/Social Media Strategy For Small Business

10 Steps to Starting an Email Newsletter to Market Your Business

If you are looking for an effective way to increase sales and keep your business in the forefront of customers’ minds, email is the perfect solution. With an ROI of $38 to every one dollar spent, according to a survey last year, email marketing can pay off big for a small business. After all, we all get email, and most of us check it multiple times a day.

Inundating prospective customers with daily emails about sales or discounts isn’t the way to get their attention, however. Instead, try offering them something useful: an email newsletter. Here are 10 steps to starting your own.

  1. Clarify your goals. As with every other type of marketing you do, it’s important to set specific, measurable goals for your email newsletter. Do you want it to get customers to visit your website, call your business or actually walk in the door? What numbers constitute success? How will the newsletter integrate with the rest of your marketing efforts to reach those goals?
  2. Decide on content. A newsletter must be more than just a marketing message — it should also offer some valuable, useful information to readers. For example, if you own a garden supply store, you could share 10 tips to prepare your garden for winter, a list of 5 essential garden tools, or the 3 biggest mistakes new gardeners make. Think of questions your prospective customers have or problems they need solutions to, then develop content that answers them. You can also announce new products or services, upcoming events at your business, and sales or other promotions.
  3. Be consistent. How often to send out your email newsletter depends on your available time, type of business and desired goals. However, once a month is a good starting point for most businesses. If you send your newsletter less frequently than that, you won’t achieve your goal of building brand awareness. Consistency is key, so send your newsletter out regularly at the same time of the month and the same time of day—such as 9 a.m. the first Tuesday of each month.
  4. Collect email addresses. The FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act strictly regulates email marketing. You can’t send your newsletter to people unless they sign up for it. Put a sign-up box near the top of your business website (all you have to ask for is the customer’s email address) or use a popup message. Collect email subscribers offline, too, by asking customers to sign up during the sales process. Offering an incentive for signing up, such as a code good for 20 percent off the first purchase, will help build your email list.
  5. Choose an email marketing service. Email marketing services provide email newsletter templates that make creating your newsletter easy. They also handle the grunt work of sending out the emails and gathering data about how customers interact with them. Constant Contact, Campaigner and MailChimp are popular email marketing services; ask other business owners for their recommendations, too.
  6. Select a template. Choose a template design that fits the type of content you plan to include and harmonizes with the design elements of your business brand. Make sure the template is mobile-friendly, since the majority of emails are now viewed on mobile devices.
  7. Create a welcome message. When someone signs up to receive your email newsletter, send a confirmation or welcome email thanking them for subscribing and letting them know what to expect. For example, tell them how often they will receive the newsletter and how to change their newsletter preferences or unsubscribe. Your email marketing service can set up this welcome email to send automatically.
  8. Include calls to action. Remember your newsletter goals? Include clear calls to action to achieve those goals. For instance, if you sell clothing online, news about your new fall fashions could include a link to “Shop Now.” Links should always go to specific landing pages—not just to your website’s homepage. Make sure the landing pages are mobile friendly in case users click through on a mobile device.
  9. Encourage pass-along readership. Grow your email newsletter audience by asking readers to forward the newsletter to a friend or colleague who might be interested. (Be sure to include a link at the bottom of the newsletter that tells recipients how to subscribe.)
  10. Track results. Email marketing services gather lots of data about how recipients interact with your emails, and provide analytics tools you can use to slice and dice that information. How many recipients open your newsletter? How many actually click on a link? Of those, how many actually take the desired action (such as making a purchase from your website)? Slice and dice this data to see what email newsletter topics, times of day and subject lines work best. Use what you learn to continually improve your email newsletter.

5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Blog

More people are purchasing goods online than ever before, and adding blog content to your website helps capture the attention of digital shoppers and beyond. U.S. eCommerce sales in the second quarter of 2016 reached $97.3 billion, an increase of 4.5 percent quarter-over-quarter and a whopping 15.8 percent increase year-over-year, according to the Department of Commerce. When your company provides blog content your potential customers are searching for, you build trust in your business and increase positive sentiment about your brand, which leads to sales when blog visitors need your product or service.

Your competitors are already blogging. The Content Marketing Institute reports that 77 percent of businesses have a blog they use for content marketing, and the same percentage planned to produce more content in 2016 compared to 2015.

If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to add a blog to your marketing tool set, consider these five advantages.

1. A Blog Is Agile Marketing

Unlike ordering hundreds of T-shirts for a giveaway donning a logo that may change next week, or investing in banners and flyers that become useless and irrelevant when your next promotion is over, a blog is changeable in an instant with minimum cost to your marketing department. You can update it quickly with breaking news about your company and post trending content based on popular hashtags on Twitter. You can also create evergreen content for your audience, which can then be re-purposed into everything from eBooks and info-graphics to podcasts and webinars for years to come.

It’s also fairly easy to measure a blog’s effectiveness, so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. Compare that to spending big money on print materials, where performance is much more difficult to track. Content marketing expert and author Jay Baer presents an easy way to calculate blogging on his site, Convince & Convert. And by working with content creation and management software such as ClearVoice, you can scale your efforts more easily.

2. A Blog Boosts Search Engine Optimization

If your business sells a service or product that has dozens, hundreds or thousands of competitors, ranking higher in search results makes you more visible to those who are searching for your solution online. GE Capital Retail Bank reports more than 80 percent of shoppers who are making a major purchase conduct research online before deciding on a retailer. By tailoring blog content based on the content those shoppers are looking for, your brand is more likely to appear in their search results.

For example, if you’re a flooring installation company, and you discover your target customers are often searching, “Is carpet or hardwood better for my floors?”, you could create a blog post using that exact question as the title so that it shows up in results to that query.

Regularly creating new content — at least weekly is optimal — based on keywords that relate to your brand and what your target customers type into search engines provides a cue to search engine bots to continue to crawl your site and index your posts in their results. Featuring guest bloggers who link back to your blog on their own credible sites, creating content that is so valuable that other reputable sites link to it as a credible source, and guest blogging on other legitimate sites in exchange for a link back to your blog page mean your blog builds authority to search engines and boosts your entire website’s search engine optimization, which in turn benefits your product pages, too.

3. A Blog Increases Your Brand’s Exposure

In addition to gaining more traction on search engines by blogging, by producing content your web visitors will enjoy and feel compelled to share means your business is equipped with a powerful new arm in your marketing department: brand advocates. These content consumers share your blog on their social media pages, they email its content to their friends who need it, and they reference it when someone mentions a need for a product or service you offer.

While it is obviously relevant to include content on your blog that relates directly to your service or product, the better content strategy is to aim to be helpful, not sales-y. Blog content should educate, entertain and delight, so that it maintains attention and keeps visitors coming back for more.

By promoting blog content through your own social media channels, email newsletters, etc., you’re allowing it to be picked up and spread to completely new audiences by people they place confidence in. Since Nielsen reports 92 percent of people trust the recommendations of friends and family over all over forms of advertising, using a blog to engage your customers so much that they want to tell their friends about your business is of paramount value.

4. A Blog Establishes You as an Authority in Your Space

Speaking of trust, creating blog content that gives actionable advice to readers, video viewers or podcast listeners extends your reach beyond content creator to one of dependable expert.

Say you sell gluten-free flour. By producing content related to delicious gluten-free recipes, how to navigate ordering at a restaurant when you have celiac disease, and how to be a better baker with instructional cooking videos, you’re presenting content that benefits your current customers as well as those who haven’t bought it yet. You’re going to show up more in search results related to these topics, so you’ll reach new audiences — people who need your product but haven’t discovered you yet. Plus, you’ll gain return visitors who keep coming back to learn more about how to thrive in a gluten-free lifestyle.

Producing trustworthy, educational, useful content may also lead to significant publicity opportunities, such as guest spots on morning television news shows or being included as a source in a larger story. A blog legitimizes your leadership in your industry, since it allows you to become the site large audiences turn to when they want to learn about topics related to what you offer.

5. A Blog Connects You With Your Customers

Your competitors have blogs, and your customers love to read blogs. Blogging platform WordPress reports more than 409 million people view more than 22 billion blog pages per month. They read them while they’re at work, they read them while they’re waiting in a doctor’s office, and they read them on the subway. You have an audience who is thirsty for content.

By blogging, you not only provide them with knowledge or entertainment, you also build a relationship with your visitors. By integrating a commenting system, you can glean insights on the demographics of your readers. You can learn about their thoughts and opinions and what types of content or products they want from you. They can tell you what they’re loving about your brand and what they wish would be improved upon.

Get Going!

The possibilities of what your business can achieve by launching a blog are vast. A blog allows for real-time marketing, for you to improve your website’s and brand’s reach among current consumers and new prospects. A blog enables you to give helpful information to those who can turn into significant, loyal brand advocates for your business. With dozens of free blogging platforms to use and the power of content ideation within everything from your staff’s ideas to what people are talking about on your social media channels, getting started can bring more positive exposure to your business and improve your marketing efforts.

                               

6 Ways to Get Better Results From Your Facebook Marketing

Have your Facebook marketing efforts stopped getting the results you want? Facebook is constantly changing, and that means your Facebook marketing strategy has to change, too. Try these six tips to get better results from your Facebook marketing.

  1. Be consistent. Have you ever visited a company’s Facebook page, only to find they haven’t posted in months? It’s important to post regularly on Facebook to maintain your business’s presence. Consistency is more important than quantity: One study found the 100 most successful companies worldwide post, on average, just five to 10 times each week. To maximize your post results, use Page Insights, a free Facebook analytics tool, to see exactly when people engage with your posts the most; then post at those times.
  2. Post photos and videos. Images attract attention. In addition to posting photos or videos from your business, such as pictures of your restaurant’s latest specials or a video demonstrating a new product, share relevant photos or videos from elsewhere around the web. Add brief text to image posts. Shorter text gets more attention—plus, if you keep your text under 140 characters, you can re-use it on Twitter.
  3. Include a call-to-action. The point of Facebook isn’t just to get likes, comments and shares. You want people who see your posts to take an action that leads to a sale—such as visiting your business website, coming into your store or calling your business. In addition to putting a call-to-action in your posts, you can also put a Facebook Call to Action button at the top of your Business Page. There are seven options, including Sign Up, Book Now, Contact Us and Shop Now. Just make sure the hyperlinks in your calls-to-action go to the correct landing page on your website. For example, if your call-to-action is “Book Now,” users should go to a page where they can book an appointment online.
  4. Piggyback on trending topics. Posts related to hot topics of the moment, such as The Olympics or the Academy Awards, generate buzz. Check out the trending topics on the right side of Facebook to get ideas. You can create your own posts about these topics or share others’ posts. Keep them non-controversial to avoid offending potential customers.
  5. Use tags and hashtags. Tag other people or businesses in your posts, and the post will show up in their news feeds so their friends see it. You can also ask customers to tag or check in to your business in their posts—for example, if they post pictures of a meal at your restaurant. Finally, use one or two relevant hashtags to make your post stand out to people interested in that hashtag.
  6. Advertise. If you really want to improve your Facebook results significantly, try advertising. Facebook advertising is extremely affordable for small businesses and allows you to target your audience very narrowly.

One Facebook advertising option is to boost your posts, which puts them higher in your audiences News Feed. Just click the Boost Post button to see your options, schedule your Boost and set a budget.

You can also create Facebook ads to do everything from getting viewers to your website to promoting special offers. Use Ad Targeting to target specific demographics based on age, gender, location, special interests and more. Custom Audiences lets you deliver Facebook ads to your existing customers, while Lookalike Audiences allows you to target Facebook users with demographic profiles similar to your existing customers. You can also add call-to-action buttons to ads to really drive sales.

By trying these six tactics and monitoring your Facebook results, you’re sure to improve your engagement and ROI on this important social media channel.

Is your Facebook marketing strategy now back on target? It may be time to consider taking your business to the next level and incorporate or form an LLC. Call CorpNet.com for a free business consultation at 888.449.2638

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

Image: Adobe Stock

 

                               

Before Publishing That Tweet, 7 Questions to Ask Yourself

452_4612078One of the advantages of social media in general and Twitter in particular is the ease of publishing and the speed of getting your message out to the multitudes. Watch out though: this benefit can quickly turn into a disadvantage because off-the-cuff remarks or swift comebacks can undermine your brand’s core message. Of course, you don’t want to overthink your communications either because the shelf-life of a tweet can be very, very brief when 500 million tweets are published every day.

In light of this, what are some good rules of thumb to consider as you prepare to post your next tweet?

1. Does it make sense?

Sometimes when speaking to a defined group, writers use specialized language that is not decipherable to a broader group. Look at your tweet and ask yourself, “Will the average reader be able to understand it?” Continue reading “Before Publishing That Tweet, 7 Questions to Ask Yourself” »

By | April 27th, 2015|Social Media Strategy For Small Business|0 Comments

Social Media Contest by Moneydiver

borjaoHello, thanks for coming over, listening to the interview with CEO of CorpNet.com Nellie Akalp and for your interest in participating.

Social media can be done well or it can be done very wrong. In the most recent segment on Moneydiver by Borja Obeso about internet marketing tactics you were shown the importance of Social Media when crafting your marketing campaign.

This episode with Nellie Akalp showed you how to approach Social Media to make sure that your branding is done the right way and that you avoid a series of incorrect practices that could seriously jeopardize your business and your brand.

The Social Media Marketing Contest

Enter to win unlimited access to all WordPress Themes Created by Smartduu! Here are the two simple steps:

– Subscribe to The Moneydiver Podcast and leave an honest review

– Answer to this question: “How would provide value to your audience via Social Media?” (If you need to listen to the episode again you can here)

Click Here to Tweet Your Answer and enter!

Good Luck!

The Social Media Lie: How Not to Make Yourself Crazy with Twitter and Facebook Marketing

1019_4270607For a business of any size, it’s difficult to escape the constant recommendations about online marketing. If you want to reach customers, they say, you have to use social media. Set up accounts on Twitter and Facebook and business will explode.

Unfortunately for too many small businesses, this isn’t the reality. They fall into the social media trap, thinking that they can’t go wrong as long as they have accounts set up. In fact, having a social media presence can be worse than no presence at all if it takes an entrepreneur in the wrong direction. Here are four reasons some small businesses fail at social media.

  1. They Don’t Have Time

Once a social media account is setup and a business begins promoting it, the pressure is on. If all you do is blast out marketing messages to your followers, you’ll lose them quickly. Instead, you should start uploading interesting content that helps customers connect with your brand. This takes time—a commodity most small businesses have in short supply. Soon enough, customers visit a page, only to find it hasn’t been updated in months. This makes a brand look outdated and out of touch, making a worse impression than if there were no social media presence at all. Continue reading “The Social Media Lie: How Not to Make Yourself Crazy with Twitter and Facebook Marketing” »

How to Create Effective Social Media Landing Pages

740_4302765This is a guest post from Nick Rojas.

Much in the same way that desktops gave way to laptops, which morphed into tablets and smartphones, website home pages are being replaced with landing pages, and now those are becoming more effectively utilized as social media landing pages. How are these socially driven spots better than their predecessors?

According to the popular fashion clothesline, J.Crew, in a summary of their marketing and advertising campaign, they stated:

“We have found that J.Crew customers who engage with us via our social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram) generally spend approximately 2x more than the average J.Crew customer. Facebook is the current leading player in terms of size and time spent on site, but there are significant growth opportunities in our new visual platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram.”

Double their regular sales sounds like a significant enough reason to utilize social media landing pages. What can we learn from the fashion forward folks at J.Crew in terms of crafting the best social landing pages? Continue reading “How to Create Effective Social Media Landing Pages” »

By | March 3rd, 2015|Social Media Strategy For Small Business|0 Comments

Your Social Media Etiquette Guide

There are dozens of social networking sites with more popping up almost every year. While the major players – Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin – have been around for years, many businesses trip over some of the basic etiquette stumbling blocks. Major companies have made the mistake of using inappropriate hashtags to promote their campaign, joking about national disasters or responding poorly to customer feedback. Unfortunately, these errors lead to negative associations and ultimately fewer customers.

The best rule of thumb when posting to all social platforms is to spend time researching and writing out updates before hitting the post button. Other tips include:

  • Personalize your company – post photos of your company outing or event
  • Start a weekly tradition to encourage engagement
  • Tag other companies, publications and people in your post that your audience looks up to
  • Provide full and accurate information for your company
  • Make sure your posts provide value to your audience

You might be aware of the basic guidelines for social media, but did you know each one also has their own subset of unwritten etiquette rules? This means that even if you understand one platform, you cannot use the same tactics on a different one. Instead, you must adjust how you post and the frequency you post for each network. The infographic below outlines the dos and don’ts of each social media platform.

SocialMediaEtiquette-IG

By | October 29th, 2014|Social Media Strategy For Small Business|Comments Off on Your Social Media Etiquette Guide

8 No-Nos in Social Media Marketing

545_4574442Everyone writes about how to do social media correctly. But few people address the key problems most small businesses have when they try to use social media to market and fail. Now, I’m sure you aren’t guilty of any of these boo boos, but just in case, let’s look at the biggest mistakes in social media marketing.

1. Only Updating Your Accounts When You Feel Like It

It’s better to not even have social media accounts if you’re going to update them sporadically. Sites like Twitter, G+, and LinkedIn move at the speed of light, and if your last update was two weeks ago, you’re history. Literally. I know it’s time-consuming to update your streams, but consistency will pay off in the end.

2. Trying to Be on All Channels

Look folks, I’m trying to save you time here. There are a lot of social channels out there, and not all of them are a good fit for you to reach your audience. Rather than diluting your efforts, choose a handful (read: 2-3) and put all your energies there. Continue reading “8 No-Nos in Social Media Marketing” »

By | September 3rd, 2014|Social Media Strategy For Small Business|Comments Off on 8 No-Nos in Social Media Marketing

Five Ways to Use Twitter to Build Credibility

168_2588616Whew! Social networks are huge and only getting bigger. Twitter has proven that it is a great way to reach an audience, but how can you use Twitter to build credibility over time if you have more to contribute than jokes, memes or mean tweets directed at celebrities? One of the first rules of useful Twitter engagement is to base your interactions on courtesy and respect. It is important to think through your comments before you post, as your tweets will live on in eternity. Remember: if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t put it in a tweet.

Connect with Leaders in your Field

Search wide and far to find influencer in your industry. A great way to initiate contact is to ask them a thoughtful question that they may not have been asked before. Think long and hard before asking something that you could just look up on a search engine. Kudos are great, but they don’t really add to the overall conversation. Use them sparingly as your first means of communication.

Share Great Content

Sure you can link to your own work, but to build your reputation on Twitter, it is vital to share timely, interesting, and related content. There are no limits. Share industry humor (keep it light-hearted), good advice, relevant articles or even original research that connects to your area of interest. Continue reading “Five Ways to Use Twitter to Build Credibility” »

By | August 8th, 2014|Social Media Strategy For Small Business|Comments Off on Five Ways to Use Twitter to Build Credibility