7 Simple Steps to Build a Successful Social Media Presence

Social media is almost too simple. It's easy to imagine that to market your business, all you have to do is transfer your knowledge from personal usage or learn as you go. In reality, of course, that is far from the case.

Like any other marketing strategy, social media requires careful thought and consideration. Put simply, you have to make sure that you don't just post the right content, but also stand out compared to other businesses in your and other industries.

Social media, after all, is where most of your potential customers spend their spare time. We now spend more than 2 hours on our favorite networks every single day. More than two-thirds of all Americans are active on Facebook alone, ranging in age from 18 all the way to 65 and above. If you want to get your message through and establish yourself as a reputable brand, an effective social media presence should be among your first steps.

Getting to that point can be complex. Fortunately, regardless of your business and audience, you can break the process down in easily digestible and achievable chunks. More specifically, you can take these 7 steps to market your brand on social media, and grow your revenue and reputation.

1) Understand Your Audience

First, a basic marketing truth: no promotional effort should start without consideration of your audience. You need to know exactly who you're trying to reach and convince with your messaging before you go about doing so.

Your audience can differ significantly based on the type of brand you manage and industry you're in. You probably already have a good idea of who they are. It makes sense to get specific in terms of demographics, life cycle stage, and professional standing. A quick analysis of current and past customers can give you a good start.

2) Choose Your Platform

Based on the audience you found in your analysis above, it's time to choose the channel through which you will communicate with them. Facebook tends to be the most common answer, because it's the only social network that cuts through all demographics and age groups. But it's not your only option.

Match your demographics with this research by the Pew Research Center. You might find that Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn are actually great overlaps. Don't follow your temptation to go with the platform you're most familiar with; instead, choose the one your audience knows and uses the most.

3) Build a Brand Page

Once you know your platform, you have to build your presence. That means building a 'brand page' or profile representing not you personally, but your business.

On some platforms, that's relatively simple. Instagram, for instance, only requires a name, profile picture, and short description. Other options, like Facebook, are more complex. This tutorial can guide you through the process of building a page that accurately reflects your brand and services offered.

4) Focus on Visual Content

In social media, and marketing in general, visuals matter. So much, in fact, that they significantly improve almost any type of post you can make. Studies show time and time again that regardless of the specific platform you focus on, posts with images, graphics, or video generate more clicks and engagement than those without.

You can use that fact to your advantage. Share content directly related to your brand and products, from images to video and infographics related to your brand and industry. Make it a goal: everything you post should come with at least one relevant visual attached.

5) Go for Value, Not Promotion

You might look to use social media to market your brand, but your audience doesn't. Rather than pushing out direct marketing messages, it makes much more sense to focus on content that your audience actually wants to engage with.

What does that value look like? For your brand, it might range from tips connected to your product to more general advice and updates on industry trends. As long as it's broadly connected to the renting experience, it's relevant to your business.

Of course, you don't want to forego promotion altogether. After all, you need to use the medium to actually grow your business and revenue. Try to follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the posts you share should add value for your audience, and only 20% should be promotional about your brand.

6) Post Consistently

On social media, consistency is key. If you only post updates occasionally when the mood strikes, you will have little chances of gaining followers or seeing your content appear in your audience's newsfeed. Instead, it pays to approach your posting schedule strategically.

Facebook, for instance, is most successful for brands that post at least once per day. For Twitter, that number may go up to 15. Spread your messages out by using a free scheduling tool like HootSuite, which allows for consistency without constantly requiring your time.

7) Engage Your Audience

Finally, never underestimate the social aspect of the medium. Rather than approaching the channel as a one-way street, you need to consider it a holistic conversation. Your posts should seek engagement, and when current and potential customers comment, it makes sense to respond promptly and in a friendly, personal manner.

To achieve this goal, you should also look to connect your personal and professional efforts on social media. You might already be using your personal Facebook account to let your friends and connections know about available properties. So why not occasionally direct them to your page, or share content from your page? The stronger the connection, the more you can connect your natural personal brand to your business efforts.

That's it. Taking these steps is all you need to make sure your brand is well represented on social media. Take them, and you can not just attract more customers but also increase the satisfaction of your existing audience. As long as you consistently deliver value and engage your audience, you don't need to be a professional marketer to use social media to your advantage. Contact us to get help in that process.

Topics: social media social media marketing digital marketing

6 Ways to Better Engage Consumers in the Digital Age

As we've become more connected, we've drifted further apart. That might sound philosophical, but is a real marketing problem today. In 2018, your audience is more likely than ever to skim through your digital content without actually engaging with it, simply because they have so many digital channels to pay attention to.

Topics: Marketing Strategy content engagement digital marketing

The Latest Video Trends To Enhance Your Marketing Campaign

Social video took the inbound marketing world by storm as it was found that content with video was far more likely to be seen and widely shared. Just as content with images sees an increase in interest from your audience, adding music and cinematography to the mix engages your online audience on several levels. You can also convey a lot more information through a short social video than you can with text alone.

As long-form videos and video-interactions rise in popularity, metrics are finding that online audiences will spend more time with a video than with other content. And now, technology is allowing videos to actively engage your audience. While the how-to videos and social media interviews of 2017 are still going strong, brands on the cutting-edge of social media marketing need to keep up with today's video trends. Here are six of hottest ways to use video in your social media campaign right now.

1) Shoppable Video Content

Inbound marketing in all its forms focuses on turning passive content into an interactive experience. Links can liven up a blog, social media posts can spark discussions, and marketers have been exploring what video can unlock. One recent development has been shoppable video content, a way to allow viewers to immediately shop for products that appear in your videos. This can be done with clickable links embedded in your video, something possible with YouTube marketing, or links outside the video through other platforms.

Some marketers are experimenting with 'swipe to buy' on the Instagram and SnapChat platforms after viewers look at specific ads, something that can make their ads more interactive and neatly encapsulates their own call to action. Give your viewers ways to follow up on the content of your videos and to interact with the video itself if possible. Of course, shopping for products isn't the only possible interaction. No matter what you want your audience to do, invite them to engage through interactive videos.

2) Integrate Your Platforms

There are so many social media marketing platforms available today, and your potential audience is spread across all of them in various distributions. Twitter and Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, not to mention the wide variety of chat and social applications used primarily through mobile apps. Your social video needs to be able to reach out to as many platforms as possible, preferably in a clean, automated fashion.

Make sure you're working with a cutting-edge and flexible social media scheduler that can add new platforms as they roll out, because trends are hot and the best platform for your content may not always be the same. Don't forget to adapt your videos for each style of platform. Some communities like their videos short and suite, some like them long and involves, some absolutely require on-screen subtitles. Know your audience and work every social video for everything it's worth.

Strategically re-using content has become the name of the game, especially if you want wide-spread impact with a reasonable flow of content. The best marketers figure out how to re-use good content year over year in order to keep their page-rankings and online resources fresh. Consider looking back through previously successful content and turning it into multi-platform video this year.

3) 360 Video Tours and Adventures

360 video is quickly becoming one of the most effective forms of marketing video in the business world. The interesting thing is that it's not at all like your traditional form of video. 360 filming is traditionally used to create a virtual reality space, a defined area that viewers can explore by moving from point to point and click-dragging their view.

360 video is filmed by placing a special camera in the space you want recorded and allowing it to take a picture in almost every direction around itself. This gives video viewers the ability to 'look around' and see how the location or event would look if they were really standing where the camera was placed.

For real-estate and static displays like a virtual showroom, you can keep the room exactly the same and move the camera from point to point, allowing the viewer to essentially 'walk around' the tour area. This works much in the same way Google Maps does, with points you can stand and look from. The real estate and auto industries have found a great deal of benefit from 360 videos in offering virtual close-up tours of products for distant or busy customers.

However, you can also film events with a 360 camera, allowing viewers to stand in one place, like a stadium chair, and watch a show play out in front or even all around them. This can offer viewers an incredible experience of live or staged events and can even be used for placing the camera in unusual places a person might never stand.

4) Go Live for Longer Views

Live video has been growing in popularity for several years. It seems like every social media marketing guide you read these days suggests going live, as if we all haven't heard it before. But new metrics are in. Live video continues to grow in popularity and viewers will spend more time watching your video if they realize it is a live feed. There is something inherently exciting about watching something play out in real time, and you can take advantage of that simply by shooting a few live videos a week along with your normal stages and carefully arranged social video content.

Your best bet is to put together a more casual video series with personable hosts who do interesting off-the-cuff activities. This significantly reduces the risk of live feeds by making 'bloopers' an expected and enjoyable part of the show. Anything from flubbed lines to messy spills are part of the 'behind the scenes' fun of a live broadcast. This is also a great way to deliver longer-form content because viewers will be engaged and motivated to watch the entire video.

5) Online Hangouts

One major thing that is changing about social video is its passive nature. Audiences want to engage more one-on-one or even in shared group chat than they simply want to absorb push-media. Millennials and the Gen Z teens behind them are happier talking to representatives, each other, and chatbots than watching filmed commercials and marketers are responding.

Rather than filling your feed with images and social video (or in addition to doing so), you can open up a video hangouts room and invite audience members to join you for a bit of Q&A or even just shooting the breeze with community managers. With good moderators, you can even invite key audience members to cam-up with you and become part of the show.

6) Don't Forget to Archive

The primary focus of social video has always been to capture interest in the moment. You want to catch the attention of bored people browsing social media or make people laugh so that they share your promotional joke with friends. However, it's also important to realize that you're building a cumulative experience. The best social video series will start to build inside jokes and references to previous work, but this can also leave new viewers out in the cold.

To counteract this, make sure there is always a handy link nearby to an organized video archive. This is not only a great source of reference-clicks for you, but it can also allow your viewers to go back and watch their favorite social videos of the past on your website (instead of a third-party host) and for new viewers to catch up on anything they missed. Archiving is good for SEO, good for user experience, and allows you to easily call on content you've used in the past.

Social video is a constantly evolving medium for marketing and your team needs to be on their toes to keep up. With the right attitude and tactics, you can easily keep pace with the latest interactive video trends. In fact, you might even think up the next big thing. For more tips on how to build your local business marketing campaign, contact us today!

2019 Marketing Strategy Assessment

Topics: Inbound Marketing inbound marketing strategy social media marketing digital marketing

Digital Marketing Strategy: Getting Earned Media By Using HARO

Since the dawn of commerce, businesses have tried to find ways to spread the word about their products and services. From sword smiths leaving their mark on a blade so everyone knows who forged it, to ancient Romans getting popular gladiators to endorse their products, the struggle for exposure and attention is not new by any stretch of the imagination. However, in the Age of The Internet, we have tools that previous generations would never have dreamed of. With the push of a button, we can send a message that will be seen by thousands (and in some cases, millions) of potential customers. We can instantly reach customers from the other side of the globe, and in many cases, we can send products to them in a few weeks (or a few days, in some cases).

The best strategy going forward, though, is not to simply depend on modern technology to miraculously deliver the results you want. Instead, you need to combine these tools with tried-and-true methods in order to generate the best possible results for your business.

One of those older methods is called earned media, and it can be a lifesaver for your business.

What Is Earned Media?

The short answer, according to HubSpot, is that earned media is any publicity created and owned by a third-party that you did not pay for. This includes customer reviews (the good ones and the bad ones), bloggers writing about your products, newspaper and magazine articles that reference your business, or even interviews for television. Anything that gives you publicity, and makes your business more visible, is earned media as long as you don't pay for it.

If you pay for publicity, whether it's putting ads in a newspaper or getting a paid review from a popular blog, that's called paid content. If you publish content on a channel that you control (your website's blog, your YouTube channel, etc.) that doesn't count either.

Why Is Earned Media Such A Big Deal?

When was the last time you actually stopped to listen to an advertisement? Whether it was a commercial on the radio, a pop-up ad on a website, or a full-page spread in a magazine, did it even register on your consciousness? Or did you see it, recognize it as someone trying to sell you something, and immediately block it out?

That's what makes earned media so important; it's seen as impartial (and thus more trustworthy) by people who come across it. Whether it's the 5-star Yelp review of a restaurant that goes into detail about how attentive the staff were, or your program making a popular tech blogger's top 5 apps of 2018, readers are going to trust those sources. Because those third-parties stand to gain nothing if your business makes sales, or gets more customers. So your earned content is, in this case, getting an endorsement that people will actually listen to.

Where HARO Comes Into It

HARO (which stands for Help A Reporter Out) was originally started as a Facebook page by Peter Shankman. The goal, according to Forbes, was to create a place where journalists, bloggers, and other writers could post daily PR opportunities that anyone could respond to. This allowed writers (the third-parties that we talked about earlier) to get put in touch with companies, experts, and others looking to grow their audience. So whether reporters needed to hear from diet professionals, gardening entrepreneurs, restaurant owners, or tech gurus, HARO allowed them to make those connections.

HARO eventually grew much too large to operate as a Facebook page, though, which is why Shankman moved it to its own website at Help A Reporter Out. Currently, it's the most popular English-speaking sourcing service on the Internet, which is no mean accomplishment. Especially when you consider there are over 55,000 bloggers and journalists on the site, and over 800,000 sources.

And, if you sign up as a source, then you can get in on this action absolutely free of charge. So the next time a reporter is looking for sources to put in their article, say for Forbes, The New York Times, or Newsweek, your business can be the one quoted (and more importantly linked) in the article.

5 Tips For Getting The Most Out of HARO

If you join HARO (which you definitely should), you've taken the first step toward making yourself a useful source for thousands of journalists out there just waiting to give you and your business a boost. Once you've joined, you'll receive a few emails a day, each with pitches from reporters. The pitch will tell you what the reporter is looking for, as well as how to contact them.

So what do you do now? Well...

Tip #1: Narrow Your Search

When you subscribe to HARO, you are automatically added to the master list. Unfortunately, that means you are inundated with requests from all across the spectrum, and that can quickly get overwhelming. Instead, take To The Wild's advice, and join different lists. By going into your account preferences, you can join more specific lists, which will ensure that the pitches that show up in your inbox are going to be relevant to you, and to your business. This saves you a lot of time, which is important because...

Tip #2: Respond Quickly

Reporters operate on deadlines, and when it comes to which sources make their articles you often wind up with a first-come, first-quoted basis. That's why it's important to note when HARO sends out its list emails and to make sure you dig through them as quickly as you can. Because if you put it off till after lunch, chances are good that a dozen other people have already answered, and now you're the equivalent of the fifth page of Google search results. The reporter might seeyou, but your chances of getting name-dropped and quoted have fallen dramatically.

Tip #3: Respond Completely

When a reporter is looking for information, the worst thing you can do is write them an email that says, "Hi, I'm Mr. John Jacobs, and I run Tech Gurus incorporated. Please contact me, and I'll be happy to give you any information I can."

Reporters aren't just on a deadline; they're busy. Any response from you that requires them to put in more work is going to be ignored. So don't make them hunt you down to get quotes, or to interview you to get your expertise. That's not how this works. Instead, read their pitch carefully, and make sure you understand what they're looking for. If you've published content on the subject they're asking about, then send them links to those, along with pull-quotes from you, information about who you are, and how you can be contacted.

Treat the pitch as if it were a question. Give the reporter everything they need and gift-wrap it with a pretty bow. If you do that it will save them time, reduce the amount of effort they have to put in for research, and it makes your response a lotmore likely to be the one they give a shout-out to in their article.

Tip #4: Establish Your Bona Fides

Perhaps the most important thing, according to eLife Tools, is to establish your bona fides to the reporter you're reaching out to. Because if you send out a request asking for help regarding the latest developments with the large hadron collider, who are you going to listen to? Someone with a Ph.D. in particle physics who has been keeping close tabs on the experiments being done? Or some guy who lives in the middle of nowhere that's never been to college?

Sure, that second person might have an equally factual grasp of the situation, but when in doubt, reporters tend to rely on experts. So if you want to be taken seriously by the reporters you respond to, it's important to make sure you give them your bona fides. Because you are a lot more likely to get quoted and linked if you are someone with a decade of experience in the field,or someone who has worked first-hand with the subject in question, than if you just give someone your name and email address.

Tip #5: Be Unique

If you want to get noticed, then you have to make your response stand out in some way. As an example, you should make sure your email subject line reads like the title of an article; intriguing, and hooking the reporter's attention. Additionally, make sure the information you provide is unique, and when possible, detailed in ways that most aren't likely to report. Because if you are giving the same answers that everyone else is, then there's no reason to pick your response over anyone else's. If you present unique information that no one else provided, though, then you are much more likely to end up in that reporter's final submission.

As a word of warning, though, unique must also be useful. If you're highlighting your text in odd colors, using eye-catching font, or using some other kind of trick, then that is a gimmick. Avoid those at all cost, because substance is what is going to get you noticed.

For more information on how you can get earned media, and other forms of marketing success, simply contact us today!

Topics: Marketing Strategy digital marketing

Social Media Marketing: Tips to Get More Followers On Twitter

Twitter is definitely a numbers game. In fact, the goal is to have as many followers as possible. The thought is that the more followers that you have, the more likely your content will be seen. Most people follow everyone that follows them.

Topics: Twitter social media marketing Twitter marketing digital marketing

5 Clever Ways to Boost Your Local Marketing Campaign

Marketing a large online business is the norm. Almost all digital marketing guides assume you are some big or growing brand focused mainly on some form of e-commerce service. The tactics are all also nearly identical. Use Google Ad Words, competefor global keywords, and try to get ahead in the page results game. Local marketing, however, is different. While you are still reaching out to your audience through online means, you have a far greater variety of opportunities to spice up your campaigns and specifically target the people who matter most: your own community. Local marketing has the potential to be much more interesting, creative, and engaging than traditional digital marketing because you are weaving the digital experience into a personal experience as well.  

Topics: Marketing Strategy marketing strategies digital marketing

The Basics of Building an Effective Google My Business Listing

Google My Business, sometimes called Google Business or GMB for short, is the number one most important facet of any local business digital marketing campaign. Sure, you've got killer content, a growing social media community, and a beautiful web page, but can people find you?

Putting Your Business On the (Google) Map

With the Nexus line of mobile devices taking the lead and Google products casting an even wider net than their mobile operating system, it should be no surprise to discover that Google Maps is the number one mobile navigation app on the market. Even people with iPads, Surfaces, and Kindle Fires are downloading Google Maps in lieu of the native navigation apps that come with their devices.

Part of the reason for this that Google Maps is well designed and continues to get better with stealth updates, but the true driving force of the app is that it is connected to Google's extensive information network. Among the most important is Google My Business which literally puts your business on the map and makes it an available, searchable venue for people who are already on the road or preparing to depart who want something to eat, buy, or do. This is your golden opportunity to get the best possible inbound marketing, the kind that kets customers inbound through your door.

However, top businesses listed in Google My Business aren't at the top by accident. They worked at it, they built their listing, cultivate their reviews, and make sure that potential customers can see what they are coming for. The key to any great GMB business listing, the kind that will entice drivers toward your venue, is transparency. The more positive, informative, and easy to understand your listing is, the easier it will be for future customers to think "I want to go there". Let's look into the basic ways to optimize your GMB listing.

Claim Your Business

First and foremost, if you haven't already claimed your business on Google, do it now. This is the process of acknowledging and proving that a business already on the map belongs to you. Why might your business be listed without your action, you ask? Many people online are incredibly helpful and while not all businesses wind up on GMB without any effort, a lot of them do simply because someone noticed the shop and entered it into the map as existing. Some people even do this to leave their first review of your venue.

Become the official owner of your business and prepare to manage the listing.

Make Sure the Address is Accurate

The next step is to triple-check everything about your address including your ability to see the venue from the street-view map to be absolutely certain that the marker is in the right place. This is vital because where GMB thinks your business is, including the correct side of the road, is where Google Maps will lead drivers as they take turn-by-turn instructions to pull into your parking lot.

If that little marker is even 50 feet off the mark, your potential customers could wind up lost, confused, and frustrated. Even if they hunt around and find your venue after a moment, their mood will not be nearly as positive as it might have been. All it takes to bring in smiling relaxed new customers is to ensure your position on the map is exactly correct. We advice setting the marker at your parking lot entrance so a customer's navigation journey is officially complete when they pull into the correct driveway.

Include Your Hours

No one likes to research a place, get excited, and drive out only to find a 'Closed' sign hanging in the door. This is a waste of customer time and you know as well as we do that this creates a sour association with the venue even if you are always closed on that day of the week or by a certain time. Of course, keeping your hours on the door isn't enough anymore. The courteous and smart way to prevent any mix-up of this type is to also include your hours clearly on your Google Business listing.

There will be a special data field where you can enter your hours for every day of the week which will allow Google to sort venues for customers and only list the ones that are open, or to clearly indicate the ones that are not. This simple step can earn you many new customers who are searching for an opportunistic stop that is open 'right now'.

Fill In the Details

Now that you've got the basics covered, write a few entertaining and informative details about your venue in the rest of the data fields and bio section. Don't forget to include a full set of contact information including your website, phone number, support email address, and a link to your online ordering site if it is separate from your central website. You may also want to include links to social media or other major reviewing platforms to help give any future browsing customers the big picture.

Be detailed, friendly, and welcoming in the way you write your information and maintain the same voice throughout the listing and your interactions with commenters.

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures 

Never go without pictures. Even if your venue wasn't designed for artistic value, customers want to know what they're getting into. A clear set of pictures can show them the difference between a real venue and a hole in the wall someone jokingly listed as a business. Take pictures of the front of the building, wide-angle shots of the layout, and detailed shots of whatever it is you offer. 

Every GMB listing is made better with pictures and these give future customers a vivid idea of what they can expect from your venue. If you have colorful shelves full of tidy products, that's a good sign that you also run a tight ship with good customer service. If you're a restaurant, post pictures of your tastiest dishes and encourage reviewers to do the same. If you're an entertainment venue, take pictures of the attractions.

Reply to Reviews and Questions 

Reviews are another incredibly important part of any modern business, not just local ones. However, if you want feet through the door, your ideal goal is an avalanche of positive reviews to reassure future customers that a good experience is guaranteed. To boost both your number of reviews and their impact, always respond to every review with something positive, grateful, and helpful. Thank positive reviews for their kind words and invite them back and respond to negative reviews with genuine sympathy and an attempt to make whatever their bad experience was right.

Finally, don't forget that Google My Business has recently added a new category of customer feedback for questions but they do not send an email to the account manager when a question has been asked. So check back in at least once a day to reply to comments and provide answers to GMB askers.

Google My Business is a vital part of any small business marketing plan, especially if your goal is to see more feet come through that front door. The best part? Google My Business is a free service because Google wants to serve your data to users. For more tips, tricks, and techniques to optimize your local SEO reach and results, contact us today!

New Call-to-action

Topics: digital marketing marketing results Marketing POV

The Evolution of Lead Qualification and How to Improve Your Tactics

Lead qualification is a recent but overwhelming trend in business web design. In the last two years alone, we have seen a massive explosion in ways that websites are using to connect with visitors and determine if they are potential customers. But like all new trends and marketing tools, the process hasn't been perfect from the start. We have all seen a number of clumsy, clunky, and well-meaning-but-annoying lead qualification techniques used all over the internet and over time, the methods have undeniably improved. For anyone paying attention, the evolution of lead qualification is abundantly and amusingly clear. Marketers have learned a lot in the last few years in terms of identifying who is interested, why non-leads are important, and how to turn every visitor into a valuable point of interest.

The Early Days: "Everybody Should Be My Lead!"

Gathering leads hearken back to the origins of selling. Long before the internet, there were salesmen like those depicted in the iconic Mamet play Glengarry Glen Ross with the slogan "Always Be Closing". This aggressive outbound style of selling has since faded in favor of inbound marketing tactics, but the attitude lingered:

"What if we simply push every website visitor and member to become part of the mailing list and into the conversion funnel? Surely more of them will convert!"

Marketers said to themselves and we saw an era of automatic mailing list sign-ups and very pushy pop-ups insisting that all visitors become committed leads. As it turned out, inbound marketing era consumers hate that. Unsubscribe became the favorite email button and pushy websites began to drop in popularity.

The Rise of Lead Qualification: "Are You My Lead?"

Fortunately, marketers are a resilient bunch and specialize in learning from mistakes and mistargeted lead gathering techniques. When it became evident that simply forcing visitors to become leads could potentially lose more business than it generated, it was time to try something new. Instead of assuming all website visitors were leads, it was accepted that some of them were "just browsing" or would need more time to make up their minds. Some even like your articles but aren't in the right position to actually buy your products, whether that limitation is geographical, financial, or logistical.

So we began asking visitors if they were leads and asking questions that could identify people as leads. This coincided with the rise of chatbots who could ask questions and the configuration of the pop-ups changed. Instead of insisting that visitors join the mailing list, we asked more politely. "Can we help you today?" or "Would you like to join our mailing list?" or "Would you like a consultation on the right services for you?". A simple Yes from customers was all it took to open up the conversion funnel.

This resulted in a lot more happy conversions, but what about the people who say No? Is there a way to salvage some value from these visitors?

An Attempt at Humor-Shaming: "Non-Leads are Totally Lame"

Then a new idea joined the shared marketing mind. What if you used the idea of the CTA to subtly pressure visitors to become leads by suggesting that leads are cooler than non-leads. "We'll use humor!" thought the marketers. Inbound consumers will love that because we're hip and cool, and more of them will want to be our leads.

In theory, this was a good idea. In practice, only a few marketers were successfully funny enough to get the desired results. The problem is the use of "negging", the idea of using insults to convince someone to do what you want. We began to see popups that had two options to answer a simple lead qualifying answer. One was funny, and the other was downright insulting:

"Sign me up! I want to know more!"

and

"No thanks, I hate learning new things."

This approach essentially forces non-leads to insult themselves in order to get away from the pop-up and after that, enjoyment of your content is entirely soured. In fact, they may never come back again. It's sad to say, but as the next to most recent evolution, this tactic is still widely used by not-funny marketers who think they're getting a laugh.

The Savvy Approach: "If You're Not a Lead, Can We Still Help You?"

One thing that almost every evolution of lead qualification has missed is the value of non-leads. Just because someone can't or isn't going to buy your product or sign up for your service doesn't mean their good opinion is useless. What are all your followers on social media if not a group of both leads and interested non-leads creating social value?

While it took most marketers years to realize this, the latest evolution of lead qualifying has finally begun showing consideration, respect, and even interest in people who 'fail' to be qualified as convertible leads. But their good opinion, recommendations to friends, and even future potential to become a customer should not be forgotten. The usual two-question qualification evolved again. Now, instead of ignoring, disregarding, or insulting non-leads, websites have begun to reach out.

This has been notably assisted by the use of chatbot support staff who can ask more than one friendly question in quick succession. First, the chatbot (or pop-up in some cases) will ask if the visitor is a lead. If the visitor says 'no', either because they're still deciding or just browsing, the UI politely asks offers to be of service if the visitor needs anything. Just like good service in a brick-and-mortar venue.

The Survey Evolution: "Why are you here today?"

Finally, marketing thought leaders have just started to introduce yet another evolution to the lead qualification process. Where before, it was all 'yes or no' answers to whether or not a lead was interested, marketers realized that they actually want to know why a visitor may or may not be interested. And if they're not a lead, what value they get from the website. 

This is the survey evolution. Digital marketers are constantly striving to turn more of their casual e-commerce browsers and blog readers into customers, but it occurs to very few of them to actually ask the online visitors how to do this. Especially considering that you already ask a single lead qualifying question to every viewer. 

Here's the key: You don't have to have just two answers, "Yes" and "No". You can learn a lot from giving your visitors the opportunity to share not just their lead qualification, but their actual interest in your site. Consider this configuration instead of the traditional simple qualification. Even one or two additional options can provide a great deal of information.

"Thanks for stopping by! Today is your lucky day, by signing up for our newsletter, you can get 20% off your first purchase. Would you like to join our members club?"

-"Yes, sign me up!"

-"Not Sure Yet. Ask me again when I finish this article"

-"No thanks, I'm just browsing"

-"Not right now, but I may be back later"

-"Sorry, I'm looking on behalf of someone else"

-"No thanks, I'm just here for your awesome articles"

While you may not want to include every option, adding just one or two additional responses for leads or non-leads to give can offer amazing insight into why your leads convert and why visitors who stop by don't become leads. This information is infinitely more valuable than a simple binary question of lead or non-lead.

---

When deciding on your own website's lead qualification tactics, think carefully about what you really want to be asking your visitors and the value of the information they send back. Not to mention the message your qualification assets are sending to both leads and non-leads. With the right attitude, strategy, and a few snazzy internet UI features, you can be learning much more from your lead qualification and make every website visitor feel more welcome. For more thought leadership and digital marketing strategy advice, contact us today.

 

MORE TESTIMONIAL

Topics: attracting leads digital marketing non-leads

Getting Blog Clicks Without Decreasing the Reader Experience

Marketers have always had a touch of showmanship. Every commercial, ad campaign, and individual asset tells a story. Your efforts introduce passers-by to the brand experience. Marketing doesn't just get the attention of potential customers, it beckons them into the shop and shows them what it's like to be a favored customer. Good marketing campaigns make new customers feel welcome, eases their first shopping experience, and remembers them on future visits through a combination of technology and good customer service.

However, marketing isn't just about the customer anymore. There is also competition, SEO, and metrics to contend with. Not only do your blog articles and social media posts need to be welcoming and informative for new customers, they also need to be catchy, get lots of clicks, and create conversions. Metrics become everything, including how the value of your website is measured. You are obligated to continually raise your number of visits, views, clicks, and conversions as well as to provide a rewarding experience to leads and customers. While these goals can be worked toward together in most cases, sometimes there is a conflict of interest. The blog page is one of the most common examples.

Inbound Marketing and Anchor Text Links

The entire purpose of inbound marketing is to create a rewarding experience that potential customers want. The blog is built to provide information at every stage of the conversion funnel. From pre-leads who are just researching a topic to return customers with a new problem to solve, inbound marketing content is meant to inform and entertain.

Reader Experience

At the end of the article, the reader will have ideally learned something and feel positively toward the company that provided the content. A call to action can serve to qualify leads and begin the conversion process. For the inbound marketing process to work, the experience needs to be as smooth and enjoyable as possible. This creates momentum that can carry a satisfied reader through the lead qualification and conversion process as their interest is peaked.

Anchor Text

One way to enhance your content is to link to other articles and websites through anchor text. When this is relevant and offers readers optional in-depth detail about a mentioned subject, anchor text can be very useful. It allows you to reference complex subjects or topics you've covered in the past without leaving new readers out in the cold. As a bonus, you also increase the power of each page's SEO with each external and internal link. A health mix of anchor text is good for many articles, but this introduces a new element: clicks.

Getting Clicks from Inbound Marketing

Clicks are valuable. They are a measure of traffic through your site and, to a certain extent, the momentum of your content. Advertisers will pay for space on high-click pages, you can channel those clicks to specific pages or partners, and you can use your click velocity as a bargaining point in certain negotiations. So it's no surprise that marketing teams are often charged to increase click numbers overall and on specific pages any way they can.

While a few links can enhance the value and experience, these click-bait tactics are all-too-often used in ways that interrupt and decrease the quality of your reader experience. Anything that breaks the flow of reading or requires too much interaction from the reader can annoy your audience and makes it less likely that they will respond to your call-to-action.

It is possible to boost your click count through blog articles and other inbound content. The key is to always keep reader experience as your top priority and everything else will slide into place.

Blog Click Best Practices

Connect Only to Useful Information

When deciding what links to include embedded in your blog articles, there is one simple and easy to remember rule: The link must be useful. Affiliate marketing, internal product links, and landing pages can be useful links if used correctly, but don't let your desire for quick SEO and easy clicks lower the quality of your selection. Be very discerning about which words you anchor as well, look for phrases where the reader will be curious about further information.

Offer a Sidebar of Resources

There may be links you want available on every blog page, but there's no need to junk up your content by over-anchoring. Instead of trying to fit the same set of links into every article, create a well-spaced sidebar with links readers can follow. If your design is stable, consider referencing the sidebars in the text itself to make awareness of these resources part of the reader experience.

Tooltips

Clicks don't always have to open a new page. One way to collect more clicks without irritating readers is with polite, easy to dismiss tooltips. If a box pops up on hover or click containing more detailed information or a link to somewhere else, more readers will be able to curiously click through a blog without interrupting their experience of the core article.

Expand Instead of New Page

Many business blogs slowly multiply clicks by asking readers to 'open' content after they have followed the search engine link. In some page designs, this approach can make sense, indicating which articles in a composite page were read. But instead of opening an entirely new web page, creating a pageload delay, simply expand the current page. This improvement can be done both for article galleries and 'read whole article' functions.

Building Momentum

Finally, do whatever you can to help the reading experience build momentum. You want readers who start curious about a subject to be ready to make decisions by the end of an article. Excitement mid-read will lead to clicking on your anchor text while momentum at the end can result in more conversions after your call-to-action. Even customers who take several visits and blog reads to convert will be moved more effectively by enjoyable content experiences.

Use arc of storytelling to engage your audience and never forget that the conversion funnel is a higher priority than gathering more clicks. For more great digital marketing strategies, contact us today!

2019 Marketing Strategy Assessment

Topics: Inbound Marketing Marketing Strategy inbound marketing strategy digital marketing

Digital Presence: How to Distinguish Yourself From the e-Commerce  Clones

Every brand involved in eCommerce shares an environment with millions of other businesses, entrepreneurs, and third-party sellers. Together, you make up the online selling culture and the digital environment that online consumers enter in order to find the products they need. No doubt you work hard to produce a high-quality product and provide top-notch customer service for any confusion, mistake, or correctable problem a customer might have. If there is a flawed product, you are there to offer a free replacement to protect the good name of your brand. If there was a problem with shipping, your customer service team is ready to sort it out quickly for customers. Even if the customer accidentally ordered the wrong size of product, you're more than happy to help them with your returns and replacement policies.

Topics: brand exposure digital marketing branding