Potential customers put extreme weight on the opinions of others when making purchasing decisions. More often than not, buyers will value a highly praising testimonial over the wording and aesthetics on your website. Just last year, 92 percent of buyers sited that they sought out and read customer testimonials before making a purchase.
Customer reviews and testimonials can act as an invaluable marketing tool will lend a level of credibility to your brand that may not otherwise be achieved through traditional marketing methods. To see firsthand how much of an effect that customer feedback and word-of-mouth plays in a customers decision to purchase a product or service, there are specific techniques that you use to gather the highest quality testimonials.
For SaaS and service-based companies, it can be easy to identify heavy users of your product by looking at your backend statistics or even having a chat with your customer service team to power users and customers who frequently ask questions. If they have a great customer service experience every time, then they likely won’t be hesitant to write or give a testimonial. Sending out quarterly customer service surveys is a great place to identify happy customers that would be willing to dive even further into why they’re satisfied with the product.
WordPress Hosting Platform Pagely, regularly turns customer success stories into comprehensive Case Studies. This method generates exposure for the client as well as the company and does a deep dive into the reasons the partnership was so productive. Case studies are an excellent way to highlight customer pain points and allow the customer themselves to explain how the company was able to identify and solve their most pressing issues.
Case studies can be a timeless resource on your website and a major selling point when working with customers in similar industries in niches.
A customer’s experience holds a lot of weight and selling power for new clients. Hearing a customer describe their experience firsthand can compel buyers even further and expose them to your brand from the perspective of the customer.
Some companies hold thought-leadership webinars where they invite past clients to present their experiences during a live stream or public webinar. Whereas some webinars are framed in a way that’s intended to make a hard sell, these webinars are designed to provide value and information on a current topic or product. The client and the company’s name is associated with the webinar, and the customer uses their time to explain their own mission, and how working with the company helped them achieve their goals.
Offering incentives in exchange for reviews can be a beneficial strategy when handled appropriately. Dropbox is an excellent example of a company with a unique system for which they collect customer testimonials by offering additional storage and other incentives for customers who write a review on their website. This creates a mutually beneficial situation and can help to collect a high volume of reviews for a brand. However, it’s important to approach this method with caution and treat all reviews, positive or negative, with the same incentive to remain transparent and maintain the legitimacy of your reviews.
It should come as no surprise that a majority of your users use social media. Make sure you’re tracking your company’s handles and associated hashtags and reposting or screenshotting them to feature on your website or otherwise. It’s wise to reach out to customers who post about your brand on social media and ask if you can use their words and likeness on your website or another medium before doing so, just to be sure it’s okay with them. Social media can be a great tool to gather organic testimonials with very little effort.
When closing out a project, many companies will schedule a call to tie up any loose ends and evaluate the success of the project. Use this opportunity to ask the client about their experience and how it has helped them achieve their intended goals. Organic testimonials such as these hold huge weight and can later be used to write entire case studies. The meeting can also be used as an opportunity to ask if the client would be interested in writing a guest blog or hosting a webinar. Or if the call is via video, ask if they would be willing to do a recorded testimonial right there on the call.
Positive testimonials can play a huge role in shaping a business’s marketing strategy. Potential buyers place massive weight on the opinions of others before making a purchasing decision. Nurturing customer relationships and gathering positive feedback has the potential to drive sales and brand growth.
An online store is not difficult to come by these days, but as many business owners quickly realize, successful e-commerce businesses take time and attention to maintain. Running an effective online store means more than having a good-looking website and good product. The success of an online store depends on a variety of factors including the product niche, brand visibility and even more importantly, how the store ranks in search engines.
As a business owner, your mission is to bring your business to life by attracting customers who care about your brand and value your products.
In recent years, there’s been a heavy emphasis on brands to get their marketing efforts inline with search engine optimization best practices. According to recent SEO data, nearly 96 percent of clicks on a Google search go to the first four items listed under a search. There are specific techniques you can implement to give your online store the best chance of achieving high search rankings.
An optimized online store can generate significant returns and help your brand and products rank higher in search engines and receive more traffic to your site. There’s a lot of information out there about ways to make your site more searchable and achieve higher rankings. I’ve narrowed it down to 9 ways to ensure your online store is not only SEO-ready but in the best position to make conversions and drive sales.
These steps may seem like basic information when it comes to optimizing your store, but if you’re not seeing the numbers you’re aiming for, it might be time to take a step back and audit your current strategy to assess which areas can use improvement to get your traffic and sales up.
Do not take for granted the importance of an easily searchable domain name. If the brand is not well known, creating a domain name related to the product you are selling can make or break your store’s searchability. Clever names don’t always perform well on search engines, so be concise and clear with your name to give your brand the best chance of being found by search engines. If you’re passionate about your store’s name and have decided it’s essential to your brand, be sure that the rest of your store is properly optimized with the necessary keywords and topics that will lead people to your store.
If you do not see the results you want with your current store, it might be time to reassess the tools you are using to host the site. Take a comprehensive look at the platform you’re utilizing for your store and weigh it against other options in the market. There are dozens of tools catered to meet industry and niche-specific needs when it comes to your online store. Compare your current platform with other top e-commerce platforms to see if there is another option that may be a better fit for your product.
It can be easy to overlook metadata when your store has dozens of products, but including appropriate tags and detailed meta descriptions can make a world of difference in the searchability of your site. Most platforms will allow you to customize the URL on every individual page. Use this opportunity to create a descriptive, custom URL for each product.
Having thorough meta-descriptions that accurately depict your products and include necessary keywords can make or break the searchability of your store.
Don’t rely on graphics and imagery to do the bulk of the work describing a product. Writing short and compelling product descriptions helps search engines identify your product more quickly and paint a picture of your product to visitors. Avoid stuffing the description with keywords and make sure it sounds human and relatable to your target audience.
When writing a product description, focus on the ideal buyer. It helps to have a buyer persona already established. Putting a name, face and personality traits to your ideal buyer will help you better visualize who your ideal client is and make it that much easier to write a description that will resonate with them.
Use descriptors and offer solutions to common pain points that they can relate to their lives. Making sure the descriptions answer common questions will make them sound conversational and further engage your audience.
Search engine rankings are important, but can only get the customer to the site, not guarantee a sale. A lot of online retailers are unsure why their customers abandon their shopping parts without completing a purchase.
Understanding behaviors and buying patterns of shoppers can help them understand why visitors aren’t converting into paying customers. Creating a fully-optimized online store often requires running various tests and reports to identify gaps and implement changes to your sales process.
If you’re not already, begin tracking analytics on your site and creating consistent reports of the patterns users are taking on your website. Take note of where they click, how long they spend on each page, and at what point in the buying process they are jumping ship without completing the purchase.
In a recent survey of marketers, 72 percent said relevant content creation is the most successful strategy when implementing SEO strategy. Writing blog content or working with contributors to create content about your product will make your store more searchable and generate a level of credibility for your brand.
When creating organic content for your site, make sure to use important keywords and meta descriptions and optimize your titles and backlinks to ensure prime searchability.
Apps like On Page SEO Checker can help you quickly measure your store’s searchability and monitor growth and traffic. Use this information to identify shortcomings as well as what content is working to drive traffic to your site.
There are also a number of tools that will allow you to effortlessly check the effectiveness of your metadata, image tags and site speed to identify if any of those factors are contributing to gaps in sales.
An accurate and up to date sitemap will do most of the heavy lifting and explicitly outline to the search engine which pages it should pay attention to. Remember that Google ranks individual pages not just your site as a whole. While you won’t be penalized for NOT having a sitemap, for SEO purposes, sitemaps are essential at maximizing your rankings and increasing exposure to your site.
To make this process even more streamlined, most search engines, including Google, make it easy to submit your sitemap to the search engine directly.
Positive customer reviews can increase conversion rates by up to 4.6% and add another level of metadata and searchability to your side. A customer’s personal experience with your brand can create a level of trust that has a lot of selling power to compel unsure customers to make the purchase.
Potential users place a lot of value on the opinions of other users and customers before making a purchasing decision. A good testimonial can impact their decision more than the wording and aesthetics on your website. Last year, 92 percent of customers sited that they searched for customer reviews on a product before making their final purchase.
As of last year, mobile devices were the tool of choice for people accessing the internet both in their homes and on the go. Even if you’re doing everything right in optimizing your website, your search engine optimization efforts won’t be as meaningful in creating conversions if the site’s mobile interface creates a stressful shopping experience. Google has even made it known that their algorithm gives higher rank and priority to mobile-friendly websites.
Luckily, the prevalance of responsive websites and the ability to adapt your site for mobile is easier now than it ever has been, and doesn’t require much additional work for you as a business owner.
It’s common for online merchants to overlook the importance of SEO in their online stores when selling a high quantity of products. When done correctly, taking these steps to optimize your stores can produce exponential changes traffic and conversions. While it is a more involved process to make stores SEO optimized than it is for standard websites, the payoff makes the effort worth the time.
Remote work makes sense. If you’ve Googled the term lately, then you’ve seen the articles and the data backing up this statement. As someone who went from spending years sitting behind a desk dreaming of the outside world to living it and being happier and more productive than ever before, the benefits are glaringly obvious if you break it down.
In 2007 Occupational Outlook Quarterly reported that only 9 percent of the workforce was working remotely. Fast forward a decade at that number has skyrocketed. Today, nearly 43% of American workers report working remotely part of the time, and that number continues to grow year after year on a global scale.
Often described as an employee benefit, remote work is much more mutually beneficial for the employees and the companies who hire them than people realize. And while many still consider it an employee perk, large remote teams are reaping the benefits and aiming to educate other companies about their success building their remote teams.
Remote workers often have to deal with logistics and technicalities that would typically be taken care of by administrators or other employees when in an office. These minor distractions can eat away a lot of time, but also teach workers valuable lessons in time management and put out fires quickly.
According to a 2017 survey of remote workers by DeskMag, 13% of remote workers consider themselves digital nomads, and 45% of freelancers and remote workers in coworking spaces spend one or more weeks per year traveling abroad.
Not all remote workers travel, but the growing popularity of the digital nomad movement offers what many consider to be the ideal balance of work and play through travel. Travelers are willing to test their limits and push themselves to do things outside of their comfort zones.
And while working and traveling at the same time may seem like the dream life, it’s not for the faint of heart. Aside from requiring a tremendous amount of self-discipline, it forces you to have the courage to put yourself in unfamiliar settings and locations while trying to maintain a steady and productive work style. Needless to say, this lifestyle can present its own set of challenges not commonly faced by traditional office employees.
Remote workers have more confidence and independence which comes from overcoming adversity, having to make on the fly decisions and take action without management peeking over your shoulder. It creates an increased awareness of how to make difficult choices and determine priorities.
In a few weeks, CEO’s and founders of entirely remote companies will gather in the Balinese jungle to talk about the future of work. The Running Remoteconference will be the first of it’s kind, attracting global leaders who have successfully built and scaled remote teams and want to spread their message and passion for the remote work movement.
Bali has recently made a name for itself as a digital nomad hotspot, making it the perfect location to host such an event. The event has already attracted global audiences of entrepreneurs who are serious about building and scaling online teams. Leadership from online giants like Buffer, Github, FlexJobs, Todoist are all on board to share their stories and insight on how to grow and manage remote teams on a large scale.
This event will likely inspire other similar events in the future as more companies across all industries begin to recognize the enormous value of going remote. Building a remote team comes with its own learning curve, and as more companies jump on board, the prevalence of events to share advice and ideas on communication, building an employee culture and maintaining productivity among remote workers will prove to be exceptionally valuable to teams starting the journey.
The internet is littered with statistics about employee retention rates, cost savings, and overall employee satisfaction when working remotely.
Overhead and business costs aside, the real value and savings lie in improved employee happiness and retention. Midsize companies around 150 people who experience a 10% turnover rate or higher are spending up to $1.57 million per year on training and onboarding costs for new employees.
Focusing on employee happiness drives growth across all areas. Happy workers will invest more time and energy into the company’s goals and mission and are less likely to spend time looking for a new job or daydreaming about what their life could be if they weren’t trapped behind their desks.
Data from Global Workplace Analytics even reveal that 24% of remote workers can accomplish more in an allotted amount of time than traditional office employees.
Without having to deal with the distractions of time-wasting office procedures, impromptu meetings, and procedural minutia, it gives them time to focus on the meaningful work that leads to ultimate productivity and sense of accomplishment. While remote workers have to deal with their own set of distractions that come from working at home, cafes or coworking spaces, there is a level of accountability that encourages them to form their own productivity techniques.
In the digital age, and with the number of resources at our disposal, technology has made it easier than ever for teams to connect, collaborate and create amazing things without needing to be in the same room, let alone the same country. Traditional offices are limiting themselves to not only the creativity sparked by flexibility and location independence but are also hindering their access to a global pool of talented workers.
At the core, the main resistance companies have when it comes to implementing remote work initiatives comes down to fear of change and the unknown.
View the original post on Medium.
It’s time you did a content marketing audit.
The word “audit” makes it sound scary. What’s even more frightening is what you might find.
In the past year, have you asked yourself the following questions and been stumped to find an answer?
Am I posting the right kinds of content? Am I using the right tools? Am I on the right platforms and channels? What are my competitors posting?Am I posting frequently enough?
I won’t sugar coat it. Conducting a content audit on your website is a time-consuming and involved process, but when done correctly, but will provide tons of value and insight into the types of content you should be creating and how to effectively market that content to meet your goals.
Consider this is your step-by-step guide to conducting a content marketing audit. Download the full guide here.
1) Identify your marketing goals
Determining your overall business goals will tell you how to align the content you create to benefit your overall bottom line. Do you want to increase traffic to your site? Are your goals sales-oriented? Are you interested in gaining more media placements?
Each of these things requires different deliverables and strategies, and once you determine what your overall marketing goals are, it will be much easier to identify gaps in your marketing strategy.
2) Compile content and analytics
For this content audit, we’ll focus on all of the data you’ve published to your website and pushed out to your audience over a significant period (it works best with at least six months worth of content). If you haven’t been tracking and saving your website analytics, begin doing that immediately.
For a list of marketing analytics tools to help track and compile this information, download the complete content marketing audit guide.
Using the goal you set in step 1, determine what types of content are going to contribute to your goal directly. They can include anything from blog posts to graphics to downloadable content. Anything you put out on your site with the purpose of achieving your goal is fair game.
If this is your first content audit, I recommend starting small(er) and only auditing one channel at a time. For example, begin by reviewing your blog posts from the last six months rather than every piece of content you’ve put out across various channels. Attempting to tackle all posts on your website and social channels can get overwhelming and dilute your results if you don’t pay close attention.
3) Analyze the data
So you compiled the data you want to audit. Now what? Here’s where most people get overwhelmed. Again, what you choose to look at should correlate directly to overall marketing goals. If your goal is to increase leads through website conversions, you may want to take a close look at your downloadable content. If you want to improve SEO and traffic, then focus your attention on how blog posts and articles are performing.
You can look at this content in different ways.
Identify your highest performing content. How you define “highest performing” should relate directly back to your goal from step 1. If your goal is to increase conversions from subscribers, then identify which content generated more email subscribers. It’s easy to look at things like clicks, engagement rates, and likes and think that those make a piece “high performing.” Subsequently, if you do identify content that got tons of engagement, but didn’t contribute to your bottom line, that is still valuable information because you’re learning what your audience likes.
You need to look at this data holistically and find trends. If you’re stuck, ask yourself these questions.
Does your audience gravitate towards posts regarding a particular niche? Do photos and stories about people in your organization generate more attention? Do you get more website traffic when posting high-resolution images rather than long-form copy? What day(s) of the week did I push it out? What time of day? What platforms did I use to promote it? (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) Which platform generated the most engagement around the content?
4) Create an action plan
You’ve identified the types of content you created. You’ve identified how different types of content performs. Now it’s time to get to work and think of ways to capitalize on the information you’ve found to make sure it is directly contributing to your goals. In other words, It’s time to create your new content marketing strategy.
Don’t have time? I’m here to help. I’ve helped organizations of all sizes conduct marketing audits to create strategic plans and identify new marketing initiatives to achieve their business goals.
A brief disclaimer: There are SO many ways to conduct a content audit, and the steps listed above are in no way a “one-size-fits-all solution.” A simple Google search will reveal a lot of alternatives to the method I’ve outlined. It all depends on your goals, the types of content you create, and the emphasis your company places on content marketing. I’d love to know any thoughts or feedback you have on the process I’ve described 🙂
Out of all the things to change…
You’re scrolling your Instagram feed on a Friday and see “#tbt to the best vacation ever.” You think: Nice try Susan, but it’s Friday, you idiot. *Checks the timestamp* “posted 23 hours ago”. Damnit.
Experiment with contests and giveaways, again capitalizing on the chronology of IG stories. Post a story about a giveaway on your account and create engagement by asking your followers to like or comment on your most recent post. It will not only increase engagement on your page but ensure that your followers take a look at your feed. It doesn’t have to be a pricey gift. Start off small with something like a t-shirt, sticker or something easily accessible to you.
Now that Instagram has instituted their “Polls” function, a good way to test whether people see your posts in their timelines is to take a quick survey.
A simple “Did you see this post on your timeline?” “Yes or No” could be very insightful as to whether it’s the algorithm that’s affecting your engagement, or if the post itself just wasn’t all that engaging. You’ll get valuable feedback, plus everyone who clicks no will be intrigued to go check it out.
Consider an ad or a sponsored post. If you rely on Instagram as a primary resource for marketing your business and have experienced a noticeable decrease in engagement, it could be time to consider paying to run an ad. Ads can cost anywhere from $0.70 and $1.00 per click.
Maximize your use of other social networks. Instagram has given no indication of going back to their old chronology, so it may be time to rethink your social media strategy. Use twitter and Facebook to promote your posts. Don’t limit your images to Instagram and start increasing engagement on other platforms to capitalize on exposure across all channels, if Instagram traffic is suffering.
Fake followers? Still can’t link from posts? Instagram had a perfect solution. No more chronological posts. I use Instagram for purely personal purposes. It doesn’t affect my life or business or income. And even I was pissed. So I get why bloggers who count on their audience and engagement of their followers to build their brand, sell things, make money are pissed too. At first, I was like you know what get over it and stop complaining about a social network on that social network, but on second thought, I do get it. But fear not, even if your Instagram activity has decreased, there are a few ways to work around this pesky new algorithm.
Use Instagram stories to draw attention to new posts.
Your timeline is out of order, but for the most part, IG stories remain chronological. You may have even noticed influencers already using their stories to promote a new photo by taking a screenshot of their timeline and dropping an emoji to cover the picture. You’ll create a sense of mystery and can entice visitors to click through to your page to see the new post. It looks something like this:
Self-promotion makes me feel icky. Ever since I was a kid. I hated sharing what I did that summer with the class. I almost never share big life moments on Facebook. I deactivated Twitter because I didn’t want people to know what I was up to. I don’t use hashtags on my Instagram posts because I don’t want to seem thirsty for likes or follows. I just want to exist as a person.
Then I decided to pursue freelancing, and suddenly my perfect bubble of anonymity is in danger of bursting. Honestly, it’s terrifying.
“But Sarah…you do digital marketing and claim to be good at social media and say you want to help clients build their strategies. How can you do that when you don’t even market yourself.”
I’m learning that while I don’t like “putting myself out there,” I like transparency and helping others. Instead of trying and failing and hiding from the world, I’m learning to appreciate the process and document it. It helps me learn from myself and hopefully inspires others who might be feeling the same way.
Luckily, I’m surrounded by some pretty smart and grounded people who aren’t afraid to tell me to get the F over myself. And it’s starting to work. I’m learning things that seem so obvious now, that had previously been clouding my vision of the bigger picture. Things like…
Separate yourself from your business.
It’s difficult when you’ve chosen the route of using your name as your business entity. It makes it seem impossible to separate the two. Everything I do has my name attached to it, making it feel like if the business fails, then I fail as well. Also, do I even want to be “marketing girl.” What if I change my mind. What if I eventually I change my focus completely.
People evolve. So do businesses.
Jeff Bezos started Amazon to sell books. Last month I bought a panini press. I certainly wasn’t thinking, “well Amazon was originally just for books, so I’m not going to buy this panini press.” I bought the panini press.
People like people who feel like real people.
Marketing is what I do. Not who I am. And If I decide to do something else eventually, that’s okay.
Everyone has imposter syndrome.
I really did think I was the only one. I assumed that everyone who claims to know what they’re doing actually know what they’re doing. Turns out, no one has any clue and everyone is just as afraid of being called a fraud. I thought a switch would flip. That there would be an AH-HA moment where I finally knew I was the expert. But I’ve stopped waiting for that moment. It may never happen. Even extremely accomplished individuals question their legitimacy. We’re really all just faking it until we make it.
All of these things are okay.
Moral of the story: other people don’t care about you and your image as much as you do. Sounds harsh. But it’s true. Everyone is mostly paying attention to themselves, and aren’t super focused on you or your career. Just be authentic, and people will notice.
A week in the life of a social media manager will reveal that no two days — not even two hours — look the same. Not only are they distributing information to large audiences, but they are also the face of the company’s social presence. This requires more than a little organization and attention to detail. Even dedicating a small amount of time per day to maintain an active and engaged account is a massive investment for a lot of companies. And with new platforms and features popping up every day, it’s important to stay on your toes. Luckily we live in the golden age of social media automation tools designed exclusively to make your life easier and your marketing strategy fool-proof.
Each platform requires their own strategy, apps are starting to catch on and provide even more robust tools to optimize your posts on every platform. Check out these social media automation tools to help you engage your audience on every platform.
(This post originally appeared on “Passionate Marketers”)
SocialPilot is a comprehensive social media automation tool that goes far beyond Facebook. However, Facebook Analytics tool is one of their more robust features. It lets you measure and elevate the effectiveness of your marketing strategy by identifying your audience in more specific segments, it will also measure trends, and market influences to pinpoint the content that resonates most with your audience.
If you work in marketing, you’ve heard of HubSpot. Besides being a thought-leader in marketing research and trends, HubSpot also has one of the most popular automation tools out there. It’s incredibly functional and useful for the large established businesses who want to take their social media strategies to the next level. HubSpot gives you numbers and hard data to help identify gaps in your Facebook strategy and advises how to realign your efforts on the platform.
Tweetdeck is the ultimate Twitter dashboard. It gives users a convenient experience which let users view multiple timelines including mentions, groups, followed hashtags and different audience segments in one place. For social media specialists or freelancers managing numerous business accounts, TweetDeck lets you connect multiple Twitter accounts and toggle between them optimizing your time spent scheduling tweets.
SocialOomph is a lesser-known scheduling app but has unique features that will come in handy when ramping up Twitter engagement. The app allows users to queue tweets, decide how often to send tweets and can even automate direct messages and mentions. These features can be beneficial to bloggers or content creators who have a large pool of content to re-post to maintain an active presence.
Buffer is the quintessential all-in-one social media tool and a swift, easy way to automate LinkedIn posts. Buffer will connect to both personal and business accounts and lets you include links and images in your post. The only downside to using Buffer to schedule LinkedIn posts is that you can’t tag or mention other people or pages.
SocialPilot can help you take your LinkedIn from a basic social network to a marketing machine that will help you engage with your network and grow your audience. It boasts the ability to generate leads and identify key influencers and thought-leaders.
While Instagram doesn’t allow for automated posting, there are a few apps that will help you schedule your Instagram activity and remind you to post at the right times.
Buffer has an Instagram integration that lets users schedule their posts and captions ahead of time and sends a push notification when it’s time to post. All you need to do is open the Instagram app and hit paste because it automatically copies your caption for you. Buffer for Instagram lets you schedule 10 posts for free before you’ll need to upgrade to a monthly subscription.
Later is another Instagram automation tool that’s similar to Buffer which still can’t automatically post for you, but offers the same type of reminder notification to let you know when you post. Later allow users to schedule up to 30 free posts per month.
Viraltag is an impressive tool that allows you to schedule Pins and Re-pins on Pinterest. The Viraltag extension on Google Chrome will let you select any image or link and instantly schedule it to Pin to a board. This tool also tracks and analyzes your Pinterest activity in a sleek and easy-to-understand interface.
I meant it when I said Buffer was the quintessential all-in-one tool, and it’s Pinterest integration is further proof. Set your Pinterest posting schedule and start adding Pins to your queue to start automating your pins. Buffer’s Google Chrome extension takes it one step further and lets you schedule pins or even re-pins with a single click.
With these tools there’s no need to spend hours planning social media posts, just pick your tools and let them do the work for you.