If we all shared the Powerball we’d each get $4 million?!! We were saddened to learn recently that no, this is an urban myth. Generous Powerball sharing would only result in everyone being able to buy a small latte and not an end to poverty in the U.S. Sigh.
Some myths, especially about content marketing, you can’t plug into Snopes.com, so were going to bust open the top seven myths we hear about content.
See which one of these you’ve heard (or said).
1. Quality content takes too long to create.
Good content shouldn’t take hours to create, but it shouldn’t take minutes either. There are things you can do to make content creation easier, like sign up for Google Alerts to stay on top of current trends, or research the optimum times to post blogs and other content. But don’t be fooled, content marketing isn’t just copying and pasting or providing a collection of links. Content should gratify a specific need a target audience has and provide them with tips or solutions to a problem. You can create a blog in under an hour with your own industry knowledge.
2. No one reads it.
Content marketing lets you communicate with your audience and partners directly, an arena where traditional marketing falls short. In fact, 61 percent of consumers say they feel better about a company that produces and distributes custom content and are more likely to buy from that company (Kapost). People want to hear stories about brands and products in order to feel a connection. Content creation is the way to do this, and can help drive traffic, generate leads and convert customers. Make sure you’re letting your company’s personality shine through, let your audience see who you are and what you represent.
3. Content doesn’t get you found.
If you’re keeping keywords and search engine optimization (SEO) in mind it will. In fact, MarketingSherpa found that content creation is the single most effective SEO tactic. That doesn’t mean stuffing keywords into your services page or using black hat SEO techniques. It means writing about what your audience is searching for.
Thinking about what people are searching for online and incorporating those specific keywords in your content will help drive rankings and organic search traffic. But you’re not alone in coming up with keywords. Google has a tool that can help, as does WordStream.
4. Content marketing is a trend.
Content marketing is like Googling, not a trend but a new era. Googling everything you want to know and buy is our new way of life. And content marketing powers those searches. How else would you decide between X and Y?
While content marketing will continue to adapt to the changing times, the core concepts remain the same – write about stuff people are searching for. Position yourself as a trusted source and a problem solver.
5. It’s just a filler and includes no ‘real’ information.
While a lot of companies are writing blah blogs for their websites, the ones who use content effectively and get results (more sales, better brand image) are those who use content to add credibility to their brand. Make sure your content aligns with your brand and your goals, that way it will provide relevant content to customers. Think about your target audience’s pains and needs. If you’re selling natural stone countertops to designers, you want to help them solve the dilemma, ‘Do I choose manufactured quartz or natural marble?,’ by showing the pros and cons of each and how your natural product offers a unique and desirable design aesthetic.
6. It’s just writing articles.
While blogs are arguably the highest quality content, they aren’t the only thing that gets attention from audiences. Infographics, videos, reviews, how-to’s, podcasts, case studies, quotes, and facts and stats are all ways to reach audiences and encourage them to engage with your brand. To do these well you need a professional who can create an infographic and then a marketing team to help you deliver it through email and social media. That team can also help you curate content from around the web to share with your audience that supports your sales and marketing goals, ie. getting designers to buy more natural stone and less quartz.
7. It has no ROI.
You can indeed measure the effectiveness of the content you’re creating, but you have to know what your ultimate goal is for each piece of content you create. Calls to action can help you get data on clicks, conversions and visits.
Here’s an example of how you can prove the return on your content marketing investment: You know a typical buyer concern is that marble stains. Your keyword phrase might be, ‘Which product is better for kitchens with kids, quartz or marble?’ You write a blog about how marble is actually much easier to maintain than people think and leads to a higher resale value.
You see that the blog gets a lot of visits through search so you add a call to action for ordering a free sample. Then you track how many people received a sample and went on to order a product. ROI proven.
Now that we’ve busted these myths you know seven reasons why your company should be using quality content in its digital marketing. But you may not know where to start, or which of your current efforts are actually moving you ahead on your company goals. Make it your goal this quarter to sit down with your team and look at your traffic, engagement and competitors. Be honest about what’s working and where your needs outweigh your in-house capabilities.
Need help evaluating your marketing? Learn more about how Marketing Rival helps brands determine which of their marketing efforts our worth the money.
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You didn’t start your business to write. You’re a service provider, startup company, or small business owner strapped for time and money. You’re not a writer. So where does that leave you when presented with the job of blogging weekly for your website? For many, DIY blogging is the only option when marketing dollars are tight.It’s crucial that you blog. Doing it is not an option in this age of digital marketing.
Companies that blog receive 97% more links to their website. (Source)
Your online presence is the first (and sometimes only) impression prospective clients have of you. Before they pick up the phone to make an appointment, purchase a product online or walk through your doors, you can bet they’ve already Googled you. Your website can tell them a lot about your offerings and services, but what if you could reach that perspective client or customer BEFORE they knew you even existed?
Writing about the needs and pains of your clients and customers gets you found on the web.
Posting weekly blogs is non-negotiable for our clients. Because blogging is critical to your SEO. It is the literal food for search engines. If you’re not doing it, you’re missing your single best opportunity for visibility.
The blog is essentially a news page on your website to attract, delight and engage site visitors. It also increases your exciting chance of getting in front of the media, who may reference your tips or expertise in their social media accounts and publications. The key to getting found on the web and standing out from the sea of other businesses is to become a thought leader, answering the questions and problems your prospective clients are searching for and talking about the things you know best.
If you’ve addressed that question or concern, Google will be more likely to point that user to you. And if you’re writing regularly, say 600 + words once a week, your chances of being found grow exponentially.
Ready to get started?
Of course, you’re not. You’re not a writer and the idea of cranking out blogs once a week is giving you anxiety.
It’s ok. We feel you. And we’re going to equip you with the tools you need to write blogs yourself until you can invest in a professional to save you the time and trouble.
At Marketing Rival, we have a formula that our writers and clients use to blog with their target audience in mind. Here are our seven steps you need to take to succeed as a DIY Blogger:
1. Okay the million-dollar question. What do I need to write about?
Things that only the people you make money from care about. Their pains, their problems, their obsessions. The only thing you’re NOT going to write about is why you and your product or service is the best and they should buy, buy, buy. No one’s going to read that. Be helpful. Offer advice. Think, would I want to read this?
Here’s an example from our client Polycor. Polycor sells natural stone, but they’re not selling it on their blog. Instead they’re answering a question that designers and homeowners ask:
2. What if I’m not sure if an issue is worth writing about?
If you can think of an issue that matters to your client, then it’s probably news worth sharing. Still not sure? Bounce the idea off some of your best customers. You can also download our beginner’s guide to business blogging for a list of easy blog ideas.
3. Should my blog be in formal language?
Not unless you want to attract other people in your industry who know your speak. Identify your target audience and write for that person. If it helps, imagine you are having a one-on-one conversation with this person. Numbered lists and Q and A’s (like the one you’re reading right now) are great formats for blogs.
4. I’m done with my piece, but unsure about my grammar and punctuation. Is there a tool for that?
Yes. Grammarly is $11.66 a month and it helps you write mistake-free in Gmail, Facebook, WordPress, Linkedin, and anywhere else you write on the Web. Quite the bargain if it saves you from writing “crap sandwich” when you meant crab... If you prefer to work with a human being, you can also hire a professional writer/editor like Shannon here at Marketing Rival.
5. Should I add a video or image to my post?
Always. Adding a high quality, professional looking image and/or video are key to enhance your blog and be found on search. It also increases you chances of being shared on social media exponentially. The amount of video from people and brands in Facebook's News feed increased 3.6X year-over-year. (Source)
It’s important when using an image that you either use an original you took (the best option!) or purchase one from a stock photo company. There are also plenty of photo sites that offer free images with attribution given. Be sure to read their copyright guidelines and abide by them. We're big fans of flickr. Never Google images and pull them off the web for your use on your blog. You can be fined some pretty hefty fees for stealing photos off the Internet. With permission, sharing is caring however.
Read our post on seo for detailed information on adding ALT Text to your blog images.
6. What platforms should I use to post my blog? (Like where does this thing live?)
That depends on how your existing website works. A blog is just another page on your website. No matter the platform you choose, make sure it’s mobile-friendly because that’s key to ensuring a good user experience on mobile devices and being found on Google.
7. Can I use my blog content for anything else?
Yes! Our motto is repurpose, repurpose, repurpose. Your blog can be promoted on social media on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, where you can share it with your contacts for greater reach.
Your blog is also great email content. Constant Contact has beautiful templates that you can use, add your business branding, and send to you contacts, inviting them to visit your site and read your blog. Email is also trackable so you’ll get to see who opened and clicked it, giving you a better idea of who the blog is resonating with.
You can also pitch your blog to reporters and editors. There is always a chance that your tips or knowledge may be needed for a story they are working on or spur a story idea on its own.
Real life example:
Last year I wrote a piece on how to respond to negative reviews. I used it in email and on social media where it attracted the interest of Asbury Park Press reporter Michael Diamond. He featured it in his story on the viral power of social media, which was picked up by USA Today. That’s some great reach! And it all started with a simple blog aimed at helping business owners to respond appropriately to their negative reviews on Yelp, Google and Facebook.
Writing about how I help my B2C clients manage their online reputation was easy because it’s just one of the things I do on a normal day. Your blog posts can be easy too if you focus on sharing your expertise with your audience in a down-to-earth way.
Writing a blog isn’t hard, but it isn’t something you just know how to do as a business owner. There is a learning curve, which you’ll see when some of your blogs draw response from your audience, but with others it’s just crickets.
You can get a jump on your blog work by downloading our 15 Minute Manual For Beginner Business Bloggers.
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Click a button and donate. Seems simple and effective, right? People, the donate button is dead. Slapping a button on your website isn’t going to move strangers to give their money to your nonprofit. You know your organization changes lives and manages resources effectively, but your site visitors might not, especially those who’ve landed here for the first time. You’re strangers to each other and like our mom taught us, we don’t give our money to strangers. Like all donors, your site visitors need to be nurtured. They need to learn your story, understand your organization, and feel a connection to your fundraising effort. Only then will they feel knowledgeable and comfortable (even inspired) enough to give to your cause. Let’s talk about another, more effective way to raise funds for your organization than a standalone donate button. How do you effectively communicate your story to your readers? First, understand the life cycle stage of website readers. Generally, there are three of them and they are the key to improving your online fundraising.
The stranger begins with an anonymous visit to your site. This visitor is just checking you out, getting a feel for your organization and what you do. You don’t ask strangers for favors in your personal life, why are you asking strangers on your website for money? These visitors need to see a clear message communicating exactly what your organization does, your goals, and tangible evidence of work your organization has done. Great website content that is creative, but concise, can give strangers visiting your site a sense of what you’re all about. It’s important to effectively communicate the value of what you offer to your site visitors. What makes you different from other charitable organizations? How are funds used and can you show tangible results of success? How are you connected to the local community? Action: Attract strangers with blog posts promoted through social media. Convert strangers to potential donors with a call-to-action in your blog. Do you have a case study or client success story you can package as a downloadable offer? Give it away free in exchange for the visitor’s name, email and the answer to a telling question. Maybe, What charity did you give to in the last year?
Visitors will click around your site, getting a little taste here and a little taste there until they feel more knowledgeable about your mission. This is the learning stage, and it’s critical in converting visitors into donors. Learners need to feel a personal connection to your mission, and the way to create this relationship is through storytelling. Blog about success stories of people who have benefitted from your organization’s efforts. Have staff members tell their personal stories about why they focus their energy on the mission of the organization. Highlight the important volunteers that spend their time working for the cause will work wonders in connecting your reader to your mission. (We always suggested hiring a professional writer for this. If you need a referral, just ask Shannon@marketingrival.com ). Action: Now hit your readers with a call to action that helps them learn more, like Want to hear more great stories about how our volunteers are changing lives? Click here to subscribe to our blog. On this form why not ask how they like to give to charity, with their money, their professional expertise or their time.
After getting the warm fuzzy feeling reading a real life story about your organization’s work, your learner is probably feeling ready to make a decision. Whether it’s time or money you’re asking for, readers who feel they have a connection to your mission are more likely to decide to become a donor.
You’ve been nurturing this potential donor through your social media, blog and email. Now it’s time to ask for the donation.
But before you ask for that credit card number, read this
Charity:water, a nonprofit providing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations, understands the power of connecting with site visitors. They focus their energy on creating powerful content that inspires people to join or donate to their cause. And the numbers speak for themselves. In 2012 they raised $33 million, $8 million of which came through online fundraising.
The organization takes a smart business approach by giving potential donors the choice to pay how they like. The single-line form is prefilled with a small dollar amount and offers a choice to use PayPal or a credit card. Plus there’s a line to give by check or give stock.
Action: Give them options. One donate button for everyone is like one-sized-fits-no-one-tights. Not pretty. Not effective.
Now don’t go talking smack about the millennials.
Trashing millennials for not knowing how to use land lines or feeling entitled is great fun, but let’s not be so smug as to miss their value to nonprofits and businesses. At 75 million strong, this group can’t be overlooked. The people of this tech-savvy, self-confident generation back causes they believe in, who give them the information they want in a creative and clear way, engaging them with personal stories. But their biggest value to you might be their penchant for sharing every-little-thing-they’re-doing-right-now. They might not come to your gala event, but if they donate or volunteer, they’re going to tell everyone of their friends on the interwebs.
Data shows that 50% of millennials share information about charities they support with their Facebook friends, according to a recent Blackbaud study.
Action: Give your donors a way to show off their contribution and encourage their friends to check out your organization. Adding social sharing buttons to your thank you page (and straight up asking for your donors to share their generosity) adds to the feel good for them and the exposure for you. (Plus then you can publicly thank them on your social media.)
Right now your donate button is probably living in the upper right hand corner of your site. Am I right? That’s because your web developer knew that was prime real estate for eyeballs. But now you know that nurturing is more effective than asking for money cold. Today we challenge you to capture one of your organization’s compelling stories, in a blog, video or case study, and swap it out for that donate button. Then Tweet us when you see the results @MarketingRival and we’ll share your good news.
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The lazy days of summer are here. But bloggers, summer just might be the prime time for you to get ahead of the eight ball. Sure, relaxing on the beach all summer may sound tempting, but this time of year is a good time to get inspired, get creative, and get writing!
Here are a few tips for the small business owner or nonprofit leader on how to make the most of your summer blog schedule:
1. Think ahead.
The last thing you may want to think about in the middle of the summer is school starting, winter coming, or Christmas shopping, but thinking ahead to holidays, season changes, and big events coming down the pike can keep you on track, ensuring that you don’t miss any relevant topics for your blog. Kids will head back to school before you know it, and with it comes school shopping, football practice, and choir concerts. The leaves will change soon after, and with it comes a busy fall, packed with festivals and outdoor activities. The weather will start to get cooler, and we’ll dust off our jackets and scarves and start craving hot chocolate. All of these topics are jam-packed with ideas that could relate to your blog, or the people who read your blog. Think about how you can creatively tie in products that relate to whatever topic you pick. There’s always room for cross-marketing in the blog world.
2. Recruit a guest blogger.
This summer doesn’t have to be all work, however. If you feel like you need a break, think about recruiting a guest blogger. Guest bloggers can bring new audiences — audiences that can become a part of your loyal following. A new writer can bring a fresh perspective on a topic and even spawn new blog post ideas. Make sure you trust the person you pick and don’t go overboard on the guest blogs. A nice sprinkling between your posts is sufficient. But how do you find these guest bloggers? You can post a call for writers on your blog, making sure to list the requirements and responsibilities. If you have a specific topic, you’d like a guest blogger to write about, search out a respected person in that field and ask if they’d like to write for you. They’ll gain exposure and introduce themselves to a new audience. Or you could let the writers come to you by creating a ‘write for us’ page for people to submit a request to produce content. This allows you to screen for quality. Once you find the perfect fit, you can sit back and put your feet up for a bit!
3. Expand your creativity.
Summer is the time for vacation and play, and these things make us more relaxed — mind, body, and spirit. When we’re less stressed, our creativity can soar, opening up a new world of possibilities. This is great for keeping blogs fresh and interesting. Try to set aside time each week to jot down a few ideas that may pop into your head once your troubles start melting away. Then when things start to ramp up again, you have a list of new, fresh, and creative ideas to get you writing!
4. Tell your story.
Like we’ve mentioned, summer is full of exciting and new adventures, and you should write about them! Your audience reads your blog because you have something interesting to say, and they want to see what you’re up to and what new escapades you’re having.
5. Don’t forget the important things.
Just because things get a little off kilter in the summer, doesn’t mean you should drop the ball on the important things. Don’t forget to: Email your contacts a link to the blog.
Linking to a blog and including a teaser email featuring your blog posts is a great way to build buzz on your blog and increase readership. inBLOOM sends weekly emails to our contacts highlighting our latest posts.
We give a brief overview of the post (about one to two of the best lines), include the main image hyperlinked to the post, and provide a call to action, such as “read it here.” In Constant Contact, we keep track of our open and click-through rates and also take note of which blog topics attract the most interest. Continuing to write about a topic that falls flat is a waste of your valuable time.
Think about SEO and keywords.
The more you post, the more exposure you get. And the better your search engine optimization (SEO), the better your traffic will be. To ensure you’re getting the most bang for your post, make sure you know the right keywords to use to increase your SEO. But you’re not all on your own here. Tools like Yoast and Moz can help you with SEO and get you started on the path to SEO success.
Still want to sit in your beach chair and soak up the sun and let the waves wash your stress away? No worries, inBLOOM can take care of all your blogging needs. With our team of expert writers, you can rest assured your blog is in good hands with people who understand the importance of promoting your brand, keeping your audience engaged, and responding to rising trends. Contact us to find out more.
cover photo: pic jumbo
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If you haven’t already realized it, social media MUST be part of your marketing and PR mix, and it must be taken seriously. The fact that businesses can reach out and communicate on a personal level with current and prospective customers on a daily basis through social media is a game changer. When your business is on social, you get the opportunity to engage in marketing, PR, sales, customer service, and internal communication, all from within each one of your pages. It’s an incredibly powerful tool with so many benefits and every business should be taking advantage of it. Honestly, how could you pass this up? In a 2014 report, 92% of marketers claimed that social media marketing was important for their business, with 80% indicating their efforts increased traffic to their websites. So how are these successful businesses seeing results through social? Do they just hop on whenever they get a chance, post and communicate when they can? Maybe log on early a couple of mornings each week before they begin the work day? Is it that simple? Not so much. To be successful on social media, it takes more than that. It requires a planned, strategic approach. With the help of a social media manager, whose main job is to carry out a strategy involving page interaction on a daily basis, your business will see results. Part of executing this social strategy should involve a daily to-do list. In the world of social media marketing, there’s a lot to be done and it’s not always easy to keep track. The handy to-do list will make a social media manager’s job so much easier. If your social media manager is able to check off all (or at least a majority) of these tasks, then your business is sure to succeed. A SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING MANAGER’S DAILY TO-DO LIST 1. Engage with customers When you engage with customers, you’re telling people that your company takes customer service seriously. Social media is THE PLACE to connect with existing and potential customers. Post interesting content several times daily without selling something. Read all the comments and messages on your social media pages. Address any questions, even if you don’t have actual answers (it shows you’re paying attention). Remember, people like talking to real, relatable people, so be casual (but stay professional). Use these virtual interactions to show them that you're not a robot. 2. Stay on top of customer service Unfortunately, you may find customers criticizing and complaining from time to time through posts directly to your page or on their own page mentioning your brand. Take the opportunity to fix any issues and ensure satisfaction. Do a search for your company name and see what people are saying. If you have a unique hashtag, see what’s being said under it. 3. Touch base with employees for content Your company employees are thought leaders and their blog posts are SUPER helpful. They also drive tons of traffic to your site. If you already know this, you’re probably pushing out content weekly. Share this content on your social media pages during those strategic times we mentioned. If you don’t have a staff cranking out articles for you, ask your employees to share with you articles they find interesting and explain why. Have them share photos and video of what they’re up to throughout the day. If you work at a restaurant or bakery, ask them to send you photos of their culinary creations. If you work with pets, you’ll need photos and video of the pets doing whatever they do throughout the day (playing, grooming, napping, etc.). If you want to grow your business consider investing in a professional writer who can provide you with researched blogs based on a keyword strategy that lines up with your growth goals. That content will be a long term online asset that customers and clients will return again and again to, making an investment with long term dividends. 4. Build relationships with media and social influencers Face it – press releases alone aren’t cutting it when it comes to attracting media. You need a way to cut through to the people making the news online. By socially connecting with bloggers, journalists, editors, producers, etc. who cover your industry, you’re ahead of the rest. Platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are excellent places to reach out to these folks. You can attract media by researching and finding the Twitter accounts for the people covering stories related to your business or area of expertise. Once you follow them, create lists on your Twitter account to make it easier for pitching when the opportunity presents itself. Connect with them on LinkedIn if you’ve already established a relationship. You can communicate there as well. Work on creating lasting relationships with social influencers – those people in your industry with large follower accounts and high visibility. These people possess the power to influence others in their social media circles. The content they share should be relevant to your business, and their follower base should consist of people that would bring value to your business. Their blog or website should rank high on Google and they should have a large following on social media. 5. Attend a tweet chat Tweet chats happen when a group of people all tweet about the same topic at a scheduled time using a specific hashtag. They are prearranged and sometimes repeat weekly or bi-weekly. Think of it as a virtual get-together. When you’re part of the chat, you’re engaged in conversation. You may notice on Twitter many users are constantly just pushing out content, but not really interacting. Tweet chats give you the opportunity to easily interact, while showing your expertise on a topic. TweetChat.com is a great tool that will make a tweet chat easier to follow. You can find tweet chats that meet your interests and/or industry through sites like Chat Salad, Tweet Reports, or Twubs. 6. View social insights/analytics Want to know if your strategy is actually working? View your page’s social insights /analytics. On Facebook, go to the Insights tab, where you’ll be able to see what’s going on behind the scenes of your page. Among many things, Insights monitor your post engagement, reach, page likes, most popular posts, and how you’re comparing against competitors on a weekly basis. On Twitter, go to the Analytics tab and you’ll find monthly summaries of data. See the amount of tweet impressions, new followers, link clicks, retweets and favorites you’ve received. You’ll also discover your most popular tweets. Keep track of your social insights/analytics as often as possible. The more you review them, the better your strategy will be. 7. Read about what’s trending in social media marketing Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ often change their features and designs. As a social media manager, it’s important to keep up-to0date on what’s new in your world. Sites like Facebook for Business, Constant Contact, Social Media Today, Social Media Examiner, Mari Smith and Entrepreneur are all great sources for this information. We recommend subscribing to their email lists to help keep you on top of things. Have questions about any of these to-do list tasks? Feel free to contact me for assistance. inBLOOM can also come up with a social media strategy tailored to your business. We offer a complimentary consultation for new clients and can connect you with professional writers who can leverage your industry knowledge in the online space.
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Email newsletters aren't dead, but there are some that may just bore you to death. Today, we may be more accepting about receiving email communication from a brand or service provider on a more frequent basis, say even weekly or daily. But the way we digest the content we receive is different. Thanks to a convenient mobile lifestyle, we search and view content almost exclusively on our smart phones and tablets – reading and processing nuggets of info on the go. Email newsletters can survive this faster, friendlier mobile world but they need to be more strategic and savvy to succeed. Every email does not need to be a sales pitch, and newsletters will have you working harder to understand your customers' needs. The payoff is a closer, more trusted relationship. Follow these tips to make your email newsletter stand out and get read, not killed, in your customer’s inbox. 1. Link to a blog and include a teaser Emails featuring your blog posts are great for building buzz on your blog and increasing readership. inBLOOM sends weekly emails to our contacts highlighting our latest posts. We give a brief overview of the post (about one to two of the best lines), include the main image hyperlinked to the post, and provide a call to action such as “read it here.” In Constant Contact, we keep track of our open and click-through rates and also take note of which blog topics attract the most interest. Continuing to write about a topic that falls flat is a waste of your valuable time. 2. Include images The images you include in your email newsletters should be high resolution and relate to the content. Use photos taken at events or on-site. They should showcase your latest and greatest news and happenings. Avoid stock photos when possible – people want to see you! 3. Speak casually Striking the right tone is essential if you want to reach and connect with your audience. By speaking casually, you come off as personable, friendly and trustworthy. Casual is just a bit more formal than conversational. When using this tone, you may want to fall back on sanctioned grammar and punctuation rules and rely more on word choice to keep the communication light. 4. Get real Give some insight to your team and process –show people you’re "real." You may want to include recent announcements or interesting facts about employees/volunteers in your email newsletters. inBLOOM recently sent out a creative Mother’s Day email, showing our realness. We included a greeting and then our photos with quotes about why we love being moms. It was a fun way to show people a more personal side of who we are. Another great way to get more personable is to include your photo as a signature at the bottom of your emails. This is particularly ideal if you are your brand – for example if you’re a psychiatrist, book author, personal trainer or veterinarian. 5. Keep it clean, modern and optimized for mobile Don't overwhelm the eyes with the design or too much copy. Your email should be visually appealing, with a clean and modern look. It should also be optimized for mobile. Mobile email will account for 15 to 70% of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type. You may want to keep a consistent look and feel to all your email newsletters so that people easily recognize the email is from you business. The best way to do this is to customize a template in your email marketing software and keep using that same template. We’re fans of Constant Contact for small businesses and nonprofits. Be creative when choosing the right font, color scheme, images, header, and footer. The ideal size for a header image is 600 pixels wide and no more than 200 pixels tall. We recommend your header include your logo with your company tagline and services. It’s a good idea to hyperlink your website with your header. 6. Give people the option for more Don’t stuff your email with too much information – less is more! People aren’t going to spend too much time with your email open. Instead, give people the option to read more about a certain topic. Link to content on your website that gives this information. Also use your email as an opportunity to link to recent third-party blogs and articles in the media that mention your company. It’s great PR and elevates your reputation. 7. Use an enticing subject line Use a subject line that entices people to open your email, but one that won’t cause it to end up in spam. Similar to a blog post or news article, the headline needs to be good or else it’s less likely to be read. So, how do you write an enticing subject line that will get the recipient to open your email? The length of your subject line matters – keep it short, simple and descriptive. We recommend no more than 5-8 words or 40 characters. Many email providers will cut off subject lines with greater than 60 characters. 8. Release insider info Who doesn't want to be the first to know something? Give your audience insider news about an event, promotion, expansion/renovation or new product/service. It’s as simple as that. If your readership feels valued, you’ll see better results. To get started sending emails that get better results, sign up for Constant Contact here. Have questions along the way, comment on this blog and we’ll be in touch. For some other reads on email marketing, check out inBLOOM's posts on: Know the 6 Types of Emails That Deliver Success 4 Ways to Get Better Results with Email Tips and Tools for Using Constant Contact To Promote Your Events For my fellow Bansky and art fans, my cover photo is by stencil artist Bandit. Photo cred: flickr: Bruno Girin
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In order for a business or organization to thrive, it needs to stay in touch with its customers and prospects. Email marketing is the most effective tool for staying top of mind and ahead of competitors, and it’s important to know the six types of emails that deliver success. Successful marketing campaigns can empower people to take immediate action from making a purchase, signing a pledge, to taking a survey. The statistics show many of us favor email as a communication tool and welcome the daily or weekly communication we receive from the brands, businesses and organizations we know and love. Spammers need not apply. Your emails should be visually appealing, relate to your audience, and optimized for mobile. An understanding of your subscribers’ needs is also important. If the content is relevant to them, the return on your time developing an email campaign will result in increased revenue and repeat business. Email marketing delivers the highest ROI (about $44 per dollar spent, on average) of any digital marketing tactic. (SEO is second, and banner ads have the lowest ROI.) (Mark the Marketer) Here are six types of emails that help you deliver success: 1. NEWSLETTER What’s new with your business or organization? Keep everyone updated through a newsletter. Topics to consider include upcoming events, a recap of a past events with photos, current promotions or sales, new hires, new products or services, and any recent media attention brought to your brand. You may even just want to send out an email with one message such as a holiday greeting, special announcement, press release, or letter from the company executive. The key to creating a great newsletter, especially if you have a lot of announcements, is to make it easy to read and attractive. Constant Contact’s Toolkit offers a variety of newsletter templates. 2. PROMOTIONAL If you’re offering a product or service promotion, you could create an email with the information and also offer coupon codes for an in-store discount. Your customers can print the coupon directly from the email. It will encourage new customers to sign up for emails, drive traffic to your website, and give you a bigger and more receptive customer base to send news and information. You can also offer online coupons that are trackable, redeemable and sharable through email, the web, and social media. Whatever kind of promotion you’re running, email marketing is a great way to spread the word. 3. BLOG POST In order to build buzz for your blog and increase readership, you should be actively promoting every post, via an email. inBLOOM sends weekly emails to our contacts highlighting our latest blog posts. We give a brief overview of the post, include the main image hyperlinked to the post and provide a call to action such as “read it here.” In Constant Contact, we keep track of our open and click-through rates, also taking note of which blog topics attract the most interest. 4. EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT / REGISTRATION Event announcements commit people early. Before you send out an email with online registration, you can send an event announcement or save-the-date to let people know the who, what, where and when, so they can plan on attending. Constant Contact offers several templates for this purpose. Sending an event announcement to your contacts is the most important way to promote your event, along with social media promotions, print and online event calendars and advertisements. Online registration for an event saves a lot of time and keeps you organized. It’s convenient for both you and your guests. Through Constant Contact’s online registration, all responses are organized as received. What’s great about the online registration is that it’s available 24/7 so if someone decides they want to register at midnight, they can do so. And it also means that you can log in and manage the event at any time. All the information you need is collected in one central location so you can stay organized, which is key to planning any successful event. 5. SURVEY / FEEDBACK Turn your communications into conversations: send online surveys through emails or social media to get feedback and segment your audience. In Constant Contact, you can create surveys with a customizable survey template that includes sample questions or you can start with a blank survey. Surveys will give you ideas for new products and services, and provide you with a deeper understanding of what it takes to satisfy and keep your valued customers. If you’ve just hosted an event, send out a thank you email to those who attended. Create a survey to get feedback on key insights such as the event venue, timing, food, entertainment, interests, and demographics. You can also include a newsletter sign-up, so those not subscribed have the chance to opt in. Looking to get rates and reviews for your online listings sites? Ask, and you will receive! Constant Contact has both feedback and review email templates to keep things simple for you. If you have you’re on any business listing sites, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo or Angie’s List, you can share a direct link to the listing page. You can also ask your customers to share feedback and experiences with you in order to improve your customer service. 6. FUNDRAISING Through email marketing, you can promote your organization’s fundraising campaign and collect donations instantly. Constant Contact has an email template where you can create a donation page, linked through a third party service provider, to raise money for your cause. There is a fee for this service, but that’s pretty much the norm with any online fundraising tool. Set a default donation, goal amount, and most importantly, let people know why you’re raising money. You can share your donation campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. As a Constant Contact Solution Provider, inBLOOM is offering a 60-day trial so you’ll be able to get hands-on experience with the email marketing software. You are now able to email up to a 100 contacts during the trial. Register for the Constant Contact Toolkit here. Have any questions or comments about email marketing? Feel free to comment on this post or contact us. If you found this blog helpful, also check out 4 Ways to Get Better Results with Email 5 Tips for Running a Better Business Survey Tips and Tools for Using Constant Contact to Promote Your Events
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Have you ever attended a networking event where you felt the excitement in the air? You eagerly moved around the room making small talk and swapping business cards. You made the most of your time introducing yourself and your services. You hopefully also did a lot of listening.
This process is similar to the excitement I experience daily on Twitter, but without the business attire and handshake.
Following thought leaders, starting or jumping in conversations, listening, sharing knowledge, and taking action are key strategies to successfully networking on Twitter. Like any in-person cocktail party or conference, you can use Twitter to get ahead in your career.
Yes, Twitter can be a powerful and exciting space if you understand its benefits and how to harness its potential. Everyone should carve out time to tweet.
Every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter, which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year. Surely, a few of these tweets resonate with you and can help you to succeed in business?
In order to tweet with a target, set goals for your time tweeting and have a purpose for spending the 20 minutes to one-hour a day on the social networking site. At a cocktail party, you wouldn’t watch from afar as people communicated, so don’t waste your precious time on Twitter pushing out content without purpose or watching from the sidelines.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before getting started.
Do you have a story or recent news to share? Then you’ll want to focus your efforts on getting to know the media on Twitter and connecting with them. Read our blog for more on this topic.
Maybe you’re looking to connect with like-minded experts in your industry and learn how to position your business or organization? Twitter is a great resource for research.
Or maybe you want to grow revenue via Twitter. Yes, it can be done. You need to be strategic when tweeting like any marketing campaign. Attract others with professional content in the form of blogs, infographics, pictures, special offers and contests. People relate to a good story, creativity and an approach that resonate on personal and emotional levels, not hard sales tactics. Same goes for your approach in person or on social media.
No matter how you use the tool, connect with people who add value to your life and help you to further your professional or personal goals.
Here are four reasons you should be tweeting.
1. TO KEEP UP WITH LATEST INDUSTRY TRENDS
Twitter is a great place to stay on top of relevant news and trends in your industry. Follow thought leaders, trade publications, groups, reporters, editors and news sites for updates that can help you gain a sense of your relevance in the world. You won’t know what you have to offer others until you know their wants and needs.
2. TO INCREASE SEARCH RANKINGS
Social media marketing and SEO are two tightly integrated strategies for increasing your search rankings. Both are organic, inbound strategies that focus on building an appealing identity that naturally attract visitors. Since social media relies on high-quality content and a visible, strong brand presence, the efforts you spend on SEO can improve your social media reach.
The total number of followers and connections your social media profiles contain does have a significant influence on your rankings. A company with 100 Twitter followers won’t receive nearly the ranking bonus of a mega-corporation with a million Facebook likes and a million Twitter followers.
Don’t despair if you have a low number of followers on Twitter though because by participating in the conversation on the site and using it as a networking and sales tool are more important. Concentrate less on numbers and communicate more with your Twitter followers.
3. TO ENGAGE THE MEDIA
According to ING’s 2014 Social Media Impact survey, 57% of journalists consider social media to be ideal for contacting PR professionals and vice versa. Use Twitter to build relationships with journalists and bloggers to gain a better understanding of what they write about, when they need resources, and how they prefer to work with you.
According to a 2014 report from the Indiana University School of Journalism, 40% of journalists said social media networks are very important to their work. Twitter was the most popular type of social media used by journalists, and over half of those surveyed said they regularly use the platform for gathering information and reporting stories.
Although you shouldn’t excessively tweet about yourself, Twitter is a great tool to promote your blog content, news, videos and events every so often. When you tweet about yourself or your business, do it in a way that entertains and educates. If it’s your latest blog post, avoid saying things like “Check out my latest blog post about……” or “My business is hosting this great event next week – you should check it out.” Let them know what you’re tweeting about and how it will benefit them, then link to your post or event.
Your tweets should include a healthy mix of self-promotion, conversation, information sharing, etc. Make all your Twitter updates interesting and useful. Share links to articles and blog posts you enjoy. Retweet interesting updates. Join conversations and answer questions. Twitter success is rooted in conversations and reciprocal relationships.
If you need help managing your Twitter account, advice on what you should be tweeting or tips for building relationships on social networks, feel free to comment on this post. Connect with inBLOOM on Twitter @inBLOOMbuzz.
6 Social Media Practices That Boost SEO, Forbes
Twitter Usage Statistics, Internet Live Stats
photo by Viktor Hanacek
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What makes us read one email and dump another? Is it possible to get better results with a few simple changes to your email? Yes and the new year is your perfect opportunity to get the opens and clicks you need to build your business and nurture those customer relationships. Recent data shows that email continues to play a big role in our lives despite social media advances. We get our news and learn about the events and products that enhance our lives by email. It's also a lifeline for work, alerting us to new projects, client or customer needs, and the conversations that are essential to courting and working with clients and colleagues. If you're using a marketing tool like Constant Contact to send and track your email, you'll find these tips helpful to get better results: 1. Target Your Message Before you even begin writing and designing your email, think about the message you’re trying to get across. What is your goal for sending the email? Are you trying to get more views on your blog post? If you’re holding an event, are you trying to generate more ticket sales? Maybe you’re simply creating buzz for your business or updating folks on recent news. Once you determine your goal, targeting your message will be a lot easier. You may want to target specific audiences by sending separate emails to segmented lists. For instance, you could create two promotional emails with slightly different messages for lists of regular customers and new customers. In Constant Contact, you can check the email stats to see how many people in each segmented list opened your emails. If one list did better than others, consider changing your wording or design and try again in the next round for that specific group that didn’t do so well. 2. Create a Compelling, Attractive Design In Constant Contact, you can choose among a variety of attractive templates. Whether it be a newsletter, announcement, promotion, survey or event registration, Constant Contact has got you covered. Get tips and tools on using the Constant Contact Toolkit for events and registration. But even though these templates handle the layout, you still need to be creative when choosing the right font, color scheme, images, header, and footer. The ideal size for a header image is 600 pixels wide and no more than 200 pixels tall. We recommend your header include your logo with your company tagline and services. It’s a good idea to hyperlink your website with your header. For example, here is inBLOOM’s header. Even if you use different templates, keep a consistent look with your company’s emails. Stick with the same font, color scheme, header, and footer. That way, you’ll establish a consistent look for your email marketing campaigns – people will know it’s from you just by looking at the design. As visual creatures, we know the importance of images, but try not to overload your email with too many – one might be plenty. Stick with high-resolution photos that have something to do with your message. If you must use a stock photo, choose one that’s not so boring. Avoid creating image-only emails, as delivery problems, often occur. However, there are templates in Constant Contact you could use to send emails that focus on an image. 3. Use Enticing Subject Lines The subject of your email is a major factor in whether or not it will be opened, trashed or marked as spam. Similar to a blog post or news article, the headline needs to be good or else it’s less likely to be read. So the million dollar question is: how do you write an enticing subject line that will get the recipient to open your email? The length of your subject line matters – keep it short, simple and descriptive. We recommend no more than 5-8 words or 40 characters. Many email providers will cut off subject lines with greater than 60 characters. Here's an email from The New York Times that captured my attention right away. Most importantly, the subject line should draw the recipient’s attention and spark their curiosity. Will they benefit from opening the email? Does it interest them? Is it relevant to their life in some way? Even ask yourself, would I open this email I was them? Add value before the email is even opened with a specific, personalized subject line. Sadly, your audience won't see your email if it ends up in the dreaded spam folder. To avoid this nightmare, stay away from spam-like characteristics in your subject line. Common characteristics include phrases like be amazed, your income, subject to credit approval; writing in all caps; excessive use of punctuation marks like!!! or ???; and excessive symbols like $$$. Tip: Use Constant Contact’s Spam Checker while previewing your email. The Spam Checker is a content-filtering tool that can help increase email delivery rates before you actually send to your contacts. It uses a mix of Constant Contact and SpamAssasin content-matching rules to assess the spam potential in the body, header (including subject line), and footer of your email and has no relation to spam complaints that may be reported when your email is received. 4. Write Words that Work Research reveals how a single word makes all the difference. Write in everyday language that resonates with your audience. The words, which you use in your subject lines, headers, calls-to-action and body copy, can change your email's meaning, mood, and motivation. Check out Buffer's Big List of 189 Words That Convert: Write Copy That Gets Your Customer's Attention Every Time for more on the power of words. In the book, "Words that Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear", Frank Luntz reveals that 80 percent of our life is emotion, and only 20 percent is intellect. Luntz frequently tests word and phrase choices using focus groups and interviews to learn the words people use. Referencing Orwell's "Essay On Language", he adds it's important as to write with absolute clarity, to be succinct, to explain what the event is, to talk about what triggers something happening, and to do so without any disapproval. In summary, write for your people and in their words to guarantee they open your email. To get started sending emails that get better results, you can start by signing up for a free trial of Constant Contact. Have questions along the way, comment on this blog and we'll be in touch. photo: Viktor Hanacek, PicJumbo
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In this digital age, it’s nearly impossible to miss local, national and world news in real-time. No matter where you are or what you’re doing chances are you most likely have breaking news in the palm of your hand via your smartphone. In fact, 30% of American adults get their news from Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center. Surely your heartstrings (and attention) have been tugged by all those feel good people and pet stories in your News Feeds. If you dig deep enough, you’ll discover similar stories within your own business or nonprofit. It’s just a matter of being open to listening and discovering the human-interest and news pieces that attract today’s busy editors, reporters, and producers. After you write your story and take some high-quality images and possibly some video, you're ready to post and share your news on social. Review these three ways to tell your story on social media: 1. Tweet to meet and engage media sources. In addition to emailing a release, engage in dialog on social media to build your media network. According to ING’s 2014 Social Media Impact survey, 57% of journalists consider social media to be ideal for contacting PR professionals and vice versa. Use social media to build relationships with journalists and bloggers to gain a better understanding of what they write about, when they need resources, and how they prefer to work with you. According to a 2014 report from the Indiana University School of Journalism, 40% of journalists said social media networks are very important to their work. Over a third said they spent between 30 and 60 minutes each day on social networking sites. Twitter was the most popular type of social media used by journalists, and over half of those surveyed said they regularly use the platform for gathering information and reporting stories. Use your website blog as a home for your story, images and video to live and use a tool like Hashtags.org to incorporate trending hashtags into your tweets for greater visibility. 2. Be in the know about Facebook’s new tools for media publishers. Facebook recently introduced new and exciting ways for news accounts to target posts, remove posts that are no longer relevant and identify popular links that they haven’t shared. One widely anticipated and requested change is Facebook’s Smart Publishing tool, which identifies and publishes stories that are popular with people on Facebook. Once the setting is enabled, frequently shared links will appear more in the News Feed for people who like a publisher’s Page. Make sure to like news sites covering your industry and region to get a sense of the news stories being shared on their sites and thus popping up more in your News Feed. Once you understand and follow how the media will be using the new tools, you can deliver producers and editors the type of content that’s being shared on social media. Facebook will regularly share announcements and tips on its News Feed FYI. It’s wise to learn firsthand from Facebook and its content creators what's trending in the news. Your research will give you a better chance of securing media coverage when pitching a story. 3. Proofread your social media story teasers. Make sure to proofread your tweets and posts for accuracy and working links. Check the spelling of key names (brands, people, etc.) as well as contact information. Editors may use your release or blog post for the facts and as a potential resource for larger features. If you spell a name two ways or a phone number is wrong by one digit, this will frustrate the contact who has to get ahold of you to double check. Here's an example of a tweet with a typo from Grub Street, a blog about the New York City restaurant scene from New York magazine. Their fans were pretty accepting of the typo and appreciated the afternoon chuckle. I'm sure the editors, however, were pretty crabby about the error . Start engaging with the media on social and best of luck on your PR efforts in the New Year. Have any questions, please feel free to comment on this blog or contact us. Subscribe to inBLOOM’s blog alerts, and you’ll get Social Media Marketing and Public Relations tips for success emailed to you weekly. Resources: Pew Research Center: How Social Media is Reshaping News ING 2014 Study impact of Social Media on News: more crowd-checking, less fact-checking The American Journalist in the Digital Age: Key Findings from Indiana University. photo: picjumb
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It’s inevitable, your business may be new or maybe it’s been around for years, but it will happen – eventually someone will take to the Internet and type those haunting words about their bad experience that you just can’t shake from your thoughts (or review sites). It may be that they didn’t get a warm greeting at the door or maybe a dish wasn’t served to their expectations? No business (or customer) is perfect, so breathe a sigh of relief and cut yourself a break. As long as reviews matter to you, you’ll be armed with the right strategy to handle them and do the right thing. Safeguarding your reputation by being on top of customer complaints before they rear their ugly head on Yelp, Facebook and Google should be a priority for your business. There are many companies offering their reputation management services to cure your bad review woes. Be sure to do your research before entering into one of these relationships. Many of the times, these companies will attempt to clog the Internet with new directory listings, blogs and press releases that bring little value to your business. Although blogging and sharing stories with the media are excellent ways to boost your reputation and Google ranking, the work needs to be done strategically and authentically, not via a mechanical process of pushing out random keywords and fuzzy content. There is great value in paying attention to these reviews and comments, and as a publicist, I always recommend responding. They may even help you to make changes within your business that address core issues you already knew you needed to handle. A little goodwill goes a long way. According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, of the customers who received a response from a company after posting negative feedback, 33% turned around and posted a positive review of the brand, and 34% deleted the original negative review. For business owners who are dealing with negative reviews right now, let’s review a few steps you can take to respond appropriately and lift your spirits and reputation just in time for the New Year. 5 STEPS TO TAKE WHEN RESPONDING TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS 1. Regroup. Before typing away, you’ll first need to meet with employees to discuss the complaint, hear from the key staff involved in the incident, and draft a response that takes the reviewer’s concerns / complaints into account. 2. Respond. Address the complaint politely and with facts. Keep it short and sweet as people can become overwhelmed by a long response. Have a few proclaimed editors in your life review your response for grammar, punctuation and tone before posting. 3. Reach out. If possible, attempt to contact the reviewer by email or phone if you have their information and offer them a reimbursement or ask about how else you could rectify the situation. They may even be appreciative enough to remove the negative review. 4. Rally. If a review is completely false, you should try and resolve the issue through private messaging first. If you feel a public comment is necessary, present your case as simply and politely as possible, and do not attack the reviewer under any circumstances. Remember that potential customers will be reading your comment and you want to leave them with a positive impression of your business. 5. Reward. You can also thank the people who left positive reviews. A simple “thank you” and “we look forward to having you back again soon” will suffice. Many review sites advise against telling a reviewer that you have a gift for them as a way to acknowledge their kindness. Note, however, what you do offline is your own prerogative and will be surely appreciated by your loyal customers. On the flip side, asking your customers to leave reviews is good practice as well. Sometimes a simple ask is all it takes to motivate a loyal customer to take action. Just don’t run after them with your laptop asking for the review on the spot. You will come off as aggressive and desperate. If you think you don’t have the time to respond to reviews, here’s a stat that may motivate you to find the time: Graphic: Help Scout Now let’s review how to respond to negative reviews on Yelp and Facebook: RESPONDING TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS ON YELP Responding to reviews is a great way to learn from and build goodwill with one of your most vocal customers. Yelp allows businesses to respond publicly and privately to user reviews. Yelp recommends keeping your message simple: thank the reviewer for the business and the feedback. If you can be specific about the customer’s experience and any changes you may have made as a result, this could go very far in earning trust. Public comments are a way for business owners to add a helpful comment to a user’s review. Responding to reviewers’ concerns shows that you value their feedback, you’re always striving to improve, and that you are hands-on in the daily operations of your business. Note: Yelp requires business account users to upload a real photo before messaging customers in order to make the message personal. Photos should clearly show your face (no sunglasses please) and not include too many people. Go to the “Reviews” tab after logging into your business account. From there you’ll be able to add a public comment to any review of your business. Your comment will appear directly following the review that you’ve commented on. RESPONDING TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS ON FACEBOOK You can report reviews that don’t follow the Facebook Community Standards or focus on the product or service offered by your business. Facebook will review your report and may remove reviews that don’t follow the guidelines. You cannot delete a rating or review from your Page. You can like and comment on reviews on your Page. To like a review, go to the review and click Like and leave a comment. The reviews that show on a Page may be different depending on who is viewing the Page. The order is based on a number of factors, such as when a review was posted, how much engagement it received, and whether someone visiting the Page is friends with someone who wrote a review. A Page’s star rating is the average of all public star ratings that the Page has received. Keep in mind that when someone posts a rating, they can select an audience. For example, if they post a star rating and select Friends as the audience, only their friends can see their rating. Only star ratings that are shared publicly are included in a Page’s overall rating. To see the breakdown of a Page’s star ratings, go to the Page and hover over the stars. Facebook recommends you handle negative reviews by responding privately and immediately. Handle negative ratings with compassion and brand integrity, no matter how upsetting the situation might be. Respond publicly after every attempt has been made to clarify the issue and resolve the customer complaint. Make a public response in the form of a comment on the star rating. Subscribe to inBLOOM’s blog alerts and you’ll get Social Media Marketing and Public Relations tips for success emailed to you weekly. And if this post helped you, please consider leaving us a great review on our Facebook Page. Wink. Wink. Cover photo: Robyn Lee
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Among the holiday rush to shop and celebrate is an observance that rings in the month of December with a big heart and a special opportunity to get into the true spirit of giving. #GivingTuesday will be held on December 2 and has become a tradition among millions of people from charities, businesses and schools around the globe. On this day, donors come together to celebrate generosity and to give via the #GivingTuesday conversation. Last year on #GivingTuesday, online donations increased 90% for 3,800 nonprofits–more than $19.2 million–compared to 2012, according to Blackbaud, a nonprofit technology provider. In 2013 there were 320,000 tweets using #GiftGiving and that number is sure to double with all the new interest and activity. Bill and Melinda Gates, The United Nations Foundation, PayPal, Facebook and LinkedIn are just a few participating partners. But you don’t need to be an entrepreneur, international peacekeeper or startup to participate on #GivingTuesday. All you need is the creativity, motivation and ability to take to the social networks to raise awareness. Although only a week away, there is still time to get involved and inspire others to give to your charity of choice. Let’s review five steps to get started: 1. Choose a nonprofit organization that is meaningful to you. During the holidays, many nonprofits are in desperate need of volunteer hours as well as in-kind and cash donations. You could inspire others to give non-perishable goods to a food pantry or pet shelter, contribute to a coat drive, or fund the building of a school overseas with one tweet or post. You can also use sites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar to measure the effectiveness and financial stability of your chosen organization. When getting the word out on social media, keep your post short and sweet for the best chances of engagement. Use the hashtag #GivingTuesday, #unselfie, include a link to your charity, and add your own personal message. 2. Get giving with CrowdRise. An exciting addition to #GivingTuesday is the crowdsourcing site CrowdRise. The company has created an App called the Giving Tower, which will help individuals setup a fundraising page and choose a charity to fundraise for the day. Each brick on the Giving Tower represents a donation to a great cause. It looks like it’s going to be a fun mobile tool to use on #GivingTuesday! According to CrowdRise, the Giving Tower App allows you to see the world’s charitable efforts grow in real time in the form of a tower made in augmented reality. They want you to think of it as a really cool hologram. 3. Match those gifts. If you’re a business owner or an employee your company may want in on the giving action as well. Inquire about matching your donations on #GivingTuesday. They could match your time donated to helping a charity that day by giving you time off or they may even double your dollars. 4. Inspire others with your story. Consider writing an op-ed piece for your local paper about your cause and experience on #GivingTuesday. You could also submit your story as a guest blogger. By keeping the story going, you may extend the giving beyond just the one-day experience and may even recruit givers for December 2, 2015. 5. Amplify your reach. Share your cause-related or company news with #GivingTuesday. It seems they really want to hear from their partners around the globe and encourage you to use their branded materials. They offer many tools and resources on their website to get you started including videos, graphics, volunteer forms and case studies. In fact, people donate 38% more on branded donation pages than compared to generic ones. On Facebook, GivingTuesday asks, “What are you plans for the big day? Twitter Chat? GoogleHangout? Giving Party? Share your #GivingTuesday plans with us and we will promote and participate. Email us at Givingtuesday@gmail.com with the subject "Plans".” You can also attend their upcoming free events to help you plan and promote your giving campaigns. #GivingTuesday Inspired by a Special Friend This #GivingTuesday inBLOOM is raising a paw and donations for the Grey Muzzle Organization and their work on behalf of homeless senior dogs. The choice was inspired by the passing of Little Girl a dog, who lived with my family for two very special years. Here’s a bit about her that I shared with friends when she died in September at the golden age of maybe 16: Little Girl lived a large life. We picked her up in Brooklyn after seeing her on an Urgent Part 2 - Urgent Death Row Dogs list n Facebook in Sept. 2012. She left her big, beautiful world this evening. We learned so much from her and enjoyed getting to know her. She was a little fighter. I nicknamed her Lazarus because she always rose up no matter how creaky her bones. No animal should ever leave this world feeling afraid and unloved. Consider adopting a senior. They give back so so much even if for only a few years. We now have an eternity of love thanks to our Little Girl. All of us at inBLOOM hope you’ll consider making a donation to honor Little Girl or a senior pup in your life by supporting the inspirational work of the Grey Muzzle Organization. Be sure to follow us Twitter @inbloombuzz, Instagram @inBLOOMlife and inBLOOM Communications on Facebook to help share our message of support for homeless senior pups on #GivingTuesday. We'll share back! Learn more about the Grey Muzzle Organization here.
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Today consumers are inundated daily with shocking television commercials, viral videos and social media ads. So you’re probably not surprised at the lengths many companies and nonprofit organizations go to capture your attention in the hopes that their creations go “viral”. You may even feel inspired by the really good ones enough to launch your own viral marketing campaign. But before you get started, you need to make sure that your marketing will benefit your business, instead of damaging it. How do you venture beyond your comfort zone to successfully attract business instead of repelling it? Let’s review some successful company campaigns and the right stuff they had in place to succeed. 1. YOU RESONATE WITH YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. Does your marketing speak directly to the people you want to attract? Will it easily be communicated on social media with creative copy and imagery that compels people to share? Will you partner with a charity or another business to amplify your reach? Are you choosing content for the sake of shocking people into learning more about your business, or does your content give an authentic voice to your cause or product? For example, Geico’s camel in their Hump Day commercials (always puts a smile on my face) or the slim downed dancing hamsters in KIA cars work for these companies because their cheeky ads are directed to a specific audience. But this same anthropomorphic shtick wouldn’t work for couture designers or jewelers who are selling to a luxury market. One of my favorite marketing campaigns was from a few years ago when Lush Cosmetics joined Shark Savers to ban the shark fin trade and consumption. The company invited the public to its North American stores to sign petitions to their local government officials, demanding that they outlaw the possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins. In partnership with marine conservation organization Shark Savers, LUSH asked the public to pledge not to eat shark fin soup. And in a dramatic illustration of how sharks are caught on longlines and slaughtered for their fins, a LUSH employee was suspended by shark hooks inside a San Francisco LUSH store. The company also created a limited edition product, Shark Fin Soap made of seaweed and sea salt with 100% of the proceeds going to Shark Savers’ work. The campaign attracted both worldwide media and new customers. 2. YOU SEE VALUE IN FUNDING AN IMPACTFUL BUDGET. Once you have chosen a campaign theme and possibly a partnership that works for you, it’s key to invest in high quality, professional images, graphics and copywriting that make a big impact with your audience. It’s up to you to invest in the resources and advertising that will give your marketing campaign the best chances of being seen by your target market. Alex and Ani is one company heavily investing in its viral marketing efforts. The jeweler’s SuperBowl commercial, ‘Main Street America’ was voted #8 in effectiveness by BrandAds and is a favorite commercial of mine for its beauty and simple message. Main Street has long been a part of the cultural fabric of America: the essence of our thriving economy. It’s where people gather to live, work and play and the jewelry company recaptured Main Street, America in its commercial attracting customers nationwide who believe in purchasing products made in the U.S.A. It was relatable to many people on so many levels. Okay so you may not have the blockbuster budget to create a television commercial or purchase SuperBowl airtime like Alex and Ani, but you can hire a highly-recommended local videographer to capture your vision in video, which can then be added to your website for sharing on your social accounts and with interested media and bloggers. Next week, inBLOOM’s Julia Palazzo will write about her success participating in, and marketing, a lip dub video to Taylor Swift’s song “Shake It Off” she created with Phi Sigma Sigma’s Gamma Nu Chapter at Rutgers University. The video has received over 48,000 views so far and they are on their way to raising more than $40,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network, inspiration for the video. 3. YOU UNDERSTAND THE NEEDS OF YOUR MEDIA CONTACTS. Will your campaign attract the attention of local, regional or national media? Are you sharing information or a story that resonates with the media outlet’s audience? Does your campaign include statistical information of interest to others? Will bloggers find your materials professional, engaging, and helpful to their subscribers? Do you have an authentic story to tell or does your pitch come across as a marketing stunt to get coverage? If you understand your target market, then you’ll easily have a sense of which media to pitch your release with details on the marketing campaign. If you’re co-branding with a business or nonprofit, then you’ll often have a broader reach. When contacting the media, make sure to do your homework and only share information that is necessary. Clogging their inbox with large files and lengthy releases will end your campaign before its even begun. Be sure to also signup for HARO alerts. Help A Reporter Out connects news sources with journalists. You just never know the type of content reporters may be looking for that you have to offer. But respond quickly because HARO has grown to gigantic subscriber proportions and many people have their eyeballs on the inquiries for sources. Overall, if your new marketing is entertaining, professional, and true to your company values and vision, it should be successful and go “viral”. You’ll also have fun creating and promoting it! cover photo: miuenski
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You're busy preparing for an exciting season of events and promotions and efforts are mounting to come up with engaging ways to attract new customers. You’re planning parties, offering discounts, and have designed some of your best ads and emails yet.
One question: With all this planning and rush to please the newbies, have you overlooked the value and potential of your existing customers?
These are the people who shop or use your services often, who like and share your content on social media, those who have left you glowing reviews on directories, and the faithful who send you cookie trays at holiday time.
We often take these people for granted. They get lost in the sauce of the rush to sell. How do you plan ahead and make sure your customers feel warm and fuzzy by the start of the busy shopping season? Thank them starting now and continue to do so on a regular basis moving forward.
Referrals should be your number one source for attracting new business, and your customers need to feel appreciated in order to be compelled to care and share.
These statistics may drive home the need to boost your customer retention.
According to Gartner Group, 80% of your future revenue will come from 20% of your current customers, and promotions are a very effective way of retaining customers by keeping them actively engaged with your brand. A shocking statistic reported by Lee Resource Inc. found that attracting new customers will cost a company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer.
So with these statistics in mind, here are some fun ways to appreciate and reward customers. These examples are simple enough to incorporate into any digital marketing strategy:
1. Send thank you cards through email.
Businesses can show their appreciation for customers with a thank you message and special coupons. If you use Constant Contact’s Toolkit for your email marketing, this is a snap: Go under Newsletters and Announcements, then choose the Card/Announcement Email, customize your message and graphics, and distribute. Be sure to maintain your visual branding so people recognize the email is coming from you and do not mark the email as spam.
2. Start a rewards program.
It’s always smart to thank the people who shop or use your services often and there are tons of great examples of reward programs. Our client, Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts gives a free daycare pass for pet owners who purchase monthly packages and offers complimentary spa baths to pets that board often.
Here’s another one you may already be very familiar with: Dunkin Donuts has the DD Perks Rewards Program. Earn 5 points for every dollar you spend with your DD card and get a free medium beverage when you join, on your birthday, and when you reach 200 points (or spend $40).
3. Run a contest or sweepstakes.
At inBLOOM we love photo contents and the app Offerpop makes it easy to run them directly on your Facebook page. There is a cost associated with using the app, and it depends on your number of page likes. Cost can range from $30-$150 dollars per contest. It’s worth the investment and encourages your existing fans to share your brand and also gives you the opportunity to thank them for their participation with prizes. Read our blog post, Integrating Photo Contests Into Your Social Media Marketing for details on how to run these types of contest.
Over the summer, the jewelry company Alex and Ani ran a Summer Beauty and Bangles Sweepstakes. Participants entered to win an Alex and Ani Bangle + Home Gift Set and TEMPTU Airbrush Makeup Kit. All the entrants needed to do was give their first name, email address, city and state, and agree to receive email alerts from Alex and Ani and TEMPTU about sales and special events. Not only was this sweepstakes a great way to thank customers, it also showcased their products, and increased awareness of their jewelry via the cross-marketing relationship with TEMPTU.
3. Host a webinar and reward attendees.
Webinars do take a bit of work so this is definitely not the quick and easy way to go, but it’s well worth the planning if you seek to establish the people in your company as thought leaders and make them more relatable. People also count on the brands they love to educate them on industry trends and news. The innovative upcycling company TerraCycle recently hosted one of its “Ask Me Anything” webinars with its founder Tom Szaky. The first 50 people who joined the chat received a signed copy of Szaky’s new book, “Outsmart Waste.” What a win, win! Attendees got the scoop on company news, enjoyed a Q&A with company leaders, and possibly received a free book. Spreecast is a great resource for running webinars and Google Hangout offers a video call, but you’ll need a Google+ account, which you should have alreadyto set up the call.
4. Give away goods and services.
Now this is a no brainer. Give things away to thank people and simultaneously see how people feel about a new product. Surely you’ve been at the grocery store on sample day. Doesn’t it feel special to be treated to bite sized treats as you shop? Thanks to social media, you can now translate that same excitement virtually. For example, every Friday Modern Dog Magazine gives away freebies on its Facebook Page. To win the freebie, you must leave a comment on the post asking why you or your dog wants or needs the product. The person with the best answer wins the prize. Sounds pretty easy right? Yes, we like this one. Make sure you follow social media platform guidelines for promotions before launching any giveaways.
5. Offer digital discounts.
Offer your customers coupon codes for a discount in your physical store. They can print the coupon directly from your website or an email. This will encourage new customers to sign up for emails, drive traffic to your website, and give you a bigger and more receptive customer base to send news and information. inBLOOM’s client Small Factory Productions builds their discount codes right into their class registration process, making it easy for parents to sign their child up for class online and get their special discount by entering the code during the payment process. By offering discounts to your existing customers, you help to retain them and may also attract their friends and family as customers. One of your digital codes could be for a special friends and family rate or discount.
Your existing customers are too important to ignore and their support of your business is incredibly valuable to attracting new customers.
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Photo Credit: Esther Vargas Social media may have opened up the doors of communication among public relations professionals and the media, but it has also made it more important than ever to stand out among the hundreds of emails, tweets, messages and posts reporters and editors receive daily. Is social media really the best way to get in touch with someone to pitch your story? For some the answer is yes, and others no. According to a 2014 State of the Media report released by Vocus, in a survey of 256 media professionals from newspapers, online media, TV, magazines, and radio more than 90 percent of respondents say email is their preferred method of receiving story ideas. The other options were social media, phone calls, and instant messenger. Respondents found the most frequent way they received social media pitches was through Facebook (77 percent), with Twitter a close second (73 percent), and 34.7 percent of respondents said they had been pitched through LinkedIn. The survey found that the most respondents—45.3 percent—preferred not to be pitched through social media. So, knowing all this data, are there still ways you can still boost your visibility on social and attract media? Absolutely! Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are excellent places to get to know and reach the people who write about your industry and issues. Here are 3 things you can do right now to attract the media on social media: 1. Follow Media on Twitter and Create Lists To Track Their Tweets. Research and find the Twitter accounts for the people covering stories related to your business or area of expertise. Often, a Twitter account is featured near the title or end of an article near the author’s name. Once you follow them (and don’t be surprised sometimes they do follow back), create a list in your Twitter account for the reporters and editors you will pitch when the opportunity presents itself. You can do this by clicking on the wheel icon on the top right of your profile page or pressing “More” and then clicking on Lists. There you can see the lists people have added you to and you can also create your own lists. I recommend naming your media lists by your contact’s beat and coverage area (i.e. local, national, regional). Note: List names cannot exceed 25 characters or begin with a number. If you follow each other on Twitter, you can ask them, via a direct message, how they would like to be contacted to pitch your story idea or release. Many prefer email, and if interested, they will send you their email, via a direct message. 2. Like Media and Get Notifications on Facebook. When getting to know any newsroom or media contact, you should subscribe to their digital or print publication and watch or listen in to their station. And today many media outlets have social media accounts with a whole host of pictures as well as story and staff highlights shared throughout the day on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s just as key that you follow these accounts as well. After you like the page, you can choose to “Get Notifications” and stay updated on posts as they are shared. You’ll find this option under “Liked”. You can also look for your media contacts at the news publications or stations individually on Facebook. Just be sure to “Like” and not “Friend” them. Once you like their page, you can sign up for their notifications, too. Just note that media contacts all use Facebook very differently. Many use the site for personal realtionships (after all they are human too with friends and family on Facebook) and may be turned off by your friend request, which most likely followed your email pitch. Think about a networking party: Would you follow a reporter or news anchor home after an event or luncheon? I hope your answer is no. 3. Create Google Alerts for Contacts in the Media. Sign up for Google Alerts to receive email notifications any time that Google finds new results on your contact. You can sign up for Google alerts at no cost, but you must have a Google account and be logged in to create your alerts. Once you choose the words/phrases you want to receive alerts for, you will be asked to choose how often you would like to be emailed: as-it-happens, once a day or once a week. For social media networking purposes, I choose to receive alerts as-it-happens. For example, if I were to receive an alert announcing that my local news team was nominated for an Emmy, I could then immediately hop on Twitter and congratulate them. It’s one of my favorite tools (second to Google Analytics)! Just be sure to choose only the best results to get stories most closely related to the words you create alerts for. In addition to names of media contacts and bloggers, I receive emails for phrases relevant to my clients like “New York Times Pets”, “Pet Care Trends”, “NJ Arts” and “New Jersey Arts”. Now, after you are doing these three things for a few months, you will begin to feel more connected. Social media may not always be the preferred place to contact media with your story ideas, but it’s a great place to start your research and conversations. Start engaging on social and best of luck on your media outreach.
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