With the drastic increase in mobile usage, Google has been striving to deliver a friendlier mobile experience to its users. The shift from “local 7-pack” to “local 3-pack” is an attempt from the search engine giant to cater to the mobile screens.
This new focus on mobile is urging local businesses to make changes to the way they are conducting their online listing to stay on top of the search. Some small changes in SEO technique could prevent a business from taking a hit on their online visibility due to drops in their search rankings.
What is Google’s “Local 3-pack”?
Simply put, Google used to show the company information, or “cards”, for seven local companies in the search results on the first page; now they’ve trimmed that down to three.
As a result, Google changed the information that users see when they conduct searches for a specific type of business or service. For example, the local cards for the top seven results used to be prominently displayed at the top of the search results; now, the name, reviews and the type of business are displayed for the top three business on mobile. If a user wants more information, they must click on one of the businesses, which leads the user to that business’s local card. If searching from a computer, the local card for the selected business will still be shown but a map will also be displayed along with the contact information and location of 20 other similar businesses.
Google local 3-pack
Map and list of 20 businesses after clicking on the first result of the 3-pack. Contact information for the business appears here
Why it matters?
What Factors Affect Search Results?
The proximity of the user conducting the search is the number one factor in the local three pack rankings. If a user is standing directly outside of a business and searches for what it specializes in, then it’s likely that the business will be the first to show up in the search results. Since users are often at a distant physical location when they do a search on Google where more factors are taken into consideration, we want to explore some of the other factors that affect the search rankings .
Here are 4 tips that you can easily implement to enhance your local ranking on Google:
I. Having up-to-date information about the business on the Google My Business
This means that there should be a good description, as many high-quality photos as possible, the correct telephone number, address and business hours.
Note: For businesses with multiple locations, in the Google My Business listings, the correct phone number for each location should be listed and the name of location should not be included with the name of the business.
Example: A pizza shop located in the town of Carlisle would be called “Two Brother’s Pizza Shop” as opposed to “Two Brother’s Pizza Shop-Carlisle”
Google will check these against local directories and the company’s website to make sure that everything matches. If a discrepancy is found, this could hurt the business’ position in the local rankings. Make sure that this information is correct and up-to-date.
II. Increase your reviews on Google and other directories, such as Yelp.
How to encourage customers to review your business online:
1. Don’t post fake reviews. Google and other websites do have ways to weed out fake reviews and if they find these, your company could drop in the rankings.
2. Actively encourage patrons to review your business. A little bit of tact could be helpful here. If customers feel like you are begging for good reviews, this could hurt your chance of getting a review and paint the business in a bad light in the customer’s eyes.
3. Respond to any negative reviews promptly. It’s important for the business to acknowledge the customer’s complaint and to inquire as to what may be done to fix the problem. If appropriate, the business can work with the reviewer to find a remedy to the situation (and hopefully receive a better review after retaining the relationship).
4. Don’t neglect the positive reviews! Write a quick thank-you note to show your audiences that you appreciate their support.
III. Categorize your company appropriately.
If a company find that it is not doing well in a certain category, one option is to try to specialize the category that your business is under. An example would be changing the category of a grocery store that specializes in selling natural or organic items from “grocery store” to “health food store”.
IV. Have a mobile responsive site.
Google recently started giving preferential treatment to businesses with mobile responsive sites to provide for a better experience when people are browsing the web from their phone.
Getting a top spot in the Google search results takes ongoing efforts on the part of the business. Any changes to business products and services, location, telephone number, or operating hours should be updated immediately to ensure that the most up-to-date information is available. If a company finds that it’s no longer ranking well under a certain category, experiment with different categories and track the results to find out if there is a category that receives a better response. Finally, monitor your online reviews regularly, and quickly respond to any negative reviews.
With some time and effort, businesses can increase their chances in landing one of the top three spots.
What’s your favorite local SEO tip? Please share in the comments below!
Finding the right software to create an infographic that fits your visual storytelling needs can be difficult. Luckily, I tried out some of the top-rated ones for you. Canva, Piktochart, and Visme are highly rated in the IOT, and each one offers a unique experience depending on what you are trying to create, and for whom you are creating it.
I am relatively new to this process of creating infographics, and therefore have an objective view of the three platforms I investigated. If you, like me, need to create graphics fast and easily on platforms that have a short learning curve then I recommend one of these three Canva, Piktochart, and Visme. Each of these platforms offers a free experience along with an upgraded monthly paid for service, which gives you even more content to work with.
For the purposes of this post, I tried each of these platforms in their free mode. Let’s take a more detailed look at the functionality of these websites.
The first thing I would like to mention about Canva is that this platform is not used specifically for making infographics. This site offers a myriad of different templates for creating things like Facebook Posts, Presentations, Logos, Business Cards, and many more. I have been using the presentation portion of Canva for some time now but have never used it for infographics.
When you first visit the Canva page, it offers a very ‘new age’ home screen, and from the start, it is easy to use. After you create an account and choose infographics, they bring you to a page with a blank graphic, and numerous templates to choose from, or you can also choose custom dimensions. The templates are labeled as free, or they let you know how much each one costs to use.
If there is any doubt at this point about how to use this platform, there is a help button at the top left that will help get you back on your way to creating something beautiful.
The features on the left side also offer an elements option which includes things like graphs, royalty-free photos, grids, shapes, illustrations, etc. It then goes down the list to text, which gives you plain text or pre-made groupings to choose from.
You can also change the background of your graphic, and like the templates section, and they offer you multiple free templates from which to choose. Alternatively, you can upload your own design. Designs can be layered or moved from back to front depending on how you want them placed on the graphic.
Canva offers a lot of free content to choose from, and it gives any creator the ability to easily find ways to be creative in their visual story. In the event that the creator wants to collaborate, Canva offers an easy solution. Simply hit the share button and enter people's email addresses, connect it to social media, grab a link, or copy code to embed somewhere. You can also download it as a PNG, JPG, or PDF, along with presenting it straight from the site.
To sum up, here are the pros and cons for Canva:
Canva is by far the easiest infographic platform to use. It is straightforward, easy to find free content to use, offers lots of sharing and downloading options, and easily answers questions during creation. Additionally, I love that it autosaves what you have created in case your cat decides to close the browser for you unexpectedly. Any company should be able to utilize Canva’s free version without really needing to upgrade. Since Canva is so simple and straightforward, it offers a lot of freedom for expression. However, unlike Visme it does not offer video or analytic data. Here is the result:
I would like to mention here that Piktochart also offers multiple presentations. It, however, offers fewer options than Canva. You can create infographics, presentations, and printables, i.e. flyers and posters, although you should check with your printing vendor’s dimensions before choosing their printable templates. You can also expand the bottom of your infographic to make it as long as you like. Canva does not offer this, but Visme does.
After signing up and clicking on the infographic button, they bring you to a page where you have a few templates to pick from. There aren’t as many templates in the free version, and you have to ‘Level Up’ and use the pro version to fully utilize their pre-made layouts. They offer the same categories of items that we saw with Canva, but the graphics you can use are less rudimentary and are more colorful in the free version. You can also upload any image or graphic you want, or choose from for their large collection of free graphics if any sparks your imagination. They have limited offerings of free images, but you can just as easily upload an image from a royalty-free site.
For those of you who have limited design background, Piktochart provides some templates with photos and in color schemes. You can choose the colors around what you want your template to be focused on, and it will automatically change some of the graphics to fit that scheme.
The charts option does require some time for exploration because they offer almost every chart imaginable. You can even upload data from your Google Drive, SurveyMonkey, and Excel. My favorite feature is the chatbot who checks on you throughout your process and is always live to answer any questions you may have.
Overall, Piktochart is easy to use. A few downsides include the inability to collaborate through sharing and limited exporting options under the free version, all of which is available in Canva.
To sum it up, here are the pros and cons for Piktochart.
With what Piktochart offers it seems that any business could utilize this site without having to upgrade. The only issue may be collaboration, sharing, and downloading. This may cause inconveniences for a larger business, but less applicable in a smaller setting. They offer a huge selection of graphics to choose from that will meet any visual storytelling needs. I would consider this and Canva to be almost equal on the learning curve, and both equally as useful in the presentation world. Here is the result:
At first glance, Visme is a website created like Canva. It offers a wide variety of items you can create such as Social Media Posts, Menus, Flyers, Presentations, etc. It offers more items than Piktochart does, including the option to create custom dimensions as well. You can expand the bottom of the infographic to make it as long as you like. A downside is that you can only create a few free graphics before you have to upgrade and pay to create more.
At first glance, this site seems daunting. While it is easy enough to choose the template with which you’d like to start, the tools are labeled in a slightly confusing manner. After clicking on what you need, it brings up a screen that offers some help as to where to find items on their page, but this is hardly helpful. They do have a help section that is easy to find at the top of the page.
After having spent 30 minutes or more, this website is still confusing. It is definitely more difficult to use than Canva or Piktochart. They do offer more features to create advanced infographics, but that also makes their site more complicated to use. They also offer analytical data, which makes their site more valuable if that is what you’re looking for with an infographic.
The elements along the side are set up in the same way as the others, Canva and Piktochart. It includes basics (font/text, graphs, and figures), graphs, data, media, theme, and uploaded files. The downside to their pre-made groupings is that they are difficult to change. However, it is equally as difficult to make your own groupings.
Just like Piktochart, they offer a large quantity of graphics; however, you have to pay for most of the interesting and useful ones. They do offer a library of royalty-free photos to use, which is nice. They boast having a library of over 500,000 photos.
On another note, when you add items to the infographic, they snap to a grid and are nearly impossible to move around without it bringing other objects along for the ride. This interface is difficult to use and not as user-friendly as the other two platforms.
Additionally, the only available free exporting option is JPG. Sharing is also not available under the free version, but you can publish it to the web and get a sharable link.
To sum up, here are the pros and cons for Visme.
Visme is by far the hardest platform to use out of the three. It does offer more features, most of which requires purchasing. The free version is comparable to a demo and not intended for actual business use, especially for a larger organization. The upside to Visme is the built-in analytic data which allows you to see graphic views. Here is the result:
As we can see, none of these platforms hit all the desired points when used for free (which is to be expected), but depending on what you are trying to accomplish, one of them will fit the bill. If you want to pay to use one of them, I would recommend Piktochart because it offers everything Canva does plus video and sound capabilities, with an easy to use interface. Each of these platforms works well and offers a lot. Your preference will depend on your skill level as a designer, what you are looking for in a design platform, and what you are ultimately trying to create.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Ameya Deshpande from Market Inspector.
Chatbots have been the main talking point in last few years in conversational commerce due to the rapid growth in artificial intelligence. They primarily help automate customer support by answering basic queries in a structured way. As they have built-in keyword analysis and natural language processing in some cases, it helps them break down queries in a matter of seconds. In the E-commerce industry, which is an online marketplace of buyers and sellers, chatbots have shown tremendous potential.
In the E-Commerce space, users have become more and more dependent on businesses to guide them all the way through their purchase journey. As many E-commerce websites can have heavy traffic in busy periods, it becomes a challenge to personalise shopping experience for each and every user. This is where chatbots can step in and add value to user’s purchase experience. For instance, many users face issues navigating through a website to reach their desired product. Moreover, the problem is made worse when customer agents are unavailable or not able to give a satisfactory answer. A chatbot that is implemented on a website’s landing page can be perfect tool to guide users to their desired product pages based on their queries. This will help E-commerce websites improve their conversions in the long run. As chatbots are capable of engaging multiple users to answer basic queries, it increases overall efficiency of customer support process as agents can focus on more complex queries which are subjective in nature that chatbots are not capable to answer yet. Thus chatbots add value to customers’ online purchase journey by complementing and working together with the support agents.
As most E-Commerce businesses are driven heavily by shopping seasons, chatbots have also justified their relevance as promotional tools. Many users are unable to make purchase decision and often abandon their shopping cart in the process. Chatbots can turn out to be very useful on a specific pricing page in order to give deals and offers about relevant products that users are searching for. In addition to being very effective marketing tools, chatbots can also be used as a great learning tool to understand your audience and improve user retention in the long run. If chatbots are given a significant role to play further in customer’s online purchase journey, it will enable them to collect statistics on user behavior and collect relevant data. This will be beneficial for businesses to provide more relevant products to its users in the future.
The future of chatbots in customer service is definitely something to look forward to. Due to its cost savings to businesses and ease of use, they have shown great potential in B2B transactions. As more and more websites experiment with chatbots on their website, users will get accustomed to talking to a bot which is also likely to increase their relevance in B2C transactions. The following infographic by Market Inspector will help readers visualize the role of chatbots in optimizing customer’s online purchase experience. It uses the most recent survey results to describe challenges faced by users when interacting with E-commerce businesses and suggesting ways chatbots can increase overall efficiency.
About the Author:
Ameya Deshpande is a Communications Assistant at Market Inspector, a B2B digital marketplace for comparing quotes and offers from a range of suppliers. His work mainly involves content writing and SEO. He graduated with honors from Copenhagen University with a degree in Economics.
See the original article on Market Inspector
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Josh Wardini from 16best.net.
The term ‘Social Commerce’ is a fairly new addition to our daily vocabulary. Unlike the word ‘selfie’ this one doesn’t really have a clear definition in the dictionary yet. However, it is universally accepted fact that it represents another subset of eCommerce, one that involves social media platforms. We’ve already seen how all the different social media sites have slowly been integrating into online marketplace, with their main goal being to get the shoppers to purchase things online using their platforms.
You may be wondering how they do all this. Well, in case you haven’t noticed, there have been ads by Amazon and eBay popping up all over Facebook feeds. The eCommerce giant eBay has also been offering on Twitter eBay discount codes. You can also shop directly via Pinterest and Instagram too. These two different types of platforms - Social Media and eCommerce - are pairing up nowadays. We shouldn’t be really surprised to see on a daily basis more and more influences on our social media coming from eCommerce.
Let’s start with Facebook and their feature Marketplace. According to Facebook, this is a great place where you can buy and sell things in your community. Following this feature, they introduced Messenger Payments, so you can do your shopping smoothly. Lately, we’ve seen the option to buy tickets for various events directly via Facebook, and you can now buy eBay daily deals here as well.
We can also see changes with smaller social media platforms. Before Twitter rolled out their ‘Buy Now’ button, they were increasing profits by alerting users about the latest sales that were happening as they were scrolling down Twitter feeds. Then, Tumblr started allowing their users to shop on their platform via ‘Buy’ button, while Pinterest did something similar by introducing buyable pins. Meanwhile, Shopify and Instagram decided to collaborate and thus Instagram created their shoppable feeds. So, any time you see something you like, on any social media platform, you can just click a button and it’s practically yours!
As for Amazon, one of the biggest eCommerce platforms, they decided to take the route of designing their own social media platform. The idea is obviously derived from Instagram and their feed system, but with the ability to directly make a purchase. They’ve named it Spark.
All of the aforementioned points show us that as soon as social media and eCommerce platforms decided to collaborate on a larger scale, both shoppers and buyers ended up with certain perks. However, the idea behind all this is to promote companies with the goal for further growth, which this is apparently the best way to accomplish this objective at the moment.
One of the perks includes being communicative with your audience via your social media profiles. Your buyers have plenty of questions they are eager to post, and all you have to do is listen and give answers.
Another great perk that you can provide to your audience as a brand is to introduce reviews of your products. You should always aim for great communication and customer service in order to really give your reviews a boost. This way, when people leave reviews of your products, they’ll only have nice things to say, which is going to make your audience even bigger and increase your conversion rate.
Whether you are someone with a brand or just a simple seller, one of your top priorities should be earning plenty of positive reviews of your products. In order to increase your conversion rate, positive reviews can boost it by 133% for mobile shoppers. And if you’d really like to show that you care both about your brand and your buyers, leaving a response to reviews and comments that you receive is also going to improve your brand’s perception in the public, by a whopping 71%.
If you choose to use Facebook, it is also going to translate into a higher conversion rate. This platform is shortly followed by YouTube and Instagram. If you are unsure about how to exactly build a strategy for your social media accounts, try to get some inspiration by looking around and researching the most popular brands and their profiles.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of both eCommerce and social media platforms. You just need the right strategy and mindset.
About the Author:
Josh Wardini, Editorial Contributor and Community Manager at 16best.net.
With a preliminary background in communication and expertise in community development, Josh works day-to-day to reshape the human resource management of digitally based companies. When his focus trails outside of community engagement, Josh enjoys the indulgences of writing amidst the nature conservations of Portland, Oregon.
In 2018, having a social media strategy to grow your brand is no longer an option. It is a must. With the plethora of social media channels and contents available today, finding the most effective route to differentiate your business and generate a strong presence may be a daunting task. Here are some ideas to help you get started!
1. Introduce yourself by following and engaging opinion leaders.
Meeting the gatekeepers is the most direct way to enter an industry, and social media is the most convenient way to connect with industry leaders who may otherwise seem unreachable through traditional means. Every industry has its recognized influencers with passionate and loyal followings. By connecting with the leaders, you’ll have an easier time building credibility among their audiences. Just opened a coffee shop? Introduce yourself to popular local cafes. Follow their profiles, interact with their posts, attend their events. Soon enough, you’ll be one of the insiders with a share of their connections.
2. Generate a constant stream of quality contents.
Blog posts, visual posts, videos, links… There are many different forms of contents you can create to attract visitors. The most important thing is whatever you post is what your audiences want to see. Do some research on who your customers are, their trends, interests and concerns, and create contents that meet their needs so they keep coming back for more. Once you created your posts and edited them with care, create a posting schedule to get them out to your readers timely and effectively. Use services like Buffer or Hootsuite to help you manage your social posting timeline.
3. Be human.
Social media consist of two words. Make sure you act the first. The best thing about social media is that it closes the distance between you and your customers. Optimize the customer experience by responding promptly to comments and inquiries. Show them your sincerity and kindness. Share your passion and your sense of humor through your posts. Don’t forget to follow and engage with your follower’s posts too.
4. Post call to action.
A lot of following don’t mean much if you don’t inspire them to act. Incentivize your visitors to like or share your posts to engage and expand your network. Run a small promotion or giveaway to circulate your products. Give your visitors a friendly nudge to make the purchase they are thinking of making anyways. Better yet, create Q&A sessions and contests to generate buzz and awareness. These are great opportunities for your followers to learn more about you and your business.
5. Be yourself.
If possible, don’t outsource your social media marketing. Make your own posts and interact with your customers on your own. Nobody understands and represents your brand better than you. Even if you’re not social media savvy, you can add an original twist that differentiates your business from your competitors by simply being yourself. People will always be responsive to enthusiasm, sincerity and passion.
How do you attract followers on social media? Please share in the comments below!
Is your company struggling to balance its marketing budget between acquisition and retention? According to Invesp, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one. This resonates with the 80/20 rule of marketing investment which states that, in general, 20 percent of marketing messages should produce 80 percent of campaign results. If we further expand this rule by applying it to the customer pyramid, we can conclude that a typical business earns approximately 80 percent of its profits from the top 20 percent of its customer base. On the customer pyramid, this 20 percent would be the platinum customers at the tip of the pyramid; just below are the gold customers who also contribute to profits and might eventually migrate to the platinum group; the next tier is the silver group which may or may not include profit-generating customers (this is your cost conscious group that seeks basic services at minimal costs); finally, at the base of the pyramid lies the unprofitable customers. These customers demand time, resources and services, but are unwilling to pay for them.
This visualization of customer groupings make it obvious that marketing resources should target efforts that move customers upwards to the platinum level and keep them there for as long as possible. An effective retention strategy emphasizes building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with the gold and platinum customers to secure the longevity of the business.
Despite monumental evidence supporting the need for retention oriented strategies, only 18 percent of companies focus on retention, whereas 44 percent of companies have greater focus on acquisition.
This gap provides opportunities for businesses to reevaluate their marketing strategy, and to place more emphasize on customer retention. Being able to accurately calculate your customer lifetime value (CLV) is an important step to assessing your budget allocation needs.
First, some definitions:
Annual Customer Attrition Rate – Rate at which customers cease their relationship with the company each year.
Annual Customer Retention Rate – Rate at which customers continue their relationship with the company each year.
Note: Attrition rate and retention rate are complements of each other. If a company has a 30% attrition rate, it will have a 70% retention rate.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – Prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – The cost of acquiring a new customer.
Cost of Attrition – Amount of revenue loss due to customer attrition.
Now, let’s dive into the math:
Annual Customer Attrition Rate = (Number of Customers that Leave Each Year) / (Total Number of Customers)
Annual Customer Retention Rate = (Total Number of Customers – Number of Customers that Leave Each Year) / (Total Number of Customers)
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) = 52 weeks x (Average customer weekly spend) x (Average customer lifespan)
If you want to customize the CLV calculation by incorporating seasonal traffic and coupons, you may expand on the average customer weekly spend value. In that case,
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) = 52 weeks(s x c x p) x (Average customer lifespan), where s is the average expenditure per visit, c is the average number of visits per week, and p is the average profit margin per customer.
Note: Depending on the nature of your business, you can use other increments such as 12 months or one year instead of 52 weeks. Just remember to adjust average customer spend accordingly as well.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) = (Total Marketing and Sales Budget Including Salaries) / (Number of Customers Acquired)
Cost of Attrition = (Single Customer Lifetime Value) x (Number of Annual Customers Lost)
Putting it Together
Suppose that you began the year with 100 clients. By the end of the year, 10 clients had cancelled their subscriptions. In this case, your annual customer attrition rate is (10/100) = 10%. Your annual customer retention rate is [(100-10)/100] = 90%. Notice that attrition rate and retention rate are complements.
Now let’s suppose that on average, each customer spends $2 per week on services, and the general customer lifespan for your industry is 10 years. In this case, the total CLV of 100 clients would be [52($2 x 100) x 10] = $104,000. However, since you lost 10 clients this years, the cost of customer attrition would be $104,000/100 x 10 = $10,400. As such, a single CLV is $1,040.
Here’s the fun part:
Let’s say your CAC is $20 per client. To replace the 10 clients lost, you would spend $20 x 10 = $200. That’s a great return on marketing investment, as $200 would bring you potentially $10,400. But what if you increased your retention rate by 1%? That’s just one additional client retained, decreasing attrition rate to 9%. Additionally, you may only need to spend $5 to retain that client. Thus, a retention program that cost as low as $50 to retain those 10 clients may help you obtain the same $10,400 in a shorter amount of time!
The choice is clear. Who wouldn’t want to spend less money and time to achieve the same results? Furthermore, effective retention strategies often focus on building solid customer relationships to increase long-term business potentials.
The next step is to determine the most effective platforms for your retention efforts. According to Invesp, the following are some of the most used channels for retention communications:
The prevailing wisdom is that the cost of acquiring a new customer is far above the cost of retaining an existing customer. Talk to a marketing specialist today to find out how to optimize your retention program for long-term sustainability.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Catherine Park from Backoffice Pro.
Digital marketing is always a hot topic in business, given the fact that the internet changes very quickly and new trends emerge every few months. Additionally, wide adoption of digital devices means digital marketing has never been better, and if done correctly, it can pay off multiple times. This is why everyone is online today and wants to promote products, services, or organizations on the web.
Accessing the data which allows accurate targeting is never that easy and the amount of information needed for creating a good digital marketing strategy has never been more available. With the right tools and approaches, everyone can create a strategy that will bring results according to the amount of money invested. To keep you updated, we made this blog post that explains what you need to be doing in 2018 to create an effective digital strategy in 2018 .
Big data rules
The use of big data and the overall data gathering is starting to grow at rapid speeds. Gathering, analyzing, and creating marketing strategies from valuable data are the new trends that has showed tremendous success. The amount of benefits practical data can give businesses is enormous.
Businesses can learn about customer behavior in the past, analyze the current market, and predict future outcomes. Based on these metrics, marketers can adjust the current service, learn where their strategy needs improving, and create new strategies that have a good chance of succeeding.
Although marketers don’t do this directly, they outsource data management services to be able to handle such a volume of information and make the most of it.
The number of mobile users is growing rapidly. There are a lot of people who solely browse the web via their phone. On the other hand, almost all of the computer users use their phones as well to get online. People are now more open to buying and browsing products or services online on their mobile phones.
This group of people also needs to be targeted. Given the fact that all ecommerce stores, payment tools and websites are optimized for mobile users, there is great potential for marketing with mobile users. All of your marketing efforts should be optimized to target mobile users as well.
Content is an old king
It is old and underrated by some people, but nobody can say that content marketing is not an effective marketing strategy. Content is still sitting on its throne and, although many predicted that this type of marketing will die, it is still an effective marketing technique. It has changed over the years, but it still has the potential to bring great results. The quality of the content must meet certain standards. For example, blog posts need to have at least 1500 words to have an effect. Additionally, today, you need to deliver engaging content that is truly interesting to readers and contains valuable information.
Catherine Park is a content marketer presently working with Back Office Pro, a Business process outsourcing company. A writer by day and a reader by night, she loves working in the ever-changing world of digital marketing and is fascinated by the role content plays in today's marketing. You can find her on Twitter here.
How to Optimize Your SMS Campaign
Despite all the excitements surrounding social media, apps, and blogs, there’s still a solid place for good old SMS text messages in your marketing strategy. It’s 98% open rate, straightforward format, and high conversion rates are just some of the reasons why SMS Marketing should be a standard for businesses . On the other hand, SMS messaging done wrong could easily turn off potential customers. To ensure that your SMS campaign continues to bring positive growth to your business, keep the following guidelines in mind and revise your strategies accordingly.
Be short and simple
Most carriers limit the length of a text to 160 characters. This means you must be straightforward and concise. A good message gets right to the point and offers easy instructions on what to do. Don’t annoy your customers with extended and trivial messages. For example, “20% off Valentine’s day special. CLICK HERE. Expires 2/15.” would be an excellent message to communicate all essential information to the subscriber. It’s efficient, easy to follow, and discloses any important limitation.
Be mindful of appearance
A lot of decisions are based on first impressions. As such, the appearance of your text is important. Make sure it’s pleasant and easy to read. URLs with tracking extensions are not pretty. You can solve this by using URL shorteners like Google’s Goo.gl or Bit.ly. These will shorten your URL and clean your overall layout. Simplifying your links not only make them look better, but also save space for more substantial words.
Segment your customers
Your messages are only as good as the sales they generate. Therefore, make sure you’re effectively targeting your customers. Use data from your marketing automation software and CRM to segment prospects into the appropriate contact lists based on their past interactions, purchases, interests and preferences. Personalize the experience so what you’re sending is relevant and interesting to the receiver.
Timing is key
We know that SMS messages have high open rates, and 70% of opens happen in the first 60 minutes . Therefore, you want your customers to read your message at the most opportune time. For example, when someone makes an order, send him or her a SMS message about a complementary product to sustain interest. If you’re an eatery, send location based SMS messages around lunch or dinner time with special offers.
Additionally, take advantage of triggered messages to increase sales and consumer insights. These messages are triggered due to certain consumer activity (such as a purchase) or inactivity. For instance, if you haven’t seen a customer in a while, a trigger message can remind him of your products and services, or ask him about his experiences to discover the cause for his inactivity.
It’s a privilege to be able to send an SMS to a customer. But you will lose this privilege if you bother them with frequent and pointless messages. The success of your SMS campaign rides on your ability to balance between its content, timing, and frequency. Good messages should be personal, informative, and valuable to the consumer. You want your messages to be anticipated and missed.
We’d love to help you polish your SMS campaign! Please leave us a message or a comment.
Mobile marketing is a powerful tool to help businesses unlock opportunities. It allows businesses to engage and communicate with larger audiences in a way that is real-time and personal. If you’re new to the digital marketing world, you may be feeling some pressure from competitors to stay on top of the game. Fortunately, we have just what you need to get started. Below are 6 tips to help you hop on the mobile marketing wagon!
1. Use a simple template that works for all devices.
This is the bare minimum. Customers should be able to navigate through your contents and communicate their inquiries with ease. Incorporate the appropriate multi platform sizing so your contents are displayed as intended for the platform on which it’s being viewed. Don’t lose out on potential leads and conversion opportunities due to lack of functionality.
2. Utilize location based strategy such as geo-targeted ads.
There are more consumers on-the-go looking for local businesses. You want to capture them while they’re at the ready-to-purchase point.
3. Include information about your location in all mobile marketing.
On-the-go mobile users usually search with a local intent. In other words, local and mobile are strong catalysts for each other. Consistency is the key here. Location information such as address, neighborhood, area code, maps, or anything else that communicates your location needs to be consistently displayed across ALL mobile marketing channels.
4. Incorporate focused campaigns.
With so many competitors out there, sometimes the customer needs a little push, such as with mobile coupons or limited time offers when a search result pulls up. This helps to motivate purchase when the customer is deciding where or whether to buy.
5. Don’t miss out on calls to actions.
Typically, mobile on-the-go consumers are action-oriented. You want to equip them with the necessary tools to follow through with their purchasing decisions on-the-spot. Implement action functions such as click-to-call, online reservations, request for more info, or purchase. Make sure these buttons are easily accessible.
6. Don’t forget to include Millennials and Gen X consumers.
With aging boomers, you want to target younger consumers to build long-term brand awareness and customer relationships. More importantly, mobile marketing will reach younger consumers much more often than older consumers. Keep this in mind even if your products and services are intended for older audiences. It’s only a matter of time.
This simple list of items will go a long way in enhancing the effectiveness of your mobile marketing strategy. Just remember to regularly monitor your marketing results and change your approach accordingly.
If you are ready to create your mobile marketing plan, please leave us a message and let ERC elevate your marketing game!
How Should Independent C-Stores Respond to the Competition of National Retail Giants
As we enter the fourth quarter, it’s time for convenience stores to think about their 2018 marketing plan. With near 155,000 convenience stores in the U.S., competition is certainly fierce. To make the matter worse, large retailers and grocery stores—Walmart, Starbucks and Hy-Vee to name a few—are also trying to take a bite off the pie by expanding their grab-n-go, hot foods, delivery, and drive-thru services. Their goal? To capitalize on the convenience factor. It is no secret that the strength of C-Stores lies in its convenient location, extended hours of operation, large variety of merchandises, and speedy services. However, as large retailers close the gap on those fronts—exemplified by the launch of the revolutionary Amazon Go—how can C-stores differentiate themselves and retain customer loyalty?
Below is a list of actionable items to help C-stores show the value of innovation and all that a C-store has to offer.
1. Go Mobile
In this day and age, going mobile is no longer an option. It’s a must. Whether through SMS messaging or mobile apps, C-store competitors are delivering products and services to the customers with a touch of a button. C-stores need to make it easy for their customers to reach them and connect with them. More importantly, they want to be there with an offer while customers are browsing. Mobile marketing communicates the business' messages to its audiences in a way that is real time and personal, so the business can effectively capture customer attention and bring them through the door.
2. Focus on Food-Service
A weakness of the C-store is that it is largely restricted by its location’s population density and traffic flow. To combat that, it needs to break through the location barrier and make the store a destination. It should to do so through food. Why? Because the average gross margin on merchandise is only 27%, while the average gross margin on food-service is 43.7%. Yet, food-service sales only encompass 15% of total in-store revenue. Check out this article on the profitability of food service. But don’t start loading up on the Twinkies. The key is to embrace a better balance between health and indulgence to help meet the evolving demand for nutritional products without alienating core consumers.
3. Amplify the Convenience Factor
This includes creative payment functions that maximize convenience. For example, apps such as Pilot Flying J and Speedpass+ allow drivers to choose a fuel lane based on wait time estimates and make payments through an app or other touchless solutions such as MasterCard. C-stores should also explore delivery service options through yelp or their local delivery services to expand its customer reach.
4. Look Smaller to Grow Bigger
In other words, localize. Leverage the ability of smaller independent shops to remain flexible and cater to the needs of the local customers, whether it’s later hours or special accommodations, products, and deals. Build the store's community presence through participation in community events or involvement with notable nonprofits in its area. Take advantage of location based social platforms such as Yelp to increase its word of mouth effect. Lastly, use social media to differentiate the store from its competitors by adding an original twist or personality to its profile. People will always be responsive to enthusiasm, sincerity and passion.
As C-stores continue to experience competitive pressures from large retailer moving into the convenience space, they must pivot quickly and strategically to establish their points of differentiation. Talk to a marketing specialist today to discover how to leverage your unique pivotal points to continue thriving in convenience retail.
Qinghua Lao & ERC team