influencers

 

Even in the digital world, not everyone’s word carries the same weight. Local celebrities, niche experts and figures of authority speak with the words that not just reach, but also move people and serve as highly efficient calls to action. Some would say that as a species, we tend to look for leaders, but can this phenomenon be turned to benefit a small business? Let’s find out!

 

1. Finding most adequate influencers


First things first, you need to be aware of the fact that each demographic has its own favorite medium. You may get the greatest Twitter influencer to endorse you, but what effect will this have if you primarily target baby boomers, a demographic with low attendance on this social network. For them, you need to take a different approach. This means that you need to determine the channel you will focus on first and then look for those who have influence there; not the other way around.

 

Another thing you need to look at is the profession or a field of expertise of an influencer. Sure, having a Hollywood A-list actor back you, is always a great thing (although not something likely to happen to a small local company), however, you might want to look for someone a bit more niche-specific. For example, if you are selling medical supplies, wouldn’t you rather that a reputable local physician backs you up than a local football star. These are all just some of the things you need to look out for when looking for influencers.

 

2. Reach out to them


Next thing you need to worry about is the way you approach these influencers. Earlier on, we mentioned low chances of having someone universally famous to endorse you, why is this so? Well, because like anything else, influencer marketing is a business. Of course, not everything is necessarily about the money. Some influencers are willing to trade a favor for favor and this is something you need to set clear from the very start. It is only natural that everyone values their own time the most, which is why you need to set it clear from the beginning what you can do for them (what they can do for you is more or less obvious by this point).

 

Here’s a list of tools that can help:

 

 

3. Bringing value to your audience


In most cases, your audience will be mostly interested in those influencers who can bring some value to them. For example, if you take the aforementioned doctor into question, your viewers will tune in to get some free medical advice. The second influencer type we mentioned ‘the football player’ may be there to offer them a tip or two about fitness, or give them an invaluable insight into the life of a professional athlete. Finally, there are those who can teach your audience about starting their own business, opening a one-person startup or even teach them how to get paid online. Still, in order for this to have the maximum effect, you need to identify which of these would interest your target market the most.

 

4. Trust goes both ways


Like any other relationship, the bond between the influencer and your audience relies on trust. Trust, however, goes both ways. First of all, it is vital that the influencer that is currently promoting you is seen using your product or services. Imagine a scenario where your line of work is the retail of sport’s gear and your influencer is buying their own equipment from someone else. What kind of a message does this send? “Sure, this gear is good enough for you folks, but for me… not so much?” Still, in order to avoid sending this kind of message, the service you are providing or the product you are selling needs to be good enough. So good in fact, that the influencer won’t mind putting their name next to it.

 

You see, the name of your brand is not the only thing that is on the line here. If you are an influencer, the last thing you want is to get associated with a company that has a negative business reputation. In this way, you start losing credibility and it becomes more than apparent that you are in it just for the money. Needless to say, this is not something your followers want to see.

 

5. Cost-efficiency


Probably the main reason why influencer marketing is so great for small business is its cost-efficiency. As we already mentioned, sometimes you won’t even have to use the cash (which you don’t have), but can pay your influencer with favors such as free products. Sure, this can be quite expensive, as well, but when you consider what you gain in return, it usually turns out to be more than worth your while. Minimum investment, maximum return, this is basically the term cost-efficiency in a nutshell.

 

6. A part of the larger picture


Finally, even though pulling off the influencer marketing in the right way can be game-changing, it is vital that you put it into perspective and take a larger picture into account. It is still a part of your overall marketing strategy and it works best when combined with some additional methods. Add an inspiring user testimonial, a review, a tutorial or even some discount offers into the mix and only then will you give a serious boost to your ROI. One more thing, the more you reveal about your product, the less intriguing it will appear, which is not something you want to deal with. Sometimes less is more and shrouding your product in the veil of mystery may only make your target audience to want it more.

 

Conclusion


As you can see, it is not just about finding the right influencer. It is also about the way you reach out to them, the deal you make and the favors you promise in exchange for their endorsement. Furthermore, the way in which your product is promoted matters almost as much as who is promoting it, which is something you need to be extra careful about. Finally, keep in mind that although vital, influencer marketing is still a small segment of your overall digital marketing strategy.

 

Author

Emma Miller is a Sydney based writer with a degree in marketing. Interested in digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends. She’s a contributor at BizzMark Blog.

Black Friday Marketing

There’s really only one item that brave Black Friday shoppers need — a mobile device. Whether you’re rocking a phone, a tablet, or one of those new hybrid ‘phablets,’ your device is the perfect tool for plotting your shopping route and letting you know where the best deals are.

This year many stores have created special content especially for social networking fans and device owners. As more and more users sign up for communities like Facebook or Pinterest, smart businesses are too.

Macy’s

Photo by Phillie Casablanca via Flickr

The retailer sometimes gets blamed for starting this whole Black Friday madness in 1924 with its Thanksgiving Day parade. The day is the official signal to the world to get shopping! Macy’s also got a lot of attention this year by announcing it was going to be open Thursday night for the first time. People wanting to shop at Macy’s on black Friday or preview what’s going to be on sale can check out all sorts of online resources, including the official Macy’s page, a Macy’s mobile app and the official Macy’s Pinterest page. They can also sign up for special Black Friday text messages.

Wal-Mart

Photo by djLicious via Flickr

The world’s largest retailer also wants to be the world’s largest holiday retailer, and has come up with an entire “Your Black Friday Destination” campaign for that shopping day and beyond. This includes access to sale information for its stores and online catalog plus an official app for every common device platform. With the app, you can add products to a Favorite list by clicking the item in various listings, search by voice, or scan the bar code of the item in the store. You can also sign up for emails or notifications when certain items come on sale.

Best Buy

Photo by tshein via Flickr

The electronics retailer has some good things going for it. It typically offers great deals on Black Friday, Saturday, Sunday and CyberMonday. Deals abound on Black Friday, and fans are encouraged to follow Twitter and Facebook on their computers or mobile devices for special announcements and in-store and online exclusive deals. You also can share your email to be put on a list for other super Black Friday offers.

Toys R Us

Photo by thinbegin via Flickr

The world’s largest toy store knows how to wow kids, especially by printing larger and larger inserts in the newspapers as early as mid-October. The release of the Big Toy Book has become a special event, and the store gives kids plenty of time to page through it to circle everything they want. Mobile device owners can visit a Black Friday portion of the store’s site to get everything from current sales to a store locator. There’s also links to commercials on YouTube plus a Pinterest page of deals. The store also plans to open Thursday evening.

Logo Digital Strategy

 

We are in a digital age where any marketing plan without a digital marketing strategy is simply incomplete. It is predicted that digital media will soon take over all traditional forms in the future. Consumers in this age are not only limited to the information that the company shares with them but through various online channels they get exposed to what people worldwide think of the brand. That is why it is crucial for a brand to use digital as well as traditional channels to earn their consumers’ trust.

 

Consumers prefer a brand usually because it appeals to them visually; this proves image is everything in the marketing world. It’s all about first impressions when it comes to attracting new customers and timeless appeal when you plan to retain them. That is why your brand needs a great logo because a logo symbolizes your business.

 

If you are a big, corporate brand or even a small one operating from home, your brand needs a logo because it gives you a professional look. Consumers tend to remember the logo more than the name of the brand.

 

Your logo needs to be everywhere!


 

The reason any business aims to promote their business online is to get recognition and how can consumers recognize a product or service successfully without a logo? As I mentioned earlier, consumers tend to associate their experiences and preferences through a brand’s logo. If I have bought a beauty product that proves to be amazing, whenever I enter the mall and see the brand’s logo (even if I don’t remember the name of the company) I’ll be likely to enter the store. People usually recognize a person they’ve met before by looking at a picture than by hearing their name, same logic applies to a brand.

 

Your logo goes everywhere, not just on your stationery or the advertisements on billboards but even when you advertise online and on your brand’s Facebook page as well as all other social profile which may include your local listings.

 

Level playing field


 

Digital marketing channels provide for all businesses with a level playing field. So if you are a small business you have a fair chance to make it big. Your logo needs to be highlighted on your website online.

 

Conduit toolbars are downloadable for free and if you want to put your logo on for free they are a great platform. It enhances the success factor of your branding campaign whenever your subscribers are online.

 

Consistency


 

Brand consistency is important to establish successful customer relationships. Some consumers have the impression that businesses online don’t deliver what they promise hence their trust needs to be gained by being consistent. A well designed logo helps your digital marketing strategy by giving it a professional look and by making your potential consumer think you are trustworthy.

 

When you incorporate your digital marketing strategy you need an integrated view of your consumers’ preferences and expectations across all channels, be it the Web, social media, mobile or e-mail. This information comes in handy for marketers to produce and expect positive and consistent customer experiences. Logos can evoke emotional responses from consumers. This is where the use of your logo comes in, if you design the logo just right to attract the consumer by stirring up just the right emotions that makes the consumer believe your brand can fulfill his expectations.

 

A brand’s logo is a vital part of your digital marketing strategy. Never underestimate the power of a well designed logo!

 

About the author: Marry is a blogger who has flair for writing about branding. She is currently representing designmantic.com – an easy way to get your logos designed.

financial sector

 

The 5th annual Digital Trends Survey of Financial services media was recently conducted by Broadgate Mainland. The 2013 Digital Trends Survey is a huge step within the financial sector, as it evaluates the digital and social media practices in the present digital era, among in-house communications officers and financial journalists in the financial sector of the United Kingdom. This is a simple opinion survey that has had a huge impact on the industry for the past several years.

Highlights:

  • social media is transforming how journalists and PRs communicate
  • journalists stay online, whereas PRs log in and log out
  • social media is important but not essential
  • more companies are adopting social media policies
  • outsourced social media is increasing
  • coverage in print is second best to digital

Just like the previous years, this year, too, the survey focused on the way digital communications and social media are transforming the way PRs and journalists interact/ communicate. It even stressed upon the way in which journalists promote their official work and execute the daily activities on the job. In-house PRs and journalists are known to access the process of social media in a different manner, and at fluctuating times of the day. Journalists have a propensity to stay on the Internet, whereas in-house PRs are known to log in and out of the Internet. They connect with social media more frequently in their downtime; they usually go online during their lunchtimes.

 

Digital Trends Financial Sector

 

 

Social media is, no doubt essential, but still it’s not really viewed as a necessity by in-house communications officers within the financial sector. More number of firms are adapting social media policies these days. However, as per the survey, this is still a work in progress. As a simple solution to upholding multiple numbers of channels, those communications officers who are strained for time are progressively outsourcing regular monitoring of social media channels to a third party. For a journalist, digital coverage is their success. The numbers of page views measure the worth of all their stories.

 

financial survey 2

 

Several social media tools, including Twitter, have also witnessed the momentum, moving from being helpful for conversation and listing in-tools, to being regarded as the most significant channel, which journalists utilize to distribute news pieces and comment, both on the level of personal and broader media. The 2012 survey showed that the PRs desired to pitch by telephone; however, journalists favoured email. However, today, the PRs have taken a significant note over the last year. Now, journalists and PRs both regard email as their first preference, be it for receiving stories or pitching them.

From Broadgate Mainland’ 2013 Digital Trends Report – leaders in financial services pr.

Guest Post contributed by Perl Watson from Worthing UK.

Image Source: Flickr/Bernt Rostad

Reset your Tone

If advertising messages have faltered in the past year and customers have been unmotivated to invest in products and services, perhaps it’s time to upgrade brand strategy in 2013. Unmotivated buyers are often a sign of poor brand development that lacks emotional connection with customers and fails to encourage brand loyalty. To end brand woes this year, companies must first rethink their marketing tone and philosophy. Then, use marketing budgets in the most lucrative venues, which, experts say, include physical advertising and online ads, but not TV ads for which the return of investment has been diminishing.

Resetting the Marketing Tone

Among the most dominant brands, empowerment marketing reigns and will continue to be one of the most influential types of marketing in 2013. Contemporary audiences, far too savvy for subliminal messaging, have pushed companies to turn to self-mocking, outrageous humor or a sense of “coolness” to influence customers. However, humor and coolness pale in comparison to inspiring stories that cause people to reach for their inner hero; the latter is the focus of empowerment marketing, which companies like Nike have turned into an art form. Smaller companies are now duplicating this tone, merging universal philosophical beliefs with customer testimony — while avoiding those with too-good-to-be true tones. All brands, no matter what the size, can benefit from brainstorming a unique and uplifting message in their new advertising. Who knows, it may become as iconic as “Just Do It.”

In addition to inspiring the customer base with ad slogans and themes, many brands still experience a boost in brand image through charity and sponsorships; these allow the company create a benevolent tone and spread brand messaging while showing care for the community.

Physical Marketing is Not Extinct

Although cyber- marketing continues to evolve, physical marketing remains profitable and should be a major focus for businesses in 2013. Since internet ads are relatively inexpensive and have only a modest return on investment, business owners should earmark at least half of the marketing budget for physical advertising. Newspaper print ads and digital billboard ads deserve the most focus. Research shows that physical ads stay in front of people longer than fleeting internet ads and therefore are more effective; physical ads can linger before customers for days, weeks or months via magazines, newspapers, calendars, mugs, key chains, magnets, etc. Surprisingly, despite the decline in print journalism, newspaper ads have the greatest return on investment, yielding an almost 300 percent ROI, according to recent research by the International News Media Association.

Signage which uses color, dynamic visuals and rotating messages are gaining greater acceptance by cities, towns and commercial districts. They have proven to be far more engaging to consumers than static billboards.

Localizing Marketing Efforts

Reaching customers with brand messages tailored to their community is a fast-growing trend which all companies should embrace this year and beyond. Advances in smartphone GPS technology and online geolocation software enables businesses to personalize advertising like never before. This personalization often leads to more satisfied customers and more referrals; referrals are among the best way to expand brand recognition.

The New Age of Internet Marketing

Maintaining websites with clean, well-targeted landing pages is still beneficial, but businesses using internet branding should focus on new social media and content marketing.

Newer social sites, such as Pinterest and Instagram are proving to be marketing gold, according to Business Insider. Savvy companies are maintaining their own accounts and staging marketing campaigns through thematic photos that focus on real life but include strategically-placed brand logos and messages. This style of marketing is informal, highly viral and quite effective.

In addition to visual-based social media, Forbes magazine reports that content marketing remains, in 2013, a strong way to boost brand messaging and gain customers. Websites that offer topical information through fun articles — not through a formal company presence — continue to please users, get shared and breed loyalty. Business should set aside part of the marketing budget to invest in bloggers that can wrap the company message in engaging, informative, yet casual stories.

About the Author

When Lucy Wright isn’t writing about Icon Signs, she’s consulting small business owners. She has worked in marketing and advertising in Chicago for the last 5 years. Lucy has 2 daughters and loves to teaching them about the great big world around them.

Trust Building

 

Trust is something that is very important in today’s online business world. People no longer make purchases on impulse like they once did years ago from random ranking web pages. The game has changed folks and having an outdated website with little to no social reach is something that is going to hurt you as a business when it comes to brand building and online influence.

 

Trust building is just as important today as is flat out web marketing for your website. If you don’t have trust you simply won’t have long term growth and that is a reality with today’s online landscape.

 

Here are 20 ways you can build trust to your website


 

  • Great development: Nothing spells trouble like a broken website. Nobody wants to purchase from a site that does not work properly.
  • Professional Images: If an image does not fit into a space don’t stretch it to make it fit.
  • Spelling: Spelling is always important if you are serious about building trust with readers.
  • Professional Design: I understand design is subjective but if you want your web traffic to take you seriously you have to have up to date design.
  • Clean URL Structures: Depending on your website coding you URL structures should never trail off the end of the field.
  • Testimonials: Whether you sell a service or a product client & customer testimonials will help you build trust.
  • Social Links: Your audience wants to see social links pointing to your site. They want to see you active in the social space building your brand and communicating with your audience.
  • Consistency: Consistency with your branding and your logo is really important. If you want trust your audience needs to see consistency coming from your brand communication.
  • Stability: Search your company name in the search engines, do the results show stability? Do you have positive PR along with social profiles and other trust signals clearly visible?
  • Great Content: If the content on your site is compelling and holds the attention of your audience they are going to give your business that much more weight.
  • External Sources: Whether it is proactive or the community just likes you it is important to have information on your business in other locations online.
  • Live Chat: A live chat feature can often times give your audience a warm fuzzy feeling knowing they can speak with someone if need be.
  • Clean SEO: There is nothing worse than trying to read you’re about page and bumping into more links than content. Keep it clean and de-cluttered.
  • Show your Face: If you have a team of employees show them off. Online consumers like to know there are some humans behind where they put their credit card info.
  • Tell your Story: If your business has a cool story behind it show it off! People like stories especially when it comes to how a business was built.
  • Clean Navigation: You want your web traffic to be able to find your internal pages efficiently without any confusion.
  • Smooth Layout: The website layout should always lead a person down a path to where you want them to go.
  • Remove Pointless Advertisements: If you are trying to sell a brand remove the pointless advertisements flashing and distracting your web audience.
Here are a few great other sources when it comes to trust building that we think you will like reading.

 

KloutWhat the heck is Klout you ask? Klout is this amazing new web application that allows you to understand just how deep your influence penetrates into your social online communities. Social influence is something that has become more and more important because with influence comes a strong voice. When your audience listens and pays attention to what you have to say things are starting to work how they should. Klout generates graphs and scores for you to determine when your Klout is going up or when it is going down.

Below is a nice new explanation tool Klout recently put out in order to let the community understand what it is that they do and how it can help gauge your effectiveness in your social circles.

Understanding Klout

Online Influence

Online influence is a very powerful force and when you got it, boy you got it. Influence online is probably one of the more important goals for a business looking to really tackle the social media space. Being influential online means your business voice can carry a great deal of weight. High profile bloggers tend to have a lot of online influence because people who follow them really take to heart what they have to say. The same goes with brands that have a following. One prime example of online influence is Apple. Now I understand that not everyone can be like Apple which is one of the world’s most powerful brands but their approach can be studied in order to understand how their influence and power has worked for them over the years.

The folks over at M Booth & Beyond have put together this great infographic to better understand the behaviors of social shopping and how influence plays a strong role in those purchases. Social shopping is something that has changed the way business is conducted and for those who still think social media is a fad, you have missed the boat.

Social Sharing Infographic

Social Media & The Holidays

With holiday shopping in full gear companies which neglected to utilize social media more than likely lost out on quite a bit of revenue. Social media marketing is not something that is a fad (yes people still think that) but rather a staple in the marketing community. The folks over at Mr. Youth put together this great infographic that describes the purchasing power behind social media in relation to holiday shopping.

This infographic discusses how brand page interaction affects holiday shopping along with family and friend social interaction as an influencer.

Some important figures to take away:

  • 36% of social media users trust a brand with a social presence
  • 66% of Black Friday/ Cyber Monday shoppers made a purchase because of social media

Holiday Shopping & Social Media

 

Online Influence

 

Being an authority figure in the online space should really be the goal of any website. When you are an authority figure you have the power to socially influence through your actions and words which means you hold a great deal of power & trust in front of your audience. The Bing Webmaster Blog recently put out a great piece on being an online authority which I think everyone should read. Please keep in mind that being an authority figure does not come from slapping together a mediocre plan. It takes though and dedication to put together a fierce action plan.

From Bing:


 

Everyone wants to be an authority.  Everyone wants to be acknowledged for their, well, knowledge.  Everyone wants the increased ranking and traffic that comes when an engine sees you as an authoritative resource.  But so few actually plan a path to success, thinking instead that blasting everything they find across Twitter and auto-following everyone will boost their numbers and get them recognized as an authority.

Being an authority online comes with huge benefits.

  • Increased rankings for individual website pages
  • Industry authority
  • Heavy online influence
  • Increased business
  • Immense traffic spikes
Basically there is no down fall to being an authority figure in any industry but if you truly want to get there you have to lay out a path in the right direction to make it happen.
Here are some great ways to get on the right path to be an authority figure in your space:

 

Be Knowledgeable


 

If you are just getting started in your space you are not going to influence anyone overnight. Authority requires seasoning and experience in a space along with being able to present that experience in the right manner in front of your target audience.

 

Get Active in your Community


 

You absolutely have to get active socially in front of your community. If you want to be viewed as a leader you will have to engage with your audience on social communities like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. You also want to make your website a destination spot that promotes back and forth interaction. (important)

Be a Resource


 

You want your audience to come to you for advice and help. Once they start turning towards you for help that means they are starting to look at you in a whole new different light.

Encourage Sharing


 

If you want others to share your material you are going to have to share their material as well. Encourage proactive content sharing so your audience can learn from not only you but from the people around you too. This will allow you to become a central hub which is really the focus of your efforts.

 

From Bing: (again)


 

Its generally held that when an engine assigns deep links to the content of your website, you’re an authority.  And while this is more or less true, the engine seeing you as an authority happens well in advance of those links appearing.

As you produce useful content, we try to match that useful content against queries.  If the actions searchers take indicate they are pleased with your content as a solid resource, then we try you again the next time.  This testing happens a lot.  Hundreds of thousands to millions of times, depending on query volumes and content matches.

We watch the patterns of interaction and soon enough, those resources that searchers seem to be particularly pleased with start to float to the top.  We’re not just talking click-through-rates here, either.  We’re talking the entire signal-set that influences ranking at work here.

  • Do you have unique, useful content?  Check.
  • Do you produce new content frequently? Check.
  • Do you have a solid history?  Check.
  • Do you have trustworthy links pointing at your content? Check.
  • Do you have an active social presence?  Check.
  • Do people retweet and like your social content? Check.