Social media is the driving force behind a wave of start-up companies. Finally, a platform exists which allows access to a huge market without traditional barriers to entry. Simply put, the benefits of involving your business with social media will be — you will still exist in five years’ time.
Although you might know this, your boss or colleagues might not. Getting them involved with social media sites can be challenging. However, follow these simple steps and it will be impossible for your boss to say no!
One of the simplest ways to convince your boss that social media is the future is showing how much profit they can make. Show them how your competitors are using social content to attract potential clients, showing the strengths and weaknesses of their campaigns. Use your website analytics to monitor the flow of visitors to your website from Facebook, Twitter or organically, and how many convert to leads or sales.
Remember, this is a way to win over your boss. Start with something like, “currently we convert 6% of our online leads. With a social content campaign, we could increase conversion rates by 4% in the first six months”. Back this up with facts and don’t be tempted to oversell, this will come back and get you when you don’t deliver.
Your competition is already in your online space, and they will continue to grow and become harder to beat. You need to be establishing yourselves as leaders in your field. You may supply anything from radiators to a new digital service — don’t think your industry is too boring. Becoming established in your niche is important and social media is one of the easiest ways to do this.
SEO plays a huge part in boosting organic traffic and that is obviously a huge factor in being found online. And social signals are playing an increasingly important role in giving some websites more authority — and that affects where you come in Google rankings.
By creating content that answers the questions your potential customers have means you can save your employees valuable time and spent answering phone calls. With the right content on your website, the only phone calls you should be getting should be warm or hot leads looking to find out more about prices and details before making a purchase. As customers ring and enquire about certain issues, encourage colleagues to share what they were asked. This could give you inspiration for your next great piece of content, in the knowledge you will be answering the issues people see as most important.
A well-executed social campaign will show returns. However, examine your resources carefully and create a strategy that plays to your strengths. It’s well worth having a blog, for instance, as great content is the driving force behind any social media campaign. Not only will you get the SEO benefits and get long-tail organic traffic, you can use analytics to show directly how much traffic it has driven to your website, and how many conversions have come from it.
Once you can show the blog is successful, you may get more budget or resources to push a Twitter account. And before you know it, you will be in charge of an entirely measurable social media campaign, and your boss will give you a pay rise — we can always dream!
Jonathan Dempster is writing on behalf of ResponseTap.
Do you spend money on ads and not know the return on investment (ROI) they are giving you?
If the answer is yes, then your small business is behind the curve. Advertising is dead and content marketing is stepping into its place as the number one marketing tool.
The whole premise of traditional advertising is that you are trying to interrupt consumers and get their attention. Your ads are based on hijacking techniques. You need to have something weird, funny or astonishing to get them.
That’s fine, provided it works. But it’s a back-handed kind of manipulation. It’s forcing your sales message onto someone and it coaxes them into a purchase rather than actively helping them.
The problem is the public are ignoring ads. According to veteran adman Dave Trott, 89% of people don't remember or even notice adverts.
That's a complete waste of time, money and resources isn't it?
Since the internet has come along, there has been information overload. We no longer passively gawp at the telly during the ad break. We check Facebook on our smartphones. We watch something on YouTube. Or we just put the kettle on.
There’s such complete information overload that we tune out of adverts. There are so many more exciting to do that we just ignore ads. Subliminally.
The whole success of the Mad Men era in the 60s was based on cheap mass-media advertising. Marketing departments were encouraged to pour as much money as they could into advertising spending. It was considered a safe bet. Marketers would almost certainly see a general rise in sales and correlate it to a new ad campaign.
But as time has gone on, costs have risen, and the effectiveness of ads has dropped. So advertising is no longer a safe bet. It is a lot more risky.
Today, you need to track the impact of your marketing budget and measure the ROI of every piece of content.
You need to justify every pound you spend on your marketing. If you don’t measure the results of what you do, you’re not marketing your business, you’re gambling with it.
As the famous merchant John Wanamaker said in the 19th century: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”
I’m not saying you should give up on traditional advertising. It certainly does have some value. If you can tell me your newspaper ad has brought in 20 times its cost in profit, then I’d be foolish to say “stop!”. But in many cases, businesses just place ads and hope for the best.
If you look at how the internet has evolved, people are mainly looking for information and entertainment. And your customers have so much stuff to choose from, they want to devour the best stuff out there.
Google’s job is to sort all that information out. If you create brilliant content, Google will put you at the top.
Content marketing is about giving something valuable to people for free. Whether that’s a guide, a book, a video, an article ... it has become an essential part of modern marketing.
With content marketing, your company is connecting with clients. It’s not about dragging them kicking and screaming into your sales pipeline. It’s about giving them information. Winning trust. Making your leads warm and happy. Letting them climb through your sales process at a pace that suits them. Attracting and nurturing them, rather than screaming at them.
And that’s why you need to be doing content marketing — because the power of your ads is waning all the time.
They say that, “Valentine’s day is just a Hallmark holiday” but actually many companies try to boost sales in the run up to the romantic day with clever tactics. So how can small businesses get ahead?
Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to reach out to your customers and attract new ones. According to the Daily Mail, last year men spent £611 million while women only spent £269 million! So while Valentine’s Day might appeal more to women, it’s the men who do the spending. Be sure to segment your audience to get the best results. Ask yourself what will appeal to them and what your business could offer them? Remember — although romantic gifts are Valentine’s Day favourites, this may not appeal to your audience.
Obviously, not everyone has a significant other. Depending on your demographics, beware of Valentine’s Day scrooges. If your customer base isn’t the romantic type, why not use it to your advantage? Send an anti-Valentine’s Day message or something romance-free; at least there is a chance you’ll stand out!
You don’t need to be in the flower or chocolate industry to benefit from Valentine’s Day. Promotions can be an effective way to reach out to your existing audience and find new customers; however you will have to be creative. Try to think of how you can create a competition, offer or give-away without it being out of place. You could choose to reward your existing customers with a discount or Valentine-themed gift, showing your appreciation for their loyalty.
Decorating your social media pages is a great way to get your business into the romantic spirit. Add a few hearts to your profile picture cover or background; just be sure to not go overboard. This is also a great time to use social media to engage with your customers through Valentine-themed calls to actions; you could run a competition where your followers share their worst or best Valentine’s Day stories.
By going the extra mile for your employees, it’s more likely that they will go the extra mile for your customers. Employees who are happy and care about the business are more likely to deliver exceptional customer service, solve customers’ problems and go out their way to prevent them.
During the lead up to Valentine’s Day, organise a fun event for your employees or even send them all a small goody pack. This is a cost-effective way of increasing the morale and efficiency of your workforce. It may also help you increase your sales too.
Laura Woodhouse is writing on behalf of luxury four star hotels company, Puma Hotels.
There always comes a point at any party when you realise numbers are thinning out. Various people, friends that perhaps you haven’t had a chance to talk to yet, seem to have gone — just walked out of the door without a by-your-leave or a thanks-for-having-me.
In Poland, according to a good friend of mine, they call this an English exit! I’m not sure whether this says more about our lack of manners or our inability to let our hair down.
But when you think about it, it’s what we do all the time as customers — we quietly slip away.
Hosting a party is a bit like running a business — there’s tons to do and you can’t be everywhere at once. But keeping your guests happy is vital — you can’t just conjure up a new bunch of friends just like that. And nor can you easily drum up new customers either.
So how do you keep them satisfied? Here are some lessons that you can apply to parties and your small business:
Guests arrive. You greet them effusively and lead them to the food and drink. You promise faithfully to catch up with them later. And then you forget all about them.
A PR chap I used to know would greet everyone like a long lost friend while at the same time looking over their shoulder to see who else had arrived. Give everyone your full attention, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Don’t stand there with a glazed look on your face while you mentally tot up how long the booze is going to last.
Why did so-and-so leave early? Was it the food? Was it something I said? Did they go on to another party? Don’t get paranoid — get in touch, say thanks for coming and review the night with them.
One of your friends never showed. Perhaps they texted with a lame excuse. Perhaps they hate parties. Don’t be bitter. Suck it up and call them. Tell them they were missed, ask how they are, fix up a time to meet and look for other ways to connect with them.
You can’t force people to stay. But don’t give them a reason to head for the door either — keep the food, drink and conversation flowing. Reward your friends’ loyalty. And check the exits!
Rachel Miller is the editor of Marketing Donut.
Brett King is the author of Bank 2.0, a futurologist, a banking sector specialist and founder of Movenbank. He’s an author who practises what he preaches. When he wrote Bank 2.0, he was ahead of the curve and with Bank 3.0 he now jumps even further.
Banking is of particular interest to us, but I think this book is relevant to any industry or business. Brett King takes all the changes in:
and explains how that impacts on banking. All these changes are also impacting on your business. Change at a neck breaking speed (everything is faster, cheaper, smarter) is ensuring an explosive mix of not only a lot of new technology but also much quicker adoption of new technology by consumers.
A key question for you is how to sync the adoption rate of your clients with your own organisation.
The answer is with intelligent, non-intrusive permission marketing. Customer service. Digital. Driven by convenience and relevance. Without friction. When and where they want. In context and with an ability to predict, and be precognitive. Preferably on a mobile device and as an app.
And with a social media engagement layer on top. Engagement and dialogue as part of the customer service mix are critical. Why? They are talking about you anyway. And engaged clients spend 30% more. Not pursuing a social media strategy will be more expensive that not.
How delightful, frictionless and social media savvy is your customer service?
Are you and your organisation ready and digitally competent?
Bank 3.0 (=Business 3.0) is about change. Change that is inevitable, change that is speeding up and change that is extremely disruptive. You may not agree with the predictions. But you hopefully agree that consumer behaviour has changed and you are amazed how many people use iPhones, Android devices and tablets. Or how many people are discussing Facebook and Twitter.
Keep talking to your clients. Innovate and experiment. With the current adoption cycles you can’t afford to wait. Create a team that is both an advocate for customers and enabling advocacy by customers. Create great customer journeys. Give these resources huge support. They are your future.
If you don’t adapt, customers will pass you by at warp speed. Get on board or get out of the way.
A cracking book!
Most sales and marketing processes work like this: the marketing department generates sales leads that are passed to a sales person; the sales person does an initial qualification, probably discarding half of them; during the sales process, further qualification may happen, either by the prospect or the sales person, and finally about one qualified lead in four gets converted into a sale.
These numbers may change depending on the business but on average, I would assume around ten leads from marketing are needed for one sale.
So what happens to the leads that have been discarded? At worst, they may have been deleted from the marketing database and now aren’t on any system at all. At best, they will remain in the marketing database but not flagged as being special.
And why should they be special? Surely they are have been qualified out or lost? In fact, failed sales could be your most valuable future leads. They are the potential rebounders — hot leads that could be easy wins if they come back.
In our business, we get a steady stream of leads — people looking at our offering. Some get qualified out early because they don’t have the budget, or don’t want our delivery model. Later on they might be lost because they have specialised requirements or simply prefer another vendor and go with them.
Six months later, however, some come back. They have decided that they now have the budget, or maybe our delivery model wasn’t so bad, or they looked for a specialised system and gave up, or the competitor they initially chose disappointed them.
Converting “fails” into customers
Even though the initial attempt at converting these leads failed, compared to the rest of the marketing database they are statistically more likely to convert than the others that we know nothing about.
Actually, these “failed” leads had decided they wanted a system like ours and had some idea of what their requirements and budget were. They fell at the last hurdle, but at least they started the race. So whatever tripped them up the first time, they might get over if they started the race again.
So, don’t throw away so-called failed sales leads. Keep them in the database and segment them into a special campaign. This may require a CRM system that integrates the sales and marketing processes together, so prospects can be moved back and forth between marketing and sales with their history intact.
However it is managed, businesses need to get those failed leads back out of the bin.
John Paterson is CEO of Really Simple Systems.