Monday, October 27, 2014

Maximizing Your Use of 4 Top Social Media Platforms

If you don't use social media personally, it can seem difficult to understand why it's such an important aspect of digital marketing. You might be tempted to think, "Well, Facebook is the biggest of the social media platforms, so maybe I should just post everything on there in the hopes of reaching the most people." What you need to realize, however, is that social media is not just a publication service. It's a community.

While there is overlap, different platforms are known for attracting different people and different types of conversation. You're not going to have much luck unless you understand the crowd each one attracts. Here's a quick breakdown of the top four social sites -- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ -- to help you get a feel for each platform and how to connect with customers on them.

Facebook
Facebook is easily the largest platform with an estimated 1.3 billion users. The site is known for being the perfect place for users to develop their individuality. You can use images, text, videos, and just about anything else you can think of. Generally keep your posts under 250 characters to keep your customers' attention, and don't be afraid to ask questions of your page visitors. This is the platform for making your brand seem full of personality and connecting with customers.

Twitter
Think of Twitter as a large, global conversation. There are an estimated 645 million users around the world, and the site has made the news multiple times for helping to start large social movements. It can also help your business.

Generally, you want to start your posts (tweets) early in the day and post frequently (just like a conversation). What's challenging about Twitter is that your posts should be only 115-120 characters long (which makes it easier for others to 'retweet' you). Twitter is also known for the popularity of the #hashtag. Hashtags help to make your posts searchable, while connecting you with your audience. You should alternate between text-based tweets and occasional photos.

LinkedIn
This site is the more professional of the social pages. There are about 300 million users, and most of them are there for professional networking and business information. This trend is reflected in the best posting practices. Posts made before 8am and after 6pm tend to fare better than those made during the day (when most users are at work). They should also typically concern business topics. Your business page and posts should all reflect the more professional aspect of this site.

Google+
Google+ also has about 300 million users, but Google+ offers the added benefit of being connected to Google, which helps make it fantastic for local search SEO. Google likes businesses to use Google+ and has combined it with the old Google business pages. Take some time to build up your profile and cultivate reviews. This can help boost your local search results and make your business seem very appealing when it shows up on a search results page.

Content posted to this site should also be diversified between images, videos, fun content, and educational content. In terms of seriousness, Google+ tends to fall somewhere between Facebook and LinkedIn, making it a good place to connect with professional and casual users.

Social media has a considerable amount of potential in what it can offer your company. It's a great place to connect with people and show them everything your business has to offer. Knowing the crowds who tend to gather on each platform will help you considerably as you set out to use each to its fullest potential.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How Does Email Fit Into a Modern Marketing Strategy?

Given that most people despise spam email, it can be difficult to see how email can fit into a successful marketing strategy. Isn't blasting potential customers with email part of the old, outdated marketing system that's now viewed as ineffective?

Yes, and no.

Yes -- when you send potential customers unsolicited emails, especially using email lists you purchase from a provider.

No -- when your email messages are used purposefully as a means of initiating conversation with your leads and helping them along the sales process.

The truth is that more than 3/4 of your customers prefer to receive marketing communications by email compared to other methods. It's also true that 95 percent of online customers use email, with the vast majority of them checking their email at least once a day. When used properly, email can be a fantastic way to stay in touch with your customers reliably and consistently. Here's what you should keep in mind to make sure you're getting the most from your emails.

Make sure everyone wants to be on the email list.

The first step to using email effectively is to ensure that everyone actually wants to be on your email list. This means no list purchasing and no generating email lists from random people. Your email lists should be comprised of people who have voluntarily given you their email address. You can use your landing pages, sign ups, and past customers to generate much more effective email lists. Such lists will have a much higher open rate than a randomly generated list. Your messages will be less likely to be marked as spam, and you'll generate a higher conversion rate.

Use email to cultivate leads.

Email is a fantastic tool for taking people who have shown at least a passing interest in your brand and moving them further along the conversion process. Start by creating an e-newsletter comprised of helpful, relevant information designed to help people no matter where they are in the buyer's journey. This will remind customers of the value you have to offer. As an added bonus, when you produce content that people like to share, you can generate even more leads. When people receive information about a company from a person they trust, they're more likely to trust the company themselves.

Use email to stay in touch.

Email is also a great medium for staying in touch with people. Got any past customers you haven't heard from in a while? Reach out to them with an email asking how you can help them reach their goals. How about people who have visited your pricing page but didn't make a purchase? Email them to find out if they have any more questions about your products or services.

Email can even be helpful for taking an interested, sales-ready lead to the final step. After making your sales calls, follow up with emails. By opening multiple lines of communication, you're making it as easy as possible for your customers to contact you.

Spam email has long passed its effectiveness as a marketing tool, much to the relief of everyone. But that doesn't mean email itself is obsolete. Using email effectively in conjunction with the rest of your marketing efforts can be an excellent way to cultivate more leads and bring your company the growth you seek.