OCTOBER 10, 2017
Knowing who you are as a business and who your customers are, is key to the success of any enterprise. Technology that allows you to mine information, data and insights from your customers is revolutionising the way we “do” business, and all businesses should be utilising customer data from day one. Improving customer loyalty, personalising customer experience and learning from customer reviews and feedback is crucial to not only understanding your business, but learning how to improve and implement successful growth strategies. Here are five easy ways to gather your customers’ data and how you can learn and grow your business based on data insights.
1) Make your website interactive
Your website can be the first representation of your business a customer will see. Make sure it’s mobile responsive and interactive by leveraging social buttons, shareable content, offers, polls and email sign ups. Then use Google Analytics to measure that interaction. How long do they spend on each page of your site? What sections are most popular? Test adding a comments section or does a chat box increase interactivity? What links are they clicking? Once you know what is most popular on your website you can use this data to hone your website design, develop tactical marketing , and learn to anticipate what your customer wants and is looking for.
2) Use free Wifi access to collect data at your physical locations
If your business has bricks n mortar locations as well as online, be sure to offer complimentary wifi at your locations. To access the WiFi your visitors will need to register with their email address or login via social media. You can use this info later to invite them to your social pages or survey via eDM to find out more info like: age, employment, likes and dislikes. All of this builds up a picture about what type of people are visiting your locations and therefore help you to tailor your customer experience to them.
3) Encourage online reviews
According to the 2016 Sensis social media report, as many as 60 per cent of Australian consumers read online reviews and blogs before making a purchasing decision.
Sign up to review sites such as tripadvisor and encourage feedback from your customers. Save the valuable data from online reviews – the good and the bad as both allow you to take action and improve customer experience. Not only are review sites a great strategy to encourage new customer discovery and hopefully acquisition, but you can use the qualitative data to inform your business strategy.
4) Gain real-time feedback during their experience with you
Using review sites are a great way of collecting qualitative data after the fact, however, collecting quantitative in-store or online feedback from real customers in real-time is even better. Use a service such as TruRating that allows you to collect ratings from your customers on their experience as they pay, giving you opinions garnered from every customer – not just the very disappointed or overly-impressed minority that will leave a review on a website. Gartner research says that feedback gathered in the moment is 40 per cent more accurate than when collected 24 hours later.
5) Build relationships using your existing customer database
Customers who have shared their data with you either as an email address or a social follow are more likely to be a repeat customer, so their over-time experiences are worth asking for. By doing this you’ll be completing the full customer picture, along with the other data you will have gathered through review sites and in-store rating technology. Use SurveyMonkey or similar, to ask short questionnaires (no more than five questions) and offer a prize related to your business as a hook to get completion.
Sophie Jillings, Head of APAC, www.trurating.com
You’ve finally done it: started your own business, worked hard for a long time to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true. It’s been a year or two since you started, and you’ve finally built up a team of people who really understand why and how you want to run your small business. Every morning, when you walk into your office, you’re greeted by the smell of coffee and by colleagues excited to get started on the day’s work. So it’s a complete surprise when, suddenly, one of your employees takes you to the side and says to you: “I’m not happy here.”
“Why?” you ask her.
It could be for any number of reasons. Even though employees from small business are happier, on average, than employees in larger businesses, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more you can be doing to drive employee happiness up. So how do you fix the problem? Check out this list to find creative ways to make your small business employees happier–without even having to give them a raise!
Benefits are one of the best ways you can quickly make your employees happier. According to Aflac’s 2017 Business Report, even though 84% of employees at small business report happiness, when it comes to benefits, only 13% report being happy. This is a stark contrast–one so stark that 26% of the employees surveyed said they’d move onto another company if it offered benefits.
According to experts interviewed by Forbes, the most important benefits that will help you retain employees–and which have reasonable costs for a small business owner–are health insurance, life and disability insurance, and a retirement savings plan. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you implement these benefits–from guides to the top 5 health insurance options for small businesses in 2017 to a step-by-step guide on how to get life insurance for your employees.
Appreciating Your Employees
Appreciating your employees–whether it’s by providing them with extra vacation days or making employees feel like they’re being listened to–can make a big difference in their job satisfaction, too. Even though it’s easy in the small business world to forget about vacation, it’s important to give your employees vacation days, and to encourage them to take them–otherwise your employees will be not only less productive but less loyal, too. Another option is to make the office environment fun, too–why not use Groupon to find cheap drinks after work, or find some cheap tickets to a show everyone’s been dying to see? Fun’s a great idea in the office–it can raise employee productivity as high as 20%!
Another way to demonstrate to your employees that you appreciate them is simple but important: listen to them. When you engage with your employees, ask them about their lives, about their projects at work, how you can help them succeed in the workplace. Ask your employees to help guide the course of the company–if you’re an online merchant, ask them to help you brainstorm ideas for new products to sell; if you’re a graphic design company, ask if there are any new fashions they think you should be working with. If your employees feel like you care about them and their work, their satisfaction will go up.
Providing your employees with career opportunities is another way to make your employees happy in the long-term. Even for companies that offer development support such as training and mentoring, if an employee believes there are no exciting career opportunities, then they’re more likely to leave. It’s important, when talking to your employees about their role, that you have something to offer back–whether it’s a new role or a title change a few years down the line.
In a small business, of course, there isn’t exactly a corporate ladder for an employee to climb–but there are other ways you can retain your hardest-working employees. There are several strategies, such as entrusting them with more responsibilities, that will make an employee feel he’s learning new skills and feeling appreciated in the workplace. Keep your employees involved, make their vision part of your vision too, and your workplace will flourish.
Feeling Valued Has High Value
At the end of the day, with all of these strategies, what matters most is that you are making your employees feel valued. Being valued in the workplace, whether it’s with extra days off or the chance to get involved in a large decision, changes the entire atmosphere of your office. Employees will wake up every day looking forward to their day of work, ready to take on new challenges and prepared for the tasks of their day. They know that you care, and it makes them care, too–which in turn enriches their work and your small business.
Did you ever make a big change in your small business to boost employee moral and happiness? What were your strategies, and how well did they work?
OCTOBER 9, 2017
Too many American business owners don’t have the capital they need to grow because they fear lenders will deny their credit applications.
Even when facing financial difficulties, most businesses shy away from debt. A 2016 survey by the Federal Reserve bank, reported that 76 percent of businesses used their own funds to overcome financial challenges. Only 44 percent of businesses facing financial difficulties got a loan.
WHY ARE SO MANY BUSINESSES CAGEY ABOUT APPLYING FOR A LOAN?
About half (51 percent) the businesses that needed additional funding did not get a loan because they were avoiding debt. The other half (47 percent) are either discouraged by previous credit denials or think it’s too difficult or expensive to apply. For instance, 39 percent of discouraged businesses don’t apply for a business loan because they think their credit score is not good enough to qualify.
Are businesses justified in their fears of credit denial?
Yes and no.
According to the 2016 Small Business Credit Survey, only 53 percent of businesses get approved for the entire loan or line of credit they apply for.
With those odds, you can see why so many business owners don’t bother.
The good news is it has never been easy for businesses to search for loans and check whether they qualify. There are several sites that offer business reviews and credit tools to see what loans they qualify for without hurting their credit.
How can businesses improve their chances of approval?
There is a lot a business can do to tip approval odds in its favor but let’s focus on two things:
WHICH LENDERS HAVE THE HIGHEST RATE OF APPROVAL?
Community development financial institutions, also known as CDFIs, have the highest approval rate (77 percent) for businesses with an annual revenue of less than $1 million. Larger firms with an annual revenue of more than $1 million have better results (84 percent) with online lenders.
CDFIs are mission-driven financial institutions that are certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s CDFI Fund. They include credit unions, banks, loan funds, and even venture capitalists that have the goal of serving low-income communities.
The catch is not everyone qualifies for a CDFI loan, and there may not be a CDFI in your area. In the Federal Reserve survey quoted above, only 143 businesses had applied for a CDFI loan compared to 1,829 businesses who applied for a small bank loan and 604 that applied with an online lender.
If you are a small business and don’t qualify for a CDFI, which includes most businesses, small banks and online lenders offer good chances of a loan approval. If you’re a larger business (more than $1 million a year in revenue) you have better odds with an online lender (84 percent).
WHICH LOAN TYPES HAVE GOOD CHANCES OF APPROVAL?
The purpose of the loan has a big effect on its approval rate. Auto or equipment loans have the highest approval rates (79 percent), followed by cash advances (72 percent), mortgages, and lines of credit (68 percent).
The reason auto, equipment loans and mortgages have higher rates of approval is they are usually secured by the assets bought with the loans, which make them less risky to lenders. Cash advances have the highest approval rate for unsecured loans, but their interest rates are usually high – which explains why only a small number of the businesses surveyed by the Federal Reserve applied for cash advances.
Lines of credit and traditional business loans are the most common type of loan for businesses. However, lines of credit have a 10 percent higher rate of approval. Small Business Administration loans usually offer the lowest interest rates, but they have a 55 percent approval rate and can take several weeks or even months to process.
There are the two tips you need to remember If you are looking for business capital and you want to maximize your chances of approval:
Businesses with an annual revenue of less than $1 million, may want to check if they qualify for a CDFI loan. If you don’t, apply with an online lender or a small bank. Businesses with an annual revenue of more than $1 million have much higher approval rates with online lenders.
Auto and equipment loans and mortgages have higher approval rates but they require you to place your assets as collateral. Cash advances have high rates of approval but the interest rates are steep.
Lines of credit also offer high approval rates but the interest rates are much cheaper. Another benefit is you don’t need to borrow a lump-sum, just what you need.
However, SBA loans and traditional loans may be a better option for businesses that have excellent credit and don’t mind waiting a few weeks for funding.
WHAT TO DO NEXT?
Once you decide what type of loan and lender you need, it’s time to check the eligibility criteria, fees, funding timeline, and rates of each lender. These can vary widely from lender to lender, so investing a little time now can save you a lot of money and frustration in the long run.
Andrew Latham is the content editor at SuperMoney, a financial resource that has helped millions of people get smarter about money. SuperMoney helps consumers compare financial products and services by providing unbiased reviews and guides. SuperMoney can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
October 9, 2017 4:00 AM Sponsored By ComEd
Small businesses typically do not have the expansive capabilities and organizational structures found in large corporations. Without the resources to hire large teams, small business owners and employees often need to wear several hats at once. A way that this is made manageable is through the use of online apps and other technologies that address and resolve day-to-day operational needs and financial issues. Below is a list of applications that can help you become more efficient and do more with less.
ComEd My Account
When you establish a ComEd online account at ComEd.com/MyAccount, you can:
With My Account and a ComEd smart meter installed at your business, you have access to excellent tools to improve energy management and help reduce energy costs. By logging into ComEd’s My Account on a regular basis, you can take timely action based on up-to-date energy-usage information to make important energy decisions and help reduce your company’s bottom line.
Quickbooks is a suite of software solutions that can help you manage your business’s payroll, inventory, sales and other needs. Quickbooks also includes marketing tools, training solutions and other valuable resources. Online mobile apps are available for iPhone, Android, Mac and Windows.
If your business does a lot of video conferencing, Skype can’t be beat. In addition to instant messaging, Skype users can communicate over the internet by voice using a microphone or webcam. Skype-to-Skype calls to other users are free of charge, and users can purchase unlimited minutes to make local and international calls. This app helps reduce the traditional cost of communications, both within the company and with clients.
Slack’s aim is to lessen the amount of time spent on sending internal emails and scheduling and partaking in meetings and conference calls. Like Skype, Slack is an online platform that allows you and your employees to send direct instant messages to one another, but it also allows you to organize your group conversations into private or public chats, and makes sharing and downloading files a breeze. There’s no limit to how many users you can add to the platform, so this is an application that can grow with your small business. Slack offers both a free option and two additional pricing optionsbased on the amount of users.
PayPal operates a worldwide online payments system that can be easily linked to your business’s various bank accounts. PayPal offers an app for your small business’s iPhone or Android phone or tablet that can be used at checkout in place of a traditional POS system at a cost of 2.7 percent per swipe.
DropBox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage, file synchronization (dubbed Smart Sync) and file sharing. The platform makes it easier for your teams to share large files across different business units or with clients. DropBox provides a cost effective solution to file sharing without incurring the IT costs to perform the function internally, with business plans starting at $12.50/user/month.
Salesforce is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software tool that helps your sales team track sales opportunities from initial identification through contract closure. Salesforce provides disciplined tracking and progress monitoring across the company.
It’s a common question — “What should I do to successfully launch my startup?”
Best Small Startup Resources
There are a lot of things you can do to get your small business going, and turning to the best resources to help you is one of them. Check out this list of the 5 best small startup resources you should utilize to get your business up and running.
Read the Right Books
Take a couple days to read “Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh. Whether you have business ideas for fashionistas or foodies, you know your idea is one people will love. However it’s not that simple. Read this book and use what you learn to help you run your business. Tony shares the roller coaster he rode on his journey to success – a cautionary tale that is great for any individual venturing into building a business from the ground up. This book can help you prepare mentally for the hardships and victories that you’ll experience as an entrepreneur.
Talk About Your Business
Think you have an innovative idea like Uber or AirBnB? If so, the next thing you need to do is head to LegalZoom.com. It will cost $99 and state filing feels, but will allow you to share your business, not just your idea, and protect it too. The company has helped close to 2 million people start or run their business. It’s a big step to move from the inspiration stage to actually sharing your business and turning it into reality. This is one of the most meaningful steps in setting up a business.
Build a Solid Business Plan
If you need a business plan — and all businesses do — the Small Business Administration is a great resource for businesses of any size. Turn your business idea into a reality with a high-quality industry-targeted business plan. A business plan is an important tool that can help you be a better entrepreneur. There are endless benefits of a business; they help you stay on strategy, ensure your objectives are clear, utilize milestones to keep you on track, and empower you to be better at delegating. Your business plan doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should be a collection of lists and bullet points that set expectations to help you effectively manage the future.
Buy a Domain
You need to find a domain — and buy it. GoDaddy makes registering Domain Names as simple and affordable as possible. As of May of 2017, GoDaddy had 17 million customers across the world. Turn to this web hosting company to help you create a website for your new small business. Websites build credibility, act as the anchor for your marketing, and house important information. Every business needs to think of a website as a fundamental and affordable tool that leads to success.
Utilize Social Media
It’s great you don’t have to rely solely on mailers to market your business today. Your startup needs to harness the power of social media to advertise products and services and interact with customers. Social media increases brand awareness, forges connections with customers, and allows you to reach a wider audience. Focus on a platform or two. If you’re a wiz at snapping captivating photos, make sure you’re present on Instagram. If you write concise and compelling marketing spiels in less than 140 characters, Twitter should be your new best pal. It’s vital to take the steps to establish yourself as a leader in your field. Social media is the perfect place for you to showcase your abilities.
Starting a new business venture is intimidating, but entirely possible and exciting at the same time. Use these tips to help you launch your startup and your business will be off the ground in no time.
What other resources would you recommend for those trying to launch a startup?
OCTOBER 9, 2017 • SIG UELAND
Building a successful social media marketing strategy for your business takes careful planning, and a lot of trial and error. Get help developing your social media strategy and skills by enrolling in free online courses from educators and practitioners.
Here is a list of free courses to hone your social media marketing strategy. Some of these courses are single-lecture events. Others are multi-week classes within larger specializations.
Free Social Media Courses
What is Social? Created by Northwestern University, this course is the first in the six-course specialization, “Social Media Marketing: How to Profit in a Digital World,” for business owners, executives, and marketing professionals. Learn about the goals, structure, and deliverables of the social marketing specialization. Use the audit option to see lectures and certain assignments for free without subscribing or starting a free trial. You can upgrade to a subscription later if you decide you want to complete the series.
Introduction to Marketing. This course from the University of British Columbia will teach you the fundamentals of marketing, including strategies and tools used across industries. The course covers social media strategy and other key marketing topics, including market research, brand strategy, pricing, integrated marketing communication, and more. Learn through the award-winning teaching approaches of the Sauder School of Business’s marketing faculty.
Social Media Analytics. This class covers the basic principles of social media analytics for beginners and for marketers who want to refresh their knowledge. For all newcomers to social media analytics, this free course offers an introduction to its fundamentals. It aims to help anybody involved in social media analytics, no matter whether they are working for a brand, an agency, or in the media.
HubSpot Academy Inbound Certification. HubSpot Academy’s free Inbound Certification course consists of twelve class lectures that span the four stages of the inbound methodology. In “Amplifying Your Content with Social Media,” learn why social media is an essential element to every inbound strategy. Implement best practices to create an effective social media strategy, including social media monitoring, publishing, and reporting. Additional classes cover search engine optimization, blogging, email marketing, and more.
Social Media Monitoring. Learn how to use social monitoring tools to find the hot pockets of conversation and meet you customers on their own turf. Learn to use social media tools to conduct content curation and find online influencers. Learn social media monitoring for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Craigslist, blogs, and forums using free social media monitoring tools and services, and master the art and science of social media monitoring.
The Business of Social. In “The Business of Social,” learn how to transform your organization’s social marketing from an untracked investment to an integral part of your company’s marketing strategy. Learn the legal considerations involved as well as proven performance metrics and management tactics for success. This is another course in the Social Media Marketing Specialization from Northwestern University.
Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content. Created by The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, this course explains how things catch on and helps you apply these ideas to be more effective at marketing your ideas, brands, or products. Drawing on principles from his best-selling book, “Contagious: Why Things Catch On,” Professor Jonah Berger illustrates successful strategies to use buzz to create virality so that your campaigns become more shareable on social media and elsewhere. By the end of this course, you’ll have a better understanding of how to craft contagious content, build stickier messages, and get any product, idea, or behavior to catch on.
Quick Sprout University. Neil Patel’s Quick Sprout University offers a wide variety of short classes in social media, as well as content marketing, email marketing, paid advertising, SEO, link building, and more. Social media courses include “How to Enhance Your Social Media Presence” and “How to Improve Your Social Media Marketing with Social Media Metrics.” Learn the right way (and wrong way) to set up your social media profiles, how to add social sharing buttons to your blog, how to optimize your social media profiles for search engines, and engage with your followers to turn them into paying customers.
Digital Analytics for Marketing Professionals. This course builds on the theory and foundations of marketing analytics and focuses on practical application by demystifying the use of data in marketing and helping you realize the power of visualizing data with artful use of numbers found in the digital space. This course is part of the “iMBA” offered by of the University of Illinois Masters of Business Administration degree program.
Content, Advertising & Social IMC. In this course, you’ll learn how marketers are successfully navigating today’s media landscape. Learn why developing engaging content for your audience is an essential component in effective social marketing. A panel of experts unlocks the paid-owned-earned media riddle and replaces it with an integrated who-what-where approach that utilizes platform-specific messaging to grow your market share. This course also includes an overview of the integrated marketing communications strategy for social and how it is being deployed around the globe, as well as gamification tips to keep your audiences coming back for more. In addition, you will learn the secrets to advertising on Facebook and other social sites.
Email Marketing for E-Commerce. This quick class with MailChimp’s Director of VIP Services, Ariana Hargrave, shares tools and tips you can put into action today to send better emails and achieve your business goals. Explore three key concepts to boost your business through email, automation, optimization, and personalization, with helpful tactics and visual examples for each.
Advanced Social Media Marketing for Picking Up Clients. In “Advanced Social Media Marketing for Picking Up Clients,” learn how to implement simple rules and attract quality, motivated clients to you via social media. Discover how to use Facebook groups, niche forums, online bulletin boards, and YouTube to your own professional ends.
Facebook Blueprint. Learn the best practices of Facebook marketing through a series of free, self-paced online courses and webinars. Or follow a tailored learning path made up of courses curated for your role. Gain an edge with your followers by exploring topics, such as content targeting, audience insights, brand awareness, and brand best practices.
Bio • RSS Feed
Want to keep your customers in the know about upcoming sales and new products? If so, then email marketing is a great place to start!
By adding an application like Get Subscribers to your website, you can offer your customers the option to sign up for your newsletter. Option is the keyword here. Unlike cold emailing and other outbound marketing techniques, your customers are giving their permission for you to email them about your business.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to email marketing is your frequency. The last thing you’ll want to do is spam your subscribers. This will more than likely cause people to ignore your emails and eventually, unsubscribe. Find a sweet spot and be sure to track the open and click rates in your analytics tool that’s built right into Wix Shoutout.
Make social networks work for you
While it’s important that you entice existing and potential customers to visit your website, you should also engage with them elsewhere, and social networks are perfect for this!
In addition to publishing content that your community will enjoy and engage with, you also want to engage back! Reply to comments, ask questions, and hear your community’s feedback. Grooming and nurturing your community builds trust and creates loyal customers.
Here are a few examples of some of fun we had with our online social community:
Fifty shades of blue, green and red 💙💚❤️️
Can you figure out which circle is different?
Comment below with your discoveries!
You only need one rule to rule them all 💪
Monday got you down?
Guess who has a remedy for you! (hint: we do)
🌞 Follow these steps for a better you 🌞 #MondayMotivation
As we mentioned above, social networks can and should be used for content marketing and community management. This doesn’t change the fact that social advertising remains to be one the most efficient and direct marketing tools for SMBs. Using the promotion tools of Facebook, YouTube and other platforms is worth the investment for many reasons:
With all that, you can enjoy rich analytics tools to constantly optimize your content in order to improve your social strategy.
Search engine marketing
If you have a website, proper SEO and sharing on social media can be great to get your business name out there. However, some businesses may want to look into paid advertising to show up on search engines like Google, Bing and more.
This approach usually consists of bidding for a specific search phrase so that your website will appear when someone searches for that specific phrase. When your website shows up in the non-organic search results and someone clicks it, you are required to pay the bid price you set when creating your ad.
The more you’re willing to pay per click, the more often your website will likely appear when someone searches your desired keyphrase.
If your business is a brick and mortar store, you’ll definitely want to look into local advertising along with your online presence. Luckily, there are several different ways to do this.
A great first step is to submit your business to local directories. For example, enlisting on Google My Business will land you on Google Maps almost immediately. Other services like Yahoo Local, Yelp, and Craigslist will also help your local presence online.
As we mentioned earlier, outbound marketing also has an important role while advertising locally. You can run advertisements in your local newspapers, magazines and radio stations, and even place a bumper sticker or sign on your own car to literally advertise on the go.
Guerilla marketing is usually a low-cost and usually highly-effective strategy when applied correctly. It’s unconventional nature lends itself to be “out there” in ways traditional strategies are not. It can be used in a variety of ways, which can make defining it difficult. However, one thing with this strategy remains the same: it’s usually done outside or in other public places to ensure maximum exposure.
There’s usually an imaginative “wow-factor” to take people by surprise and generate buzz. One of the most simple (and common) guerilla marketing tactics is either posting or passing out flyers or products for your brand or even using street art. However, there are several other (more extreme) ways guerilla marketing techniques get attention.
While guerilla marketing is said to be primarily a method for small businesses, it hasn’t stopped big brands that are already known to use it. Take a look at National Geographic’s ad for Shark Week, showing a shark literally chomping on you as you enter a bus.
Want to really create a lasting effect with your ads? Prank advertising has been a very popular method of grabbing and keeping attention. There’s little to explain when it comes to this technique, as we’re sure you’ve been at the butt end of a prank or two yourself.
Many prank ads are designed to shock or scare, only to offer a sigh of relief when the “victim” realizes that it is indeed a trick. Take LG’s “So Real It’s Scary” ad for example. The company used a prank to showcase how lifelike it’s IPS monitors are, by making people in an elevator believe that the floor is literally falling beneath them!
Another great way to promote your business is to partner up with another business for cross-promotion in some form or another. The partnership should be created with a business that shares both your company values and has a similar audience, but is not a direct competitor.
There are a handful of ways that your business can work with another, such as co-producing content to share online or offering discounts at business ‘A’ if they are members at Business ‘B’ and vice versa. Partnership marketing benefits both businesses allowing each other access to a wider audience they previously may not have reached.
Having trouble finding the perfect partnership? Then maybe a little outreach marketing will do you well!
Chris Parbey - October 10, 2017
Content marketing continues to prove useful for all businesses. Edgy Labs gives you our 3 musts for every content marketing strategy.
A lot of business owners know the importance of content marketing in promoting their products or services these days. A whopping 92% of B2B companies are using content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy.
Out of this number, 67% do not have a content marketing strategy. This has led them to achieve a minimal and in some cases no successes in their content marketing efforts.
In contrast, the few that do have a content strategy have actually had higher levels of success.
It’s very important you have a plan. Your plan can include different tactics. However, we strongly advise having these 3 strategies as part of your content marketing plan.
Here are the 3 Content Marketing Musts for Your Business:
1. Amplify Your Social Media Efforts
You’ve probably heard this a lot and that is because it’s important. Social media still remains the best medium for content marketing. People are constantly checking their timelines for the latest content. You must work hard to constantly appear on the timelines of your customers.
To amplify your social media marketing efforts, you must take a few things into consideration:
First, depending on the type of business, not every social media platform will be great for you. Choose the right ones to gain the maximum impact from your efforts. Facebook, however, remains the biggest source of referral traffic for content marketers.
We’ve already covered The 10 Best Social Media Campaign Strategies for Small Business. Use this as a starting point to constantly create engaging content for your social media channels.
Additionally, you must employ great tools. There are several tools out there that allow you to manage your social media channels and campaigns with ease. It’s not efficient to hop from one social media profile to another. A tool like Hootsuite allows you to syndicate all your social media channels into one dashboard.
Besides management, it is equally important to dive into the data of your campaigns. We’ve also covered 5 More Social Media Analytics Tools to maximize engagement. These tools will assist you to find out which campaigns perform best and what’s responsible for the great performance.
2. Create Video Content
CISCO’s VNI Forecasts that video traffic will make up 82% of consumer internet traffic by 2021. Facebook has also announced that it’s gearing towards a “video first” platform. For this reason, the social media giant has actually started giving preference to video content. Videos currently receive 135% more organic reach on Facebook than text, images, and links.
Instagram and all other social media platforms are also focusing more on video content which is why your business needs to start creating video content. Compared to other forms of content, videos actually have higher engagement.
Most small businesses see video content production as expensive and have long avoided it. However, there are ways to create videos without blowing your bank.
Another good news about creating video content is that you don’t even have to brainstorm new ideas. You can actually repurpose your existing written content into videos. We’ve written a detailed piece on how to do this.
3. Maintain Your Blog
Don’t kill your blog just yet. We’re still in 2017 which means written content is still as important as videos will be in 2021. This means your blog still forms part of the basis of your content marketing strategy.
Secondly, the best and most self-sustaining traffic which is organic traffic from search engines takes written content into consideration first. You must keep creating high-quality content to rank higher in search engines.
Lastly, you can host your video content on your blog as well. Almost all social media platforms offer a way to embed content on blogs. Take advantage of this feature to host your videos on both social media and your own blog.
John Ellett , CONTRIBUTOR
“Engage the customer the way they want to buy not the way you want to sell”
Last week, B2B marketers from around the world gathered to share insights on the evolving practice of business-to-business marketing. Under the banner of “Putting Customer Obsession To Work For B2B Marketing And Sales”, analysts from Forrester, executives from martech companies and leaders from B2B marketers discussed innovative approaches for putting the customer at the center of B2B marketing efforts. Here are six tidbits of advice garnered from the event.
“Don’t try to change everything” - Laura Ramos, Forrester VP and principal analyst, acknowledged that the mindset shift from ‘inside out thinking’ to putting customers at the center of marketing is not easy. She recommended starting by focusing first on existing customers who have a high lifetime value and then turning them into brand advocates. By cultivate strong customer communities, reinforcing customer knowledge and being empathetic to their feelings, you can build trust which will lead to loyalty and lifetime value.
“Behavior trumps profiles” - Amanda Kahlow, founder and chief strategist at 6sense, shared how predictive analytics can help B2B marketers identify in-market buyers and help you target the right person and account at the right time with the right message. By using data from a myriad of first and third party sources that reflects the behavior of people and marrying that with profile information, marketers can progress beyond targeting accounts and individuals based on basic look-alike modeling to more effective targeting based on predictive intelligence. Marketers who are then empathetic to the needs of buyers can expect to see significant improvements in their demand generation efforts.
“Gating content kills relationship building” - Forrester principal analyst Steve Casey cited the firm’s research that 68% of B2B buyers prefer to gather information on their own. He added that 81% of Millennials and Gen Xers, increasingly important audiences to B2B marketers, decide not to download content because they didn’t want to fill out a form. He encouraged marketers to create conversation-qualified leads by retargeting anonymous visitors to promote the next episode of the content portfolio and eventually offer even more relevant content in exchange for name and email only. You can get most of the additional information you want from data appending services or by progressively profiling the buyer.
“Engage the customer the way they want to buy not the way you want to sell” - Phil Horn, SVP of Sales and Service for the Sacramento Kings has helped keep the NBA team’s arena full with business and family ticket holders by adopting digital platforms that help his sellers engage with buyers in more personalized ways. By prioritizing social media engagement, filming personalized videos and drafting emails using AI-technology, the Kings have topped the league in new ticket sales twice, even without having a championship record.
“Make deposits before asking for withdraws.” - Social selling expert Jill Rowley highlighted how ludicrous the behavior of most sales people is who reach out asking for “ten minutes of your time to learn about your needs.” Time is a precious commodity and the right to ask for it should be earned by adding value in advance of an ask. With a little research, a salesperson can anticipate issues that may be relevant to a buyer and then share content that is valued and appreciated. Marketers should equip sellers with a repository of content, both curated and created, that meets that threshold.
“Marketing performance measures shouldn’t be about who gets credit” - During a panel led by Allison Snow from Forrester, the topic of KPIs and measuring marketing contribution to pipeline was discussed. Panelist Guarav Chand from Dell, Jim Blackie from ON24 and John Bell from Travelers agreed that measurements should be used to optimize the demand generation system and to tie marketing and sales teams to common objectives. Fighting over who gets credit between the two functions diminishes collaboration and ultimately hurts business performance. CMOs and CROs should co-present to their leadership from a common set of data and not bring their own facts to justify their positions.
John Ellett is CEO of the CMO Accelerator at nFusion, and author of The CMO Manifesto: A 100-Day Action Plan for Marketing Change Agents.
Facebook is free, and it’s a great business marketing tool. Why on earth would you pay to use it?
Because paying Facebook to “boost” a post or to conduct another type of advertising campaign works. I’ve seen the results firsthand.
Every business should have a Facebook advertising plan in place because Facebook ads are easy to create, inexpensive to run and can meet your business goals — whatever they are.
I especially recommend Facebook advertising to my nonprofit clients, and to the micro-businesses with which I work. Rest assured, I believe traditional paid advertising (newspapers, magazines, radio or television) has its place. I just wouldn’t spend a lot of money on it these days without being absolutely sure of getting results and having my goals met.
You’ll know almost immediately if your Facebook ad is working. You’ll see how many clicked on it and how many just saw the ad. You’ll also be able to tell if the copy you wrote and/or the graphics you included were lousy, and you can then quickly change something and try again, without losing your shirt.
In fact, Facebook has this marvelous option for your ads: You can design a Facebook ad with one set of text, but six different images. Facebook will run the ad, alternating the six images to your targeted audience for 24 hours. Then it will deliver only the one with the image that performs best. That’s A/B testing (which marketers always recommend) on-the-fly and on-the-cheap!
GREAT FOR EVENTS
I’m a fan of Facebook advertising and Mark Zuckerberg didn’t pay me to say that. I have used it mainly for event marketing and can state unequivocally that, with a Facebook ad as the only form of marketing, I brought people to my events, for pennies-per-attendee. Seriously.
Your costs will vary, but trust me when I say they’re cheap. If you have $10, try running an “offer” ad (such as a coupon) and see the response. You’ll get substantial impact if you know exactly who you are trying to reach.
KNOW THY AUDIENCE
Ah, but there’s the key. If you do NOT know who you are trying to reach with your ad, walk away. For effective Facebook advertising, you must know 1) who you are trying to reach in terms of their age, gender, and location, at least, and 2) exactly what you want that reader to do — click here, buy this, sign-up, for example.
With a specific target audience in mind and a specific goal for your ad, you’ve completed 90 percent of the work in a successful advertising campaign on Facebook. So, what’s stopping you?
Catch up on my current posts along with industry articles