Instagram is one of the largest social media platforms with over 1 billion monthly users. While Instagram is largely seen as a place for social discourse, the platform is also a powerful tool for businesses. Over 25 million companies use Instagram for business and Instagram has been labeled as the “new home for brands.” Brands have found great success on Instagram as the platform boasts a high engagement rate, brand-loyal users, the ability to utilize APIs, and insights that make tracking business goals simple. When used effectively, Instagram marketing can be wonderous for businesses. Below are a few tips and tricks that will allow you to reap the most benefits of marketing your business on Instagram.
The first step in marketing your business on Instagram is to create an Instagram business account. You can convert an existing personal account if that account has a history suitable for your business or you can create a business account from scratch. If you convert an existing personal account to a business account, the transition is seamless as all your followers and posts carry over. However, carrying over past posts to a business account can be a blessing and a curse. If the account has posted content that is unsuitable for your business, then those problematic posts will be fully visible even after converting to a business account. Be careful not to tarnish your business’s image right out of the gate by converting an account that is not brand-appropriate.
API stands for Application Program Interface and they allow one program to work with a different program. APIs are invaluable tools businesses use to utilize data and new features that would be inaccessible otherwise.
In 2018, Instagram shut down its public API. This meant that third-party apps could no longer access the Instagram API without permission. The loss of the public Instagram API was a tough pill to swallow, but thankfully, Graph API was introduced as a replacement. However, the death of the public API also brought about the end of bots on Instagram. Marketers can take solace in knowing that engagement is now largely authentic and organic.
Graph API is more restrictive than the original public API, but Graph API is the only way for Instagram business accounts to collect valuable data. With Graph API, business accounts can track hashtags, among other metrics, but there are some limitations. You are limited to 30 tracked hashtags across seven days. If you want to swap one tracked hashtag for another, you are forced to wait seven days. This restriction means you must choose your tracked tags carefully, so monitor the hashtags that generate the largest impact.
Many developers have adapted to Graph API and have built Instagram approved apps that bring long-loved features to businesses on Instagram. These third-party apps allow you to post pictures from other websites, validate customer addresses, moderate comments, and analyze performance metrics.
Instagram is primarily a visual platform as the majority of posts on Instagram are images rather than text. The first thing people generally see when they open their Instagram feed is a picture, so it is paramount that your business only posts professional quality pictures. Take the time to shoot unique high-quality pictures and edit them to suit your needs. A picture alone is not enough as a professional photo must be accompanied by a caption and appropriate hashtags for the post to be effective. It is important to note that links don’t work in captions; the only place you can share a link is in your profile.
Engagement is key to companies on Instagram. Every company wants their customers to interact and engage with their posts. There are a few ways to generate engagement, but the core principle is talking with your customers rather than talking at your customers. Bring your customers into the fold by hosting contests for user-created content. Offer a prize for the best picture of someone wearing your brand’s jacket or invite customers to caption an image with the best reply receiving a discount. People enjoy friendly creative competition, so use it to your advantage by having the competition double as marketing. Use a unique hashtag for these competitions so you can easily track responses and analyze the data after the contest.
It can be hard to make your business stand out on Instagram, but with the proper marketing techniques, you can elevate your business above the rest. By utilizing a business account and the accompanying Graph API, you gain access to invaluable data and API capabilities. Put your best foot forward by posting high-quality images with captions and strategic hashtags. Encourage your customers to interact with your brand by hosting fun and creative contests.
There’s a very good chance that you’re aware of just how powerful a regular, well-written, informative blog can be when it comes to lead generation and driving traffic. If you aren’t posting your blogs to your Facebook page (or if you don’t yet have a Facebook page), you could be missing out on even better results. Here’s what you should know about creating and maintaining a relationship between your blog and your Facebook account.
Before diving into the best way to share your blogs with the world, it’s helpful to recap all the reasons why you should be writing and maintaining a blog on your website in the first place. Of the dozens of exceptionally good reasons, the most important include:
For the first several years after its inception, business Facebook pages were optional. However, this is 2019, and if your business doesn’t yet have a Facebook presence, you are cheating yourself out of traffic. A Facebook page for your business gives you the opportunity to put your brand in front of millions or even billions of people by sharing everything from status updates to photos and videos and even your blog posts.
A Facebook page gives you the opportunity to engage with your customers – or even your would-be customers – on a very personal level. The more interaction with your business posts, the more people who will see them, and the cycle continues. Facebook also gives you the opportunity to focus attention on a very specific action. Do you need to generate leads for your business? Ask people to subscribe to your newsletter. Are you trying to sell a backlog of stock? Announce a huge sale. The possibilities are endless, and Facebook is an excellent way to make yourself known.
Finally, if you are struggling to come up with ideas for your blog, your Facebook page is the perfect solution for this issue. You can simply ask the people following you what they want to know. Essentially, ask them what you should write about. When you follow through with their requests, not only are you building rapport with your audience, but you can be certain that your topic is trending with the people who matter most to your business’s success.
You should be writing a new blog for your website at least once each week, and you should be certain that your blog covers a trending topic that your readers will find interesting. Though it should be related to your business in some way, it is also important that it is relevant to your audience. It doesn’t always have to be about you, per se, but it should be related to your niche or industry. Each time you put a new blog on your website, head over to your business Facebook page and share a link there. You can create a short, simple headline to accompany the link, or you can create a call to action and help direct people to click.
When you share this link, Facebook will also show your followers the image that you selected to represent the blog post on your website to make your social media post more attractive to readers. Be sure you choose your blog images carefully so that they show up clearly and in the right size when you share them on Facebook.
Numerous experts – including our own – believe posting to Facebook twice a day, every single day, any time from late morning until mid-afternoon is the best strategy. This gives you access to 14 Facebook posts a week that you should divide evenly into photos, videos, questions, polls, and links to your blog. Making sure to create different types of social media content will cover all your bases and reach the largest number of people possible.
If you only write one blog a week, be sure that you provide a link to every single one. If you write two blogs a week and publish both on the same day, you can link to one of the posts on Facebook but tease the other in the caption or comment. If you publish your blogs on different days of the week, consider sharing up to three a week on Facebook if they are relevant, well-written, and informative without being pushy.
Just as not posting on Facebook at all can cheat you out of traffic and leads, posting too frequently can have much the same effect, so be sure to keep this in mind. For the best possible results, share no more than twice per day on Facebook. Otherwise, by the time you get around to sharing your blog links, people may not be as interested in hearing from you. What’s more, if you’re posting your links too early in the morning or too late at night, you won’t get the engagement that will benefit you.
In summary, you should post links to your blogs no more than three times per week to keep your reach as broad as possible. It is also important to post your links when your readers are most likely to be on Facebook and realize that by the 90-minute mark, your Facebook post has reached its half-life in terms of engagement. Pick the best three-hour window possible and share your link right at the start of that window to get the best possible results.
Social listening is one of the most powerful ways to observe the market firsthand. It can help savvy marketers develop a marketing strategy based on people’s real online actions and behaviors. While it might seem like a daunting or time-consuming task, the process has become (and continues to become) easier all the time.
One of the biggest struggles marketers face is developing a clear understanding of the customer. An ideal avatar (aka buyer persona) can tell quite a bit about the type of customer the brand is likely to attract. Finding actual people and knowing how to market to them is, however, an entirely other proposition.
Social listening provides the ability to confirm what is already known about the buyer persona with the added benefit of verifiable data that proves the marketer’s perceptions of his customer. In many cases, social listening reveals things about the ideal customer that were never considered when developing his or her avatar. The data gathered can mean the difference between keeping up with the competition and falling too far behind to recover.
In simplest terms, social listening involves monitoring digital online conversations with the intention of understanding what customers and leads have to say online about a specific industry or brand. Marketers use social listening primarily to identify pain points and respond to questions, comments and complaints. It is also used to discover organic feedback that helps shape the face of a specific brand. That feedback is then used to create product and service offerings that have a greater appeal to the target audience.
How, then, does an informed marketer use the information gained from social listening to advance his or her brand? Let’s look at six ways marketers are using what they learn through social listening to elevate and improve their brand images. How many of these have you tried? Which ones could use a bit more attention?
Monitoring the use of your brand’s name is the foundational element to effective social listening. Unlike social media (that only informs page owners when they are @mentioned or tagged), social listening shows where and how people are using the name of the brand in organic conversation.
It might sound a little involved, but it really is as simple as creating a search for the specific brand name using one of the tools linked above. This part of the process helps identify customer service problems, threats to the brand’s reputation, and unique opportunities to personally weigh in on questions, comments, or concerns. Once a search has been created, alerts can be set up to capture and report on any and all new mentions of the brand name. It is then up to the marketer to determine and implement the best responses (should any prove necessary in context).
Successful social listening starts with creating focused, brand-specific content that stands out amongst competitors and encouraging conversation about it. Content marketing is the most successful marketing strategy in a majority of cases and across virtually all industries.
Savvy marketers also enlist the aid of reliable writing services to create, proofread, and even publish their content. The more authoritative the content, the better the feedback about the content and how it relates directly to the brand will be.
Another effective way to use social listening is to identify social selling opportunities. Some of the more common ones include:
Some social listening tools do these things automatically, but manual searches will always be necessary to reveal more pointed information. Research currently relevant keywords from within the brand’s niche. What specific keywords are people searching right now to search for similar products or services? Any common keyword tool or planner should reveal the type of information needed.
It is also advisable to monitor competitors’ brand names and what is being said about them. This is an effective way to do pointed market research and identify issues and problems to avoid. Never making the same mistakes competitors do can expedite the process of reaching the right leads and avoid some of the things that generate negative conversations.
While this concept drastically predates social listening, it is enhanced by the process. Much more data can be gathered and analyzed in a shorter period of time using common online search tools. All of the above advice can be applied to this part of the process. In fact, it is every bit as important to mine as much data as possible about the competition as it is for your own brand.
What influencers and thought leaders have to say about an industry or niche matters. What they say about specific brands matters even more. Once key influencers have been identified, familiarizing them with your brand can have a huge impact on the reach and growth of the brand. Use outreach campaigns and personal engagement on the influencer’s social channels to promote positive branding and conversations about the brand itself.
As mentioned, having a clear image and understanding of the ideal buyer is crucial for success in any marketing initiative. Social listening teaches everything the marketer needs to know about his or her audience, including:
Once these things have been identified, monitor conversations in key groups on all relevant platforms. Interact directly with group members and participate in conversations. This is a great way to increase brand awareness and visibility. Do not, however, hijack conversations or attempt to sell anything. The goal here is to listen and learn so be sure to do both through this process.
The information and advice in this article represent just a small peek at the potential of social listening. Apply all of the above to both your own brand and any relevant competitors. Be sure that this is an ongoing effort and not just a one-time thing. The market and it’s needs change constantly. There is no better way to keep up with those changes than through social listening.
About the Author:
Jilian Woods is a freelance journalist and a contributing writer having more than two years of writing experience. As a writer, she sees her purpose in producing and sharing relevant content with people who are willing to expand their knowledge base and learn something new for themselves. Apart from her day job, you may find Jilian engaged in volunteering or doing yoga.
My Facebook page: https://facebook.com/jilianwoods94
There is no denying that social media is one of the best ways for businesses to engage with their audiences. With 3.196 billion users using the various social media channels, it is likely to be among the top traffic sources on the web.
Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, it helps you build your brand recognition and foster a community around you.
If you have started a business, you may also be baffled by questions like:
How do I grow my traffic and manage it? How should I grow my followers? How do I bring potential leads to my business?
Here are ways you can grow your following and get quality traffic from social media:
Before you start using the social media channels, make sure you focus on the one that makes the most sense for your business. It may sound obvious to you, but many brands miss this memo as they feel they have to do it all. If you have a finance-related business, then promoting on LinkedIn and/or Twitter would better show what you have to offer, as opposed to Instagram.
Understand the niche of your business, think of what would show off what you have to offer to potential customers, measure the success rate, and then focus on the right social media platform.
However, when it comes to the cost, every channel will cost you a few hours a day—perhaps some some cash to keep up with producing quality images. According to HubSpot research, by spending just six hours a week, 66% of marketers have the various lead generation benefits from social media. But the key is consistency.
Social media channels thrive by visual content like videos, images, GIFs—even memes! According to 2018 research published on HubSpot– if visuals are used along with the information, the audience is more likely to retain 65% of the overall information, and 54% of them want to see more video content from the brand.
However, if we categorize the ranking for various platforms:
Moreover, the amount of traffic you garner from social media channels depends on how you write, schedule and structure your social media posts, as well as how well you present them and the number of hashtags you use with each post.
Hashtags are everywhere on social media and its use for marketing is no new concept. But have ever wondered how the hashtag count affects your marketing strategy?
Tweets with Hashtags tend to perform better than the posts that are posted without hashtags. But make sure that you only post tweets with 1 or 2 hashtags.
Moreover, the best approach is to look for best hashtags for Twitter marketing before you post.
According to a research published on Hootsuite, using hashtags on Instagram gets you 12.6% more engagement on an average. However, you can use as much as 30 hashtags or at least 11 hashtags on Instagram.
Don’t use too many hashtags on Facebook as it might make your business look spammy. Instead use 1-2 hashtags on each post for best engagement.
Shorter social media gets more attention than the longer ones.
The average attention of an avid social media user lasts on a post for three seconds. With this span, there are fewer chances that a user might read your entire post.
So, if you are using Twitter, make sure the posts are shorter than 100 characters; for Facebook, aim for less than 40 characters as it intrigues the user and makes them click as well.
This cannot be overstated. The last thing you can do to grow a following is to be consistent with your efforts.
Now, you don’t have to post the content every hour. But you do need to promote high quality and interesting content, respond to the users, and make your presence known because the last thing you want is for your followers to forget all about you. Once you are known among your followers, your following will strengthen, and traffic will grow automatically.
Driving traffic from social media requires some minor tweaks in your posting strategy and proper SEO optimized content on your business page. You also need to keep a close eye on which content is working for you and which is not.
Along with this, use the above tips, and you are halfway done in the process of attaining quality traffic from social media platforms. With the social media audience growing by 20 percent every year, there has never been an easier or more cost effective way to grow followers and a bigger piece of the traffic.
The recent changes to Facebook’s algorithm, announced in January and implemented in the weeks following, is (by many standards) the most significant alteration to the news feed in history.
While those with personal accounts were either complaining that things had changed again or congratulating Facebook for finally getting it right (depending on the personal sentiments), social media marketers took a very different route. Glued to their own news feeds, marketers scanned the results for signs of what had changed, why, and how it would affect their efforts moving forward.
One thing that everyone noticed was that the professionals were split into two different categories. While page owners and publishers were panicking over the recent update, trusted social media experts were staying calm – and telling others to do the same. But why weren’t they panicking? Why would they not be concerned about the biggest alteration to Facebook’s news feed yet?
Mark Schaefer is an adjunct marketing professor, consultant, and public speaker who had just one simple thing to say:
Of course, that wasn’t all he had to say – and his message was much the same as other industry experts. The fact is, organic reach was already dead. It had been dying for years – a slow, steady trickle of a death that had made Facebook advertising a difficult transition without paid advertisements. In fact, before this last update, organic reach per page was lower than 1%. That is an amount insignificant enough that it may not be anything at all.
But it isn’t all disheartening news. Those who have been doing well on social media will continue to do so, regardless of how this latest update has altered the landscape. Those pages which were able to generate a massive amount of engagement with their followers will still be able to do so.
The fact is, whatever content you put out – social media or otherwise – must matter to your audience. This has always been the way things work, and no matter what updates occur on Facebook or any other social media platform, that will continue being the way things work.
All this new algorithm does is clean up user’s news feed so that personal accounts hold more sway – which, consequently, is the true purpose of social media platforms to begin with. This makes it harder for businesses, but not that much harder.
It’s true. The big Facebook algorithm change is not that big. The types of content which will be driven out of a person’s newsfeed had no value, to begin with, because those pieces of content who were trying to get a little attention and engagement with no other promotional efforts were rarely doing anything, anyways.
Organic reach opportunities still exist, of course, but will be harder to attain. Think of this as a positive. The most effect marketers have always had to place significant creativity and effort into their strategies. The change just pushes you a little harder to reach your goals, which (eventually) can turn you into a better social media marketer.
While the new algorithm will not change everything, it will change some things. Many of the below items have been social media marketing best practices for years now, while others are just slightly altered to consider the newest algorithm update. Using the following will help to ensure your strategy is as efficient and effective as possible.
You must fully embrace Facebook’s paid advertisements. While many have been avoiding this – or using it sparingly – now is the time to jump in with both feet. The potential targeting and reach of these advertisements are great to begin with.
Continue diversifying your marketing efforts. Most marketers are already doing this, but those that are relying heavily on their Facebook fans need to branch out.
Include a wide variety of marketing platforms, like email, search engine optimization, video, podcasting, e-books, webpage copy, blogs, articles, guest blogs, forums, etc. Even diversify your social media platforms a little. If you are only on Facebook, add one other site to your repertoire.
The only way to get great engagement statistics is to have a dual-sided approach. One of the biggest mistakes beginning social media marketers make is failing to personally engage with those followers who have engaged with your post.
You want to have conversations. It makes customers feel appreciated and listened to. Starting a conversation also prompts much higher engagement metrics. For example, if you receive 100 comments on a single post and take time to respond to roughly half of them while liking the rest. If only half of those respond to your comments, you’ve accumulated an additional 25 likes.
Set simple, clear social media marketing campaign goals which are trackable using metrics. Each campaign should only have one primary goal. Your first goal may be to increase your Facebook followers by 200%. Your second might be to increase click-through ratings for social media posts.
Set a clearly defined posting schedule that encompasses all content formats on all platforms. Let’s say your company is an upscale women’s clothing boutique. In addition to your blog and website, you utilize Facebook and Instagram.
Your social campaign should include links back to your blog posts, for starters. You’ll also want to create social media posts that are specialized for social platforms to create engagement. It should be repackaged to fit each platform’s news feed and formatting. Have an idea of which posts you plan to boost and keep a small portion of funding for boosting posts which perform well.
By doing this you can ensure that each site is posted to regularly, and that your message is being seen across multiple channels in the most platform-accurate style.
The Facebook algorithm change really isn’t a big deal. Yes, it is a notable change, but those who were already doing well on social media will easily continue to do so. Stick with the most basic guidelines to effective social media marketing but lean a little heavier on Facebook’s paid advertising.
LinkedIn is the undisputed king of social networks for professionals.
With over 562 million users in more than 200 countries worldwide LinkedIn has a global reach. Plus, the network makes up more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites and blogs.
While Facebook has more people, LinkedIn is the preferred network for pros — those who connect with the sole goal of doing business not just socialize. It’s the most business-friendly social site.
If you’re a serious brand LinkedIn is the place to be. But being there is not enough. You have to get noticed by keeping tabs on the platform’s best practices and use them to stay ahead of the pack. Plus, you’ve got to find a way to attract the right people to connect with you. That starts with optimizing the first thing people see when they view your profile page: the header area.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes, maybe you’re asking yourself:
Is LinkedIn worth it?
The answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why.
Think LinkedIn is all hype and no substance?
Not at all.
This platform is a marketing goldmine. It’s number one when it comes to a crucial metric all serious brands watch like a hawk: leads. That’s why LinkedIn must be part of your overall marketing strategy.
Clearly, LinkedIn is a lead-gen super-power. It makes all other ways of generating leads through social media seem like child’s play. Ignore it at your own peril. But to get those leads you’ve got to set up your profile wisely especially the header area.
It’s the part of your profile page people see first. Botch it and prospects click away. Nail it and they stay on and give you a chance to engage them further— and woo them into your funnel.
Not only that.
Your header area is above the fold.
People see your header without having to scroll. Through it, you’ve got to convince would-be customers it’s worthwhile for them to scroll down and find out more about you and your brand.
A good header does four things well.
To achieve all this you’ve got to fine-tune and optimize three key elements of your header area.
Let me show you how.
People’s gaze naturally gravitates towards human faces.
So the first thing prospects will look at is your profile photo. And, they’re not just staring. Something deeper is going on.
Here’s the thing.
People make rush judgments about you solely based on how you look. Think that’s not fair? Well, sorry, it’s what it is.
Maybe you think you can make do without one? Bad idea. Not having a profile photo causes people’s minds go into overdrive and make negative assumptions about you like:
Hardly the impression you want to make is it?
What are the advantages of having a photo on your profile?
LinkedIn data shows that having a profile photo can get you:
Exciting stuff, hey?! But it’s not just any photo that’ll get you these results. Here are three golden rules to guide you so you come up with the perfect photo.
First, please smile. Preferably a teeth smile.
Don’t take a smile for granted. It packs a powerful psychological punch. Smiling makes you look welcoming, competent and trustworthy. Science aside, smiling just makes you look cool. J
Second, look straight at the camera.
Look sideways and people may think you’re timid, or worse, a car thief! Research shows people find a direct gaze attractive.
Third, make sure there’s no clutter in your photo.
It may distract people’s attention from you.
In short, look like a pro. Remember, LinkedIn is a platform for professionals (read with an accent!). So that vacation photo of you on the beach won’t do.
Jason Quey, who helps startups meet with contract marketers to grow their businesses faster, does a good job with his photo.
He’s looking straight ahead. Plus, he has a beaming smile. Looks like a nice guy to work with, doesn’t he? Well, that’s the idea.
A research by Princeton psychologists revealed that it takes just a tenth of a second for people to decide whether you are trustworthy and competent, just by looking at your face.
Better get your photo right so you make a great first impression. Mess it up and you might never get a second chance to wow prospects.
Once people have glanced at your (hopefully) nice pro-looking pic, their eyes wander around the rest of the page.
And probably land on the wide space behind your photo.
I’m surprised how many people leave this space empty. By leaving the default blue area untouched you’re not realizing your header’s full marketing potential.
Because it occupies the biggest space of your header, it sets the tone for the whole page. It provides a context for everything else that follows
What can you do to maximize this space?
A couple of things.
You could use it for social proof.
Show prospects you’re the real deal. John Nemo, who happens to be a LinkedIn expert, does a superb job of proving his authority. He plasters his header with the big niche sites his work has been featured on.
Think this works?
People acknowledge his expertise straightaway.
A variation of this tactic would be to show the giant brands you’ve served.
Second, use a gem testimonial that sums up what you do memorably or showcases your brilliance. Brownie points if it’s an influencer testimonial as they’re 3x as powerful.
Finally, you could use a graphic that underlines what your brand does. This way you give a visual emphasis to what you are about. Whatever you do, don’t put a generic graphic. It’d be such a waste.
Both your photo and background graphic are visual.
Not so the last piece of the puzzle, your professional headline.
It’s all about words, 18-20 of them to be precise, and how you weave them to powerfully communicate the value you provide your prospects.
Your title is not really about you. It’s about the unique value you convey to your prospects and customers.
Many people just use their job title. Big mistake. C’mon. You’re bigger than your title. All the great work you do cannot be compressed into one often dry-sounding and stifling title.
Say more. Describe all the awesome benefits of doing business with you.
But keep things simple.
After all Da Vinci said simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Sam Ovens, who teaches ordinary folk how to start and grow a successful consulting business, keeps things basic but punchy enough to communicate his message convincingly.
In just 8 words people can tell what he’s into. Or, more importantly, how they’ll benefit from working with him.
That’s what you want. A simple and clear message people get easily. Don’t make it hard work for people to understand what you do for them. If you load your headline with your high-sounding title and corporate mumbo-jumbo, people will leave.
Your headline should answer these five questions that are burning in your prospects mind as she checks you out.
You may not be able to answer all of them. But the more the merrier. Remember, your headline should be client-facing. View it from the customers’ standpoint instead of being inward looking and focusing on your brand.
Ask yourself what’s in it for them.
That way you’re bound to scratch their itch and make them warm up to you.
A stellar header starts prospects on a slippery slope.
It grabs them and never lets go.
Once they’re struck by your brilliance they can’t help but scroll down to the summary and the rest of the profile.
Before they know it, they’ll be in your funnel’s orbit.
And, once they’re in your funnel, they’ll eventually become paying customers. That’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?
According to his cheeky wife’s baseless claims, Qhubekani Nyathi aka The Click Guy, is an irresistibly handsome dude. He helps SMBs rapidly grow their income and impact through actionable long-form content that ranks high, builds authority, and generates tons of leads. He is a contributor to top blogs like Crazy Egg, Search Engine People, Techwyse, AWAI, and more.
If you’ve ever worked in retail or owned a business, you’ve likely heard the saying “the customer is always right.” While this might not technically be true, the saying boils down to customer experience and making customers feel like they come first.
Putting your customer first isn’t always easy, as there are so many different factors to consider in running a business. You have to concern yourself with costs, cash flow, inventory, hiring the right employees and much more.
However, 78 percent of customers who have a negative customer service experience abandon an intended transaction. Putting customers first can turn that number around. There are some concrete things you can do, both offline and online, to make customers feel they are number one in your eyes.
One of the first things you need to do if you have an online presence is test the user interface, or UI, on your website. Everything should work the way it is supposed to, and the interface should be intuitive. When a user visits your site, does the visitor know exactly where to go and how to find essential functions, such as the home page or search feature?
Look at your website through the eyes of a first-time visitor. Does it load quickly enough? Can you find what you want quickly? Get input from others and make adjustments as needed. Also, check that all links are working and forms are submitting correctly?
Adding a loyalty program brings customers back again and again. However, if the customer experience is negative, it can overpower the benefits of the loyalty program. 74 percent of consumers state that the overall customer experience, or CX, impacts how loyal they are to a brand. Another 59 percent switch to a competitor when having a poor experience with a brand.
Sephora offers a loyalty reward program that works in both their brick-and-mortar and their online stores. You earn points for each purchase, and those points are worth free products and samples. However, the more you spend, the more your level rises, giving you even more points and free products. This setup rewards their most loyal customers with exclusive perks.
One of the best ways to improve CX is to survey your current customers. Anytime someone orders, offer them an opportunity to complete a short survey. This feedback will tell you what they enjoyed about the experience of ordering from your site and what they didn’t enjoy. Armed with this information, you can make changes accordingly. This type of CX is valuable to your overall business strategies.
Studying heat maps and where customers exit your site also allows you to paint a picture of things that need to be adjusted. For example, if you notice that a high percentage of visitors abandon their shopping carts when you add shipping costs, it might be time to rethink what you charge for shipping.
Invest in training for your sales clerks and customer service reps. Make sure the training program pushes a customer-first agenda. Those who work for you should have the same philosophy you do about customer service. Train using a variety of role-playing scenarios so that new employees can practice their skills.
Make sure that you clearly outline all policies so that employees know how to deal with a wide variety of situations. There should also be a clear chain of command. If an employee isn’t sure how to handle an irate customer, they should immediately know who to refer that customer to for a solution to the problem.
Businesses that focus on the emotional connection they make with their customers sell more than their competitors by about 85 percent. Creating an emotional connection involves several factors. You first need to understand your target audience and what they care about. Once you know what your audience cares about, you can present a solution that appeals to them.
Subaru captures the love we feel for our pets in their commercial titled “Dream Weekend.” The man goes on a road trip with his 14-year-old dog, crossing items off the dog’s bucket list, taking selfies and building memories. It tugs at the heartstrings of every dog owner out there and makes the product relatable.
There are many reasons why Walmart has been such a successful company. One of them is their liberal return policy. They take returns on most items for just about any reason, allowing store credits, exchanges or refunds.
If you want to gain the trust of customers, create a generous return policy. While most won’t take you up on the offer, you do have to be prepared for some to return items without much of an explanation. In the long run, you’ll build rapport with customers and a loyal following that will far outweigh the minor losses associated with returns.
Today, many retailers have both an online and offline presence. However, these two elements shouldn’t be separate from one another. Instead, figure out a way to mesh the two and create consistent customer experiences between them. If a customer emails you, the experience should match what happens when that same customer comes into a brick-and-mortar store.
Many JCPenney stores now allow you to order online and pick up in store. If you are in the store, and they don’t have an item in the size or color you’d like, they will order for you. You can pick it up when it arrives at the store or have it shipped to your home. Having a choice about how to receive the product makes the customer experience a more positive one.
When was the last time you entered a store and felt entertained? There are many ways to create this feeling, but one is to immerse your customer in the world of your store. If you are about fun, vibrant clothing, then put fresh, bright colors at the front of the store. Add beach balls and summer settings to show where your clothes might look best.
You can also use apps to send pings to customers’ phones and walk them through a unique in-store experience. The CX of your store involves many different things. Even how quickly the consumer is greeted upon entering your store has an impact on the overall feel of your brand.
Making a lasting impression requires putting customers first. The best way to do that is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and figure out what they most want from the experience of your store or website. If the entire philosophy of your company is “customers first,” then everything else falls into place.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
Customer retention is the surest path to business success. The cost of acquiring a new customer is 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining a current one. Furthermore, repeat customers spend more than new customers, so that increasing customer retention rates by 5 percent increases profits by 25 to 95 percent, Bain & Company research has shown.
These numbers illustrate why customer retention is such an essential part of a winning business strategy. Here are three proven strategies you can apply to digital marketing to boost your customer retention rates and multiply your profits.
In order to improve your customer retention, it’s important to first establish a baseline so you can measure your performance. This means tracking your churn rate, also known as your rate of attrition, which is the percentage of customers you lose in a given time frame, such as over the course of the year. Your churn rate is the complement of your retention rate: the lower your churn rate, the higher your retention rate.
To track your churn rate, you must first collect and analyze your customer data. This usually requires doing a data audit to determine what your customer data consists of and where it is to be found within and without your organization. The most efficient way to collect your customer data is by using a customer relationship management tool with analytics capability. Infor CRM training videos can help you learn how to use your CRM analytics to study your churn rate and other vital customer data.
Once you’re established your churn rate, you can start monitoring it as you adjust your customer retention strategies. This can enable you to know what adjustments are working so you can make continuous improvements.
In order to boost your retention rate and lower your churn rate, an important step is mapping out your customer lifecycle and how it supports your customer retention and repeat business strategies. Your customer lifecycle maps out all the stages of your customer’s journey, from the time they first become aware of your brand through the time they make their first purchase, as well as beyond their initial sale as they continue to interact with your customer service and sales teams.
For successful customer retention, your customer’s lifecycle should include marketing efforts beyond your initial sale, such as upsell and cross-sell campaigns. You should also include post-sale touches with the customer to check their satisfaction with your product and find out how likely they are to refer you to others. Insights from Analytics provides a seven-step customer lifecycle map you can customize to develop your own customer lifecycle map.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of your customer lifecycle, you should use market research into your customer base to develop offers that will appeal to your loyal customers. Find out what your customers want by identifying their pain points and what benefits appeal to them and then create offers that appeal to those needs.
The best way to find out what your customers want is to ask them. You can solicit this information by using a number of tools, including mobile texts, your social media profiles, your email subscriber list, your blog and your marketing promotions.
Tracking your churn rate, mapping your customer lifecycle and developing offers for loyal customers are three proven strategies for customer retention. By applying these strategies, you can retain more customers, generate more repeat business and maximize your profits.
If you want to expand your customer base and increase your revenue, you have to take the time to focus on promotion. Marketing is one of those guessing games that can drive even a professional marketer crazy, though. With so many people shopping online these days, knowing whether to focus on online or offline promotion can also be a challenge.
Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true tips and tricks that will help you market both places and figure out what is successful and what is not.
Even if your business is local, such as a service business or brick-and-mortar store, your online promotions can help you gain an edge on the competition. It’s estimated that 81 percent of consumers do online research before they choose which local merchant to do business with. When you understand how a well-implemented online campaign can drive sales, you’ll pay more attention to online promotions.
However, not all promotions are created equal. Small businesses can’t afford to just throw money at promotions and not see results. There are some strategies you can use that will most likely benefit your business.
These are just a few of the more popular places to promote online. You’ll also want your own website and mailing list, of course.
There are a couple of businesses doing online promotions extremely well — one is a small skincare company called TruSkin Naturals. It sells exclusively on Amazon, but it reaches out to customers via social media and a mailing list, where it often offers discounts.
Another example of a small company using effective social media promotions is Red Mango, which is a frozen yogurt shop. It has put the time into gathering social media followers, and it promotes itself by offering gifts, exclusives and entertaining content.
You might think figuring out offline promotions would be the easy part of the equation. After all, print advertising has been around for hundreds of years. However, there are so many different options— and not all are effective for every business — that figuring out where to start can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are some techniques that seem particularly useful, even in this digital age.
Old Navy offers a good study in how to effectively use window graphics. Visit any brick-and-mortar Old Navy, and you’ll instantly know what is on sale and what the new arrivals are because of the brightly colored window displays.
Lays Potato Chips is one example if a good use of both online and offline marketing melded into one. Lays holds a contest to come up with a new flavor, and it calls its contest Do Us a Flavor. It advertises this contest in print and on television. However, you need to go online to enter your flavor and to vote for your favorite choices once the finalists are chosen. It’s a brilliant use of integrating both online and offline marketing and gets fans engaged.
Integrating online marketing with offline marketing is one of the smartest moves you can make, because it gives you the widest reach possible.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
Franchising can certainly make it easier to run a well-known company or brand, but you still have certain responsibilities. For every task that your franchisees handle, you’ll need a way to monitor it and make sure it’s effective. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to social media. Depending on the social media strategy you choose for your franchise, you’ll have to take on various responsibilities to make sure the accounts for your local franchises are appropriate and on message.
Most people think that setting up a social media strategy for your franchise is a binary choice, where you have to choose between giving every franchisee total autonomy or managing absolutely everything by yourself. However, that’s not actually true—there are actually several different social media strategies you can employ for your franchise. Most social media strategies for franchises can be grouped into one of four categories:
In a centralized social media strategy, your entire franchise is represented by a single social media hub—which you control entirely. This strategy is excellent for making sure that your content is always relevant and appropriate, but it can deprive your franchisees of meaningful connections with potential customers in their local areas. Because of this, a centralized strategy can make your brand seem a little cold and detached. You sacrifice a certain amount of authenticity for security’s sake.
In a centralized blend, you manage each of the accounts for your brand, but task the franchisees to produce regular content for them. This can be an effective way to make sure that your content stays on message, since you’ll be the final arbiter in every decision. Better yet, you can control the content without alienating your franchisees, who will still feel involved in the process. However, this strategy requires a powerful in-house team that can manage your social media empire effectively. Without one, your content can become inconsistent, or just flat and kind of boring.
A controlled social media strategy allows your franchises to manage their profiles individually, while you send the majority of their content from your corporate HQ. This method helps make sure that your franchisees can take active roles in growing their local branches, but to make it truly effective you’ll have to check up on local accounts every so often and ensure that their posts do not conflict with each other. This strategy can also make some franchisees more effective than others, since each local branch is likely to have different resources at its disposal.
If you want to make sure that your franchisees each have the strongest local voice possible, use a monitored strategy. You simply send guidelines to your franchisees, and allow them to control their own accounts. Be careful with this strategy—you’ll need to vet each potential new franchisee before you choose them, and make sure you can trust them to run their own social media account. You’ll also have to have a team working at corporate to inspect your local accounts regularly, so that you can avoid compliance or liability issues.
Choosing the social media strategy that you want for your franchise depends on numerous factors. How many resources do you have at your headquarters, and how can you afford to spend them? Will your business benefit more from letting each branch build strong connections with local customers, or will you be stronger by establishing consistent branding?
Whether you’re creating all the content yourself or putting out guidelines for local franchisees, you need to establish certain constants. Make sure that your content follows the rules of SEO and digital marketing—it should add value to the reader, use likely search terms, and include references to geographic regions with likely customers.
Social media strategies for franchises require certain unique considerations, but they’re still in the realm of digital marketing and should be treated as such. Take the time to analyze your audience and your resources before you start, and you should have no trouble deciding on the right strategy for your franchise.
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