Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Facebook Trends for 2015

As we close out 2014 and solidify business plans for 2015, you may be considering how to improve your social media marketing in the new year. In her recent Facebook 2015 webinar, Mari Smith, a leading expert and trainer on Facebook best practices, revealed growing trends for Pages in the new year. Here's a summary of the trends she discussed:

1. Post More Video vs. Static Photos
Videos are shared twelve times more often than photos or links on Facebook.  Show off your expertise, products, services or just your personality! Consider how you can incorporate educational, informational or entertaining videos into your social media strategy.

2. Business Pages: Post More Links
Not long ago, links were out of favor with Facebook.  Now native links are being given priority! Pasting a url into the Facebook status box will automatically create a post that will grab that page's headline, photo and description.  Post those links and drive more Facebook traffic to your blog  and web site pages!

3. Focus on Adding Value
Smith suggests that the best use of Facebook is to engage a small, targeted, engaged community. How can you add more value to a highly focused audience?

4. More Personal and Personalized Content
Consider how you can personalize your brand to make stronger connections with clients and prospects. Smith suggests posting selfies, short videos about employees or interesting 'behind the scenes' content. How can you tell your story in order to add value for your target market?

5. Facebook Advertising
Facebook's ad-related services provide a way to reach a targeted segment with a customized message at a budget that you determine.  Expand your audience by allocating funds for Facebook's targeted advertising.

6. Better Ad Targeting
Facebook will now use login data to allow marketers to track users' activity on the Web. Facebook hasn't disclosed all the details but this new ad platform will help marketers make ads relevant to the right people.

7. More Creative Facebook Integration
While you probably have a Facebook icon on your web site that links to your Facebook Page, have you considered embedding a 'Like Box' so visitors can click and Like right from your Page? 

8. Organic Reach
94% of your Facebook Fans don't see your content. Ouch! Smith says that in order to increase your reach try mixing things up! Test posting outside business hours, mix up post frequency (try posting less), test post length, include @tags of other pages and repost your most popular posts.

9. Free Content
Smith notes that one of the biggest marketing trend is to capture leads by giving away low end content  such as free webinars, white papers, reports, etc. on Facebook.  Then create a campaign to turn those captured leads into new customers!

So those are Mari Smith's Facebook Trends for 2015 in a nutshell!  Tune in for my next blog post on Mari Smith's Facebook Mistakes to Avoid!

As always, if you need assistance with your Facebook or other social media, please give me a shout or stop by!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Online Holiday Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

The holiday season is the busiest selling time for many businesses. If you haven't started, now's the time to plan your holiday marketing campaigns to maximize your seasonal selling success!
Here are a few marketing tips to help you make the most of your online holiday sales:

1. Holiday Season Kick Off

The official holiday season begins right after Thanksgiving. Keep in mind these key shopping dates when planning your marketing campaigns:
  • Black Friday 
  • Small Business Saturday 
  • Cyber Monday 

2. What's the Deal?

Your customers and prospects will be looking for great holiday offers, deals and discounts.  Put some thought into creating the most compelling offer for your target audience.

Try attracting new customers by offering holiday specials on daily deal sites such as Groupon and Amazon Local.  Offer deals that are only redeemable for a short time and extend discounts on high margin products or services.

Email continues to drive traffic and sales. It's consumers' preferable method of contact with brands. Use email to offer holiday coupons to your targeted list of customers and prospects. Treat your customers to specials, free shipping and secret sales tailored just for them.

3. Social-ize

Social campaigns should play a significant role in your holiday marketing. Your customers and prospect will be scanning social networks for gift ideas and the best offers.  It's crucial to create a social posting schedule to ensure that you don't miss a beat. Map out all of your posts for the social networks that are right for your business during the weeks leading up to and through the holiday season.

Remember to balance your promotional posts with useful information. Offer product advice, tips, and include fun stuff like videos and photo contests to keep your audience engaged.

4.  Stay Connected

Don't forget to build your email list! Capture contact information of any new customers and prospects and ask permission to send specials, tips and newsletters, etc. throughout the year so you can drive business beyond the holiday season.

Need help pulling your holiday marketing campaigns together? Contact Jocelyn Murray to set up a complimentary consultation to see how I can help!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quick Tips for Creating E-Newsletters That Get Read

If you're looking for an affordable communications tool to help you attract new business while keeping in touch with your existing clients, consider an e-newsletter.  A balanced, informative newsletter should support your business' goals, be engaging to the reader, provide useful content and include limited promotions or ads.

Here are some tips to help you create a newsletter that gets read and even shared!

1. Compelling Subject Lines
Give your readers a good reason to open your newsletter. Use the limited space in the subject line effectively by asking a question, stating a key benefit or emphasizing an urgent matter such as a limited time offer.  Avoid using spam trigger words (Free, Discount, etc.), all CAPS and overly promotional phrases.  The best newsletter subject lines grab the reader and get them excited about what's inside.

2. Content Worth Reading
Know your audience and what's relevant and important to them. Useful content is the heart of a strong newsletter. When writing your newsletter, share your expertise in informational articles, offer tips or answer customer questions.  In addition to a feature story, include a message from the CEO, other company leaders or information from relevant departments.  

Update readers with industry news, customer stories or quotes. Coupons, giveaways or contests can work for certain businesses and audiences. Cartoons or jokes can add levity and fun to any type of newsletter.

Your strongest story should take the prime, lead spot in your newsletter.  This top news spot should always be educational, informative and never a commercial.  Overall your newsletter should provide lots of content with little advertising.

3. Simple, Clean Design and Easy-to-Read Layout
If you're newsletter is poorly designed, it's almost a sure thing that readers will be less likely to read it. Brand your newsletter with your logo, consistent colors and meaningful graphics. Consider marrying your newsletter's design with that of your company's web site or landing pages.  Your newsletter should have an original masthead or title that's published in a fixed position in each edition. 

Don't forget to make your newsletter easy to read. Use short paragraphs and sentences, headlines, subheadings and good accent images.  Make use of the white space and avoid too much dense text.

4. Include Ways to Unsubscribe
Most readers expect to find the ability to unsubscribe in the footer of every email.  In accordance with the CAN-SPAM Act (email regulations), your newsletter must include a way for your users to unsubscribe from your list either by sending a reply email or by clicking to an unsubscribe page. Overlook these requirements and risk incurring CAN-SPAM violations and hefty fines for your company.

5. Use an Email Service Provider
For more professional looking emails and better results, use an email service provider (Constant Contact, iContact and Aweber to name a few) for your e-newsletter creation and distribution.  An email service provider will allow you to manage and segment your lists and identify bad email addresses or bounces.  Comprehensive tracking and reports are available in order to evaluate who opened your newsletter and which links were clicked. Social sharing capabilities and higher overall deliverability are just a few more benefits. 

To comply with the CAN-SPAM act's legal requirements, an email service provider will automatically provide your mailing address and an unsubscribe option in every email.

7.  Integrate with Social Media
To expand your readership, your newsletter should always invite readers to connect with your business on social media. Include links to all your social networks in the footer or in a special section of each edition. Also include social sharing buttons at the top of your newsletter so readers can easily post your e-news on their networks. 

8. Test and Measure
Experiment with your e-newsletter. Test variables such as your subject line or whether your audience prefers to read your newsletter on a Wednesday or a Saturday.  Measure which versions have a better open rate in order to improve the effectiveness of your e-newsletter.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Looking to Improve Your Facebook Page Productivity?

Track and Measure Your FaceBook Page Activity with Insights

All Facebook Page owners/administrators should be familiar with Insights, data that Facebook provides about your Page's activity that can help drive strategic marketing decisions. Page Insights (found in the white bar across the top of the administrator's Page) can help determine how the audience interacts with your Facebook Page. Utilizing the information provided by Page Insights is vital for creating a successful Facebook Page. Insights will allow you to reach your target audience, garner traffic on your page, and help produce business.

Facebook's Insights provide the following information:

1)     See a metrics summary to analyze how well the page is performing.
2)      Learn which posts are more popular with your audience. This helps guide you to create similar posts that will receive the same positive feedback.
3)      Track when your audience is logged into Facebook so that posts can be published during hours that demonstrate optimal page traffic.

Page Insights are only available after at least 30 people have liked your page.

Here's a detailed breakdown of all the tabs within Insights:

·         Overview  
The purpose of this tab is to show as much data as possible about your Page at a glimpse. The Overview tab includes a percentage graph of Likes, Post Reach, and Engagement within the last seven days. The table underneath the graph shows the most recent published posts alongside some statistics about those posts. The “pages to watch” table allows one to monitor the growth of other Pages including any competitors.

·         Likes
This tab illustrates the fan growth of your Facebook Page. It can be viewed weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The graph for “total pages Likes” lets the page administrator see the number of Likes received on any particular date. The “net Likes” graph show how the Likes received on a page change daily. Both graphs can help one measure whether the Page is growing at steady rate or declining. One can also see where page Likes come from: your own Page, Page suggestions, other people’s posts or ads.

·         Reach
The Reach tab shows the number of people who have received posts from your Facebook Page. Stats reflect the number of times a post was displayed and whether it was clicked on or not. Reaches can derive from organic or paid sources (organic means that posts were shown through unpaid distribution and paid are posts shown by ads). This tab lets you evaluate positive actions such as likes, comments, and shares as well as negative actions such as when your posts are hidden, reported as spam, and when people unlike your Page.

The Total Reach graph shows all the activity related to your Page such as posts, the post of others about your Page, ads, mentions, and checkins. In all, this tab shows the all around activity of your Page and what works best to spur on interaction with your followers.

·         Visits
This tab allows you to see how people are interacting with your Page by understanding the areas of your Page that were visited the most(Timeline, Photos, Info, etc.).

The Other Page Activity graph shows all mentions, other individuals’ posts on your Page, any check-ins and offer purchases.

'External Referrers' shows which web sites are driving traffic to your Facebook Page.

·         Posts
Within the Post tab there are total of three sub-tabs. The very first tab shows the days of the week and times of the day when your Facebook page fans are online. This is great data to ensure that you're scheduling posts when your audience will see them.

The Post Types tab shows the level of Reach and Engagement for each post so you can evaluate what worked and what did not.

The last tab shows top posts from the Pages You Watch (competition?) so you can easily keep track of what's working for other Pages.

·         People  
To find out if your Facebook fans match up with the profile of your target market, check out the People tab. Demographics including age, gender and location are shown and the tab displays the people your Page's content reaches and engages.

Facebook Insights is a smart, free tool that helps Page administrators better understand what their business Page is accomplishing. Use it to track trends and to improve your Page's success moving forward.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

List Segmentation: What Is It and How Does It Impact My Marketing?

Collecting client and prospect email addresses should be a standard marketing practice for your business. Your email lists represent a big marketing opportunity to gain new business from prospects and to service and potentially up-sell your clients.

But assembling email lists is just the first step.  Consider how to segment your lists in order to make your email marketing efforts most effective. List segmentation is creating smaller lists or "segments" from the bigger list. How you segment your list depends on your business.  Some common ways are to identify customers vs. prospects or to segment customers by how often they buy or the type of product or service they've purchased.  The possibilities are endless and should be based on how you need to divide your lists in order to tailor your marketing.

By creating a targeted message and campaign designed for a specific segment, you'll greatly improve your performance and results. As far as email marketing goes, list segmentation and targeting can be some of the most successful techniques.

According to a 2012 survey of US-based marketers, 39% segmented email lists by demographics, 28% by purchase history, and smaller percentages segmented by email open rates, type of purchase, and job titles.

Avoid having people unsubscribe to your lists by segmenting and targeting your email messages to each audience's specific needs.

For help segmenting your lists, contact Jocelyn at 203.377.9980.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Six Innovative Ways to Promote Your Next Event

Looking for some new marketing ideas to give your next seminar, trade show or other corporate event a big boost? Here are some promotional activities that we implement for grand openings, but they can be applied to any event to help turn it into a smart money-making promotion for your business:

1. Be Community-Minded

Is there a way that your event can be tied in with a greater cause? Can your grand opening or event help the local community in some way?  If it can, you're bound to get more attention and publicity!

2. Traffic Generating Incentives

Coupons are always a smart marketing tool.  In conjunction with the event, promote a product or service that prospects will respond to and make it time sensitive to encourage a speedy response.

3. Marketing

Beginning a month prior to the event, send timely emails, fliers and personal invitations and use social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) to spread the word.  Create a video for YouTube that acts as a teaser ad for the event.  Don't forget to include your special offer or incentive.

4. Use the Media

For big events, think about media partnerships with local radio stations, TV stations, newspapers and cable companies. In exchange for exclusive rights to promote your event on site, you can try to obtain on air promotions or advertising at no cost to you.

5. Advertising and Public Relations

If your budget allows, advertise in your local daily and weekly newspapers and on the radio for one to two weeks leading up to your event. Write a great press announcement and get it out to all the local trade and community outlets.

6. Form Partnerships    

Team up with related or neighboring businesses so that you all can contribute to and benefit from the buzz of your event.  Who can you create reciprocal marketing partnerships with for this event and ongoing? 

For more event promotion advice, contact Jocelyn Murray at 203.377.9980.    

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Market your Business with Facebook Offers

Businesses can share discounts and coupons with their prospects and customers by posting an Offer on their Facebook Page.  Offers are a great way for small businesses to engage with existing or new audiences to drive sales.  Your Page must have at least 50 Likes in order to create an Offer.

Facebook suggests that you should carefully consider your Offer's value, headline and the image you use. If people don’t understand your offer or think it looks like spam, they might hide it from News Feed, mark it as spam or unlike your Page.

Sample Facebook Offers

Offers used to be only available to brick and mortar businesses but now any business can use them.  Here's a sample discount offer from Macy's that you may have seen in your News Feed:

When someone claims an offer, they'll receive an email in their Inbox about it.

Use an Offer to promote a FREE giveaway in exchange for users’ email address. This offer directs people to a custom landing page that allows users to enter their email in order to get the PDF download.

How to Create a Facebook Offer

Go to the status update box on your Facebook Page and choose Offer.

1. Create a Title and Description for your Offer

2. Add an Image

3. Set the Offer's expiration date and any limit on the number of Offers you want to make available.

4. Choose your audience. Click "Not Now"  and your offer will appear on your Page to your Fans only. Or choose a dollar amount and your Offer will appear to a new custom audience (specify location, gender, age or interests).

The more Likes, Shares and comments your Offer gets, the more likely it is to show up in the News Feed.  Happy "Offer"ing!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Job Opening: Virtual Marketing College Intern for 2014-15 School Year

I'm looking for a college student (Business, Communications or English major a plus) who's interested in getting hands on marketing experience. Must have strong written communications skills, detail oriented, Internet and social media savvy.  

Tasks include writing, creating newsletters and other email promos, doing research, assisting with web site updates, and social media work including postings and performing monthly measurements. Experience with web content management systems and Constant Contact email marketing system is a plus but not necessary.  Candidate must have access to the Internet and MS Word. 

Up to 20 hours per month, hourly rate. To inquire, email Jocelyn Murray -

Monday, April 14, 2014

Internet/Email Daily Deal: Is It a Smart Move for Your Business?

Daily deal companies such as Amazon Local, Groupon and Living Social are popular and wide spread. Businesses that are considering offering daily deals need to carefully evaluate the potential benefits and how a daily deal offer can impact their business.

Drive New Business

Daily deals can increase your visibility in the marketplace and bring in substantial new business. Research from Foresee Daily Deal Commentary 2012 states that about three in ten people (29%) who redeemed a daily deal had never done business with that company before. In fact, 12% had never even heard of the company prior to their purchase.

One of my clients, a mold remediation company, found that their Amazon Local daily deal offer served as a great lead generator. They offered a discounted rate for a mold inspection service and a substantial credit toward mold remediation services, if needed. Within the first month of the offer, nearly 50 people had purchased the inspection deal from Amazon Local and many had contacted the mold remediation company to redeem it. The opportunity for the business to sell mold remediation services, if needed, was where the company could make its profit.

Repeat business can be achieved through deals too. More than 70% of deals are sold to existing customers (Foresee Daily Deal Commentary 2012), since they are more likely to be loyal to businesses and brands they already know. Existing customers may speak highly of your products/services and refer the daily deal to others.

Turn Deal Seekers into Ongoing Business

Although there are many positives to offering daily deals, some may argue that small businesses should not get tangled up in such a scene. One of the main drawbacks is that a deal will not necessarily help your business turn a quick profit. Many deal agreements require businesses to split the income 50/50. Many vendors are sacrificing profits (or even taking a loss) on the redeemed deals for consumers who may never set foot in their store again.

For instance, salons that offer discounts on low margin services such as manicures won't make any profit on the deal itself.  But if the goal is to bring in new prospects and the execution includes a plan for up selling additional services or offering incentives that entice people to come back, then the daily deal is a smart marketing tactic.

Customer dissatisfaction can occur when a daily deal creates a sudden rush in demand that businesses are not capable of serving. It's critical for businesses to achieve outstanding first-time customer satisfaction in order gain repeat customers and grow their bottom line.

Business should carefully consider whether or not the daily deal business model can be productive and profitable long term. 

Image credit: wired@home

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Social Media Marketing World 2014 Trends and Takeaways

Facebook took a big hit this week.  The keynote speaker at this week's Social Media Marketing World 2014 Conference diminished Facebook in his opening remarks essentially saying "Blog more, Facebook less".

Many businesses have been thoroughly frustrated with their efforts to gain more traction on Facebook.  Status updates are seen by a shrinking percentage of followers and the only way to get any visibility is to pay for exposure.

According to content marketing writer, Ryan Hanley, who was at the Conference, "Facebook, the social media juggernaut, minimized at the largest social media marketing conference in world, in the opening keynote no less."

Conference keynote and founder Michael Stelzner may have minimized Facebook but what he did emphasize was the importance of blogging, Google+ and producing relevant content. Sharing information, answering client/prospect questions and serving as an online resource should be part of your business' marketing purpose.

For those of who weren't able to attend SMMW 14, check out Ryan's blog about the trends and takeaways that he discovered:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tips for Using Pinterest for Business

If your business hasn't jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon, now is the time. Pinterest is growing faster than another social media network according to a recent report from ShareThis.  Pinterest grew at 58% in 2013 outpacing Twitter and LinkedIn.

The ShareThis report states that Pinterest has surpassed email for online sharing. This means that consumers are now "pinning" things like articles, photos, recipes, etc. to share more than they're emailing links.

In addition to a growing user base and an increase in sharing, Pinterest can also give a boost to your SEO.

Check out these tips to help you get started on Pinterest or maximize your business' current efforts:

1. Create a Business Pinterest Page 
Unlike a personal Pinterest Page, a business Page offers valuable analytics to help you understand what's working and what's not.  Pinterest also offers educational information to help businesses build a community and drive traffic to their Page.

2. Complete your Business Profile

Use all of the 160 characters to describe your business and what you'll be posting on your Page. Include keywords to boost your Pinterest SEO. Under Account Settings you can set up connections with your other social media accounts to easily make your Pinterest posts visible on your other networks. And don't forget to verify your web site so that your Pinterest visitors can see your web address and click through to it.

3. Describe Your Pins
Use keywords and hashtags in each pin's description area to optimize them.  Use up the 500 characters allowed and make your text relatable, fun and relevant.

4. Link Every Pin
Add a link to your web site to every Pin you post. These "back links" can increase your Google rankings and they're a smart and easy way to drive traffic to your web site.

5. Fill your Boards
There's nothing worse than clicking on a Pinterest board with only one Pin! Before you make a board public, be sure to add lots of interesting images and links.

If you sell products, Pinterest is a great tool.  But consider Pinterest, even if you have a service based business.  Think of Pinterest as a way to post relevant web site links with interesting photos that entice people to click!

Pinterest shouldn't be used for the sole purpose of promotion. Use it to offer your audience useful information and to build your business' brand and the lifestyle associated with it.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gain Maximum Marketing Results: Develop a Communications Plan

A business communications plan is a smart idea for any company, big or small. The plan will establish how your marketing communication activities will support your business' goals. Take these simple steps to begin devising your plan:

1. Specify Your Goals
Depending on your type of business, your communications goals might be stated as targeted revenue, number of leads, product or service sales targets or awareness about your business and its products or services.

2. Identify Your Audiences
List all of the various groups that you need communication with: customers, prospects, employees, the media, etc.

3. Determine Key Messages
What are the most important messages that you want and need to convey to each audience?  Product quality, service benefits, employee value, customer service, etc.

4. Assess Your Communications Tools
Take a look at your Web site, signage, employee newsletter, marketing brochures, etc.  Are they effective at articulating your key messages?  Brainstorm ways to improve each of them to ensure that they consistently include the right communications.

5. Evaluate and Measure
Evaluate the success of the plan based on how your actual results measure up to the goals you set.  Test and change your messages and tools to optimize your results.