In today’s age, social media is used for a variety of purposes. Among them, personal communication is probably the most popular way of using social media. Social media is an innovative way for people who are completely unrelated to connect, so naturally it can be used for many people and organizations.
Social media can also be used to promote businesses, both big and small. Social media is a great way for organizations to get the word out about the services that they offer because it is free and is also a current method of communication. To find out more the role of social media in promoting small businesses, and the impact of social media on these organizations, keep reading.
One of the biggest benefits of utilizing social media in the small business setting would be the ability to attract new customers. Not only are you able to reach out to new customers, but you are able to find these customers by reaching out to current ones. Offering a discount to new customers is a great way to expand your brand through social media. Additionally, connecting with current customers can be done by advertising the organization’s social media accounts at the physical location of the business. This way, satisfied customers are able to connect with the organization and also help spread the word.
Another way that social media can impact a small business would be reduced cost in advertising. Many traditional ways of promoting a business required a person to post an advertisement in a newspaper or other traditional medium. This cost, however, has been eliminated as social networking sites are free. Some of the most popular sites include Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Google plus and YouTube.
Open communication between the public and organization is a huge impact caused by social media. The business is now able to receive immediate feedback from customers through social media websites. This can be positive, even if the feedback is negative because it can be used as constructive criticism.
Creating and maintaining your brand can be a big reason as to why one should use social media. If the public has no idea what to expect from your business, social media can change that, and allow you to set the tone of your organization through status updates, colors and other content.
An example of some of the ways in which social media can affect a small business would be through the use of Facebook pages. A few months ago as I was scrolling down on Facebook, I noticed a fashion page that my friend liked. I then clicked the store webpage and was introduced to a great local business, just by using Facebook. As you can see, social media works every minute of every day to bring us content that we might light, which is basically how small businesses are advertised.
Social media has the ability to make or break a small business. If people like what they see through social media websites, a local business has the ability to go viral. For this reason, social media has a profound and often positive effect on the small business.
The internet today is a highly interactive environment. It’s no longer enough to simply post a few news pieces a month while running your business. Your fans, customers, and followers expect a higher level of visibility from you and your business, and you can use that to help your business grow naturally and effectively.
Sites like Youtube and Vimeo offer great options for your business to put out large pieces of video content to your customers. This can take the form of video blogs, showing everyday life at your business and what you have been up to lately. It can also include demos of your current project, or pieces that let you engage with your fans. A good example of this is how Google puts out full product demonstrations of their newest products and services on their Youtube page. Another example is Red Bull’s viral marketing videos that perpetuate the culture of Red Bull as active, athletic, and cool.
However, Youtube and Vimeo are not your only options for putting out video content from your business. Recently, services like Vine and Instagram Video have become very popular. These services allow you to record and post micro-videos from your smart phone. These videos can give tiny tastes of your company culture. Often, these videos are most effective if you use their miniscule lengths to comedic effect. Many video game developers use these services to provide small updates as to the latest build of their current game.
No matter the service you choose, the most important thing to remember is to show your business’ personality. Video is direct and personal, and if you remember that you will garner more customers through your content.
The internet has certainly changed the way business is conducted in the world today. The change that the world of business has seen however has been further enhanced in recent times by the advent of Google. This search engine has metamorphosed from just providing search results to providing various tools which enterprises can work with in the course of their online business. Google has indexed over a billion webpages and is by far the most popular search engine on the internet drawing traffic from all over the world. It is becoming virtually impossible to market your business on the internet without making use of Google. This is because of the sheer amount of innovations that the search engine has introduced particularly in terms of its contextual advertising model. According to projections by Piper Jaffray, internet advertising spending would amount to $55 billion. Jupiter Research projections for the US search and display advertising was $15 billion. All these go to show that the marketing model that Google operates will be heavily relied upon by the businesses on the internet far into the future.
Google’s popularity in the online search market has made it almost indispensable as most businesses move a significant of their operations online in an attempt to get to a larger audience across the globe. Recent statistics certainly prove Google’s preeminence in that market. It is estimated that 66% of the searches conducted on the internet worldwide in December were done on Google. That is two thirds of the entire number of searches conducted worldwide. Google has also introduced what it refers to as Universal Search. This simply changes the way search is conducted as it includes video, news, images and maps all in the same search, allowing you to choose the specific option you wish to get results on the search term. For instance, if you search for a particular enterprise, you can click on news to get available news updates on that enterprise or video results or even image results on the same enterprise. It provides you with a more complete experience. The importance of this to marketing your business is that you can aim at providing images, videos and news of your enterprise so that all will be found in the course of the search and with the convenience of a click.
One very important component of Google’s universal Search model is the Local Search. This allows people to find local business that pertain to localities using Google Maps. The emphasis today is on local search in order to enhance the visibility of businesses.
In order to put together a viable marketing strategy for your business, it is very important to include Google in the mix. The entire gamut of tools that Google provides can make a huge difference in the way your business is marketed online. Web Analytics, Adwords, Adsense, WordTracker, Buzz, Ad Planner, Google Local Business Center are just some of the tools available to you.
The beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on the previous year and try to build on your successes. In this video I give my thoughts on how to approach goal-planning and discuss some of the techniques that have worked for me.
I would love to know your thoughts on goal planning. Please leave a comment below and let me know your tips.
The point of any marketing piece is to evoke a response. A call to action is how you illicit or direct that response. So one of the most important things to ask yourself when you are creating a new marketing piece is “what is the call to action?”. In this edition of MarketPain I discuss a simple technique for evaluating the call to action in your marketing collateral.
In the course of business, marketing its products or services is imperative to the success of every enterprise. The process of marketing however does not end with customer acquisition but extends to customer retention and beyond. Retaining customers is the aspect of the process where contact becomes necessary. In other words, it is important that a contact strategy be designed and properly executed for the marketing process to have a consistently positive outcome. A contact strategy basically deals with the utilization of data compiled regarding customer purchases, customer preferences and interests as well as promotion patterns to determine how often and in what order customers will be contacted. The data also helps to properly customize the company’s offers and how those offers are positioned and presented to the customer.
It is not sufficient to design a contact strategy, it must be very effective and in order for it to be so, the following characteristics need to be present.
i.Encompass customer needs, products as well as channels skills and capabilities
ii.Effectively addresses the interests of the company and the customer
iii.Recognizes the difference and uses of different channels
iv.Recognizes the extent of relationship for different customers and accommodates that fact within the strategy. (more…)
Email marketing is a subset of internet marketing and is actually used as one of the avenues through which marketing messages are disseminated online. The overall objective of email marketing is to deliver your marketing massages to your target audience, prospects as well as customers and thus drive traffic to your site as well as increase your business. Email marketing is a process that can be done by the marketer but then it is best automated. The need for automation is a direct result of the explosion in the volume of eCommerce on the internet and the attendant difficulty in coping with correspondence with customers, prospects and members of the target audience. Many firms have risen to the occasion and are providing great resources to meet that need. In order to effectively provide this service, these resources have some outstanding qualities such as:
i.Ease of Use: The user interface for an email marketing resource has to be user friendly and not resemble the cockpit of a space shuttle. The ease of navigation is a plus that makes the work of an internet marketer easier.
ii.Email Campaign Creation: It is also important that an email marketing resource provide HTML design and editing features. This is to help with the design of aspects of the campaign.
iii.Feature Set: Provision of a number of features that internet marketers will find useful in developing contact lists, create emails as well as examine results.
iv.Reports: Evaluation of the email marketing campaign is critical to the success of the program and this will be done by using reports. This feature is very important in any email marketing resource.
v.Support Services: Live support service and assistance as follow up to signing up for the resource is important for the internet marketer.
The following are five great email marketing resources:
The gravitation towards eCommerce has increased with the rapid and continuing evolution that taking place on the internet. Almost on a daily basis, new enterprises emerge, leveraging on existing or novel technologies and ideas to operate. In many instances, these new enterprises have grown to become successes although many eCommerce enterprises have folded up. We will take a close look at some eCommerce enterprises that were able to design and execute a plan that ensured success.
i. Carl Stuart: UK based company; Carl Stuart is in the business of supplying laboratory and field equipment, process filtration technologies as well as full technical support services to their clients. The company’s client base comprises Governmental organizations, institutions as well as companies in diverse industries across the UK and Ireland. Seeing the opportunities that the internet and eCommerce offered them, the company decided to leverage on that in order to make sales online through B2B trade accounts with manageable credit limits. They also needed integrate their offline sales and procurement efforts with the eCommerce software while reducing the cost per transaction and raising turnover through customer accounts automation. Using a platform designed by an eCommerce provider, the company was able to integrate trade account functionality with their website thus allowing customers set up and manage their own accounts online. This ensured that the company’s sales team became free to focus on business development. The benefits that immediately accrued to the company included opening of new streams of revenue and cost reduction per sale while increasing efficiency and providing up to date customer information. Customer experience also became significantly enhanced resulting in a better relationship with the company.
ii. Dell: This was one of the earliest success stories in eCommerce. Launching its eCommerce model about 1994, Dell excluded retail outlets and middlemen while selling directly to customers over the internet. The company took little time to register its mark as the first company to record a million dollars in sales online. Dell’s success in due in large part to the model that it adopted in making the customers a part of the purchase process in terms of choice and control. The company’s website allowed buyers to click through and make their own choices of the components of the computer thus virtually assembling the computer on their own. By the last quarter of 2002, Dell had logged a billion page views on its website. This choice and control given to the buyers also made it possible for Dell to feel the pulse of its customers regarding the functionality of the site as well as what exactly the customers wanted. The company does not build a computer until the buyer has ordered so it did not have to own a central warehousing facility rather it ships the computer directly to the customers depending on the geographical origin of the order from its plants in Ireland, Tennessee, Brazil, China, Malaysia or Texas. Dell also ensured that their B2B customers had a special interface that allowed them to customize the computers ordered to suit their company’s needs. By 2002, about half of Dell’s revenues were derived from their website and this amounted to about $16 billion.
CRM solutions are fast becoming ubiquitous these days as even small businesses adopt CRM to enhance their service delivery. There are generally two types of CRM solutions; hosted and web- based. While the former are installed on and operated via the enterprise’s local network, the latter is hosted on the Application Service Provider’s server and accessed via the internet. Online CRM which is web-based is also known as OnDemand CRM, Browser Based CRM, Hosted CRM and more recently as SaaS (Software as Service).
Online CRM solutions have some distinct advantages that accrue to the user. Its use is also dependent on the peculiar needs of the enterprise. The advantages that online CRM offers include the following:
i.Speed of implementation.
ii.Ability to get automatic updates.
iii.Comparatively less cost of procurement and complete acquisition
iv.Swift sharing of information within the enterprise
v.Reduction in procedure as backend systems are not required
vi.Easy accessibility as it is internet based
There are also many online CRM solutions in the market but then some are more proven than others. Some of those outstanding CRM solutions include the following:
i.InfusionCRM: This CRM solution is well suited to small and medium sized enterprises as it offers reliability, comprehensiveness and sophistication. Tracking and consolidation of sales information within the single system is one of the key incentives to use InfusionCRM. It includes autoresponders, product information, order history, payment plans, lead tracking, customer details and much more.
ii.ACT: ACT is classified more as a contact software but then when viewed from its capability to help enterprises keep in touch with its customers and also track orders, it falls within the CRM class. It also compatible with many mobile phones, supports customization as well as third party software thus adaptable for many small businesses.
iii.Zoho CRM: This CRM solution is cloud based and offers features very useful to small businesses. Some of these features include sales forecast, role-based security, reports and dashboards, sales and marketing integration, inventory management. This CRM solution also supports third party software such as Microsoft Outlook. This works very well with small businesses that are just starting out because of its ease of use and adaptability. It is also quite cost effective as it is usually free for the first three users and payment commences from the fourth user at a reasonable rate.
iv.Relenta: This is a relatively new solution and has a lot of features that would integrate easily with a small enterprise’ business process. It incorporates email marketing with its core CRM solutions and for internet marketing firms, it could be very ideal. It also integrates with popular applications like Aweber, Salesforce, Outlook and Constant Contact.
v.iContact Pro: This solution combines contact management with email marketing functions. It very easily makes the tasks inherent in small internet marketing businesses like email newsletters distribution, email marketing and sales lead monitoring much easier. The price is also quite affordable, starting at $9.95 monthly depending on how large your email list is.
E-Business is a natural extension of the internet. The concept refers to the transaction of business via an electronic means, usually the internet or any of its mediums. E-business has certain characteristics and these include the following:
i. The use of the internet for the full transaction of its business.
ii. The combination of traditional model of running an enterprise with actionable business information obtained via the internet.
iii. Combination of traditional means of running an enterprise with an online selling platform.
iv. Business models that work to compile data on various customer and market segments and then make this information available to third parties for a fee.
v. The use of technological devices to facilitate financial exchanges or other kinds of exchanges.
vi. The adaptation and modification of traditional models with IT facilities.
E-marketing is a subset of e-business. It is the means through which a business promotes the products or services that it is offering on the internet. The practice of running an enterprise on the internet and promoting its services or products using e-marketing tools or resources presents that enterprise with distinct advantages. These include:
i. Reduction of overheads as the enterprise does not have to invest huge funds in warehousing or high office rents.
ii. Potential increase in sales
iii. Access to global markets and presenting the firm’s products and services to the market across the clock
iv. Opportunity to carry out market segmentation
v. Provision of convenience for customers and seller alike
We will take a close look at a few businesses that have successfully implemented e-marketing.
1. Anthony Nicholas Group: This company deals in jewels and having discovered that the internet presents a veritable means for showing its products to its target audience, the company decided to invest in the necessary infrastructure to make this possible. The challenge was in providing a reliable full back office system to replace the existing one. Two websites also had to be designed to cater separately for the Irish customers and the American customers. A web-based interface for customer interaction had to be developed and then supported with an accounting system that replaced the existing one, all technology based. The websites were also built to serve as marketing tools for the promotion of the products of the firm.
2. Dubarry:This company specializes in footwear designed for sailing. It decided to delve into the e-business world in order to leverage on the opportunities provided by the internet to bond with its customers. The company succeeded in its objectives as a result of three factors; a critical assessment of its internal operations and how it can work as a an e-business model, the possible challenges it will face as it alters its traditional business model to suit the internet and then how it can harness the opportunities therein. The website it built and uses as a platform to reach out and interact with its customers and target market has now served to reduce the administrative load involved in dealing with its various distributors. Customer interaction and also been an advantage of this switch to the new model as well as streamlining the process of ordering products from the company.
The internet has come a long way since its early days when almost anything could be accommodated by the internet due to lack of choice. These days, the choices have simply exploded and now users have to have an incentive to visit a site. It is no longer sufficient that the site exists but from concept to content, a site must demonstrate sufficient value for the users to visit, remain or even return. It is has therefore become imperative for businesses to incorporate the very latest trends in web design in order to provide enough incentive for internet users to stay on their sites.
1. Online Videos: Pictures have for long been used to produce graphic representations for the internet users. Although the pictures have been quite effective, videos have proven to be far more effective. Whatever a picture can say, a video can say far more. Apart from being more graphic, videos actually speak and provide far more information in far less time. The advent of video sharing sites has made it possible for site owners to create and upload promotional videos to the site and drive traffic to their site from there. Additionally, video editing software are easily obtainable and easy to use. For the SEO purposes, Google now indexes videos while Youtube has added close captioning and transcripts for their videos. This has had a very positive effect on video optimization.
2. Interactive Designs: The ability of a user to interact with the site is a big plus. It helps the user stay on the site and get a positive experience. Interactive elements are normally created using flash or jQuery. Flash has been around much longer and website designers are more familiar with it although jQuery works just as well. In all, any package that is chosen, if well implemented, is likely to provide users with an engaging experience.
3. Typography: The font type used on a site is very important and even with this the use of non-system font types was difficult previously. These days however, it has become possible to use non-system even with the cross browser compatibility issues. Now, website designers can make use of font replacement methods in order to create great looking fonts. These replacement methods include Cufon, Typekit and @fontface.
4. Mobile Websites: There has been a gradual shift from desktop internet surfing to mobile browsing. People now take the internet with them in their hands. It has become imperative for upwardly mobile websites to have that mobile capability. New devices like the Google Android phone and the iPhone have gained widespread popularity which is still increasing. Mobile e-marketing, text messaging as well as location based marketing are just a few things that will continue to dominate the market for a long time.
5. Podcasting: This is the audio version of online videos. These are easily recordable and allow the users to hear a recording of an interview or production description or even a promotional message. It can be incorporated with the RSS feed thus making it easier for users to follow.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) is a method of measuring the response to an online ad. It is taken in percentages and determined by dividing the total number of times the ad was presented to the user by the total number of times the ad was clicked on. It is applicable in a variety of online ad campaigns including banner ad campaigns, email marketing campaigns and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns.
CTR is therefore one of the most important metrics for measuring the success or otherwise of any online ad campaign. A high CTR is something that many companies try hard to attain and increasing CTR in the course of a campaign is also a key objective. This is because the higher the CTR, the more likely that the conversion rate will increase. This boils down to increase in the profit margin. There are some techniques that can be used to improve the CTR of an ad campaign.
1.Avoiding Blatant Advertising: When you consider the volume of advertisement that internet users face coupled with that which they to face offline, they just develop ‘ad blindness’ after some time. Sometimes therefore, advertisements work much better when they do not look like ads. You can try using the ads in side menus or as a text placement within the site content. (more…)