Like it or not, Facebook advertising is an ever-increasing marketing vehicle that should be considered in any marketing mix. For as little as a dollar a day, you can reach as many people on Facebook as you can with radio or TV — but only the people you want to reach, and for far less money. [Read more…]
So, what about B2C marketing trends? We found this infographic as well:
The takeaway point? The most popular social media outlets for B2B companies versus B2C companies vary somewhat, but the majority have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Is your business active on these sites?
Recently, a client of ours experienced what we like to call SEO gold. The Good Table is a corporate and private catering company from Westchester County, New York, specializing in farm-fresh food made with local ingredients. The company dedicates a section of its web site to featuring and celebrating the small family farms that supply these ingredients.
One of the farms that The Good Table profiled — Laughing Child Farm of Pawlet, Vermont — added a link on their own Facebook to the Farmer Profile page. This social media effort not only provided excellent publicity for both Laughing Child Farm and The Good Table, but it actually generated a spike in web visitors for The Good Table — 10 times the typical amount of daily visitors.
So, why exactly is this SEO gold? Search engines show preference on their search engine results page (SERP) to web sites that receive relevant, inbound links — especially when they’re coming from social media channels. Social media activity — including likes, pins, tweets, comments, links, and shares — drives search queries, which in turn drive rankings on SERPs. In turn, this fuels brand visibility and awareness. Therefore, not only did one Facebook link drive immediate traffic to The Good Table’s site, but it also helped add weight to future search engine rankings.
So, even if you’re not into social media, chances are you know someone who is. Might not be a bad idea to ask around to generate some links to your site. It just might be a gold mine for you.
Put on your ‘consumer hat’ and think of the brands you trust and have remained loyal to for years. These could be products or services you interact with regularly—your go-to brands in electronics, restaurants, clothing, soft drinks…whatever. What do these brands have in common? Chances are, these companies have earned your trust because they have consistently promised and delivered an experience you know you can depend on.
Now put on your marketing professional hat. One thing you probably know is that most consumers don’t analyze all the little things that come together to form the essence of a brand, yet these are the very things that create the good feelings and expectations about the brands they buy. From the advertising they see to the customer service they receive, customers’ relationships with brands are multi-faceted. The more consistently you can deliver your brand across the myriad ways your customers come in contact with it, the more they will trust the kind of experience they’ll have with your company… and the more successful you’ll be.
I’m surprised by how many companies don’t give much credence to brand consistency. Over the past 18 years or so, I’ve worked with countless marketing managers who’ve felt bored with their company’s branding, not necessarily because it was outdated or ineffective, but because they’ve lived with it every day and wanted nothing more than to shake things up. They’ve felt the urge to introduce new avenues of creativity, sensing that ‘new and different’ here or there would grab their customers’ attention.
The truth is, frequent change and inconsistency across your marketing mix has the opposite effect. It sends the message that you’re not completely dependable, that your brand experience is variable. It implies that you’re not sure who you are as a company because you’re allowing your message and your look to vary. Without realizing it, your customers start looking elsewhere.
As marketing professionals, we need to remember that we’re immersed in our brands every day, whereas those brands are a tiny fraction of what our customers see every day. We only need to look to Apple or Coca-Cola or Starbucks to see how successful companies feel about consistency: it is something they are fanatical about. They’ve employed consistent branding strategies over decades, and consumers have rewarded them with decades of loyalty.
So how do you build brand consistency?
It should begin with your basic brand elements. These range from your product design, pricing, and distribution outlets to visual components such as your logo, fonts, color palette, graphics, and messaging style.
Use a professional graphic designer to create your logo, and ask her to create usage guidelines so that all of your staff members and vendors will know the rules for reproducing it. Decide on a limited number of fonts that are easy to read and use in a variety of applications. Fine-tune a limited color palette and be sure your designer and printer consistently apply these colors as they’re designated—as primary, secondary, and seasonal colors, for example. If your primary color is red, ensure that the correct red is used in all your materials, and don’t order pens for your tradeshow booth that are, say, blue. Color is a powerful recognition factor in branding.
Brand consistency should extend throughout all of the touch points where customers interact with your brand, such as your web site, ads, emails, direct mail pieces, packaging, trade shows displays, and stationery, as well as social media and interactions with your sales team and staff. Any way in which your customers see, hear, taste, or touch your brand should reflect the same quality, image, and attitude—every time.
Most companies consider their web site an extremely important marketing or sales tool, yet many allow their brand’s online experience to fall short of the real-life one. Be especially careful that your customers’ online interactions with your company are consistent with your brand. Since people are naturally drawn to things that are familiar, be sure that your ads and marketing materials are instantly recognizable as your company. Even a letter on stationery that reflects a familiar brand is given more time and attention than one that is confusingly unfamiliar.
Just as with human relationships, those who are steadfast and trustworthy gain the most loyalty. When your brand is really good, you’ll win customers. When it’s consistent, you’ll keep them. Just keep an eye on the little things that make up your brand’s essence, and don’t get easily bored with the great work you’ve created.
How organic SEO can make your site more attractive to search engines
The smart way to ‘go organic’ doesn’t have to do with lunch — though that’s great, too — but rather with SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO is a process that works to increase traffic to your web site by improving your search engine rankings through unpaid and unsponsored methods. You can add a lot of value to your brand and your bottom line by implementing organic SEO measures into your web site. So, let’s get started!
While there are many factors that influence your company’s rank on a search engine results page, the most influential driving factor is content. To start things off, ask yourself these questions about what’s on your web site: Is it relevant to your target audience? Is it unique, meaning not copied from another web site? Is it current? Is it linked to a social media outlet? If you’re uncertain of your answers, or these questions are giving you a sad face, then read on:
In order to reach your target market, you have to think like your target market. Think of the keywords and phrases they would type into a search engine field to find you. If those keywords are sprinkled throughout the content of your web site, you’re golden. If not, start now — but remember to avoid stuffing your site with too many keywords, as search engines penalize such actions.
- Use keywords in your URL, if possible.
- Use keywords in your headers and your sub-headers (as long as they’re HTML).
- Use keywords in your title tags.
- Use keywords in your meta tags.
- Use keywords in the alt tags.
- Use keywords in your links to other web sites you’ve listed as affiliates and / or resources.
Sure, the old adage says there’s nothing new under the sun — but when it comes to blatant copying and duplicating, search engines seriously frown upon that. Just like in school, plagiarizing results in undesired consequences. Only unlike in school, you won’t just get suspended from the classroom, you’ll get expelled to obscurity.
In our digital age, content is a perishable item. Don’t let your content get stale, or worse, go bad. Constant updates and maintenance of your web site is critical. Do you have a news or announcements page that lists some event from 2009 as your most recent happening? Do you have a product that’s out of stock or discontinued but is still listed as new? Search engines reward sites with content that is updated often. Not only that, visitors to your web site want to see up-to-date, refreshing information or they consider your site, and even your brand, out of touch and irrelevant.
It’s no coincidence that search engines are showing preference to web sites that incorporate social media. It’s partly due to the fact that the majority of internet users are showing a preference, and habit, for social media. Integrating social media links on your web site will drive users to your site — whether it’s professionals on LinkedIn, fans on Facebook, followers on Twitter, pinners on Pinterest, or one of the other hundreds of platforms. Adding a blog is another great way to add a social component, and fresh content, to your site. Your rank will go higher if more people are buzzing about your site on a social media platform or commenting on your latest blog post. So go ahead, let your brand’s social butterfly soar and see your search engine rankings, and sales, soar right along with it.
And most importantly, be patient.
Improving your search engine results takes time. Even if you’ve implemented all of these suggestions and more, you’re not going to go from landing on page 12 to page 1 overnight. Just like with your own health, getting in shape requires commitment, hard work, and patience.
One of the biggest questions people ask is how to measure the return on their investment in social media. For both new and seasoned social media mavens, it can be tricky.
For e-commerce businesses, the results are often more tangible. Increased online sales are often a common measure of success. But what about businesses that don’t engage in online commerce? For these companies, the measure of success is often customer engagement and the dissemination of information.
Getting the word out can be paramount for a business such as a restaurant, where specials change day-to-day. Still, getting this type of information in the hands of your guests may be of great benefit, but are its effects measurable?
Customer engagement is one method by which many companies today measure the success of social media. Customer engagement measures how your customers are interacting with the information you are putting out there on outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.
First, examine the type of messages you are posting and tweeting. Is your messaging authentic and aligned with your brand essence? Are you avoiding ‘canned’ messages? Or are you talking without listening or only using this vehicle to sell, sell, sell?
Coming across as authentic in social media is a delicate balance of promoting your brand, while at the same time providing additional information that is industry-related or culturally relevant. If you can master this, you’ll gain traction and begin to increase your reach.
So what’s the point of social media if it doesn’t tangibly affect your bottom line? The truth is, any marketing endeavor that effectively keeps your brand alive in the minds of your target audience is sure to help your bottom line – you just might not see its impact immediately or directly. With consistent communication to your readers, fans, or followers, you continue to keep your business in the back of their minds. Moreover, you may become a source of information for your readers, who can, in turn, become brand ambassadors for your business.
Furthermore, you can use social media to enhance your professional image, establishing yourself as an expert or key point of contact in your industry. Positioning yourself as a source of industry news establishes you as someone to be listened to and trusted. In this way, social media becomes a lead generator, something to connect you with new customers or clients.
Most importantly, to fully connect with your friends and followers, make them feel special. Everyone has a voice on social media, so everyone has a virtual soapbox. It’s important to make your followers or fans feel like part of an elite group, through insider information, be it discounts, secret sales, or other benefits. conferred to followers and fans.
Ultimately, like any other marketing endeavor, set individual, tangible goals about what you want to gain from social media. While the financial costs associated with social media may be minimal, the time associated with engaging in a social media campaign can be quite demanding. Make it a part of your daily routine, but stick to your plan and your brand message, or you could find yourself devoting hours and hours without benefit.
At some point, most of our clients ask us this question. So what’s the answer? It really depends on you, your business, and your budget. Social media covers a broad spectrum of marketing possibilities, and it can be daunting if you’re just dipping your toes in. Your best strategy is to approach it like any other marketing endeavor: consider your goals, your audience, the cost, and the time commitment required to do it successfully.
Social media is a powerful tool to enhance the promotion of your business. It takes minimal effort to get underway, and setting up an account is generally free. Advertising through some social channels can be an inexpensive way to deploy highly targeted campaigns, which is critical during difficult financial times. Using Stride to help you get your social media program started is also a small investment, and you can easily take over the program yourself when you’re ready.
There are many ways to dive in: you can tweet, post messages, connect immediately and personally with customers, provide information, create events, and advertise. Every point of contact you make is a potential customer, an advocate for your business, and a vehicle for increasing your reach exponentially. It’s an amazing way to get your word out to a large audience.
Your best bet is to focus on one or two channels to start, which should be aligned with your audience and communication needs. Can your business be casual and personal in its communication style? Try Facebook. You’d be surprised how many people and businesses are using it. (http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics) Does your audience demand up-to-the-minute information about your business? Twitter may be for you. Do you have a highly professional audience? Linked-In may serve your needs best.
Most social media specialists will advocate social media as the ultimate marketing tool: “You must, you must, you must!” To someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Our advice is that you consider it carefully: plan what you want to get out of social media, and how you think it could help your business. By taking smaller, self-assured steps into this realm, you’re more likely to be successful in reaching the people you want to connect with.
Provide a reason for your audience to connect with you on social media, whether it’s deals and discounts, new service offerings, or timely industry news. Don’t overdo it, and don’t talk in marketing speak. It’s called ‘social media’ for a reason—this is where you must show the genuine, human side of your business. And content rules in this new realm. Waste people’s time and they will quickly block you out.
Lastly, think of social media as an ongoing effort, not just a once-and-done type of affair. By keeping the conversation going, you’ll continue to engage your existing customers while attracting new ones. You may find that your dive into these new waters was worth your while.
Coming up soon: Measuring the Return on Social Media