What We Can Learn From Writing Holiday Wish Lists

25 11 2014

As the holiday season approaches, children across the country will sit down with paper and crayon in hand to spell out exactly what they hope to get during the upcoming festivities. This year, Frozen-themed toys are likely to top many lists, as are the latest video games, some popular action figures, and other toys that have been flying off the shelves. Many children will compare notes with their friends at school to get ideas about what to ask for and to see what’s already on other people’s lists.

This sharing of ideas is an example of the psychological phenomenon known as ‘the bandwagon effect.’ From the activity of writing a Christmas list itself, to the toys that appear on it, children are influenced by what their peers are doing. This principle impacts all of us, no matter how old we are or what the subject matter is. Regardless of how independent we’d like to think we are, the truth is we’re all heavily influenced by what our peers are doing.

According to the bandwagon effect, we’re all more likely to do something, buy something, or use something if others are doing it. We all desire to be part of a larger group, which leads us to follow others to the latest trends and fads. People become more willing to try new products or services when they find that others are trying those products and are happy with the results.

For marketing, this can be valuable because it means your products and services can grow organically. Learning how to capitalize on this effect will give you the tools you need to make your products seem appealing to the crowd, which will enhance the bandwagon effect and your potential for word-of-mouth advertising.

How to use the bandwagon effect to your advantage

The bandwagon effect is all about convincing people that using your products and services will make them part of an established group of satisfied customers. There are several ways you can leverage this type of advertising.

  • Use customer reviews prominently on your website to show your page visitors that others have been pleased with your products.
  • Use images of satisfied customers on your website.
  • Encourage followers on social media to post pictures and stories of themselves using your products and services and the successes they have had.

You can also use the bandwagon effect to create feelings of belonging among your users. Start by creating spaces for your customers to speak to each other and compare their use of your products and services. Customers can discuss how to grow their own businesses while taking advantage of what your company has to offer. This will encourage people to feel as though they’re part of a special group, encouraging more feelings of loyalty. Facebook groups, user forums, and even just the comment threads on your company blog are good places to begin these conversations.

Helping your customers feel as though using your products and services introduces them to a special group can improve brand loyalty and encourage people to continue to use your products. Just like children designing their holiday wish lists, customers enjoy comparing notes with their friends and feeling as though they belong to a particular group. Use the above tips to encourage these types of emotions in your customers, and you should see growth in your brand.

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How Much Personality Should You Add to Your Company Blog?

21 11 2014

Many businesses struggle with the value of adding personality to their professional blogs. You might have heard that customers like to get to know the people behind the company brand to help build those crucial relationships, but you’ve also heard that blogs are supposed to be centered around building value for your customers. How are you supposed to reconcile these two seemingly opposing ideas?

Balancing your blog

Your blog should really be doing both. The key is learning to balance the blog. The primary focus of your blog should always be providing value to your visitors. These are the posts that are most likely to bring new visitors to your site, answer their questions, and convince them that you’re an authority worth their attention. In general, you want about 75 percent of your blog posts to fall into this category.

There are some visitors, however, who read your blog because they’ve gotten to know your company. They already know they can trust your judgment, so they turn to you for regular industry updates or when they’re looking for information. These are the visitors who will likely be most interested in learning more about your company on a personal level. Since you want to develop content for your visitors on every stage of their journey, you also need to develop some content for this type of reader. Set aside about 15 to 20 percent of your content as more self promotional. These posts can include case studies, product information, and ideas about how to maximize your company’s products and services. Then reserve about 5 percent to 10 percent of your posts for more personal information.

What to include in your personal posts

Your personal posts can include a variety of different types of information that will give your potential customers insight into your company and the people who work there. Here are some ideas about the kinds of things to include in this section:

  • posts about company gatherings (such as your holiday party), including some pictures of the celebration
  • employee spotlights, where you highlight the employee of the month and give a fun interview that helps the reader relate to this person on an individual level
  • announcements about new hires
  • video walk-through tours of your offices and production facilities, so visitors can see ‘where the magic happens’

Including occasional posts like these on your company blog will help customers place a face with the name. When they receive an email from your company or a response to an inquiry, they’ll no longer be dealing with an anonymous person, but an individual they feel as though they know.

The hidden benefit of personal blog posts

As an added bonus, speaking about your employees and highlighting their accomplishments can help make your workers feel more appreciated. They’ll feel as though their work is noticed and valued by everyone at the organization. This helps create a happier workplace and can help reduce employee turnover. When your employees are happy, they project that happiness to your customers, which helps improve customer satisfaction.

Personal blog posts can be a fantastic asset for your organization. They can help build customer relationships and make your employees happy. Using them wisely can help grow your company and improve your marketing. If you’re ready to begin a new marketing campaign, let us know! We’ll be happy to help you get started.





How to Fix Your Call To Action

18 11 2014

Your call to action, or CTA, is easily one of the most important parts of your website. It’s where you find new leads and convince your audience you offer something worth exploring. Whether your CTA invites people to sign up for a newsletter or download your latest ebook, all CTAs are not created the same. Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when developing this critical part of the website.

The words

The words on your CTA are critical. Most people will be skimming it, so it’s important to make your offer’s potential value obvious to everyone who sees it. Use precise, clear language that explains what customers are going to receive. Bullet points are fantastic because they’re particularly easy to skim and tell the audience exactly what they’re going to receive.

The words you use in your CTA should also line up with the text around it. For example, if you offer home cleaning services and are offering a free download on the safest cleaners to use around children, your CTA will probably best fit at the end of blog posts and articles that discuss the dangers of certain cleaners or how to safely secure cleaners away from children. Try to create a tangible link between the content and the CTA. This will help ensure your offer reaches those who are most likely to be interested in what you have to say.

The appearance

While what you say is certainly important, so is the overall appearance of your CTA. Choose contrasting colors to help the CTA pop from the page and attract viewers’ attention. A CTA that just blends in at the bottom of a blog post will be overlooked and have a poor conversion rate. Similarly, make sure the CTA is big and bold, so no one can miss it. Don’t hide the CTA in the corner, using the same font size as the rest of the page. It will be too easy to ignore.

In the same way, use images and other visuals to help consumers get a concrete look at what they’ll be receiving. If that’s an ebook, for example, use a picture of an actual book with the title of your ebook printed on the front. Using images helps people develop a strong association with the product you’re offering and makes it look more appealing.

The importance of testing

When planning your campaign, develop more than one CTA, then test them to see which one resonates more with customers. You might be surprised how much difference a particular word choice or color can make on your conversion rates. Run basic A/B tests on the CTA, and get concrete answers about which offer is getting more conversions.

An A/B test is simple. Say you have one CTA and then develop an alternate page. The A/B test will randomly show some visitors the original and some the alternate page. It will then track how many people convert from each page. You can use this information to see which has a higher conversion rate, so you get the best page on your site.

Developing an efficient CTA will bring you leads and potential customers. Take the time to follow the steps above, and create a CTA that will maximize your potential.





Finding Your Crowd… On Social Media

14 11 2014

Imagine you just moved to a new area. It’s a small city with a bustling population. The local college attracts many young adults to the city, especially on the weekends, while local businesses ensure the professional crowd is also well represented.

Being new to the area, you want to find a place to go for dinner where you can meet some locals and start to get to know your new neighbors. Friday afternoon, you head into the first restaurant. It’s bustling with activity and has great music, but at a volume so loud you can barely hear yourself think. You look around and realize that the crowd is mostly college kids. Surely, some of them are great people, but this isn’t really the crowd you’re looking to get to know. You might make a connection or two, but it will likely be significantly harder to form meaningful relationships.

So, you head out to the second restaurant. As you walk in, hardly anyone looks up. Most people seem to already be finishing their dinner, and the average age in the place seems to be older than your father. Sure, there are probably some fantastic people here, too, but again, this really isn’t the crowd you’re looking for.

You try the next place. You see some people in your age range, but it seems to be a much more family-oriented scene. Most people in the restaurant have young children seated with them. While you love your nieces and nephews, you don’t have children yourself yet, so you wonder how well you’d fit in. You decide to wander on.

Finally, you head into the fourth place. You look around and breathe a sigh of relief. This establishment is filled with other professionals in your age range. This will be a great place for you to start to meet people in your new town and hopefully form some meaningful connections that can help you both socially and professionally.

So what does all of this have to do with marketing your company?

As the restaurants in our story demonstrate, different places tend to cater to different crowds. They aren’t all interchangeable. The same is true of social media. If you want to increase your odds of connecting with your audience, you have to know what types of social media they like and where they will be found. To accomplish this, you need to know the following:

A precise definition of your audience

Before planning a social strategy, you need to know who you’re trying to reach. This isn’t just a general idea of “people who need XYZ.” Instead, you need a more precise profile, including age, education, position, challenges, responsibilities, and what your prospects are looking for.

Who uses each social media platform

B2B companies tend to put a considerable amount of effort into LinkedIn, because this is the platform for networking professionals and those who are thinking about business. Facebook is dominated by people in a variety of age ranges looking to joke around and chat with friends. Twitter is a continuous conversation. Google+ has the biggest asset for local businesses looking to boost their SEO and odds of being found by local patrons.

Take these two sources of information and combine them to make a social media marketing plan that will help grow your company in ways you never thought possible. When you’re ready to begin a new marketing campaign, contact us. We’re here to help you get started and find success.





Just What the Teacher Ordered: The Business-Building Benefit Marketing Reports Provide

11 11 2014

By the time most of us graduated from high school, we were well acquainted with researching, writing, and editing reports. College often meant more of the same.

While few would list report writing as a “highlight” of their academic career, those hours spent compiling reports were not spent in vain. Sure, report writing helped many of us learn how to plan out a project and conduct research, but they also taught us a bit about the topics we were researching, too. By forcing us to look in depth at the various subjects we were studying and analyze them from a number of different angles, we gained a far better comprehension of the subject matter than we might have if we had just read the textbook.

It’s important to remember those benefits, especially when it comes to marketing your company.

How marketing reports are like your old school reports

Like their high school and college counterparts, marketing reports can also feel frustrating. People often view such assignments as time wasters that are only done because they’re demanded by the c-level executives upstairs. In reality, however, marketing reports can offer considerable insight and help everyone better understand the company’s marketing strategies and how they can be improved.

When you sit down and really invest the time needed to complete a thorough marketing report, you’ll walk away with a much better understanding of your company’s current marketing practices, how well each campaign is performing, and how it all relates to your company’s bottom line. Without a well-researched report, it can be easy to gloss over weak spots and overlook opportunities for continued growth.

What a marketing report should exam

There are an infinite number of metrics a marketing report can examine, but some have more appeal and a greater ability to shed light on the success of your marketing strategy. Here are a couple to consider.

How much does it cost the company, on average, to obtain each new customer?

Take a look at your total cost in sales and marketing over a given period of time. Then see how many customers you obtained in that same period. Divide the cost by the number of customers, and you’ll have your average cost of obtaining a single customer.

Determine what percentage of that cost is related directly to marketing, so you can see which campaigns worked and which ones didn’t. Such insights can prove valuable in helping the marketing team improve their regular performance and illustrate the success of any changes made.

How many leads were generated directly from marketing?

Your marketing team should also be able to report how many successful leads were generated specifically from marketing efforts. Begin by calculating the percentage of customers who began as marketing leads. Then look at how many leads started elsewhere (e.g., in sales), but were influenced by the marketing department before making a purchase.

For added benefit, try to break down specifically where these marketing leads are coming from. Are prospects downloading certain ebooks? Do they subscribe to your blog? Did they take an online webinar?

Marketing reports offer valuable information about the state of your company’s marketing programs and what can be improved. Although they might be viewed with the same frustration as the school reports of your youth, they can also offer incredible insight and education. So don’t overlook the opportunity reports provide to regularly analyze the success of your marketing efforts.





Designing a Landing Page that Converts Customers

7 11 2014

Landing pages are a fantastic way to convert leads into customers. A potential customer sees something that interests them. They click your call to action link or scan a QR code on an advertisement and end up on a page specifically designed to convert them. So how do you maximize the potential of your landing page?

Make the value immediately relevant

Landing pages are typically created to entice potential customers who have seen something of interest. When people arrive at the landing page, you want to capture their attention by showing them immediately the value you have to offer. Use a short paragraph or a bulleted list to outline exactly what the customer can hope to receive from you.

To make the value even more obvious, include positive customer reviews regarding the product or information you’re offering. A line or two of customer recommendations at the bottom of the page will help boost sales, as prospects will feel encouraged to join the group of already satisfied customers.

Provide enough value that people won’t mind filling out a form or request

The landing page is a page of give and take. People arrive looking for the value they were promised. In return, you ask for information you can use to improve your marketing to them and others like them. The trick is asking for information that’s comparable to the value they’re looking to receive.

If your offer is a two-page PDF with tips for caring for a washing machine, you won’t receive many conversions if you ask people to fill out a 20-line form to receive it. The form is kind of like the payment you’re asking customers to make, so you need to make sure you price what you’re offering accordingly.

Have a layout that encourages people to convert

Never underestimate the importance of a good layout to encourage conversions. Pictures are a fantastic resource for helping customers connect with your product or service. Include a basic picture that helps customers connect with your offer. For example, you might include a stock image of a book, with the title of your ebook on the front. This will help customers resonate with your tangible offer.

Your layout should also be oriented entirely toward encouraging customers to convert. Remove your navigation links along the top of the page to encourage people to stay on the page and move forward. Include social share buttons along the bottom of your page to make it easy for customers to let their friends and social circles know about the amazing deal you have to offer. One of the best types of advertising is word of mouth. People inherently trust what they hear from people they know more than what they read from a company’s advertising.

Building a landing page that’s been optimized is a fantastic way to encourage page visitors to convert into customers. Keep in mind, though, that a landing page isn’t build like other web pages. Use the tips above, and build a landing page that will maximize your conversions.





3 Marketing Lessons Netflix Has Taught Us

4 11 2014

Over the past few years, Netflix has revolutionized how people think about television and movies. As people have become increasingly disenchanted with cable options and the price of TV, Netflix has risen to become a major entertainment provider. Recently, the service has even begun producing movies and shows of its own. Whether you subscribe to Netflix yourself or know someone who does, here are some valuable Netflix-inspired lessons to consider for your company.

Research, research, research

We know it’s important to research our potential audience and customers, but Netflix has taken that research to a whole new level. Just consider the research that came with the company’s production of its own original shows. Netflix researched everything from viewing habits to actor popularity to the types of shows and movies people like in order to create the perfect recipe for success.

Conversely, Netflix has also shown us the importance of research with its hiccup a few years ago when it split the charges for its streaming and DVD options. While the company did manage to bounce back, people were very upset with the price hike and were so outraged at the company’s attempt to rename part of its brand that Netflix had to drop the idea. Knowing where your customers’ sensitivities lie can help you avoid such a debacle. A company that was not as popular as Netflix might have struggled to weather the storm.

Solve people’s problems they didn’t even know they have

Netflix has become popular precisely because the company has mastered this skill. Before Netflix came on the scene, people didn’t really have much of a choice besides cable. Netflix came and offered people a solution for watching movies and TV shows. The company was also able to predict customer trends and started producing and advertising a streaming service before people even realized there might be something better than waiting two days for DVDs to arrive in the mail. Netflix stayed one step ahead of its customers, which gave the company a strong reputation as a superior provider.

Encourage word-of-mouth advertising

Word-of-mouth advertising is some of the most valuable in any industry. When people receive a recommendation from someone they trust, such as a friend or a family member, they automatically give the advertisement more credence. Encouraging people to tell their friends and family, and making it easy for them to do so, has been fantastic advertising for Netflix. Just about everyone has seen those little ‘1 month free for friends and family’ cards Netflix gives out to subscribers. These cards make it simple and productive for current subscribers to encourage signups among their social circles. Once these new signups experience the convenience of Netflix firsthand, they’re more likely to stay with the company long-term.

Netflix has built success by anticipating customer needs, understanding what drives customer demand, and capitalizing on industry opportunity. As you settle into your chair tonight for a marathon of your favorite show, keep these marketing techniques in mind and see what lessons you can apply to your own business. If you’re ready to begin a new marketing campaign, contact us today for assistance.