Monthly Archives: March 2017

Tips to Optimize Your Product Online

You work hard to attract visitors and prospects to your website and product listings. But if those people leave without buying — or without at least signing up to receive email updates from you — they may not come back.

You can still retarget those who have been to your website, and retargeting is a good way to capture those who might not return. However, if there is a disconnect with your offer, you might not convert your visitors, regardless. If that happens, you’ll just end up wasting money on advertising that’s not going to give you a favorable return on investment.

If you want to generate consistent sales, you need to optimize your product listings. Here’s how.

Get your customers to refer their friends.

Your customers aren’t going to tell their friends about your business unless there’s a compelling reason. Every sales professional knows the power of getting referrals from paying customers; it’s a good way to find new customers and open a larger market.

Crazy Egg suggests offering referral discounts to boost sales. It notes that both Optimizely and Airbnb have tested similar offers where customers could earn credit by referring a friend. Optimizely was able to increase its engagement by 60 percent just by changing the copy for its button. Airbnb tried a closed-beta program that brought in an additional 2,107 members from its original 2,161. Essentially, for every customer it already had, it brought in another.

So, whether you offer cash credit or a discount, a referral program with these rewards may help you double your results without doubling the money you put into your marketing. The exact amount you offer your customers will depend on how much they’ll be spending with you and on your profit margin.

Build trust and credibility with your website visitors.

According to UX Booth, studies conducted by both McAfee and VeriSign show that ecommerce sites can boost their credibility by 10 percent to 36 percent simply by displaying familiar trustmarks. These include the Better Business Bureau, VeriSign, PayPal and other organizations your visitors are likely familiar with.

Be careful not to display these badges on your site simply because you can; get validated. You can also display the major credit cards you accept, as well as the logos of recognizable brands whose products you sell.

Marketing expert Neil Patel also encourages online sellers to use what he calls “logo porn” to boost credibility. He is referring to notable publications you’ve been mentioned in or awards you’ve received. He says he discovered that removing these logos reduced his conversion rate by 9.9 percent, again showing that third-party recognition helps with credibility.

If your store is still new, and you haven’t gotten any press yet, it may be worth it for you to build an authority blog, network with publications and columnists in your industry, partner with known service providers or vendors or seek out opportunities to get featured in the media using a service like Help A Reporter Out.

Utilize reviews and testimonials.

Reviews and testimonials boost your credibility. According to BigCommerce, product reviews can increase sales by up to 18 percent. It also notes that 40.9 percent of customers believe reviews and testimonials are an important purchasing factor. In addition to your product pages, you might consider using positive feedback on your home page, sidebar or footer. This demonstrates that real people shop with you and enjoy what you offer.

Email is one of the best tools you can use to survey, and get feedback from, your customers. If you haven’t begun building an email list yet, that’s a good place to start. This is because you’ll likely send your customers that SurveyMonkey or GetFeedback survey you’re using through email.

For better or for worse, remember that it’s best not to game the system, especially if you’re selling on Amazon. You could put your business at risk by incentivizing reviews. Instead get real testimonials from real customers — the best way to build trust with your prospects.

Use a service to improve your product listings.

Are your Amazon listings not converting at the rate you expected them to?

According to Asteroid Aim, this may be because your product isn’t adequately optimized for the keyword it should be ranking for. Another common problem is a lack of persuasiveness. The language you’re using on your listings may not be building confidence in those viewing your products.

Asteroid Aim will find keywords on your behalf and tweak your product description to convert more visitors. It even offers unlimited revisions for free.

Even if you aren’t an Amazon seller, keyword and copy optimization is crucial. Tools like SEMrush can help you identify keyword opportunities, and there’s nothing quite like knowing your customer pain pointsto help you put together compelling product descriptions. Do your research.

4 Ways Brick-and-Mortar Stores Can Outsell Online Retailers

For years, brick-and-mortar retailers have watched as the term “brick-and-mortar” has come to conjure images of an antiquated building, crumbling beneath the overwhelming, far-reaching digital empire of online sales. These days, it seems hardly a news cycle goes by without another major retailer announcing its plan to shut down physical locations: Sears, Barnes & Noble, JC Penney — the list goes on. Meanwhile, Amazon has grown so big that sometimes other ecommerce sites make more sales through an Amazon digital storefront than their own websites.

But despite these grim circumstances, there’s no reason for brick-and-mortar store owners to be intimated by the ecommerce giants. After all, there was a time not too long ago when Amazon only sold books. How did it grow beyond that? The company combined excellent customer service with a cutting-edge digital marketing gameplan to grow into the massively successful retailer it is today.

As it turns out, today’s brick-and-mortar businesses have access to many of the very same digital strategies that catapulted their ecommerce competitors to the forefront. By taking advantage ofimproving online technology and strengthening their customer relationships, traditional retailers can supercharge their digital marketing efforts. In fact, by following the tips below, brick-and-mortar retailers can even generate greater ROI than they’re used to seeing from traditional advertising.

1. Use localized search engine optimization to drive your online visitors to your physical stores.

In today’s competitive marketplace, you need a website. Most consumers today find information about stores in their area by searching the web. Using search engine marketing means not just having a website, but also ensuring that the content on the site contains relevant keywords, key phrases and localized information so that search engines can find your site and return it in the list of results to a consumer’s search query. In the age of instant gratification, you can actually beat online retailers by providing a same day product receipt vs. the typical one to five days sales completion lifecycle online retailers have to deal with due to shipping times.

It’s especially important that your site prominently features information about where your store is located. This increases the odds that your page will rank higher in the search engine rankings when mobile users look up information while they’re close to one of your brick-and-mortar stores. Local searches via a smartphone lead to 50 percent of consumers visiting a store within one day, and nearly 18 percent of those store visits result in a purchase, according to a Google study. To put it mildly, localized search engine optimization isn’t just an option — it’s a necessity.

2. Build stronger customer relationships by beefing up social media marketing.

Today’s consumers don’t just want good prices — they also want a rewarding shopping experience. To that end, it’s crucial to create a social media presence and engage your target market. But don’t just post for the sake of posting. Share information that is relevant and timely, including community/customer content; ask questions, start discussions, etc. — all of these will get your customers more involved and increase your brand awareness. Even better, a consistent social media strategy will encourage them to do a lot of the work for you by sharing posts and getting others involved. Even small businesses with a large social media presence can compete with large online retailers because the power of local social networks will bring new customers or retain existing ones with constant, easy reminders of quick-to-access stores.

3. Get more competitive with a robust marketing mix.

That doesn’t mean you need to spend more on your marketing; it means you need to market smarter by combining traditional methods with digital marketing. Use a range of marketing channels to get your customers to come back, through automated email campaigns or pay-per-click retargeting campaigns if they haven’t been in the store recently or to reward them for being great customers. Just remember to collect robust data on your customers so that you know who, how and when to activate them.

4. Leverage reviews and testimonials to show customers how awesome you are.

Because consumers today are much more involved in the purchasing process, many like to give reviews of products or testimonials of a business. Reinforce reviews early and often, and post the best reviews and testimonials in areas that others can easily see, so that they can influence the next consumer decision. Last but not least, address negative reviews with positive actions vs. negative reactions.

7 Social Media Secrets Every Entrepreneur Should Know

When I first stepped into the world of social media marketing, I thought it was as easy as putting together a list of Facebook posts and hitting publish. I was dead wrong.

Good social media is evocative and connects with your specific audience on a deeper level. Just as businesses add value to customers’ lives delivering products and services, the best social media campaigns add value to their demographics.

If you want to truly stand out from the rest, here are the eight secret avenues I have learned over the years that can lead you to big success with your social media strategy:

1. Know yourself

Most marketers overlook a very basic principle when it comes to social media: understanding their own company, its strengths and weaknesses and its desired place in the market. Being open and honest with yourself on what you are good at is the most important thing to not just social media, but all aspects of business. You must first identify the following before becoming successful on social media:

  • Your goals and intentions with social media
  • Your audience
  • What your audience cares about
  • What you know a lot about
  • What content type matches your team’s personality, culture and capabilities

Once you know all of these things, you’ll be able to effectively craft a social media and content marketing plan. But until then, you’ll likely be like most organizations, blindly attempting to mirror the social media success of another company. Beyond the secret of “knowing yourself” is the power that comes with understanding the overlap of what you are good at and what your audience truly wants.

2. The content plan and dashboard

Social media should be looked at like any other facet of business. In operations, you have a process and structure to deliver your products/services. In finance, you have a comprehensive annual plan, with weekly and daily checkpoints to ensure success. In sales, you have targets, action plans and specific checkpoints and quotas to meet top line goals.

Social media is not unlike these arenas. To be successful, there must be clear plans and clear intentions that are metric driven and add real business value. So before shelling out significant social media investment or even hiring a social media manager, first create a structure, an annual plan and a dashboard that shows performance metrics.

In your content plan, you should map out annually all the content you are going to make. You should also figure out what formats your content will take, how you will distribute, the marketing funnel from the content to sales and your final KPIs to present in a dashboard. All this information can be done using a marketing automation tool or simply in a spreadsheet that you make.

Regardless of what you decide, if you are equipped with a content plan and dashboard, you’ll be able to quickly and effectively judge your social and content performance. This is key to making investment and hiring decisions. Don’t be caught blindly spending and guessing on your social performance. Plan it out, prepare for social media trends and link the results to valuable business metrics.

3. Meaningful interaction

When people comment on your Facebook posts or tweet at you, take it seriously. A huge secret to success with social is truly looking at online social interaction as an opportunity to make a significant and meaningful relationship with the user.

While it requires extra time, and some good amount of creativity, thinking of unique ways to respond that are personalized to audience can make huge payoffs.

Whether it’s sending them a gift in the mail or just crafting a clever direct message that relates to something on their profile, taking the extra time to make a personalized message can go so far in building brand advocates.

4. LinkedIn sales navigator

In B2B social sales, you need to be able to connect with the specific decision-makers at the accounts you are aiming to win. Finding these people can be tough, but with the LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you’ll have access to an incredible amount of information.

Not only can you use this paid tool to access all the accounts of people at companies you want to sell to, but you can see who has recently changed jobs, have access to their other social media accounts and gain a ton of other valuable B2B social insight. You can use this social information to interact with your decision-makers and build real interactions with them on social that can translate to in-person relationships.

5. Facebook groups

Facebook groups are an overlooked social media tactic, and using them properly can yield huge social and business payoffs. If you’re B2B, you can create groups for the type of professionals you’re selling to.

The key is starting with a niche that aligns with your audience and products, then building it organically by curating great content and encouraging engagement. A great example of this is Tai Lopez, who has been able to share his exciting and inspirational views across social media channels.

You should create posts that ask questions that are relevant to the audience. Go “live” while in the group to chat directly with people or implement other video marketing trends in the group for maximum engagement. Many marketers have successfully built large groups with thousands of target demographic users.

This is a long-term game. Pushing for the sale too quickly can result in loss of trust from your initial group members, so be sure to slowly and authentically build trust and demand for your products and services. Always focus on building a community that is valuable for everyone in the group.

6. Facebook dollar a day

While Facebook groups are a slow game to building a community, the paid Facebook ad is an incredibly powerful tactic that can rapidly grow your audience and social reach on demand. The dollar-a-day tactic is a simple way to start with Facebook advertising. Basically, you start by identifying an audience, then create a few “lighthouse” clients and pieces of content and boost these posts to your audience continually for a dollar a day.

This, at the very core, is the stage one structure of success in building a successful paid ad strategy on Facebook. While a simple paragraph can’t do the justice of the potential and complex nature of paid ads, the dollar-a-day strategy is a good way to start. Dig deeper into this topic and you won’t regret it.

7. Track success

Knowing what content is working on social can significantly improve your social strategy. Track the specific posts so you can report at the end of the year which posts performed best and why.

If you do this, over time you’ll be able to determine what types of posts your audience are most interested in and be able to create more of that and less of the posts that didn’t create interaction. So you might find that the unique 360 VR video you created got the most comments. Or maybe it flopped. But either way, knowing can help you make smarter choices next year.

4 Steps to Creating Effective Online Videos

Getting in front of camera can be very intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Use these four actionable steps to create attractive business videos that resonate with your audience.

1. Develop a script.

One way you can avoid stage fright on camera is by developing a script before you hit that record button. Developing a script for a business video sounds way more fancy than it is. Basically, the goal of writing your script is not to develop an elaborate essay. Rather, it’s to create a detailed outline about the bullet points you want to mention in your video.

So how do you actually go about creating a script? Well, the first step is coming up with your specific topic idea. Without worrying about form or layout, begin to write down supporting details of your topic. Once you have a satisfying amount of supporting details, you then begin to work on the layout.

It is a good practice to begin with the main message you are trying to convey, then start flowing into the supporting details. Once you come up with all your ideas, organize them in a way that makes sense for your audience.

Take your organized ideas and begin to lay them out in a script format. Remember, though, this is not an essay. You want to make sure this script will be vocalized fluently. Read your current script aloud; when you come across a section that doesn’t feel natural, make adjustments.

2. Look your best on camera.

Part of the reason so many people are worried about getting on camera is because they are worried about what they look like or how they’re being perceived. Here are a couple of tricks to ensure you look the best on camera to eliminate the unnecessary anxiety.

One of the biggest things to focus on when shooting your video is the light quality of the image. Many people who are new to video overlook this simple yet important detail. A cost effective method to increase the light quality is to shoot your video next to the window to use natural sunlight on your face, because nothing beats the quality of natural sunlight.

If using sunlight is not an option, find a couple of light sources around your office or house. Try to find multiple lamps and use them to light up both sides of your face. Getting even light is the key.

Another mistake many new video creators make is they don’t focus on the framing of the shot. Just because your eyes and your mouth are in the frame of your camera doesn’t mean your shot looks good. Try keeping your camera at eye level. If you’re using a webcam on a laptop do what you can to raise the laptop webcam to the level of your eye. The biggest benefit to shooting your video in this way is getting rid of an unflattering double chin.

3. To edit or not to edit?

This step is completely optional. Sometimes editing your videos is a necessity to remove long pauses, and other times it increases production value. However, video platforms such as Facebook Live,Snapchat and Instagram Stories are increasing in popularity, which means audiences are gravitating toward the natural, raw and uncut look of videos.

If you do prefer to edit your videos, video beginners should start with iMovie if you’re on a Mac or Windows Movie Maker if you’re on a PC. When you’re editing you might find that there are many areas you need to cut out. A great way to cover up your edits is by using additional footage, otherwise known as B-roll. Take this additional footage and play it over cuts to make them less noticeable.

4. Upload and optimize for search.

As entrepreneurs, we need to focus on creating a voice for ourselves and our businesses. One of the best ways to do that is being found in organic search. If you want your videos to be discovered in search you need to be uploading them to YouTube. YouTube is owned by the largest search engine in the world, Google. What that means is Google’s algorithm is biased towards YouTube videos, so YouTube is the place to be.

Don’t expect to upload a video and be found by thousands of people, though. What you need to do is optimize your YouTube videos. The best way to do this is by doing keyword research by using Google’s Keyword Planner. Come up with the keyword ideas around your topic that are getting the most traffic on Google. Use these popular keywords in your title, description and tags when uploading your video. This is the data the YouTube algorithm uses to determine where your video should be ranked in search.