having to take the extra step of signing up to the directory site as a member before their review can be accepted. We have our own site, www.reviewbigthinkingonline.com to collect reviews from clients. This means that we can direct all customers to one place and ensure we capture all reviews whether good or bad. Once you have reviews and permission to reproduce them you need to try and get them seen by the biggest audience possible.

If you already send out email updates or a regular newsletter you could add your new positive testimonials on to that.

Marketing Material such as brochures, posters and leaflets is great to put testimonials on. If you are at a trade show, or somewhere else where people might pick up your details for the first time a quote from a happy customer can be really eye catching. You could even put quotes on the back of your business cards.

Social Media is another area that you can use to spread the word about your happy customers. It could help you with creating a buzz around your brand, and the more people who see others talking about the great service they’ve had then the more likely they will be to get in touch themselves.

Using your testimonials to market our business can be very powerful, the possibilities are only limited by your creativity.

So whether it’s putting the positive reviews together in a video on YouTube, or having them printed on pens just don’t leave them on a forgotten page of your website, or even worse in a filing cabinet draw.

Is Your Online Presence up to Standard For 2013?

Is Your Online Presence up to Standard For 2013?

Is Your Online Presence up to Standard For 2013?

online presence 2013This week the UK’s biggest department store chain, John Lewis, announced their incredible December sales figures: growth of 13%. This was despite poor performance in the retail sector in general and partly due to Internet sales growth of 44% on last year.

John Lewis’s managing director, Andy Street said, “That hour when we opened our clearance website, at 5 o’clock on Christmas Eve, was our single busiest day online, ever.”

It isn’t just John Lewis who have noticed a huge increase in online customers either. Information service Experian announced record numbers of people visited UK retailers’ websites over the festive period. UK internet users made 84 million visits to retail websites on Christmas Eve and 107 million visits on Christmas Day, up 86% and 71% respectively compared to the same days in December 2011, according to Experian. The Boxing Day level – 113 million visits – was 17% up on the same day in 2011.

The growth of the internet means that shoppers are using digital devices such as tablets and smartphones to search for bargains – then only travel to those specific shops to buy those items if they need to.

So what does this mean for non-retail businesses?

With consumers becoming more and more accustomed to being able to check online for what they want, when they want it, the online trend is only set to get bigger and bigger. People no longer need to rely on information they get from friends and family – they have the whole world at their fingertips via the internet.

It means that whatever service someone requires, whether it’s a builder, solicitor, Dentist, Accountant or Beauty Salon, they can find the information online, research several companies, get reviews from other customers and potentially have made up their minds on which one they will use before they even pick up the phone to enquire in person.

Whatever line of business you are in, you need to ensure that your business can be found immediately that people search for you online. Whether or not they know your business name, if they search for your type of business, in your local area you need to be found. Even if your business demands that sales are made offline (like a Dentist, or Beauty Salon) people still need to be able to look for and research you online.

The internet means that even small businesses tucked away on quiet roads can compete with much bigger high street premises. With all the potential competitors out there, once someone has done a search on the internet they are presented with what can fit on to one page of the screen. Suddenly, your competition isn’t every business in the area, it’s those 7 or 8 businesses whose online presence is good enough to put them on the front page.

online reputation managementFor any business, reputation has always been important, but now that so much business and research is done online with less human involvement from the business in question, online reputation management has suddenly become even more important. Unless your business’s internet presence is top notch, you could be losing business hand over fist and not even know about it.

John Lewis has managed to do what an awful lot of businesses haven’t: they’ve kept their department store business strong and also built up an excellent Internet business that leverages the brands great reputation.  If they hadn’t built up their internet business, things could have been very different – there is already a long list of now closed down high street names who failed to capitalise online.

Don’t let your lack of an online presence make 2013 an unlucky year for your business!