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Tabitha Jean Naylor

Owner at TabithaNaylor.com Inc

Tampa, United States

47567 Followers

My Objective: to develop and implement marketing campaigns that are effective, ethical and deliver positive ROI for my clients.

I am a qualified, experienced and enthusiastic Sales & Marketing Professional. My passion for marketing excellence finds its roots not only in my accreditation's but also in the application of this acumen in my own business. This has rendered me a success to both myself and my clients. I appreciate the importance of high quality marketing and I deliver my services meticulously and comfortably.

My services comprise every facet of Marketing Consulting; I thoroughly assess the current inbound and outbound marketing procedures of an organization and provide comprehensive solutions that increase brand awareness, quality leads and sales revenue, while enhancing ROI on their marketing efforts.

I pride myself on being approachable, flexible, detail-oriented and results-driven. I enjoy the work that I do and I believe this marries well with my work ethic to produce high quality deliverables that actually generate the one thing all business owners need... results. Contact me at 727-424-7147 to learn more!

In addition to my work at TabithaNaylor.com, I am also the founder of Women Entrepreneur's Can (#WEcan), a digital a magazine for women who are entrepreneurs, startup founders, and small business owners that covers business planning, strategy, management, accounting, finance, sales, and marketing. The goal of Women Entrepreneurs Can is to help women overcome the unique obstacles faced in a business world that’s often dominated by men, while providing the knowledge needed to run a successful business.

Available For: Advising, Authoring, Consulting, Influencing, Speaking
Travels From: Tampa, FL
Speaking Topics: Digital Marketing, Branding, PR, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Marketing ROI

Tabitha Jean Naylor Points
Academic 0
Author 141
Influencer 696
Speaker 0
Entrepreneur 40
Total 877

Points based upon Thinkers360 patent-pending algorithm.

Thought Leader Profile

Portfolio Mix

Company Information

Company Type: Company
Business Unit: Marketing
Theatre: United States
Media Experience: 12

Areas of Expertise

Business Strategy 32.42
Marketing 39.64
Sales 32.99
Social 33.71
Startups
Customer Experience 30.20
Entrepreneurship 38.10
COVID19 31.74
Customer Loyalty 30.08
Management 31.13
Leadership 31.92
AI 30.03
Business Continuity 35.59
Security 30.39

Industry Experience

Aerospace & Defense
Insurance
Media
Professional Services
Travel & Transportation

Publications

47 Article/Blogs
7 Simple Referral Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
LinkedIn
August 28, 2022
I want to let you in on a little secret. Are you ready? Okay, here it is:
All customers aren’t equal.
Don’t get me wrong, call customers are good customers. But do you want to know who your best customer is?

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Tags: Marketing, Sales

Direct Response Marketing Campaigns That Deliver Results
LinkedIn
May 05, 2022
There’s no denying that direct response marketing – when done right – is hugely effective. The problem is that It is often attempted in ways that are Ill-conceived and poorly executed. When that happens, the results aren’t good, and people give up on it.

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Tags: Marketing, Business Strategy

3 Ways You Can Use YouTube to Promote Your Small Business
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March 23, 2022
The post 3 Ways You Can Use YouTube to Promote Your Small Business appeared first on TabithaNaylor.com.

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

A Guide to Setting Up Online Orders for Your Small Business
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March 23, 2022
Serving your customers virtually, in a post-COVID world – has never been more imperative to the survival of small businesses. And with more and more customers seeking contactless and virtual methods of payment, not adapting to the new-normal is hurting your prospects for growth. If you’re th

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

7 Simple Referral Marketing Strategies for Your Business
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March 17, 2022
I want to let you in on a little secret.  Are you ready?  Okay, here it is: All customers aren’t equal. Don’t get me wrong, call customers are good customers.  But do you want to know who your best customer is? A personal referral. Customers who are referred to you are more likely to trust

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

Your Roadmap for Digital Marketing in 2022
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March 16, 2022
The post Your Roadmap for Digital Marketing in 2022 appeared first on TabithaNaylor.com.

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

3 Things Google Hates About Your Website
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March 12, 2022
The post 3 Things Google Hates About Your Website appeared first on TabithaNaylor.com.

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

How Can You Maximize Your Return On Marketing Efforts?
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March 11, 2022
Marketing is a necessary element of running a business. Without it, you will not be able to spread the word, generate interest, and draw customers to your business. Digital marketing has made it easier than ever for businesses great and small to reach potential customers, but like anything worth doi

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

3 Common Mistakes Everyone Makes with Facebook Ads
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March 09, 2022
The post 3 Common Mistakes Everyone Makes with Facebook Ads appeared first on TabithaNaylor.com.

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

Why Every Business Should Introduce Digital Marketing into Their Strategies
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February 04, 2022
Digital marketing is an umbrella term for all of your online marketing efforts. It includes everything from search engine optimization to email marketing to social media marketing. More and more businesses are realizing the importance of digital marketing and are introducing it into their overall ma

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

Top Tips to Boost Your Company’s Marketing This Year
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February 02, 2022
As we move further into the year, businesses need to evaluate their marketing strategies and determine what worked and what didn’t over the past twelve months. So if you’re looking to boost your company’s marketing this year, here are some top tips to get you started. Via Pexels Ev

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

10 Powerful Marketing Strategies to Use This Year
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February 01, 2022
Some of the very best marketing strategies that are ever used are the ones that reach out to people as the humans they are. Marketing is about far more than just numbers and it’s very important that any business owner understands that before they get into business. If you can’t understand your c

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

Grow Your Marketing Agency’s Business Reputation
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February 01, 2022
You know that having a good business reputation is vital if you want to grow your business. If people have a negative view of your brand and business, they could be completely put off from using your services. You know that to cultivate a positive reputation for your marketing company, you need to h

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

How You Can Market Your Service Based Business
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January 27, 2022
Marketing a service-based firm differs from marketing a product-based business in several important ways. The most significant distinction between marketing for a service firm and marketing for a product business is tangibility. When you promote a product, you have a concrete something that people c

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

How to Take Control of Your Marketing and Improve Your Brand
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January 21, 2022
Have you been spending lots of time and money marketing your business but have not seen the results from your efforts you were hoping for? Many companies devote time and money to their marketing activity but do not see a return on their investment. This is often because they take a scattergun approa

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

3 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Firm in 2022
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January 20, 2022
Marketing continues to play a crucial role in the modern world of business. Without advertising agencies such as yours to rely on, external organizations wouldn’t have the capacity to reach their target audience members, let alone engage them. Quite simply, there will always be a call for the prom

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

Become a Highly Successful Plumber: Ultimate Guide to Getting More Customers
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January 11, 2022
Many people are looking for a qualified plumber, but not everyone knows how to find one. The best way is through word-of-mouth marketing by providing your customers with the best service possible. This blog post will give you some tips on becoming a highly successful plumber and getting more custome

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

The Benefits of Having a Marketing Plan to Optimize Productivity
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January 11, 2022
A marketing plan can be a precious tool for any business. Marketing plans help you to set goals and increase productivity. A marketing plan can provide some benefits: increased revenue, improved customer experience, clear direction with measurable results, and reduced stress. It offers clear goals t

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

The Ultimate Step By Step Guide on How Entrepreneurs Can Increase Their Brand Awareness on a Global Scale
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December 28, 2021
Becoming a global brand is the dream of every entrepreneur; however, most businesses are still local. This leaves many entrepreneurs wondering how to start this process and if it’s even possible for their business. Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash When starting to expand your brand, you need

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Tags: Social, Leadership, Marketing

Using Audio Content to Generate New Leads
LinkedIn
June 17, 2021
The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and audio content is growing in popularity at a staggering rate. In fact, according to recent reports, an average of 193 million - or 68% US population - listens to podcasts and audiobooks on a monthly basis.

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Tags: Social, Marketing, Sales

The 5 Biggest Email Marketing Mistakes That Are Costing You
LinkedIn
May 04, 2021
Currently, more than 316 billion emails are estimated to be sent out daily. Regardless of the industry you're in or what type of business you run, email continues to be one of the most cost-effective methods in marketing. It offers good ROI and incredible reach.

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Tags: Social, Marketing, Sales

Using Video Content to Generate New Leads
LinkedIn
April 29, 2021
In marketing, there are many tools at your disposal in order to convey a message that resonates with your audience. With technology at its all-time high and innovation second to none, the best tool one could leverage to market to their audience is video.

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Tags: Social, Marketing, Sales

How to Grow Your Business with Geofencing
LinkedIn
March 17, 2021
Geofencing is one of those things that can sound intimidating if you don’t understand it. That happens with any new technology. It’s unknown and sounds vaguely expensive, and you might think that you need a lot of experience to figure out how to incorporate it into your marketing.

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Tags: Social, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

How to Create Content for Your Business That’s Worth Sharing
LinkedIn
March 10, 2021
We all know that content marketing is the name of the game for businesses large and small. Content is king and all that. But how does a small business create enough good content to reach their marketing goals? That’s the question.

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Tags: Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Sales

Improve Your Email Marketing with These Tips from the Pros
LinkedIn
March 03, 2021
Even though it has now been around for decades, email marketing is still one of the least expensive, most effective forms of digital marketing. That’s good news because it means you can connect with your target audience without breaking the bank.

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Tags: Marketing, Sales

10 Marketing Tools We Are Grateful to Have in 2021
LinkedIn
February 24, 2021
It’s a new year and most of us are happy to be leaving 2020 in the rearview mirror. It was a tough year at almost every level and marketing is no exception.

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Tags: Marketing, Sales

Your 90 Day Post Covid Marketing Roadmap
LinkedIn
February 19, 2021
The first quarter of 2020 brought us an unprecedented situation with a global pandemic that shut down parts of the country and created economic uncertainty and record unemployment. For a lot of businesses, that meant taking a new approach to marketing.

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Tags: Marketing, Sales

How to Elevate Your Social Media in 2021
LinkedIn
February 08, 2021
The world of social media marketing is noisy these days. Getting your content to the people who are most likely to buy your products or use your services is akin to trying to flag down a car going 90 miles an hour on a six-lane highway -- when you’re in a building on the side of the road. It’s tough going.

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Tags: Social, Marketing, Sales

Let’s Talk About How to Promote Your Business with TikTok
LinkedIn
January 29, 2021
Everybody who hasn’t been in a cryogenic state for the past couple of years has heard about TikTok. It’s the newest social media platform where users create and share 15-second videos known as TikToks. While a lot of the content includes lip synching or dancing, more local businesses who target young audiences are turning to TikTok as a way of connecting with potential customers.

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Tags: Social, Marketing, Sales

How to Get More Conversions with Facebook Ads
LinkedIn
January 22, 2021
I’m willing to bet you already know a lot about Facebook ads. Facebook is still the most widely used social media platform with 2.54 billion active daily users as of the third quarter of 2020. Because of Facebook’s algorithm, non-paid content from family and friends are given priority in users’ feeds, making Facebook advertising a must for local businesses.

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Tags: Social, Marketing, Sales

7 Content Marketing Tactics Every Small Business Should Steal
LinkedIn
December 30, 2020
Ad campaigns are still effective, but the truth is they’re not as effective as content marketing. Bill Gates proclaimed “Content is king” back in 1996 and his words have proven to be remarkably prescient. Web users expect top-notch content from the companies they follow.

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Tags: Marketing, Entrepreneurship

Get More (and Better) Traffic with Your Local Business Blog
LinkedIn
December 23, 2020
You already know that content marketing is widely considered to be essential for your business. Maybe you’ve already got a blog that gets some organic traffic.

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Tags: Marketing, Sales

Holiday Promotional Ideas to Consider During a Pandemic
LinkedIn
December 16, 2020
The 2020 holiday shopping season promises to be unlike any other. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment rates are high, and consumers may be reluctant to do their shopping in person.

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Tags: Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Sales

Getting Back to Basics: Facebook Marketing 101
LinkedIn
December 11, 2020
You’re probably already marketing your business on Facebook. If you’re not, you should be – but it’s not just a question of having a Facebook page and using it. You’ve got to use it wisely if you want to get great results.

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Tags: Social, Marketing

Why SMS Marketing Should Be in Your Mix Right Now
LinkedIn
December 09, 2020

Marketing is always changing and the changes in 2020 have been profound, mostly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve all had to adjust our work and home lives as a result.




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Tags: Marketing, Sales, COVID19

What Will Digital Marketing Look Like in 2021?
LinkedIn
December 05, 2020
As 2020 winds down in the next couple months there are still a lot of questions that we can’t answer.

How soon until there’s a vaccine to Covid-19?

When will the pandemic end?

When will we return to business as usual?

For small business owners, that last question looms large. With COVID cases spiking across the country and the probability that we’ll be back to only essential businesses opening their doors to the public, it’s crucial to take a long view of the marketing landscape.

Because there are so many unanswered questions, the marketing trends for 2021 have a ..

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Tags: Social, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

How to Increase Customer Retention with Email
LinkedIn
December 02, 2020
New customers are great. There’s something undeniably exciting about attracting someone to your business who might not have found it otherwise. That’s the reason that new customer marketing gets all the attention. It’s the glitziest way to grow a business.

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Tags: Marketing, Customer Loyalty

Marketing Hacks (That Make Your Life Easier)
LinkedIn
October 15, 2020
Marketing your local business can seem like a full-time job. Most business owners can’t afford to have a marketing department which means that you’re adding marketing to all your other responsibilities.

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Tags: Customer Experience, Marketing

Facebook Ad Objectives… Explained
LinkedIn
October 13, 2020
Most local businesses should advertise on Facebook. That’s what I believe, and the evidence backs me up. It’s cost-effective and, if you do it right, it can help your business to grow.

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Tags: Social, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

What Are the Most Important SEO Metrics to Track?
LinkedIn
October 06, 2020
SEO matters. You don’t need me to tell you that – although I certainly have told you all about it!

Understanding the importance of SEO is one thing and knowing what to do with your SEO metrics is another. With so many metrics to choose from, how do you know where to put your focus? Which metrics can help you the most?

That’s where I come in. It’s a lot to ask any small business owner to learn everything there is to know about SEO. It’s a complex topic. But here are the SEO metrics that you really should be tracking, even if you don’t have time for anything else.

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Tags: Marketing, Entrepreneurship

Increase Your Website Conversions with These Helpful Tools
LinkedIn
October 01, 2020
In the world of digital marketing, traffic gets a lot of attention. Small business owners understand that without visitors to your site, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to grow or sustain their businesses.

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Tags: Marketing, Entrepreneurship

TabithaNaylor.com Inc's Marketing Blog
Tabitha Jean Naylor
August 17, 2020
Advice, tips and strategies to help you achieve marketing success through an ROI-driven approach.

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Tags: Marketing

10 Practical Local Marketing Ideas You Can Deploy Right Now
LinkedIn
October 08, 2019
You already know that local marketing is the name of the game if you want to grow your business. The challenge – especially during this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic – is choosing practical local marketing tactics that can help you without breaking the bank.

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Tags: Marketing, Sales, COVID19

TabithaNaylor.com Inc Blog
TabithaNaylor.com Inc
August 22, 2019
This is the official blog of TabithaNaylor.com Inc. It covers anything and everything related to digital marketing, from planning & strategy to metrics analysis and optimization.

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Tags: Marketing

5 Killer Digital Marketing Trends For 2018
linkedin
January 11, 2018
Few industries are more difficult to gauge than digital marketing, however, as you enter 2018, there are five trends that may be worth paying attention to as you plot out your strategy this year.

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Tags: Customer Experience, Marketing

The Secret Reasons Why Need Experiential Marketing… Now
linkedin
January 01, 2018
Does your marketing include live-action exhibitions that sell your product in a way that is interactive and powerful?

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Tags: Social, Marketing, Business Strategy

Let's Get This (Video Marketing) Party Started Already
linkedin
August 08, 2017
If shooting a video with your phone and uploading it directly to LinkedIn through your mobile app sounds like the best thing since sliced bread (or at least the best thing since sliced bread so far this year), then you’re going to LOVE what LinkedIn has coming down the pipeline since this feature will be available to all LinkedIn users in a few short months. And the lucky ones will have access to it much sooner than that (I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to fall into this category, but my fingers and toes are crossed, as are my dog’s paws).

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Tags: Marketing

2 Founders
Women Entrepreneurs Can Magazine
WeCanMagazine
September 01, 2013
Women Entrepreneur's Can (#WEcan) is a digital a magazine for women who are entrepreneurs, startup founders, and small business owners that covers business planning, strategy, management, accounting, finance, sales, and marketing. The goal of Women Entrepreneurs Can is to help women overcome the unique obstacles faced in a business world that’s often dominated by men, while providing the knowledge needed to run a successful business.

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Tags: Management, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Business Strategy

TabithaNaylor.com
TabithaNaylor.com
October 01, 2010
TabithaNaylor.com is a marketing firm that delivers ‘big agency’ quality at rates that are affordable for startups and small businesses. Services include Blogging/Article Marketing, Graphic Design, PR, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Website Design/Development and Web Copy (including landing pages)

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Tags: Marketing, Entrepreneurship

15 Videos
How to Increase Sales on a Shoestring Budget
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September 14, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

How to Curate Great Content for Facebook
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September 10, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

How the Latest in Strategic SEO Can Boost Your Marketing Strategy
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September 07, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

Getting Back to Basics Facebook Marketing 101
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September 03, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

Can We Still Use Flyers in Marketing
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August 30, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

10 Marketing Tools We Are Grateful to Have in 2021
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August 27, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

6 Reasons Your Small Business Needs Great Branding
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August 25, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

5 Hacks to Make Your Marketing Life Easier
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August 23, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

5 Common Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
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August 21, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

4 Things that can Make Your Blog Undermine Your Brand
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August 20, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

4 Marketing Strategies You Can Use to Increase Online Traffic for Beginners
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August 19, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

4 Creative Ways to Earn Passive Income Online in 2021
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August 15, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

The Importance of Visuals in Your Marketing Strategy | Tabitha Jean Naylor Marketing
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August 15, 2021

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

How to Generate Your Own EXCLUSIVE Real Estate Buyer Leads for $1-6 Each!
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November 30, 2019

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

Social Posting Services for Local Business Owners' Facebook Business Page
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November 23, 2019

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Tags: Leadership, Marketing, Entrepreneurship

Blog

49 Article/Blogs
Choosing an Effective Marketing Budget
Thinkers360
August 11, 2022

In order any business to thrive, you need customers. But customers don’t magically flock to your business just because your open sign is lit up. You need to reach the people that are interested in what you offer… And marketing is how you accomplish that.

Every business must decide how much they are going to spend on marketing. How do you determine what’s right for you? Marketing budgets vary based on a number of factors. A budget that works for one business may not work for your business.

You want a marketing budget that is efficient and effective. This decision impacts more than just one line in your bookkeeping: the purpose of marketing is to get that revenue number at the top thicker every day! Marketing exists to grow your sales and increase the number of opportunities you have as a business. But how do you find your magic number?

The Best Budget

In a perfect world, an easy one-size-fits-all number could be given to any business creating their marketing budget. But, there’s a little more to it than that. The size of your company, type of industry, and business goals are just a few factors that can change the best budget for you.

Still, there are general standards you can adopt, assess, and alter to fit the needs of your business. Your marketing budget is communicated as a percentage of your revenue. For B2B businesses, 2-5% of your revenue is the recommended amount for your marketing budget. And if you’re a B2C business, 5-10% is a good rule of thumb.

This range is a good place to begin, but you can make yours more if it fits with your goals. Some experts recommend having a budget as high as 15-20% of your revenue. This may be for you if you are in a highly competitive industry or are at a point where you’re still a new business establishing your name.

An Investment, Not a Loss

It’s important to remember that marketing exists to make you more money. Instead of seeing your marketing budget as a loss for your business, view it as an investment. Successful marketing increases your revenue beyond the price you paid for it. That’s why results are measured as a Return on Investment, or ROI. Cutting your marketing budget to save money will often cost you more money in the end.

Where to Budget Your Budget

Just as important as choosing what to budget is choosing where to budget it. Where will you be marketing your business? What channels and strategies will be the most effective for you? How much money do you put into each marketing campaign?

Answering these questions will require you to think about the following.

Different Costs: Marketing efforts do not all operate the same. Therefore, their costs will not always correlate dollar per dollar. For example, getting a design package for your company when you’re just starting out – your logo, colors, fonts – is mostly a one-time cost. On the other hand, paying for a website includes not only a high upfront cost but also a regular cost for maintenance and hosting. It’s important to consider more than just the dollar amount spent for each marketing effort, as you’ll see next.

Your Company’s Goals: You should only pursue a marketing strategy that helps you reach your specific goals. Some campaigns build your brand’s name recognition. Others educate people about your products in more depth. And others exist to stand out against specific competitors. You may find a campaign that can help you reach all of these goals. Know your goals as a company first, so you can choose the best marketing solution for you.

Study Your Competitors: Understanding where your competitors are advertising can give you a good indication of where you should be too. Maybe they are finding success on a platform because that’s where your mutual audience is hanging out. You may find success on other platforms more than them, but don’t dismiss where they are doing well.

Marketing Options

With these factors in mind, let’s look at some of the best marketing options out there to spend your marketing budget.

Company Image & Collateral: Whether you’re new or ready to rebrand, every business will need to establish an identity through a logo and other design elements including marketing collateral.The marketing collateral best for your business may vary, from infographics to case studies, eBooks to promotional videos. This marketing effort is an upfront cost with typically little regular upkeep involved, aside from creating additional collateral or rebranding in the future.

Website: When publishing a website you’ll need to keep in mind there will be an upfront design cost and some ongoing maintenance and hosting costs associated. Always connect and stay up to date with your website’s analytics to measure your progress and see where you may need to improve your site.

Local SEO: Your local SEO contributes greatly to your visibility online. It helps people find you. This marketing effort is an investment that will take time to establish and see results. But overall it is the best long term solution for local traffic.

Marketing on Social Media: Many businesses today are thriving by running organic posts on social media platforms. While you may not be paying the platform to publish these posts, building a following will take time. You may need to hire a social media specialist to manage your account. Consider the cost of running your social media in house compared to outsourcing to a social media expert.

Paid Online Ads: Advertise online for instant targeted traffic. Facebook, Instagram, and pretty much every other social media platform today offer sponsored posts on their platforms. Do you already have a strong presence on a specific platform? A sponsored post will boost your reach even further and funnel consumers to your organic posts. You can also opt for search engine advertising options like Google.

Track, Adjust, Repeat

Choosing a marketing budget is a cycle, not a one and done situation. It can be tempting to make a marketing budget, decide how much you will spend on each channel, and walk away. But don’t forget to measure your marketing’s success and adjust regularly. This is what will make your marketing the most efficient and effective.

Did your marketing efforts work on one channel but provide no ROI on another channel? Adjust your marketing budget to spend less money on the less successful strategies and more on those that performed well. An effective marketing budget translates to a successful and steady increase in revenue for years to come.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Marketing

7 Pro Ways to Boost Your Conversions
Thinkers360
August 08, 2022

It’s no secret that every business needs customers to generate revenue and profits.

And in order to survive in this competitive post pandemic market, you need to maximize your conversion rate in order get the absolute most out of your marketing efforts.

So if your leads are not converting into paying customers, it’s time you need to work on improving your conversion rate.  Here’s 10 tips you can start with.

1. Make your webforms easy to complete. 

According to a report published by wpforms.com, at least 68% of users leave the forms without completing them. 

Why is this?

People are lazy. The shorter your forms are, the less informational fields they need to fill out - the higher your conversions will typically be.  Whether it’s for a custom quote, or an optin for a lead magnet – keep the forms as short and easy to complete as you can.  Less is definitely more, and if they decide to move forward with your services you can always request more info from them once they’ve sent a deposit   

      

2. Add a chatbot

According to research, it takes one bad experience for a customer to turn your competitors.

Do you find that your website visitors ask the same questions frequently? Live chatbots can interact with your customers 24-7 and guide them to the next steps and answer their general questions without a live human to help them.  

A chatbot can help you provide a better customer experience whether they need basic info like providing them with your contact information, hours of operation, location information, even checking availability and booking appointments – all without a human.

With a chatbot, providing helpful support makes the journey from visitor to customer more seamless than ever before!

3. Perform A/B testing

A/B testing, also called split testing, is a method in which you test the two different versions of color, shape, size, placement, and format of elements to know what’s working best for your audience.

You can experiment with different elements at different stages and determine the best one. For example – you can create two copies of the same page and test each one on a different group of visitors to find out the best performing one.

You can also test different design layouts.  Button colors, shape, size, and Placement Experiment with these elements to achieve the best results as well as optimizing your content based on your customer avatar. 

4. High converting lead magnets

It’s important nurture and educate your customers about your business, industry, product, or the services you offer. A well-constructed lead magnet can help you nurture your leads and guide them to taking the next step in your funnel like booking a consultation or getting a free quote.

Lead magnets can be a great tool to convince your customer that they’ve found the solution they are looking for with your business. So make sure you make a good impression and your lead magnet is designed to encourage users to take action (Sign up to your newsletter, buy a product, visit your physical business location or schedule a call).

5. Improve your website speed

Your visitors are not obligated to do business with you. They already have too many options so if your website takes longer than expected to load, they will turn to your competitor’s site.

A slow-loading website is the most common reason for users to click on the back button before they’ve even been to your website!  So, make sure your website loads faster. You can use Google’s page speed.web.dev to check your site speed for both mobile and desktop; if the score for either of one is below 90, you need to work on your website’s loading speed.

6. Use the pop-ups carefully

Using Pop-ups is a great way to capture a visitor’s contact info before they leave your website, but don’t be obnoxious about it.  Pop-ups work but be smart about where & when you use them.

Also, make sure they have a clearly visible option to exit the pop-up if they aren’t interested in it. And once users skip it, they should not see it repeatedly on your site’s next pages.  

7. Show more social proof

User-generated content such as video, testimonials, comments, recommendations, and textual reviews are the best social proof that will help increase your audience’s trust in your business.

Social proof encourages users to do business with you because it works very similar to how a recommendation works by tapping into the basic human instinct to follow the actions of others.

Conclusion

There you have it.  7 helpful ideas you can use right away to start improving your conversions. I hope you found these tips helpful and ready to implement them on your website and future marketing campaigns. With a little effort you can make a big difference in your conversion goals.

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

Market Your Business on a Shoestring Budget
Thinkers360
August 04, 2022

Behind every successful business is a good marketing strategy. But sometimes your budget is tight and you can’t afford to spend the big bucks on advertising. When this happens, it’s easy to cease all marketing efforts. But a small budget isn’t a good reason to neglect your marketing. There are many ways you can keep your marketing strong — even on a shoestring budget.

There are three core elements to a strong, inexpensive, modern marketing strategy: a strong social media, great relationships, and a pristine online presence. If you can rock these three by centering your marketing efforts here, the sales will follow. Even without the big marketing budget.

Strong Social Media

There’s no way around it: our modern world requires a strong social media presence. But many businesses don’t know where to begin with social media. Which platform is best for you? What kind of content do you share? How do you share it?

Regardless of which platform you choose and how you build your social media presence, there are three solid action steps you should take to make the most out of social media marketing.

Go Live

All of the big social media platforms today — Facebook, Youtube, TikTok, Instagram, and so on — have the feature to go live. Live videos are trending in 2022, so today is a great time to begin. You can use a live stream to run a Q&A for your followers, host someone for an interview, demo and sell your products, share behind the scenes, or anything else you can come up with.

The point is to connect with people. Video content establishes trust in a brand, builds relationships and intrigue into what you offer. These are all valuable results that lead to sales. Live video amplifies these traits even further in a more intimate setting. Make a point to go live at least once a week to reap in these benefits.

Share Value

Whatever platform you choose to stick with and whatever form of content you choose to share, there is one thing you should always be doing on social media as a business: share value. People like to follow thought leaders, experts, and professionals who teach them as well as help them to be better and grow.

Consider how you can bring value to your audience with your content. How can you establish yourself as a thought leader or expert? People will buy from experts. Be on social media not just to get others to buy from you, but to give openly to them as well. This will help you long-term in both sales and your company values.

Be Engaged and Active Consistently

Another solid strategy for every social media platform is to be consistent. Whether you are tweeting, tiktoking, instagramming, or any other sharing: be consistent. What does consistency look like? Posting regular content. Whatever you’re sharing, share it often. The more active you are, the more often people see you and the better rapport you build. And remember, your content does not have to be perfect to post regularly.

Consistency also means actively and regularly engaging with other users on the platform. Don’t just post and walk away. Social media platforms are looking to share the profiles who are actively engaging and building community with others. This could look like commenting, sharing, saving, or liking content from others on the platform. Staying consistent is one very simple but important way to build your following on social media, and increase your sales through this valuable and inexpensive form of marketing.

Great Relationships

Businesses thrive by building relationships. It’s always been this way. People want to buy from someone they know they can trust. They want a reliable product or service that is worth their investment. And when you build this relationship and come through for them, they will use their relationships to tell others about you. Here are three ways you can build great relationships and continue to market your business on a budget.

Create a Unique Customer Experience

From start to finish, you want your customer experience to be exceptional. Look at your business now. Follow a customer through your pipeline and experience the process someone would go through from learning about your business to after they’ve made a purchase.

  • Do you collect their email or phone number?
  • Do you communicate in a friendly and personalized way?
  • Do you continue the conversation after they’ve made a purchase?

 

Collect their contact information as soon as you can and communicate to them personally throughout the entire process. And don’t stop after they’ve made their purchase. Repeat customers are extremely valuable. Continue the communication and build the relationship even after the sale so you can tap into that lucrative repeat business.

Build Your Word of Mouth Business

Word of mouth is often a large part of how businesses make money. This method does rely on your customers to share your business with others. But that doesn’t mean you don’t play a part. Here are three ways to increase your word of mouth business:

  • Build a recommendation or referral program
    • Make an offer for customers who refer other customers, this could be a small discount, coupon, or other referral reward
  • Do everything you can to make a customer’s experience so great, they can’t help but talk about you
    • Establish solid relationships with your customers and provide them with value as much as possible, make them excited to share your name
  • Openly ask for people to talk about you
    • In your emails and social media, put the call to action: “Share with your friends!”

Pristine Online Presence

Finally, a simple and inexpensive way to market your business today involves creating a pristine online presence. Where does your business appear online? Here are a few online presences every business should have online:

  • Company website
  • Google business listing
  • Social media presence
  • Product or service listings, or as a guest feature

Having an online presence is great. But if your branding, colors, messaging, contact information, and so on are not consistent among these platforms, an online presence may actually work against you. Here are 3 quick ways to keep these presences working for you.

SEO Everywhere

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a must for businesses today. While this can be a large marketing effort on which you can spend a lot of money, there are a few simple ways you can streamline your SEO as much as possible on your own.

  • Know the keywords for your business
    • These could be locational like Europe, or topical like modern fashion
  • Insert these keywords into every blog, social media listing or post, company profile, and website copy

Branding + Contact

Whether you’re building a social media presence, website, or any other online activity, your branding must be consistent.

  • Logo
  • Colors
  • Keywords
  • Grammar and spelling
  • Email, phone number, website

Don’t have an old logo on your social media platform that’s different from the logo on your website. If you’ve changed niches recently, make sure your messaging is updated everywhere. You want someone to recognize you no matter where they find you online.

You Can Market Your Business

Don’t give up on marketing just because you can’t spend a lot of money on advertising at the moment. Your business can still thrive even on inexpensive marketing efforts. Remember, most marketing strategies are built upon the same value: building relationships. Every one of these tips is about building relationships.

On a budget, you can still build relationships on social media through live streams and consistent engagement. You can grow relationships with your customers through a unique customer experience and playing your part in word of mouth marketing. And you can clean up your online presence so people can recognize and trust you whether they see you on social media, Google, or your own website.

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

6 Ways Small Businesses Are Leveraging AI
Thinkers360
August 01, 2022

Every day, artificial intelligence gets smarter and easier to work with. And it’s no longer just for the large businesses and corporations. AI is accessible to small businesses today more than ever before.

The power of AI lies within its ability to gather and interpret large amounts of data very quickly. Using AI, you can automate and personalize your marketing. You can save time and money spent analyzing data and creating strategies, giving you time to focus on what’s most important to you.

Exciting advances in AI are shaping and reshaping marketing operations. In fact, more than 60% of marketers not only use AI, they say it’s the most important aspect of their data strategy.

Here are 6 easy ways you can leverage AI for your business.

1. Market Intelligence

We’ve probably all experienced something similar: you’re shopping online for a pair of running shoes. You compare a few styles and exit out of the site. Next thing you know, every website you visit has advertisements featuring running shoes. You can thank the power of AI. It knows you’re looking for a pair of running shoes, so it’s going to pop in wherever you go to remind you of those shoes you still need to buy.

Using AI to gather market intelligence and data like this means your business can target the right people. You can have a great marketing campaign. Great visuals, great copy, a great hook. But if the right people aren’t seeing it, it won’t matter. AI can help you reach the right people.

By recording the demographics of your current audience as well as whoever interacts with your company online, AI tools can optimize your target audience. You can then use AI to create customer profiles and curate marketing that targets each person uniquely. Efficient targeting means a great return of sales.

2. Customer Service

Insert Customer service

People talk to computers all the time. We ask Google and Alex questions daily. A chat bot is the same concept. Most people ask the same service-based questions over and over. Instead of paying an employee to sit and answer repetitive customer service requests all day, you can utilize a chat box for these simpler inquiries.

Customers are becoming more open to accepting help from chatbots. A recent survey discovered 40% of people will accept help from a chatbot immediately. This frees up customer service agents from dealing with repetitive small issues, allowing them to only work with the larger and more urgent issues.

3. Bookings

Whether you’re meeting with a paying customer or running through a sales demonstration with a potential client, getting an accurate appointment booked is important. And you want to make it as easy as possible for them to book with you.

AI systems have auto-scheduling features every business should be taking advantage of. You can tell the system who is scheduled that day and how much time there needs to be in between appointments, among other rules. From there, the system can walk a visitor through scheduling their appointment automatically, all without the use of an admin to manually schedule an appointment.

4. Talent Acquisition

Good businesses are run by good people. But finding good people can be exhausting. And if you’re a small business, you don’t have enough resources to dedicate a whole department just to finding good people. You need good people and you need them now.

Bet you guessed the answer here: there’s an AI tool for that! Several dozen AI tools, actually, all specializing in recruiting. These tools simplify your talent acquisition process by screening, assessing, and even interviewing candidates.

5. Strategic Ads

What time of day should you post on social media, send an email, or run an advertisement? How do you find your ideal audience? You guessed it: through the power of AI.

AI tools can run tests for what time of day is best to make an action. They are also responsible for your ability to target exactly who you want to send your advertisement to online. This optimizes your ad budget so you’re not wasting money advertising to the wrong people or at the wrong time.

6. Email Marketing

Do you have a marketing email to send out but are torn between two designs? You don’t have to just guess which is better. With AI, you can run an A/B test.

With an A/B test you tell your system to send a fraction of your email list Email Design A and another fraction Email Design B. If Email Design A was opened and engaged with more, the remainder of your email list receives that design. No more guessing which design is better!

The Future is AI

When you’re a new business, you are constantly creating, developing, and testing new strategies. And that’s fine while you are new. But the one thing every business needs to scale sustainably is a clear and organized process.

After you create a process, you can pass it on to an AI system that can run it for you. This frees up your hands to grow another part of your business. And the cycle repeats, until your business is a large and efficient operation, with the assistance of AI.

And it’s more than the small tasks. AI can also take on large compilations of data and run formulas to make decisions for your marketing strategies. You can use AI to automate, personalize, and optimize your marketing process every step of the way.

As technology continues to get smarter, every business will be relying on AI in some way. No more spending long hours manually completing simple marketing tasks. They are essential to the marketing process but can now be handed off to a computer. Run your business efficiently and make more money with the help of AI and easy solutions like these.

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

Video Marketing 101 for Local Business
Thinkers360
July 28, 2022

If content is king, then video content is the reigning emperor. By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic - 15 times higher than in 2017. If you want to engage with internet users who make up most of the world’s population, you need compelling, attractive, and engaging video marketing strategies.

Why this Matters for Small Business

Running a successful business is all about managing operating costs while increasing sales and revenue. To do this, you need to choose strategies that have the highest ROI. Technology has finally caught up video marketing. Now practically everyone has a smartphone in their pocket capable of making movies that could be featured in the Sundance Film Festival.

It doesn’t take much to create an engaging video with nothing more than some decent lighting and a compelling story. This is perfect for smaller businesses that may not have deep pockets for their marketing campaigns but still want to do something relevant.

Local Means

There are many types of video content your small business can create, including:

  • Introductions
  • Explainer Videos
  • Testimonials from Clients
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Demonstration
  • FAQs
  • Brand Stories
  • Product Reveals or Unboxing

With every one of these options, you have the opportunity to feature local-based talent, locations and content to engage your audience with.

Local Storytelling Improves Sales

There was a great study done a while ago featured on the Significant Objects site where the experimenters decided to sell ordinary items they found at thrift stores and add compelling stories written by professional writers and authors. The result was practically a 20X increase in product value on average. Imagine selling a $1.25 item for almost $8,000!

Brand narratives increase brand value. This is a proven fact. If you want to increase the value of your company, tell a story through your video marketing. Personalize your content with local traditions that evoke an emotional reaction by your audience and use supporting data to hammer home those reactions.

A great example of this is High Brew Coffee. Their brand story revolves around the founders, a married couple, drinking bold, cold brew coffee packed with caffeine to stay alert during a six-month rafting adventure through the Caribbean. The copy for that brand story practically writes itself.

Showcase Your Expertise Everywhere

A woodworker named Marc Spagnuolo decided to take his hobby of making quality wood products online in 2006. Little by little, he made videos about how to construct custom bookcases, toy chests, and chairs, and his audience grew. He is currently sitting on 745,000 YouTube subscribers and a growing company that sells membership plans, books, instructional videos, and supports a local charity.

This man is not the best in the world, and he never claims to be. His personable style and authenticity as a local husband and dad showing other people a valuable skill makes his videos highly valuable for customers across the globe. This has transformed his small business into a thriving online community.

What no one talks about is the marketing genius behind this company, the founder’s wife, Nicole. She took his videos and plastered them all over social media, their customized website, in email campaigns, and with any collaborators willing to give them some space. She leveraged the small-town charm of her craftsman husband to build a family business that will probably pay for the college education of their great-grandchildren.

Emotional Response

Viral content typically evokes high-arousal emotions. We’re not talking about the “sideways no-pants dance” either. It means feelings that evoke a physical response. Think about those commercials and online videos that ignite something inside of you and triggers an emotional response.

The brand Always did a commercial a few years ago using the hashtag #likeagirl.  In this commercial young actors were asked to perform actions "like a girl" including running, throwing, and fighting.  In cases with boys or woman (older than their teens) they would mimic stereotypical actions of flailing around, and looking week.

When the director asked the young girls 10-12 years old to perform the same actions. They do them normally, and often with incredible vigor.   This creates a brand story that supports teaching a new way of thinking about our society while celebrating woman - Always' target audience It evokes a feeling of inspiration and hope which makes it relatable and memorable.

While not every business will have a genius marketer like those behind this commercial, the basic principles can be weaved into your local advertising techniques. Evoke a strong emotion when you celebrate your local traditions and the things that make a Mainer a Mainer and a Californian a Californian.

The Three E’s

If nothing else, remember the three E’s of video marketing: engage, educate, and energize. Upload your videos on the platforms where your target audience will be most likely to watch. Next, educate them with compelling copy that is relatable and relevant to them. Finally, energize them with your brand story that includes a CTA worthy of the video.

Video content is a powerful tool that can be utilized by companies both large and small - but it is especially valuable for smaller businesses. It's initial low-cost, and potential high ROI makes getting noticed over your competition easier than ever before.  It allows you to engage with your audience in ways that just were not possible 10 years go. Leverage your video content across social media, and you will be rewarded with a new stream of targeted traffic that can be tapped into time and time again.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Business Continuity

Why Your Business Needs a Lead Magnet
Thinkers360
July 25, 2022

The online world is full of competition that can drown out your marketing campaigns with nothing more than a strategically placed cute cat meme. To ensure your messaging rises above the rest, you need to integrate every single technique and customer touchpoint possible. That is where the power of a lead magnet can help.

A lead magnet is a well-known marketing tool that increases new leads by offering some kind of value in exchange for their contact information. You’ve probably seen these used in a variety of places online.

The reason these are so valuable is because email is still king. More than half of consumers trust emails they receive from companies they signed up for compared to random unsolicited emails.

As a result, email marketing is still one of the most productive and highest ROI methods, especially for small to medium-sized businesses. It generates $42 for every $1 spent. That is a 4,200% ROI!

Capturing those high-value email addresses is going to take some sort of value exchange. You need to offer something worth a direct line of communication to your customers. Here are some of the best types of lead magnets that can be delivered through email to increase your conversions and boost revenue.

Coupons & Discounts

25% Coupon

The majority of consumers report that they will change their purchasing habits based on the coupons they receive. That just means opportunity for you! 

Offering coupons and discounts is an excellent way to capture leads to build longer-lasting customer relationships. The cost of a 25% off coupon is much lower than the cost of acquiring a loyal customer and it instantly creates good will between your business and new customer. That means they’re more likely become repeat customers.

Video

When it comes to video lead magnets for a lot of small businesses – ebooks, training courses, webinars, white papers, checklists, just aren’t going to convert the same way as they do for digital marketing related products and services.

But regardless video is still one of the best types of lead magnets and there are two types of video lead magnets that convert pretty well.

“How-To” videos are basically the most useful content consumers search for online. Demonstrate to your viewers they’ve got a problem and your video can help them find a solution. 

“Case Study” videos pack a one-two punch mixing a “how-to” video and a customer testimonial video all in one.

I’m sure there are other ideas local businesses can use video to generate leads but these two are proven to get results. 

Ready-Made Templates

Pre-made templates are a great way to increase leads, and they have the added bonus of being incredibly easy to make. With modern tools like Canva for graphics and a decent understanding of Microsoft Office, your team can bust out a few quick templates for practically anything.

Whether you want to offer pre-made social media posts your clients can fill in or ready-to-use financial documents for a new business, pre-made templates will undoubtedly provide high value for your leads.

Free Report & Guides

Not to be confused with e-books. You don’t need to have a five-volume tome on woodworking to encourage more people to visit your website. Using a quick written “how-to” guide for building a small birdhouse will be more effective. 

If you work in travel you could create a checklist with a “post pandemic” packing guide for a customer’s next trip to Disney World. The possibilities are only restricted to your own imagination with this one. Think about the healthcare industry and how often you’ve come across “10 Foods for Lower Cholesterol” guides while shopping for a decent vitamin online.

But before you start generating any leads, make sure you have your autoresponder setup (we like Mail Chimp and Constant Contact) and follow up email series to nurture your new leads. Be sure there’s a clear option to unsubscribe. You never want anyone on your email list that doesn’t want to be there in the first place.

Summing it up…

Lead magnets have become an essential marketing tool for small businesses to quickly scale and grow revenue without breaking open the piggy bank to pay for the campaign. So, what’s your next lead magnet going to be?

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

Getting Google to Fall Back in Love with Your Website
Thinkers360
July 21, 2022

According to research, 53% of the total traffic on your website can come from organic searches. However, since the algorithm changes often, so does the ranking of your content on Google.

One day, your website is at the top of Google’s first page, and with the next update, you’re on the fifth page simply because Google has tweaked its algorithm. So, what can you do get Google to fall back in love with your website?

You can either wait for it to happen over time -which can take months – if at all.  Or proactively make website updates to ensure you website is in Google’s good graces. We will dive in and explain the second approach in this article.

First - What if Your Entire Website isn’t Indexed?

Google crawls the web, following hyperlinks to find new content. In doing so, the search engine’s bots look at web pages, going from link to link to bring information back to the servers.

If your whole website is not indexed, it’s likely because of a crawl block. The block is in your robots.txt.file. Here’s how to fix it:

  • Type com/robots.txt.
  • Look for one of the two code snippets:

User-agent: Googlebot

Disallow: /

OR

User-agent: *

Disallow: /

  • Simply remove this snippet to let Google crawl your website.

Likewise, if Google is not indexing a certain page in your website, a crawl block might be the reason.

  • Go to Google Search Console and select the inspection tool.
  • Paste the URL of the webpage in the tool.
  • Click the ‘Coverage’ block.
  • In the details displayed on the screen, check for the following error: “Crawl allowed? No: blocked by robots.txt”.
  • If the error exists, check the robots.txt file and remove any ‘disallow’ rules.

How to Update Your Old Blogs to Get Re-Indexed and Crawled?

When it comes to old content, you can either let it be, delete it, or update it. We’d suggest going with the last option since it helps you reap the results of your former SEO efforts and keeps your site relevant.

Here are some ways to update your old blog:

  • to your older posts will keep them up to date. Also, longer content seems to be better for SEO, more shareable, and engaging.
  • Reoptimize for Keywords: If your blog post is five years old, the keywords you used then may not be relevant now. Use one of Google’s keyword planners to find the currently relevant keywords and use them in your updated content.
  • Interlink: Interlinking helps get more views on your older or less read posts along with spreading link equity or ranking power around your website. It also creates an information hierarchy on your site, allowing the reader to navigate easily.
  • Add New Content Formats: Visual content marketing wasn’t as popular five years ago as it is today. In fact, there was a 5% increase in visual content use from 2018 to 2019. So, if your old blogs only have text, spice them up with videos or images.
  • Update Expired Content: Your older content may not be indexing anymore simply because the promotion/event may have expired since you published a blog about it. Go through your old posts and update what should stay, what should be updated, and what needs to go, to make it easily to index for Google’s bot.

Get Google to Recrawl the Updated Content

Once you’ve made the updates, you can ask Google to recrawl your content by requesting it. If you’ve made changes to a certain blog post, you can request for recrawl by following the steps given below:

  • Make sure you’re compliant with the general guidelines.
  • Use the URL Inspection tool to inspect the URL.
  • Then, click on Request Indexing. It will run a live test on your URL and queue it for indexing. If there are any issues on the page - as shown by the tool - you need to fix them.

However, if you want to submit multiple URLs, you need to create a sitemap. Once you’ve done that, wait for a few days - or weeks - since crawling can take some time, depending on the number of URLs you submitted.

You can check the status of your request in the Index Status Report.

How to Make Your Website Google-Friendly?

If you want to get fresh views on your old content or rank higher in the search results, here are some tips to consider.

Mobile Optimization

According to Google Search Central, Google started ‘’mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for all new websites (new to the web or previously unknown to Google Search)’’ from July 1, 2019.

For older websites, Google informs the website owners about the date when their site goes to mobile-first indexing in the Search Console. In fact, Google has a detailed guide on optimizing websites for mobiles since over 90% of the world’s population uses phones to access the web.

You can use the Mobile-Friendly Test to check if a certain web page is optimized sufficiently for mobile devices.

Use Proper Tags

Google is only able to follow links with a certain format, as shown below:

  • <a href="https://example.com">
  • <a href="/relative/path/file">

On the other hand, if the link looks something like: <span href="https://example.com">, Google will not be able to follow it. So, make sure your links have the proper tags and attributes.

Optimize for Voice Search

If your website is not optimized for voice search, you have missed out on 111.8 million people in the US who use voice search on Google. More importantly, Bright Local reports that 53% of the consumers use voice search to find local businesses.

It’s even more vital to note that of all the voice searches made in a day, 46% are for local businesses. Thus, as a small or medium business, if your website is not voice-optimized, you’re losing customers.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Focus on conversational keywords since Google now uses natural language processing to show searchers top results.
  • Include inquisitive words like ‘how,’ ‘where,’ and ‘when’. Also, focus on comparative keywords, such as ‘top-rated’ and ‘best’.
  • Make sure you answer the questions - containing the keywords mentioned above - most likely to be asked by a prospective customer on your website.

Optimize Images

One of the best ways to revive your old content is to add high-quality pictures since Google’s latest algorithm loves visuals.

According to Google Consumer Survey, 50% of online shoppers make a decision based on the images. Therefore, good images can make or break your website’s ranking. Along with adding clear and non-blurry images, you should also focus on the following data:

  • Text
  • Titles
  • Filenames
  • Captions

More importantly, define your image using a well-written alt text. Google uses alt text to understand the image’s subject matter. Google suggests using ‘’information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page’’.

Here are three examples to understand the difference:

  • Bad: <img src="puppy.jpg"/> (there’s no alt text)
  • Good: <img src="puppy.jpg" alt="puppy"/>
  • Best: <img src="puppy.jpg" alt="Dalmatian puppy playing fetch"/>

Speed Up Your Website

Your website should load in under four seconds since websites with websites that take five seconds to load have a 38% bounce rate. Moreover, every one in four visitors will abandon your site if it takes over four seconds to load.

Google’s algorithm also focuses immensely on fast-loading websites, especially the ones with quick-loading images. If you have a ton of images - common for ecommerce sites - use responsive image techniques to speed up your website.

Google shows the AMP logo  in front of pages that load quickly. If you have an image host page that shows in Google Images, consider turning it into an AMP to load your site quickly and retain more visitors.

You can check your website’s speed using PageSpeed Insights and make changes accordingly.

Remove Broken Links

Broken links or 404 errors affect your SEO negatively and drive visitors away from your page. Use plugins like Broken Links Checker to detect broken links in a WordPress site. You can then remove or fix these links.

Final Words

Let’s face the facts, Google’s algorithm changes frequently, and it will continue to do so. If you want Google to stay in love with your website long term, you will need to stay committed to making those necessary updates when the time comes. But for now, the tips mentioned in this guide will help you keep your relationship in good graces with Google.

See blog

Tags: Management, Marketing

Direct Response Marketing Campaigns That Deliver Results
Thinkers360
July 18, 2022

There’s no denying that direct response marketing – when done right – is hugely effective. The problem is that It is often attempted in ways that are Ill-conceived and poorly executed. When that happens, the results aren’t good, and people give up on it.

I’m here to help. What does it take to create a direct response marketing campaign that delivers results? Here’s what you need to know.

What is Direct Response Marketing?

Let’s start with the basics and explain what direct response marketing is. Direct response marketing is a type of marketing that is designed to provoke an immediate response. An example that most people have probably seen is a sales page for a product. The page might include benefits of the product, customer testimonials, and a personal story that’s engaging and gripping.

In most cases, direct response copywriting includes multiple attempts to get the person being targeted to take the desired action. The action might be buying a product, subscribing to a service, or filling out a lead form. When it’s done well, direct response marketing should generate leads and sales at a higher rate than other types of marketing.

What Are the Elements of an Effective Direct Response Marketing Campaign?

There are four main elements that any effective direct response marketing campaign must have. Here they are.

  1. A personalized message for a targeted audience. The only way direct response marketing can be effective is when it is targeted to a carefully chosen audience. That way, the content can be personalized to address the needs and pain points of anybody who reads or watches it.
  2. Content that is clear and compelling. Direct response copy isn’t effective if it can’t be easily understood. It should avoid jargon or confusing language and get right to the point. At the same time, it should offer a compelling argument to take the desired action. The argument might include a personal story and research to support the argument. It often uses psychological triggers to compel the people who see it to act.
  3. A sense of urgency. Because direct response marketing is designed to get an immediate response, building a sense of urgency into your content is a must. There are multiple ways to do it, from putting a countdown on the page to articulating a deadline for the deal being offered.
  4. An irresistible call to action. CTAs are used everywhere in marketing, but some are more compelling than others. With direct response marketing you’ll need a CTA that is clear, direct, personalized, and easily accessible. It should focus on a single action that readers can take immediately.

If your direct response marketing campaign has these four things, the chances are good that it will elicit the response you want and generate leads or sales at a high rate.

Ideas for Direct Response Marketing Campaigns

There no one “correct” format for direct response marketing. That said, some types of direct response marketing work better than others and it’s your job to choose the campaign that will resonate with your target audience. After all, they’re the people you want to impress.

Here are 6 different ideas for direct marketing campaigns that you may want to try.

Contests or Giveaways

Everybody loves a freebie which is why contests can be a terrific way to generate leads. Your direct response copywriting should indicate:

  • The requirements for entering the contest
  • The rules and prizes to be awarded
  • The benefits of the prizes

Running a contest can help you to collect leads. They can even be used to boost sales if you link the contest entry to a required purchase.

Referral Program

Referral programs are a preferred form of marketing for a reason. Consumers are four times as likely to buy a product or use a service when they are referred by a friend. They also tend to be more loyal when they find a company through a referral than they are when they find it on their own.

Direct response marketing can be an effective way to generate referrals. In most cases, consumers expect a reward in return for a referral, so it’s important to remember that when creating your campaign. Money (which can be in the form of a discount) or free merchandise are the two most preferred rewards.

Social Media Ads

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram offer an affordable way to run a direct response marketing campaign. People on social media are there to emotionally engage with content and that’s what direct response campaigns do, too.

Both Facebook and Instagram offer users the chance to create Stories, which can be an effective form of direct response marketing. You can also create visual or video ads to engage your target audience and convince them to take the desired action.

Upselling

The Sunk Costs Fallacy is a psychological phenomenon that encourages people to double down on expenditures and investments. For that reason, upselling is a highly effective form of direct response marketing.

In upselling, companies target customers who have made an initial purchase with an “upsell” – a related offer that adds immediate value to the purchase they have already made. For example, a consumer who purchased lawn care services would be inclined to purchase fertilizer or soil treatments right after their purchase.

Text Messaging

Text messages have a 98% open rate, making them far more likely to be opened than email. They also provide a perfect format for short direct response marketing campaigns designed to encourage an immediate response.

The chances are good that you have received at least one direct response text. Most include an embedded link that allows the recipient to take the desired action with a tap of the finger.

Chatbot Messaging

On a related note, programming a chatbot to interact with your followers via Facebook Messenger can be an effective direct response marketing technique.

Chatbots can be programmed to make product recommendations and link to special offers for the people who message you.

Direct response marketing campaigns deliver great results. The key is to include the required element and make your content clear, compelling, and irresistible.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Marketing

The 3 Most Common Mistakes Everyone Makes with Facebook Ads
Thinkers360
July 14, 2022

Did you know that the average Facebook user clicks on 12 ads per month? It’s true – and it illustrates why Facebook ads are still one of the most cost-effective ways to connect with your target audience and promote your business.

If only you weren’t messing them up.

Look, we can’t say whether your Facebook ads are perfect. Maybe they are. But the truth is that most people do mess them up – and the mistakes they make cause their ad campaigns to be more expensive (and less effective) than they should be.

Fortunately, there’s a quick fix. Once you understand the 3 most common mistakes people make, you can stop making them – and starting to get the results you deserve. Here they are.

#1: Targeting Ads to People Who Aren’t Already Fans

This first mistake can be a real head scratcher for small business owners. Aren’t you supposed to use Facebook ads to grow your audience?

The short answer is no, not really. You can – and we’re not saying that you should never run an ad that targets new customers. But you’ll get more engagement and more clicks if you target the people who already like your company.

If you think about it, it should make sense. The people who follow you on Facebook are qualified leads. Some may have already bought from you but all of them are people who had enough interest in your company to click that Follow button.

Running ads that appear only to followers is a great way to nurture leads, encourage repeat business, and let your followers know that you want them to connect with you.

#2: Not Testing Your Ad Images

Very few people can get an ad right the first time they create it. Even professional marketers struggle with creating ads that work and it’s what they do for a living.

A case in point? Ad images. The right image can stop someone mid-scroll and get them to click on your ad. The wrong image will make them ignore your ad or – worse – view it with disdain.

There’s only one way to find out which image will resonate the most with your target audience and that’s to test multiple images.

Now, we’d be remiss if we didn’t say that you should be testing everything in your ads. But images have the potential to make or break your ad in a heartbeat and that means you should be prioritizing them. You may want to check out Facebook’s breakdown of ad image best practices, here.

#3: Not Segmenting Your Ads

The third and final mistake we want to tell you about is one that may also be the most common: not segmenting your ads.

There’s no denying that it requires less effort to create a single ad for to reach every follower. The problem is that an ad that’s highly appealing to one follower may be a complete dud for another. You’ll be better off thinking about the various segments of your target audience and creating an array of ads to appeal to each segment than to try to shoehorn everybody into the same box.

Let’s consider one potential example of this. Imagine a flooring company that has multiple service areas and locations. They create a single ad that targets their entire list of followers. That might be okay, but think about how much more successful they would be if they:

  • Created location-specific ads that let their followers in each service area know that they are a local company.
  • Used images that were tailored to each location.
  • Offered location-based incentives to people who click on each ad.

The main thing to remember is that it’s rare for a “one size fits all” ad to be as effective as an ad that is targeted to a specific segment of your audience. People are far more likely to respond favorably to an ad that is meant for them than to one that’s trying to be all things to all people.

Facebook ads are undeniably effective if you do them right. By reviewing your existing ads and eliminating the 3 mistakes we’ve outlined here, you can get more engagement, more clicks, and more leads than you are now – without spending more money.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Marketing

10 Digital Marketing Tools That Give You an Edge Over Your Competition
Thinkers360
July 11, 2022

In this digital age, getting access to the best online marketing tools has never been easier. With just a credit card and a few clicks, you can get access to remarkable marketing tools that will help you level up your small business’s online presence and generate more revenue.

But what tools are we talking about?

This article outlines 10 digital marketing tools that you can leverage to scale your business in 2022.

1. Canva

Canva is a cloud-based tool with a user-friendly interface that makes editing and creating designs easier.

By using Canva, you can make social media graphic designs, posters, newsletter designs, lead magnet templates, packaging designs, flyers, and more in a matter of minutes.

Pricing

$0 for Canva Free

$6 per month or $50 per year for Canva Pro

2. CopyAI

As its name suggests, CopyAI is an artificial intelligence tool that produces copy. It features an extremely advanced machine language model called GPT-3.

Using CopyAI allows you to create human-like, genuine-sounding copy quickly.

Pricing

$35 per month or $420 per year for CopyAI Solo

3. Grammarly

Speaking of creating copy, Grammarly is another tool you can use to make sure your copy is readable and error-free.

Best used with tools like CopyAI, Grammarly checks the spelling, grammar, and readability of your sales letters, emails, blog posts, and more.

Pricing

$12.50 per member each month

4. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a tool that helps put your website on the first page of Google.

By using Ahrefs, you can monitor your competition, look for keywords, see how difficult it is to rank those keywords, and more.

Pricing

$0 for some keyword research, link building, and SERP tools

$99 per month for Ahrefs Lite

5. Google Analytics

Developed by the world’s largest search engine, Google Analytics is a must-have.

This tool gives you insights such as page impressions and click-through rates that let you monitor the performance of your website.

Pricing

Free

6. Buffer

Over 160,000 small businesses use Buffer, a tool made for social media management.

Buffer saves you time by letting you schedule your posts to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Pricing 

$0 for Buffer’s publishing tools

$5/month/social channel for Buffer’s publishing, analytics, and engagement tools

7. Vimeo

Vimeo offers video hosting, sharing, and editing.

You can use this tool to make amazing videos from scratch or through templates, record promotional videos, and live-stream your products or services.

Pricing

$7 per month for Vimeo Plus

$20 per month for Vimeo Pro     

8. MobileMonkey

MobileMonkey is a multi-platform tool that lets users build Instagram, Facebook, Webchat, and SMS chatbots.

Using MobileMonkey, you can automatically qualify leads, nurture them, and convert them to paying customers. 

Pricing 

Starts at $19 per month for one feature

9. Trello

Trello is a digital marketing tool that lets users organize projects into lists and cards.

This tool lets your team know what you are working on, what needs to be reviewed, and who’s working on what.

Pricing 

$0 for Trello’s basic features

$5 per month for Trello Standard

$10 per month for Trello Premium

10. MailChimp

With over 12 million users, MailChimp is the top email marketing tool in the world.

This tool lets you send automated email sequences to your list, converting leads to paying customers and retaining them.

Pricing 

$0 for up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 sends per month

Starts at $9.99 for up to 500 contacts and 100,000 sends per month

Conclusion

Combine the right strategies with the right digital marketing tools and you have a recipe for success in 2022 and beyond. So what are you waiting for? Try a few of these tools and give yourself an edge in the new year!

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Tags: Management, Marketing

How to Use Psychology Hacks and Jedi Mind Tricks to Grow Your Audience
Thinkers360
July 08, 2022

Whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not, you’ve probably heard the term Jedi Mind Trick. Maybe you’ve wished it were a real thing that you could harness – for good, of course – and use in your marketing.

I’ve got great news for you.

While the Jedi aren’t real, it is possible to use mind tricks – also known as cognitive biases – to get people to engage with your content and buy your products. All you need is an understanding of how the human brain works.

What Are Cognitive Biases?

A cognitive bias is an innate flaw in reasoning. What’s useful about cognitive biases is that they are something we all share. We are all susceptible to them and that’s what makes them effective for marketing.

What’s especially interesting about cognitive biases is that they can work on us even if we understand what they are and are on guard against them. It is possible to avoid them, but it takes work and a real commitment to seeking out alternate points of view to do so.

There’s a field of marketing known as neuromarketing that is designed to use psychology to “hack” buyers’ brains. Keep reading to learn about some of the cognitive biases that can be useful in marketing and tips on how to use them to grow your audience.

The Bandwagon Effect 

The Bandwagon Effect has historical roots. Originally, the bandwagon was a parade float where a band played, and spectators would be encouraged to jump on the bandwagon. The implication was that the people on the bandwagon were having more fun than those who were on the sidelines.

Over time, the term became useful to describe the behavior in voters in the waning days of a political campaign, when people who were on the fence decided to vote for the person who seemed likely to win. A similar thing happens when a professional sports team is on the road to a championship and suddenly, people who never cared about them become avid fans.

You can harness the bandwagon effect by highlighting the popularity of your company or its products and services. Some ways to do that include touting the number of people who have visited your site, the number of downloads, or using a slide-in that announces each sale that you make. That last one is often used on landing pages and it’s extremely effective.

The Reciprocity Bias  

We have all experienced reciprocity bias. It’s what happens at the holidays when someone gives you a gift and, even if you’ve never exchanged gifts with the person in question, you feel a need to give them something in return. When someone gives you something, you want to give back.

In marketing, there are many ways to trigger the reciprocity bias. One popular method is to create a lead magnet that you give away for free in return for a visitor’s email address.

Another way to use reciprocity to build your audience is to give away a free sample of your product. Samples are inexpensive and don’t cost much to provide but they trigger a desire in the recipient to make up for the fact that you gave them something for free. The easiest way for them to do that is to buy your product. You can use this bias with services as well. Many online software providers give away a free trial to get people to buy a subscription.

The Scarcity Effect

The scarcity effect is something people talk about every day. You’ve heard of FOMO! It’s the fear of missing out and it’s one of the most powerful cognitive biases to use in marketing.

When people know something isn’t going to be around for long – or it’s available in limited numbers – they are more likely to buy it than they would be if they believed there was an unlimited supply. We have all done it. Even when there’s something we might not love, we start to wonder whether we’ll want it in the future and imagine how sad we’ll be that we didn’t take the opportunity to get it when we could.

You can use scarcity in your marketing in a variety of ways. A limited-time offer is a great way to introduce a sense of urgency to a deal. The same is true of a limited edition product. A lot of sales pages mention that the price being offered won’t be available forever and some even display a countdown clock.

The Frequency Illusion 

The frequency illusion is sometimes referred to as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. It refers to a cognitive bias that makes us believe that a thing is occurring frequently simply because we notice it. A good example is when you learn a new word and suddenly it seems to be everywhere. The word isn’t being used more frequently than it was before. All that’s changed is that you now notice it.

One of the best ways to use the frequency illusion in marketing is with retargeting. Brand recognition is all about repetition. When someone visits your website, you can target them with ads on Facebook or Google. Each time they see your company name, it creates the frequency illusion and suddenly your brand is everywhere. The more familiar your brand is, the more likely people are to choose you over your competitors.

Loss Aversion 

Have you ever had the feeling of not wanting to give something up even when it no longer serves you? That’s a cognitive bias known as loss aversion and it’s something that affects us all. It’s closely related to something called the sunk costs fallacy, which encourages us to keep putting money into something even when it hasn’t delivered the returns we expected.

Loss aversion can be used in marketing by offering something free at the end of a webinar. Even when people might want to leave the webinar, they have already received the freebie you’re offering – at least in their minds. They don’t want to give it up, so they keep watching.

Rewards programs can work the same way. They encourage people to come back and buy from you repeatedly because they want the free product or reward they’ll get at the end. Quizzes can also be an effective way to learn about your audience and trigger loss aversion.

The human brain is always fascinating and it’s highly susceptible to Jedi mind tricks like the ones we’ve explained here. If you want to attract more subscribers and customers, harnessing the power of cognitive biases is a good way to do it!

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

7 Things Local Businesses Should STOP Doing on Instagram
Thinkers360
July 07, 2022

Instagram is a popular platform for all kinds of businesses, and you’ve probably come across dozens of articles about how to create an effective Instagram strategy. 

The problem? Those articles rarely tell you what not to do. That’s where we come in. Keep reading for a list of seven mistakes you should avoid as you craft your Instagram strategy.

1. Posting Without a Strategy

Speaking of crafting your Instagram strategy, mistake number one is approaching the platform with no strategy whatsoever. While you might assume you should just start posting and figure it out as you go, you’ll likely end up with a feed that looks scattered and isn’t helping you reach your goals. Instead, spend some time thinking about what you’re hoping to accomplish on Instagram, and plan your content accordingly.

You’ll want to think through details like your brand’s content pillars (which are like themes for your account’s content), how you’ll capture photos and videos to share, how you’ll brand your content, and how often you’ll post—more on that later.

2. Letting DMs Go Unread

You may think of Instagram as mostly a content-sharing app, but it can also be a great platform to communicate with your network. With that in mind, make sure to keep a close eye on your account’s DMs. Don’t go more than a day or two without monitoring and responding to your messages.

If you happen to get a message that stumps you or needs additional support, it’s best to respond to the person anyway and let them know that you’re on it. Apply the golden rule of customer service here and treat your customers the way you wish other brands would treat you.

3. Not Using Hashtags

Next on our list, “hashtag” may have been the hottest buzzword of 2007, but hashtags are still essential for any successful social media strategy. Hashtags allow your audience to find you by topic or niche, which is excellent for attracting new customers that may not know to search for you by name.

Do some research about common hashtags in your industry, and consider creating an additional hashtag that you just use with your audience. As a shortcut, you can also look at your competitors’ accounts to get a quick overview of the most promising hashtags in your field.

4. Skimping on the Bio

Another common mistake local businesses make is rushing their account’s bio—or, worse, not having one at all. You have 150 characters to use to describe your brand and what users can expect from your content if they follow you. A well-written bio also sends a signal of professionalism and attention to detail that won’t go unnoticed with potential customers.

As a general rule, include a brief description of your brand and any other info you deem relevant to your followers. Also, make sure to set up a profile photo and use the link feature to share your website or another useful URL.

5. Ignoring Video

The second mistake local businesses make with Instagram is ignoring opportunities to use video. Most social platforms are becoming increasingly focused on dynamic content, and video is the king of dynamic formats.

As of this month (August 2021), you can post videos to Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, IGTV, and the regular post feed. Video is proven to perform better than static images, so try sharing some video clips if you haven’t already.

6. Posting Irregularly

Remember that Instagram strategy from step one? Make sure it includes a regular cadence for sharing content. Try to mix up the formats, like posting one Story, one Reel, and one regular post per week. If possible, aim to post multiple times a week (or even once a day) to build up your following.

If you notice that you created a schedule that you can’t stick to, reevaluate your plan and scale back a bit. However, if you find that you’re going more than a week between posts, try to reallocate resources to prioritize your Instagram strategy.

7. Having Multiple Account Managers

Last but not least, many local businesses make the mistake of having multiple employees with admin access to the account. Hear us out here—this isn’t always a mistake, and it can work well if you have clear guidelines about who is responsible for what. But, unless you’re already an Instagram master (and if so, you probably don’t need this list), it’s a recipe for disaster.

You may end up with content and captions that are completely different in style and tone, and it’s easy to wrongfully assume that someone else has checked DMs or scheduled the week’s content. In most cases, it’s better to give one person sole ownership over the account and trust them to handle it.

Conclusion

It can be tough to get everything right as a local business owner—especially in the social media world, where features and capabilities change on a daily basis. Thankfully, the tips above are all evergreen—they’ll hold up even if Instagram tweaks its algorithm or releases a new feature.

If you’re overwhelmed, take note of any mistakes your company is currently making and focus on correcting just one. Tackle others down the line as needed, and your Instagram account will be on the right track in no time.  

See blog

Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

Let's Talk About Citations and Why They Are So Important
Thinkers360
July 04, 2022

Small businesses don’t rely on word-of-mouth anymore.  Not like they used to - in the traditional sense anyway.  Whether you are running a hair salon or own a local restaurant in the community, you need a top 3 position on Google or people just won’t find your business nowadays. So, if you’re struggling with getting foot traffic, calls or leads to your business and need a local SEO boost, you’re in the right place.

One key strategy for local SEO that really makes a difference is building citations for your business. In today’s issue, we are going to talk about citations and why they are extremely important for your local business.

What Are Citations?

A citation can be described as an online reference of your business that includes your business name, address & phone.  (Also know as your “NAP”) One of the easiest examples of a citation is your Google My Business (GMB) account. This is your biggest and best citation. Citations are incredibly important because they are the building blocks of your local SEO campaign.  

Let’s get one thing clear - citations are your best friend when it comes to building your brands visibility online. They’re kind of like a “vote” for your business.  And the more quality citations you have, the better.  Many businesses overlook the importance of citations and end up with lower rankings on search engines.

Why Are Citations Important?

As a local business owner, you will have to rely on several sources to build local citations. For example, local directories, social media, data aggregators, review blogs, etc. While there are many ways to build citations, one of the most important and effective ways is through local directories.

Let’s look at some of the most high-quality citation sites your business should be listed on if you live in the US. These are 20 of the best citations:

● Google.com
● Maps.apple.com
● Facebook.com
● Bing.com
● Yelp.com
● Foursquare.com
● Bbb.org
● Local.yahoo.com
● Mapquest.com
● Yellowpages.com
● Angi.com
● Here.com
● City-data.com
● Manta.com
● Justlanded.com
● Citysearch.com
● Merchantcircle.com
● Local.com
● Brownbook.net
● Yellowbook.com

*When setting up your citations make sure they all follow the same format, using the same info which is your NAP (Name, Phone, and Address.)  

The 2 Types of Citations

There are two types of citations: structured and unstructured.

Structured citations are business listings located in an online database like YellowBook.com or a social media platform like Yelp.  Behind every successful business listing on Google you can bet there are carefully curated citations. 

You create your citations by listing your business name, address, phone number, (your NAP) hours of operation, your logo, images of your business and other details about your business.  

Then there are unstructured citations. Unstructured citations are informal references to your business somewhere on the web. Some examples are news listings, articles, blogs, guest posts, etc. While most of your citation building should be structured, unstructured citations can also add some SEO juice to your ranking as well.

Both structured and unstructured citations play a role in where your business ranks on Google but building structured citations will make the biggest impact between the two.

Now that you know why citations are so important here’s a couple pro tips to get the most out of your efforts.

  • Pro Tip: One way to beat out your local competition is to run a backlink analysis on your competitor’s website and figure out what websites link back to them. These citations will be good to use for your website as well.
  • Pro Tip #2: Another method to find citations that will give you a leg up on your competitors is simply to do a google search of local your competitor’s website urls. Then go at least five pages back in the results for each competitor.  On those results pages, you’ll find various local citations that they have that you might not.

In Conclusion

If you want to boost your Google rankings for your local business, and get more foot traffic, and online visibility – building citations is one of the best strategies you can use.

They improve your reach and boost your businesses visibility locally. So what are you waiting for?  This is one of the easiest, and most effective SEO strategies that gets results!

See blog

Tags: Marketing, Business Strategy

Elevating Your Customer Experience With AI
Thinkers360
June 30, 2022

AI is no longer relegated to science fiction section.  Businesses worldwide are discovering new ways to use AI to increase engagement and enhance the customer experience.

Over the next five years, 85 percent of consumer relationships with companies will be handled without the interaction of a human being… Underscoring the trend toward DIY customer service.

Customer service is your best defense if the customer experience is the new battlefield. The results of this have already begun to show. According to Gartner, over the past four years, AI in business has increased by 270 percent.

We aren't just following a fad here. Artificial intelligence will revolutionize the customer experience.

What are the benefits of AI for small business owners?

Smaller companies that utilize AI are better able to serve their clientele's unique needs. Businesses such as restaurants, cafes, and retail shops will use AI to be much more customer-centric and offer more data-driven, targeted marketing campaigns such as "people-based marketing.

As small businesses integrate AI into their operational processes and workflows, their employees will focus on more critical and creative tasks, thus becoming more productive.

By spending less time on mundane tasks or managing human errors, business owners can grow their business and possibly concentrate on other important things they may have previously not had the time to focus on.

1. Accurate and personalized recommendations:

According to Instapaper, 78% of internet shoppers believe that relevant content increases their purchasing power. Using artificial intelligence, accurate and efficient recommendations are possible.

By using raw data, artificial intelligence can predict and prescribe customer engagement patterns through predictive analytics. Among the uses of AI is defining and creating a journey around CX. More upsells and cross-sells will be possible if the recommendations are better.

2. Efficient and Friendly Service

Small businesses across the globe are leveling up their support game thanks to Artificial Intelligence. 

AI-driven customer service is most commonly accomplished with chatbots.  These bots are conversational software agents that simulate online interaction with customers.

With these AI-driven chat specialists, customers can ask questions and get recommendations, answers to questions or the outcome they need easily on their own. These bots can even help with processing returns, promoting products, and collecting feedback from customers.

Plus, using AI-based customer service improves the customer experience, cost-savings, and conversions.

3. Enhanced Administrative Efficiency

Another way Small business owners are using AI technologies is to automate repetitive, time-consuming administrative tasks of day to day business.  With AI, you can easily automate tasks like timesheets, billing paperwork, and scheduling. AI can assist you in producing reports, analyzing historical data, learning results in real-time, and applying the information into helpful resports and resources.

4. Enhancing Customer Support

Even when business hours have closed, customers still want the ability to receive support. But having live personnel available 24/7 is not always possible for every businesses.  This is where Artificial intelligence can help.

Customer questions can be answered by engaging in real-time interactions.

The accuracy of automated phone bots and predictive analytics provides customers with tools for making intelligent decisions. Using artificial intelligence, companies can identify the root causes of customer complaints and provide quick resolutions.

Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data have paved the way for a new kind of decision-making metric. The notion that guts, feelings, and intuition are not enough anymore to make big business decisions is already evident. It is better to make decisions based on data rather than speculation.

Therefore, AI boosts businesses' decision-making processes, whether they're reviewing products or responding to customer service questions. Decision-making processes in just about every industry is are benefiting because of AI technology.

Conclusion

To gain customer loyalty and trust, more companies are focusing on improving their customer experience. Artificial Intelligence offers a wide range of customer opportunities by creating a customer journey map, speeding up transactions, and simplifying customer interactions.  This makes for better customer experience, at a lower cost.  So if you haven’t considered using AI for your own business, what are you waiting for? 

Want to learn more about how AI can help your business grow?  Talk to an expert who can help you get setup with the right AI for your business by clicking here.

See blog

Tags: AI, Business Continuity

Content Marketing Mistakes That Cost You Customers
Thinkers360
June 27, 2022

Content marketing is one of the best ways to attract potential customers or clients.  It gives your brand the opportunity to deliver value in a way that people are looking for.  Quality content, when created correctly, can and will drive a lot of organic traffic to your website or product offering; the only issue being that it takes a lot of time create.  With such an investment, you want to make sure that you’re doing it correctly and with your best interests in mind.  Luckily for you, we’re going to cover the mistakes that content marketers make so you can avoid them and develop a strategy that delivers results. Speaking of strategy, let’s dive right in.

Mistake #1 – Not Having a Strategy

Beginners in the space (and even so called “experts”) often make this common mistake.

“Let’s just write this piece of content and post it on our blog.”

No, this is wrong.  You need to discover the best way to captivate and deliver value to your audience and prospective customer/client.  To do this, you need to know what topics you’re going to cover and why they are relevant to your business.  Instead of focusing on targeting certain keywords, prioritize an entire topic cluster and then build around it. 

Each topic cluster is composed of Pillar Content and Cluster Content. Pillar content is content that contains a wide range of keywords that you want to rank for.  To surround this content, you would write cluster content that thoroughly discusses these keywords that you would find on the pillar content page.  To simplify the strategy, here’s exactly what you need to know:

  • The Pillar Content should link to all cluster content once
  • Cluster content should link to pillar content once
  • Cluster Content, where applicable, should link to other pieces of cluster content

Of course, when writing content you should always follow the best practices of SEO to ensure that you’re following the guidelines set forth by the algorithms.

Mistake #2 – Not Knowing Your Audience 

One of the most difficult parts of business is defining your audience and knowing exactly who they are.  This takes a lot of trial and error to find out who is willing to purchase from you and who isn’t so you can double down on the former.  However, it’s still an issue that many businesses don’t know who their audience is even after numerous attempts to define it. 

To really find your audience, you need to develop an Ideal Customer Profile, or ICP, and only focus on your best customers so you’re as specific as possible.  To develop the profile, focus on developing their persona and their journey of what led them to you.  Even better, ask your best customers these questions and then develop a story around their answers.  This way, you can answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how of their pain points and how to better serve others like them content that they want to consume.

Mistake #3 – Publishing Too Often

There’s no magic formula to content creation and publishing frequency is no different.  Once many businesses begin publishing content to the web, they believe that they can’t stop and that means publishing content every day even if it’s not very good.  This is a massive mistake that can harm organic traffic rather than help it.  With only a small percentage of written content being shared online by readers, publishing more doesn’t make much of an impact.  To really stand out, deliver quality content that resonates with your readers and do it on a schedule that works - once a week, biweekly, or even monthly.  The key is always about quality, not quantity.

Mistake #4 – Using Cheap Content Creators

This is one of the most detrimental mistakes that a business could make when hiring a content creator.  With websites like Upwork and Fiverr, it’s easy to look for content creators that will write for you for a fraction of the price that you would pay someone in more developed countries.  The problem isn’t price, but value.  If you want to hire someone to create content for you cheaply, it’s better not to do it at all.  Often there are language barriers and an even larger investment of time and money to correct content that didn’t meet your criteria.

As a business owner, If you don’t want to hire someone “in-house” to be in charge of your content marketing, your best alternative is to hire a content creator that is just starting their career or wants to break into the industry. Depending on your budget an experienced content creator can get expensive fast, but a junior creator could be just what you need.  Once you’ve hired for this role, make sure you set them up with systems, spreadsheets, and checklists that outlines exactly what you’re looking for so that there are no surprises in the end result; just don’t make the mistake of hiring cheaply just for the sake of making content.  Take the endeavor seriously and see the rewards compound over time.

Mistake #5 – Not Having Patience 

To gain traction in content marketing, you have to be willing to pursue it over the long term. If you think creating quality content for three to four months is going to give you great results, you’re very mistaken.  Like SEO, content marketing is a marathon business opportunity to drive traffic and eyeballs to your website or product offering over the long term.  It builds slowly but with more time, the results begin to compound and the investment, when done right, begins to yield a return on investment.  Don’t give up and focus on consistency, quality, and an efficient schedule that helps you earn this compounding effect.

Content marketers don’t need to make mistakes when deciding to publish content.  There is always a method to all the madness, however, there is also the concept of just taking action.  Marketing is and always will be a game of psychology where you have to play both sides of the equation.  Avoid costly mistakes and be open to the idea of failure while giving your audience exactly what they’re searching for.  It sounds simple and should be treated as such. Don’t overcomplicate your content marketing, and let the algorithms of today’s technology reward you for following best practices.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Marketing

7 Things Google Hates and How to Fix Them
Thinkers360
June 23, 2022

Every website wants some love from Google. A high rank on Google’s SERP can mean the difference between getting organic traffic every day and never seeing a single visitor on your site that you didn’t pay for.

The catch?

Google’s playing hard to get – or it might be if you are making some common mistakes that send signals that your website isn’t the authoritative, worthwhile destination you want it to be.

The good news is that these mistakes are easy to correct. Here are 7 things that Google hates and some quick ways to stop doing them and start getting the organic traffic you need.

#1: Poor User Experience 

When Google’s algorithms return a list of search results, the company’s goal is always to deliver an optimal experience for any user who clicks on your website. If your page is slow to load or difficult to navigate, Google hates it and will likely relegate your site to oblivion on the second or third (or lower) page of search results.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix. Start by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights to ensure your page has a speed of 80 or higher. You should access the Core Web Vitals Report on your Google Search Console to identify additional problems. Finally, make sure to optimize your images by using the smallest file size that delivers the results you want and minimize redirects both internally and in your outgoing links.

#2: Lack of Quality Backlinks

You already know that high-quality backlinks are an essential element of SEO. If authority domains are not linking back to your site, it can negatively impact your rank on Google.

The solution here is not to focus on volume. A few good links are going to be more effective than a bunch of spam links. The best way to proceed is to identify high-authority sites where your content might be relevant to visitors. Then, you can find contacts for those websites and email them to see if they would be willing to link to your content. If they agree, make sure to have a conversation about anchor text. Anchor text that uses your company name or one of your priority keywords is preferable to anchor text that says, ‘click here’.

#3: Shallow or Irrelevant Content 

Your content needs to be useful and in-depth on your chosen subjects if you want Google to reward you with a place on the first page of search results. It’s not enough to use keywords. You must include related terms and subtopics to build semantic relationships and rank for keyword clusters.

There are lots of tools you can use to find related subtopics to use in your content. For example, Surfer SEO and Market Muse both provide lists of keywords, related terms, subtopics, and more. They also score content, which means you can figure out how your content will perform against your competitors’ content.

As a final note, Google Passage Ranking is now live and allows Google to highlight passages that are relevant to a searcher’s query. Having a highlighted passage can do a lot to get a searcher to click on your site. You’re more likely to benefit if you focus on creating content that’s semantically rich and relevant.

#4: Lack of Interactive Content

Words can do a lot in the world of SEO but they’re not the only thing that matters. Google likes to deliver a good user experience and part of that means that the algorithm prefers sites that offer more than words.

Interactive content can include a lot of different things. Videos, audio clips, expandable content, clickable infographics, and Java Script can all go a long way toward creating an engaging and captivating experience for the people who visit your site.

The trick is to create interactive content that doesn’t slow your site down. Fortunately, there are plenty of website templates and plugins that can help you to give visitors opportunities to interact with your content without compromising the user experience in terms of speed and navigability.

#5: Lack of Advanced HTML Tags 

You’re probably already using basic HTML tags, but if you’re not also taking advantage of some advanced HTML to help Google index your content, then you might be ranked lower than you should be.

Let’s start with the meta tag, which should be engaging to readers while incorporating your most important keyword and topic. You should also be using heading tags strategically. They’re an ideal place to incorporate questions and other long-tail keywords.

There are a few other advanced tags that you might be missing.

  • Noindex and Nofollow tags are good for letting Google know that you don’t consider a page to be important. They let the crawlers know that they can skip these pages.
  • The “Rel canonical” tag tells Google to skip redundant content.
  • org markup provides structural guidance and helps Google to identify your most important content to display on the SERP.

None of these additions take long and they can make a big difference in your page rank.

#6: Competing with Yourself

One of the most common mistakes I see is when companies compete with their own pages by including repetitive or redundant content. If you have two blog posts that include similar content and target the same keywords, they may essentially cancel one another out.

The easiest way to fix this mistake is to optimize similar pages for different, long-tail keywords. You may also be able to differentiate similar content by updating something older to make it more relevant.

#7: You’re Getting Low-Quality Traffic 

You might think that getting lots of traffic is a good thing but that only applies when it’s high-quality traffic. If you have incoming spam links, they can hurt you instead of helping you.

To get rid of low-quality traffic, use a tool like Finteza. It will analyze your traffic and help you identify sources that might be hurting you with Google, including bots. Once you know what those sources are, you can work to eliminate them

Improving your Google rank is a priority for most companies. Using the information that we’ve provided here you can move up on Google’s SERP and get the organic traffic you deserve.

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Tags: Marketing, Business Strategy

Top 6 Ways to Connect with Your Audience Through Email
Thinkers360
June 21, 2022

Struggling to get results from your email marketing?

While your email list is typically made up of people who are interested in your business, keeping them engaged can be a real challenge. Unless you connect with your audience, your emails will either end up in the spam folder or lead to a wave of un-subscribers.

So, how do you connect with your audience through email? Here you’ll discover 6 of the best tips you can follow.

1. Pay Attention to the Subject Line

The subject line of your emails is one of the most important things to pay attention to. People receive a LOT of emails each day. Going through them all can be time-consuming, so it’s common for people to simply skim over the subject line before they decide whether or not to open it.

What you put in the subject line of your emails could determine whether it gets read or sent directly to spam. It is best to keep it short and concise. Let the reader know what to expect in the email, and why they need to read it.

You will find a lot of information online to help you craft the perfect subject line if you need any help.

2. Understand Your Target Audience

You aren’t going to see much in the way of results if you don’t fully understand your target audience. Who are you emailing? What are their needs and most pressing concerns?

Build up a client profile so you understand what makes them tick. The more you understand who your audience is and what they want, the easier you’ll find it to deliver emails that convert.

3. Personalize the Emails

Nobody likes to receive generic emails. If you want your email marketing to be a success, it’s crucial that you personalize each one.

At the very least, you should be using the customer’s name at the start of the email. However, the more personalized you can make them, the more effective they are going to be. They also show your audience that you care about them and they aren’t just a number on a list.

4. Consider Opening with a Story

Did you know that stories can greatly increase engagement in your emails? Storytelling has become an important component of marketing for small businesses. They help to draw in the reader, taking them on a journey through their imagination.

Obviously, you’ll need to make sure the story is relevant to the topic. You will also want to keep the story short, otherwise, the reader could lose interest real quick.

5. Make Sure You Segment Your List

If you are having trouble personalizing your emails, it can be helpful to segment your list. Splitting your customers into categories can help you to better market your products and services to each of them.

For example, one segmented list could comprise of new subscribers. Another segment could include existing customers. You can even segment your list based upon the type of products and services customers are interested in.

When you segment your list, it gives you a better opportunity to effectively target your marketing strategy. Getting relevant emails in front of your audience is one of the best ways to boost engagement. 

6. Don’t Forget a Call to Action

It’s easy to forget that emails need a call to action too. Have you provided your audience with everything they need to take the next steps?

Make sure you only focus on one call to action at a time. What is the main goal of the email? Is it to encourage the customer to buy something? Or are you trying to get them to find out more about a particular service you offer?

Identify the main priority of the email, then make sure you utilize an appropriate call to action at the end. If you are unsure what a good call to action looks like, you’ll find some great examples of them online. 

Connecting with your audience via email isn’t always easy. However, if you follow the steps above, you should notice a significant improvement in your click through and conversion rate. Also, don’t forget to be consistent. Send emails regularly, but don’t bombard your audience. 

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

7 Types of Content Small Businesses Should Focus on Right Now
Thinkers360
June 20, 2022

A study from Google known as “Zero Moment of Truth” (ZMOT) emphasized how critical it is to have many contact points with a potential customer across multiple channels and locations. ZMOT is the research that a customer does before making a decision.

Google came up with a 7/11/4 formula for business success. The crux of the research shows that modern-day customers need to consume 7 hours of content over 11 touchpoints and 4 locations before they decide whether to purchase. 

Before going into a state of panic about how you can create 7 hours of content, it’s nowhere near as daunting as it sounds. It doesn’t mean throwing a copy of War and Peace at them to read. There are many digital and offline channels available that consumers have access to, and the key to success is making the most of the opportunity.

This article looks at seven types of content small businesses should focus on right now to generate engagement amongst their target audience.

1. Video Content

Consumers love video. On social media, it is the number one favourite type of branded content.

In 2020, TikTok dominated the social media landscape after a record-setting first quarter that saw 315 million installs, the largest ever for an app within a single quarter. The content on the platform is relatable and easy to consume, which made it the perfect supplement for lockdown viewing. Video is more engaging than any other type of content. According to statistics from LinkedIn, users spend three times longer watching video than viewing static images.

2. Live Content

The live streaming industry is set to reach $70 billion in 2022. As many as 80% of live stream viewers will watch a stream from a brand rather than read a blog. For small businesses, there are lots of consumer-friendly solutions for live streaming, meaning there isn’t a steep learning curve. The hardware is readily available with the ability to do most things with your smartphone, and almost every social network offers a live stream service.

Live content fosters communication and interaction with your audience. You can respond to questions and offer advice in a personal and relatable context. Customers get to see the face behind the business, which is essential to lots of audiences. You can read Neil Patel’s guide on the importance of live streaming here.

3. Visuals and Infographics

According to Xerox, over 65% of brands use infographics in content marketing, which is expected to rise in 2022. Infographics help tell a story effectively by condensing the details of information into visual facts that people can easily relate to and identify. For small businesses, free to use sites such as Canva make infographic design accessible, even for the least technical of users.

The graphic below shows how people are better at consuming the information in an infographic than other media types.

4. Audio Content

80 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly in 2022, which is a larger number than Netflix account holders (69 million). While video is still the preferred channel, the statistics suggest a potential shift due to the convenience of audio. You can listen while doing other tasks such as cooking, taking a shower, or exercising, which isn’t always possible with video content. Furthermore, an episode of a branded podcast hosted by Acast has an average listening time of 28 minutes. What other media channel can claim to have such an engagement?

Podcasts are not just for celebrities and bi brands. One example is from Zendium, a natural enzyme toothpaste that boosts oral hygiene (sounds exciting right?). The 2 Minutes of Zen podcast gives you simple hacks you can do while brushing your teeth for a healthy mind and body. The idea turns a dull product into something creative and useful to the consumer.

5. Messengers and Chatbots

Social media messenger applications are a great way to interact and serve customers. For example, you can let clients send information and images via a messaging app to start an interaction if you want to do consultations. Customers prefer messengers and chatbots over traditional calls or emails, which can take a lot longer. Channels like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp don’t cost anything and are quick to set up.

6. Personalized Content

Personalizing your content helps to reach specific audiences with relatable and targeted messages. For example, if you segment your customers by their previous transactions and then email them with products that are linked to those, you are more likely to drive engagement and conversion. Furthermore, 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences.

Personalization is not only about putting someone’s name in an email. In a Yieldify case study, they improved the conversion rate by 16.76% for StudentUniverse by adding a personalized pop-up to the website based on how the user was browsing.

Small changes like this enhance the user experience and help small businesses to understand their customers.

7. Optimizing for Voice Search

Consumers love searching using voice. As the smart speaker market continues to boom and the technology evolves, voice search is changing digital marketing.

When it comes to content, traditional keyword tactics will no longer suffice. Google search crawlers are looking for high-quality content that matches the intent of the voice search. You can read more about intent in this Google RankBrain article.

Optimized voice content should:

  • Include natural conversational language
  • Use long-tailed questions instead of single keywords and short statements
  • Contain high-quality, authoritative information

We won’t go into detail about each of these but keep in mind how the way people speak and type varies and optimize the content on that basis.

Summary

When you consider all the different types of available content, filling up seven hours doesn’t seem as difficult. After you’ve created a couple of videos, designed an infographic or two, written some blog posts and started your live streaming career, you are well on your way to success.

It is crucial to get everything into a formalized content plan. Videos, audio and visuals can all be successful, but that doesn’t mean you should throw them haphazardly at audiences. Any approach you implement should be made after research and understanding what your audience is looking for.

Remember, although these content types work today, the digital ecosystem is constantly evolving. Content needs continual optimization to keep up with trends in the market and behaviour. Marketing expert Michael Brenner puts it nicely by saying:

“The buyer journey is nothing more than a series of questions that must be answered”

If your content is answering all those questions, you are doing something right.

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

How to Use YouTube to Market Your Small Business
Thinkers360
June 16, 2022

Have you been sleeping on YouTube marketing? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. It’s easy to dismiss YouTube as the place where teenagers and young adults make silly content, whether they’re sampling weird fast food mashups or doing stunts.

The truth is that YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. Only Google sees more traffic. People who watch videos on YouTube are always looking for new content to watch and there’s a big opportunity for small businesses like yours to find a whole new audience with video marketing.

Show Off Your Products

Do your customers know how to use your products? More importantly, do they know the best ways to use your products? If they don’t and you can help them get the most out of what they buy, then YouTube is the perfect place to do it.

Let’s look at an example. Luxy Hair is a company that sells a full range of hair extensions. They have attracted over three million followers on YouTube thanks to their styling videos that show customers (and potential customers) how to wear their hair extensions and style them. The videos include practical demonstrations plus recommendations of styling products to use with extensions.

You can use this technique to connect with your customers on YouTube. Think about how you can help your customers get the most out of your products and then, produce a series of short videos showing them how to do it.

Film and Share Customer Testimonials Insert

Customer reviews and testimonials provide powerful social proof when a potential customer or client comes looking for the services you provide. Because YouTube gets so much traffic, it makes sense to share your customer testimonials there by filming them.

A video testimonial is more direct and appealing than a written testimonial. Your target audience will get to see your client’s face and hear their voice – and they can see the work you did and why the customer is happy with your company.

A great example of how to use customer testimonials on YouTube comes from a company called Hippie Fertilizing. They have posted a series of video testimonials that they have filmed in their clients’ back yards. In the testimonials, the owner of the company interviews clients about why they called the company, the work that was done, and how the client feels about it. They include before and after shots of the space they treated, so that prospective clients can see the results.

You can use this idea by talking to customers about testimonials when you book a job. To make the process as convenient as possible for your clients, you can copy Hippie Fertilizing and film the tutorial on their schedule and where the work has been done – or whatever works for your clients.

Connect with Your Customers 

If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that technology can help us stay in touch when we can’t get together in person. That lesson is one we can take with us going forward.

How does this relate to YouTube? One way to create a lot of good will with your customers is to share your knowledge with them for free. We’re not talking about giving away your services, but we are talking about making it clear you care about your customers on a personal level.

A great example comes from Georgia’s Cakes, a UK bakery that shared a step-by-step tutorial to help people make a wedding cake at home during the pandemic. Since a lot of people were having small weddings with only a few guests, the owner of this bakery saw an opportunity to connect emotionally with potential customers.

Now, this technique isn’t going to garner you any immediate business but ask yourself a question. If you had to cancel your big wedding and you used this video to make your own cake, would you be inclined to order from this bakery for future birthdays, parties, and events? The answer is almost certainly yes. This marketing technique creates good will and solidifies customer relationships, and those things have a direct impact on your future success.

Use YouTube to Demonstrate Your Expertise

Building authority is essential if you want your customers to trust you. They need to believe that you can deliver on your promises. Testimonials play a role in that, but it’s also important to find ways to visually demonstrate your expertise.

One way to do that is to show people what you do. We like this example from Daisy Duke Landscaping, which demonstrates how to install landscape fabric like a pro. The benefit of a video like this is that it may inspire people to do some landscaping on their own, but it also demonstrates the company’s ability to do great work.

You can copy this technique by thinking about what techniques or experience will overcome potential objections to hire your company and putting it into a video. The video doesn’t need to be long – the one we linked is under seven minutes.

Cross-Post Your Marketing Videos 

While creating professional-looking videos is easier than it ever has been, you cannot count on your YouTube followers to follow you on other platforms such as Facebook and TikTok. For that reason, we strongly recommend cross-posting your video content from other platforms on YouTube and vice versa.

There are too many examples to list here, but lots of companies create Facebook Live videos, save them, and post them on YouTube. Others create funny TikToks and share them on Facebook or Twitter. You should always be thinking about how to reuse or repurpose your videos to reach the widest possible audience. 

The bottom line – and the thing we hope you’ll take away from this article – is that YouTube marketing is one of the best ways to connect with your audience, share your expertise, and build your brand. You can get more ideas by peeping on your competitors’ activity and finding ways to adapt the things they have done to help you grow your business.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Business Continuity

7 Effective Ways to Market Your Business without Breaking the Bank
Thinkers360
June 13, 2022

When a business is pinching pennies, the marketing budget is often the first thing to go. For many business owners, it’s more important to continue paying employees and to pay utilities than it is to try to attract new customers.

However, eliminating your marketing altogether is a mistake that can cost you in the long run – and there’s no need to do it. Here are 7 ways that you can continue to market even if your budget is tiny.

#1: Make Cold Calls

There’s no way to attract new customers or clients without having a “first touch” that introduces them to your brand and lets them know what you can do for them. That’s where cold calling comes in.

Some companies pay for cold calling services but it’s something you can do in house if you’re willing. For the best results, do as much preliminary screening as you can and prepare a cold calling script for callers to use. It’s also a good idea to think about what time of day people will be most receptive to hearing from you.

#2: Start (or Optimize) Your Referral Program 

Referral marketing is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to get new clients for your business. A referral can come from an existing customer or from another referral source such as a professional colleague or local business owner.

You’ll have the best luck with referrals if you incentivize people to refer their friends, family, or customers to you. One idea might be to offer rewards where people get a free product or service if they refer a specified number of people. Alternatively, you could offer a points system that allows customers to “level up” to unlock special rewards and perks.

Keep in mind that, with any referral program, you’ll need to make the rules clear ahead of time. Will you offer rewards for a lead or only for a paying customer? If you provide a service, does a new client need to stay with you for a specified time before the rewards kick in? Make sure that all participants understand the rules.

#3: Get Involved Locally 

One thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has done is to remind people of the importance of supporting local businesses in their communities. You can gain some good will and increase brand awareness by participating in community events.

In-person events might still be rare, but you can get involved in local charities and other events that are being held virtually. If events are being planned, you can step in at the planning stage and offer advice and support. Either way, you’ll get the benefit of having your business in front of the local people who are most likely to be your customers.

#4: Create Useful Content

One of the best things about content marketing is that it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg. You can write blog posts, create graphics, and even film videos without going over your budget.

The key to not spending a lot is to focus first on how your content will serve your target audience. A video that demonstrates various ways to use your product will be immediately useful and people who view it won’t need to connect any dots to understand how it has helped them.

Keep in mind that the content you create can be shared on your website, with your email list, and on social media. Cross-posting is free and it’s always useful because the people who follow you on Twitter may not follow you on Facebook – or vice versa.

#5: Take Advantage of Free Social Media Features  

While you can certainly spend a lot of money on social media marketing, you don’t need to do so to get results. Let’s start with the obvious. Any content you create can be shared with your followers at no cost to you. You can also choose to promote your most important pieces of content.

Other free options include creating a poll for your followers and running a social media contest. People love to get something free, and a contest is an effective way to get your content in front of new people without paying for it.

If you decide to go the contest route, make sure to incorporate Likes and shares into your contest rules. One common tactic is to give your followers one entry for Liking your post, one for commenting, and a third for sharing. You could even give additional entries for people who share your contest on multiple platforms. Track everything meticulously and articulate the rules to eliminate misunderstandings.

#6: Partner with Other Businesses 

With a lot of small businesses struggling, it is essential for business owners to help each other out whenever possible. One way to do that is by joining forces with a complementary business and creating a cross-marketing campaign that benefits both of you.

For example, if you own an insurance agency, you could do a cross promotion with a local real estate agent or car dealership. If you own a furniture store, you could partner up with a store that sells gardening supplies and market your products to new homeowners.

The most important thing if you choose this option is to choose a marketing partner whose products or services will appeal to your customers. There might be a remote chance that the same person who bought a motorcycle helmet from you will want to plan a wedding, but the crossover is likely to be minimal – so stay focused.

#7: Look for Ways to Highlight Your Business 

Trust badges, certificates, and awards are everywhere online. If an award committee accepts nominations for awards, you may want to ask someone to nominate your business for the award.

The benefit of winning an award is that it’s offers you the opportunity to promote and raise the visibility of your business without dipping into your marketing budget. You may get a nice badge or trophy symbol to display on your site and you may even get some free promotion from the organization providing the award.

As you can see, it’s not difficult to market your business with a tiny budget. All you need is some creativity and time.

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Tags: Marketing, Business Continuity

How to Reduce Your Unsubscribe Rate
Thinkers360
June 09, 2022

Wouldn’t it be great if nobody ever unsubscribed from your list? It’s easy to fantasize about a world where every subscriber is a paying customer, and everybody loves you and your company forever.

That is a fantasy. Unsubscribes are a part of life in the world of email marketing. Sometimes people unsubscribe because they’re not in the market for your products or services. That can be a good thing because you won’t be paying to send email to people who aren’t interested in what you’re selling.

But sometimes, people unsubscribe for other reasons. They could be in the market for your products – and they might buy them if your emails were engaging. If you have a high unsubscribe rate – the all-industry average is 0.1% --  and you want to change that, here are some methods to reduce your rate and keep your subscribers on the hook.

Stop Sending So Many (or So Few) Emails

How often are you emailing your subscribers? There’s a sweet spot that allows you to stay on their minds without irritating them.

I’ve sometimes subscribed to a list that emails me every day. That’s too much and I’m likely to unsubscribe, if only to keep my inbox under control. I’ve also had the reverse experience, where I sign up and the emails come so infrequently that by the time a message arrives, I’ve forgotten why I subscribed in the first place.

So, where is that sweet spot? I think the magic number is once a week. Send your emails on the same day and at the same time and subscribers will know what to expect and when to expect it.

Keep Your Emails Relevant to the Recipient

People are a lot less likely to hit that unsubscribe button at the bottom of your email if the emails you send them are relevant to them. That means two things: Segmentation and Personalization.

Segmentation involves sending email only when it is relevant to the recipient. Some marketers allow subscribers to self-segment by selecting products and topics that interest them. Others segment based on past behavior. For example, someone who bought a particular product from you might get signed up to receive emails for related products.

Personalization is about making your subscribers feel seen and heard. It can be as simple as including their first name in an email and as complex as collecting birthdays and sending personalized greetings on their special day.

Either way, the point is that your subscribers don’t want to feel that you see them as numbers. They’re people and personalizing your emails can help them feel special.

Make Your Subject Lines Irresistible

Are people unsubscribing because they think your emails are boring? Maybe! Fortunately, there’s something you can do about it.

The subject line of your email is the recipient’s first impression of your email. If you have a dull subject line, they might not even open your email. If they do open it, they might not bother reading it – and opt to scroll down to the unsubscribe button instead.

The key, then, is to craft a snappy and irresistible subject line that will spark the recipient’s interest and make them want to open and read the email. Stay away from spammy words and instead, give them a short and sweet hint of what waits for them in the email itself.

Keep Your Content Interesting and Entertaining

Even with a compelling subject line, the content of your email can still fall short and prompt people to unsubscribe. You need to think about creating relevant and actionable content that people will want to read immediately.

If writing isn’t your strong suit, hire a professional to craft effective marketing emails for you. Keep the content brief and compelling. You can always link out to longer content if you want to.

Don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your emails. The more entertaining your emails are, the more likely people are to read and enjoy them – and stay away from that unsubscribe button.

Make Your Emails Easy to Read

Readability is a huge factor with email. People want to be able to skim content where it makes sense. They don’t want to have to decipher impenetrable jargon or scroll horizontally to read the end of a sentence.

Here are some pointers to help keep your emails readable.

  1. Use lots of white space. Short paragraphs give readers’ eyes a break and facilitate skimming.
  2. Break up text with images that are compelling and relevant to your content.
  3. Speaking of images, make sure to always include descriptions of images for people who are vision impaired or using technology to read your emails.
  4. Optimize your emails for mobile users. Nobody should need to scroll horizontally to read and any CTA buttons you include should be big enough for mobile users to access without having to zoom in.

It should never feel like a chore to read your emails.

Use Double Opt-Ins

When people subscribe to your list, you want to make sure they’re genuinely interested in what you have to say. Using a double opt-in can help to weed out people who aren’t interested and thus, reduce your unsubscribe rate.

A double opt-in requires people to confirm their subscription by clicking a link in an email. It’s an easy change to make. Since people who are only subscribing to get your lead magnet may not confirm, it’s a quick way to ensure that the people who subscribe will stay subscribed.

Test Your Emails

Finally, you should be testing your emails. Even experienced email marketers sometimes fall short in creating compelling content. Sometimes there’s just no way to predict what’s going to resonate with readers and what isn’t.

The answer is to A/B test your marketing emails. Sure, it’s an extra step and you’ll need to spend a little money to do it. But when you do, you’ll be able to fine-tune your email campaigns and minimize unsubscribe rates by ensuring that your emails are hitting the mark.

Having people unsubscribe to your list isn’t the end of the world but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to keep them interested. Using the tips that I’ve outlined here will help you keep subscribers and turn them into paying customers.

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Tags: Business Continuity, Marketing

4 Ways to Get Content Created for Your Business
Thinkers360
June 07, 2022

It is often said that content is king in the business world. Helping to drive traffic to your website, keep your audience engaged, and increase conversions; good content can do wonders for your brand. However, it isn’t always easy to create consistently converting content.

If you are struggling to find the time or energy to create quality content, help is available. Here, you’ll discover 4 ways to get content created for your business.

1. PLR Content

One of the easiest ways to get content for your business is to invest in PLR content. This is basically done for you content that you can use instantly for your small business.

PLR content typically includes ready-made blogs, reports, journals, and eBooks. You’ll not only receive the content, but often relevant keywords and images to go alongside them.

While you can use PLR content as it is, it is recommended you tweak it a little to make it your own. Run it through a plagiarism checker to see if it has been used already. If not, you can publish the content as it is. If it has, simply tweak it a little to make it unique.

PLR content can save you a ton of time and is one of the cheapest ways to get content for your business quickly.

2. Outsource

Another popular option is to outsource your content needs. Freelance writers can help you to create a ton of content in a short period of time.

You can outsource through freelance platforms such as Upwork or Freelancer. Or you can reach out to freelancers directly. A quick Google search will bring up relevant content creators who can help you get quality content onto your site and social media channels.

Outsourcing is a great option for small businesses as it guarantees you receive professional quality content. It can also work out cheaper than other methods too. The majority of businesses today outsource some or all of their content creation requirements to a professional writer.

3. Hire In-House Writers

Your small business is always going to need quality content. So, it might be worth looking at hiring an in-house writer. That is, taking somebody on as an employee to focus solely on content creation.

This is a more expensive option as you will need to pay them a regular wage. The difference between in-house and freelance writers, is that a freelance writer has several clients. An in-house writer solely writes for your company. This gives them a better opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the business, which ultimately delivers great copy.

Before hiring an in-house writer, it is a good idea to research everything involved. Can you afford to pay another monthly wage? If not, outsourcing may be the better option until you can.

4. Use AI Technology

Did you know you can use AI technology to create content? While the technology is still fairly new, it can take care of several content tasks.

At the moment, AI is best used for creating advertisement-based copy. That is sales ads, or web content for example. If you are looking to create blog posts with AI, you might not be overly impressed with the results.

Long-form copy is harder for AI software to produce. Many of them simply copy and paste information from multiple sources. The way they put the information together also doesn’t read well, which means you will need to spend a lot of time editing to give it that human touch.

While AI technology does have a lot of potential, in terms of blogging, it isn’t quite there yet. However, if you need help creating ads, the technology has shown to produce highly converting copy.

So, there you have it – 4 ways to get content created for your business. You may be surprised by how affordable it can be to get help with your content requirements.

Keeping on top of social media, blogging, and video can be overwhelming for a small business. However, it is important if you want to attract new customers and build up your brand. The methods above can help to make it less daunting, ensuring you keep your audience happy with frequent, quality posts.

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

How COVID-19 Changed Small Business Marketing
Thinkers360
June 06, 2022

By now, I think it’s safe to say that we’re all sick of talking about the Pandemic. Most of us would gladly go back to a simpler time where there were no masks requirements, where businesses and restaurants were open for business as usual.  

But we still are living in crazy times and the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has resulted in changes to advertising, marketing and promotional campaigns for small businesses here in the US and around the globe.

From brick-and-mortar, mom-and-pops to international brands, companies have needed to re-evaluate their approach to marketing to adapt to the ‘new-normal’.

Not to mention the minefield of policies that small businesses now face in the arena of paid promotion: the FTC, CFPB and FDA have all honed-in on unfair and deceptive business practices to protect vulnerable consumers, monitor bold marketing campaigns and terminate COVID-19 scams from online platforms.

Impact of COVID-19 on Small Business Marketing

Adapting to Change

Small businesses should be up to the challenge: thinking about innovative marketing strategies and practices that don’t alienate their customers by appearing tone-deaf. 

Further, ensuring operations are seamless and campaign planning is flawless in a new commercial world of uncertainty and promoting products and services that meet your customer’s new needs & desires in a post-pandemic world.

More crucially so, with the States condemned to a rollercoaster of opens and closes, advertising spend has decreased dramatically in 2022 as physical stores shut their doors and deliveries come to a halt.

So what does marketing look like for a small business nowadays?

Social Media: More Important than ever

Your budget for marketing your small business should directly reflect the shift in the way customers shop and find you online. As restrictions were put in place across the US - public and print advertising came to a near instantaneous halt.

In the meantime, in-home media usage went up, including:

  • TV viewership
  • Streaming services
  • Social platforms

And per a study by GWI, 45 percent of global consumers are devoting more time to social media, and video streaming has increased by 25 percent. Why is this data crucial to the survival of small businesses?

It’s critical that small businesses now seek to optimize their marketing practices to better reflect this rise in online presence of their customers, digital transactions and entertainment choices. If you know your demographic has been using Facebook more during the pandemic, you know how your Q3 & 4 2022 marketing roadmap should look. Further, the number of consumers using online food delivery services and essential goods delivery solutions has risen dramatically. Customers are online, now more than ever - because it’s essential.

Being Human has never mattered more

Consumer demand for empathy on behalf of businesses and brands is at an all-time-high during the COVID-19 pandemic. The small businesses that will continue to thrive in 2022 will be those that try their best to promote in a human manner and communicate with customers on an emotional level, understanding their pain points.

Yes, if you’re like many, you may be growing tired of hearing about COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean your small business should ignore it. In a survey conducted by Kantar, 77% of consumers said they now want to see online content from businesses to show ‘how you’re helping people get used to the new everyday life.’ But how can we achieve this with our marketing?

  • Seek to build long-term trust.
  • Educate customers about your own struggles as a small business.
  • Engage with your audience through more personal means than simple ads.
  • Entertain your audience when they need it most!

Email at the forefront

If email does not currently form a part of your small business marketing strategy, now is the time to change that. If you’ve established a keen database of current/past/potential future customers, email marketing is an incredibly cost-effective, powerful tool to market your business during the pandemic. No leaving the house, no physical locations - just old-fashioned digital. Plus, email marketing historically provides some of the most asymmetrical positive returns in the business world. It’s too cheap and too effective.

As we said, we can’t ignore COVID-19. But whilst updates are important, they should not be the only focus of your email content (especially if it’s sent to customers you want to sell to!)

Here are some COVID-19-friendly email campaigns to add to your mix in 2022.

  • Newsletters – Want a laid-back, friendly way of keeping your customers in the loop about your business? Newsletters are the way forward. Think: promotions, deals, one-time offers, discounts - and virtual/physical event dates to grow your business. On top of that, you can tick the box of being ‘human’ by featuring local news stories, share social media updates and get customers involved in quizzes and prize surveys.
  • Offer help to your customers - Depending on the nature of your business, you might be able to offer your help to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you have connections in the business space that can help your customer? Are you running a fundraising campaign for local equipment/vaccine centres? If you can provide any support to your audience, you’ll want to set up email campaigns to reflect these plans.
  • Business as usual emails – Strike the balance between being COVID-friendly and Business-friendly emails! Remember: you’re running an operation here, and it’s probably your livelihood. Just be cautious of the language you use: people want empathy this year, and sympathy for their current circumstances (and they still want to be sold to!)

What’s stayed the same?

Yes, COVID-19 has caused a seismic shift in the way small businesses market. But there remains some consistencies to approach. Don’t just start over from scratch after this article!

Your Customers Still Like Your Ads

Earlier, we mentioned a study on sentiment done by Kantar. Per the same brand’s other COVID-19 Baramoter survey, a tiny 8% of consumers believe that brands should stop advertising during the pandemic. Like we said, it’s a minefield out there, and some businesses are concerned about offending their customers or community. But this data gives you the green light to go wild.

This will also resonate well with the market because people want normalcy back. They want the ‘old’ way of life back pre-COVID-19, and that means ads. It means billboards, great TV ads, and physical shopping.

Data is still King

Data hasn’t changed. If your business isn’t paying attention to data to drive decisions and establish marketing strategies, you’re missing out on a great deal of money and growth.

You can collect data in their CRMs to create better visions of your customer and create powerful marketing campaigns using social media content and ads. Using what information you generate with those campaigns, come back stronger with an even more resonant message.

The customer is still at heart

How many emails have you received from small businesses, companies or brands that starts with ‘During these difficult times’ or something similar? It’s getting old. Business customers are blind to empty words like this and are finding it harder and harder to connect.

You still need to put the customer first. The pandemic is no longer a shock or something to transition into: it’s reality. Deliver helpful, meaningful and engaging content. Solve the customer’s issues by talking to them and finding out how you can help.

Ultimately, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a majority of small businesses as having little-to-no marketing strategy. If you’re one of them, that’s great - you won’t have to start fresh. If you’ve been shouting at the wind with no success, it’s time to build a pandemic-friendly marketing strategy that resonates with an audience that’s gotten to grips with a new world. Finally, there’s never been a greater opportunity for small businesses to reach and engage with customers at such an intimate level.

See blog

Tags: Business Strategy, Business Continuity

Using QR Codes to Grow Your Business
Thinkers360
June 03, 2022

There’s a quiet and overlooked little square out there in the world, waiting for businesses to take advantage of it. You may have seen it during the Super Bowl, gliding gracefully across a black sea, changing colors as it bounced off the sides of your TV screen. It’s the simple, unimposing QR code. Ready to instantly and easily connect customers with your business, increase sales, and build your brand reputation.

QR Code, Defined

The QR code stands for Quick Response Code, and it was first used in Japan in the 1990s to track parts during a manufacturing process. But why the sudden rise in popularity in the last ten years? And what makes the QR code unique?

Like a barcode, the QR code represents a visual set of identifiers that can be scanned and read on a device. But the QR code is more powerful and unique than the barcode. Anyone who has a smartphone – and let’s face it, that’s pretty much everyone today – can scan a QR code. It’s also easier to scan than a barcode, as the square can be scanned from top to bottom or right to left, and even with up to 30% damage to the code, it’s still readable.

Frequent Uses Today

If you’ve visited a restaurant in the last year and a half, you’ve likely used a QR code to get to your restaurant’s menu. You’ve seen firsthand how quick and easy it is to make a quick scan and be into your important meal choice musings without even a second thought. This ease of use makes the QR code an extremely attractive strategy for businesses today.

QR codes can link to a website, phone number, or email address. As you saw with the last example, they are often used to quickly give a consumer more information about a business, product, event, or anything else you can imagine. Their popularity makes sense when you realize how incredibly easy it is to package a ton of information into one small code.

Here are a few ways QR codes are being used in everyday life today:

  • Restaurant menus
  • Wifi passwords
  • Collecting tips or paying for a service
  • Contact information
  • Link instantly to a social media page

Using a QR Code for Your Business

The opportunities are endless with a QR code, limited only by your imagination. As a business creating a QR code strategy, you’ll need to consider the following.

Static or Dynamic: There are technically two kinds of QR codes: static and dynamic. Though they look the same, they operate differently. A static QR code is linked to one location that can never be changed. A dynamic QR code is linked to a location that can be edited and changed by the business after being created.

Purpose and Destination: Of course, where do you want this QR code to lead? Yes, this could be as simple as a link to your website. But consider the possibilities. Depending on where the code is located, you could choose to send people to a landing page about the product they’re holding in the store, a promotional video outlining your services or even a lead capture page.

QR Code Placement: Finally, where do you put the actual code? Is it a poster in your physical store? A tag at the bottom of your website? A business card or marketing collateral? Find a placement that is unique and creative.

10 QR Code Placement and Use Ideas

#1 Infographic: Customers come to infographics for a variety of reasons that may not relate to you as a business. Give them the opportunity to see what else you do and connect with your business using a QR code.

#2 Directions: Do you have a physical location? You can use a QR code to link to your GPS coordinates and lead customers right to your door.

#3 Customer Survey: Encourage customer feedback and reviews of your products and services with a quick scan.

#4 Calendar: Do you host events or webinars? Quickly connect a customer to your event with a QR code. You can even link the code to a calendar invite, so the customer instantly adds the event to their calendar, increasing your event’s attendance.

#5 Connect to Social Media: As a physical or digital store, use a QR code to instantly connect a customer with your social media profile. Instead of “Follow us at…” where the customer must find you, make following you quick and easy with a simple scan.

#6 Coupons, Discounts, or Memberships: Entice customers to scan for a discount of some sort. You can also use this as a lead magnet, requiring them to sign up for your newsletter or provide their phone number to get the deal.

#7 E-commerce or Other Deliveries: Include a QR code with any deliveries. You can link the code to more information about the product they ordered and offer customer service. This builds brand loyalty. Or you can use it as a way to connect customers to your social media or website to make another purchase.

#8 Linktree: A linktree or other link-grouping service is a landing page where you can send a customer to more than one place. Think of it as bringing the customer to a fork in the road and pointing to the sign that labels each turn. Do they want to go to your social media, learn more about this service, or join your newsletter? The customer decides which road to take.

#9 Scan to Pay: Restaurants can use a QR code to allow customers to place an order completely through their phone. Performers or other workers who receive tips can link a code to their Venmo or other method of tipping. How could you use a QR code in a scan to pay way?

#10 Branded Swag: If you ever give away company swag, include a subtle QR code on the item. You choose where you want this to go. This increases your chances of the customer connecting with you again.

Remember Your Purpose

As you develop your QR code, where you will put it, and what it will link to, be strategic. It’s important to hop onto this trend with intention. Consider what your call to action, or CTA, is. What do you want them to do once they reach where you’ve sent them? Make a purchase? Join a newsletter? How will it help you as a business when a customer scans?

Think of a QR code as another way to connect with customers. Businesses today have a great opportunity to build brand recognition and brand loyalty. A QR code stands not to replace what you are currently doing, but to enhance it. Use this simple tool to strengthen your marketing today.

See blog

Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

How Covid Changed Social Media– 3 Trends That Are Here For Good
Thinkers360
June 01, 2022

Before the Covid-19 Pandemic, the tale of social media has been one of decline. We were spending less time on platforms, being more conscious of social media practices, and disclosing less personal information. A Google search for "is social media dead" returns 7.8 million results! The answer is social media is not dying. But how we use and consume it has changed.

The  Covid-19 pandemic, lockdowns, and isolation have dramatically changed the outlook for social media. Amongst the stress and chaos, people flocked to the platforms to reinvigorate a sense of connection and community. It was the only place with an "open 24 hours" sign for communication and engagement.

According to Sprout Social, Facebook had almost 24/7 engagement during 2020 when the pandemic hit versus the occasional "off times" of previous years.

Social media became somewhere for people to indulge in content, create new and maintain exisiting relationships, and find authentic news sources when meeting face-to-face was not an option.

Arguably, this could have heightened the extent of the Covid-19 misinformation, with 80% of consumers in the US reporting fake news posts about the coronavirus on social media. Regardless of content validity, the pandemic firmly left social media as the communication channel of choice.

As life returns to normal, social media consumption will likely decrease. Still, there are some shifts in user expectations and preferences that we expect to remain for the foreseeable future, and marketers need to respond by pivoting their strategy.

This article looks at three social media marketing trends that are here for good.,

Time spent on social media

Between 2019 and 2022, global social media users grew by 11%, from 3.4 billion to 3.8 billion. In the 12 months before October 2022, the volume of users grew by 400 million (almost 10%), and while that trend is slowing, it remains at nearly 1 million new users per day.

One harsh reality of the pandemic was that to be together safely someday, we had to remain separated in the present. For many, this meant that social media had become the sole method to communicate with friends and family thus, people rushed to new (TikTok) and old (Facebook) platforms. TikTok alone had a meteoric rise amongst the Generation Alphas.

US users' average time spent on social media in 2020 was 65 minutes per day, up from 54 minutes and 56 minutes the previous years.

Before the pandemic, social media offerings may have been a sideline for many marketers, supplementing their core campaigns. However, as people continue to favour the channels for news and content, they are now a primary strategy for interacting and engaging with customers.

Increasing video consumption

In 2020, media uploads increased by 80% year on year and the time spent watching video increased by 85%. According to Statista, 61% of Gen Z and Millennials are watching more videos on social media as a result of the pandemic.

TikTok found exponential growth at the start of the pandemic, thanks to the authenticity of content with people sharing real-life experiences.

More than ever before, consumers want companies to produce engaging, entertaining content on social media, and video is one of the most successful forms for doing so. Video content on Instagram gets more engagement than any other type of content, while a Tweet with a video gets ten times more engagement.

Video content, especially live streams, help to build a more intimate relationship with customers. They add value, education, and empathy that are not constantly prevalent features of text and images. Social networks are supposed to be about sharing everyday experiences. Video communicates more effectively through sight, sound, and emotion than words or pictures alone. That is why people are obsessed with video on social media.

The most popular types of content

The pandemic brought chaos and uncertainty, and many people used social media to escape the real world. As a result, fun, empathetic, and lighthearted content won the day. Over 40% of Gen Z social media users wanted fun content to distract them from the pandemic boredom. In addition to seeking authenticity and relatability, Gen Z desired to be captivated with amusing material. Marketers who can pivot and use humour in campaigns, making the content approachable and human-like, will succeed over brands pushing for sales.

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has had a particularly negative impact on the restaurant industry, with places throughout the country rushing to restructure themselves to better suit this new digitally-focused market. Businesses have responded creatively, tapping into the new customer demand for humor.

The fast-casual Chipotle chain has a presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter. The brand recognized customers might be feeling isolated and worked to replicate the happy environment of restaurants into social media, humanizing the brand and building relationships.

As a result, Chipotle grew digital sales by 216% in the first quarter of 2020. Free and contactless delivery, as well as loyalty programs and rewards, have all contributed to that.

Marketers should focus on posting more authentic content as we move forward as consumer demand does not appear to be waining.

Summary

Social media is the number one channel used in marketing, and it is imperative to adapt your business and keep up with the trend if you want to stimulate growth. 

Prior to the pandemic, many individuals went to the office, exercise classes, parks, or other public places to feel like they were part of a more significant community

When deployed effectively, social media may help fill in the gaps and feed the basic human desire for connection. Although people will return to the office and social clubs, new hybrid working models mean they will still seek those communities digitally.

With the thirst for authenticity on social media continuing to be important, marketers have a fantastic opportunity to dive into what makes their brand unique and adapt to the "new normal."

See blog

Tags: Marketing, COVID19

5 Ways to Determine the Best Tik Tok Video Topics for Your Business
Thinkers360
May 31, 2022

Tik Tok has become one of the leading social media platforms in recent years. Like all social networks, it started out as a place to connect with friends and family. However, these days it is widely used by businesses to help expand their reach and attract new leads.

If your business is looking to join in with the Tik Tok trend, you may be wondering what type of topics you should be focusing on. What should you post and how can you find the best content ideas?

In this brief guide, you’ll discover 5 ways to determine the best Tik Tok video topics for your business.

1. Look at What Your Competitors Are Doing

One of the easiest ways to come up with appropriate topics for your business is to see what your competitors are doing. Look up your different competitors on the platform and ask yourself:

  • What type of content are they producing?
  • Which topics receive the most engagement?
  • Are there any topics that didn’t get much of a response?

By seeing what your competitors are doing, it gives you a good idea of what to focus on and what to avoid in your own content.

2. Follow the Latest Trends

If you want to make sure you create content for Tik Tok that your audience will love, check out the latest trending topics. These are the topics that users are most interested in right now. If you post a video related to a trending topic, you are naturally going to receive more traffic to your content.

So, how can you find trending topics? There are a couple of ways you can do it. Firstly, head on over to the discover tab. This will show you videos related to current trending topics. Or you could follow the hashtag #trendalert which does some of the hard work for you. Many Tik Tok users utilize this hashtag to promote the latest trends.

Once you have a list of current trends, see which one best relates to your business. It is important to make sure that the video you create is relevant to the trend. If it isn’t, you aren’t going to receive the results you were hoping for.

3. Provide Value to Your Audience

The best Tik Tok topics for businesses are those that provide value to the audience. What kind of content could you produce that provides value?

A lot of businesses see great results from posting how to videos. These show the audience how to do something that they may struggle with. Again, make sure it is something related to your business. You need to show your audience that you can solve their problems, increasing the likelihood they will want to do business with you.

4. Get Personal with Your Content

When it comes to choosing brands to follow and interact with, consumers today typically want a more personalized experience. That is, they want to learn more about you and the business.

There are lots of types of personal content you can produce as a local business such as:

  • Behind the scenes
  • Boxing up orders
  • Meet the team
  • Pet related content

Let your audience get to know you and don’t be afraid to add personality into your Tik Tok videos. Behind the scenes content gives customers a look inside your business. Similarly, introducing the team in personalized videos can also help to build up trust and engagement.

5. Look for Local Community Projects

A great way to generate a larger audience on Tik Tok, or any social media platform, is to focus on community projects. Consumers like to do business with brands that actively help out in their local communities.

What community projects are currently running and is there a gap in the market you could utilize? Think about the causes you are most passionate about, then look at how you can help. Create a video to educate about the project and highlight the ways your business is helping.

These are just 5 ways to determine the best Tik Tok video topics for your local business. Creating content your audience wants to see can be challenging. However, if you follow some of the methods above, you should see an increase in the traffic and conversions.

See blog

Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

Jumpstart Your SMS List
Thinkers360
May 27, 2022

Nowadays, people always have their phone with them. If it’s not in their hand at this moment, it’s likely within reach. That’s why SMS messaging, when done correctly, is a lucrative marketing strategy: you know you can always reach your subscribers quickly.

SMS marketing messages have a 98% open rate. In fact, 90% of people read the text within a minute and a half of receiving it. Making this marketing strategy fast, efficient, and full of potential. You know most subscribers will open that text message. It’s up to you to build a persuasive and attractive message to convince them to engage further.

Why Build an SMS List?

But what about conversion? Well, approximately one in three people engage with a call to action when it is in an SMS message. Of that third, 47% will make a purchase. These are incredible results for a marketing tactic. What if you could send a single text that would immediately pick up your sales for the day, week, or quarter?

So, how can you build your SMS list?

Getting Started

The best way to get people to volunteer their personal contact information is to entice them with something they will consider a fair trade. Let people know your SMS subscribers are the first to know about exclusive deals and discounts. Or that special coupons are released only through your SMS messaging. Regardless of where you decide to promote this opt-in, you need to have a strong hook prepared.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Get 10% off your purchase today! Subscribe with your phone number and get 10% Off Coupon sent to you right away!
  • Join the exclusive club. Our subscribers are the first to know about special deals and limited time offers!
  • Love this sale? Our SMS members have had access to this sale for two days already. Be the first in line next time by joining our list.

Once you are armed with the hook for your messaging, it's time to get people to volunteer that personal phone number. But where can you do that? We’re going to cover a few places.

Your Website

Your website is a great place to start. You can strategically place your hook on the side, at the bottom, or even around the menu bar of your website. Draw in people who are browsing, shopping, or just curious and visiting.

You could also choose to dedicate an entire landing page just to promote how awesome your SMS subscribers have it with multiple opportunities for the scrollers to join your exclusive list. You can send people to this landing page from social media.

Signs in Your Store

If your company has a physical location, this one’s for you. Signs are your best friend. Put one as customers enter and exit, beside a product display, and at your register.

We list more than one location because the more people see these signs, the more likely they are to become comfortable with the idea of giving you their contact information. And those signs will act like a little reminder every time they see one. “Don’t forget to sign up!”

Emails

Add your hook to emails you send to customers and leads. These emails could be a monthly newsletter, a “Thanks for your order!” email, or anything in between. Regardless, build the relationship by offering them an exclusive deal on their next purchase with a discount code only SMS members will receive.

At Checkout

Maybe your customer is sitting at their virtual cart about to purchase. Or maybe they were about to exit out. You can send a popup to direct their attention towards a discount that’s theirs if only they join the SMS list. After they accept, you can set up the deal to be texted automatically.

Social Media

In your Instagram or Facebook story, a featured post, or a video, call your followers to sign up for your SMS group. People often hang out on social media to get inspired or find something awesome. Make this SMS system sound incredible, and you’ll get a steady flow of new subscribers.

SMS Tools

Now you’ve prepared your messaging. You’ve established how you will gather consumer’s phone numbers. How do you send out your messaging? Don’t worry, you don’t have to line up three hundred numbers on your company cell phone and hit send. There are tools designed to help you. Here are a few!

  • Omnisend: in addition to standard SMS tools, they also have a list-building feature and 24/7 support
  • EZ Texting: extremely comprehensive and you can start with a free trial
  • SlickText: one-on-one account setup and a free mobile app
  • Twilio: works with multiple messaging platforms

It’s up to you to decide which tool you feel fits your company best. Remember, there are more tools than just this list. And at the end of the day, most SMS tools will accomplish the same basic task.

Work the System

Be prepared for these list-building strategies to work. Have your first couple of rounds of SMS marketing ready to go. Consider sending a welcome text soon after they subscribe. This will keep you in their mind and build the relationship.

Experiment a little bit to find what works best for your brand. Should you send pictures with your texts? If so, how many and what kind? Should they be professional and calm or fun and quirky? Should you use emojis or keep it emoji-free? Only you can answer these questions for your business.

Also, SMS does not have to be a stand-alone tactic. You can use SMS with email for a strong marketing strategy. Begin an email campaign with product recommendations and end with a text message warning them these deals will end soon.

Continue to Grow

Once you have these hooks published on your website, social media, physical store, and wherever else you choose, they can continually pull in more subscribers for you. You could even start with one or two places and add other hooks later.

Personalized communication is an extremely important aspect of marketing today. And SMS is the perfect way to communicate directly with customers. In fact, 48% of consumers say they prefer this direct communication with brands. Grow your SMS list today to take advantage of this advancing marketing strategy.

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

Give Your Online Presence a Purpose: Lead Your Followers to Buy
Thinkers360
May 25, 2022

As a business living in 2022, you probably have a nice website and at least one profile on a social media platform. That’s great! But does your content have a purpose? Is it working for you as a tool to grow your sales? Or does it merely exist so you can check a box and say “we’re a modern business with an online presence”?

Your online presence should exist to lead people down the marketing funnel and make a purchase. It’s easy to create a Facebook page or Instagram profile and throw up some basic content. Even publishing a website today is pretty simple. But you should always have a strategy for your content. Your website and social media can be strong tools to generate sales when correctly equipped.

The Marketing Funnel

You want every person who interacts with you online to take action. And after they take one action, you want them to take another. And another. Until, step by step, you lead them to making a purchase with you.

What we’re looking at here is cultivating a strong marketing funnel that generates, nurtures, and converts leads to sales. This is what it means to create content with a strategy. Do you find yourself posting a picture or a quick link on your social media just because you know you should be posting something?

If so, it may be time for you to take a step back. Review the marketing funnel and discover how you can use your online presence to make more sales.

Stage One: Lead Generation

In the beginning, no one knows who you are. They don’t know your name, they don’t know what your products or services are, and they may not even understand how they work. They certainly don’t understand at the moment why they need you.

This first stage is all about finding your ideal audience and introducing yourself. It may require some market research. It will require a lot of content that is friendly, full of value, and memorable. For content in this stage, do not immediately jump into the sale. Just start the conversation.

Here’s how to leverage social media and your website to generate leads.

  • Research what hashtags will reach your ideal audience and use these in every post on social media. You want to be as discoverable as possible.
  • Create content that is quick, friendly, and simple to introduce your business, products or services
  • Answer questions or address problems you know your ideal customer is asking: show how you solve them
  • Optimize your website and social media bios with exactly who you are in a few short words
  • Include a call-to-action (CTA) that invites people to follow for more, or get more information

Stage Two: Lead Nurture

At this point, people know a little bit about you and you should have a following of some sort. They may recognize your name, understand what industry you operate in, and hopefully understand the problem you solve. Do not stop here with this awareness. Always create content and a website that leads people to take the next step into interest and consideration.

Some people will be in their own research mode, needing to solve their problem but unsure which business they should partner with. Others may not have accepted they need to solve their problem now, but they’re curious enough in your solution to consider purchasing from you. Either way, your content in this stage should be more detailed and persuasive. Here are a few content ideas to nurture leads.

  • Share testimonials from past clients and customers
  • Demo a product or service to show how excellently it works
  • Build engagement by asking your followers questions or running Q+As
  • Pay influencers to promote your business
  • Create content that is extremely shareable
    • Make your videos or pictures attractive, creative, and unique
  • Target users on social media who follow you or have engaged with you in the past when you run any advertising so you can continue the conversation
  • Include a CTA that invites people to visit a landing page, read more about your offerings, and even to make a purchase

This stage is more persuasive than the last. This time you should take a step past introducing yourself and tell people why your company is the best and they should buy from you.

Stage Three: Converting Leads to Sales

People know who you are and what you do. They know the benefits of your products or services and hopefully why you are better than your competitors. You have built a relationship with these leads and have every right to ask for the sale. Here are a few ways to use your online content to convert leads to sales.

  • Run a sale and target all advertising towards your followers and anyone who has engaged with you before
  • Ask questions that lead to a sale
    • Do you [have this problem]?
    • Are you ready to [fix this problem]?
    • Have you ever considered [this solution]?
  • Create content centered around one specific product or service you want to sell. Make sure it leads to a landing page on your website with persuasive sales copy and hard sell to “Buy now”
  • Provide opportunities for anyone still on the fence to clear the air
    • What questions do you have about [this product or service]?
  • Ask yourself these questions to create a sales post: What time of year is it? Why is buying your product today the best decision someone could make?

This stage is the moment to push and ask for the sale. But you can’t get to this stage without introducing yourself and nurturing the relationship first, so make sure the first two stages are not neglected.

Put it All Together

Now you have three stages of content to build from. But what does this look like on a daily and weekly basis? First, use each stage as a category to brainstorm content ideas from.

  1. Lead Generation
    1. Introduction post
    2. Answer a problem my ideal customer has
    3. An exciting and unique hook that introduces a benefit of your service or product
  2. Lead Nurturing
    1. Client testimonial
    2. Product or service demo
    3. Ask a question to build relationships
  3. Converting Leads to Sales
    1. Promote a sale, discount or special offer
    2. Ask sales questions that lead to a landing page
    3. Create a seasonal post about the benefits of your product or service

These are just a few ideas. Keep a constant list of content ideas for each of these categories. Any time you create any advertising content for a lead nurturing post, target people who have engaged with your lead generation posts. When you create advertising to convert leads to sales, target people who have engaged with your lead nurturing posts.

Keep Going

Social media can be a lot to balance as a business. But with a simple strategy to direct people down the marketing funnel, your social media will increase your sales. No more posting inconsistently and without direction. Let your social media work for you instead of just being an afterthought. Create content that introduces yourself, engages with your followers, and persuades them to purchase.

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

A Guide to Setting Up Online Orders for Your Small Business
Thinkers360
May 19, 2022

Serving your customers virtually, in a post-COVID world - has never been more imperative to the survival of small businesses. And with more and more customers seeking contactless and virtual methods of payment, not adapting to the new-normal is hurting your prospects for growth.

If you’re the proud owner of a brick-and-mortar store, this article is about setting up systems to allow your customers, new and returning, to purchase from you virtually without the pain of visiting the physical location.

Before you an online ordering system to implement into your online presence, it’s important to understand what we’re looking for.

Your Online Ordering System Needs to Be Customizable

Ideally, our online ordering systems should merely act as an extension of your company or brand. When your online presence is too detached from your physical location’s tone and sentiment, it can scare potential customers away.

The best online ordering systems provide you with customizable options. This includes additions of your business name and logo to the interface and form fill-outs, as well as automated communication to ensure your customer knows the transaction has come through (receipt emails and thank-you notes.)

Your Online Ordering System Needs to Be Easy to Use

The least attractive feature of an online ordering system is a confusing interface. Your customers want the same seamless experience online as in real life, at your physical location.

An attractive and easy-to-use website with a smooth ordering process simply amplifies your business. You’ll get repeat customers, increasing the return-on-investment of your order systems. Don’t settle for clunky systems filled with gaps. Find your favourite brand or online stores and find out what they use.

Your Online Ordering System Should Collect Important Data

The ability to collect customer data can help you gain crucial insights about your small business. This includes the age and other demographics of your customers, best-selling products, and more.

With these data points, you can do the following:

  • Identify where you should focus your efforts on the marketing side of your business.
  • Know what products you need to keep in stock and when.
  • Create offers and promotions based upon what your customers like and interact with the most.

Data = improved customer experience.

Choosing the Right Online Ordering System

Something important to note: setting up these systems is relatively simple, because any reputable Software that you end up choosing will walk you through the process in 10 minutes or less. The crucial decision to make is which software you’ll be choosing and why.

We’ll begin by covering three excellent software services for restaurant owners. These cost-effective & easy-to-use programs will allow restaurant owners to set up online orders for their customers with ease.

1. ChowNow

ChowNow allows you to set up order placements from your website, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc, and can even help you create a mobile app for your business. Personalized app = customer-centric experiences, tailored and branded to your business. This in turn means repeat customers and a great experience!

Customers are especially likely to use their mobile devices or social media to place their orders. ChowNow is an option if you want to get really savvy.

With credit card processing included for online orders, menu creation, offer and discount possibilities, ChowNow can be purchased for $119 per month.

ChowNow is special because you get that crucial data about your customer’s favourite products, demographics and more.

2. Ordering.co

Ordering.co is one of the best programs on the market for restaurant ordering systems.

The software offers an automated customer support experience with an ordering website and app that aids customers with automated help in real-time, so you can keep on top of customer concerns/complaints without hassle.

The key ingredient to Ordering.co is the ease of access, ease of use and customization for small businesses. Taking less than an hour to set up, you can start a free trial today at https://www.ordering.co/en-us/.

3. GloriaFood (a free alternative)

GloriaFood is an open-source application (meaning free to use!) and was the first of its kind to ensure restaurant owners could create an online ordering system free of charge.

With that said, advanced options like credit card processing are part of the premium plans - meaning that for a fully functional POS, you’ll be looking to dish out some cash to see GloriaFood’s full potential. But for what it gives you free of charge, it’s a pretty great place to start.

Online Ordering Systems for Other Businesses

As the sole contender for this article as the best online ordering system for all businesses with physical products, services and brick-and-mortar locations, Shopify allows you, within less than a day, to set up a fully functional ordering system for any product possible, with a very soft learning curve for small business owners who may not be so clued up on tech.

Shopify allows you to create a fully-fledged store front for your business, allows customers to submit orders, tracks your accounting, and allows customers to leave reviews of your products.

On top of that, credit card payment processing is incredibly easy for businesses with the use of Shopify payments.

‘Shopify Payments lets Shopify users accept card payments without having to integrate third parties. Fees are: 30¢ for every online card transactions, plus 2.9% to 2.4% depending on your plan. In-person transaction fees are 2.7% to 2.4%.’

Ultimately, Shopify will allow you to have absolutely control over your entire small business’s online presence, without the hassle of hiring consultants, web designers or accountants. Products, purchases and payments all in one place.

Setting up Online Ordering Systems with WordPress

By a far stretch, WPForms is the best solution for setting up an online ordering system if you already have an established WordPress website.

Adding Online Orders

Once you’ve got your WordPress website set up, you can easily add an online form so that customers can order products online, particularly food or physical products from the physical locations. Now there are multiple ways to do this with WordPress.

First, you’ll need to install and activate the WPForms plugin, set up your orders and allow customers to purchase products through your website. Super easy for small businesses. You can check out the most useful video on the matter below.

Why Set Up an Online Ordering System?

Why go through the fuss of setting up online payments and orders for your customers? To wrap up this article, we’ve detailed below the key selling points of an online ordering system for your small business.

1. Safer and Healthier

To reopen, businesses need to set up shop to meet health and safety regulations. Owners must maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic and using contactless ordering/payment methods ensures safety of all customers.

Shifting to an online ordering system for businesses means your customers can order and pay from the safety of their home. Remember: irrespective of rule changes, not everyone is going to be comfortable with public appearances for some time.

2. More Data and Less Margin for Error

One of the advantages of online food ordering for customers is that it ensures prices are totally secure, consistent and there’s less room for error when it comes to data for the customer, product information and customer expectations. Never miss a beat.

There’ll be less chance of incorrect charging, less time wasted sorting out mistakes and fewer apologies given to customers.

3. More Customers!

As the new-normal gets truly rolling, online ordering and payments are becoming more accepted and crucially, expected by your customer. If your menu and payment system is hassle-free and easy to use online, your regular customers will be recommending you to their friends, and sharing on social media, and letting people know how seamless the experience was.

Don’t get left behind: online ordering systems are pivotal for the survival of today’s small businesses.

Do you want to integrate online ordering to your website and not sure where to start? Connect with us today to learn about our hands-free solutions setup by our in-house team.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Business Continuity

What the Future Holds for SMS Marketing?
Thinkers360
May 18, 2022

Considering all of the different digital marketing options small business owners have these days to promote their business, you might assume that SMS marketing isn’t as effective as it once was just a few years ago.

However, you couldn’t be further from the truth. SMS marketing campaigns still do surprisingly well in a world that’s saturated with social media marketing. 

Specifically, local businesses can reap the potential benefits of SMS marketing since there’s little personalization required for regional marketing.

While the hype surrounding social media marketing is justified, SMS marketing has some surprising statistics that just can’t be ignored.

With that said, SMS marketing has a wide scope today and in the future. Below, we take a look at the benefits of SMS marketing, particularly for small to medium sized local businesses.

Why Tap Into SMS Marketing?

SMS marketing allows you to be right where your customers are the majority of their time - on their phones. It’s not only the most logical but also the fastest way to access your customers.

Experts at Forbes consider it to be the ‘tool of the future,’ and we certainly agree. Here’s why:

Fast Engagement

A cell phone user takes 90 seconds on average to respond to a text message. On the other hand, users take about 90 minutes to reply to an email.

While this alone is enough to demonstrate the efficiency of SMS marketing at getting instant engagement, marketers also need to keep the open rate in consideration.

Open rate refers to the percentage of texts or emails that the receivers open.

As compared to a 20% open rate for emails, 98% of the receivers open their text messages, making the letter a quick way to reach your customers.

Let’s say you’re a local bakery offering customized cakes for the holiday season.

SMS marketing is the fastest way to inform your customers about this offer. Meanwhile, email marketing is a slower channel, and the customer may open their email after the holiday season.

SMS marketing can help boost your email marketing campaigns too.

According to a Smart Insights report, sending a follow-up SMS like ‘Did you read our email?’’ can increase the email open rate by up to 30%. It’s a win-win on both sides.

High ROI

SMS marketing yields a 45% return on investment when used solely and up to 50% when applied in combination with other marketing channels like email or social media marketing.

It’s also a great way to funnel a customer through your omnichannel marketing approach.

For example, as a local spa you could send out an SMS message to those who opted-in to receive notifications about upcoming specials on your massage packages.

The receiver will read your SMS and head over to your website to get information about your services.

They’re also likely to visit your social media pages to read reviews and see user-generated content, such as pictures and videos.   In this way, SMS marketing can help bring traffic to other channels too.

Finally, they visit your business and signup for a massage. The trend is bound to continue into the future since 63% of the consumers still use their phone’s default texting app, and the number of people using SMS to stay in touch increased substantially in the future.

Considering this, 61% of the marketers intend to invest more in SMS marketing following 2020.

Cost-effective

If you’re a small start-up or a home-run business, you may not have the budget for email or social media marketing.

Fortunately, SMS marketing is an affordable alternative that gets an incredible response from the customers without breaking the bank.

Many SMS marketing companies offer subscription packages costing $50 to $500, depending on the number of messages you want to send every month and the keywords you wish to rent.

More importantly, you do not need to hire anyone to create graphic illustrations, shoot videos, take pictures, as you would in social media marketing.

You can either write the SMS copy yourself or hire a copywriter based on your needs.

High Responsiveness

Most businesses prefer using SMS marketing since text messages incite a quick response. 26% of the businesses use text messages to inform customers about coupons and discounts.

Even better, they manage to reach 67% of the consumers, which is an impressive reach.

Another way for local businesses to leverage SMS marketing is to allow customers to make appointments through text messages.

It has worked in the past - 44% of the consumers schedule their appointments through SMS - and it’s bound to work in the future.

Having said that, 53.75% of the marketers and business owners consider fast delivery to be the most significant benefit of SMS marketing.

Thus, the sooner local businesses jump on board, the better it will be for ROI and customer engagement.

Future Trends in SMS Marketing

In the coming years, businesses will focus on interacting with their customers through SMS. The concerning fact of marketing called conversational commerce is expected to come into play.

Basically, it refers to having one-on-one conversations with your customers.

For instance, you can let them ask you for sizing, product recommendations, or compare product options through SMS.

Although it’s non-promotional, it helps generate revenue and bring more customers into the loop.

Links in SMS

Another upcoming trend is sending links through SMS. In fact, the CTA is associated with the link. For instance, if you’re a local hair salon, you can send an appointment form to the customers through SMS.

They can simply fill in the form to book an appointment for any service. Similarly, businesses will be sending links for promotional offers, their social media pages, contests, and websites.

Rich Communication Services

Insert Maps

Rich Communication Services is a messaging technology that will allow businesses to add features like maps, videos, and chip lists into text messages.

For instance, as a local gym, you can send a map to your location to the target audience.

Similarly, local hotels and guest houses can send area maps to show customers the proximity of their business to nearby locations.

However, RCS is forecasted to become a trend later in the future since only 8.1% of the global mobile phone networks have adopted it so far.

In Conclusion  

Without a doubt, SMS marketing is one of the quickest and most effective ways to reach your customers. It’s actually the best when it comes to return on investment and open rate.

So, if you want to generate a high ROI and ensure a significant open rate, you should be writing the copy for your SMS marketing campaign right now.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Marketing

5 Steps to Create a Lead Generation Report for Your Business
Thinkers360
May 17, 2022

Want to bolster your lead generation efforts? Creating an in-depth report is a great way to determine how well your current strategy is working.

By tracking your strategy, you’ll be able to see what is working and any areas that need to be improved. So, how can you create a lead generation report for your business? Find out everything you need to know in this useful guide.

What Is a Lead Generation Report?

A lead generation report is basically an analysis of leads for your business. It can show you:

  • How many leads you had during a set period
  • How quickly you acted on leads that came in
  • The lead conversion rate

You can create these reports for pay per click ads, or social media campaigns for example. Once you have the report to look over, you’ll be able to see if your lead generation strategy is working, or whether it needs to be adjusted to gain better results.

Lead generation reports are most commonly used by marketers, salespeople, and lead managers.

How to Create a Lead Generation Report

So, now you know what a lead generation report is, how exactly can you create one? This will ultimately depend upon the type of report you are wanting to create. For example, do you need a lead generation report for email marketing, PPC ads, or social media marketing?

Regardless of which type of report you are creating, there are some general steps you can follow…

Step 1: Consider using a specialist template

Creating a lead generation report can be a complex task, depending upon how many leads you need to analyze. For this reason, many businesses choose to rely upon specialist lead generation report tools.

There are a lot of platforms that provide templates you can use. These help to speed up time, and make analyzing your leads much easier. Take a look online and you’ll find a ton of free templates, or you can pay for lead generation report software.

Step 2: What information will you track?

Whether you are creating the report yourself or using a specialist template, you need to identify what information you are going to track. For inspiration, some of the metrics analyzed in a lead generation report include:

  • Total number of leads that came in
  • The rate of conversion
  • Cost of conversions
  • How long it took you to follow up on the conversions

Consider the most important metrics you’ll need to track, then create a list.

Step 3: Use an Excel spreadsheet

If you aren’t planning on using a specialist template, the easiest way to create your own report is through an Excel spreadsheet.

You’ll need to first insert each metric into the spreadsheet. Then, to monitor results, you’ll want to use your CRM or PPC analysis. Results can then be entered into the spreadsheet.

This manual method of reporting can take up a lot of time. Therefore, if you can invest in automated reporting tools, it could be well worth the added expense.

Step 4: Bring all your lead generation efforts together

If you want to gain a true picture of how your lead generation strategy is working, you’ll need to bring all your efforts together. This means, analyzing results from email marketing, social media marketing, and PPC ads.

Step 5: Analyze the results

The final step in your lead generation report is to analyze the results. Ask yourself:

  • Where are the leads coming from?
  • How many converted into customers?
  • Which platforms deliver the best results?
  • How long did it take you or your team to respond to leads?
  • How well are each of your lead generation strategies working?

Take time to analyze the results, and again if you struggle to do it manually, consider investing in professional software. If you want to gain the benefits of lead generation reporting, you need to do it accurately. This can be difficult when you are new to report analysis.

The above are the main steps to follow when you want to create a lead generation report. You can track your results weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The more frequently you assess your results, the more effective your lead generation strategy will become.

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

How to Bounce Back from a Sales Slump
Thinkers360
May 13, 2022

Bad news... There really is no way to avoid a future sales slump. Whether you run a seasonal lobster shack off the coast of Maine or a year-round surf & turf restaurant in Hawaii, you are bound to experience a short period when your bottom line fluctuates.  

Sales slumps can happen because of new competition, off-season demand, or a slew of other simple problems, the thing to remember if you have to push forward. The best tool in your arsenal as a business is consistency. Stay focused on the long-term goals of your company and do your best to be proactive about any short-term slumps, and you will have a successful strategy.

In the meantime, here are a few tips and tricks to keeping your sales flow moving forward even during the worst of times.

Engage with Social Media

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. It offers a direct line of communication to your customers in fun, engaging, and attractive visual posts. Keep the pedal pushed down on your social media marketing to ensure your viewership and follower base do not dip into dangerously low levels. Host a social media contest with a unique Hashtag. There are currently 3.78 billion social media users globally, which is about half of the entire population. That means there are bound to be people who will appreciate your business.

If you're a grooming business. Put on a promotion for funny pet photos with the tag #myfunnypet and watch your numbers go back up as everyone from our local target market to the toy poodle owners in Siberia begins celebrating their goofy four-legged friends.

Celebrate Loyalty

Too often, the knee-jerk reaction to lower sales is to immediately seek new marketing channels for lead acquisition. While this isn’t a bad idea, don’t go deep into that end of the campaign pool and neglect your loyal customers. Around 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers. That means the people helping you keep the lights on the most are the ones you've already built a working relationship with. Reward them with updated news, exciting early offers, and coupons to encourage them to purchase during an off-season.

Streamline and Perfect

A sales slump is a great time to reevaluate your business process, customer journey, and sales funnels. It gives you the ability to do some quality A-B testing and review all the touchpoints of your customer experience. You can also get a breath of fresh air long enough to poke your head up and see what your competitors are offering.

This could be the chance to rebrand your company or update essential online visuals for your website, social media, and more. Think of the classic ice cream shop that closes for the winter months. When they open back up, they create a lot of buzz with new flavors or some kind of comfortable outdoor seating area that signals to customers they are strong, growing, and ready to engage.

Maintain Communication

It costs 5 times as much to acquire a new customer as to keep a current loyal client. The easiest way to maintain your existing customer base is to continually offer them value in the form of communication. Minor updates via email or social media show you’re still there and preparing for the next wave of orders. This is a great time to get customer feedback and develop your brand story. A compelling story with an emotional trigger alters our brain chemistry, making us more trusting and willing to engage with new ideas.

Airbnb is a master class in brand storytelling. The name alone conjures images of A-Frame forest getaways built by individual hosts creating unique local places to stay for your next adventure. Attaching a high-quality story to your brand identity goes a long way to maintaining communication and loyalty with your current and on the fence customers.

Market or Die

A sales slump means you have fewer leads. Now is the time to engage in some quality lead magnets. These are low-cost trade-offs for encouraging higher sales that you and your team can quickly create. Consider writing a short guide for your product or service that you offer for free in exchange for email information. Maybe now is the perfect time to launch your new video series on how to prepare for a marathon to support your custom line of running shoes. Offering high value for your customers is a great way to wrap them into your sales funnel and encourage future sales.

Again, make sure you involve your social media campaigns with any kind of new lead magnet. A sales slump is the best time to focus on your paid advertising. It means you need eyeballs on your brand to offset any current losses.

Add Value

Do your best to avoid cutting prices to compensate for leaner sales numbers. You do not want to devalue your products or services. In fact, you want to add value if possible.  Rewards & incentives are a great way to keep your customers coming back.  Nobody can turn down the dopamine buzz from a great deal. Focus on delivering what your business does best and let user-generated content like online reviews to increase the perceived value of your business.

Starbucks has an promotion where they will offer customers a free drink for their birthday in return for signing up for their loyalty program. They didn’t change anything to the product side of their business but instead added value to the loyalty side of being a customer. That is smart marketing!

Wrapping it Up

The point is a sales slump is not the end of the world. A little preparation and proactive action can go a long way to ensuring your company can weather even the harshest of storms. Practicing a few easy steps can drastically increase the perceived value of your brand and customer loyalty. This leads to more future sales and clients who are willing to sing your praises through online user-generated content and customer referrals.

The reason for the sales slump may be out of your hands, but if you keep your marketing nose to the grindstone during those slow times, it will pay off as customers come back around.

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Tags: Business Continuity, Sales

How to Encourage Repeat Buyers… Again and Again!
Thinkers360
May 11, 2022

The greatest superpower that small business owners have is great service. With incredible service comes repeat customers and referred customers who also become repeat customers!

By providing a delightful customer experience, people remember positive interactions with your small business and eventually return to your business again and again.

In this article, we will reveal a number of important ways to generate repeat customers, so you can start seeing familiar faces return as soon as next week.

Use personal forms of communication (as well as traditional)

These suggestions assume you are actively collecting emails & phone numbers to re-engage your customers with future updates, promotions & news about your business.

Email is still the preferred medium for customer communication. Functionally, it works great. You can let customers know about your most recent deals, promotions, and new products - but at the risk of being cold. You might be coming off disconnected and formal.

SMS-marketing, (also known as text marketing) can prove to be a powerhouse for customer engagement, assuming they have opted-in for it.  With an open rate of nearly 99% SMS messaging puts your business message right where your customer is looking all the time – their phone.

Don’t forget to add personalization into your campaigns.  You want your customers know they are thought about. It’s as simple as selecting the ‘First Name’ field into your outgoing messages and using their first name instead of just “Hey” or “Hello” “Hi”  

… And can make an immediate good impression.

Remember the customer

You can personalize the experience for your customer simply by remembering small details about them.  For example, if they mentioned they have children, or grandchildren - ask about how they are doing during their next visit.  Are they dog lovers?  Maybe ask them how their dog is doing.  This is such a simple thing to do, but it makes a huge difference.  Moments like these make customers want to return to your business.

Reach out to customers you haven’t heard from in a while

There are also plenty of customers who purchase from you once or twice (almost a repeat customer) then you never hear from them again. Life gets in the way! To re-capture these customers, find out who has gone quiet and reach out to them with a re-engagement offer. Send them a friendly email or text to remind them that you care and want to serve them more of what they came for in the first place.

Remember: You should never prioritize acquiring new customers over satisfying existing ones.

Why? 

Because it can cost up to 5 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing one.  Don’t assume that your existing customer base is already loyal to your brand and doesn’t need to be treated with same fantastic service they’ve come to know and love. No matter if they’re a brand new or long-term customer you need to give them a reason to come back

Customer churn is a silent killer of small businesses. (That is, how many customers use your business once and never return.) When you incentivize old customers to come back with great service, good offers and strong rewards for being repeat customers, you’ll unlock an immense force for business growth.

Respond fast!

Being there for a customer when they need you is imperative to whether or not they become a repeat buyer.  90% of customers rate an immediate response (30 minutes or less) as important or very important to their questions and inquiries. (per Hubspot).

Gone are the days of “Call us for more details…” Your customers will bombard you with questions and comments from a variety of channels nowadays. Phone, email, website forms & chat, social media platforms & more!

In order to achieve the illusion of an all-seeing, spotless customer experience, your staff need to be present on these platforms at all times. But don’t worry, that’s what Social Media Dashboards like Buffer and Agora Pulse are for.  You can handle all communication & engagement through for all of your social media platforms though them. 

Customer Loyalty Programs = Gold Mines

Undoubtedly the most effective way to generate repeat customers for your small business is an attractive customer loyalty program. The right royalty program can skyrocket your sales so make sure you do your research ahead of time and choose a program that works best your business. Examples of a high-performing loyalty program include:

Offer First-Time Purchase Discounts to Customers

Present Offers in Exchange for ‘Reward Points’

Celebrate Customer Birthdays with Discounts/Coupons

Give Out Rewards for Referrals

Using a CRM to Make This All Possible

Wait...What’s a CRM?

CRM is short for ‘customer relationship management’ software and it’s a tool businesses use to manage potential and existing customers. Some initial benefits include:

  • Simplifying your lead management process (never lose out on a potential sale by remembering every encounter!)
  • Getting data-driven insights about your customer base (what they like, dislike and what their purchasing habits are.)
  • Making your sales process more efficient (keep on top of customers who just need a little push to buy.)
  • Providing a better customer experience (by providing news, updates and even support in real-time from your CRM.)
  • Increasing your productivity as a small business owner (saving you money & time.)

Most reputable & effective CRM software will only set you back between $50-200 per month. Although there are free alternatives as well as higher priced options as well. Ultimately, a CRM is the backbone of the modern digital business, and it’s the secret recipe for establishing a network of repeat customers.

Here’s 5 ways in which a CRM could help your small business generate repeat visitors:

  1. Circling back: a CRM will keep your customers in the loop! If you’re savvy enough to have the next few months planned out with sales and promotions, you can set up automatic campaigns (email & SMS) that inform your customers on exact dates about your deals.
  2. Valuing the new customers: with customer data being tracked in a CRM, at the click of a button you can see what products are hot in the past week, month or year and keep track of individual customers’ specific buying habits.
  3. Email marketing campaigns: you can use a CRM to send out bulk emails to customers who have opted into your communication, and most reputable CRM programs will allow you to personalize these campaigns (addressing them by their first name, sending out a discount on their birthday, etc.)

Exceptional Customer service is the key.

I can’t be more serious when I say that customer service is imperative to the survival and upkeep of your business, and it’s likely the single most important element to achieving repeat customers.

Your ability to connect with customers (beyond their point of purchase - meaning when they no longer matter financially, you need to treat them like they’re family) demonstrates your dedication to their needs and goals as customers.

This is how you earn a customer’s business, repeatedly time & time again.  And referrals too!

In Conclusion

No small business has ever failed because they have too many repeat customers. Invest in a CRM to boost your small business this year and pair that with a loyalty program. Once you have everything setup, you will have the data you need to re-engage old customers and treat your repeat customers like royalty – this is the only formula for success you will ever need.

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Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

Digital Marketing 2022: The Future of Marketing:
Thinkers360
May 06, 2022

November through to January is one of the most exciting times for digital marketers. It's the time where budgets are drawn up and the new marketing strategy is solidified.

As a small business owner, you don't have a team of marketers working on your behalf to formulate a winning digital marketing strategy to ensure your marketing efforts are a success. Because of this, it can be intimidating to plan your marketing strategies for the upcoming year.

But that’s okay because we've spent our time, looking at all the data that matters to identify the key digital marketing trends that you need to follow in 2022.

We've identified the best digital marketing trends that are working right now to generate leads and grow your business today, and through 2022.

What Are the Trends of the Future?

It’s no surprise that digital marketing is an absolute must for small businesses nowadays and there’s no shortage of strategies you can chose to focus on.  But this year marketing channels like content marketing, social media marketing, paid social media advertising were utilized by more businesses than ever before.   

In 2022, content marketing was one of the leading forms of marketing used by businesses. Brands with a blog generated over 67% more leads than ones without a blog, and the revenue for content marketing will exceed $300 billion in 2022.

Social media marketing has also skyrocketed, with 54% of social media users using these platforms to research products. Since the average user spends just under 3 hours a day consuming social media, it's clear to see why marketers have prioritized these marketing tools over others in 2022.

Digital marketing is especially useful for small business owners because it’s cost effective, has an extensive reach and is instrumental for building brand awareness and trust.

But we know it can be overwhelming to develop your digital marketing strategy as a small business owner – especially if you don’t have much experience with digital marketing.   

So with that in mind we've put together a list of key trends that you need to know about in 2022 to create a successful digital marketing strategy that keeps your business profiting all year.

Here are some of the key digital marketing trends you need to follow in 2022:

Influencer Marketing:

In 2022, influence marketing is worth over $13 billion. We live in a time where consumers trust sales influencers recommendations over traditional celebrities, with 49% of consumers using influencer recommendations to influence purchasing decisions this year. For teens and younger demographics, this number is even higher - with over 70% of teenagers relying on influencer recommendations for purchases.

Social commerce is more powerful than ever before thanks to the power of influencers. Social commerce allows you to use influencers and micro-influencers to sell products directly to new customers on social media networks.

Influencer marketing is a significant trend in digital marketing strategy that will continue to boom in 2022. The rise of mico and nano-influencers means that small businesses can capitalize on this exciting marketing, and there is a high return on investment on influencer marketing expenditure. For each $1 invested, businesses can make up to $6.50 ROI on influencer marketing.

Conversational Marketing is “IN”:

Conversational marketing refers to the use of chatbots and live chats for marketing purposes. Able to provide users with instant access to customer support, conversational marketing makes your business accessible to customers 24/7.

A powerful marketing automation tool, leading brands utilize conversational marketing tools to aid with data collection, qualify leads and provide premier customer experience services.

The best part about conversational marketing is it’s fully automated.  It literally works for you in your sleep, and can be set-up fairly easily.

Facebook, Wordpress & Wix all offer chatbot artificial intelligence tools that small businesses can use today.

The Power of Short-Form Video:

Short-form video is skyrocketing in popularity. The growth of social media channels such as TikTok and Instagram reels has caused short-form video to become a booming digital marketing trend. It's important to incorporate short-form video into your digital marketing strategy.

Short, snappy and to-the-point, short-form video marketing allows you to share key marketing messages in 15 seconds. These marketing messages are memorable, engaging and resonate with consumers. Expenditure on short-form video is predicted to rise in 2022, and many leading marketers are investing more into it this new year.

Brand Challenges & User-Generated Content:

The rise in short-form video marketing is giving rise to other digital marketing trends such as brand challenges and user-generated content. Both of these offer prime marketing automation opportunities and allow you to produce interactive content with existing customers.

Interactive content is key to boosting engagement with your digital marketing efforts. Many marketers incorporate brand challenges into their marketing strategy in order to boost the amount of user-generated content created by existing customers.

User-generated content is content that is created by consumers and is key for building brand trust and awareness. Consumers are more likely to trust content that is created by other consumers, and it requires minimal marketing efforts on your behalf.

Blogs and Website Content Are Still In:

Blog and website content is still popular and will continue to be popular through 2022. You can utilize AI tools like Answer the Public to find what your consumers are searching for and develop a content strategy around it.

As of 2022 over 70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing. Effective content marketing will help you rank higher on Google's search results, which means more targeted traffic for your business! 

Your Email Copy:

With an average return on investment of $36 for ever $1 spent it's important to include email marketing in your digital marketing strategy.

But your email marketing results are only as good as your email copy. Create engaging email copy to compel your subscribers to click on your email offers and purchase you’re promoting.  Once you have a customer email list, you can literally create sales on demand.  So make sure you keep your list engaged with content that matters to them.   

Wrapping up…

Digital marketing isn’t the future of marketing, it’s right now.  And it's more important than ever for small businesses to capitalize on it now.  

By implementing any of the digital marketing trends we mentioned above, you can take full advantage of powerful marketing strategies that will vastly improve your ROI digital reach with your audience.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Marketing

7 Out of the Box Content Marketing Ideas to Try in 2022
Thinkers360
May 04, 2022

As we close out 2021 and look ahead to the new year one thing that has become blatantly obvious is that – now more than ever content marketing should play an important part in every small business’s digital marketing strategy.

If you want to stay one step ahead of your competitors online than it's crucial to create content that engages, educates and is relatable to your audience.

And now you can stand out from the crowd with these 7 out-of-the-box content marketing ideas, that you may not have considered.

Instagram Filters for User-Generated Content:

Instagram is one of the most popular social media channels available for digital marketing today. Over one billion users enjoy Instagram every single month, with the average daily use time sitting at around 30 mins per day.

Marketers love to target Instagram, as over 200 million users visit a business page every single day. Plus, 81% of users use the app to research various products and services prior to buying. Instagram stories are a popular content tool marketers use to promote businesses, products and services.

User-generated content is powerful, because people are more likely to trust real people.

92% of consumers will rely on referrals from others when deciding to purchase a product, and 79% will use user-generated content to sway their purchasing decisions. Instagram filters aren't expensive to produce and offer a unique, interactive way for users to create their own content for your brand.

Guestographics:

Guestographics are guest infographics. There are both images and text in this piece, and it is published on or linked from multiple websites. It's not unusual for brands to collaborate on guestographics for a specific use. Establishing stable connections and establishing brand awareness are both attainable through this method. 

In addition to publishing an infographic on your website, you can create guest content that includes a link to it on another website using the guestographic concept.

Guestographics are powerful because you can use them to boost SEO using backlinks, build brand awareness and create new connections with other brands.

The best part about using guestographics is that they are free to create. You can use Canva to create a guestographic for your social media today or hire a graphic designer for a fully custom design.

Instructographics:

Instructographics are infographics that explain how to do something in an engaging manner. Instructographics are a great addition to your content strategy as they are easy to digest and showcase your product and how to use it effectively.

You are only limited by your own creativity when using instructographics for step-by-step instructions or other how-to guides.

The best thing about them is that they are free to create using online sites like Canva (or hiring a graphic designer) and record a better share rate than other forms of content. 

Whiteboard Videos:

Drawing on a whiteboard can be an effective way to explain a point, process, or product visually attractively for artists, graphic designers, or people good with a marker. 

You can use whiteboard videos for almost anything that can be illustrated. Whiteboard videos create a sense of curiosity as the viewer waits to see how the rest of the story unfolds. Plus, the illustrations are pretty entertaining to watch. 

Creating whiteboard videos doesn’t take a special skillset, especially with whiteboard video making programs like Doodly or MySimpleShow.  But just like giving a speech, you may need to practice prior to recording to ensure everything flows smoothly.

Carousel Posts:

Carousel posts involve posting multiple photos and videos into a singular post. These are super popular at the moment and record a higher engagement rate than static posts due to the fact the user has to swipe to see more information.

Carousel posts are an effective way to share information with your audience. Aim to include a call-to-action within your carousel post to improve its effectiveness.

Screencast Videos:

You can use screencasts to explain how to do something or solve a problem in simple to follow steps. The screencast format also allows you to create videos such as tutorials with relative ease. It is a great way to answer the most important questions that get asked over and over again. 

Your voice is heard and your story is visualized when you create a screencast, rather than just a static video. Other content marketing methods lack the personal touch that screencasting offers. The best part? It’s super easy to get started using a laptop or PC.

Work With Influencers:

Influencers are a great way to add instant credibility to your business. Plus you don't need a massive budget to work with influencers. Micro and nano-influencers are perfect for small businesses looking to get started with influencer marketing.  

Best yet, these influencers already come with a built-in audience which can help boost engagement on Social Media and drive targeted traffic to your business.

How to find micro influencers for your business?

  • Turn to your fans
  • Research Hashtags
  • Connect with local bloggers
  • Or use tools like Pixlee

Final Thoughts:

The types of content marketing you choose to use doesn’t have to be complicated. By following some of the ideas listed above - you will be well on your way to creating fresh, exciting content that will put you one step ahead of your competitors.

But no matter if you prefer to write blog posts, make videos or create social media content getting creative with your content is a sure-fire way to boost engagement and win more leads.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Marketing

10 Facebook Ad Tips to Boost Your Results
Thinkers360
April 29, 2022

You know that your business has so much to offer. Your products & services are top tier. Your customers love your business.  Still, there you are clicking on every search result, hoping to find that holy grail strategy when it comes creating a successful FB ad strategy.

You’re trying to promote your business using Facebook Ads, but nothing is really working all that well, and don’t know where to start.

If this is you, then keep reading.

There are several “Facebook ad tips” type of articles already on the web however the majority of them provide superficial instructions such as "Install a Facebook pixel" or "Create a Facebook audience."

I know you’re sick of reading the same old rehashed tips & strategies that you probably found on other blogs.   So, let’s get down to the meat and potatoes of what it takes to really have success when creating Facebook ads.

In this article we’ll cover the 10 most important Facebook marketing optimization tips to help you take your campaign to the next level.

If you want to reach every member of your target audience and stay ahead of the competition, you'll need to optimize your Facebook ads both before and after they go live.

“So just be prepared to work for it if you want results… The good news is that it is well worth the time and effort.”

So, what exactly are these ten effective Facebook optimization techniques I'm referring to?

Continue reading to find out!

1. Increase the number of likes and shares on your Facebook page.

When it comes to your Facebook posts, likes and shares are vital when regarding social proof. If other people appreciate the ad, it must be a good product, right?

You have two options when creating a Facebook ad campaign, the default being to generate an entirely new piece of content for each ad set and campaign. But the "Use current post" option is frequently overlooked.

It is, however, a very effective technique to increase the number of likes and shares for your advertising.

You should use the "Use existing post" option to aggregate all campaign post engagements into a single ad.

If you're wondering how certain advertisers get hundreds or thousands of likes on their Facebook ads, it's likely using this exact optimization technique.

The simplest approach to create numerous ad campaigns with the same content is to first post the promotional post to your company's Facebook page.

Then, anytime you create new campaigns or A/B test variations, you may choose the post which already had social proof linked to it. I bet you didn’t know about this one. But sit tight, because there are many more to go.

2. Make use of the FTO (fast takeoff) technique.

It may take a few days to build up enough momentum for the results to improve.

It may take a while for the campaign to become live, especially if you're dealing with a limited budget.  That's why I prefer to use rapid takeoff - or FTO - methods to speed up the optimization process.

The FTO technique works as follows:

Allocate daily or lifetime budgets that exceed your anticipated budget when beginning a new campaign.

But avoid using expedited delivery since Facebook will prioritize ad delivery speed over quality and expense.

You can evaluate what’s working and what needs to be improved once your ads have received over 10,000 impressions. Then you can lower your budget after the initial campaign launch to meet your entire intended expenditure.

However, that after each new change, you need to give Facebook at least 24 hours to modify the performance of your advertisements.

Consider waiting at least 24 to 48 hours after making significant modifications to your campaigns before drawing any conclusions.

3. Make your calendar more efficient.

Are your Facebook campaigns active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reaching your target audience?

Analyzing your Facebook ad accounts is a crucial aspect of Facebook optimization. And I've found that certain days and hours are always better than others.

Go to your Facebook Ads Manager reports and use the Breakdown tab to break down your ads by day to discover which days of the week provide the most conversions to the lowest CPA.

To determine the optimum times, use your performance data from your previous Facebook ads. Then you can set specific time frames when your audience is most likely to respond.

This data allows you to easily identify which times of day (in the time zone of your ad account or in the time zone of your print time) perform best for whichever KPI is most relevant to you.

You can then use this data to create an hourly timetable for your campaigns, to make sure that they only run during the most active times of the day.

4. Ad fatigue may be avoided by rotating your ads.

This means that the CPC will skyrocket when your target demographic has viewed your Facebook ad four or more times. And that sucks!

So, how can you make your Facebook ad campaign more engaging so that people don't get tired of seeing it?

Here's a quick Facebook optimization tip to help you avoid ad fatigue:

  • Create a variety of ads using various Facebook ad styles.
  • Create an ad campaign with multiple sets of ads, each with a distinct message, and schedule each set of ads to run on a different day of the week.
  • People will see a fresh ad every day as a result, and your advertising will not appear monotonous.

Keep things fresh and entertaining. Now let’s go on to tip number 5.

5. Make your ad placement more effective.

When it comes to Facebook advertising, the location of your ads has a significant influence on expenses.

So much so that, depending on ad location, CPC might vary by more than 550 percent.

Log into Facebook Ads Manager and utilize the Breakdown tab to break down your campaigns by placement to find your top-performing ad placements.

Go ahead and optimize your campaigns when you've discovered your top-performing ad placements:

Increase your bids on ad locations that are doing well. If a top-performing ad placement performance falls short of your expectations, simply remove it from your ad set.

Location, location, location. Now let’s talk about testing.

6. Always run A/B tests on your ideas.

Finding out what works is an important element of Facebook optimization.

What better approach to learn about the best-performing ad creatives, messaging, or audiences than to do a Facebook A/B test?

However, not everything should be A/B tested.

Consider which ad element can have the most impact on CTR and conversion rate when brainstorming A/B testing ideas for Facebook.

I propose that you begin by evaluating your:

-Ad language, especially the headline, is important in ad design.

-Offer of exceptional value

-Advertisement placements

-Buttons that prompt people to take action (call-to-action)

-Methods of auction

-Objectives of the campaign

7. Test different variations.

Many Facebook advertisers make the mistake of attempting to test too many different ad components at once.

Before taking any inferences from our test findings, you should gather at least 100 conversions (i.e., clicks or leads) for each option. If you can expect 300 or 500 conversions per each variation, that's much better.

8. Decide on the best campaign objective.

The first choice to make when creating a new Facebook ad campaign is the campaign objective.

The campaign goals inform Facebook what your ad campaign's ultimate aim is, which aids Facebook's algorithms to work for you. For best results, optimize your ad serving.

In other words, you're instructing Facebook how to optimize your ad campaign automatically.

Choosing the proper Facebook ad goal during the campaign creation process is critical, since it will affect how your advertisements are delivered and how much they cost each result.

9. Remove "converters" from your target demographic.

Optimizing your Facebook targeting is another method to expand the reach of your campaign without going over budget.

It's pointless to keep presenting the same advertising to someone who has already engaged in it. These leads should be forwarded to the next stage of your marketing funnel, where they will be targeted with new messages.

If you’re marketing a service and someone already purchased it, for example, you shouldn't spend any further ad revenue, showing your ad to that person again.

Instead, you may establish a special Facebook audience of converts and leave them out of your campaign.

10. Create rules for automated optimization.

Did you know that in Facebook Ads Manager, you can create rules for automated optimization? Well, you can and I can tell you that it’s a “hidden” gem.

Facebook Automated Rules is the name of this function. And anyone doing business on Facebook may use it for free.

Four things can happen automatically if the rule conditions are met:

-Deactivate the campaign, ad set, or ad individually.

-Send a message to the ad manager.

-Change your budget (raise / reduce your daily / lifetime budget by...)

-Manually adjust the bid (increase/decrease the bid by...)

Conclusion

Just keep in mind that optimization is a never-ending process of trial and error. While it is not a simple process, it is well worth the time and effort as it’s one of the most effective strategies to gain new customers & clients.

By applying just a few of the techniques outlined in this article you will see a boost in your ads effectiveness without boosting your ad budget.

Now that you have the tools you need to create successful campaigns, what are you waiting for?  It’s time to get your hands dirty, create, test and see what works for your particular business.

Lastly, if you found this article helpful, share it with a friend or two. They will be super grateful to learn these advanced jedi optimization tricks for Facebook Ads too! 

See blog

Tags: Business Strategy, Social

7 Underrated Social Media Strategies You Should Be Using Now!
Thinkers360
April 27, 2022

Growing your small business’ social media presence is crucial to your success, especially in today’s digital age. While you may think otherwise, lacking a social media presence in today’s online ecosystem is the downfall of most modern businesses, ultimately categorizing your business as irrelevant and non-existent in the eyes of consumers.

Having an active social media presence not only allows you to promote your business but it allows you to share your brand story, engage with your customer base, and reach those you wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to reach.

In short, having an active social media presence can have a major impact on the growth of your business, the reputation of your business, and ultimately, the bottom line of your financials.

So, how do you begin to grow your social presence? By employing efficient and effective social media strategies. Luckily, in this article, we’ll be sharing several tips and strategies that your small business can immediately implement!

Below are seven (7) of the most underrated social media strategies that small businesses and local businesses alike can implement immediately for success:

  • Build Trust Through Influence
  • Use Automation Tools to Streamline Your Business
  • Humanize Your Business with a “Behind the Brand” Approach
  • Focus on the People, NOT the Profits
  • The Three C’s: Create Consistent Content
  • Use Platforms that Your Target Audience Uses
  • Utilize Your Cover Image for Promotion

Build Trust Through Influence

Influencer marketing is a popular social strategy used by brands, large and small, employing other non-compete brands, relevant influencers, and PR events to promote a product or service.

While influencer marketing is most commonly used to promote a brands products and/or services, however, there’s a larger benefit that most overlook, and that’s consumer trust. After all, there’s no denying that people trust people more than they trust brands and businesses.

As a small business, A-list influencers are unlikely to be within your marketing budget. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t implement an influencer marketing strategy. By using micro influencers, local accounts of relevance, and user-generated content, you can begin to build trust through influence.

Finding suitable micro influencers doesn’t have to be difficult either. In fact, there are several resources available within your grasp. Aside from the obvious manual search that can be effective but time-consuming, there are also social media management platforms available for search.

You can learn more about finding local micro influencers by using sites like Social Blade and People Map.

Use Automation Tools to Streamline Your Business

Besides the tools used to search for relevant micro influencers, there are also several automation tools available to be used at your discretion. Not only will these tools allow you to streamline your operation, but it will make your marketing strategy much more automated so that YOU can put your time towards growing your business.

Whether you need to automate your social media posting schedule or your digital ad bidding strategy, there are tools that can help.

The following is a list of tools to look into:

  • Sprout Social: Social Media Management Platform
  • Hootsuite: Social Media Management Platform
  • HubSpot: All-in-One CRM Tool
  • MailChimp: Email Marketing Automation Tool
  • AdRoll: Advertising Automation Tool

In any business, big or small, time is money. By saving time on tedious tasks, you save money in the long run, ultimately allowing you to grow your business in real-time.

Humanize Your Business With a “Behind the Brand” Approach

In today’s digital world, consumers see through the noise. In other words, while brands were once able to hide behind their content, consumers now value transparency and relatability more than ever. One way to practice transparency and relatability? Get personal with your audience and share an inside look into your business’ processes, people, and culture.

This can be achieved by going live on social, incorporating brand faces into your content, sharing an inside look into the behind the scenes of your operations, and personally engaging with your community.

Building customer trust is key for a business’s success. How you do that is by being transparent, honest, and relatable as possible. Humanize your brand and begin to see your business flourish on social media!

Focus on the People, NOT the Profits

While content is king in the world of social media, too often, businesses saturate their content with promotional material and sales tactics. As mentioned in the previous tip, consumers see right through this. Consumers don’t want to be sold something; they want to be a part of something greater.

By shifting your focus away from profits and promotion and towards community engagement and relationship building, you’ll quickly began to notice that your audience is more likely to invest in your brand, share their positive experiences through reviews and other user-generated content (UGC), and openly share their feedback with you.

This is helpful for several reasons. Not only does it limit the amount of spend you need to put towards marketing and promotion, but it also creates a free source of influencer marketing (UGC), builds brand reputation, and ultimately grows the bottom line of your business.

By focusing on the people rather than the profits, you’ll ironically begin to see the profits pour in!

The Three C’s: Create Consistent Content

As mentioned above, content is king. While it’s smart to focus your content around your community rather than promotion, it still requires you to develop an effective content marketing strategy.

Content is the backbone of most businesses in today’s day and age, especially those of a smaller stature. It’s what allows you to stay relevant; it’s what provides value to your customers; it’s what allows you to share your message; and it’s what allows you to build brand awareness.

Simply creating content, however, is not enough.

You need to create compelling content that your audience engages with, consistently, And during the times they’ll most likely see and engage with it. By building out a monthly content plan using a content calendar, repurposing old content, and experimenting with different content ideas, you’ll start dialing in what works and eliminating what doesn’t.

Moreover, you’ll be able to remain relevant and continue to provide value, ultimately increasing engagement and and experiencing a greater ROI.

Use Platforms that Your Target Audience Uses

It's no secret that social media is an incredible tool for your business. However if you're not active on the platforms that you're target audience are on you efforts are largely for nothing.

Take Nike for example…Their audience is so vast that all social media channels are relevant. Now consider a small, local automobile shop who’s target audience is 45–55-year-old males. Sharing content on TikTok, for example, is likely going to be ineffective because, well, how many 45–55-year-old males are on TikTok seeking automobile content?! Instead, Facebook is likely the most relevant platform.

Learning who your target audience is and where they spend most of their time online is a surefire way for choosing the correct platform(s) to share your content and capitalizing on

your audience’s attention.

Use Cover Images for Promotion!

Your social media pages are highly visible assets for your business.  Especially Facebook because there is only one thing everyone notices first – your cover photo.

This is the holy grail of visual real estate on your page.  A virtual billboard for your business that you really should be tapping into, and the odds are, you’re not.  Don’t waste this opportunity with just your logo a lame vision statement.  Use the space to promote your business!  You can promote sales, special discounts, upcoming events, important news, announcements and more.  This strategy is super effective but not used nearly as much as it should be.

Before you know it, you'll be converting more of your fans into customers and will continue to repurpose your cover for future promotions.

The content shared on social media is key, and now more than ever your social media presence plays a role in the success of your small business. By implementing the tips discussed throughout this article, you’ll be able to gain a better understanding of your audience’s behavior, thus being able to make better decisions surrounding the content that you post!

And don’t be afraid to experiment along the way! Social media is fluid and constantly changing, and so should your marketing strategy.

See blog

Tags: Social, Business Strategy

5 Businesses Using AI to Get Ahead of the Curve
Thinkers360
April 22, 2022

Artificial intelligence has come leaps and bounds from a far-away pipe dream to a staple in millions of small-to-medium businesses across the globe, with large-scale international companies not going a day without it. As small business owners, AI may still seem like that distant possibility - but now, more than ever - it’s affordable, accessible, and necessary for small businesses to inject into their operations.

In today’s market, you don’t need a sufficient knowledge on artificial intelligence to realize the savings and growth potential of using AI for your business. And the worst mistake? Believing that AI is no more than just a few chatbots installed on a company’s website, or a few auto-generated images to upload to your Facebook page. AI is skyrocketing business growth, and it’s best not to get left behind.

So how are the small businesses of today leveraging AI in clever, intuitive ways? Let’s dive in.

1. Identify gaps in the market for new products (Dialog)

Small Marketing firm Dialog, founded by Mark Thompson, are using AI data collection tools from Tensor Flow (an AI software library) to gather data on hot products in their clients’s markets and collecting all of the conversations across the internet taking place about those products. This helps Dialog identify opportunities for their clients to innovate on their product lines, using Tensor Flow’s AI data harvesting tool to beat out the competition.

The tools are free, so Mark had no problem introducing this solution to his team and serving his clients with it.

Brands & companies in the coming decade will be able to seamlessly develop and launch products that truly resonate with their audience, because mass data collection takes the guesswork away from ‘what the customer wants’. Dialog are using these tools to serve their own marketing clients but consider what help this would be to large-scale commerce brands like Nike or Gucci.

2. Get help writing fantastic content (WPBeginner)

Syed Balkhi, founder of small online education business WPBeginner, has begun exploring artificial intelligence as a means of churning out high-quality, high-value content for his company website without the hassle of hiring external writers, editors and copywriters.

AI-generated copy has hardly reached terminal velocity yet: for most solutions available in this space, the tools can often result in hilariously poor and robotic outcomes, rendering the content near useless. But Syed’s team don’t use it for raw, unedited and perfect copy.

‘While it’s not at a stage where you can just plug in keywords and get a fully useful article, it has reached a point where it can assist your current writing efforts in powerful ways’ he told FastCompany in July. If your business lives & breathes online content in written form, it’s time to consider AI-generated copywriting software - just be aware of the current quality of the work (which is constantly improving!)

3. Take strain away from your team with Customer Support AI (OneIMS)

If your small business thrives on powerful and meaningful customer support, you should explore the possibility of implementing customer support AI into your operation. Particularly if you’re dealing with a large sum of clients or a product that requires a great deal of hand-holding (advertising campaigns, intricate software, marketing) it’s essential you make efforts to alleviate the stress on your support team, which may be just one person or a handful.

The mindset-shift small businesses need to make regarding their support is that not all customer touches, Q&A’s or queries need to be answered by a human. OneIMS, led by Solomon Thimothy, uses AI-generated responses to customer support questions to reduce the workload of their teams, so they can focus on the product, the queries that do require a human touch, and growth.

Larger Businesses leveraging AI to Stomp Out Competition

Facebook

This platform is a minefield for misinformation, scaremongering falsities and fake news. The team at Facebook know this well, and use artificial intelligence in the form of DeepText, a text understanding engine, to understand and interpret the content and emotional sentiment of the millions of status updates and posts that Facebook users submit every day.

Further and perhaps more creepily, DeepFace allows the team to automatically identify you in a photo that is shared on their platform. The company also uses artificial intelligence to automatically catch and remove images that are posted on its site of an explicit or vengeful nature.

Alibaba

Chinese company Alibaba is the world's largest e-commerce platform that sells more than Amazon and eBay combined. Artificial intelligence is crucial to the company’s daily operations, and uses similar technology as Dialog to predict what products customers want now, and will want in the near future.

With natural language processing, the company automatically generates product descriptions for the site, so they don’t have to worry about hiring writers. On a more futuristic, worldwide scale - Alibaba uses artificial intelligence in its City Brain project to create ‘smart cities’. The smart cities use AI algorithms to help reduce traffic jams by monitoring every vehicle in the city. Further than that, Alibaba is even helping farmers monitor their crops to improve yield, cut costs, and provide their own customers with better produce.

Artificial intelligence supports businesses, both small and large, by helping reduce manual work and enhancing productivity, on top of keeping labor costs down and production up.

Ultimately, it is becoming increasingly necessary for small businesses to, at the very least, consider researching how AI can help them grow their business. From a small firm like Dialog to a commerce giant like Alibaba, the companies that are staying ahead of the curve are leveraging this fascinating new tech for rocket-ship growth.

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Tags: AI, Business Continuity

Testimonials, Reviews & Recommendations – What’s the Difference?
Thinkers360
April 20, 2022

Customer testimonials, reviews, and recommendations can all have an impact on your business, either positively or negatively. When brands and companies provide an exceptional experience, reviews, testimonials, and recommendations act as an undeniable mechanism for growth and customer engagement. Amazon does a brilliant job of rolling all three into its e-commerce platform, and reviews and recommendations have become a large part of the brand’s success.

Source: https://www.ecomengine.com/blog/use-amazon-reviews-website

This article looks at the difference between reviews, testimonials and recommendations, and why they are all critical for your business.

What Is a Review?

Nearly 90% of consumers read reviews before making a purchase, with 56% reading at least four reviews. A review is what is said about your business, product, or service. Reviews can be either positive or negative, but you shouldn’t remove bad reviews from your site. Instead, look at responding to solve the problem, showing you are transparent and customers can trust your company.

As reviews are managed by a third party (other customers), they are perceived to be an honest view of the buyer experience.

What Is a Testimonial?

A testimonial is about who is saying something rather than what they are saying. For example, a message from another reputable company with positive messages about your business inspires trust and confidence.

Source: https://optinmonster.com/9-customer-testimonial-examples-that-you-can-use-on-your-website/

97% of B2B customers cite testimonials and peer recommendations as the most reliable content type. Furthermore, a customer testimonial placed alongside more expensive items has been shown to increase conversion rates by as much as 380%. If something is good enough for the founder of Yoast (see image above), which has over 5 million active installations, it must be good enough for me.

What Is a Recommendation?

A recommendation is when someone recommends your business, products, or services to someone else. It will typically happen via word-of-mouth when another consumer asks for an opinion about a brand and wants to know why they should decide to work with or use them. On social media channels such as Facebook, recommendations are now part of the platform.

Source: https://www.genuinelikes.com/blog/ask-recommendations-facebook/

If a customer recommends your brand or product when asked the question, there is an opportunity to reach a target audience of people that are interested in what you offer.

How to Get Reviews, Testimonials, and Recommendations

You could go about getting reviews, testimonials and recommendations in two ways. The first is to plead with people to write a review or testimonial after using your product and build a campaign around doing so. The risk here is that although people may be willing to leave some feedback, it won’t be as authentic as when they do it without any prompts. So how do you get customers to mention your company without asking them? The answer is to provide the best possible customer experience.

Source: https://smartercx.com/8-top-customer-experience-quotes-of-2018/

If you take the time to understand what your customers need and solve that problem, they will be happy to share their experience. For example, suppose your target audience expects fast delivery and you always ensure they get what they need within 24 hours. In that case, there’s a good chance they will leave a positive review or testimonial and recommend you to others.

Reviews tend to be quite spontaneous as customers decide whether they are happy or unhappy in the heat of the moment. However, for testimonials, you need to choose your customers more carefully. When people read testimonials, they will look for quotes from people like them, or those that they admire. Businesses should choose people that are most like their target customer and who had problems that you could solve. For example, you can see the brand below has a specific audience in mind with the testimonials.

Source: https://blog.appsumo.com/testimonial-examples/

You can collect testimonials after purchase or from long-standing customers further down their lifecycle. If you run a subscription service, for example, it might make sense to ask for testimonials 12 months into the customer journey.

A recommendation will be inspired by an exceptional experience with a business. You need to give existing customers a good reason to recommend you to prospects. What does your business do that is unique to the competition to ensure that you are always front of mind?

Again, it all comes down to putting the focus on the customer rather than the product or service. If you listen to customers and make their problems go away, they will recommend you when the time is right.

Methods for Getting Reviews, Testimonials and Recommendations

There are several ways to influence your customers into leaving reviews and testimonials and providing recommendations. Below are three ideas you can try.

  1. Referral Schemes – you could offer rewards when customers recommend your business to friends and family.
  2. Approach loyal customers who are likely to be brand advocates. You could even try tagging them in blogs and social media posts if relevant.
  3. Add a “leave a review” link to every communication that you send.

Each of these, combined with a stellar customer experience, can be an excellent way to get customer responses.

Using Reviews, Testimonials and Recommendations in Marketing

Once you have all of these reviews, testimonials, and recommendations, you need to make sure that you use them. Typically, you will show reviews on your website against the products or services they are relevant to. As mentioned earlier in the article, be sure to embrace and respond to any negative reviews and perhaps even reward the customer for providing helpful feedback.

Testimonials could be in the form of text, images, or videos. For example, you could encourage happy customers to take photos and share them via social media. Publish success stories on your website and within marketing materials.

As for recommendations, you can promote any referral schemes in marketing campaigns to generate awareness. Some business will set up customer focus groups, including loyal supporters and asking them to recommend new features for the product development roadmap.

Summary

Reviews, testimonials and recommendations are all valuable and powerful business tools. Ultimately, the key to each of them is delivering the best possible customer experience. Happy customers support your business, recommend it to others, and act as an inspiration to prospects. Furthermore, all three are budget-friendly, giving marketing teams time and money to spend on other investments.

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Ray Kroc, Founder McDonald’s

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Tags: Customer Experience, Marketing

When Is It Time for a Website Refresh?
Thinkers360
April 15, 2022

You’ve heard the old adage… You have 6 seconds to convince a website visitor that your website is the website they’ve been searching for – before they hit that back button.

So keeping your website up-to-date is no longer a matter of preference, it’s a matter of survival.

If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your website, it might be a good idea to consider updating the elements  on your website like the content, the design, adding new content or completely overhauling your website as part of a major redesign.

Does your website need a refresh?  Keep reading to find out!

So What’s a Refresh?  

A business changes as it grows.  The same is true with your website.  As you create your website, make sure it reflects the business it represents.  

Your website's design will become outdated over time, that’s just how it goes. What was popular 2 or 3 years ago, can feel painfully outdated now (remember keyword clouds?)  So refreshing the design is necessary to remain competitive.

Does Your Website Need a Refresh?

If your website has been up for a while, it may be a challenge to know when it’s time to update it.  But here are some signs it’s time.  

  • The design of your site is not appealing anymore
  • Conversions are low
  • Nothing is interesting or exciting on your website
  • Ineffective communication with website visitors
  • Leads aren't coming in like they did before
  • Bounce rates are high

Recognize any of these?  If so it may be time to make some minor updates or revamp your entire website. It just depends on your situation.  

Here are 7 ways you can refresh your website

1. The Basics

Let’s start with the basics. The look and feel of your website can be dramatically updated simply by choosing a more modern fonts set to revamp its overall look. Even small changes can significantly impact transforming an old site into something new and impressive.  Google fonts is free, and offers many great options.

2. Consider a redesign – when you need more than the basics

Your website plays a big part in the identity of your business.  The way your website looks will have a big impact on the way your visitors feel when they land on your website.  What will their first impression be?  Are they going to want to do business with you?  You are not doing yourself any favors by still using outdated stock graphics and imagery.  

Your brand's identity is shaped by elements like layout, fonts, colors, etc. To keep your website looking crisp, determine which sections have aged gracefully and which areas need improvement.  

  • Replace your outdated images & graphics with a mix professionally taken photos of your staff and business along with some carefully curated high end stock images.
  • Choose a simple, clean font will make your site look sleek and modern. For example, Google Fonts offers many free typefaces.
  • An updated color palette can also improve the experience of your visitors.

3. Improve Your Communication

We’ve talked about the 6 seconds you have to grab your visitors attention and keep them on your website so it’s not a surprise that there's little time for you to get your message across.

Regardless of what you sell, the customer is primarily interested in how you will help them solve their problem. It's always about them, whatever you say.  So make sure visitors can find the content they are looking for without a lot of clicking around. 

Speaking of communication it’s a good idea to sprinkle in a variety of compelling and relevant CTAs on your site.  Believe it or not, your visitors aren’t mind readers so you need to tell them how they take the next step.  CTAs provide various options for the visitor to take action, such as:

  • “Call Now”
  • “Book Your Appointment Today”
  • "Join Now by clicking here,"
  • “Get started Today”
  • “Connect with us Today”
  • “Get your free ______ today”
  • “Signup today and get ________ “
  • And don’t forget about social sharing buttons.

The most important thing is that your CTA’s should be well-designed and strategically placed in areas where clients can easily see them. 

Pro tip: Make sure that your CTA’s contrast well with the rest of your design but don’t get blend into the rest of your content.  CTA’s are most effective when they look like buttons.

4. Improve Your User Experience

You must design your website so that the customer can navigate through it quickly. Your site will attract more visitors if it is easy to navigate. Just a few changes to your menu and checking that every link works can make a massive difference in the over all user experience.

  • Your navigation consists of links connecting your website's pages. Carefully examine all your website pages and make sure they are still relevant and organized.
  • Test your links.  Make sure that they don't lead to 404 Error (Page Not Found). This makes your website appear not maintained and sloppy. Take a look at all the links on your site, including internal and external, and ensure they're taking your visitors where you want them to go.

5. Analyze Your Website Content – And See Where You Stand

It's not only about looks when it comes to refreshing a website. Your site must be considered current.  Ensuring that what you are saying is valid, helpful, and readable to your visitors. So how can you determine whether your content is new, high-quality, and up-to-date?

By conducting a content audit.

A content audit is intended to assess which links get indexed by search engines, which need to be refreshed and no longer exist. Here are some basic steps you need to follow:

  • Compile all your databases and sitemaps. The sitemap is a document that lists your site's pages, videos, and other files along with their relationships. Data from your website is organized into your website's internal database.
  • Your site's URLs are indexed by web crawlers who collect content throughout the Internet. An algorithm can be applied to web crawler data to find relevant links in response to specific search terms and keywords. We recommend using Google Analytic, Google Webmaster Tools, and Screaming Frog for crawling website content.
  • Content auditing can go beyond essentials: You can use titles, descriptions, and word count as primary criteria for content auditing. All of your content entries should contain these elements. 
  • Check organic search, conversions, publish date, time-on-site, page views, load speed, and mobile-responsiveness, too.
  • The number of conversions divided by unique visits is the conversion rate. By measuring this metric, you can determine if your website traffic is profitable.
  • Time-on-site is pretty self-explanatory: it's the amount of time your visitors spend on each of your pages. Content audits can benefit from this metric since you get a clear idea of the performance of your online content.
  • A page-per-visit measurement indicates how much content is viewed per visit. In most cases, it is presented as an average, which is calculated by dividing the total number of visitors by the total number of page views.
  • The slower your page loads, the fewer pages search engines can crawl, affecting your search engine rankings.
  • Take a good thorough look at your content: Identity what content no longer reflects your current business and goals and delete it. Do you need to rewrite or update anything? Is there anything that needs some attention?

Note: It is essential to perform two separate content audits if your website has Desktop and Mobile versions as their codebases are different.

6. Competitor Analysis

You should also examine how your competitors' sites can be improved while evaluating the same areas where yours could be better. Are they doing anything new on their website that is working? Is their website more responsive than yours? Have they made updates to their website recently?

Aside from seeing what your competitors' websites look like, it would help if you also figured out which websites link to them. Is it possible to obtain links from these same websites, or can you get links from other high-ranking websites? This is authority backlinking 101 & makes a huge impact on your rankings.

7. Make Sure Applications Are Maintained

Now that you have updated your contact information, added some fresh content, and checked for broken links, make sure that all of your web apps are functioning properly. For your tech to keep pace with your business growth, it must adapt and grow along with it.

App management practices include testing and debugging software, enhancing technology and site functionality, updating and maintaining existing security protocols, maintaining new browser versions, creating and maintaining 3rd party integrations, and more. It is very important to maintain your website's modules, code, plugins and integrations to avoid various issues.

Honorary Mention: A Mobile-Responsive Website

This one is obvious and goes without saying.  But nobody is surprised when I say smartphones are the most popular way people access the web.  And a lot of them never use anything other than their phone so to say mobile responsiveness is important would be an understatement. 

Plus Google favors mobile web-optimized websites in its search rankings and penalizes those that aren't.

In conclusion, keep it simple. Think marathon, not a race.

A website refresh can be as extensive as you want to make it… Just like any renovation.  Although we’ve covered many small changes you can make to your website some will make a much bigger impact than others.  But do not under-estimate the end result. 

So what now?  evaluate your needs and make a plan of attack – and then get started on it.  There’s no time like right now.

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Tags: Marketing, Business Continuity

5 Ways to Repurpose Content and Grow Your Customer Base
Thinkers360
April 13, 2022

The greatest thing about the content that businesses create is that it can be consumed in so many ways.  The written (or typed) word, video, audio, and other creative outlets like AR and VR technology make it possible to take an original piece you’ve created and change its delivery for an entirely different method of consumption.  Essentially, you’re recycling the content that you’ve already made and putting it back out there in less time than before.  This helps your business get more value out of your investment while also enabling its distribution to various channels where it can reach a new, broader audience.

The Criteria of Repurposing Content

Before you start you want to make sure you’re not flying by the seat of your pants for the sole purpose of creating “new “content.   For example, what are your goals for repurposing?  Do you want to reach a new audience? Do you want to spend less time creating something brand new?  Are you interested in developing a new distribution channel? 

These are the questions that will give you a sense of direction and once you’ve decided on this, you want to understand the intricacies of these channels.  For example, if you want to create video content from a blog post you need to understand how this platforms audience reacts and what they’re looking for.  Finally, determine whether your content really needs to be repurposed.  Although it may perform well as an article on your blog, it doesn’t mean that its success will correlate with evergreen video content.

Now that we’ve covered the criteria of repurposing content, let’s discuss the different ways to making your content shine.

1. Video

Converting a blog that you’ve written into a video is an incredible way of targeting a broader audience that wants to consume your content already.  It does require more work to begin with but the reach on platforms like YouTube make it an excellent way to share your message initially. 

Once you have this content up and available, you may be tempted to share it as it is, but don’t get caught up with sharing your new audio-visual masterpiece.  Instead, take your video that you put on YouTube and break it down into smaller components.  These shorter video formats are perfect for sharing on social media like Facebook and Instagram while also doubling their utility as ads. 

If you’re sharing information that discusses a topic your audience cares about, considering sharing the audio portion as a podcast.  To think you could recreate all of this content from a single blog post article is astounding, so be creative with it and discover how to distribute it to your audience.

2. Social Media Posts

If your business is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, this is especially useful for you.  You can take the same content that you wrote on Facebook and copy and paste it on Twitter. Nice, now you have two pieces of content but let’s add a third.  Screenshot your Twitter post that you created and share it on Instagram; this type of content is constantly being consumed by users on the platform so utilize this phenomenon to your advantage. 

On LinkedIn, take your screenshot from Twitter and post it with some more added context.  LinkedIn loves images that are shared with more information and storytelling is key on the platform so double down on telling your story.

3. Email Newsletters

The world is a busy place and even though your content may be amazing, it doesn’t always mean it’ll reach your audience.  Take an existing blog post and make it more conversational and to the point, then create a series of emails that you can deliver directly to your mailing list. By doing this, you’re able to still provide valuable information to your customers and prospects without them having to search for your content and leave their inbox.  To be clear, don’t paste a link to your content in the email. Instead, deliver it as the content of your newsletter and do it in chunks so that it is easily consumed.

4. Infographics

Did you know that people remember 10% of the information they hear out loud VS 65% of the information they see in a visual?

And people following directions with both text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions

These are incredible pieces of content that are loved by basically everyone. 

Why?

They are 30X more likely to be read from top to bottom than a typical blog.

They get 3X the shares as any other type of content on social media

And they are quickly consumed, easy to digest, and deliver value all in one place.  For visual people in your audience, this form of content is right up there with video and should be part of your repurposing effort. 

Many blogs come in the same form as the one you’re reading now so be sure to trim the fat and focus on where the value is created. 

Remember, infographics are meant to display information graphically so cut most of the words out; your audience will thank you for it.

5. Blog Posts

The last piece of the puzzle, repurpose existing blog posts by updating them to become more relevant.  Many high performing blog posts for your business may have knocked it out of the park years ago, but as time has went on so has the performance of this content.  This is because the information in it is likely outdated and needs a revamp.  By updating your blogs by adding and removing different parts, you’re able to recycle your message with data and information that develops authority and shows your audience that you’re delivering value consistently.

Repurposing content can send you off into many directions that provide value to both your company and your audience.  Like anything else you do in your business, you want your efforts to be successful and content recycling is no different.  We’ve covered the different criteria you need to cover before deciding what to repurpose and the different methods you could use for your efforts.  Not only will this help you, it will also help your team and your audience as well.  It’s a win-win-win situation that’s great for everyone.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Marketing

9 Ways to Use Content to Grow Your Email List
Thinkers360
April 07, 2022

There’s no denying that email marketing is effective, but it only works if you have a list of qualified and engaged subscribers who are eager to read your content.

Sounds easy, right?

A lot of businesses have email lists that have stagnated because they’re not doing anything to attract new subscribers. They’re not sure where to start and as a result, the people who visit their website aren’t taking the extra step to opt in for emails.

What can you do about it? The answer is right in front of you. All you need is to make it easy for people to sign up and then give them a reason to fork over their email address. Here are 9 things to try.

#1: The Pop-up Opt-In

I know… I know. Pop-ups have a bad rep and if you use them improperly, they can be a real nuisance. A lot of people use pop-up blockers, and you might worry that a pop-up won’t be effective as a means of attracting new subscribers.

The key to using a pop-up effectively is to time its appearance to the moment when the person reading your content is most likely to opt in. You can run A/B tests to figure that out.

#2: The Slide-In 

If you don’t like a true pop-up but like the idea of having your opt-in form appear at an opportune moment, you may want to consider a slide-in instead. They provide many of the same benefits of a pop-up without the stigma.

Your slide-in can be timed to appear at the moment when a site visitor has read a particularly relevant piece of content or finished watching a video. The timing is essential and here again, you should do some testing to determine the timing that delivers the best results.

#3: The Squeeze Page 

What if you have more than one lead magnet that you want to use? It’s common for businesses, particularly those who have multiple audiences they want to target, to create multiple checklists or guides to give away. The key is connecting each visitor with the guide that’s most useful to them.

The solution is creating a separate squeeze page for each lead magnet. The sole purpose of a squeeze page is to “sell” visitors on your content and convince them to complete your lead form to get it. Think of them as mini sales pages and use direct response copywriting to get the results you want.

#4: The Header or Footer Opt-In

Perhaps you’ve tested pop-ups and slide-ins and found that they don’t work for your target audience. If that’s the case, you might want to consider putting your opt-in form at the very top of your page or at the very bottom.

The header opt-in works in the same way as the toolbar option – it will be one of the first things your site’s visitors see. A footer opt-in has the advantage of being there when a visitor has finished reading or watching your content. If they have found the content to be relevant and useful, the chances are good that they’ll be in the right frame of mind to provide an email address, so they don’t miss out on your future content. Consider something like FREE Weekly Marketing Tips in Your Inbox to capture reader’s attention and make it clear what they’ll get if they subscribe.

#5: The Exit Intent Opt-In 

One of the best times to capture leads is when a visitor is navigating away from your page. They’re at the point where they have finished reading your content and are, in theory, primed for a request to get additional content from you for free.

Exit intent opt-ins can be in the form of a pop-up. They appear when the user either hits the back button or tries to close out of the page. Like pop-ups, exit intent opt-ins can be used in a bad way. For example, some sites don’t allow visitors to leave without opting in. That’s not a good idea because it can frustrate visitors at the moment you want them to provide an email address.

#6: Blog Sidebar

If you’ve got a blog that gets a decent amount of traffic, you can use its popularity to attract more subscribers for your list by adding a subscription sidebar to the main blog page. With a sidebar, people who read your posts have an easy way to see more of your content.

Your opt-in could allow people to get updates when you post new blog content and receive coupons and offers. Just make sure to specify what opting in means, so people know what they’re getting.

#7: The Comment Check Box

If you have a blog, then you may want to consider adding a subscribe checkbox in the comment field. People who do this usually put it at the bottom next to or directly beneath the Post Comment button, which makes it impossible to miss.

This option is particularly effective if you’re already requiring visitors to enter their email if they want to leave a comment. The checkbox adds a subscription with a single click – what could be easier?

#8: Ecommerce Opt-Ins 

The final option you may want to consider is giving people a way to opt-in on your eCommerce site. Two examples are these:

  • Show a pop-up offering a coupon or discount code for people who opt in
  • Include a checkbox on your purchase page for people to opt-in after buying your products

People who have visited a sales page or bought a product are likely to be in the right frame of mind to want to hear more from you – so you might as well make it easy for them to do so!

Building your email list is essential if you want to grow your business. The 9 possibilities we’ve listed here can help you do it in a way that appeals to your visitors and help you attract the leads and customers you deserve.

See blog

Tags: Business Strategy, Marketing

How to Use Hashtags to Grow Your Business
Thinkers360
April 04, 2022

Even if you’ve never used one in your marketing before, you’ve seen hashtags on social media. They’re the words after a post, each one starting with the # sign. They help people who see a Tweet, Instagram post, or Pinterest image to find the content and understand what it’s about.

While it’s easy enough to add hashtags to your content, it requires skill and attention to do it artfully. In this article, we’ll explain how to choose and use hashtags to attract new followers and – this is what you’re here for – increase your profits.

What is a Hashtag? 

Let’s start with the basics for those who don’t know. A hashtag is a word or phrase that appears after the # symbol on social media. There are no spaces, and the goal of a hashtag is to make it easy for people who are interested in your business and content to find you.

Hashtags can be serious or whimsical. Community hashtags can crop up week after week and year after year. For example, #ThrowbackThursday (or #TBT) is a hashtag that has been making the rounds for over a decade. In fact, #ThrowbackThursday was started by Sports Illustrated all the way back in 2006!

Hashtags can be related to topics or events. For example, if you’re someone who owns a landscaping business, you might follow these hashtags, all of which we found on Twitter:

  • #Landscaping
  • #Lawn
  • #Lawncare
  • #PropertyMaintenance
  • #GroundsMaintenance

We also saw examples of lawn care and landscaping companies jumping on community hashtags such as #SpringAhead because – let’s face it – spring is when a lot of us start working to get our lawns in shape for summer cookouts and lawn games.

Tips for Finding Relevant Hashtags

One of the most important elements of using hashtags is choosing the right hashtags to reach your target audience. It might be tempting to throw ten hashtags onto every post, but you’ll do better with well-researched hashtags that are relevant to your business.

Let’s start with Twitter, the birthplace of the hashtag. When you log into your Twitter account, you’ll see a menu that includes a search option. When you click it, you’ll see a Trending tab. If you click on that, you’ll get a list of trending hashtags and topics. You can also use the search function to find hashtags that are relevant to your business.

There are some tools you can use to research hashtags as well. These include:

  • Hashtagify Me is a free tool that you can use to find hashtags for Twitter and Instagram.
  • HootSuite allows you to manage your social media and helps you find hashtags that are relevant to your business with its “Streams” feature.
  • Google Trends is free to use and can help you find trending topics that you can use in your business Tweets and Instagram posts.
  • Pinterest Trends is free and has a list of trending searches plus a search function.

We suggest putting in some time researching hashtags. If you find someone that you think could be a good business connection that has used a relevant hashtag, follow them. You may be able to connect with them in a way that helps both of you.

Tips for Using Hashtags 

What should you do with the hashtags that turn up in your research? Here are some suggestions.

  • Find people who may be able to help you market your products. For example, say you make custom wedding cake toppers, and you notice a local baker posting pictures of wedding cakes with the hashtag “CakeTopper. You could DM the baker and ask if you can send them a sample topper and – if they like it – they can feature it in one of their posts and use the same hashtag.
  • Look for trending hashtags and figure out how to make them relevant to your business. For example, if there’s a holiday coming up, you can use holiday hashtags to suggest your products for gifts or for use at holiday meals or gatherings.
  • Combine hashtags to expand your audience. Perhaps you’ve added a new service or a new product to your lineup. Expanding your hashtag vocabulary can help you get your social media content in front of a new audience.
  • Create a custom hashtag for your business. We would suggest using this idea sparingly. In many cases, creating a new hashtag may be the equivalent of screaming into the void. However, if you can come up with a memorable hashtag that helps you differentiate yourself from competitors, then go for it!

A word to the wise about using hashtags. A lot of big companies have made huge missteps when trying to capitalize on trending hashtags. An Insider article from 2019 highlighted a list of Instagram influencers who promoted themselves using 9/11 hashtags. Please don’t copy their mistakes.

Examples of Effective Hashtag Use

Let’s look at a few examples of effective hashtag use. The first is from Kentucky Fried Chicken, which jumped on the #NationalFriedChickenDay train to promote its meals. Although they’re a national chain, any local restaurant that serves fried chicken could do the same thing. Keep your eye out for relevant tags that are trending nationally and use them to your advantage.

An example of a brand that did a great job of creating its own hashtag came from Charmin, who launched the #TweetFromTheSeat campaign. The campaign was certainly helped by the fact that Charmin is a national brand, but the injection of humor into your social media posts is a great way to get people to pay attention to your content.

Finally, let’s look at a hashtag fail that illustrates why it’s so important to research any “new” hashtag before you try it. When Burger King launched its new low-fat French fries, it used a #WTFF hashtag that was meant to stand for “What the French Fry.” What they didn’t know was that #WTFF was already a hashtag – and those two Fs stood for different forms of a word that you can probably guess.

The takeaway is that hashtag marketing can be extremely useful for local businesses if you do your research, choose hashtags thoughtfully, and don’t try to shoehorn your content into a hashtag when it isn’t appropriate or relevant.

Now, get out there and start hashtagging!

See blog

Tags: Marketing, Business Strategy

Your Customers Are Here How to Identify Your Audience and Find Them Online
Thinkers360
March 31, 2022

We’ve all had the experience of looking for something and not being able to find it. It’s frustrating and time consuming and can feel like a pointless exercise if we’re forced to keep at it for long.

For a business owner, there’s nothing more frustrating than knowing there’s an audience for your product or service and not knowing who they are – or where to find them. In this article, I’ll break down the process to help you first identify and then locate your audience, so you can fine-tune your marketing and get the leads you need.

Identifying Your Audience

We can look to social media for some guidance in how to identify an audience. If you have an existing customer base, you can begin by analyzing it using two categories of information: demographics and psychographics. From there, you can use information about the problems your product or service solves to narrow your search.

Demographics

Demographics are easy, so let’s start there. Demographics are facts about your customers (and your target audience) that can help you identify them. They include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographical location
  • Education level
  • Income level
  • Marital status
  • Employment/industry

Having basic information about who your customers are can help you identify the right target audience for your services or products.

Psychographics

Psychographics illustrate your target audience’s interests and preferences. For example, if you run a gym, some interests to consider might include the following.

  • Health
  • Fitness
  • Weight loss
  • Running

You could also consider pop culture interests. If you own a clothing boutique, you might target people who watch fashion shows such as Project Runway or Say Yes to the Dress, or who follow fashion designers such as Christian Siriano or Ralph Lauren.

Benefits/Problem Solving

Finally, you should give some thought to what problems your product or service solves, or what benefits it provides to the people who are likely to buy it. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • What types of people might have the problem I’m trying to solve?
  • What solutions are they looking for?
  • Why do they need a solution – that is, what are their pain points?
  • What am I offering that’s different from my competitors?

Asking these questions may help you fine-tune your demographic and psychographic requirements. By the time you have worked your way through all three categories here, you should have a good idea of who is in your target audience.

How to Find Your Audience Online

After you have identified your target audience, it’s time to think about where to find them online. Here again, there are multiple methods you can use, alone or in combination, to find your audience.

Let’s start with social media, which can be extremely useful for connecting with your target audience. You can use demographics to identify the sites where your audience is most likely to be, so let’s start there.

  • Facebook is the largest social media site and skews the oldest. 69% of Americans have a Facebook account and with the exception of people age 65 and over, a majority in every age group use Facebook.
  • Instagram users skew much younger than Facebook users, with approximately two-thirds of Americans under the age of 30 active on the platform. There are more women than men who use Instagram.
  • Twitter users encompass only about 22% of the US adult population and more men than women use the platform. Twitter users tend to be urban and educated when compared to other social media platforms.
  • Users of Pinterest skew heavily female and tend to be affluent and educated. They encompass every age group, although it’s worth noting that the smallest demographic is people over the age of 65.
  • LinkedIn users tend to be under the age of 65 and highly educated. They mostly live in cities and suburbs and are more likely to be looking for professional services and products than consumer goods.

You should also consider the type of product or service you sell and where people are likely to look for it. We’ll talk about Google later, but on social media, here are some general guidelines.

  • Facebook users look for all types of goods and services, ranging from consumer goods to business products and services at every level.
  • Instagram is likely to be most useful for selling products although some services can lend themselves to Instagram as well. For example, any service where you can show before and after photos is a good match for Instagram.
  • Pinterest users are accustomed to finding products on the site and often “Pin” products for later purchase.
  • LinkedIn users tend to be professionals and are most likely to search for business products and services.

For example, if you have a clothing store, it probably makes sense to find your audience on Instagram and Pinterest. If you own a law firm, LinkedIn and Facebook might be the best choices.

Search Engine Marketing

In addition to finding your audience online, you must make it easy for your audience to find you. Search engine optimization and marketing are designed to help people in search of your products and services find you.

SEO comes down to having a properly optimized website and a well-established online presence. You’ll need to target the right keywords and identify the search terms that people in your target audience will use when searching for a business like yours. You’ll need to make sure that your site is mobile-friendly and optimized for voice search.

At the same time, you should standardize your online listings and claim your listings on review sites such as Yelp and Google. Most consumers search for businesses online before they decide where to buy a product or obtain a service. Having reliable information about your business and good reviews will make your business more visible on Google and other search engines.

Understanding who your audience is and where to find them is a must for every business. Once you have identified who you’re selling to, you’ll be able to fine-tune your marketing campaigns and you’ll spend less to attract new customers.

See blog

Tags: Marketing, Social

Here's the Trick to Sending Bulk Emails without Spamming
Thinkers360
March 28, 2022

Is your email open rate low? If the answer’s yes, then it may be because your bulk emails are being marked as spam.

Nobody likes spam.

Once your emails are flagged, they’re far more likely to miss your subscribers’ inboxes and land in the junk folders. There’s no denying that’s a bummer.

The good news? There’s a process you can use to increase the likelihood that your emails will reach their intended recipients. It might seem involved but once you’ve done it, you should see an increase in your open rates – and it will be easy to maintain your non-spam status going forward.

Step 1: List Maintenance

It’s common for business owners to believe that having a lot of subscribers is better than having a few subscribers, but that’s not true. You’re better off with a small list of engaged readers than a large list of people who mostly ignore your emails.

Start by identifying inactive subscribers, meaning people who haven’t engaged with any of your emails in the past 90 to 180 days. Then:

  • Send one last email to try to reengage them
  • After a few days, delete any addresses that remain inactive

Deleting inactive subscribers helps because it minimizes the chances that people who don’t want to be on your list will mark your emails as spam. You’ll also eliminate invalid or abandoned mailboxes where incoming emails are labeled as spam. Finally, you’ll increase your engagement rate and that plays a role in how email providers flag spam.

Going forward, it’s a good idea to review your list regularly – once every two months should be often enough – and send out a reengagement email to inactive accounts. That way, you’ll stay on top of list maintenance and minimize the chances of things getting out of control again.

Step 2: Rewrite Your Subject Lines

The next step is to review and rewrite your subject lines. Some words are highly correlated with spam. We’re talking about words like:

  • Free
  • Bargain
  • 100% free
  • $$$
  • Guarantee
  • Password

You should also avoid writing headlines all in capital letters or with exclamation points. Anything that is too gimmicky or “salesy” may be a problem because spam filters are programmed to flag these words and formats.

A good way to determine whether your subject lines are spammy is to open your spam folder and compare what you’re writing to what you see. If your subject lines would be more at home in the spam folder than in your inbox, it’s a good sign that your subject lines should be rewritten.

The best email subject lines are short and to the point. A good rule of thumb is to keep your email subject lines to no more than 8-10 words or 60 characters. But the shorter the better.  That way, people can read the whole subject line in their inbox. Also, make sure that the subject line of your email reflects the content of the email. Nobody likes a bait and switch.

Step 3: Create High-Quality Content 

Do you spend time crafting the content of your marketing emails or are you churning them out in a rush? If it’s the latter then it could be that sloppy or careless content is hurting you.

Start with the basics. You should be proofreading every email carefully before you send it. If spelling and grammar aren’t your strong suits, use Grammarly to catch mistakes.

You’ll also need to keep your emails brief and to the point. While some people may not mind getting emails that take 20 minutes to read, most people prefer something they can skim or read quickly. If you have that much to say, break up your content and create an email series.

Be careful not to include too many images. It’s good to break up text with images but many email providers block images as a matter of course. If you aim for 80% text and 20% images, you should be safe from most spam filters.

Step 4: Avoid Image-Only Emails

We’ve lost track of how many times we’ve seen spam emails that consist only of images. Why? Because spammers often use images to hide text because email providers can’t “read” images. Image-only emails are automatically more suspicious than emails with a good balance of text and images.

We get it. It might be tempting to avoid HTML hassles by creating a beautiful graphic of your email content and sending it to your list, but you shouldn’t do it. Not only are image-only emails more likely to be flagged as spam, they’re also often not readable. Some email providers automatically block images.

You should also keep in mind that image-only emails are not as user friendly as text-based emails. People who are vision impaired often rely on text readers to read email. These readers are incapable of reading images and that means that you’re potentially rendering your emails useless to anybody who uses a reader to access them.

Step 5: Use a Legitimate “From” Email Address

If you get a lot of email, then we’re willing to bet that you also see a lot of email address that follow this format: no-reply@companyname.com

You might think that you’re saving some time and aggravation by making it impossible for people to reply to your emails. However, there’s a catch.

A lot of the time, people don’t notice the “no reply” part of the email and they will try to respond anyway. That means you’re potentially missing out on a chance to engage with your subscribers – but that’s only part of the problem.

The bigger issue is that one of the things that email providers look at when deciding whether an email is spam is the sender’s email address. Not every “no-reply” address will get flagged as spam, but many will. That means your emails may not make it to your subscribers’ inboxes at all.

Another benefit of eliminating “no-reply” email addresses is that subscribers often can’t add them to their address book or safe senders list. When we subscribe to email lists, we always like to add the sender to our address books as a way of ensuring that their emails make it to our inboxes.

So, an easy fix is to simply create a valid email address and use that to send your bulk emails. Yes, you may need to filter through some responses – but at least you’ll know that subscribers are receiving your messages.

Step 6: Include an Unsubscribe Link

It should be easy for your subscribers to leave your list.

Wait, what?

Hear us out. Legitimate businesses only want subscribers who are genuinely interested in their products or services. It’s a waste of money to continue to send emails to people who aren’t opening them. Making it easy to unsubscribe is a way of signaling to email providers that you’re not someone who’s trying to rip people off.

Let’s say someone decides that your emails are no longer useful to them – for whatever reason. They look for an unsubscribe button or link and they can’t find one. What’s their next logical step? They report your email as spam because it’s the only obvious way to get rid of it.

That’s not what you want. The unsubscribe link should:

  • Be placed in the footer of your email where everybody expects it to be.
  • Be easy to read – that is, don’t hide it in an image or in a long sentence.
  • Not require anybody to log in or reply to you to unsubscribe.
  • Require one click (ideal) or a maximum of two clicks to unsubscribe.

You should test your unsubscribe link to make sure it works as intended. You may want to ask people why they want to unsubscribe, but a one-click unsubscribe link is ideal. It should be as easy as possible for people to opt out of receiving your emails.

The bottom line is that it’s better to have a pared-down list of engaged subscribers than it is to have a huge list comprised of people who aren’t all that interested in what you have to offer. The steps we’ve outlined here will help you refine your list and avoid being labeled as spam.

See blog

Tags: Marketing, Security, Social

Why Every Single Small Business Needs Digital Marketing
Thinkers360
March 24, 2022

Digital marketing isn’t optional.

The fact remains, though, that only 84% of businesses have a content marketing strategy as of early 2022. 16% don’t.

If you’re one of the people who has put off digital marketing or done it haphazardly, it’s time to get serious about it. You may have claimed your Google My Business listing – and that counts as digital marketing. It’s also the bare minimum you can do.

So, with that in mind, let’s talk about why every small business – including yours – needs digital marketing, and which marketing strategies we recommend.

What is Digital Marketing? 

Some small business owners don’t understand what digital marketing is and that’s part of the problem, so, let’s start with a definition.

Digital marketing is the sum of any efforts you make to promote your business online. It may include:

  • Email marketing
  • Blogging
  • Search engine advertising (PPC)
  • Social media posting
  • Social media advertising
  • Business listings
  • SEO
  • Video marketing

The key to making the most of digital marketing is choosing the strategies that are most likely to deliver the results you want.

Target Local Keywords 

The first thing you need to recognize is that in the world of digital marketing, everything is local. If you try to compete for the same keywords used by big corporations with huge marketing budgets, you’re going to lose. You’ll get far more bang for your buck if you think local.

Local keywords should be a combination of industry-specific words that identify what your business does and local words that let people know where you are. For example, a dentist in Minneapolis might target words such as:

  • Minneapolis dental practice
  • Twin Cities dentistry
  • Emergency dental care Minneapolis

You get the idea. You want the words you target to be specific to both your business and your location. Google prioritizes local search already and optimizing your website and ads for local keywords will give you the best possible chance of connecting with people in your area.

Claim Your Local Listings

A big part of digital marketing is creating a consistent online presence. A person who finds you on Yelp should have access to the same basic information about your business as someone who searches for you on Google or someone who navigates directly to your website thanks to a referral from a friend.

Local listings such as Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, and others act as online directories. They’re there to help people find the businesses they need. If you haven’t already done so, you should claim every listing for your business. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to update and standardize all information to create a seamless presence.

Use Social Media Wisely

Social media should be part of your digital marketing strategy. As of 2022, 3.8 billion people worldwide use social media. Your customers use social media.

The trick, of course, is to know which social media options your customers prefer. B2B companies should focus on LinkedIn. Any company with a visual or aspirational product would do well to invest in Instagram and Pinterest marketing. Most small businesses can benefit from having a Facebook presence.

Once you’ve decided which social media accounts to create, you still need to use them wisely. That means using both organic posts and advertising to connect with your target audience. Small businesses can focus on local customers by using carefully-chosen hashtags and participating in community events such as Throwback Thursday.

Don’t Forget Email Marketing

Email marketing isn’t the new kid on the block, but it is still one of the most cost-effective digital marketing strategies around. It’s particularly effective for keeping existing customers engaged and coming back to your business.

If you don’t already have an email list, you can build one by creating content to give away and advertising it on Google or social media. If people want to download the content, they’ll need to provide you with their email address.

You can get the most from your email marketing by creating unique content for the people on your list and combining it with special coupons and giveaways.

Advertise on YouTube

YouTube advertising is something that a lot of local businesses miss out on because they don’t understand how effective it is. Fully 90% of consumers say they have learned about a new product from seeing an ad on YouTube.

Marketers agree that pre-roll skippable ads are the most effective format for YouTube ads. However – and this is anecdotal – we’ve noticed an increase in the number of short, non-skippable pre-roll ads we’re seeing. Consumers are less likely to mind sitting through a 15-second ad they can’t skip than an ad that’s longer and not skippable.

YouTube is owned by Google and that’s one reason that YouTube is a great option for retargeting customers who have visited your site without buying anything.

Encourage Reviews

You already know that reviews are important. You should consider them an essential part of your digital marketing strategy.

If you’re not already doing so, start encouraging customers to write online reviews. You can ask them in person if you have a brick-and-mortar store or, if you have an email list or Facebook account, ask them to leave a review and link to your preferred review site.

Optimize for Mobile

It’s safe to say that in 2022, all digital marketing is mobile marketing. We don’t mean that nobody accesses a website or social media on a computer but it’s a fact that mobile search has surpassed desktop search and almost everybody has a smartphone.

In practical terms, that means you’ve got to be sure that your website is optimized for mobile. Ideally, you should have:

  • A mobile responsive design that looks equally good on any device
  • Mobile-friendly content
  • Clickable buttons

No mobile user should need to zoom in to hit your call to action button or scroll horizontally to read your blog posts. There’s no excuse for ignoring mobile users – so don’t do it.

Digital marketing is here to stay – and it’s time to take it seriously. By focusing on the marketing strategies we’ve mentioned here, you’ll be able to differentiate your business from competitors and attract a steady stream of new customers.

See blog

Tags: Marketing, Business Strategy

Google Local Service Ads Explained
Thinkers360
March 21, 2022

You want to connect with local customers who are in the market for the services you provide. You’ve probably spent some time optimizing your website. You may have paid for Google Ads. But if you’re not focusing on Google Local Service Ads, you’re missing out on the most highly qualified leads around.

What is a Google Local Service Ad? Why should you care? Keep reading to learn more.

What Are Google Local Service Ads?

We talk to a lot of small business owners and a lot of them don’t know about Google Local Service Ads – so let’s start with the basics.

Google Local Service Ads are ads that appear at the top of Google’s search engine results page when someone searches for a local service.

If you know anything at all about digital marketing, you know that having an ad for your business appear right at the top of the Google SERP is a huge advantage.

Google Local Service Ads aren’t available to everybody. You need to earn a spot there based on your ratings and that’s because Google guarantees the services of the companies whose ads are displayed.

Components of a Google Local Service Ad

The first thing you should notice about Google Local Service Ads is that they highlight reviews by displaying your average rating and the number of reviews available for prospective customers to read. Considering that nearly 9 out of 10 consumers rely on online reviews to make purchasing decisions, it’s impossible to put a dollar value on having a high review rating displayed at the top of the SERP.

When a prospective customer clicks on a Google Local Service Ad, they will see additional information about your business, including:

  • Your business phone number and address
  • The services you provide
  • Your hours of operation
  • The areas you service
  • Business highlights such as your BBB rating or awards you have received

Scrolling down allows people to see your Google My Business reviews. While people do check other review sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List, Google My Business reviews are the most trusted and viewed reviews online.

How Do Google Local Service Ads Compare with Organic Search?

One of the questions we hear most frequently about Google ads in general has to do with their efficacy when compared to organic search. It’s a valid question.

It’s undeniable that earning a spot at the top of Google’s organic search results is a huge advantage. Research shows that the first three organic listings get the lion’s share of clicks. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • The #1 listing gets 28.5% of clicks
  • The #2 listing gets 15% of clicks
  • The #3 listing gets 11% of clicks

In total, the top three listings grab 54.5% of all clicks. By the time you get to the 10th spot, the listing gets only a 2.5% click-through rate. Companies on the second page are even lower – and most searchers never get that far.

You may have read that a lot of people skip right over the ads that appear at the top of Google – and that’s true, as far as it goes. However, Google Local Service Ads are different. Here’s why.

The first thing to note is that typical Google ads include a headline and what essentially amounts to a sales pitch, like this:

In other words, it’s obviously an ad – and just as many of us skip past commercials when we can, we also prefer to skip online ads when they are trying to sell us something. We prefer to do our own research.

What differentiates Google Local Service Ads from traditional ads is that they don’t look like ads. What they look like is a recommendation of a top-rated business. That makes them instantly more valuable and more trustworthy than regular ads in the eyes of consumers. Another way of looking at it is that they combine the benefits of advertising – most importantly, a spot at the very top of the SERP – with the benefits of organic search.

What Are the Differences Between Google Local Service Ads and Google Ads?

You probably already know how traditional Google Ads work. To have your ad displayed on the SERP, you must bid on your chosen keywords and beat out the other people (or at least most of them) who are bidding on the same words.

You must earn your way to a Google Local Service Ad but there’s no bidding process. The other key differences are:

  • Google Ads are pay-per-click and Google Local Service Ads are pay-per-lead. That means you pay only when a prospective customer contacts you via the ad.
  • Google Local Service Ads are Google Guaranteed, which means that Google will refund a customer’s money if they’re not satisfied.
  • Companies “rank” for Local Service Ads based on the number of customers they serve and their average review rating.

A Google Local Service Ad is a stamp of approval from Google and is therefore more valuable than a traditional PPC ad.

How to Get a Google Local Service Ad for Your Business

Let’s review the steps to get a Google Local Service Ad.

  1. Check your eligibility by going to Google’s local service homepage and clicking the Get Started button.
  2. Create your Local Ad Services profile, including your name, your company name, the services you provide, and other relevant information. Be aware that you should list only the services for which you have licensure.
  3. Submit the required paperwork. Since Google is guaranteeing your work, you must submit copies of your licenses and other documentation.
  4. Complete the background check. Google conducts background checks on you and your employees. Google pays for the background checks and the process is simple.
  5. Set your advertising budget. Once you’re confirmed, you’ll need to decide how many leads you’re prepared to pay for each week or month and submit that to Google.

Once you’ve completed the steps, your ad will appear if you rank against other verified service providers in your area.

If you can qualify for a Google Local Service Ad, we highly recommend taking advantage of their benefits. They offer an easy way to get qualified leads every day.

See blog

Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

How Your Business Can Benefit from Chatbots
Thinkers360
March 17, 2022

Businesses who have adopted the chatbot trend have been able to support and scale their business operations by offering convenient and efficient communication to their customers. Implementing chatbots has also helped businesses increase their sales, by providing 24/7 chat support to customers who need questions answered before they buy. So, what is a chatbot and how can your business benefit from one? Sit tight! We’re about to unpack everything you need to know. 

What Is a Chatbot? 

A chatbot is an automated messaging system or computer program that interacts with your customers on your behalf. Chatbots are integrated into the back end of your website and pop up as a chatbox on the front when a visitor reaches your website.

Welcome to the Future! 

In 2001, A.I. might have spurred images of a young Haley Joel Osment. Jump forward 18 years and A.I. (artificial intelligence) is at the heart of modern-day advertising and marketing. In marketing, the role of artificial intelligence is to anticipate the customers’ needs and provide the information or resources they need to make a purchase decision. 

If you’re trying to get your head around how artificial intelligence is used in marketing today and how you can leverage it in your business, start with understanding and using your own chatbot. 

How Does It Know What to Say? 

Your chatbot is prepopulated with a series of questions, answers and resources to help your customers through their purchase journey. Think of it like a smarter, more engaging FAQ channel. The prepopulated list of questions and answers is meticulously mapped out and tells your chatbot how to behave or respond when certain actions are taken, or questions are asked. 

More advanced chatbots and virtual assistants can be customized to do a lot more than handle customer queries. They can be integrated with booking systems and other communication platforms enabling people to make reservations and purchases.

Chatbots for the Hospitality Industry (Hotels and Restaurants) 

20 years ago, you might have found Trudy or Kenneth at a desk answering the phone and taking reservations in a dusty old reservation book. In 2019, you’ll find Trudy and Kenneth enjoying the finer things in life while their chatbot takes care of bookings and reservations for them. 

Benefits of Chatbots for Hotels and Restaurants

Here’s what you can expect from effectively implementing a chatbot on your hotel or restaurant’s website:

  • An increase in direct bookings. Visit Skyscanner or booking.com to see their reservation tool in action.
  • Reduction in office hours. A chatbot can handle many questions and activities that would otherwise be managed by a receptionist. 
  • A better understanding of the different profiles of guests and travellers and appropriate offers based on their profiles. 
  • Better customer experience. Guests can opt-in for information on things to see and do in the area, helping them get the most out of their stay. 
  • Better customer service. Guests can get the support they need 24/7. 
  • Better customer satisfaction. The ease of booking through a chatbot is unbeatable!
  • An increase in reviews. Emails requesting reviews get lost in a busy inbox. A chatbot prompts reviews which are quick and easy to submit. 

Best Chatbots for the Hospitality Industry

Our recommendations for chatbots in this industry are TrilyoHiJiffy and LivePerson.

Chatbots for the Retail Industry

Simplicity makes sales. If retail brands make it easy for their customers to buy from them, they will! Chatbots help retailers make more sales by providing customer support and customized suggestions to shoppers, increasing the chance of a sale.  

Benefits of Chatbots for the Retail Industry

In retail, some of the benefits of implementing a chatbot include:

  • Less abandoned carts. We’ve all added items to a cart and failed to check out (for whatever reason). A chatbot reminds you to checkout, encourages you to complete your purchase or offers you a discount if you check out within a certain timeframe.
  • Enhanced and smoother customer service. Chatbots are available 24/7/365 to answer any concerns a visitor might have about a product. Knowing everything you need to know about the product increases the likelihood of you making a purchase. 
  • Customized post-sale offers. Chatbots can send custom offers and information to customers based on their previous purchases. 
  • Increase in conversion rates. Lack of sales on an Ecomm website is often as a result of a poorly designed conversion funnel. Chatbots make the purchase journey super simple helping increase conversions. 
  • Driving sales! All these benefits combined naturally drive sales. 

Best chatbots for the retail industry

IBM Watson AssistantBold 360 and LivePerson.

The Top 3 Best Chatbots

There are hundreds of chatbots available to you. Some paid, some free. Some basic, some customizable. Here are our top picks for chatbots in 2019 and 2020.

LivePerson

The thing we love most about LivePerson is that it is suitable for all industries. Text messaging, Google Rich Business Messaging, Apple Business Chat, Line, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Google AdLingo can all be integrated into the chatbot. 

Inbenta

Designed for the needs of enterprise brands Inbenta has a simplistic interface and can handle simple demands with a high level of intelligence. The best feature Inbenta has to offer is the ability to detect when the conversation needs a human to step in. 

IBM Watson Assistant

Suitable for big brands and businesses, Watson Assistant has been designed by IBM, the leader in A.I. solutions. This chatbot is a lot more advanced and recommended for larger businesses who require more extensive support and chatbot capabilities. 

Regardless of your personal views on talking to a robot, customers set the demands and don’t really have a preference when it comes to dealing with a robot or a human, as long as they get what they need*. Your business could very well be a chatbot away from better customer support, happier customers and more sales. So, what have you got to lose?

See blog

Tags: Business Continuity, Business Strategy

7 Simple Referral Marketing Strategies for Your Business
Thinkers360
February 07, 2022

I want to let you in on a little secret.  Are you ready?  Okay, here it is:

All customers aren’t equal.

Don’t get me wrong, call customers are good customers. But do you want to know who your best customer is?

A personal referral.

Customers who are referred to you are more likely to trust you and become loyal customers that have bigger budgets.

So, if you haven't yet implemented a referral program into your marketing strategy, you're missing out on a substantial opportunity for growth.

When it comes to conversion rates, referral marketing consistently outperforms.

Add statistics

It's a bold claim, but statistics show that people who come to you through referrals have the best chance of engaging with your company, purchasing your products, and remaining loyal:

Now that you've learned about the potential of referral programs, here are some easy referral marketing strategies for your business you can start implementing today.

1. Choose Your Referral Incentive

When it comes to the best referral marketing strategies, there is no receiving without giving. You have to first decide on a reward that works for your business.

Think like the customer. What kind of offer or incentive will motivate them to talk about your product or service with a family member or friend? Try to answer their question of “What’s in it for me?” It can be as simple as giving a flat fee in return, or more complex like a point system contest.

But whatever incentive you choose, make it relevant to your product or service. If you’re in the business of selling coffee, your reward could be something as simple as free pound of their favorite premium roast. This way, you can be sure that the people referred are coffee lovers who’ll likely keep buying from you.

2. Choose the Right Time

Imagine signing up for a service or a product and being asked to share it with a friend before you even get a chance to use it. You know right then that is not the right approach.

The best time to ask your customers to share your product is after you deliver on your promises. It’s when what you offer solves the intended pain points and makes their lives better. Only then will they be eager to recommend your product to someone they know will enjoy it as much as they do.

If you're a local personal trainer, for example, the best time to ask your clients to bring their friends is after you've helped them achieve their goals, whether it's losing weight or building muscle.

3. Consider Rewarding Both Sides

Hands down, the best strategy you can implement to maximize the effectiveness of your referral program is not only to reward the inviting person, but also the person who is being invited.

This strategy works because it’s a win-win-win situation where everyone included is happy. Your current and new clients both have something to gain, and you make a new customer in the process.

DropBox is a shining example of this strategy's effectiveness. Their two-sided referral program gives both the referrer and the referee more storage. And In just 15 months, they managed to skyrocket their user base by a whopping 3900%!

4. Create a Dedicated Page for Your Program

This may sound obvious, but it’s often overlooked. If your client has to sift through several pages to find your referral program, you'll get little, if any, results from your program.

You need to create a dedicated page for it, that’s easy to find.  Complete with a large, bold headline that grabs your customers' attention and content that clearly explains the terms of the program.

After you create the dedicated referral page, it’s time to direct your audience to it.  You can do this a few ways, one way is by adding a simple “Refer a Friend” button on your homepage that will direct those who are interested to your referral program page to get all the details.

You can also place a link at the end of a follow-up email when you thank them for purchasing from you. Whatever it is, you need to make it easy for them to find.

5. Make it Simple and Pain Free

You don’t want to give your customers any reason to NOT participate with your referral request so keep it simple and easy to do. The quicker your customer can understand what they need to do and what they stand to gain, the better.

6. Use a Tool to Build Your Program

It’s no secret that there are many parts to creating and managing a successful referral program, which can make it difficult and time-consuming.

But it doesn't have to be that way, though! There is plenty of referral tools and software options available that will help you set up and manage your referral program pretty easily. Here are a few ones to get you started:

  • Referral Rock: Referral Rock helps any business get more customers using the most powerful and underutilized asset, the happy customers. It automates every step of the process to scale and consistently measure the success of referral marketing. It helps to acquire customers, scale best practices and build brand awareness.
  • Invite Referrals: Referral marketing software that is multiplatform, fully customizable, and easy to use. There are plenty of features to go around as well!
  • Revetize: Another excellent and user-friendly referral marketing tool. The best part about Revetize is that you only pay for the features you use.

7. Set Yourself for Growth

Congratulations! Your killer referral program is bringing in a steady stream of new and satisfied customers and they all love your business. So, where do you go from here?

Now you need to keep these new customers and clients around.

Another excellent idea is to remind them that your referral program can benefit them too. Keep in mind your happiest customers are your best are also your best source of new customers.  They'll almost certainly refer another friend, who will likely refer yet another, and so on. This way, you’re setting your company for exponential growth.

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Tags: Business Strategy, Customer Experience, Marketing

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