If your brain freaks out at the thought of creating graphics in complicated programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator, then Canva may be your answer.
It enables you to create beautiful posters, invitations, infographics, cards, website graphics, facebook ads or cover photos & even multiple-page presentations.
Canva is an Australian-made graphic design service that takes the headaches out of designing. All you have to do is choose one of the available templates or start from a custom-sized blank canvas. You then use the Layouts and Background tabs to get a rough idea of what you want to design. These tabs are chock-full of options to choose from, whether you want a complete template or just a nice background to build on.
Canva revolves entirely around intuitive controls such as drag-and-drop – so adding, removing, and editing elements on your canvas is simple and straightforward.. and actually fun!
While many Canva elements are completely free to use, some images you’ll see on search results are Premium, and will cost you $1 per image once you download your design. You can, however, easily upload you own photos or graphics, so while Canva’s Premium options are certainly tempting, they’re not a must.
After signing up to the Canva Newsletter, you’ll also get access to some great tutorials to help you master certain techniques, and learn new skills. If you’d prefer not to sign up, you can just check out their blog which is regularly updated with tricks and tips to help you on your way. They are consistently updating to add more templates and functions. It’s really not as daunting as you think!
Unlike email newsletters and one-off campaigns where you create and send to a bunch of people in one go, an automated email campaign means you set it up once, and then it’s automatically sent to one particular person, when they meet a certain trigger.
Take for example somebody signs up for an account on your website. The first email might welcome them to your brand and show them how to get started. Two days later you might send them another email with links to some popular resources or offer them a discount code for a fist purchase.
Rather than manually creating and sending email campaigns to every person when they sign up – and again two days later encouraging them to make a purchase – you can set up automated welcome emails that gets sent whenever a new person joins, and at the same time, set up your second automated email with a trigger point (e.g. 2 days after initial sign up) with their discount code for their first purchase.
That’s the beauty of email automation: You save yourself time and money by only needing to set up the email once, and as people meet the trigger you defined (e.g. two days after initial sign up) the email will send without any additional effort on your part. It essentially ‘automates’ your email marketing for you. How awesome is that?!
Have you experienced that moment of dread when you discover an error in your email marketing campaigns? Or do you hover over the send button for what seems like hours wondering what you may have forgotten?
This is what we like to call ‘Sendphobia’ and it’s something many marketers have experienced.
However, by having a rock solid email signoff process in place you can eliminate errors and rid yourself of ‘Sendphobia’ forever.
What is an email sign off process?
An email sign off process defines the stages an email campaign goes through to ensure it is error-free and approved by all relevant people in your organisation.
It is made up of two critical parts: A map of the approval process and a campaign checklist.
For instance, we have a flow chart which lays out the whole email process from briefing the email through to post-campaign reporting. We don’t look at it every time we send email out, but it is there and it is defined. It’s useful to show new people who become a part of your working group as it will help them understand their place in the process flow.
We also use a campaign sign off checklist which we apply to every campaign. This specifies the person responsible for signing off their part of the email and confirms that you’ve also completed some pre-send tasks.
Why do we need an email sign off process?
In short, to avoid situations like this….
“I sent an email wrong, then sent it wrong again. To 700K. That was a bad day”
“I sent the wrong email to about 3500 subscribers in my second week on the job… Doh”
“I remember once sending an email to myself 25,000 times.”
However, it isn’t just about avoiding mistakes either.
An email sign off process is also really useful for setting the team’s expectations – what do they have to sign off (Is the information about a product correct? Do they approve the design?) and when are they expected to deliver their sign off by?
Chances are you’ve got a specific date you want your campaign to be sent by and anyone delaying on their feedback can disrupt that. Making people aware of not just their responsibilities but everyone else’s too increases awareness of the process and keeps the momentum going.
Building your own email sign off process
Step 1: Work out who needs to give approval
The first step in building your own email sign off process is working out who needs to give approval.
This is going to be different for every organisation and can even differ between different types of email campaigns (new product announcements versus new blog post emails for instance), so you’ll definitely need to customise this to suit your organization’s unique attributes.
A few questions to answer though:
Who needs to sign off on design and client compatibility?
Who needs to sign off on correct product information?
Who needs to sign off on legal requirements?
Who needs to sign off on spelling, grammar & links?
Does senior management need to sign off before sending?
Once you’ve worked out who is responsible for approval across different areas, it’s time to focus on defining exactly what checks each person needs to do.
Step 2: Work out what needs to be checked
Once you’ve worked out who is involved in the approval process, it helps to define what each person is responsible for checking.
Not only does this help to reduce errors in your campaigns, but it will speed up the approval process by making sure people only comment on the areas they are supposed to.
I’ve had situations in previous roles where campaigns took days to get approval because everybody wants to have their opinion on the color of the heading or the positioning of the image. By defining what people are in charge of checking, you put boundaries in place that prevents fruitless arguments.
Again, this is going to differ for your organisation and even between campaign types, but here’s a few ideas for ‘checks’ to include in your checklist:
Is this email being sent to the correct list & segment?
Has the ‘From’ name been checked and from a recognisable name?
Has a working ‘Reply To’ address been set?
Does it look as expected across desktop clients (Outlook, Postbox, etc)
Does it look as expected on mobile devices?
Does it include a working Unsubscribe link?
Are all product descriptions accurate?
Are sizing options correct?
Is product/stock availability correct?
Is the email subject line free from spelling, grammar or information errors?
Is the email preheader free from spelling, grammar or information errors?
Have you setup appropriate fallbacks for any personalisation tags used?
Is the email copy free of spelling errors?
Is the email copy free of grammatical errors?
Is there a plain text version of this email?
Is the plan text version free from spelling, grammar or information errors?
Do all links lead to the correct place?
Do all buttons link to the correct place?
Are all images linked and leading to the correct place?
Do all images have explanatory Alt text for when images are blocked?
Once you have worked out who is responsible for approvals and worked out all the checks each person needs to perform, then it’s time to build your Campaign Checklist.
Step 3: Build your campaign checklist
Now that you have defined who is responsible for approvals and what checks they need to perform, you can build it into a useable spreadsheet.
Step 4: Start using your checklist
Now that you’ve built a great email campaign checklist, it’s time to start using it to make sure your campaigns are free from errors.
While everybody’s email sending process is different and you can use it however you like, one of the best things to do is simply run through the checklist right before sending as this will ensure everything is ticked off before you hit the point of no return.
Here are a few tips for using your fancy new campaign checklist:
Use Google Docs – If your organisation allows, use the Google Docs version. It allows multiple people to be working on the one centralised document at the same time and keeps a record of all changes made, including who wrote what and at what time. That way, if something ever goes wrong you’ll know exactly who approved it and when.
Keep the document as an audit trail – Always keep the checklist in your company’s file system in case you or anybody else needs to refer back to it later.
Sendphobia can definitely be scary, but by building a campaign sign off process specific to your organisation and running through it each time you send an email marketing campaign, you can help prevent errors and actually make sending campaigns an exciting and enjoyable experience that drives business results.
So get your campaign checklist template in either Google Docs or Excel format and start using it within your organisation today.
If you’re tired of reading articles and blog posts that seem more appropriate for enterprise class ecommerce websites backed by an unlimited marketing budget, this post is for you!
Lots of ecommerce businesses out there are smaller operators. Marketing can be hugely expensive, but in this post we look at six inexpensive ways to market a niche ecommerce store to potential customers.
Post on enthusiast forums
It depends on how big your niche happens to be, but most industries have a “go to” web forum, where enthusiasts discuss and pick apart their hobby. Such forums are a great place to spend time posting – especially if you can put a link back to your ecommerce website in your forum signature.
Of course do NOT just spam your store offerings, you will be quickly banned. However, with the right approach, you may find a wealth of feedback and interest.
Contribute meaningful insight in debates and discussions, and actually add value to the community – you will be surprised by the reciprocation.
By posting on enthusiast forums directly related to your niche, you can put your website right in front of people who are active buyers in your industry – which is right where you need to be!
Sell on multiple channels
Some people see multichannel selling on eBay and Etsy as a standalone business model. Others see it as a handy source of extra sales to complement their own website. Still others find that additional sales channels reduce overall risk for their business.
All of these are viable strategies!
There’s also a group of people who see it as a marketing exercise – selling at a small profit, break even or a loss, just to have the opportunity to market their website to active buyers in a particular niche or industry.
But how can you do that if Amazon, eBay, or Etsy technically “own” the customer?
Lots of sellers include post cards or flyers in their shipments, offering buyers a discount in return for visiting the seller’s website directly. This method has proven to be hugely effective for sellers across many different industries, and depending on the volume of sales you achieve through third party marketplaces, it can be a quick way to kick start sales on your own website.
It’s up to you to decide how much of a loss you make – or whether every sale must be profitable. In most cases, however, sales can be made if you want them hard enough, so there’s a balancing act to be perfected.
Advertise in trade publications
Lots of industries have trade publications and journals. Whether it’s a model railway magazine, or a remote control boat publication – there are lots of niche publications out there catering for very specific interests.
Because these publications don’t have circulation figures that run into the millions, they’re often fairly cheap to buy print media!
Identify publications that relate directly to your ecommerce store and see how much it’ll set you back to advertise in them. It varies on a niche by niche basis, but I’m willing to bet that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the cost! Don’t forget that buying at a full rate card rate is not the done thing – always be willing to negotiate hard with advertising execs for the very best deal. Ask them to get back to you when they need to fill some spots close to print time. At the end of the day, any money saved can be spent elsewhere on the business – that money’s better off in your pocket than elsewhere.
Send samples to niche blogs
Another great way to get people talking about your website and to make sales is to identify niche bloggers and send them samples.
It’s not a particularly fast exercise – getting bloggers to write reviews can take a lot of chasing.
It’s not cheap, either – when you consider the cost of the goods you’re sending out for free, and the shipping costs.
The way to view it is “if I send one sample to this person and it leads to ten sales, I’ve made money! If not, at least I tried.”
Of course not every sample you send out will lead to ten sales, but it’s a good way to rationalize what you’re doing. Even the biggest companies use a network of trusted bloggers to sample and review their latest products.
As the internet evolves and we move further away from traditional media like newspapers, blogs continue to increase in popularity – with more readers comes more influence, and that’s why you should consider sending sample products to blogger in your industry.
Send email newsletters
Sending regular email newsletters to prospects or existing customers can be a great way to remind people you exist – and that you’re there if they need to buy X, Y or Z.
Email marketing when done incorrectly is a big annoyance. It’s easy to tell if you’re becoming an annoyance, just look at the unsubscribe stats for your email lists. If you’re losing more subscribers than you’re gaining then you know you’re doing something wrong.
Some people will tell you that for every 10 emails you send, one should be marketing while the other nine should be building a rapport with the customer. I don’t agree with this, and I believe that all 10 emails can be marketing emails – but they must contain outstanding deals and special offers.
You can’t just try and flog old lines of stock that you know are unpopular. If you put popular products and brands on special offer then email everyone to let them know, you can expect to make some great sales.
Bring your visitors back!
I was in two minds about mentioning retargeting here, but I think it’s super important.
After driving visitors from blogs, forums, magazines and so on, you can drive those super targeted individuals back to your site using retargeting platforms such as AdRoll. Retargeting has different levels of effectiveness based on several factors.
You can also use Facebook Ads to hit people where they feel more comfortable, and are spending their casual time. Facebook makes it easy to re-engage visitors to your website with just a tiny bit of work!
If you’re using dynamic retargeting, for example, you’ll see a much better click-thru rate (and conversion rate) when compared to boring old static display ads.
The great thing about retargeting is that it won’t cost the earth. You can start out with just $100 or so in budget and see great results if you get your campaign launch right. Most retargeting platforms have coupon codes for new customers, too – so why not test retargeting and let the network pick up the tab for you?
You can market a niche ecommerce store without a massive budget – all it takes is a proactive, hands-on approach to marketing, and you can save a lot of money while making lots of sales.
It’s fairly simple now to become an online entrepreneur, thanks to technology and social media. Making a profit, on the other hand, is not always simple. There are small details that could greatly affect how your business thrives on the Internet — you can’t just put up an ecommerce portal and expect customers to come rolling in.
Building the smartest (and most successful) business website requires a lot of consideration. Online retailers must balance web design and development with marketing practices to successfully drive sales.
To add to the balancing act, your website and business will benefit when you consider what your customer wants and needs. Most are looking for a simple, straightforward shopping experience. Think about it — when is the last time you felt that way in a mall? There’s a reason shoppers are flocking to the web for their commerce needs — everything is tailored to them.
Christine Erickson has gathered a few tips for a successful ecommerce platform in the list below, some of which were suggested by Sucharita Mulpurur, an analyst at Forrester, and Ben Zifkin, CEO of Hubba.
Whether you’re a small business owner or an online shopper — as a customer, what features do you appreciate when you’re purchasing something on the web? Share your thoughts in the comments.
In order to get customers to purchase your product, they must know how to get to it first.
2.A Great Search Bar
Even if your site is easy to navigate, nearly every sucessful website has a search bar. It’s a quick and convenient way for customers to find exactly what they need.
3.Keep it Simple
Provide an easy payment system. Consumers are more likely to purchase your product if the checkout is streamlined and straightforward.
Though the payment process should be straightforward, users shouldn’t feel like their options are lacking.
Keep in mind that some are purchasing your product as a gift. So, offer services like wrapping, receipts, personalized notes and returns. These features give a customer more reasons to buy, whether it’s for them or someone else.
5. Looks are Everything
You’ve likely spent a lot of time on your product — why not show it off in the best quality possible?
Showcasing your products in visually appealing and interesting way is a great way to grab potential buyer’s attention.
6. Give Details
Data-sharing has evolved the retail world. Basic information like sizing, color and availability are necessary, but it helps the consumer to know things like how the product was made, how it will be shipped and what others are saying about it.
Make sure your shipping costs are apparent before the customer’s final checkout. The earlier they know about additional charges, the less likely they are to abandon their cart.
8. Be Honest
No one likes to feel tricked after they’ve made a purchase, especially one that they’re not happy with.
Make sure that your policies are upfront and in plain language so customers know exactly what they are in for.
9. Be Human
Customers may like the anonymity of online shopping because it provides privacy and trust. But a personalized experience will likely bring good reviews and recurring shoppers.
10. Be Browser and Platform Friendly
Sites that run smoothly on multiple browsers and different Devices will drive more sales. Online shoppers are not going to wait around for a slow site to load or purchase something they can’t see because the image is broken.
For as long as there has been social media and camera phones, people have been taking photos of food.
For Restaurants and eateries, such trends work in their favour. This may seem like a no-brainer, but here are some handy hints on how to use social media (for more than just food-photos) for your Restaurant. Obviously, the focus here is on visuals, but try to also engage with your followers as much as possible.
Instagram is such a powerful tool for restaurants in particular. You have so many things you can be showing off visually in a restaurant.
Take photos of your daily or weekly specials to share with the Instagram world, take customers behind the scenes in the kitchen with how you prepare or make some of your menu items, educate the Instagram world on different fun facts on how you are sustainable. Ideas for Instagram are endless for the food venue and one of the most valuable tools you can have.
Also, as you know, Instagram has a wide range of people that LOVE sharing photos of what they eat. Have fun with this through a contest or by encouraging your customers to snap a pic of their meal and re-share these using apps like Repost.
The way Twitter sets up its news feed allows you to really show off visuals that will stand out as your followers are scrolling through their feed. Share similar photos and things that you’d share on your Instagram account and encourage those to Tweet along with you, including your staff.
Jump into conversations that are happening around you, and ENGAGE. For example: If someone is tweeting asking their followers where they should go for dinner tonight in Toronto, jump into that conversation and let them know how they can make a reservation with you.
The key to Twitter is not to wait for people to come speak at you; seek out those people that you can speak with yourself!
Much like Instagram and Twitter, your success on Facebook thrives on visuals. Make sure you have some great pictures that you can use and try not to recycle them too frequently.
Also, use Facebook to jump into local Facebook groups where you can chat with people of your community about your specials, and why you are awesome. Make sure not to spam anyone, but put a personality behind your brand and chime in when the time is right.
Facebook is also a great tool to gather customer feedback. Since there is no word cap on Facebook you can encourage your followers to review your restaurant, offer advice on new menu items, or just gauge general feedback on how you can improve!
Many people forget this falls under social media. Make sure you are regularly monitoring your review pages such as Yelp, Urban Spoon and Trip Advisor. It’s important to know what people are saying about you and jumping in when people have a complaint or are even just really happy can really show customers that you care about what they have to say.
Reviews are essentially what are going to make or break your restaurant. Your community is going to trust what other customers have to say before you, so make sure to monitor these, applaud happy customers and try to convert the haters. This is one of the most valuable tools for any restaurant small or large.
So now what? Take this advice and use when moving forward with a strategy for your restaurants online presence. Take a look at what other restaurants are doing and observe what you like and don’t like. Just remember, don’t jump on social media just because you feel like you have too. If you don’t have the time or commitment to put forth in your social media efforts, it’s almost better to not be online at all!
Mike Stelzner over at Social Media Examiner has published the 6th Annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report based on a survey of over 2,800 marketers.
It’s a pretty robust report at 50 pages and covers the gamut of social media marketing topics from the most important social platforms for marketing to the most important social content types to the ways marketers will be changing their approach to social media in the future.
Some of the highlights include:
92% of marketers say social media is important for their business (up from 86%)
58% of marketers say original written content is the most important form of content
68% of marketers plan on increasing their use of blogging
61% of marketers plan to increase Google+ activities in 2014
6% of marketers are podcasting and 21% plan to increase podcasting activity
Facebook and LinkedIn are the two most important social networks for marketers
64% of marketers plan on increasing their use of LinkedIn
There’s a lot to digest and a lot of insights to be gleaned so be sure to get your copy of the report over at Social Media Examiner.
If you want to explore the full potential of some of the most influential social media platforms, you cannot afford to ignore G+ (Google Plus), with its ever-growing popularity or its plethora of amazing marketing opportunities. Facebook and Twitter may be trending these days, but keep in mind that they aren’t the only channels that you should focus on when it comes to creating and applying a successful set of off-page SEO strategies.
Julia Mccoy, from socialmediatoday.com has some handy hints on how to capitalize on SEO results using G+, outlined here:
Not many people are aware that Facebook and Twitter actually stop Google from accessing and utilizing a great percentage of their data. On the other hand, G+ doesn’t keep any secrets. This is only one good reason why you should work on your Google Plus optimization efforts as soon as possible. Here’s an experiment done by the Moz blog on the topic:
“If you use Google+, perform a search for your name and check the domain distribution of first 100 results. The graph below shows what happens when searching my own name.
Even though I use Twitter and Facebook far more often, Google+ dominates the search results. Google+ even beats SEOmoz and my own blog. Multiply this for 100’s of millions of people, and you can begin to comprehend the scope of Google’s platform.”
Creating a winning strategy for Google Plus, in 5 easy steps:
1)Optimize Your Profile and Profit from Limitless Editing Power. Start by optimizing your Google Plus profile. This means that you have to complete all fields (profile image, website URL, business details and so on). All in all, your profile should be a mirror of your interests, capabilities, goals, vision, mission and purpose in business. Getting your Google Plus page verified by the mighty Google also helps, since it allows you to build credibility and trust. You should know that Google Plus allows you to erase and rewind. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, this platform offers you the chance to profit from limitless editing power. Therefore, you can go back to your old posts and fully edit them, anytime, anywhere.
2)Make Sure Your G Plus Title Tags Are Optimized. The very first sentence of your G plus posts becomes a part of your title tag; therefore it can impact your rankings and maximize your click-through rates. Opt for the most relevant keywords and note that the title is the first thing that people analyze before reading your post. Your title tags should be short (around 65-75 characters), compelling and concise.
3)Get in Touch with Influencers. Be sociable and always give people something to talk about. Make new connections. Add new people to your circle; ask other users to add you to their circle, share a post with a few influencers, tag them in a photo, mention them in posts, start meaningful conversations, invite them to an event and so on; just make sure you don’t cross the line. Strangers who are a tad too friendly on Google Plus are often cataloged as spammers and get banned till the end of times.
4)Count on a Killer Author Pic. Cyrus Shepard from Moz has conducted an experiment with his Google Plus profile pic. The results were amazing and predictable to some extent: in a world in which looks are extremely important, your profile pic says a lot about you and your competencies. A perfect (real), professional-looking picture of yourself taken in a very flattering light can boost your website traffic.
5)Stay Active. Whatever you do, do something. Inactivity is one of the capital sins when it comes to social media marketing strategies. You don’t want to be one of the many inactive users that have a Google Plus account, but refuse to put it to good use for one reason or another. Give your readers at least one good reason to use the 1 button. According to Business2Community, you can accomplish this goal by simply:
Posting quality content on a regular basis
Creating and updating content based on the needs, interests and expectations of your audience
Connecting Google Plus to your website and all your social extensions
Last, but definitely not least, don’t forget to connect your web content to your Google Plus profile via Google Authorship. This is the simplest method to reaffirm your authority, increase your influence and enable readers to identify your content in no time.
Brands that use Facebook for marketing have seen a sharp drop in engagement.
Coupled with recent changes to the news feed algorithm, marketers are finding it harder and harder to generate organic buzz. Speaking of the News Feed, no one really knows for sure how Facebook decides what appears on it, but some elements are well known as weighing factors:
Post types that receive the most user interaction
Posts that users hide or report as spam
How a user interacts with Facebook ads
The device that is used to access Facebook and the speed of its connection
Facebook has told marketers that they should consider paid distribution “to maximize delivery” of their messages in news feed. Translation: You must pay to play.
The team at Offerpop, a social marketing platform that enables users to create and launch Twitter and Facebook campaigns, compiled the infographic below to illustrate at a high level how brands can combat Facebook’s reach decline by revamping their digital strategy.
If good content is posted on social media and there’s no one around to see it, will it make an impact?
Knowing the best times to reach your audience is one of the trickiest aspects of maintaining your brand’s social media strategy.
To build an engaging social media presence, you must of course have a very engaged audience and to create this engagement, you must reach your audience at a time they are most likely to use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and whatever other social channel you have a presence in.
Every social network experiences a “peak” time, which is the busiest time of day for the network, during which the most number of people are actively using the site. Timing your social media posts and publishing your content during this peak time is going to make it visible to a larger audience.
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer to this. The nature of social media marketing is such that it is entirely dependent on human behaviour. So while there may be theories on what works and guidelines on best practices for timing your social media posts; ultimately it all comes down to knowing and understanding your own audience.
The greater use of Mobile devices like tablets, has shaken things up a little these days. 37% of consumers on mobiles and tablets now check their social media presence first thing in the morning and 42% do so just before they go to bed. Also, mobile traffic is known to peak after 5pm and as well as on the weekend therefore marketers need to consider how this impacts timing of content distribution to maximise effectiveness.
Of course, times are not concrete – and each may vary depending on your target market, and the Industry in which they operate. In fact, I haven’t seen 2 infographics that are similar, hence why It’s so important to customise your timing for your audience. Variables such as International time-zones, context and goals can result in complete misfire. Most stats are based on Internet users as a whole, not on your specific target audience – but they can provide a starting point for anyone looking to gain more traction with their social media posts, once some market research is done.
You know your audience better than anyone else so a time slot that works for someone else might not work for you at all. Your best bet is to experiment with a few different time slots and monitor the activity on your posts to see which time performs the best.
Peak interaction times will vary depending on your industry and your most active social network, and you’ll learn by trial and error. A study by Buddy Media in late 2012, found that most companies are posting content at the wrong time so by paying attention to the timing of your posts, you can already be a step ahead.
From memes to infographics to instagram images, brands big and small are already getting huge engagement from visual content, and 2014 will be the year that visual content truly takes over in social media marketing.
Simple, easy to digest content often receives the highest volume of engagement. For example, the image below from Social Media Examiner was one of the most popular posts ever to grace their Facebook page.
According to research from Social Media Examiner, 70% of marketers plan to increase their use of visual assets in 2014; will you be one of them?
To what degree is your content marketing strategy delivering the results you want it to? For those who aren’t happy with their content marketing strategy, here we explain how you can turn it around.
Be honest with yourself…why should customers and prospects care anything about what you have to say? Everywhere your customers look they are being bombarded with sales messaging. Only a few, select messages get through and make any meaningful impact on them.
So that means instead of creating all that product and service information that customers don’t need or care about, you need to be truly helpful. You need to think and act like a publisher. Be the “go-to” informational resource for your customers. It’s this thinking (and quality storytelling) that is the steroids behind quality search rankings and social media that spreads and is shared.
Great…there’s an answer, but getting there isn’t easy. Very few SME businesses have the skills and training to create a content marketing program and consistently deliver on that content promise. So, how do you create content that moves your customers and/or prospects to take action? You need to positively affect them, engage them and do whatever we must to help stay involved in their lives and their conversations. Here are the six principles that need to be core to your content marketing strategy to make sure your content is treasured, not discarded, by your customers.
1. Fills a Need: Your content should answer some unmet need or question for your customer. It needs to be useful in some way to the customer, over and above what you can offer as a product or service. In some cases, it may fill an emotional need (like Coca-Cola’s content tries to do, or even Red Bull’s storytelling).
2. Consistent: The great hallmark of a successful publisher is consistency. Whether you subscribe to a monthly magazine or daily email newsletter, the content is always delivered on time and as expected. This is where so many companies fall down. Whatever you commit to in your content marketing, you must consistently deliver.
3. Be Human (find your voice): The benefits of not being a journalistic entity is that you have nothing to hold you back from being…well…you. Find what you voice is, and share it. If your company’s story is all about humor, share that. If it’s a bit sarcastic, that’s okay too.
4. Has a point of view: This is not encyclopedia content. You’re not giving a history report. Don’t be afraid to take sides on matters that can position you and your company as an expert. Don’t be afraid to take a stance.
5. Far removed from sales speak: The more you talk about yourself, the less people will share and spread your story. It’s that simple. Try to post more an educational pieces rather than just endless content about your own products or service.
6. Best of breed: Although you might not be able to reach this goal at the very beginning, the ultimate goal for your content is that it needs to be best of breed. This means that, for your content niche, what you are distributing is the very best of what is available. I know this may sound overly simplified, but if you expect your customers to spend time with your content, you must deliver them amazing value.
Take some time and look at your content marketing strategy. How many of these six principles are you hitting? As a business, your goal is to become part of the content fabric for your customers. If you do, selling to them becomes relatively easy. Start with setting a strategy that follows the six principles above, and before long, you will be the “go to” resource for your customers as well.
In 2010, branded content was one the largest trends among retailers and brands. In 2011, branded content shifted to branded entertainment. Now, in 2012, we’ll look toward content cultivation and aggregation.
By creatively using Pinterest and Tumblr, brands are becoming enthralled with consumer curation, primarily because these types of curated sites create non-linear paths to purchases.
First, retailers post visually appealing images and ideas that are accessible to the online user/consumer. Then, consumers post those images to curated sites. From there, retailers can build brand awareness by directly linking to product pages and encouraging purchase conversions.
“We’re demonstrating the power of peer-to-peer shopping search,” says Buyosphere’s Tara Hunt. “Algorithms are a long way off from picking up nuances that a person can. And personal taste is full of nuance.”
The future of ecommerce, search and social marketing is now tied to personality-influenced consumer curation.
This is by far one of the most powerful changes, in my opinion, to fan page functionality. Why? Before this change, there were only a few ways to share your fan page with people who are not a fan of your brand on Facebook. The first was by sharing the page directly with your personal profile’s contacts. The second was by hoping that your page’s fans would share it with their contacts. And the third was by spending money with Facebook advertising.
Now, with the option to use Facebook as your page, you can do something that reaches out to Facebook users in your targeted audience for free. Here are easy steps on how to get your brand in front of a larger Facebook audience.
How to Use Facebook as Your Page
You must be an admin of the page you want to market before going any further – if you aren’t, then become a fan of the page and ask another admin of the page to add you as administrator.
Step 1. When logged into your personal profile, go under the Account menu and select Use Facebook as Page.
Step 2. Choose the page you want to participate as on Facebook and Switch.
Step 3. Find fan pages that have the same target audience as your brand and Like. For example, if you’re brand sells handmade dog collars online, then your target audience is probably also a fan of PetSmart, Petco, the Westminster Dog Show, and other similar pages.
Step 4. Start interacting on those pages just like you would do with your personal profile in terms of liking and commenting on new wall posts by the page or by the fans of the page. Instead of being linked to your personal profile, your activity will be linked to your fan page. This means if you provide useful, valuable comments, you will be seen as an authority and fans of that page might become a fan of yours as well.
Using Facebook as your fan page will help you get more exposure for your brand’s Facebook page, leading to more likes and engagement with your targeted audience.
Talk to us today about turbocharging your Facebook page.
Almost 10 years after publishing its first review, the site is one of the internet’s success stories, in traffic terms at least. More than 50 million reviews have now been published on the website, which invites customers to share their experiences of hotels, flights, restaurants and tourist attractions. More than half a million properties have been reviewed there.
Having recently set up the 60 Days free trial through FlipKey by TripAdvisor, we’ve hit the ground running with an enquiry every few days. So as a two month trial would suggest, TripAdvisor is a powerful tool for not only your brand but also leads based on customer feedback!
Smart article over on Small Business Bliss. You’ve probably heard it all before in a dozen different places, but maybe never as succinctly. Here are the basic reasons a blog solves all of your major online marketing needs in one simple, compact package. If you want to know why a blog must literally be the beginning and end of your basic online marketing approach, look no further.
Those clients of ours blogging successfully will know how important this strategy is, and those readers who arent clients of ours but blog successfully will also know. It really is the basis of your social media platform and essential.
Twitter is filled with potential for businesses, but a Twitter account is only as good as its content. Sometimes just observing how top businesses take advantage of this communication platform is a good way to learn.
Here are 20 popular retail brands’ Twitter feeds. Follow them on Twitter and watch their posts carefully — you might just learn a trick or two to improve your own business.
@Zappos. Zappos is well known for offering terrific customer support. One of the main ways it does this is through its Twitter feed from CEO Tony Hsieh. Zappos also runs @ZapposInsights for its membership site, where followers can learn how to create a strong company culture.
@BestBuy. The main feed from Best Buy with posts regarding company culture, upcoming events and deal notices. Best Buy also runs @GeekSquad for answers to customers’ technical support issues 24 hours a day and @TwelpForce with more tech advice from Best Buy technology experts.
@HomeDepot. This is the main feed from Home Depot and the company uses it for home maintenance tips and tricks, as well as customer support. Home Depot branched off two other feeds — @HomeDepotFdn is the Home Depot Foundation for building affordable sustainable homes for those in need, and @HomeDepotDeals for both in-store and online deal alerts.
@Target. This is Target’s main feed for ongoing deals and product announcements. It also has the @TargetDailyDeal feed for discounts on products available one day only and also @TargetStyle for fashion and beauty tips and products for customers on a budget.
@ToysRUs. The main ToysRUs feed for all product announcements, gift ideas and customer service. ToysRUs also runs @BabiesRUs for the baby product line of stores and products with product suggestions and more.
@Walmart. Walmart uses its general feed to interact with customers for fun and support, make product and service announcements and encourage customers to engage with the brand by submitting photos and more. Walmart also runs @WalmartSpecials, a separate feed just for limited time discounts and @WalmartGiving, the Walmart Foundation Twitter page with thoughts about community and donation.
@Gap. Gap keeps it simple and runs one Twitter account to address customer concerns, engage with their customers and encourage participation in photo contests or talking about favorite stores and items, as well as product and deal alerts.
@StaplesTweets. Staples uses its feed to feature products, ideas for product usage, deals and customer engagement.
@MySears. Sears splits its Twitter feeds into two types of content: this main one is for questions, comments and issues from customers to get addressed as well as product suggestions and news. Then the @SearsDeals is the daily-updated deals and discounts alert feed.
@Kohls_Official. A single feed from Kohl’s keeps things straightforward – the company uses it for product tips and deal alerts as well as fun and casual conversation with customers.
@AmericanApparel. This feed is used to announce deals, free shipping codes, new product launches, new store openings and job opportunities.
@OldNavy. Old Navy manages just a single Twitter feed as well, and uses it to have fun and engaging conversation with customers, post links to new products and stores and sale announcements.
@Macys. Provides deal and product announcements, special event announcements and some customer support.
@Nordstrom. Nordstrom splits its Twitter content into three main feeds, starting with this primary feed for customer engagement, support, product and deal announcements and more. Then @Nordstrom_Rack for its discount store and @NordstromBeauty for tips and announcements about all its beauty products.
@NikeStore. Nike runs several Twitter feeds and what follows are just a few. This main feed is used for product and deal announcements, customer support and engagement. It then has a Twitter feed for many of the sports and lifestyles that the brand appeals to, but it splits them off into their own feeds, for example @NikeGolf for the golf gear customers and @NikeFootball for the football gear customers.
@Converse. Converse does a good job of keeping the content on its feed lifestyle oriented, making it appealing to a young and hip demographic, with casual language, links to cool Converse events, art shows and contests and more.
@AppStore. Apple has six Twitter accounts. This main one is for the App Store and features announcements about new apps, free apps, popular apps and more. Apple then splits the iTunes brand into five separate feeds, the @iTunesMovies for all movie content, @iTunesTrailers for movie trailer content, @iTunesTV for current TV programs available to download, @iTunesMusic for all music related announcements, free tracks, new releases and @iTunesPodcasts for new and rare podcast announcements and release dates.
@Netflix. Netflix splits its content into several feeds, but these four are the main accounts. The general Netflix account is used for movie gossip, news and new release information. @Netflixhelps is the customer support feed. Netflix has an interesting @NetflixAPI feed for tips, advice and support for bundling the Netflix software with any device. And finally it has @NetflixJobs for employment opportunities in the company.
@Verizon. Verizon runs multiple Twitter accounts, all for very specific content. This main one is for product announcements across all its brands and services, links to current news and events and more. Some of their other interesting feeds are @VZSmallBiz, which offers small business advice, @VerizonWireless for customer support and product information for its wireless users, @VZWOffers for special deals and coupon alerts, @HeadlinesVZ for the latest news in a wide variety of topics from around the nation. Verizon also runs dozens of additional local feeds for customers in particular cities or regions.
@VictoriasSecret. Victoria’s Secret split its content into its two biggest brands, the main feed for the general Victoria’s Secret brand for adult customers, which features deals, product announcements, sneak previews to new items and more. Then the @VSPINK feed for its younger customers, which features more lifestyle oriented content, deals specific to the PINK brand and links to youth-related news and fashion.