Category Archives: internet marketing

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.

3 Steps for Explosive Online Marketing Growth

Many business owners are under the impression that online marketingis extremely complicated because some online marketing efforts fail miserably, while others are responsible for massive returns. They assume performance is related to the marketing budget, what is being marketed and who it’s being marketed to.

Sure, that can all come into play, but it’s more about the marketing strategy.

It doesn’t matter if you are a small mom-and-pop shop with a budget of $1,000 per month or a large brand spending six figures monthly — the same three steps will contribute to a successful marketing effort. Let’s look at each one.

1. Identify the perfect customer for your product or service.

You need to determine who your ideal customer is and what problem you are solving. For example, my performance-based agency works with larger brands, spending at least $50,000 monthly on paid ads and typically relying heavily on Facebook. So, we know we have to target large brands with healthy budgets currently advertising on Facebook and interested in a performance-based relationship.

When you are very specific with who you target, it allows you to create a message and offer that speaks directly to that target. You must also make sure your pricing aligns with your ideal customer.

“You can’t attach a premium price to your product or service if your ideal customer has an average or below average income. You could have the best product or service but if it’s priced out of reach, they will never connect with your offer,” explains Joe Baldwin, CEO ofEssayLook.

2. Attract your perfect customer through smart marketing.

Let me quickly explain what I mean by smart marketing. If you are targeting people aged 35 to 45 with a life insurance offer, you don’t want to be running Snapchat ads — that’s the wrong platform. Highly targeted Facebook ads would work better.

Here are just a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • “What social media platforms are my perfect customer likely to be active on?”
  • “What websites are they likely to visit?”
  • “Are they likely to be using a mobile device to access the internet?”
  • “Will they be receptive to email offers and communication?”

When you have the answers to these questions it tells you what social networks and websites you should be running paid ads on and what devices you need to target. If you are selling a health product to millennials, then mobile targeting is a must, whereas an ad targeting the 50+ demographic would want to primarily target desktops.

3. Get your perfect customer to engage with your brand and messages.

Engagement is the last step. It’s responsible for generating sales and creating brand supporters that, over time, turn into lifelong customers. There are several different types of engagement.

For example, say you have a very appealing Facebook ad that drives your perfect customers directly to an offer. You might get some “likes” and shares on the post, but the click-through to your offer, and then ultimately the conversion, is the engagement that translates into revenue.

Not all offers are a good fit for a direct approach. Many will require that your perfect customer is placed in a marketing funnel, where they are then presented with valuable content, designed to eventually convert them into a sale. “Asking for an email address is a very small commitment, so it’s very easy to quickly fill your funnel up with prospects as long as your offer is enticing and provides value,” advises Tyler Chilton, CEO of Mayflower Electronics.

6 Must-Do’s for Effective Social Media Marketing

A lot of businesses do social media marketing wrong. They hear everyone screaming, “You must have a social media presence,” but what that entails isn’t always spelled out correctly. Social media marketing should be effective and affordable, and when done correctly, it can help scale businesses of all sizes.

Just like with traditional channels such as television commercials, radio spots and print ads, your results are going to be minimal at best if you broadcast your message to the wrong audience. To help you execute a successful social media marketing campaign, I spoke with six entrepreneurs to put together a list of must-do’s.

1. Dedicate time to learn how social media works.

There are a lot of social media marketing tips available online, from free content on websites like this one to paid courses you can complete at your convenience. It’s not very complicated if you take the time to educate yourself.

Charles Gumbley, Director of Flower Telecom, explains, “It’s important that you take the time to learn how social media marketing works for your specific business. While the fundamentals are similar across the board, different businesses will have to alter their strategies slightly in order to capture the attention of their target audience. In the beginning, consume as much content and free resources as you can. From there, you can then focus on your specific goals and objectives.”

2. Listen to your customers.

“The only way you are going to know what your customers want is by listening to what they have to say. It’s important that you use your social media platforms as an extension of your customer service. More customers are going to voice their opinion on social media than via email or over the phone,” says Ryan Koechel, VP of Marketing forABODO.

When you listen to your audience, you open the door to other opportunities as well. For instance, when my influencer marketing agency plans campaign strategies for a brand, we often audit their social media followers to identify key influencers. Learn to listen to your audience — it can provide you with valuable information.

3. Use automation for consistency.

There is smart automation and then there is spammy, ineffective automation when it comes to social media marketing. You don’t want to blast out promotional offers all day long — that’s a quick way to lose all of your followers. Use social media as a way to communicate with your audience and provide them valuable information. When you do that, you create happy brand supporters you can eventually convert into sales.

“If you have a full-time social media employee, make sure they are consistent and push out content across all of your social media profiles. There are several pieces of automation software, like Hootsuite, that offer a free plan that can greatly increase your efficiency. If you schedule your posts in advance it gives you more time to dedicate to replying and engaging with your social media followers,” advises Daniel Moravec of StreetSaw.

4. Engage with and delight your audience.

“It’s one thing to fill up your social media feed with posts, but it’s another thing to actively engage with your audience and turn them into satisfied customers. I see a lot of small business owners posting a couple times a day, thinking that they are doing the right thing when it comes to social media marketing. You can’t just post and walk away. If you do that, you are missing prime opportunities to engage with your audience and convert them,” explains Roy Surdej of Peaches Boutique.

Engaging your followers allows you to uncover problems or issues other customers might be experiencing as well. Then, you can be proactive and address those issues quickly before they turn into fires that are difficult to put out. When your communication lines are always open, you will often discover problematic situations before they spiral out of control.

5. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

It’s nearly impossible — and almost always ineffective — to be active on every single social media platform. I always suggest new brands should start with two or three social media platforms they are certain their target audience is active on. Master those, and then expand your social reach as the business grows and more effort can be allocated to additional social platforms.

Jasper Hillaud, Managing Partner of elf925 stresses the importance of focusing on the social media platforms that complement your brand, explaining, “While Pinterest marketing might not be effective for some businesses, it is one that we put a lot of energy into because we see that it works first-hand. Just because it wouldn’t be a preferred social media channel for a law firm, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It’s important to pick where to focus your social media efforts based on what works for your specific customer base.”

6. Track and measure everything.

“You will never run a successful social media marketing campaign if you don’t measure your results. It’s important that you lay out clear goals with benchmarks that allow you to determine whether or not your social effort is paying off. The data you collect and analyze can then be used to make changes to your campaign. You must be willing to constantly optimize and test your efforts if you want to develop a truly successful campaign,” explains Eric Ritter, Founder & CEO ofDigital Neighbor.

4 Marketing Lessons Entrepreneurs

The internet has recently been taken over by a very tall and overly pregnant lady.

You may have heard of her. Her name is April. April the Giraffe. This chick has taken over the internet, with pregnant human women going viral for impersonating her.

April is a powerful woman, as I assume most pregnant women are.

Almost 100,000 people are tuning in on YouTube at any given minute to see if she’s birthed her fourth calf yet. When someone or something can garner the accumulative attention of millions, it’s worth taking note.

And while April is undeniably powerful, she is not nearly as powerful as the creative team behind her at Animal Adventure Park. Here are four lessons you can borrow from Animal Adventure Park to spark your own sensation.

1. Your ordinary is someone else’s extraordinary.

You frequently forget there are things you find common and ordinary that others simply find extraordinary. This is the main basis for why Animal Adventure Park’s livestream has captivated so many, hitting headlines daily for over a week. Giraffes give birth on a regular basis. Or, at least I assume so.

Since April has been livestreaming, two other baby giraffes have been born stateside. For zookeepers, a giraffe having a calf is ordinary. Yet, for the general population, a giraffe having a calf is extraordinary. What is your ordinary that others would find extraordinary?

2. Utilize the tools you have at your fingertips.

I imagine it went something like this: April’s caretakers were talking about the upcoming birth, and someone nonchalantly mentioned, “Perhaps we could livestream it for people to see.”

The tools were already there to livestream. They just decided to use them unlike any other zoo had. Well played, Animal Adventure Park. What tools are you not taking full advantage of?

3. Start before you’re “ready.”

What I don’t think many people understand is that Animal Adventure Park isn’t even open yet. It’s bloody brilliant! There is so much press and news coverage about this business, and it hasn’t even opened its doors for day one.

That’s solid proof there is business genius in starting before you feel ready. With a well-thought out plan, anything is possible. It’s not about waiting until it’s perfect. It’s about knowing how to execute effectively. Where can you begin executing while still perfecting?

4. Don’t forget a call to action.

An imperative part of doing business is making it extremely easy for people to buy or support you. I was so impressed to find in the description on Animal Adventure Park’s live stream video that they did not forget a call to action.

Even better, they gave two! Take your pick to support the organization: Download GiraffeMoji for $1.99 from the App Store, or simply donate to the organization’s GoFundMe page. (As of this writing, it’s just shy of the $50,000 goal.)

What a failure it would have been to have that many people at your fingertips without an easy way for people to engage with the business. Yet, it’s a common business mistake.

How Marketers Optimize Their Social Content

It may have taken some of them a while, but businesses have finally caught on to the importance of social media. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Industry Report, 97 percent of businesses use social media for marketing purposes, and 92 percent feel that it’s important to their success.

But even as companies ramp up their social media efforts, they continue to struggle with how to best optimize social content to achieve desired business outcomes: 91 percent say they have difficulty deciding which specific tactics are most effective, according to the same report.

To better understand which strategies marketers are currently using to optimize social media content (and to gauge the effectiveness of these strategies), Software Advice has partnered with Adobe to create the first-ever Social Media Content Optimization Survey.

We also shared the 182 results we received from marketers with Liz Strauss, founder and CEO of SOBCon, who was ranked seventh on Forbes’ 2013 list of “Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers.” Her insights are included along with our analysis below.

Key Findings:

  1. Most marketers (84 percent) routinely post on at least three social media networks, with 70 percent posting at least once a day.
  2. Marketers most commonly cited the use of visual content, hashtags and usernames as important tactics for optimizing social media content.
  3. Over half (57 percent) use software tools to manage posting, and these respondents experienced less difficulty optimizing their social content.

Most Marketers Use Three or More Social Networks

Of the marketers who took our survey, the vast majority (84 percent) said they actively posted content on at least three or more social networks—most likely including Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn.

Number of Active Social Media Outlets

A total of 61 percent posted on at least four networks; 20 percent posted on at least six; and, impressively, 3 percent posted on 11 networks or more.

This leaves 14 percent of marketers who were posting on only two channels, and just 2 percent who said they routinely posted content on just one social media outlet.

With so many marketers posting content across such a broad spectrum of social channels, businesses that are only active on three or fewer sites may be at a disadvantage, according to Strauss. In a world where more businesses actively post on 11 (or more) social sites than on just one, promoting content on Facebook and Twitter alone may not be enough.

However, Strauss says, a sizable (but unknown) number of users “are using social channels in a non-useful manner: posting randomly, without a goal, and without a true understanding of what can be accomplished on any particular social channel.”

In other words, there’s a big difference between posting frequently and posting strategically. A sound social media marketing strategy will not only involve publishing a lot of posts—it will involve publishing the right ones.

Most Marketers Post Frequently, Plan Content in Advance

Most marketers (70 percent) said they post content on social media outlets at least once a day, with 19 percent saying they post more than three times daily. Conversely, only 16 percent said they post fewer than once a day, and 14 percent had no set schedule for posting.

The fact that so many businesses are posting so frequently and consistently is even more impressive, considering that many post across a large number of sites in which content guidelines vary widely (for example, Twitter limiting posts to 140 characters, or YouTube requiring video content).

Number of Social Media Posts per Day

When we asked marketers how far in advance they schedule their social content, 41 percent said, “several days to one week,” making that by far the most popular timeframe for planning posts. A total of 65 percent said they schedule their social content at least one day in advance, with only 12 percent saying they had no consistent plan for scheduling posts ahead of time.

How Far in Advance Posts Are Scheduled

Taken as a whole, the data demonstrates that many marketers have an established plan for consistently generating and posting content. As a result, businesses that fail to post consistently will likely struggle to build brand recognition and engage audiences, when faced with competitors that have adopted more regimented social content delivery strategies.

Visual Content, Hashtags Are Most Important Tactics

Our respondents most commonly cited images and hashtags as crucial elements of social media content optimization: 82 percent said it was “important” or “very important” to use the former, while 67 percent said this about the latter. Even the tactics that were viewed as less imperative (such as using videos) were still considered at least “moderately important” by over 68 percent of respondents.

The fact that a significant majority of marketers viewed all seven of these tactics as important reflects that most believe optimizing their businesses’ social media content requires a multifaceted approach.

Most Important Tactics for Optimizing Content on Social Media

However, Strauss argues that our respondents’ priorities might need adjusting. For example, she says, their prioritization of images and hashtags over targeting specific audiences is completely backwards, and may reflect a more troubling lack of understanding about basic social media strategy.

Everyone knows images increase engagement, she says, “but how do you know which images are going to resonate with your audience if you don’t know who your audience is?”

Strauss also believes that marketers should more highly prioritize social calls-to-action (CTAs), saying, “If you don’t ask, ‘why don’t you visit my site,’ people probably won’t even bother to see if you have a site.”

But even then, she insists, these specific tactics only work “when you know exactly who you’re trying to reach and what you want them to do.” This means images and CTAs must be carefully selected to elicit a specific response from a specific sub-audience.

For example, when Oracle wanted to publicize an event at the South by Southwest Interactive conference with Chevrolet, it used the #sxswi hashtag to share a promotional image with attendees. It also included the @Chevrolet username to share with its partner’s audience, along with a CTA encouraging users to follow the event hashtag #IdeaRally and participate in the discussion.

And because this tweet was perfectly relevant to the attendees following the#sxswi hashtag, those users were positively inclined to respond to the CTA and to share the tweet with their own followers—who were also likely to find it interesting and actionable.

Most Test Sharing and CTRs to Optimize Times to Post

When we asked marketers about the tactics they used to determine the best times to post on social media, nearly all of them prioritized trial and error. Eighty-seven percent said it was at least “moderately important” to test the sharing rates and click-through rates (CTR) of content at different times of day and days of the week, in order to understand when potential audiences are most receptive.

On the whole, respondents valued testing for share rate and CTR almost equally, although slightly more said it was “very important” to optimize for the former (35 vs. 33 percent).

Many also felt it was “very important” (31 percent) or “important” (33 percent) to use social media optimization tools to help determine the best time to post. These would include social media monitoring and management tools such as Hootsuiteor Adobe Social.

Altogether, this data shows that the marketers in our sample feel it’s crucial to use testing strategies and social media monitoring to make data-driven decisions when it comes to optimizing the time to post their social content—and to base those decisions on multiple performance indicators, rather than focusing exclusively on any single metric.

THE ULTIMATE LIST OF IFTTT RECIPES FOR MARKETERS

Recipe Prep

Most of the recipes that we’ve prepared here require a bit of pre-IFTTT prep. Here are two valuable tools that you’ll see used over and over again in these recipes.

  • Visual Ping: This tool will notify you when there is a visual change on a website, web page, or even just a area of a web page.
  • Page2RSS: This tool will convert any web page – even if the page doesn’t publish a feed of its own – to an RSS feed, so that you can easily subscribe.

A Note on Notification

Almost all of the THAT steps in our recipes below are means of notification. When writing these recipes, we selected what we thought were the most applicable forms of notification, but you should select whichever works best for you. It basically comes down to how quickly you’d like to be notified.

  • For example, if your site has been hacked, you’ll want to know ASAP, so you’ll probably want your alert to be a text message/SMS.
  • For something that you want to keep track of every day, an email might be the best notification for you.
  • If it’s something that you’ll want to check on maybe once a week or once a month, have the results archived in Evernote or a Google Doc.

Keep Track of the Competition

Easily Archive Your Competitors’ Emails

WHAT IT MEANS: Archive and organize emails from your competition for future analysis, without clogging up your inbox.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to emails from all of your competitors to a Gmail address.
      • Create filters in your email to automatically archive the emails and mark them as read.

CREATE A RECIPE ON  IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email or Gmail
      • New email from – the competition
      • THAT Channel: Evernote
      • Create a Note – in whichever notebook you specify.

Repeat for each competitor

Now, all competitor emails will be archived in Evernote for your future perusal and analysis.

Track Mentions of Competitors’ Employees on News Sites

WHAT IT MEANS: Monitor Newsle for mentions of competitors’ employees and other important industry influencers

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Sign up for an account on Newsle.com (you need a LinkedIn account to do so).
      • Sign up for Newsle emails, so that you get regular reports on when your LinkedIn contacts are mentioned in the news.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Gmail
      • New email from – Newsle
      • THAT Channel: Google Drive
      • Create a new spreadsheet to archive these Newsle mentions

Now, you’ll have Newsle mentions saved in a Google doc for reference.


Track Your Competitors’ Website Changes

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep track of the changes that your competitors make to their websites.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Use VisualPing.io to monitor a competitors’ web page. Set the timing and type of change to whatever you like, and add your email address for notification.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email
      • Email from Visual Ping
      • THAT Channel: SMS

Now, you’ll get a text message every time your competitor updates their page

Monitor your Competitors’ Blog Posts

WHAT IT MEANS: Stay on top of what your competitors are blogging about, and archive the posts.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Feed
      • Enter the blog post feed
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time there is a new blog post on the competition’s blog.

Stalk your competitors’ stocks

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep a keen eye on your competition by monitoring their stock performance

HOW TO DO IT:

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Stocks
      • Choose whichever metric you’d like – price at close, price rises above, price drops below,etc.
      • Add the ticker symbol and price
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time the stock price moves.

Monitor your competitors’ executives

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep a close eye on the C-level employees at your competition.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Set Google Alerts for executives’ names along with negative keywords (e.g. “stole” or “fired”) and subscribe to RSS alerts.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: RSS
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time one of these executives is mentioned online.

Watch out for your competitors’ YouTube videos

WHAT IT MEANS: Get notified every time one of your competitors creates and shares a new YouTube video.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Find your competitor’s YouTube channel (e.g.http://www.youtube.com/seerinteractive)
      • Subscribe to the RSS feed

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: RSS
      • THAT Channel: Google Drive
      • Create a new spreadsheet to archive these YouTube videos

Now, you’ll have YouTube videos saved in a Google doc for reference.

Spy on your Competitors’ Website Tools

WHAT IT MEANS: Get a text message any time your competition is using a new software tool on their website.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Use BuiltWith.com to view what software a site is using (e.g.http://builtwith.com/seerinteractive.com)
      • Enter the URL on VisualPing.io and set alerts and emails

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email (from VisualPing)
      • THAT Channel: SMS

You will now get a text message every time your competitor adds new software to their website.

Monitor Industry Acquisitions

WHAT IT MEANS: Find out if a competitor acquires or merges with another company

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to Yahoo Finance RSS feeds

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Feed
      • Select “new item matches” and enter a competitor name plus “acquisition” or “merger”
      • THAT Channel: Email

You will now get an email alert every time a competing brand has a merger or acquisition

7 Ways to Beat the Facebook Algorithm

1. Share Great Content

The old adage remains true – (quality) content is king. (Sorry about the cliché, Elisa.) If you post awesome content, your chances of being liked and shared increases, boosting your presence in Facebook news feeds. Many of Facebook’s algorithm tweaks are aimed at weeding out what Facebook deems “low quality content,” like memes. For greater reach, opt instead for quality content from news sites. It’s a bit bourgeois for Facebook to assume CNN articles are always classy and memes are always pond scum, but we don’t get much choice in how Facebook adjusts its algorithm. My suggestion? Ramp up on your own original high-quality content with e-books, blog posts, white papers, etc.

2. Use Facebook Ads

With organic reach down, now is the perfect time to experiment with Facebook advertising. Facebook has revamped their ad system to be easier than ever to use. Paid Facebook ads can appear right in a user’s newsfeed, seamlessly blending with organic posts while boasting better reach. They’ve also introduced a newad relevance score (basically Quality Score for Facebook.) Give them a shot and see how they perform. Facebook ads are perfect for companies operating in competitive creative industries like craft marketing.

3. Extend to Other Social Networks

Integrate your Facebook marketing with other social networks – post pins, tweet, etc. Facebook has become crowded, with organic space steadily shrinking. There’s tons of competition and it’s easy for your content to get buried in users’ news feeds. Explore greener pastures by delving into newer social media hubs like Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Google+. Don’t let Facebook be your crutch.

4. Time to Get Personal

Personal account posts tend to show up more in news feeds than business page posts, so why not take advantage of your staff members? Most of them probably use Facebook, so get them liking and sharing your company content. All is fair in the Facebook wars.

5. Import Your Contacts

If you have a big email list, you can import your contacts (up to 5k names at a time) and invite them to join your Facebook page. A higher number of Facebook friends means that your content will reach more people, despite lower organic visibility percentages. The more the merrier.

6. Post More Often

Increase your chances of appearing in news feeds simply by posting more. Get the odds in your favor! Posting 4-6 times a day increases the likelihood that one of those posts will get a bite.

7. Share Exclusive Content

Make your Facebook posts count by sharing exclusive content users won’t find anywhere else. Publicize flash sales, special discounts, contests, etc.