Helping  you to help yourself

Helping you to help yourself

At Nextwave we recommend and use platforms that are easy to use for our clients. The 2 main platforms we use are WordPress and Shopify. With many years experience we can provide training for both of these platforms either in person or over the internet. Everyone needs a little helping hand to get started using these CMS (Content Management Systems) and we can get you started and help you along the way.

Of course if you don’t have the time then we are always here to make your updates for you.

New Social Media Commerce Tools Will Have Bigger Role in 2015

New Social Media Commerce Tools Will Have Bigger Role in 2015

The primary attraction for businesses using social media has traditionally been the ability to organically grow their audience and raise brand awareness on the platforms. However, with Facebook’s blunt announcement that organic reach is on the decline, if brands want to be visible on user newsfeeds, they will now have to pay to be seen. Businesses are faced with the reality that dominant social media platforms have become oversaturated with content from businesses of all sizes, with brands generating content faster than users can consume them.

 

With the increase in sponsored posts and paid ads on Twitter, brands are now also competing with news companies for visibility. This is not particularly surprising coming from Twitter, a company that wants to redefine itself as an alternative news platform, with their combination of personal communication and real- time newsfeed a remarkably useful tool for those working in the media and entertainment industry.

 

In response, Facebook and Twitter have both announced the arrival of new commerce tools, designed to give businesses a ‘call to action’ option that will help to drive sales through social media. Twitter has also moved to give businesses more flexibility when paying for advertising, and according to Forbe.com’s Jayson DeMers:

 

“These objective-based campaigns, which are still currently in beta, will offer more flexibility including tweet engagements, website clicks or conversions, app installs, new followers and leads. These campaigns will be particularly appealing to small business owners who want to pay for results, not just for brand visibility.”

 

It is early days yet, and businesses are sure to be testing this option out this holiday season, however it also represents a shift in how businesses may now view the role of social media in their marketing/PR strategies.There is a new focus on social marketing, with marketers using social media to drive “sales over status updates and commerce over engagement.”

 

The average holiday consumer is now more likely to go to social media for information that will influence their purchasing decision, and Facebook and Twitter’s new ‘buy’ buttons would help facilitate smooth online transactions. If Facebook and Twitter’s new commerce capabilities prove to be useful for marketers, this may help to counteract the growing difficulty of organic reach experienced by businesses this year.

 

 

 

(Source: Daniel Green, socialmediatoday.com)

 

Cross Selling and Up Selling

Top online stores usually get a conversion rate of between 5% and 15%. You might be wondering how they can achieve this especially when your conversion rate is just a fraction of this percentage. Two popular merchandizing techniques are cross-selling and up-selling.

Cross Selling

Cross selling is basically just offering an item that is similar, an alternative, or an add-on for the product that the consumer is looking for. Cross selling will enable the consumer to find just exactly what they had been looking for; this will increase the rate of completion. Cross selling can also lead to additional sales from the original selection because consumers found add-ons for their original item.

Aside from related items, merchants also use cross-selling techniques to showcase the best-sellers as well as high margin products from their store. There is always the possibility that consumers will be interested in these items so that can translate to a higher conversion rate.

Up Selling

Up selling is basically offering the consumer more expensive and better quality products from their original selection. If the visitors goes to a page and puts the item in the shopping cart, it is almost certain that he will purchase that product. But how can you utilize up selling in this case?

Well, a popular online approach to up selling is bundling; that is, the merchant can offer two or more products together at a discount. The merchant can also offer discounts on a particular product or service when the consumer purchases from the store. This will encourage the consumer to buy more products from your store.

Displaying the Options

It is interesting to note that there is a high rate of abandonment in shopping carts as consumers still decide whether they will really purchase the items they selected or not. In line with this, displaying both cross selling and up selling option in the product page as well as the shopping cart is recommended.

Our popular online store software  Nextwave Commerce allows for this. Talk to us today about utilising this feature on your online store

Ever thought of importing products to sell from China? Choose from 10million!

DHGate.com is an online marketplace of wholesale products from China. The company is located in Beijing and Diane Wang is its founder and CEO. Prior to launching DHGate, she founded Joyo.com, a consumer-shopping site that Amazon purchased in 2004.

She says that over a million customers use DHGate for sourcing China-made products. Asked about DHGate and why non-China companies should buy inventory from there.

Wang: “In the past, small businesses were left out [of importing products from China] because of the complexity of an outdated world trading system.

“Online platforms that streamline China-sourcing help revive and rejuvenate small retailers and wholesalers, leveling the playing field between the smallest businesses and the largest. The goal of such online marketplaces is simple: Make it as easy for a small business to buy products overseas as it is for a consumer to buy a book from Amazon.

“We’re seeing that now is the right time for this. The technologies are well developed and the markets are mature. Buying direct from manufacturers overseas is now safe, efficient, and can be even easier than ordering from a local distributor.”

Certainly food for thought!

Great product descriptions in 7 steps

If you want a challenge, try writing ecommerce product descriptions. Within a typical 60 to 70 words you must concisely convey the benefits and selling points of your product and include search engine keyphrases that engage your target audience … all while working within the constraints of your content management system (CMS). How do the pros do it? We understand that balance and organization are key.

Using this simple, seven-step process will allow you to quickly master the art of ecommerce copywriting. Once you do, you will be able to generate enticing copy that drives sales and boosts search engine positioning.

1. Familiarize yourself with the target audience

Amazingly, most people completely ignore their target customer when writing product descriptions. However, the site visitor is the key to how the copy is shaped, the tone it takes and which angle is used to communicate the benefits. For example, let’s look at a box of gourmet chocolates.

If your target audience consists of gourmet chocolate lovers, you’ll want to focus on the distinctiveness of your flavors, the quality of the ingredients or perhaps the luxurious texture. What if, on the other hand, your target audience consists – in part or in whole – of those seeking gluten-free treats?
It’s not uncommon to find chocolates on the open market that are gluten-free. However, the added ingredients in gourmet chocolates may cause problems for those with celiac disease. They are regularly forced to stick with ordinary, plain chocolate candies and bars due to their condition. Since gluten-free items are the most popular, up-and-coming grocery products, you’ll want to make certain this segment of your gourmet site visitors understands you have something that meets their dietary needs.

Knowing your audience as a whole, and understanding each segment is imperative to creating ecommerce copy that hits the mark every time.

2. List the biggest benefits of the product

The steps in this process are progressive. So, while still keeping your target audience and its needs in mind, make a list of the benefits which are most important to your customers. You may want to include various segments in your list.

Continuing with the example above, let’s create a mini-list for a boxed collection of international chocolates.

  • Gourmet chocolate lovers – distinctive ingredients imported from across the globe.
  • Health conscious – organic ingredients, premium dark chocolate, high quality nuts.
  • Special dietary needs– gluten-free. Other collections available that are sugar-free, vegetarian, vegan and kosher.
  • All customers – 100% pure ingredients, no artificial colors, flavors or additives.
  • Gift givers – attractive, boutique-style gift boxes wrapped in a silk bow. Gift card included at no additional cost. Appropriate for both personal and business gifting.

3. Predict the future

Good copywriters look past the buying experience toward the future. After the customer purchases this product, how will his/her life be different and/or better? What will the specific end result of their purchase be?
In the case of gourmet chocolates, the end result for those purchasing for themselves might be breathing a sigh of satisfaction as these divine confections melt in their mouths. For gift givers, the end result could be impressing the recipients (whether business or personal) with a truly distinctive collection unlike any they have ever received.

Whatever the end result, it is important to give your site visitors a glimpse into the future so they can see how purchasing from your company will make their lives better.

4. Know the limits of your CMS

Content management systems (CMSs) can be frustrating at times. Before you set out to write product copy that’s 150 words long with a catchy headline, you’ll want to verify what can and cannot be accomplished within your system. Some have limited room in the copy field. Others force the headline, pulling from information you enter into the product specifications. For example, the headline on each product page would be automatically fed from the title of the product.
Knowing what quirks must be overcome will make the process of writing copy much easier. A few common areas to check include:

  • Maximum word or character count in the product copy field.
  • Additional fields below the fold (if you run out of space in the product copy field, then you can add a link for “more information” that drops the reader to a space further down the page.)
  • Forced information (headlines that are automatically inserted, product copy automatically fed to the category pages, etc.)

5. Incorporate search engine keyphrases

Depending on your site design and your CMS, your product descriptions could conceivably be hundreds of words long. Generally speaking, however, you’re most likely looking at around 60–80. That doesn’t leave much room to incorporate keyphrases.

While longer web pages benefit from the use of multiple search terms, I recommend sticking to one keyphrase for short product descriptions. Start with the framework of your page including the title tag, description META tag, file name, page name in the navigational structure, breadcrumb trail, forced page headline and other elements. Then move on to the content. Use search phrases in the:

Headline – if your headline isn’t forced by your CMS, make a point to include your keyphrase provided it doesn’t detract from the message. It is usually very simple to incorporate a keyphrase into a headline, but – if for some reason it just doesn’t flow – leave it out.

Product image caption – too many ecommerce sites simply shove “Product #12345” below graphics. Instead, underneath the hero shot of your product, enter a short, keyword-rich sentence that briefly describes the item. This assists your visitors with learning about your product and gives a little nudge to your rankings.

Product copy – even within 60–80 words, you should be able to comfortably work your search term in two or perhaps three times. Read the text out loud. If it sounds redundant, take out one instance of your keyphrase.

6. Write the copy

It’s time to put all the pieces together. Look back over the previous five steps. We have our target customer, benefits, end results and keyphrase. Combine everything you have to create a compelling product description that will capture lots of clicks.

While there are dozens of ways to write copy for any given product, here is one version of sample copy for our gourmet chocolate product above. Our keyphrase is gourmet chocolates.

Tour the World with International Gourmet Chocolates

Do a little culinary globetrotting with our collection of gourmet chocolates. Only 100% pure ingredients from across the globe are used. Organic Hawaiian coconut, Australian macadamia nuts and other exceptional treats blend with the richest dark cocoa from West Africa for distinctive gourmet chocolates that truly indulge the senses. This assortment of 16 truffles is gluten-free, elegantly packaged for personal or business gifting, and wrapped with a silk bow.

7. Tweak, test & track

Satisfied? You shouldn’t be. There is always room for improvement. Change a word or two in the headline. Alter the focus to one particular segment of your audience. Gradually make small tweaks to your product descriptions and test them against the original version of the copy. Track your results in order to gain the best conversion ratio possible. This is an all-too-often skipped step that – when done correctly – frequently brings about tremendous gains.

Once you understand the components of good product copy, it’s easier than you think to put together descriptions that garner more sales. Keep this simple outline handy and you’ll quickly gain speed when writing high-converting ecommerce copy.

 

Linkbuilding for Online Shops – 5 Tips

Due to their mostly commercial orientation it is quite hard for Online Shops to get backlinks. But for several reasons backlinks are valuable for your online marketing strategy: On the one hand you will get direct, sometimes also targeted traffic. On the other hand backlinks are important for your search engine optimization (SEO).

Read on to learn more about Linkbuilding


There are a lot of rumours circulating about SEO, but there is also some consistency: Next to the important basis of on-page optimization all experts agree on the value of backlinks for SEO. And it’s not the quantity but rather quality of the incoming links that counts. Creative linkbuilding for Online Shops is not about forum spam or web catalogue entries. One backlink from a trustworthy, contentrelevant website with the right anchor text is worth more than 100 forum links or catalogue entries.
Now let’s face the facts and think about some creative methods for Online Shops to gain valuable backlinks:

  1. Convince with creative design and features

    If your shop stands out from the mass you will get links for that. Furthermore an individual shop design communicates personality and uniqueness of your shop. As an outstanding example take the shop hema.nl (wait some seconds and the show starts). Be sure they got a lot of Links (here is one more) and social media attention with their creative idea. There are various possibilities to make your shop special, creative product presentation or videocontent are just two more ideas.
    But be aware that your chosen design should not harm any usability aspects and should perform well in points of conversion rate optimization

  2. Be a guest author or interview guest

    Share your experiences with the ecommerce industry and be a guest author on authority ecommerce blogs. Be active and contact the Blogger, they are always looking for some interesting content. Besides it’s a good start for networking. There could be even more benefits than backlinks. You could also search for blogs in your niche and suggest to write a nice How-To or a detailed product test report and insert a nice anchor text deeplink to your product page…more ideas about this in point 3.

  3. Let others write reviews about your products or service

    It is nice to get the chance to write an article on a blog, but it would be less work to make other people write reviews about some products in your shop and make them deeplink to your product page. Again the first step is to find relevant bloggers or other people in your niche. Try to find them on Google by entering your product with non commercial terms, for example:
    waterbed +advantages or tent +test…here you will find more search queries to find link sources. In your customer satisfaction surveys you should ask your customer if he or she has a blog or Twitter account. Send a code snippet and suggest to insert the code. Be creative and code a nice icon with a keyword alt_tag and a link to your homepage or to the product page of the product that was ordered. If the link is not placed voluntarily you at least have a new blog to contact someday.
    When you have found some interesting bloggers, contact them and suggest to send a product sample, so that they can test the product and write an article. Play it safe and send a code snippet of the link you want to be placed in the article via E-mail. So you can be sure the link carries the right anchor text and points to the product page.
    In addition to blogs there are for example some authorities on Youtube that test products and recommend them to their users. This is less about linkbuilding but about generating targeted traffic to your shop.

  4. Create non commercial content

    Have you ever thought about starting your own blog? You should think about this, because there are various possibilities for your online marketing strategy (more detailed in a separate blogpost). For linkbuilding for your online shop you must be aware that people tend to link to non commercial content. Your own blog would be the perfect place for this. You can start to introduce yourself to your visitors, test some of your products and pass useful information to your potential customers. For example if you have a shop for camping you could write a detailed checklist what the camper should not forget on their next trip. For sure, there are many lists like that in the internet, but be creative and you will stand out. Produce a video that you think your target group will like or start a lottery with attractive prices and make it a linkbait. Last but not least a blog is a perfect way to improve your internal linking.

  5. Sponsor events and charity

    Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t sponsor charity events for linkbuilding reasons! There are many other reasons to support special associations or charity events. But there might be a chance to profit by your charity. On the one hand, your customers will be pleased to see your engagement for charity. Probably someone will link to your blogpost where you write about the event, or someone will tweet about this. On the other hand you will have the chance to get a link from the charity organization website. Often there is a “sponsor”-page with high valuable backlinks.

Some ideas for blog topics for online stores

One of the best ways for an ecommerce site to rank highly in Google search results is through blogging. Most blog platforms are search engine friendly, and easy to use.

But merchants sometimes struggle with what topics to write about. Here are 10 post types to spark writing ideas that get Google’s attention — and attract readers.

1. How-tos

These can include step-by-step instructions, tutorials, or tips on ways to use a particular product.

This type of post is popular with Google because it furnishes substantive, original information the search engine now looks for based on the recent Panda update.

2. Product Reviews

Review posts are popular with consumers because they give prospective buyers an in-depth look at products in which they have interest.

Review posts should include the following information:

Brief product description;
Product testing process;
Product pros and cons.
Be as objective as possible when reviewing a product in order to prevent any bias that may influence the purchase decision.

Technology website CNET is known for its reviews. They often include video demonstrations that cite a product’s features and benefits. Look at some of those reviews to become better acquainted with this type of post.

3. Lists

List-style posts are a favorite among readers because they tend to be concise, easy to scan, and they supply information the reader can quickly put into action.

4. Customer Profiles

Showcase loyal customers and their use of products you sell. This type of post serves two purposes.

It provides third-party validation about your products that can lead to increased trust;
Profiled customers may share the post with their family and friends, thus increasing the number of people who view it.
Customer profiles could come in the form of interviews, case studies or testimonials.

5. Curated Links

Content curation has become popular due to the overwhelming amount of information available on the Internet. Curation differs from aggregation because content is sorted, filtered and organized around a specific topic or theme. This provides a valuable service because it saves readers time and effort they would otherwise expend doing so themselves.

A good example of this post type comes from social commerce company inSparq, which includes a “Friday Five” curated post that contains a weekly recap of what happened in social commerce across the web.

Posts can include simply a bulleted list of links or, better yet, links with annotations that contain a summary of the content, as well as your own insights.

6. Opinions

Posts that state an opinion — especially one that relates to a controversial topic — is a good way to get readers engaged. Find a topic that you’re passionate about and make your best case.

7. Breaking News

Find a breaking news item or trending Twitter topic that relates to products you sell and tie it to a blog post.

8. Thought Leadership

People want to do business with those they trust. One distinct advantage to using a blog is its ability to demonstrate your thought leadership and expertise, which can lead to increased trust and credibility.

9. Question and Answer

If you’ve ever taken time to answer a customer’s question via email, turn that response into a blog post. It’s likely that other customers have that same question and your blog can become its own form of FAQs. In fact, you could create an FAQ blog category to serve the purpose.

Alternatively, you could create a post that asks a question or conducts a poll, which is an ideal way to get readers engaged.

10. Guest Posts

If you run out of posting ideas, invite others to write one on your behalf. These could include customers, subject matter experts, industry authorities or vendor partners.

Encourage guests to avoid promotional style posts, and instead focus on supplying helpful information. You should include a brief bio and link to their websites.

12 Tips for ecommerce success in 2013

Running your ecommerce business can be a grind. You need to replenish products, drive more traffic to your store, create new promotions, respond to customers, develop your employees, and so forth.

For 2013, be sure to prepare a budget and cash flow projection so that you can invest when opportunities arise. Beyond that, we introduce 12 tips that will help your business stay successful in the coming year.

Reflect on these tips. For most every ecommerce business we encounter, there is room for improvement in these areas. If you execute on these tips, you will deliver an excellent customer experience, run a more efficient business, and ultimately growing your top and bottom lines.

12 Tips for ecommerce success in 2013

1. Set your vision, goals, and strategy. Know where you are going and how you are going to get there. Invest the time to identify your business goals, strategies, and tactics.

2. Establish a business model. Understand how you are going to make money, how the various parts of your business work together, your resource requirements, and what your risks are. Identify the areas that need more investment.

3. Understand your customer. Know your customers and what your value proposition is. Why do they come to your store and ultimately buy from you and not your competitors? Are they loyal or simply bargain hunting?

4. Sell products consumers want to buy. Once you understand your customers, be sure to sell products that meet their needs. Watch for upcoming trends. But remember that once a product is a best seller, you’ve probably already missed that trend.

5. Buy low, sell high. This old adage is truer than ever for online retailers. Competition is fierce. You have little control over what price the market will bear. But you do have some control over how much you pay for your inventory. Negotiate, find several sources, buy as close to the manufacturer as possible, and consider private-label generic products.

6. Get found. Invest in search engine optimization, advertising, blogging, social media, and other marketing activities to drive qualified traffic to your online store. Never assume you have all the traffic you need. Be sure to diversify your traffic sources as much as possible.

7. Offer a superior customer experience. Ensure that your website, content, merchandising, landing pages, promotions, shopping cart, checkout, and customer service support your sales goals.

8. Personalize your interactions. Try to personalize every customer interaction. Especiially order communications via your admin area. Strive to deliver a unique shopping experience.

9. Deliver the goods. Ship your products in a timely fashion. Meet the expectations of your customers. Follow-up with confirmations. Ask for feedback. A sure way to lose a customer and get a bad review is to oversell and under deliver.

10. Build relationships and community. Try to convert a one-time buyer into a repeat customer. Encourage community through social media, events, or other online activities. Participate in conversations wherever your target customers are.

11. Stay fresh. Refresh your content, post seasonal messaging and offers, provide timely insights, and provide incentives for return visitors to your stores. Consider seasonal themes around your store to give it a fresh look.

12. Experiment. Always look for ways to improve. Try new initiatives. Don’t be afraid to fail.

Conclusion

Revisit these tips throughout the year. Empower key staff members to oversee projects that review performance against specific goals. For every one of those tips, you can set measurable goals and use them to monitor execution and performance. Start with one or two and see how things work out.

New Year ideas for online store managers

Now everyone is back on board we thought we’d do a quick post to help start the new year off the right way by refreshing and updating your website. So, take a fresh look at your site with a critical and strategic eye, and write a list of things you want done. Here’s some ideas the most important tasks that every online store owner should address.

Remove holiday specials. Remove specials manually, if needed. Learn to use the automatic specials expiration feature!

Refresh home page text. Update the text on your home page if you were on vacation during the holidays. Fresh home page text is a search engine attractant.

Google yourself. Do a search on your company name and website name and make sure that only good stuff comes up. Set up a Google Alert so that from now on, you find a message in your in-box as soon as Google finds out about it.

Check domain registration. Make sure your domain registration won’t expire soon. Renew it for a minimum of two years; search engines favor domains that have longer registrations because spammers tend to buy only one year at a time. If you don’t know your domain registrar, go to whois.net and type in the name of your domain; the record will come up with renewal dates and your registrar’s name.

Start new promotions. You probably thought of some good promotions and new programs while you were on holiday and your mind was clear. Commit them to writing them down now, before you get bogged down by tax reporting and the other drudgery that accompanies running a small business.

Update look and feel. Look at your store design and logo with a fresh eye. Could they use some updating? Most websites look dated after two or three years. Talk to use about your thoughts.

Know who your customers are. Are you checking your traffic reports of whos coming to your site, what about your Google Analytics account?

Happy selling in 2013!

The basic steps to designing a Facebook marketing campaign

Marketing on Facebook involves four basic steps: Build, Connect, Engage and Influence, a process Facebook now refers to as the BCEI framework.

This article outlines these four steps and explains how ecommerce merchants can use them to execute an effective Facebook marketing campaign.

1. Build Your Facebook Page

“Build” involves setting up your Facebook Page. Mostly likely, you have taken this step. If not, this is the place to start.

Such pages serve as the digital hub for businesses inside Facebook’s ecosystem and are the primary way to connect with current customers and prospects. It is also the core place where businesses manage their posting and advertising content.

Facebook suggests that you must have a clear vision for your Page, to build and retain relationships with customers and their friends. Everything you do with your Page should align to your purpose and objectives.

Here are a few guidelines to follow.

Align your Page to your brand purpose. This is, by far, the most important step. One way to ensure you maintain consistency is by filtering content development ideas through your mission statement to see if they make sense and will be relevant to your fans.

Identify your current marketing goals and objectives and how your Page can help achieve those goals. Sadly, many small business owners launch off into social media waters without a clear understanding of what goals they want to achieve by using it.

Coordinate your publishing calendar to coincide with marketing initiatives on your website and other channels. For instance, if you are promoting a sale or special event on your website, make sure that information makes it to your Facebook Page.

Focus on conversation over content. Facebook is not designed to be a one-way broadcast mechanism, but a conversation between you and your fans. Be prepared to engage with them.

2. Connect with People

This consists of getting your consumers to Like your Page. They are twice as likely to report a purchase to their friends. So you’ll benefit from this step right away.

You can achieve this offline and off-Facebook by promoting your Page wherever you have access to your customers and prospects. Using Facebook ads can be another solution, by targeting people who expressed an interest in your company’s vertical.

Facebook Ads allow you to (a) grow your fan base by encouraging people to like your Page through the use of special offers, and (b) reach a large audience with a well-targeted ad campaign.

3. Engage Your Audience

Post quality content and promote your posts — see my previous article on promoted posts — to engage with fans. Send the latest news, exclusive content, and promotions to fans at least twice a week, or more often if possible. However, don’t burn your fans out by posting too often, such as multiple times per day. “Less is more” is a good principle to follow when posting to Facebook.

Getting consumers to take part in the conversation is a key component of social media marketing. The way to facilitate such conversation is often easier than you might think.

Businesses should not talk about themselves only; they should talk about their customers and their experiences. They should create content designed to start a conversation and generate engagement.

Develop a posting strategy to engage with your fans on an ongoing basis and increase your posts’ visibility. This strategy should allow you to (a) give your Page an authentic and consistent voice and encourage people to Like and share your posts, (b) drive sales by offering special deals and giveaways to bring people to your ecommerce site.

4. Influence Friends of Fans

Promote the actions on your Page using Sponsored Stories to influence friends of your fans. Show when fans Like or comment on your Page.

An interesting finding is that most people only influence the few users they are the closest to. Most users have approximately five groups of close friends, which are usually independent from each other. These could include family members, classmates, co-workers, church members, and others.

If you want your fans to influence a broader set of their friends, you should provide them with high-quality content — videos and photos work well for this — which can be appreciated by most users. This will considerably increase the share of your fan’s friends who will view and engage with your content.

Summary

Following this four-step BCEI framework should help you use Facebook to reach new prospects, expand relationships with existing customers, and drive traffic to your ecommerce website.

What is Content Marketing?

What is Content Marketing? Relatively new to on-line marketing, its strategy encompassing SEM, SEO with Social Media in the mix. Its an organic approach to your on-line marketing strategy.

Its the streamline and scheduling of your online marketing initiatives including content curation, announcements, promotional campaigns and more. This tailored content is then drip feed across the various marketing channels; Blog, Newsletter, Facebook, Instagram and more. Coined ‘content marketing’ it’s a more holistic approach to SEM and SEO.

Curious? Make contact, see how we can help your business benefit today!

Blogging for Success: Weekend Warrior

With recent changes to the Google algorithm and the continuous growth of social media, using a flexible online platform to engage customers and generate prospects is essential. That’s why many online marketers are turning to blogging as a vital part of their integrated marketing communications strategy.

The expansion of popular blogging platforms such as WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr, has made it extremely convenient and easy to start a blog or to integrate one into an existing website. Content management features, plugins, and other tools allow site managers and marketers to continually add fresh, original content that engages audiences. As search engines place more of an emphasis on unique content and user engagement, companies have focused their efforts on building and maintaining blogs.

If you are considering the development of your own blog or would like to do a better job of leveraging an existing blog, focus your efforts on these proven optimization strategies to generate organic traffic and to build a loyal base of followers. Today’s most effective blogs depend on a loyal base of readers and advocates who share content willingly. With the addition of social media sharing and other ways to “spread the word,” engaging blogs can grow quickly. If you want to effectively develop your blog, consider implementing the following blog-winning strategies.

1. Create expert-generated content. One of the most essential aspects of any blog is creating sticky content that attracts both existing customers and generates interest among your target audience. By leveraging experts at your company or industry, your blog can become a valuable resource that readers turn to again and again. Focus on utilizing experts to create content that meets and exceeds the needs of your target audience. Make sure that experts provide something to your blog that’s truly unique as opposed to the same advice they give over and over. The more unique the information, the better. When posting, use bullets, italics and other formatting that make your posts easy to read.

2. Make regular updates. Each year, millions of blogs are created and quickly abandoned. This is because blog managers quickly realize that launching a blog is the easy part. The more challenging aspect of blogging is producing content updates on a frequent basis. To be effective you must have a plan for making content updates. Consider how frequently content will be updated on your blog, 2-3 times per week at a minimum, and who is responsible for posting. Having a specific owner that makes content updates is one of the most important roles associated with blogging success.

3. Focus on social media engagement. Everyone knows that social media is a significant driver of online success. However, not every site, especially blogs that update content frequently, makes it easy to share content across social networks. From a user’s perspective, consider how quickly and easily they can share your posts, images and other blog-related assets with their various networks. From Facebook to Pinterest to plain old email, remove all obstacles to social sharing. Most blogging platforms provide builtin tools that allow for effective social sharing. Other sites like AddThis.com provide snippets of code that can be used to implement social sharing icons into your blog.

4. List building. Another great way to leverage a blog is through list building and lead capturing. As readers engage with blog content, it’s important to offer multiple opportunities for opting in or converting through some lead-capture device. Something as simple as a newsletter sign-up or free download is a great way to build a powerful list that can be used for marketing, research and referrals. Consider what type of resources and information appeal to your audience and consider no-cost offers designed to build a list. Blog readers tend to be highly responsive when given offers that are relevant to their needs.

5. Monitor user-generated content. Encouraging visitors to leave comments, share articles and interact with different sections of your blog can change the dynamic of your blog. The one caveat is that user-generated content must be carefully monitored. This is easy with moderation tools offered by blogging platforms, but they must be turned on. Consider moderation an essential part of blog management. Although user-generated content shouldn’t be edited, blog managers can benefit by considering which content is relevant. A blend of positive and negative comments can encourage additional engagement and dialog.

6. Manage promotional activities. Blogs serve to communicate value-added information and provide resources that are appropriate for your market segment. Making offers and running promotions through a blog can be effective if the delicate balance between information and promotion is managed properly. Too often however, once a blog has built a large or loyal following, bloggers tend to push promotions in favor of valuable content. This can turn off your audience and negatively impact engagement. Before running a promotion, consider how it may be viewed among your audience. If there is any doubt as to the value created by the offer, consider other ways to siphon prospects into a lead funnel such as utilizing free offers or auto responders.

Developing an authoritative blog takes time. Starting with a well through-out strategy that meets or exceeds the needs of your target audience is the best place to start. Blogs can only be effective if proper planning is utilized to leverage experts for quality content and information is updated regularly. As individuals engage with your content, encourage them to share across social networks and provide feedback. This helps to direct future content generation and interaction among your target audience. Blogs are an essential platform for any business to communicate with prospects and customers, engage their audiences and improve site visibility.

About the Author: Michael Fleischner is the author of Blogging Made Simple: Powerful Strategies For Blogging Success! (Volume 1) and other Web-related publications. He is the founder of The Marketing Blog, providing marketing related information, tips and resources to small business owners and marketing professionals. Michael provides marketing related consulting services to leading brands and has appeared on the TODAY Show, ABC World News and other major media outlets. You can follow Michael on Twitter @mfleischner.

Facebook business page quick checklist

Here’s a few quick tips about how best to use your Facebook business page.

Choose a beautiful cover image
Provide a punchy description
Feature your most important apps and refer/link to them often in wall posts eg “Remember to join the mailing list to get your 10% off! (link goes here)”
Pin the post you want to drive the most traffic to, eg sale page, coupon code etc
Highlight great historical posts by you and your fans
Hide or delete embarrassing, out of date, or negative posts by you and your fans

Should your business be on Pinterest?

It seems like everyone’s jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon. But is the latest social media darling a place for your business?

If you haven’t heard of it yet. Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, organize their favorite recipes and much more.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Many companies — including retailers, media outlines and travel brands — have found a place on Pinterest.

Marketers, though, should be careful not to haphazardly join Pinterest without a strategy. Success on the site is highly dependent on posting visually stimulating, marketing-free content and catering to a mature female consumers.

Startups and small businesses with limited resources should pay particular attention to not getting mistakenly trapped in the time suck that is Pinterest. After all, producing or curating beautiful images can be a full-time job.

Software company Intuit published a helpful infographic to help businesses figure out if Pinterest is right for them. If your business is contemplating joining Pinterest, follow the below guide to help decide whether it’s a smart decision.

For easier reading, find the full-size infographic here.

Google retires photo editing tool Picnik

Google just rained all over Picnik’s picnic. The photo editing site got the ax on Friday and will shut down in April.

Picnik — which said via its site that its last day will be April 19 — will be moving to Google+ in the future.

Picnik has been an extemely handy tool used by a number of people to edit photos quickly without having to use a software program like photoshop.

But, dont worry folks picknik has ALREADY been integrated into google+. Its called “creative kit”. click on one of your pictures in google+, top left hand corner.

Unfortunately you will need to join Google+ now to use the features!