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How to increase conversion rate on your blog

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Giles Thomas   – Enjoy! 

featured-imageDo you often ask yourself:

How do I get more people to sign up to my blog?

Why is no one joining our email list?

Generating leads from your blog is no easy task.

It can be difficult to keep writing content when your conversion rate is low, 1% or even less.

Through testing and trial and error we came up with a technique that not only makes your visitors happy but also increases your conversions rates.

Convert more visitors to email subscribers using the Content Cliffhanger Technique

I struggled with conversion rate just like you, I had a pretty ok conversion rate of 3% until I discovered a fairly unknown marketing technique.

The Content Cliffhanger Technique

In three easy steps I went from 3% to a site-wide conversion rate of 22.46%!

First I’ll explain the psychology behind the technique then I’ll show you how.

Information Loops

Just like in a tv series or film, when it comes to blog conversions cliffhangers work like a charm!

This is due to something called the ‘Zeigarnik effect’.

It is when a piece of information starts but does not finish, our brains then keeps hold of the information, pushing it into our mind time and time again until the information is complete.

It seems to be human nature to finish what we start and if it’s not finished, we can’t forget it.

Bluma Zeigarnik a Russian scientist learned the phenomenon when her tutor Kurt Lewis noticed something very interesting about waiters and waitresses.

After observing them when waiting tables, they realised the waiters had much better recollection of unpaid orders than paid ones.

To the point that, when the table left the restaurant and closed the cheque the staff member would forget their order all together.

The information loop stayed open in the persons mind until the table was complete, because the narrative of that table was not complete.

Get more emails with Zeigarnik’s Findings

We can leverage this technique in our blogs to help us collect emails.

Start a narrative or information loop in the blog post and ask for an email opt-in from the visitor to complete the loop. The ending to the narrative.

The way you do this is simple:

1. Write about niche topics

For example ‘The 6 Most Effective Endurance Exercises’.

In the post start an information loop, the beginning of your narrative, the set up for your cliffhanger.

In this example they talk about 3 of the 6 best ways their readers can improve their abs.

6-best-workouts

They then offer a bonus content area to email subscribers with videos showing in detail how to do all 6 exercises.

Your bonus content could be a PDF, video or even a swipe file.

2. With the Content Cliffhanger plugin give away free bonus content

Create a download for the post that shows the reader in video form all 6 exercises in detail.

This means the reader can close the information loop by downloading the free content.

I created a free wordpress plugin to enable you to easily offer free downloads.

content-cliffhanger

 

3. Record the difference in your email opt-in rate before.

I cannot promise you exact opt in rates, nothing in conversions is a hard and fast rule. There are no one size fits all fixes. But I can say from my experience I have yet to see this make an improvement to a blogs conversion rate.

The difference with this plugin and most others is that you can customize the form and its contents for every post or page. So you can have free downloads that are always aligned with your pages content.

That is the secret behind the technique, when the users search intent is aligned with the opt-in offer, you see much higher conversion rates. Because the giveaway is aligned with what they originally searched for on google.

Start an idea in your blog post but finish it in the download, like a cliffhanger in a good tv series.

People then want to close the information gap or loop, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

This works much better than generic opt-ins like, ‘Join our newsletter’.

You can have increase your blogs conversion rate too…

…but first you must take action on what you learned in this post.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. What techniques are you using to get more conversions? What do you offer your customers when asking them to opt-in?

Talk to you soon below!

giles-thomasDownload the free 65 page Guide to List Building, download the guide here. Giles Thomas writes about Content Marketing and Conversion Rate Optimization at Acquireconvert.com. He is also the founder of  the holistic design agency Whole Design Studios.

 

Using Social Media to Generate Sales Leads

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Dawn Ellis – Enjoy!

Hand over keyboard

photo credit: Free Images

If you’re looking to generate sale leads successfully, you need to go where the people are. And currently, everybody seems to be on social media. At first glance, social media looks like a place for friends and family members to share pictures of their daily outings – which is true to some degree – as social media is about connecting people digitally through conversation.

With the average Facebook user spending 6.35 hours a month on the social platform, and 260 million active users on Twitter, you cannot afford to avoid social media. Businesses are investing a lot of money and time into their social media strategy. On the other hand, smaller businesses cannot afford to budget marketing and finding leads through social media is overwhelming.

If this sounds like your business, stop putting your head in the sand and find those sale leads through social media by following these four simple steps:

Know your audience

People join social networking websites to socialise. They don’t want to be bombarded with advertisements. Advertisements belong in magazines and not on social media. You should treat your social media accounts like you would your mailing list. Be personal, be engaging and be human. Always remember to reply to customer comments.

Give them what they want

You know who your prospective customers are but they don’t know about you. Why should they come to you? Be interesting, be entertaining and be informative with your content. Be reliable, be dependable and don’t ask for anything in return. Soon your prospective customers will find you.

Become the go-to person

You should have an integrated blog on your website. You should be addressing current issues that your customers are facing, updates on your business and daily ramblings. You should be sharing these posts on social media. People are quick to dismiss the brands that they believe will not deliver the services they require. By becoming the go-to person in your industry, you will attract more customers and strengthen existing relationships.

Utilise multiple channels

It is worth knowing that the most popular networking websites are: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. Each social media channel boasts their own community. You should adapt your long-term plan to each community accordingly. Have a clear focus, be consistent and prove your expertise. Utilise multiple channels and cross promote. Nonetheless it is better to be actively involved with one or two social channels, than to be spread thinly with no given direction on them all.

Measure your success

There are many free tools to monitor your social media engagement but they do not tell you if people clicked through to your website. Google Analytics is a great tool for learning about your customers. You can see how many people have visited your website through social media. Learn what works for your audience and what doesn’t. By consuming this data you can work to making your social media a triumph.

Finally

Studies show that 70% of businesses generate leads on social media. Productively use social media and your business will see an increase of brand awareness, website traffic and conversation. Follow the above steps and advance your business by attracting more customers and strengthening existing business relationships.

dawnellisDawn Ellis is Content Outreach Executive of AlldayPA, offering businesses a bespoke call handling service, answering calls personally and professionally 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Dawn is interested in marketing, search engines, social media and all things digital..

 

How To Avoid the 3 Most Costly Mistakes When Using Google AdWords

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Adam Lundquist– Enjoy! 

photo credit: Red X  via WikiMedia Commons
photo credit: Red X via WikiMedia Commons

Do you ever feel like your small business would get a better return on investment by literally lighting your money on fire than using Google AdWords?

You began your AdWords campaign for your small business with high hopes and launched it, excited to fulfill orders from your new customers. Except those orders never came.

You attempted to fix it with different keywords, ad copy, and the newest techniques from self-proclaimed “experts”. However, with each new “fix” you spent more of your time and money – but added no new revenue. You are low on advertising budget and even lower on patience.

If this is your experience then you are not alone, almost all small businesses make costly mistakes when they start using AdWords. This is because the AdWords system penalizes you for mistakes you do not even know you are making. Even worse, in some cases AdWords even encourages these mistakes. The more you mistakes you make the more money AdWords earns from extra clicks you don’t want.

This article helps you identify these mistakes – and more importantly learn how to correct them to put you on the path to AdWords profit.

Mistake One: Keywords In Broad Match

AdWords is set by default to have your keywords in broad match, and this causes your keywords to match for a huge variety of searches you never intended.

For example, if you are a pizza store in Philadelphia and use Google AdWords, you might bid on the keyword Pizza delivery in Philadelphia. You assume that a hungry user has to type in the phrase Pizza delivery in Philadelphia into Google to view your ad and order your delicious pie. However, that is not the case and it costs you money!

By default your ads shows for a huge variety of searches that you never intended. If not changed from default, your keyword Pizza delivery in Philadelphia actually signals to Google to show your ad for searches such as how to cook a frozen pizza, and when clicked, you still have to pay for that irrelevant click.

The discrepancy between the searches you intend your ad to show for and the actually searches that trigger your ad is because the AdWords system uses different match types for keywords. There are four main match types: broad, broad match modifier, phrase, and exact. The different match types allow you (the small business advertiser) to match for a broader or narrower range of actual search queries that users type in. Broad is (as it sounds) the most broad in terms of what searches trigger your ad, and it is ALWAYS set by default in Google AdWords. This means that it is at Google’s discretion to decide that a user’s search is “close enough” to your keyword. Since Google gets paid on every click, they have a broad view of what is close enough.

When beginning your account change the match type of your keywords. Make sure your keywords are either in either phrase match or broad match modifier. These match types ensure that the words you use as your keywords have to be the ones the users searched for in Google. Here is a handy chart to visually see the differences as well as the special symbols that change the match type:

photo credit: chart via PPC HERO
photo credit: chart via PPC HERO

Mistake Two: The Wrong Industry For An Immediate Sale

A common mistake when beginning AdWords is to immediately go for the sale. In some industries an immediate sale makes sense, but in many industries users are not ready to make the purchase at first interaction.  In these industries, the user needs to trust your company before they even consider making the purchase. If the user clicks on an ad and is taken to a site where the only option is a sale, if the user isn’t ready to purchase they have no choice but to leave your site without providing your business any valuable data.

Rather than throw money into the AdWords abyss a, try a different approach. A better way to run AdWords in these industries is to think of a longer sales cycle, and change your goal (called a conversion) from getting an immediate sale to getting their contact information. You can use your ads to send users to a page that asks for their contact information in exchange for a small incentive, build trust by marketing to them via the email they provided, and finally sell to them when they are ready to make a purchase and already trust your company. Incentives can include:

  • Free eBooks
  • Samples
  • Free consultations

This approach works best for industries where trust is key, such as an expensive physical product or a long-term service provider.

Mistake Three: Sending Users To The Homepage

Once you decide on your goals in AdWords, you need to send users to a page that matches the users search and makes it as easy as possible for them to convert. All too often I see new AdWords campaigns send users to the home page. The homepage doesn’t match the users search and conversions are unlikely to happen.  A homepage often has a variety of items and is designed for navigation deeper into the site rather than a conversion.

For example, let’s say you are in the right industry for an immediate sale, like a winter clothing retailer that sells winter hats amongst other items. If you are just beginning to use AdWords you may send all of the users to your generic homepage. If you buy the keyword winter hats and the user is sent to the homepage, which is crowded with all of your items, the user has to search to find the specific sales page for winter hats. This means the user had to spend additional mental energy to search more through your website and click again. The majority of users will not expend this mental energy– they leave your page without making a purchase.

You want to make it as easy and friction-less as possible for the user to convert by sending them to specific high-converting sales pages. If the user type in winter hats send them to the exact sales page for winter hats.

What is your biggest AdWords obstacle?

Adam LundquistAdam Lundquist (@adamlundquist) is the CEO of Nerds Do It Better, an Internet advertising agency for small businesses. He has been featured in The Harvard Gazette, Search Engine Journal, KISSmetrics, WordStream, PPC Hero, Certified Knowledge, Mtv, Vh1, Sports Illustrated, and Moz. Visit his site today for a free eBook: Make Internet Advertising Work For Your Small Business. 5 Steps To Find, Cultivate and Market To New Customers.

 

The Ultimate Tutorial to Add Inbound Marketing Into Your PR Strategy

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Kelly Marsh – Enjoy!

Inbound Marketing

photo credit: Gavin Llewellyn via photopin

Inbound marketing has become a popular strategy for a number of things including for being the best startup PR strategy. It has been often helped businesses exponentially with bringing in customers along with building up its brands like a pioneer in the space. Inbound marketing has really helped  online entrepreneurs in their business promotions along with having a tangible public relationship strategy.

Inbound marketing shouldn’t be looked at as a smorgasbord; rather you have the option of comparing the same complete and balance meal with different courses- main course, appetizer, dessert, side dishes, and also the leftovers. Unlike any other marketing strategy, inbound marketing should be a coordinated endeavor. In nutshell,  inbound marketing needs focus. In today’s high-end world, staying focused and concentrated on any task could be a big challenge. Let’s take a look at the ultimate tutorial for adding  inbound marketing as your startup PR strategy.

Blogging

A blog can be called one of the best inbound marketing strategies, which can help make your PR strong and in the long run, can help in building up your thought leadership. This inbound strategy can benefit you in many ways, which include giving you the opportunity to post fresh, new content along with optimizing relevant and targeted keywords pertaining to your niche area. You get the opportunity to leverage the best in terms of search engine optimization, however, this doesn’t mean in blogging you only write for search engines; the customer comes first. This helps in rendering the value along with things like social sharing and additional resources.

Social media

The platform of social networking  is not just a way to interact and make friends but also can be one of the best inbound marketing strategies in itself. Social networking sites have become a real new touchpoint to communicate with the existing and prospective clients. It is an excellent outlet for your business content. You will be able to build up your  social media strategy by simply identifying the most appropriate social networking site. Also, by merely having a social media profile on different sites does not mean that you have the same leverage for your PR activities, so you need to plan for the best. In order to start increasing your social profiles make sure you link properly to targeted links within your business site. For carrying out the business to business marketing, LinkedIn is more relevant along with other sites like Google Plus, Twitter, and YouTube. For business to consumers marketing purposes, sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are ideal sites.

Paid Search Advertising

This is known as PPC (Pay Per Click) ads, which is a controversial strategy in the domain of inbound marketing. People often are seen debating it; some call it an important inbound marketing strategy, while others do not agree. Though you may find this strategy straddling the line, you can appropriately call it one of the best inbound marketing strategies, which can even be a robust one. PPC can be an important method, which helps in complementing your site traffic while you create organic or natural search authority via SEO enhancements. The fact of the matter is if you want to have high commercial intent searches, PPC can outrank the organic search results.

Word of Mouth

More than 90 percent of word of mouth ads often occur offline. So, how it is relevant to your inbound marketing is a big question to answer. If you talk about inbound marketing strategies, you can use strategy as a conversation starter. The inbound marketing strategies can be a tactic that will help in discussing your business. Though most of these conversations are happen online, you still have the option of influencing and shaping things for your PR activities. Ideas like events, promotions, interactive tools and contests communicated via the digital channels (social media and websites) can increase the engagement and thus build up your traffic.

Final word

Inbound marketing is all about talking and discussing ideas in your niche area, which you have targeted. If you are really interested in tapping inbound marketing for your startup PR activities, the above options can help you the most. Keep trying them out!

Kelly MarshKelly Marsh is the writer of this post. She writes articles on Women’s education, Health, Social Media and Online reputation.  These days she contributes on getamplify.

How to Add Serious Value to Your Online Community

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Jamie Thomson – Enjoy! 

According to research carried out by social media experts, Socialnomics, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whereas only 14% trust advertisements. Perhaps that’s why online communities are so good at generating business referrals?

Developing an online community is all about engagement. As a small business owner, you want people to participate in your forum discussions, leave comments on your blog posts and recommend your products and services to other people. But how exactly do you go about achieving this?

The answer lies in the value that you add to your members. Here’s how you can inspire your online community and create a small army of brand catalysts.

Encourage Press Release Sharing

According to press release experts, PR Web, 80 million of us read our news online every day and amongst those 80 million people are your community. If you’re not already in the B2B marketplace, get other businesses in your industry involved in your community by encouraging them to share their press releases on your site. Not only will this improve your brand authority but it’ll also add huge value to your existing community members as they’ll be able to keep up to date with the latest movements in the marketplace without having to look elsewhere.

Create a Classifieds Board

In the same way that Gumtree enables people to post classified ads in their local area, enabling people to promote their services within your industry is a great way to add value to your community. A classifieds board will encourage people to visit your website regularly to see what promotions and offers are available. Consider allowing other businesses to post job vacancies on your site too as this can help improve your authority in the marketplace and establish your brand as a market leader. This in turn, will add value to your community as your members will associate themselves as being part of a successful network.

Initiate Collaborations

‘Hi Linda, have you met John?’ Much like a business version of Match.com, your website can become a hub for people in your industry to find collaborators with whom to create new projects. Actively promote new members who join your community and encourage existing members to introduce themselves. By creating business opportunities within your community, you’ll add significant value and encourage people to increase their presence on your website.

Develop a Forum Thread Specifically for Beginners

We all had to start our business careers somewhere, right? Why not make your online forum the place that those new to the market go to for advice on getting started in your industry? Developing a thread specifically for newcomers will help expand your community and recruit new members. It’ll also give more experienced users the opportunity to share their wisdom with others. Your thread may even lead to successful mentorships for your members.

Review Related Products and Services

The chances are that your industry isn’t limited to the types of products and services that your business offers. One way to add value to your community is to review related services that your website visitors will find useful. This can help establish your business as a trusted brand and will expand your community out with your own particular niche. Writing reviews will encourage people from all corners of the marketplace to visit your site for impartial information about the latest products in your industry.

Adding value to your online community will help you retain existing community members, attract new users and position your business in such a way that you’ll benefit from having an army of loyal fans spreading the word about your brand.

 

Jamie ThomsonJamie Thomson is a freelance copywriter at Brand New Copy where he writes about small business and content marketing on his copywriting blog. He’s also the founder of The Tutor Website, an online hub for small business owners in the private tutoring industry.

 

4 Steps to Leveraging Your Network to Build Your Business

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Jonathan Greechan– Enjoy!

Networking doesn’t have to be about luck, but most people I work with treat it that way. Like any marketing endeavor, some simple planning can greatly increase your chances of success. As Sun Tzu famously said, “Most battles are won before they are fought.”

Unlock the potential of your network to grow your business by following the simple, step-by-step plan below;

1. Define your Goals

Networking takes time, so any business goal that needs to be met within 3 months through networking is usually unrealistic. Therefore, list out two primary goals for the next 3 – 6 months, and then two secondary goals that you foresee being a priority in the 6 – 12 month range.

2. Identify your Targets

photo credit: Bogdan Suditu via photopin cc

photo credit: Bogdan Suditu via photopin cc

You don’t target a company – you target a person. Go narrow and deep (versus wide and broad), and find out who makes the purchasing or partnership decisions at the companies you are targeting. You can usually find this information by checking the speaker roster (and topics) from industry events, corporate press releases, and LinkedIn.

3. Identify Your “Strategic Contacts”

With the prevalence of social media, there is almost no excuse for a cold-call or cold-email anymore. As Mark Suster, a prominent venture capitalist, put it very aptly at my Founder Showcase event, “in the era of social networks, if you can’t figure out how to get access to a venture capitalist, hang up your cleats now. You don’t pass the IQ test.”

“Strategic Contacts” are contacts who can provide introductions to your targets, and creating a list of them is easy with LinkedIn’s “Advanced Search Tools”. Here are some things to keep in mind;

  • Scroll through the contacts of the people who come up in your searches – you’ll often discover positions and companies you didn’t know existed.
  • Once you’ve found a search that works best, be sure to “Save This Search” so you can use it in the future.
  • Use LinkedIn for research, but not for contacting. “InMail” and LinkedIn referral requests have become so bogged down by recruiters that most well connected people I know find them un-usable.

4. Email your Strategic Contacts

Now that you have your list of strategic contacts, it’s time to start your outreach via email, which should come in two parts.

Email 1: Create Value

One of my favorite rules of marketing is to always provide value before asking for it in return. This is doubly true for networking, and it does not even have to require a lot of effort – just a small “out of the blue” gesture to a strategic contact can pay large dividends.

For example:

  • Provide an unsolicited intro to somebody in the same industry (“… you two seem like you would have a lot to talk about.”)
  • Send a link to an interesting article about their industry (“… thought this article was interesting. You’ve been in the industry for a while – do you agree with the author?”)
  • A simple check-in (“… Yesterday I randomly thought about that event we both attended in ‘09, and how funny that emcee was. How are things going with you?  Everything well?”)

Whatever you do, just provide value, respond quickly, and keep the conversation going.

Email 2: The Ask

After you have provided value and some time has passed, it is time to ask your contact for an introduction to your target.

Keep the communication within the previous email stream, and send a simple two-sentence email;

  1. One sentence on your company, and what you are looking for.
  2. One sentence on the intro, which includes a mechanism to make the intro feel natural.

For example:

“[MY COMPANY NAME] is an app that connects parents and family-friendly events, and we’re looking for angel investors interested in mobile B2C apps to close out our seed round. I was hoping you could provide a quick intro to [YOUR TARGET] – she has invested in both parent-focused and event-focused apps, so I think we may fit nicely into her strategy.”

Closing Note

Networking is not a “one-off activity”, but if you follow the steps above, you can start leveraging your contacts to help build your business NOW.

Jonathan_Greechan_headshotJonathan Greechan is a Partner and the Head of Marketing at the Founder Institute – an entrepreneur training and startup launch program that has helped launch over 1250 tech companies across 6 continents. In addition, he is a Partner at TheFunded.com, and the Executive Producer of the Founder Showcase, a leading startup event in Silicon Valley. Jonathan has been heavily involved in startups and online marketing since 2004, and has advised hundreds of technology companies. Follow him on Twitter at @jonnystartup.

 

Why Online Reviews Are Almost As Good As Actual Referrals

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Jason Keeler – Enjoy!

image 2 online business reviewsAs a business owner, there isn’t much better than a good referral. It shows that you’re doing something right, and that your customers think highly enough of you as a partner to tell other people in their circle about their great experience. Referral leads have a tremendously high closing percentage as well versus other cultivated leads. The implied trust factor allows you to skip a lot of the relationship building and get right down to business. Unfortunately, even your most vocal brand advocates will likely only influence a handful of prospective customers at most, and more than likely just one or two. But what if your happy customers were able to influence hundreds or even thousands of prospects?

The Power Of Faceless People

In the absence of a trusted business contact steering a prospect to your door, an online review can be almost as powerful. Never mind that there’s no connection between the reviewer and the prospect reading their review. According to Forrester data from a 2012 study, nearly one third of online consumers trust a stranger as opposed to a brand. That data speaks specifically to consumers buying an online product, but the sentiment holds true for prospects researching brick and mortar businesses on the web. A 20123 study by Bright Local showed that nearly 85% of customers read online reviews before trying a new restaurant, hiring a local contractor or making a major in-home purchase. The impact of positive reviews from total strangers is incredibly powerful, even if their testimonial fails to put a face with a name.

The Impact On Local Search

The value of search engine optimization to any specific business varies, but local SEO – impacting where your business falls in Google’s local search returns – can be a huge driver for both foot traffic and online visits. The online reviews of your business are a big driver for where (or if) your business appears in the pecking order. There are quite a few other factors as well, but total reviews, quality/length of reviews, having variety in the sites where you are reviewed and of course the sentiment of your reviews will play a big role in determining your place. Aside from helping you manipulate local search results, reviews on popular portals like Yelp! can be a source of referral traffic to your website as well.

Ask And You Shall Receive

As is often the case, some things can be acquired simply by asking. Ensuring that your company actively seeks both referrals and reviews will most certainly pay dividends. And for those who need more than a simple ask? There’s certainly nothing wrong with establishing a review reward similar to a referral bonus, as a consideration for their time. Smart companies may even tie it in to a discount on a future order, not only ensuring a good review but also improving the chance that there’s a repeat order from a current customer. Another unique way to improve your review rate is to use surveys. The bonus here is that you can also find out a few interesting things about your business – areas that you’re surprisingly weak or strong in – and either reward those responsible or start making improvements.

As previously noted, referrals are like gold…but good online reviews are at least like silver, or a high-grade copper. There’s real value there. Make sure you spend time focusing on reviews as well as referrals, and you’ll put more prospects in your funnel with relative ease.

Jason Keeler imageJason Keeler is the Director of Digital Marketing at EAG Advertising & Marketing, Kansas City’s small business ad agency. He’s an avid Royals fan and a lover of all things related to internet marketing.

How Networking Can Increase Your Sales and Help Your SEO

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Samantha Pena – Enjoy! 

pushing social network structure

photo credit: Thinkstock

You know the saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know”? Although your skills and dedication play a large part in starting your business, your chances of success rise when you know the right people.

Networking is one of the most valuable business tactics in growing your business, because it gives you the opportunity to learn from others and to tell them about your business in return. Consequently, networking can expand the reach of your business, boost your website’s search rankings, and increase your customer referrals. Here’s how:

Collaboration with industry experts increases your brand exposure

Networking gives you the chance to not only discuss your business with professionals but to also offer them something of value, whether that is your help, your service, or your knowledge.

When you meet others whom you think might be a great resource for your business, offer to partner with them on a project that is mutually beneficial to both of you. Although the type of partnership you create will largely depend on your business and your goals, there are so many collaboration opportunities available in real life and in the digital world.

Offering to speak at one of their events or collaborate with them on a white paper gives you the opportunity to showcase your industry expertise while tapping into and connecting with their existing network. Cross-business collaboration is thus a great way to gain greater publicity for your business without coming across as overtly promotional.

Trustworthy referrals influence consumers’ purchasing decision

In an age when reviews are readily accessible on the Internet and the market is inundated by similar products and services, businesses rely on positive referrals to gain new customers. In fact, statistics show that 65 percent of new customers come from referrals, primarily because people gather other people’s opinion before determining whether they should purchase a product.

Therefore, in order to boost your brand trust and increase your referrals, you must establish excellent business partnerships. For example, ask a business connection if they’d be interested in setting up a barter program with you, in which you’ll do work for them and refer new clients to their business and vice versa. Although you’ll be doing some work for free, the high-quality leads that you’ll receive from the partnership will override any monetary loss you may have.

In addition, maintain positive relationships with your loyal customers by offering them referral incentives. Offer a reward or a discount if they refer your business to a friend. A compelling reward and a clear and easy call-to-action will encourage customers to recommend your business to their contacts, increasing your network, brand reach, and leads.

Digital networking encourages brand trust

Building a network between your business, your customers, and experts in your field not only builds up your brand’s credibility but also boosts your SEO efforts. The best way to do this is to create connections with important bloggers and to network with your customers on social media.

In the last year, consumer confidence in social media as a trustworthy source of information increased +75 percent. Therefore, instead of advertising, which don’t work anyway, network on social media. When you connect with consumers on a personal level, you not only gather valuable insight on your their needs and wants but you also earn their trust. In addition, many experts say that there is a correlation between social media and SEO in link opportunity and search volume increase, which is an additional perk of using social media.

You also don’t have to network with just business owners. Sometimes, establishing a connection with thought leaders and influencers in your industry who are willing to write about your product or service and link back to your site is useful in increasing your brand exposure and building up your backlink profile. Especially since SEO and PR are becoming more integrated, it is important to get featured on authoritative sites in order to boost your site ranking.

Networking is a powerful strategy earning you high-quality leads, more customers, and brand trust. Therefore, view every moment as a potential networking opportunity and watch your business grow.

20140319144747_samSamantha Pena is a Content Strategist for Hudson Horizons, a digital agency that offers Web design, development, and marketing for small to mid-sized businesses. In addition to her weekly posts on Hudson, she also writes for various notable digital marketing sites on social media marketing and SEO. You can read her latest posts on Google+.