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4 Social Media Marketing Failures & What You Can Learn from Them

With over two million businesses using Facebook for advertising, 50 million businesses using Facebook business pages and 93% of Pinterest users using Pinterest to make plans and purchase decisions, businesses whether small-scale or large-scale, B2B or B2C, local or international, etc. have little to no choice but to use social media marketing to try to reach out to potential customers and engage their current customers.

Reasons for Social Media Marketing

Of course, there are several reasons why businesses, brands and companies use social media marketing. These include:

Access to market and potential customers

According to Statista, 1.37 billion active users visit Facebook every day. Many of these active users visit Facebook and other social media platforms to check on the activities of friends and family, pursue their interests, sell something and socialize online. A business can easily attract the attention of potential customers with ads on the social media platform that their target customers visit the most.

Encouraging engagement

Social media marketing is the best way through which businesses and companies can engage their current customers and retain them. You can use social media marketing to create a two-way communication means for your customers, allowing them to make their wishes known and you can update them on new developments on your products and services.

Customer service support systems

Social media marketing is another great opportunity for companies, businesses and brands to get customers’ opinions by tracking customers’ questions and complaints about the business all over social media platforms. Companies can also get feedback and criticism from customers’ social media conversation with others.  It is also the best way to curtail customer loyalty because customers will also appreciate the fact that when they post comments on your social media page, they receive a personalized message rather than an automatic message.

Affordable advertising

Compared to traditional marketing, social media marketing can be pretty affordable and sometimes free of charge, after all, you don’t have to pay to open a social media account on any of the numerous social media networks that exist. Even social media marketers who decide to use paid advertising only have to pay, based on their campaign type, for clicks on ads.

Measurable advertising

Apart from being affordable, social media marketing is also measurable. That is, using different analytics systems: Twitter analytics and Pinterest analytics, you can find out the number of people who viewed your ads, clicked your ads or walked away after viewing your ads.

Drive brand awareness

Many startup companies and businesses have applied different social media marketing strategies to drive their brand awareness and increase their brand visibility and recognition. And since 59% of shoppers prefer to buy new products from brands they are familiar with, companies or businesses will benefit greatly for making potential and present customers familiar with their brand.

Target audience awareness

By observing the activities of your customers and potential customers, you can find out their needs and wants directly by asking them for their opinions with surveys or just questions, or by tracking their social media comments about your brand. This way, you can have a better understanding of your customers, their reactions to your products and services and your competitors which would inform your social media marketing strategies.

4 Social Media Marketing Failures That You Can Learn From

With the many advantages of social media marketing, this does not mean that your social media strategy cannot end up failing, having little return on investment or bringing negative attention to your product. This is why every business or company using social media marketing have to look out for other company and brand marketing failures so that they can learn to avoid making the same mistakes.

1. The Coca Cola 2016 marketing hit-and-miss

As the Christmas holidays were approaching in 2016, Coca Cola decided to do their holiday season advertisement with a snow-covered map of Russia which unfortunately excluded Crimea, Kuril Islands and Kaliningrad. They should have probably avoided creating a map of Russia at all, since the Russian map is a highly controversial issue especially since Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

After the Russian internet users’ negative reaction to this map excluding Crimea, Coca Cola social media marketing team decided to recreate and post another Russian map which included Crimea this time and unfortunately, earned the wrath of Ukrainians and their online support for the ban of Coca Cola.

This marketing hit-and-miss was further complicated by some important figures in Russia who posted that because of Coca Cola’s restructured map, global American Companies had accepted the annexation of Crimea even though the official stand of the United States and even the European government is one of condemnation of the annexation of Crimea. This marketing hit and miss therefore, warranted many apologies, taking down both social media marketing campaign maps permanently and left behind some unhappy Ukrainians and Russians.

2. Melbourne Cup and horse racing campaign

The Melbourne Cup attempt to connect with their online and social media audience definitely flopped in a most predictable way. After all, the company itself was a controversial one in the first place. The Melbourne Cup attempted to get audience to #NameAHorseRace after themselves on Twitter, forgetting that not everybody approves horse racing and that many people thought it was an example of animal cruelty.

Although, they did promote what they did best and tried to engage their customers, they failed to think of how this marketing campaign could backfire against their brand. In short, they did not think about how people would react to the controversial topic that horse racing is.

3. Dove’s transformation campaign

Dove has always been known for empowering women and encouraging women to focus on realistic standards of beauty and the concept that everybody is beautiful in their own way.

Their “Real” beauty marketing concept has always worked for them as seen from their “Real beauty sketches” marketing campaign and “Evolution” marketing campaign had focused on making women proud of their natural looks over the years and it had worked for them till they brought the Transformation marketing campaign.

The Dove Transformation ad saw a black woman transform to a white woman after the use of the Dove body lotion. Of course, a marketing ad involving anything like skin color or race definitely resonated wrongly with their target audience both black and white. This ad had the misfortune of offending racists, non-racists and people against racism.

The marketing ad also disproved all their previous brand messages and contorted the brand image that they had spent over nine years trying to build. With that single ad that went against the “all beauty is real beauty” concept, they dismantled the reputation they built over the years. The ad alienated and even insulted a large part of their audience and definitely caused many to walk away.

Despite their apology after the ad was removed based on customer (women of all races) complaints and backlash stating that they were uncomfortable and even infuriated with the ad, it still took some time for Dove to recover from this brand awareness setback.

4. The Audi #PaidMyDues campaign

From research, Assignment Man have realized that while planning for social media marketing campaigns, inevitably, brand social media marketing teams can decide on marketing ads that bring no returns to the company (no return on investment or brand awareness).

For example, the Audi #PaidMyDues marketing campaign which had nothing to do with beautiful luxury cars and definitely backfired. Many people follow Audi on different social media platforms to see different beautiful photos of luxury cars. So, when Audi decided to tell real-life stories about people triumphing over adversity, they definitely didn’t carry their audience along.

Of course, they probably thought they could engage their followers by asking them to tweet or Instagram their inspiring stories but they were wrong because many followers felt irritated with these inspiring stories which did not have anything to do with cars. Some social media audiences were found complaining about how the marketing campaign had nothing to do with cars and many threatening to unfollow Audi on social media.

Although the Audi #PaidMyDues campaign did not offend anyone’s values, it resulted in a great drop in engagement level with their audience, customers felt that Audi was no longer as invested in their main purpose which was making great cars and many customers also felt that Audi was not listening to their opinions and customer feedback since it took them more than two weeks to completely drop the campaign despite complaints from clients.

What You Can Learn from These Social Media Marketing Failures

Know your target audience

Based on research by an academician at custom paper writing service, any brand, company or business that does not know their audience is sure to fail in their social media marketing. Taking the example of Audi’s #PaidMyDues campaign which was based on good intentions but definitely did not resonate with their audience.

Consider the different ways marketing campaigns can be misconstrued or twisted

Companies and businesses need to be careful of the way their campaigns can be twisted on social media. Different types of people hide behind their phones and computers on social media and will take any opportunity to get followers on twitter and get influence by ridiculing people and brands if given the chance. Therefore, brands on social media should be careful not to create open-ended social media campaigns that can be twisted in different lights and backfire.

An example is ALDI social media marketing campaign which asked people to fill in the blanks. The ad was something like “Complete the sentence by filling the blank space” and it ended with sentences like:

“I became an ALDI lover when I tasted ________ for the first time.”

The ad was definitely twisted by people on social media who began to make crude comments and eventually the campaign had to be terminated.

Keep track of your analytics

Track your analytics and customer feedback to see if your marketing campaign is resonating in the right way with your target audience.

Be careful with controversial concepts

College-paper.org reviews also advises that you should be careful how you feature controversial concepts like sex, drugs, race, violence, etc. in your social media campaigns.

Deal properly and carefully with social media negative feedback

All in all, companies, businesses and their social media marketing teams should be careful to improve their skills, logical thinking, and knowledge so they can deal with social media negative feedback in the right way.

Conclusion

Although, it is kind of inevitable for companies and businesses to make social media marketing mistakes once in a while due to different reasons, these can be minimized by looking at other brand’s social media marketing campaigns (especially competitor’s) and knowing what your target audience wants or does not want.

Guest Post: About the Author

Becky Holton is a journalist and a blogger at best paper writing service. She is interested in education technologies, expert writing, my assignment help and is always ready to support informative speaking. Follow her on Twitter.

12 Creative Marketing Ideas to Boost Your Business

A business without marketing is like a person without an identity. Without a proper strategy, the target audience cannot understand your mission, competitive advantages, and professional vision. Therefore, it’s not the issue of whether you should use marketing to boost your business, but rather how to do it most productively.

There are literally thousands of marketing mechanisms to rely on while promoting your products or services, but we want to help you out by filtering creative ideas that can make the biggest impact on your target group. Let’s see the 12 most interesting tactics.

1.   Create High-Quality Content

The basic rule of contemporary marketing is to create amazing content that draws attention and inspires potential customers to engage with your business. Although it sounds simple, it’s not that easy to make standout content in the world where people and organizations publish millions of posts daily.

This is why we recommend you to take the extra step and make a versatile content strategy. You should mix different formats to impress the target audience and combine the following features:

  • Blog posts and images
  • Videos, GIFs, and animations
  • Audio podcasts
  • Graphics, charts, and infographics

2.   Guest Blogging

Another great way to market your business comes in the form of guest blogging. What makes this tactic so powerful is the fact that it’s not pushy but rather subtle and indirect. The idea is simple – you will publish an excellent article on someone else’s blog and insert a link to your website along the way. Users who read and like your post will likely decide to visit your blog and get acquainted with your business in general.

3.   Optimize Content for Engine Searches

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important marketing mechanisms because 93% of all traffic comes from Google and similar platforms. In such circumstances, you must conduct a keyword analysis for each post individually and use only the most relevant terms and phrases.

For example, check out these three SEO phrases:

They probably look the same to average users, but content creation agencies know that each keyword is different and targets a highly specific audience group. You have to be just as delicate when choosing keywords for your own posts.

4.   Answer Questions on Quora

Quora is one of the largest question-and-answer websites as it attracts millions of users from all over the globe. You can take advantage of it to promote the business using the same principle as guest blogging. The only difference is that members of Quora rate answers, so your post has to be very good to stand out from the rest of the commentators.

5.   Concentrate On the Right Social Platforms

The Internet is full of social networks that gather thousands, millions, or even billions of users. There are so many options to choose from here, but the usual suspects include Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and similar.

Our suggestion is not to waste the energy trying to cover each of the major social platforms. Instead, you should focus on two or three networks that can help your business to flourish. This is more than enough for most companies, so don’t try to bite off more than you can chew.

6.   Don’t Be Shy to Advertise

Digital marketing gives you a plethora of extremely precise advertising opportunities. From Google AdSense to social media advertising, you can publish sponsored content on multiple locations to raise brand awareness.

The thing we love about it is that you can target users very accurately, so the return on investments is guaranteed. You should, of course, spend most of the time thinking about organic promotion, but a few nice ads every now and then can really do a lot for your business.

7.   Organize Social Contests

Another thing you can do via social media is to organize contests. According to the report, a typical contest earns brands more than 30% of new social followers. It’s a super-engaging marketing trick because people just can’t resist free stuff. All it takes is to offer small perks and your fans will be more than willing to take part in the contest.

8.   Refresh Old Posts

As you keep publishing content week after week, you will run out of ideas sooner or later. This is why you should make use of this sneaky tactic and refresh older posts from time to time. Jake Gardner, a content marketer at the paper writing service, says this tactic doesn’t even require a lot of work: “You can simply change images, replace outdated stats with fresh data, or add some new tools to your lists. The content will look more appealing and it will probably earn you a bunch of new visitors.”

9.   Build Brand Ambassadors

Another thing you should think about is building relationships with your customers and turning them into brand ambassadors. It’s a wonderful opportunity to raise brand awareness through the power of word of mouth marketing.

The easiest way to do it is through social networks because they enable you to approach followers, ask them questions, answer their own inquiries, like, and re-share their posts. In the long-term perspective, it will help you to strengthen relationships with your fans and turn some of them into loyal brand advocates.

10.   Don’t Forget Email Marketing

Despite being the oldest channel of digital marketing, email newsletters are still a dominant tool of business promotion. Almost four billion people use email services, so make sure to exploit it to approach customers regardless of their locations.

11.   Host Events

We already mentioned that successful marketing campaigns usually combine digital and traditional features. Corporate events represent one of the most fruitful mechanisms of traditional marketing because they give you the chance to meet customers and clients face-to-face.

The benefits of organizing business events are numerous – you can talk with the prospects, sell products or services directly, boost team morale, contribute to local communities, etc. Therefore, you should always dedicate at least a small portion of the marketing budget to corporate events.

12.   Utilize Local PR

The last tip on our list is to engage locally and take advantage of public relations. Try to find local media outlets and specialized industry magazines where you can give interviews, advertise, or place business-related stories. This tactic is particularly important for companies with physical branches trying to win over more clients from the neighborhood.

Conclusion

Growing the business and outperforming the closest competitors is impossible without some serious marketing efforts. But it’s getting increasingly difficult to find a perfect combination of new and traditional promo mechanisms, so we decided to help you out by presenting the 12 most important and creative marketing ideas. Don’t hesitate to use these tricks – they could give your company a brand new boost!

Guest Post: About the Author

Lilian Chifley is an IT specialist, teacher, and blogger from Sydney. She loves to talk about artificial intelligence and modern education. You can find Lilian on Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media Tricks That Can Bring a Fresh Breath to Your Business

Growing your small business through social media should not be that stressful. If you know which tools to leverage and you are equipped with ample knowledge of online marketing, especially social media marketing, it will be easier to attract prospects and gain customers. Social media is a huge platform where you can promote your business in fun, simple and cost-effective ways. If you have a small business and want to conquer all social media channels, here are some social media tricks that can bring a fresh breath to your business.

Cinemagraphs

If you want to keep the interest of your prospects online, don’t bombard them with lengthy texts since they will only find these overwhelming and boring. Instead, make visual content your weapon in increasing engagement. For one, use cinemagraphs or still images with some animation. Unlike actual videos, they are very easy to make using programs like Fixel and Fotodanz. Using these apps, you can make beautiful cinemagraphs which your audience will surely find interesting and engaging.

Stock Photos

If you don’t have enough time to take your own pictures or you just want to save some bucks from hiring a professional photographer, you can always take advantage of stock photos. They can increase your business’ visual appearance and make your content more appealing. Stock photos are easy to find, save and upload to your social media page and they have the same quality as the photos taken by professionals.

Hello Bars

Also known as floating bars, hello bars are simply notification bars that prevent your visitors from being disturbed when browsing your page. These will notify your customers and prospects when you are making announcements, offering a lead magnet, showcasing more content, asking your prospects to subscribe to your email list or running a limited-time offer. By using a simple floating bar, you can easily promote your business without annoying your prospects.

Free ‘Click to Tweet’ Option

The click-to-tweet option is a good way to promote your brand and boost your sales. This is free and you can put it on your website or anywhere there is text on your page. If people like your content, they will click it and share it on Twitter, where more prospects can see it. A lot of people use Twitter and when people start sharing your content in this platform, you’ll have a higher chance of gaining customers.

Shopping on Instagram

Every month, more than 800,000 consumers use Instagram to shop and business owners around the world have been using this platform to share their products and stories. Now, you cannot just use Instagram to share content, but you can actually sell your products here. You only need the approval of Facebook shop and you can start tagging your products on your posts. This is a great way to increase your revenue since more people can now see your products and go to your website when they find any interesting item from your shop.

Killer Captions

Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, always make sure that you use killer captions. Don’t post your content right away without making an interesting caption or checking each word you wrote. If you’re not that good with wordplay, you can let your social media manager take care of it or hire a copywriter to improve your captions. Killer captions are made with some storytelling using captivating words. Just make sure the captions are free of clichés and focus on quality instead of quantity.

Catchy Hashtags

Hashtags are also a great way to increase your audience so make good use of them all the time. To garner a broad interest, use popular hashtags in your industry and include your company’s name in the list of hashtags you use. However, avoid using too many hashtags and only put relevant ones. Try to shorten your hashtags since long ones are difficult to read due to the lack of spaces.

Giveaways

Everybody loves freebies and even though giveaways are very traditional, they hardly fail marketers in boosting their sales and engagement. Because people are always on social media, it is a great place to run all these contests. Take advantage of holidays and celebrations and run a contest where you can give some nice giveaways. The rewards may come from your shop or you can also offer other appealing and valuable items. It is also a great way to thank your customers for their patronage and encourage them to buy more of your products.

Fun Facts/Inspirational Quotes

Sometimes, you can rest from posting videos and other visual content. You can also post some fun facts or memes to entertain your customers or share some inspirational quotes to cheer them up. If you’ll notice, most fitness coaches use this trick but even if you’re not in the fitness industry, you can always do this to increase engagement and motivate your customers and prospects.

Guest Post: About the Author

Lidia Hovhan is Digital Marketing expert and SEO guru. She contributes articles about how to integrate digital marketing strategy with traditional marketing to help business owners to meet their online goals. You can find really professional insights in her writings.

How to Better Manage Your Online Reputation

The first page of Google results can be dangerous territory. Many web searchers never look beyond the first page when reviewing results from an inquiry. That has profound implications for your business’ reputation, because any negatives that appear on Page One will be seen by the widest audience. Even if the next two pages sing your praises, most folks never see them. So, managing your reputation on social media starts with positive entries on the first page of Google search results.

Reputation Management Firms

Reputation management outfits claim to help clients improve their reputations by suppressing negative information that shows up in response to Google searches. This means pushing unwanted results off of Page One, replacing them with favorable information. Some of these firms charge $5,000 a year and up. However, some are geared to more modest budgets, with services starting for as little as $80. It’s not our purpose to review these sites or pass on their efficacy. However, its hard to understand how the same outcomes can cover such a wide cost range.

Do It Yourself

If you are a hands-on business owner who doesn’t want to rely on a reputation management firm for results, there are plenty of things you can do yourself. These measures might not cause negative information to disappear, but they do offer you the opportunity to present a positive image to the online audience. Here are five things you can do yourself:

1.     Inquire Upon Your Company

Enter a Google search of your business name to see what come up. Also check the image results. You can set up a Google alert when any new content about your company appears. Now you know what you are dealing with and some idea of how much effort it will take to manage your reputation.

2.     Purchase Your Domain(s)

You can buy domain names for as little as $12 each. Some experts advocate you snatch up a bunch of domains, but others maintain that it’s best to buy one domain and use it to establish a good reputation. So if your business is called, say, Chocolate Beagles, you’d want to start with chocolatebeagles.com, and then perhaps get the .net version. You can branch out to chocolatebeaglesonline.com, mychocolatebeagles.com, etc. However, we recommend you start with just one domain and build it up so that it will appear on Page One for a related Google inquiry. If you feel your business name is seriously compromised, consider changing the name and starting fresh.

3.     Load Up the Content

The common phrase is that “content is king.” What this really means is that Google will reward websites that provide authoritative information. You can do this using WordPress, About.me, Tumblr, and website builders like Wix and SquareSpace. Start with general information about yourself and your company, including a discussion of your products and services. But the key is to regularly add blogs and guest articles discussing your industry and related topics in a fair, honest way. Write frequently with authority and Google should reward you. If writing isn’t your thing, hire an expert freelancer.

4.     Use SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization. This is a collection of techniques that helps Google find, recognize and evaluate your website. These are not difficult to learn and employ, but if you don’t feel up to the task, you can use a webmaster to take care of it for you. With good SEO, you can build your brand with positive information.

5.     Scrub the Internet

Remove items on your own accounts that are causing you problems. This includes Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can privatize your posts and limit old posts through appropriate use of privacy settings.

Conclusion

Whether you do it yourself or pay a firm, it’s important to manage your business’ online reputation. It might not be possible to eradicate all negative information, but you can try to crowd it out with positive content that Google ranks highly. In the worst case scenario, you might want to rename your business.

10 Video Content Ideas That Work with Your Small Biz Budget

Savvy marketers know that, in 2019, video marketing simply must be a part of the strategy. To illustrate why that is, let’s take a look at a few stats: 93 percent of businesses say they’ve earned a new customer by posting a video on social media and 72 percent of users say they prefer video over text when they’re learning about a product or service. Video as a digital medium and a mode for advertising grows exponentially every year, making it a requisite for all businesses looking to position themselves for success.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that your small- or medium-sized business could benefit greatly from integrating video into your process. But with a limited budget, is that even possible? Indeed, it is! Start by realizing that you don’t need any expensive equipment or software to shoot viral-worthy vids. In fact, you can transform your DSLR camera or iPhone into a high-tech piece of equipment by purchasing affordable video accessories to outfit your existing gear, and there are plenty of free and cheap editing programs out there.

Coupled with some of the affordable video concepts listed below, you’ll be well on your way to a successful campaign that doesn’t bog down your budget.

  1. Crowd-Sourcing Content: Basic User-Generated Videos

    Looking to produce compelling video content without actually making any videos? Here’s a tip: encourage your users to make their own vids that you can use in your campaigns. Offer an incentive to your fans to create a review, a tutorial video or a testimonial that you can then turn into its own video. Nothing’s better than word-of-mouth advertising, and this is one of the best ways to do it in the world of modern marketing, where everything’s online.

  2. Getting Personal: Meet the Team and Behind-the-Scenes

    One of the things that video marketing does especially well is helping users connect with brands, giving marketing a real, personable face and voice. Filming a few behind-the-scenes videos, such as a meet the team video or a how it’s made video, will help your viewers, fans and potential customers get a better idea about the essence and vibe of your company. Don’t forget to film an interview or a feature showcasing your founder and the origins of your brand.

  3. Brand Rep 101: Testimonials and Reviews

    Perhaps the most obvious way to use video as a marketing tool is to create content that promotes. Invite in a few of your most loyal customers or those who have seen amazing results from your product and film an interview-style video featuring their feedback. Make sure your testimonial videos are built for success: make them short, simple and authentic, and definitely don’t use a script.

  4. Educating Users: How-Tos andTutorials

    Gone are the days of in-store demos and door-to-door salesmen. These days, YouTube is all you need to explain how your product works. Have one of your most camera-ready employees film how-tos and demonstrations detailing how your product or service works. Whether you film it yourself with your iPhone (and a few essential filming accessories, of course) or have an artist create a custom animation just for you, you can count on these vids to educate and sell at the same time.

  5. NoFilmingNecessary: Webinars and Audio-Only Videos

    Naturally, with the set, the hair and makeup and the lighting, the visual component of video marketing can be hard on the budget, especially when you’re working with minimal funds. Consider recording audio only and then pairing the audio portion with still photos, screen-sharing shots and other components to provide the same enjoyable viewing experience of a regular video. This can be done relatively easy with your phone or DSLR and a camera microphone.

  6. Expert’s Circle: Interviews and In-Depth Guides

    If you want to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry (and therefore gain more leads and better brand recognition), you need to be pulling insight from the experts in the field. Cater to general searchers who are looking to learn with educational, expert-driven content that adds to a broader conversation.

  7. Live-Streaming:Day-to-Day Snippets

    No doubt about it: embedded videos and a strong presence on YouTube and other platforms are great, but you also have to make sure you’re leveraging your “one-and-done” channels, like Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories to get your products in front of users. Film and post everything from employee community engagement to press conferences and company networking events.

  8. Listicles: Turning Your Text Content into Compelling Videos

    You’ve probably come across short videos on Facebook and Instagram that feature still photos and video clips with text overlays, highlighting interesting facts or telling a story. This is a great format for companies that want to repurpose their existing text content into video format — listicles, tip articles and buyer’s guides can make surprisingly sharable video content.

  9. Adding Art: Animations and More

    It may be a lot cheaper and even more effective to ditch the video footage altogether. Instead, consider hiring a digital artist to create an animation or a stop-motion video highlighting your product or service. These kinds of videos tend to capture the attention of people scrolling through your feed, but they don’t require actors or a set, so they can save you a pretty penny.

  10. Influencers: Creating ‘Why We Love It’ Vids

    Finally, don’t forget to invite real, influential users to come onto your channel to help highlight why it’s worth trying your product or service. Whether you enlist a real-life user from your community or a professional influencer is up to you, but you can count on these vids ramping up your reputation and earning you more followers.

Once you start exploring, you’ll be surprised to find out how many clever video concepts you can nail without a hefty investment. It’s all about leveraging what you have around you — your existing equipment, your existing content and your video-ready team — and then dialing it up a few notches by adding the special sparkle of video. When your brand goes viral, you’ll be glad you made the effort!

Guest Post: About the Author

Ethan Long is the business development director for MovoPhoto. Before starting with them, he worked in advertising in NYC where he gained over eight years of experience in content and video marketing. In his free time, he enjoys being outside, learning new photo and videography techniques, and spending time with his wife and their dog, Rory.

Small Biz Marketing in 2019: What to Avoid

Every business owner should have marketing at the forefront of their minds. This is imperative to connect with new customers and to encourage existing customers to remain loyal.

The marketing landscaping is ever changing, and staying on top of this field is necessary to beat the competition and keep your brand relevant in your industry. In 2019, there are many new developments to stay abreast of, but even more importantly, there are four main things to avoid!

Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2019

Not Having a Clear Direction

In 2019, there are more marketing opportunities than ever before—from social media, traditional advertising, mailers and search engine optimization (SEO), it can be overwhelming to try and pursue every single avenue. Unfortunately, small business owners simply don’t have the financial or operational resources to compete with the big brands that dominate all marketing channels.

A smart strategy is to create a concise marketing direction annually, and carefully choose the channels you will pursue based on available resources. This will allow you to connect with your target customer base instead of spending time and money becoming diluted in many different spaces.

Not Using Analytics

It’s imperative to measure your return on investment (ROI) on any marketing strategy you invest in. This is impossible to do without measuring the analytics of every marketing goal to see how well it performed.

Having a clear objective in mind is important before implementing any marketing step. Consider whether you want to:

  • Get a certain amount of clicks on your site
  • Get a specific amount of sales
  • Get a certain amount of shares on a social media platform

Measuring the results of your strategy is necessary to minimize marketing waste and make adjustments to make it more successful.

Not Conducting A/B Testing

Not allowing your customers to choose what type of content they prefer is the third major mistake of 2019. Split testing, also known as A/B testing, allows the business two create two versions of an email, website or other content. While it can seem daunting to have to create two completely different templates, you may choose to test only the email subject line, sender address, image, font and/or content. For example, you can test what type of product images your clients react to more, or what email subject results in more readers opening an email.

Split testing allows you to poll your audience without them knowing it; their actions will dictate the more popular choice. You can test whether they prefer a statement or a question in the subject line of an email, serious or humorous content on your site, sales or new product announcements, etc.

Although split testing does not offer any guarantees, getting detailed information about what your audience prefers will help you improve your marketing strategy in the long run, leading to an increase in engagement and conversion rates.

Not Using Videos

If you are not using video as part of your marketing strategy, you may be losing up to a third of your potential visitors! Videos keep the attention of individuals up to 37% longer than other forms of advertising, which is great for engagement.

YouTube is catching up to Google as one of the world’s most popular search engines, so not investing in video marketing is just not smart! Videos allow you to interact with your customers, giving them access behind the scenes and offering product demonstrations and unboxing videos.

To truly take your business to the next level, you will need financial resources to market your brand. Remember that your competition is likely trying the same strategies you may be, so having a specialist in this area to guide you can be extremely advantageous. Let IOU Financial help you finance your business goals with a loan. We can have the money in your account in as little as 48 hours, call us today to find out more!

How to Use Instagram Stories to Engage with Your Customers

Instagram is an extremely popular social media network that over ⅛ of the world, or 7.7 billion people, is currently enjoying! It allows users to share their photos and videos, follow others and search for content based on keywords.

While Instagram is not intended specifically for business use, such as LinkedIn, all of the biggest and many of the smaller brands around the globe are seizing the opportunity to connect with a broader audience. Learning how to use Instagram stories, a great newer feature of this platform, is a proven way to engage with your customers.

Instagram Stories Explained

Instagram users are able to share content by uploading it to their profile grid, but they can also create stories, which is a feature that shows photos and videos in a bar at the top of the main feed. Unlike regular content on the feed, stories disappear within 24 hours, making it more tempting for your followers to view your stories daily, or risk the chance of never seeing them again.

When your followers open their Instagram account, they are able to see circles with the accounts they follow that uploaded an Insta-story. All they need to do to see it is to click on it to see it. In addition to uploading your content, you can add music, text, images and locations to your stories. Note that your followers can’t like or comment on stories like they can on other content.

How to Use Instagram Stories

Creating a story is extremely easy; just click the “+” sign on the top left of your screen. You will have the option to upload content from your phone or to use the camera to take a new video or photo.

The screen will provide you with the options to customize your content with filters, stickers, drawings and text. You can check analytics of who has viewed your story by clicking on it; you will be able to see every single person who saw the story, along with a total count.

Tips to Encourage Engagement with Instagram Stories

Tag Your Location

If your business has a physical storefront, make sure to tag it in every single Insta-story you create. The location tag will show up right on the story, allowing your followers to clearly see your business name.

Instagram allows users to search for companies in certain locations, such as “hair salon New York,” and is a great way to connect to a new customer base.

Add Hashtags

Hashtags are keywords that you can add to your story along with the # sign. Examples include:

  • #cheapmechanicLouisville
  • #ChineseFoodinLosAngeles
  • #trendiestshirtsonline

Instagram now allows users to search stories by hashtags, so as long as you know what keywords your customer base will use, you can attract them to your profile with your hashtags.

Use Polls

Polls are a fun feature on Instagram stories that allows you to ask your followers to vote on a certain topic. After adding a photo or video, add the “Poll” sticker to your story and write your question with two answer choices. Voters will be able to choose their selection right on your story, and you can see the answers.

This is a great way to engage with your followers and ask them what they prefer to see in your stories, what questions they may have, what products or services they are mostly interested in and more!

Instagram is a fun way for you to connect with a wide range of audience online. It can be a great marketing strategy, but since there is so much competition, it may be helpful to work with an Instagram specialist or influencer to truly make your business stand out on this social media channel.

As this takes a financial investment, you should consider a small business loan. IOU Financial is ready to fund your next loan in just under 48 hours. Click here to learn more.

Small Business Owner’s Guide to Podcast Marketing

 Small businesses need to find their voice. Building a loyal audience and customer base around your brand has never been as important as it is today. In modern business, content marketing plays an essential role in promoting your company’s mission and vision and stats tell the tale. Content marketing is used by 86% of B2C marketers, while that number rises to 91% for B2B marketers.It seems that as long as you have something relevant to say and are willing to present it in an attractive manner, your message will be heard.

On the road to discovering your company’s voice, you might want to speak up! One of the more attractive methods of content marketing is, in fact, podcast marketing. Now sure, not everyone will feel comfortable exposing themselves directly to an audience but there are a bunch of reasons why you should give podcasting a go.

For starters, podcasts are becoming more important because they are both a great source of entertainment but also an amazing educational tool. It is a great way to build a close relationship with your audience. Another benefit is that podcasting as a medium of communication is a lot more engaging than some other forms used for content marketing. Finally, making a podcast allows you to perfect your public speaking skills in a safe environment where you control what part of the conversation actually gets released.

How to Make a Podcast

You should know that even though the process might seem complicated, it’s very easy to grasp once you’ve understood the basics.

The Technical Aspect

The most fundamental piece of equipment you’ll need is something to record yourself speaking, meaning a microphone and some basic recording software. Everything else, from studio headphones to sound design software, is there to help you achieve certain levels of production quality. As your need for production quality grows, so will the need for investing additional resources. For example, let’s say you’re looking to go with a video version as well since YouTube is a great place for promoting your podcast. Like all of your company videos, you’ll need to work on giving it a professional look, which will require more investments like getting the right video recording and editing equipment, setting up a place to shoot, etc.

If you’re only starting out, try to determine a standard that you’re satisfied with while staying within budget. The production quality of your podcast is only a small portion of the story.

Content and format

With technicalities out of the way, you need to focus on the format of the show and the content of your episodes. Will it be hosted by more than one person? Are you going to have guests on? Once you’ve determined the format, you have to prepare and research what type of content would be most relevant to the audience you’d like to gather around your show.

SEO is an important part of running a small business in general, but it can add incredible value to your podcast marketing too. For instance, by researching keywords, you’ll be able to define the questions your audience needs answered and you’ll get to do the answering. It will also be of help when you’re optimizing your show notes. If you place your podcast on your website as well, each page should be optimized in order to improve its ranking. If you’re able to afford it, you can even consider adding a transcript of the full show.

Podcast Promotion

Once you’ve produced your podcast, you’ll need to upload it to relevant platforms such as iTunes, Libsyn or PodBean. However, developing a strategy for promoting your podcast is the final piece of the puzzle which will make all the difference.

Social Media Platforms

Using social media to promote your podcast is a must. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will help you build a community while enabling direct contact with your audience. Your episodes are a great source of promotional material, meaning you can use it to create quotes, sound bites, promotional posters, trailers, infographics or anything that your audience might engage with. Once you’ve gathered a significant following, you can include your followers in the production of the show. They can suggest topics for future episodes or you can even create a special, periodical Q&A show where you’ll answer their questions and give them a shout out.

Be My Guest and I’ll Be Yours

Having guests come on your show has great promotional value. They usually have audiences of their own and you will access them via that episode. The size and the engagement level of their audience is an important parameter to take into account when inviting people on your podcast. Bear in mind that they’ll be looking at your reach as well.

Aside from having guests on, you can also make guest appearances on other people’s shows. The same benefits apply here and this is an aspect of podcast marketing that doesn’t require for you to have a podcast of your own. In order to make the most out of each appearance, keep a couple of things in mind. Make sure you go on shows that have an audience which is likely to respond positively to your brand, service or product. It’s also essential that you have your company’s online information in order since your contacts, website, and social media profiles will be available in the show notes. Lastly, consider making a discount offer that only the listeners of the show can use, by offering a promo code or sharing a special landing page. That way, you’ll not only entice them to become paying customers but you can also measure the influence of each individual appearance.

Advertising Your Podcast vs. Podcast Advertising

Paying for ads to boost the growth of your podcast is great if you can set aside a budget for it. But for small business owners, podcasts are more of a promotional tool rather and that money is usually reserved to be spent elsewhere.

Podcast advertising, on the other hand, can be quite useful in more ways than one. If your audience is large and engaged enough, you can start monetizing your podcast by selling ad spots to other companies. Still, if you don’t have your own podcast, you can advertise your company on other people’s shows and reach new customers that way.

Guest Post: About the Author

Mark is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus – a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.

8 Great Lead Generation Tactics for Your Small Business

Even if a company has a winning product, a top-notch customer service model and a team full of overachievers, it won’t go far if nobody knows about it. While the way we generate leads is rapidly evolving, the goal remains the same for small business entrepreneurs: to grow business without maxing out the budget. Thankfully, there are dozens of amazing ways savvy small business marketers can tout their businesses on a dime, thanks in large part to the power of the internet. The best part is, digital marketing has leveled the playing field significantly, so smaller companies can compete with the big guys in powerful ways. Here’s how the best brands are doing it.

Act as the Expert: Try Content Marketing

Content marketing means creating and sharing industry-related content—guest articles, blogs, videos, infographics, etc.—that may be of value to a potential lead. This type of marketing is all the rage, and it works. In fact, according to Marketo, 93 percent of business-to-business companies say that content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing. On top of that, the pros report that content marketing strategies can earn you three times as many leads as traditional outbound strategies but at a cost savings of 62 percent. There’s no reason why any company should skip this high-yielding tactic.

Rely on Leaders: Advertise on the Right Platforms

Today’s lead generation efforts are all about streamlining and creating hyper-targeted advertisements (more on that below). And with so many industry-specific platforms out there, it’s easier than ever to get the word out about your product or service, so long as you select the right ones. Rather than casting a wide net on social media, take your ads to websites and apps that serve your ideal customer. If you’re in real estate, place ads on Zillow, Redfin and Trulia. If you’re a contractor or a carpenter, funnel some of your dollars into HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack or Angie’s List. There’s a site for just about everything these days.

Market Smart: Tout Your Strengths

If you work in an industry that’s especially competitive where you live, you have to come up with a special formula that can’t be replicated by others. One of the best ways to do this is to play heavily to your strengths and what sets you apart. Advertise why you’re the best choice. Perhaps you earned a special award in your region, or you’re known for completing work in half the time as the other guys. Make sure that the copy on your ads reflects the things that make you different from the competition.

Go Digital: Try Targeted Marketing

Gone are the days of casting a wide net in the newspaper or on TV and hoping blindly for big returns. Now, you can zoom in on your target consumer and play only to him or her. By studying the demographics of your highest value customers, you can create a customer persona that you can then use to advertise on social media, Google Ads and other platforms. These days, you can advertise to very specific users by age, gender, household income, education level and even hobbies and interests. Make sure to capitalize on this opportunity if you’re able to carve out a basic persona of your core customer.

 

Put Yourself Out There: Attend Industry Events

With buzzwords like targeted marketing and search engine optimization(SEO) dominating the sales dialogue, it’s easy to forget that good, old-fashioned networking still works, too. The fact of the matter is that attending industry events is especially effective in certain industries, especially business-to-business fields and niche markets. Attending trade shows, conferences and even industry happy hours gives you the chance to demo your product or service, to make a personal impression and to connect with others with whom you can forge valuable long-term business partnerships. Take it up another level by hosting your own industry event, and make sure to blast it on email and through social media to get the word out.

Go Word of Mouth: Implement a Referral Program

You spend a lot of time ensuring that your customers are happy, so they share your company with their friends and write good reviews online. But, without an incentive, most people won’t go out of their way to share information about your business with those around them, which is why implementing a referral program could be well worth your while. It’s simple: referrals work, with customers being four times more likely to make a purchase when referred to by a friend and referred customers bringing as much as a 37 percent higher retention rate.

Share the Love: Forge Partnerships with Other Businesses

As they say, business begets business. Cozy up with other business owners and entrepreneurs in your industry or area in order to create high-value partnerships that could pay you back royally. Sharing leads and going in on advertising efforts—such as collaboratively sponsoring an advertising campaign or working on a special offer for customers of both companies—can help you earn your company twice the business at half the price. Remember: it takes a village to run a business!

Let Them Come to You: Leverage SEO

Last but not least, don’t miss your opportunity to garner attention from Google and other search engines through SEO. Boosting your website’s SEO performance can ensure that it appears at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) when someone queries your business and related keywords. Follow SEO best practices, like including keywords in your website and creating high-quality, original copy for each page, in order to trigger Google to rank your page higher.

Guest Post: About the Author 

Jason brings 15 years of deep technology, product development, and marketing experience to Surety Bonds Direct. He has been leveraging Agile practices for well over a decade and is versed in various Lean practices as well. Jason has worked on substantial and complex systems dealing with secure information ranging from payroll and employee systems, to e-commerce, to travel-reservation APIs.

What Your Business MUST be Doing to Stand Out on Social Media

With billions of people logging into social media networks worldwide, by now every business owner must know the importance of having a brand presence on social media. In fact, 94% of all small businesses have at least one social media account. The frustrating factor for many small and medium-sized business owners is that between the short attention span of online users and the competition in your niche segment, it is extremely difficult to engage with your target audience.

Giving up hope is not an option; however utilizing strategies to stand out on social media is imperative. Read on to find out what you must be doing to stand out on social media.

Hire an Influencer

If your company does not have a large online following, you can acquire new leads by paying someone who has a relationship with thousands or millions of people online. This process involves paying an influencer, such as an actor or actress or a YouTube or Instagram celebrity to promote your business on their page or your page.

Businesses with smaller budgets may not be able to afford hiring a true celebrity, but the good news is that “mid-level influencers like bloggers…{can} drive 16 times more engagement than paid media and ‘mega influencers’,” according to a source.

Interact with your Audience

For most people, social media is an abyss where they like and share images and leave comments with no response. If you want to set your company apart from your competition, take the time to interact with your audience.

If you foster communication by asking questions and  requesting feedback, you will make your followers feel appreciated and important. Having the ability to contact the owner of the company and ask questions and recommendations about the products or services offered will generate  more leads and increase your profits.

Put a Face to your Name

All humans are looking for a connection, and it’s very difficult to connect with a business. Therefore, putting your face to the your company name will present the human side of your brand to your followers.

Sharing your story, your troubles and tribulations and your ultimate success can create a story for your audience and foster engagement. This will set you apart from many other companies that are just on social media to promote their offerings.

Use Images

Images are the clear winners of social media content because they’re easily digested, break up word related content and are easier to remember. Utilizing high-resolution images with bright and interesting colors will definitely stand out in the sea of social media content.

Consider creating a theme or a color palette to create images that tell a certain story and are easier to associate with your brand, thus making them easier spot and harder to forget.

To create maximum exposure for your social media presence, it can help to pay for advertising and marketing. IOU Financial is ready to partner with you to make this dream a reality. Contact us to find out how we can approve you for a small business loan this week. Visit www.ioufinancial.com