Feeling overwhelmed by social media? Wondering where to focus your energies – or if all this work is really worth it?
In general, the goal of your social media activities (on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) should be to engage, interact and build loyalty with your audience more than to capture new leads.
It's best to approach social media as a part of your overall marketing plan. With social media, you can learn about your customers, gain followers and improve your business – and over time, increase sales through your efforts.
Here are three ways to use social media to improve your overall marketing:
Small businesses often spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on creating a website, only to find that their site fails to get visitors' attention, doesn't bring in the leads they were hoping for or meet the goals they set for the site in the first place.
So here's my suggestion for the best way to start improving your site without spending a dime:
Ask for feedback from someone outside your office.
That's right. Ask someone who's not very familiar with your business or your website to sit down and go through your website with you. Watch this person read, click, and navigate their way through the site, and then ask that person questions, such as:
Why does this help? Because you and your staff know what your business does and what you want your site to accomplish. Other people don't.
What's clear to you is clear to you -- and it may not be clear to everyone else.
Of course, there are plenty of other tools you can use to help improve your site (including Google Analytics and ClickTale), but this is the fastest way I know of to get feedback and use it to start improving your site.
Have other suggestions or comments? Leave them below!
You've heard the phrase, “Your best customer is your current customer.” Why? Because your current customers already know what you do and have demonstrated their willingness to buy from you; acquiring a new customer costs five to ten times as much as keeping an existing customer. Plus, repeat customers generally spend more – up to 67% more – than new ones.
What does this mean? It's time to show your loyal customers some love! There are many ways to show your customers you're thinking about them, you appreciate their business and want them to keep coming back. Ideally, you'll develop raving fans of your business who want to share their excitement and tell others what you do, spreading the word for you for free through social media. Here are three tips for improving customer loyalty and sales.
1) Keep in Touch – How often do you touch base with your customers? Do you send out a monthly newsletter in the mail or via email? Do you alert them to specials and offers that are available on your Facebook page? Do you call your customers individually after the purchase of a big-ticket item to see if they're satisfied? These are all great ways to stay on your customers' radar and keep them thinking about you. (Just be careful not to email them too much!)
2) Get Their Feedback – Wondering how you could better serve your clients? Ask them! Create a survey to find out how satisfied they are with your products or services and then see what you can do to act on their suggestions. If you're thinking of trying out a new product, ask your customers to vote for colors, styles, features, etc., through online polls.
3) Find Special Ways to Show You Care – In doing some recent web research for a client, I came across an excellent testimonial from a customer. The company was a family-owned funeral home, and the customer explained that they not only did a wonderful, professional job with her family member’s funeral, but took the time to write her a hand-written note on the one-year anniversary of the funeral to let her know that they knew it would be an emotional time and were thinking of her. How impressive and thoughtful is that?
What other great customer appreciation ideas do you have? Leave a comment!
I love Adobe software -- but it's expensive. And when all you need to do is combine a few pdf files, you really don't need all the bells and whistles (or the pricetag) of Acrobat Professional.
Enter one of my new favorite free tools: FoxyUtils.
FoxyUtils is an online program that lets you merge, split, unlock and protect pdfs for free. It works on both PCs and Macs, which is a big help for those of us in the Apple world. If you sign up for a free account, you can merge files up to 50 MB; if you don't want to sign up, you can still merge files up to 30 MB.
If you need to combine even larger pdfs (up to 200 MB) and want to enjoy the benefit of viewing the site without ads, you can set up a paid account for $4.99 per month.
This program saved me endless time and hassle last week when I needed to combine several large pdfs into one file for a client's CreateSpace book. I haven't used the other options (unlock or protect) yet, but expect I will in the near future.
Have you used this resource? Got another favorite online freebie? Let me know!
One of my new favorite free online tools is Zamzar -- a site that allows you to convert all types of documents and files. I first found this site when I was looking for a way to convert a client's old WordPerfect files into OpenOffice docs, but Zamzar allows for much more than that.
With Zamzar, you can convert documents, eBooks, images, audio and video files for free. For instance, you can convert .eps files to .tiff or jpg files, .pdfs to .jpgs, and mp3 files to wav files, etc. Usually, you upload the file you want to convert and Zamzar emails you with a link to download the file once the conversion is done.
If you find you need to convert a lot of files (or really big files) on a regular basis, or if you want to store and manage files, you can sign up for a paid account (Basic accounts start at $7 per month).
This tool saved me a ton of time and hassle -- hope it does the same for you!
Have you tried Zamzar? Share your comments!
Big data is hot -- and getting bigger fast. Just what is it? Here's a great infographic from Asigra that helps explain this concept.
A new survey of more than 1,500 B2B marketing professionals found that their #1 challenge in 2012 was creating enough content. What does this mean for 2013? More opportunities for content writers.
This finding is probably no surprise to most marketers -- most of us just can't find enough hours in the day to create all the content we need. However, it suggests that more companies will be looking to outsource some of their writing needs through freelancers -- and through services like Elance, oDesk.com, Fiverr and Guru.com.
The results/article by Social Media Examiner also looks at other major content marketing trends for the coming year.
Does this match with your experience? Do you expect to outsource content writing in 2013? Leave your comments below!
Wise Penny has a new phone number! You can now reach the office by calling 303-656-9457. As always, you can also connect by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
So excited to share this guest post today from my friend and former colleague Gail Van Wart!
Fresh out of college and ready to roll. Business ideas have been brewing for a couple of years and you just can’t wait to get started. You finally merge onto the highway only to discover, a short way down the road, all your passion and education will run into a roadblock if you don’t know when and where to change lanes. The road to success has to be traveled with creative marketing and flexible planning.
Planning is a must. Yes, you’ve heard that before, and as long as you are in business, you’ll continue to hear it over and over again. It’s important to know what your goals are, and, perhaps even more important, to know when to change them. A good plan is a plan that works. If your plan is not working out as well as it looked on paper, it may be time to haul into a rest area and take a better look at your road map. Sometimes, all you may need to do is take a little detour, other times you could realize you need a whole new route. Don’t be afraid to admit it if you took a wrong turn, that’s the only way you’ll be able to change directions and reach your goals.
Marketing is just as important as planning. Without it your plan will never get out of the driveway. Sure, marketing is easy if you’re rich and famous. But, what do you do if you have neither money nor reputation? Answer: gorilla marketing. You do everything you can, every day, to get the word out without cost or at low cost. Take advantage of free directory and business listings, become a social media whizz, connect on the web in as many ways as possible, link your online media together, and utilize key words to target your audience. Use community bulletin boards — in short, become visible in your business community.
For example, Matt, who, coincidently, really is fresh out of New England School of Communication, is building his business on the side while working at a local television station as an early morning news director. He loves his new job at the station; however, his passion for being behind the lens of a camera takes over in the afternoon and evening and seems to be developing into a nice little sideline for him. He can’t afford to invest in a personal domain but did a little research on the Internet and found webs.com offers a free website. Of course there are advanced levels to his webs.com site he can grow into, for a fee, to provide better visibility. Since Matt has linked www.adamsstudioproductions.webs.com with his social media, the simple and free site works well for now and provides a nice online presence he can refer interested parties to.
Another important marketing strategy Matt uses is networking, or partnering, with other businesses offering different, yet coordinating, services to his target audience. Matt’s video and photography services compliment the limousine and DJ services he has teamed up with. This arrangement provides each business with a wider range of promotional opportunities and they all profit as a team.
If you are going to spend any hard earned cash while starting a new venture, purchase good old-fashion business cards. They’re inexpensive and a time proven method of connecting to customers. Business cards can be dropped off at places potential clients frequent and you can also place them directly into their hands. They’re often passed around, like word of mouth.
Basically, if you don’t stray from your business goals and spend your money wisely, you will reach your destination successfully, even if you hit a few bumps in the road or have to get out and push now and then along the way.
Gail J. VanWart
Out of the Blue LLC
@Outofthebluellc on Twitter
Want to share your computer screen with someone in another city, state, or country? Join.Me is one of the best tools I've found to help get the point across -- and it's free.
Join.Me is a live screen sharing program, so if you want to show someone how to use a software program, share a PowerPoint presentation, review edits to a document, run a webinar, etc., you can do it all (and share with up to 250 people) by clicking to share your screen and providing your audience with the number code you're given. Viewers simply go to the Join.Me website, enter the code, and view exactly what's happening on your screen.
Join.Me also allows you to share files with viewers, chat, and enable audio during the presentation. You can get downloads to view on mobiles, as well.
Join.Me does have paid Pro options for business as well (yep, it's a freemium!), but if you don't need to switch presenters, have a meeting scheduler or international conference lines, you'll probably be fine with the free version.
Check it out and let me know what you think!
Natalie Bolton is a Boulder County-based marketing and design professional who help businesses improve their marketing and reach their goals.
I'd love to know your thoughts and ideas – click here to send me an email with feedback!