Many business owners spend a lot of time on positive, proactive marketing, but considering that nearly 90% of consumers look to online reviews before making a purchase, you may be missing a key portion of your business' digital reputation. Whether you own a large, successful company or a small shop, these tips will help you convert more potential consumers to customers with a few easy steps.
First, some facts. Google My Business has become integral to click through rates. Six out of 10 new consumers now look to the platform for reviews on local business. Your Yelp, Facebook and TripAdvisor (where applicable) profiles will also pop up below Google reviews and are frequently the next stop for customers. (If you haven't claimed your business on these sites, this should be your first step to gain control of reviews). Word of mouth matters to consumers, but these days, online reviews are an acceptable substitution for word of mouth according to 91% of 18-34 year olds. Reviews can be contested by business owners, but rarely result in the review being removed, making reviews more legitimate to consumers. In fact, nearly 70% of consumers are more likely to consider purchasing or hiring a business with positive online reviews.
Positive reviews aren't enough. More than half of consumers (57%) will only consider a business with 4 stars or more, and the number of people who value the quantity of online reviews climbs each year (49% in 2019 vs 35% in 2016). So what do you do to encourage people to change their rating and potential customers to trust your brand and business ethics? You must respond to negative online reviews, even better if you take the time to respond to all online reviews.
How you manage reviews matters more than any other method employed in your digital marketing strategy. Eighty-nine percent of consumers read the business owner's response to online reviews, while 63% of consumers say that a business has never responded to their review. This is a bad business practice. Your customers want to know that if they do encounter an issue with your business, you will immediately and satisfactorily fix the problem.
Responding to good reviews is easy, but how do you respond to negative reviews?
Don't have the time? Not sure how to proceed? I've got you covered. Contact me to learn more about CRM, review management and bulk email services. We offer options to fit every business' budget.
Filling social media calendars with quality content often means digging for engaging, relevant material. Holidays are a big source of content, especially holidays that create connections between your business and consumers. (If you're looking for a source for all those fun holidays like "National Donut Day" and "Mismatched Sock Day", check out HubSpot's social media calendar here, or timeanddate.com). Fun holidays are one thing and there is almost certainly at least one a month that can be applied to your business, but bank holidays are something most businesses routinely acknowledge on their social media, even when it's not tied to a sale. It's not difficult to stay on brand or find free-for-commercial-use images to slap on your channels, but there is one holiday that needs a great deal of re-focus on social media: Memorial Day.
Memorial Day began, at least in part, thanks to freed slaves in Charleston following the Civil War to commemorate fallen soldiers and has seen some evolutions over the years like changing dates and names (it was originally known as Decoration Day). But the reason has always been the same- to commemorate fallen soldiers.
In recent decades, Memorial Day has become a cherished three day weekend, celebrated with gatherings of family and friends over grills and beer and is generally seen as the official kick off to summer. As a Wisconsinite, the value behind this official summer kick off really can't be ignored because everything outdoors finally opens. We've spent more than six months shivering beneath six feet of snow in -20° weather. Warmer days are absolutely something to celebrate. BUT. (It's a big but). Tread lightly in your social media focus on the day of, out of respect for fallen soldiers and their loved ones.
It's important to keep in mind what Memorial Day, as a holiday, actually is: A day to honor soldiers who fought for the US and died as a result. This makes what it's not very clear- It is not a day to thank veterans (that's Veteran's Day) or active duty soldiers. It's also not a day to say "Happy".
Hear me out. Saying "Happy Memorial Day" is akin to telling someone to have a good time at a funeral. Thanking veterans on Memorial Day is equally inappropriate and I have several veteran friends who put out PSAs every year on the subject. They appreciate your acknowledgement, but wish you wouldn't take away from who the holiday is meant for- soldiers who lost their lives in battle. No one else.
So what can you do to observe Memorial Day on behalf of your business? Use reverence and respect in your social media graphic and copy. Try things like "In remembrance of those who gave all on this Memorial Day" or "Remember and Honor". Keep it simple, keep it patriotic, keep it respectful. I promise, many of your followers will appreciate it.
If you're struggling with content creation, reach out for a free quote and site or channel audit to see how NEW Towns Marketing can help your business grow, get seen and get results for your business.
With "May the Fourth" just past, it seems like a great time to talk about avoiding copyright infringement in social media posts on your business page. We recently discussed copyright infringement in another post, so this article will focus on the use of intellectual property, particularly content owned by major corporations.
So you see a meme featuring main characters from a beloved movie about another galaxy far, far away, or maybe the hidden wizarding world of the UK. Either way, you figure you can throw a catchy pop culture reference over the top and apply it to your own business. These sorts of posts undoubtedly attract engagement and could drive traffic to your business. You certainly can use the faces of copyrighted characters on your business page as part of a larger marketing strategy, but you cannot use it to sell goods or services. It's Schrodinger's meme: Both a marketing tool and not at the same time.
It's important to remember, should you choose to use a copyrighted character in a post on your social media channels, no where in the post or comment thread can there be an allusion to something you sell. This is an incredibly thin line to tread, particularly if your customers or potential customers take the commentary in that direction and you interact with them to that point. And of course you would want to, who would want to drop a potential lead?
You might feel like a small fish in a big pond who could never draw the attention of a large corporate entity to get caught in "minor" copyright infringement violations-- it's just a funny/cute post after all. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. It's precisely the large corporate entities that have the time to seek out businesses, large and small, infringing on their copyrighted work. These corporations have all the money in the world to go after you for unapproved use of intellectual property and it could cost you a lot of money, if not your entire business.
When creating content for or consulting with social media clients, I have a general rule to advise against creating anything that could be construed as copyright infringement, this includes mimicking a font or look and feel of an easily recognizable copyrighted product. You'll see this a lot on May the Fourth, when businesses post graphics that mimic a familiar yellow block font against a star spangled background.
So how can you get in on the fun of these engagement-driving memes and graphics? Share away, preferably from a non-commercial page, avoid all mention of sales and services and keep the copy lighthearted. If this all seems complicated and worrisome, give us a call and let us take care of your social media content. We'll ensure everything posted is in keeping with copyright laws and keep your marketing strategy on track.
Ready to develop a professional marketing strategy for your business' social media channels?
Get in touch with an expert social media strategist.
Digital marketing can be a litigious minefield with laws struggling to keep up with ongoing platform changes and unpredictable regulatory needs. Some laws, however, are longstanding and fully applicable to internet marketing as-is, like copyright infringement laws. And you might be surprised to learn that even if you've hired a "social media expert" to manage your business' online marketing, it's you and your business could be on the hook if your marketer lacks scruples or basic understanding of copyright laws and uses copyrighted imagery or music.
You're not here to read through paragraphs of copyright laws, so let's skip to the bullet points:
If you aren't able to verify a specific image is free for commercial use, do not use it. This is an entirely too common mistake made by novice marketers, low-cost marketers (particularly sourced from outside the US) and unwitting business owners or employees. The most common mistake is pulling an image from an image search or another social media channel and posting it without credit to the original source to your business' website or social media channel.
You get what you pay for. This is especially true when hiring an inexperienced or uneducated marketer or someone from a foreign market like Pakistan or India, where you might pay as little as $7 an hour, but with zero assurances of legal practices or protection, and a very real risk to your business.
Be wary of stock photos provided by online photo editing programs. Canva is a popular example of one such service. Don't get me wrong, online design programs like Canva and Snappa are great for non-designer types, business owners on the go and even experienced marketers, but the stock photos provided are not all free for commercial use.
Oh no! What have I done? If you're realizing that you may have already used copyrighted material for your business page or website, don't panic. You may consider going through your past posts and scrub any potential photos that could qualify as copyright infringement. If you're currently working with someone on your website or social media content, take some time to review their practices and their past work. If you're wondering if something someone else posted on your business' behalf, you can do a reverse image search on Google and ensure the image is free for commercial use. (Click here for instructions on reverse image searching on your phone).
So where do you find royalty free imagery? There are actually quite a few websites that provide free for use stock photos and several are free. While I pay for a stock photo account through Adobe, I also source photos from Pixabay and Pexels, although those are just two of several free stock photo sites.
It may seem like a lot of pages post copyrighted images, seemingly without repercussions, but thousands of cases of copyright infringement happen every year in the US. Copyright infringement fines can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, so it pays to verify each and every image, video and music file you utilize in your business is free for commercial use.
Not sure how to navigate the world of copyrighted materials?
ContactContact NEW Towns Marketing for a quote so we can help your business grow.
'Tis the season for online shopping and while wildly convenient, comes with the potential for bigger problems than fighting crowds at the mall. That said, a few simple steps can make your online shopping experience safe and easy.
Use a protected form of payment like PayPal or a credit card. If someone is able to gain access to your financial information, PayPal and credit card companies offer consumer protection to get money back into your hands. PayPal will also cover purchases from shady vendors who take your money but never ship a product and allows you to bypass any daily spending limits your debit card may have. Using your debit card leaves your bank account vulnerable to attack and can take much longer to get any money back, if your financial institution offers buyer protection.
Alternatively, purchase a pre-paid MasterCard or Visa that doesn't have your personal information connected to it. If a hacker does manage to get your card information, they won't have access to anything more than the dollar amount left on the card.
Verify website security before entering your personal information. Check for the padlock at the start of the URL in the address bar and an https:// before the web address. These indicators only exist if a website has an added layer of security to encrypt your personal data. If you don't see these two things, don't spend your money there.
Only shop on a secure connection. Public wifi and hot spots aren't considered secure and can leave your device open to attack, including any personal and financial information you input. Either install VPN software or wait until you're on a private network you trust.
Don't store personal information on websites. Amazon and several other retailers offer to 'remember' your credit card information for easier future shopping. While convenient, data breaches have happened and can happen again.
Online shopping is easy and convenient, but taking precautions against fraud and theft are just as important as keeping money and cards tucked away in public.
Want to ensure your online store is a safe place for shoppers? Contact us a for a quote for consultation or website security review and implementation service.
Have a safe and merry holiday season!
GameStop recently unveiled plans for a video game rental service to no-doubt compete with online downloads. Is revitalizing a dying rental industry a bad move?
Short answer- Probably not.
We're a household of gamers, kids and adults alike. I myself spend hours a week playing video games, and we own a few different systems. Gaming is expensive, but heck, how many other things can you spend relatively little on for so many infinite hours of entertainment?
Regardless, with video rental stores pulling away from renting video games, the only other option is a service like GameFly, which works like Netflix, allowing members to rent to have one or two games (depending on the price package) at a time before mailing them back to exchange. Price wise, GameStop has them beat.
GameStop's plan costs $60 for 6 months of used game rentals, and at the end of it, you get to keep the last title you checked out. There doesn't appear to be a limit of the number of games a user can exchange a month. The one apparent hitch is that you must be a Power-Up Rewards member, but the free-version of that membership works.
By comparison, GameFly's one-game-at-a-time option will run you $76.35 for six months or $79.75 if you utilize the free month first, an easy near-$20 savings. Of course, for folks like us, a trip to GameStop means 15 minute drive. So depending on how many times you go back and forth, the savings could be negligible. The clear trade off is not waiting on mailing time.
Online reactions to Power Pass are mixed. I can see the advantage, but I doubt we'll take part, because frankly, more errands don't sound appealing. What do you think?
Mission Statement, check.
About Section, check.
But does your website really tell a story?
53% of marketers report blog content is their top marketing priority. Which seems at odds with the 43% of people who admit to skimming blog posts. (Source) Your websites blog (or 'News') page is an opportunity to expand on your business' branding. There is a reason Content Writing is considered a 'booming industry'. Quality content matters!
Think of your blog as your business' own news publication.
This is a perfect outlet for posting official press releases and articles about company culture, history and community involvement. Include pictures and outlinks to relevant locations, events and organizations. Make sure your outlinks open in a new tab. Providing outlinks makes your website look more attractive and legitimate to search engines, but you don't want to lead visitors directly out of your site. Include inlinks whenever possible to lead your visitors to other areas of your website.
Your blog is your business' showcase. Post teasers/previews and introductions for new products or locations and/or showcase current and finished projects.
Demonstrate your expertise. Take this opportunity to be a voice for your brand. Declare your expertise, offer step by step instructions, and take a chance to talk about what makes your product or service standout.
Attract website visitors through social media. Provide snippets, an eye-catching graphic and a link back to the original post on your blog. Entice visitors with attention-grabbing verbiage, and as always, make sure you're posting your links on appropriate platforms at peak traffic times of day.
Blogs are more than information and self-promotion. Search engines love blogs. They show your site is active, meaning their users won't arrive at a dead end. They also up your SEO standing, further endearing your site to web crawlers.
Keep it brief. Going back to the idea that most blog posts are skimmed, a good rule of thumb is to keep your entry at around
Effective blogging means posting a new entry at least twice a month. Not every post will get as much attention as others, and it may take a couple months before you start seeing visitors. But remember, these posts are as much for search engine optimization as they are for visitor enlightenment.
Need help with your blog content or social media posting strategy? Get in touch and we'll work out a solution tailored to your business!
You may have heard a rumor that Facebook is planning on dropping all non-promoted content from users' news feeds. Worried about how this will affect your business page? Don't panic just yet.
Facebook is, first and foremost, a business. They aren't necessarily trying to squeeze every last dime out of businesses, although the side effect of changes their users are asking for do benefit them financially.
Facebook users have been asking to see more friends and family posts and less public page content for a long time, Facebook's response is to cater to them in order to avoid an overall loss of user-ship. In response, they've added a second news feed to the platform, allowing users to switch between friends and family (AND paid adverts) and public pages. The beta version has been released for testing in six countries including Sri Lanka, Slovakia and Serbia. The test results in just a couple days are already showing bad news for public pages with most reporting a 60-80% reduction in engagement.
This is not a new problem for business owners. Social media is the present and future of effective marketing, and has long been accessible for small business owners as an affordable marketing option. Unfortunately, Facebook has made several damaging changes over the last couple of years, most notably the changes that went into affect in spring of 2017, drastically reducing organic reach from public pages.
So what's a business owner to do? Particularly, small business owners? It's going to be tough, and may require a closer look at your business' marketing budget and strategy. As of yet, Facebook hasn't hinted at increasing ad costs-Yet. And they didn't after the changes last spring. Which means it's still a relatively affordable marketing option, especially compared to traditional print and radio marketing.
The real trick for already time-strapped businesses, will be developing effective ads and campaigns and understanding the best ways to target their demographic. Add this strain to the increasing need to create eye-catching visual ads and videos, and you start to realize just how difficult this transition could be for small businesses.
So what can you do to prepare? You could just wait and see. There hasn't been any official statement from Facebook saying these changes will be made across the board. It is, however, a safe bet that changes WILL continue for public page owners. Don't wait for those changes to happen. Develop a strategy now. Understand your demographic and how to target them with Facebook ads. Focus on creating and implementing a few high quality, engaging posts a week to 'boost', but for now, plan to continue with daily posts to keep your page active, informative and engaging for potential visitors.
Need help with strategy, content creation or targeted advertising? Contact us today!
Instagram's Stories is making promising strides, reaching 500 million users a day. And with their early-2017 change to an algorithm over linear reverse-chronological view, business pages are losing ground in organic reach. Unlike Facebook's Day, businesses can (and should) utilize Instagram Stories to make up for the loss.
Identify Your Demographic
Think of Stories as Direct-Marketing Billboards
Instagram moves fast, so it's no surprise the average Instagram user misses 70% of the content in their feed. Stories puts your post at the top of the Instagram feed and sticks for 24 hours, dramatically increasing the odds of your post being seen.
Create Engaging Posts
Before you plunge into Instagram stardom, consider your branding. How do you want your business to be perceived? Starting a social media account just to abandon it doesn't look great for web presence and legitimacy in the long run, so consider your strategy.
Use All the Features
Instagram is owned by Facebook, so the promoted posts work more or less the same. (Keep in mind, any post you boost on Facebook will also appear on Instagram unless you opt out of it, so no need to boost the same post on both apps). You can set up a campaign on Instagram's website, but the easiest way to promote is to upload your post and click the Boost button when it publishes.
Using Stories is a fun and fairly easy way to directly marketing to your consumer. Your engaging posts will drive up traffic and interaction with your brand and to your website. Creating fun, informational graphics takes just minutes with integrated editing features and can heavily influence potential consumers to convert when done correctly and consistently.
Wondering how to make Instagram work for your brand? Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation!