Protect Your Online Reputation in 5 Simple Steps

We live in a world where communication is almost instant, word travels extremely fast, and if you’re not watchful your online reputation can be trashed in nanoseconds. Many aren’t cognisant how vital it is to safeguard your online reputation. Cone Communications reports that some 89 percent of consumers regard online channels are trustworthy sources, and that another 80 percent have gone so far as to change their mind about a purchase after reading a negative comment or review. Further, your social media is where they’re talking about you. The Society for Communications Research reports that 72 percent said they research companies through social channels prior to making purchases, and that 59% use social sites to air their frustrations about your customer service.

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5 Quick Suggestions to protect your online reputation

  1. Monitor your online reputation – Monitor what folks are saying about you and your company name by Googling them no less than once a month. Use Google alerts and be alerted when there are any postings about you or the brand.
  2. Lay claim to your online property – A person who is intent on doing you or your business harm can do a lot with your name. Make sure to buy your company’s domain name, and your personal one, and prevent at least having them show up in Google thanks to an exact match name.
  3. Be hands-on on your social sites – Like your domain name, claim any Facebook, Google or LinkedIn pages that bear your name. Not only that, make it a point to use them regularly.
  4. Deal with any negative content quickly – Do your very best to take care of negative postings and complaints expeditiously. Try hard to contact the poster directly, offline when possible, and see if you’re able to handle their concerns. DON’T get in to a flaming match online. You’ll be the loser.
  5. Be careful what you put online – Those lovely pictures of you and the staff partying hard are not exactly what you want to show up in a business context.

 
We live in a fast-paced, information driven world. Be sure you’re on top of it to properly manage your online reputation!

 

Daily Deal Sites – Do They Work?

You’d believe from all the hate that’s been written about daily deal sites, and the way they are now all history as an effective way to market your small business, we wouldn’t like them either. You’d be wrong.

There’s quite a bit that goes into making daily deal sites work for your local business, and a few well-publicised failures, shouldn’t be the reason to avoid using the daily deal model. As a matter of fact, if you take a close look, the lion’s share of them “failures” had quite a bit in common.

With a evident misunderstanding of just how to run a daily deal promotion, poor negotiation of their deals, and not tracking their new customers redemption and spending. Given that they had unbelievable fails in these areas, is it any wonder they failed?

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Daily Deal Sites – So Why All The Hate?

One reason could be the financial struggles Groupon and LivingSocial have been going through. While they probably will come out fine at the end of the day, financial writers wanting to seize upon the harmful aspects of some daily deal sites.

They regularly point to stuff like spam complaints, a glut of deals to choose from, deal hoppers (customers who hop from deal to deal with no intention of being a regular customer) and in deal fatigue.

3 Ways you can help make Daily Deals work for your business

  • Know just how the money works! – Be sure that you know how the numbers work in your deal. Determine what your average sale is and don’t try to exceed it with a daily deal. Also, make sure you negotiate credit card processing fees, as many of the daily deal sites will pick these up.
  • Have a strategy for following up – Up to 75 percent of those daily deal customers are new to you, so make sure you have a plan in place to entice them to return, whether that be another voucher, or….?
  • Don’t start too quickly – Begin somewhat cautiously, so you can master how the daily deal model works in your business, then scale up once the time is right.

The demise of Daily deal sites is grossly overstated, and you can still use these to grow your business, if you take the time to do it right!

If you have used  a Deal Site to promote your business and have any experience, good or bad, we would like to hear from you.  Share your experience by leaving a comment below.

Spring Cleaning Applies to Websites, Too!

Just like your home, your small business website also needs a yearly spring-cleaning. It’s easy to let things slide, and the consequence of that would be a steady decline in traffic, reputation and consequently sales. This can be a rather insidious way for you to lose traction with your site, as you don’t necessarily see it occurring. But it’s very real, and will have very real results.

Here are 5 simple actions you can take which will make a big difference in the way your sites appear, operate and prosper:
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5 Simple Actions to Make a BIG Difference>

  1. How fast do your pages load? – You have under 10 seconds to load your page or most people will exit and go somewhere else. Some reasons for slow loading pages are too many images, pages built mostly with Flash, and errors in your site code. This really is something you want to check into, as Google will punish your site in the search rankings if your pages take too much time to load.
  2. Defunct products, programs, and links – Make sure and remove old products, programs and especially links that are no longer pertinent. Nothing irritates a user more than going somewhere and finding they can’t get there or the item is unavailable. Dead links and 404 pages will even affect your search rankings, as well.
  3. Old content and images – Likewise cull out stale, no longer topical content and images. Your old pictures from your company picnic in 2007 might not be considered fresh content, and that is what folks and search engines both want!
  4. Social media – Make sure that your social media buttons not only link to your current social media sites, but that you are up to date with them. Pinterest and Instagram are later entries that might not be displayed with your social buttons.
  5. More fresh content that rocks – There isn’t anything you can do to help in this respect more than to provide a fresh dose of new, relevant to 2013 content! If you have content on the first page of your blog that is more than a month old, you definitely should be more proactive with your content strategy.

It’s spring, and time to get about cleaning. You’ll be glad you did!

How to Effectively Use SMS Marketing in Your Local Business

Who would have thought text messaging, which was generally the land of the pre-teens, would transform into something as handy and powerful as SMS marketing? In a very short time, SMS (simple message service) has proven to be a proven alternative option to email marketing. Gaining increasingly more popularity, it’s difficult to find anyone who is not using text messages in one way or another.

Why you should give SMS marketing a long look

Without question, the main reason marketers are giving SMS a try is due to how people are responding to texts. According to CallFire SMS text messages boast a 98 percent open rate and additionally an eye-popping 83 percent are opened in the first three minutes of receiving them!

What’s more, marketing promotions utilizing text messages are being redeemed at 20 percent or higher, in contrast to traditional media such as vouchers, newspaper ads, radio, or direct mail, which average redemption rates of a paltry two percent. CallFire also says that your ROI (return on investment) can be far greater than in traditional media.

For example, a campaign with a monthly cost of less than £20 to send 1000 text messages, and redemption rates of 20 percent or more, works out to be less than 20 pence per customer acquisition. Not bad.
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4 Tips for successful SMS marketing campaigns

  1. Be certain to deliver value – Be sure that you’re not wasting their time! Give great value, whether you’re providing a palpable offer or just directing them to some place where they can consume more great content. Deliver Value!
  2. Keep messages short and personal – This medium is dependant on trust and familiarity, so do your very best to further improve that by personalising your texts and keeping them short and to the point. Even marketing messages can have a friendly tone. A text like, “Hi Mark, Thank you for your business! We look forward to serving you again soon. Show this msg to receive 20% off your next purchase at [STORE NAME & PHONE NUMBER].”
  3. Include a call to action – Be sure you ask for the action you want them to take. Saying something similar to “Text SaveNow to 123456 to get a 10% off voucher today” will set their mind to action mode.
  4. Track your results – SMS rocks! on the subject of measuring metrics. There are a number of factors you can monitor on your campaigns, from click tracking to who opened what. So be sure to track and measure your results, to properly plan the next campaign!

Where Does Marketing Automation Fit in Your business?

Are there just not enough of you? Are you feeling not just overwhelmed at the mountain of tasks that lie before you daily, but in addition more than a bit afraid that something is slipping through the cracks? You’re not alone. Because of the complexity and the sheer number of moving parts that go into online marketing in multiple channels nowadays, you absolutely have to employ some measure of marketing automation, or else you will find it tough to compete. Let’s look at some real time savers.

Cool Tools For Marketing Automation

While there are a slew of tools available, from complete solutions that cover your company from A to Z (fairly expensive) we’re going to focus here on some you can piecemeal together that will assist in a measurable way.

Email autoresponders – Probably the most important thing to automate, as without employing this type of tool you’ve got basically no hope of building a customer email list. Loading up your autoresponder with marketing messages can help you give both customers and prospects alike the feeling that they are being well taken care of. There are a number of great email companies available that can handle this seamlessly for you, such as AWeber, GetResponse, iContact, MailChimp and others.

Managing social media – Keeping your finger on the pulse of numerous social media accounts daily is not just a full time gig, but a hard one as well. You need to use a good tool, and there are several good ones out there that enable you to keep track of mentions, shares, Tweets and even allow you to post to your social platforms. Take a look at HootSuite, TweetDeck and Buffer.

Automate tasks – As everyone knows there are lots of small tasks that require attention daily, or the whole house of cards may collapse! Some of the better tools to come down the pike the last few years are the development of task masters like IFTTT and Zapier. These tools, (similar in intent and application) can be lifesavers when it comes to automating tasks between two different services. Very handy, indeed!

Marketing Automation Works

Make sure to not let customer and prospects slip through the cracks with all your automation. Being there for effective customer service is an important piece of business too!

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