How to Use Marketing Automation Correctly

Today’s Guest Post is by Zach Watson – Enjoy!

marketing automation

Photo via PhotoPin

Marketing automation can’t be described as a new concept anymore. It would be more accurate to say it’s a difficult undertaking because automating anything requires precision and constant maintenance.

But it’s not impossible to use this strategy effectively. The fact that marketing automation is no longer a new, mysterious technology provides small businesses with the one resource they need to capitalize on this software: best practices.

The biggest risk of automating your marketing is that you will do it incorrectly, and your customers will be left confused and alienated. But by using other marketers as a guide, you’ll be better positioned to avoid the common pitfalls of automation. Here are a few:

Common Uses for Marketing Automation Include:

1. Content Marketing

Educational or entertaining content can be used both as a means to grow your email list and a way to increase engagement from your subscribers. If you’re offering a product or service, then using content as a means to move buyers through the sales funnel is an excellent use of marketing automation.

The key to this strategy is to create campaigns that use if/then logic to deliver personalized content for the interests of each prospect. This builds rapport and trust between your company and your audience while also moving these prospects closer to using your product or service.

2. Onboarding

As software as a service has become a more common delivery model for software products, so has the onboarding email chain become a more common tactic for marketers. Many organizations devote a great deal of effort to getting prospects to sign up for free trials of their software in order to get them in the sales funnel.

Once the prospect signs up, it’s critical that they use the software to its full extent. After using the software becomes a habit, then the free trial user is exponentially more likely to become a paying customer.

The key to automating onboarding emails is to sync your marketing automation system with the software you sell so you can target users based on what behavior they have or haven’t taken.

The approach is similar to content marketing, but instead of a series of educational pieces of content, onboarding campaigns are usually personal emails discussing how to use specific features of the software.

3. Promotions and Discounts

These are often the bread and butter of e-commerce retailers as well as brick and mortar shops. Sending discounts is an effective strategy for driving both online and instore purchases, and it can be tempting to blast your best offers to everyone. However, like the other two tactics, you need to base these campaigns on user behavior to make sure your offers are as targeted as possible.

Now that you’ve got a framework for what you can do with marketing automation, it’s important to examine what you should not do with this type of software.

Don’t send the same emails to everyone

Marketers new to automation software often worry that creating automated email campaigns and scheduling other types of interactions along the sales funnel will make them sound like a robot. That’s not true — unless, of course, you send the same emails to your entire audience.

Failing to appreciate the differences in the interests of your customers is precisely what will make you sound like a robot. Fortunately, marketing automation products make it particularly easy to track user behavior on your website, in your email campaigns, and on your social media.

Use that information to make your marketing personalized, and your communication won’t sound robotic or mass-produced.

Don’t set and forget

To gather all the correct information you need to segment your marketing campaigns, you’ll need to test different approaches with different audiences. For example, “Does offer A work well with customers interested in product 2, or does offer B work better?” Test early and test often. You need to monitor your campaigns on a daily basis and make changes as necessary.

One of the cardinal sins of marketing automation is creating a single campaign for each segment and simply letting that campaign run without oversight. This is a massive mistake. It’s unlikely you’ll create the perfect marketing formula the first time around, so testing provides a way to improve quickly.

Marketing automation vendors don’t just make software that only huge businesses use; many make products for businesses of all sizes. But a cheaper price doesn’t take the pressure off of the marketer. Automation demands a lot of work.

You’re essentially playing the role of an engineer to construct a marketing lifecycle for your prospects. Be sure to follow industry best practices and constantly monitor your results to succeed in your automating endeavors.

Zach WatsonZach Watson is the content manager at TechnologyAdvice. He covers gamification, healthcare IT, business intelligence and other emerging technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Free Webinar – How to Make Marketing Darn Easy

Marketing SystemIf you’re one of those folks that says things like, “I’m no good at marketing” or “marketing is just so darn hard” – I’ve got good news – neither is actually true.

It’s not that you’re not good at marketing, it’s that you are thinking about it all wrong.

Here’s the deal – Marketing is a System.

And just like every other system in your business, once you know how to build it, document it, and operate it. – marketing gets darn easy.

I’ve pretty much made it my mission in business to spread this idea and I hope you’ll join me for a free webinar on the topic next Monday March 9th at Noon CST (10PST/11MST/1EST/GMT-6)

How to Build and Operate a Marketing System in 7 Steps.

Sign up above and even if you can’t attend live :( we’ll send you a link to the recording.)

Oh and we’ll have some giveaways at the end of the webinar for those who do attend live!<

60 Ways to Screw Up the Customer Experience

I rarely lead with the negative, but sometimes it’s the best way to get someone’s attention.

Customer Experience

photo credit: Untitled via photopin (license)

When I present marketing strategy to groups I’ll often ask them to identify the characteristics of their ideal customers, and they can’t seem to narrow their thinking beyond people with money. But when I ask them to tell me who they “don’t” want to work with, many characteristics leap to mind.

Here’s the deal – every way, shape and form that your business comes into contact with prospects, customers and friends of friends of both, you are performing a marketing function. So let me ask you this – have you considered the impact or lack of impact of every touch point in your customer’s journey?

In order to expand your thinking on this point, let’s audit the real and potential touch points that impact the customer experience and ultimately your brand, in general. (The main thing we are looking for is an appealing, positive, consistent message across these touch points and a call to action that makes someone want to go on a continuing journey with you.)

Some of you might recognize the categories of know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer as stages in something I’ve been calling the Marketing Hourglass, that point to the logical way to think about a perfect end-to-end customer experience.

Know – This is how people become aware of your business and brand.

  • Website – Many times a prospect visits your website first to learn what you have to offer – what message does this touch point send? (add this question to every point below because that’s what I want you to consider.)
  • Advertising – Your ads may be the first way someone is introduced to your business.
  • Marketing materials – Don’t forget offline materials that help tell your story in more tactile ways.
  • Networking – How you network, where you network and who you are in conversations with, are all part of your brand
  • Networks – What social network you choose to engage in, and how deeply you choose to participate matters.
  • Referrals – When a raving fan refers someone to your business, how are they greeted? Are they treated special?
  • Content – How are you using content to both create awareness and act as a home to send those who encounter your ads?

Like – This is the stage in which people are starting to notice your brand and decide if they want to know more.

  • Community involvement – Encountering your brand through other communities and community involvement can send a strong signal about what you’re passionate about.
  • Events – Demonstrating your expertise and giving advice before you ever start to promote is one way to gain respect and authority.
  • Physical presence – What does your office, your store, your dress say about your brand? I’m not suggesting what it should say, simply that it does speak something.
  • Value proposition – Do people automatically understand that you do something very, very well that matters to them?
  • Social engagement – How you engage on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is observable – have you considered the impact of this on your brand?
  • Graphic design – Many companies have won with a focus on design. Many more don’t give it a second thought. What does the design of your product, service, website, communication, email signature say or not say?
  • Content – Again with content – it has an intentional use at just about every stage, but you must understand each use – for like, content might just be mostly about telling your story.
  • Your people – Culture is marketing and for the most part people experience culture through people. Do your people understand your brand and have they been recruited because your story resonates?

Trust – No one buys from companies they do not trust and it’s never been easier to learn who is trustworthy, and who is not.

  • SEO – I like to put search at the top of the trust list because today if you’re not showing up in a variety of online fronts, you’re throwing off a huge trust downgrade. If you don’t dominate the entire page one for a search on your company name, you’ve got an issue.
  • Reputation – We won’t do business with companies that even total strangers have told us don’t keep their word. Proactively managing your reputation online and off has to be part of the marketing puzzle.
  • Referrals – Referrals, like other elements, show up in different stages because we are no longer really in charge of how people go on a journey. A referral can be the ultimate trust signal if you treat it that way.
  • Demonstrations – People often misinterpret a demo as a way to show what a product or service does – it’s not, it must first be a way to show why what it does is so awesome for me. Fix this part!
  • Influence – Like it not, the last time I checked my Klout score (okay it was today) is was considered pretty good. Yes, people obsess over social proof and that’s what makes it matter as a factor. Work on building your influence by helping others build theirs – more on that.
  • Success stories – Show me proof that other people just like me actually achieved what I want to achieve by working with you.
  • Public relations – I believe someone else who says you are super talented more than I believe you telling me that. Seeing your name penned by others or reading a piece you contributed to a publication I respect send huge trust signals.
  • Consistency – This is a tough one. I guess this is actually a rallying cry for process documentation, but know that one of the greatest eroders of trust is an inconsistent experience. How do you make sure I get the same experience every time and every place?
  • More events – Getting to experience your knowledge and slightly sarcastic sense of humor by way of a webinar or presentation at the lunch network I belong to is one powerful way of building trust.
  • Connecting – Who you are connected to, who you have as a guest on your podcast, and who you reach out and connect me to suggests you are someone to trust.
  • Content – Oh no here it is again – what content are you offering freely that takes our relationship to entirely new level now that I’m really paying attention?
  • Sales process – This might be another call for consistency, but simply having a process for when someone completes an online form or requests a demo is a start. Even better, what could you do that would blow me away in response to my hinting I might need what you offer?

Try – This is a stage that many neglect, but now that I think you have the answer, can you prove it?

  • Demonstrations – The demo shows up here again because now I just might want to know how the thing is going to work for me and my team – this is a different kind of demo, but it still needs to be about me and my team.
  • Freemium offer – Is there a way to let me try it for 30 days first?
  • Starter offer – Is there a smaller version  that would give me a greater sense of why I can’t live without you and your solutions?
  • Switch offer – It’s painful to switch – what could you do to make it fun and risk free?
  • Proof of concept – Personalize something just for me so I could see just how great life will be when you’re my partner.
  • Events – Events are also a pretty good way to let someone see what it might be like to work with you – an event can be a meeting with the executive team of a prospect where you facilitate a discussion and help the team align on priorities.
  • Conversion materials – Blog posts and ebooks are great in the start, but now you have to personalize and demonstrate or calculate the return on investment for me.
  • Upsell process – Okay I’ve tried it out and I love it, but now you want me to pay? What have you done to hammer home the value and let me see that I would be a fool to not jump in full time now?
  • Incentive program – Sometimes you’ve got to have a plan to sweeten the deal to get me act today – let me bring a friend, give me annual pricing or surprise with me something more than I was expecting.

Buy – The buying experience itself is an often overlooked touch point in the marketing process, but it must be as intentional as everything that led to this point.

  • Sales process – What do you do when the phone rings? Remember if this has been done right, I already know, like and trust you – what do you in the sales process that keeps the experience useful?
  • Nurturing process – I can’t make a decision right now or at least I don’t know how to – what do you do to continue to show value – what materials, training, education can you shower me with?
  • Orientation process – I’ve said yes, now what? Do you have a process that makes certain I know what’s going on at all times, I know who to call, what to send, how to get in touch?
  • Training materials – Yes I know you explained how to use your gizmo, but that was a while ago – where can go to learn how again, where can I send my people, how do I become a ninja user?
  • Cross sell process – Worst phrase a business can hear – Oh wait, I didn’t know you also did that, I bought from XYZ company. How will you let me know what else I might need in a way that a friend might tell a friend about something cool?
  • Contract process – Wait, you mean legal is part of the marketing team? Oh yes, and how many sales have been killed by this branch of the marketing team? The contract process is what it is, but does it have to be so painful? Why not make it one of the most playful parts of your brand?
  • Financial engagement – You expect me to pay, I know that, but did you know your billing, shopping cart and even how you communicate about being paid are also marketing functions? Consider this touch point as part of the buying journey.
  • Project management – Depending upon what you do, how you manage the work, communicate progress, add and assign tasks weighs heavily on how smoothly a project goes and whether there will be another.
  • Delivery – This can be the delivery of information or of a physical product in a box, but it’s a marketing touch point. Think about the coolest present and wrapping you ever received, and work from there.
  • Communication – As you work with clients you have to adjust to how they want to communicate. Sometimes that means you have to offer options, show them how to unify communications and teach them some new ways to communicate that will benefit their productivity and amplify your results.

Repeat – One of the best ways to grow a business is to do more with existing clients while you add new.

  • Results review – Now that you think I’m happy what are you going to do to make certain? Do you actually know the value of what you’ve delivered?
  • Events – Events and content are staples in every stage but now that I’m a customer I want to know that you consider me a part of your community.
  • Testimonials – Part of the process of finding out how much value you’ve delivered is to use it as a way to consistently collect rave reviews.
  • Case study – Do you have a process to document what a great result I got?
  • Cross sell – Do  you have a process to make sure I know what else you can do for me?
  • On going training – Keep teaching me more about how to do things I want to do, and I’ll keep buying more of those things from you that allow me to do that.

Refer – Every business loves referrals – most get referrals for good work done, but few intentionally generate referrals.

  • Referral education – Do you have a process to teach your referral champions the best way to spot and refer a prospect?
  • Events – Bring your champions together and make them a network – empower them with extra attention
  • Referral offers – Make a game out of referring your business, and keep your offers (rarely financial) top of mind by reminding me quarterly how to play the game.
  • Referral materials – Do you make it easy for your referral champions to put something tangible in the hands of their friends, neighbors, and colleagues?
  • Partner outreach – Don’t forget about the power of building a team of best of class providers for almost everything your clients might need. This team could be the greatest source of new business for you.
  • Co-marketing – Have you identified 4-5 other businesses that target your same ideal customer? How could you multiply the number of people that come into contact with your brand through this group?
  • Referral content – Yes, I’m going to end on content. What eBook, webinar or presentation could you take to your partners with the idea that they could use this content to shower value on their network while also subtly referring you?

As I read back through this long and winding post it dawned on me that you could view this as a way to guide the customer experience or you could simply employ this as your entire marketing plan – either way, you win.

How to Create the Perfect Customer Journey

photo credit: Reloj.cp via photopin (license)

photo credit: Reloj.cp via photopin (license)

The Marketing Hourglass is a powerful tool to map out your marketing efforts in a way that makes sense to everyone in your organization. Most marketers view the customer experience as a funnel, but we at Duct Tape Marketing know that the customer experience ideally goes beyond the point of sale.

Mapping it out in this way has helped many small businesses think about and improve upon their method of guiding customers. Having a game plan for your customers to know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer you is necessary to ensure your customers are taken care of across all levels of the customer journey.

Keeping tabs on how your brand is represented within the Hourglass mindset is equally important.   Follow the steps below to conduct your own Marketing Hourglass Brand Audit: 

Before you get started on the Marketing Hourglass:

Step 1: Define and sketch the makeup and personality of your ideal clients

Step 2: Discover your perfect value proposition

Step 3: Brainstorm and document your vision and goals

Step 4: Create your brand personality that represents your culture statement

Step 5: Outline branding guidelines – ie colors, fonts, images, etc.

Step 6: Create a brand positioning statement including all the elements above

Once you complete the brand positioning statement, run through the following questions of the Hourglass to ensure your brand is consistent across all stages.  These questions are meant to get you started thinking through each stage. You may want to add more questions in as you go through the process.

Know

–       Do your ads communicate the brand positioning statement? Do they target and connect with your ideal clients?

–       Do your social media accounts have consistent images and messages?  Are they promoted on your website?

–       Are your guest post contributions targeted towards your ideal clients audience base?

–       Are your keywords consistent and focused on monthly themes?

–       Are your local directories complete with your core difference and branding guidelines?

–       Do you have a systemized plan to handle all referrals that come in?

Like

–       Do your print assets include your core message and brand personality?

–       Is your website consistent to your brand positioning statement and your writing style guide?

–       Do your logo and company name represent your brand positioning?

–       Do your business cards include your core difference?

–       Are your email signatures and tag lines consistent across your entire team?

–       Is your vision documented on your website for your ideal clients to relate to?

–       Is your website mobile responsive?

Trust

–       Are your newsletters consistent with your website branding?  Does the newsletter go out on a regular basis and include valuable content for your audience?  Is there an opt-in incentive for your newsletter?

–       Are your email campaigns consistent with you branding guidelines?

–       Do you follow monthly themes on your blog to establish your company as an expert on focused topics?

–       Do you regularly promote and monitor review sites?

Try

–       What is your free or trial offering?  How do you encourage people to sign up for the free trial?

–       Is your follow up for the free trial consistent with your brand positioning?

–       Do your PowerPoint presentations match your website branding?

Buy

–       What is your starter offering?

–       What is your core offering?

–       What is your members-only offering?

–       Do your contracts and invoices match your brand positioning statement?

–       Do you have a detailed new customer kit once someone signs on as a customer?  If so, does this follow your brand positioning?

Repeat

–       What are your add-ons to increase value?

–       What is your “make it easy to switch” offering?

–       What is your surprise gift to encourage repeat customers?

–       Do you have a targeted process to upsell to your current clients?

Refer

–       What are our strategic partner pairings?

–       How do you encourage your current customers to refer?  Do you share your ideal client personas?

–       Does your incentive for referrals tie in your branding and/or culture in some way?

The point of the hourglass metaphor is to get you thinking not only about how to generate and close deals but how to create the best possible experience as part of the plan.

Sara HeadshotSara Jantsch is the Director of Community at Duct Tape Marketing.  She is also a Marketing Consultant and has a strong passion for working with small business owners.  Interested in developing your own Marketing Hourglass with the Duct Tape team?  Click here to learn why a Duct Tape Marketing plan my be perfect for your business. 

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Defining Your Marketing Strategy

Today’s guest post comes from the newest member of the Duct Tape Marketing team Kala Linck – Enjoy!

It’s February already! That means another year of customers, products, and sales. What are you doing to reach your customers, promote your products and improve sales? Did you set goals for the upcoming year? How are you going to reach them?

Photo Credit: From TyrrellMarketing.co.uk

Photo Credit: From TyrrellMarketing.co.uk

This is where your marketing strategy comes in. What is a marketing strategy? How do you create one? Don’t worry, that’s what I’m here to help with.

A marketing strategy combines all of an organization’s marketing goals into one comprehensive plan. The goal of a marketing strategy is to increase business and grow awareness of your organization. There are several pieces of information you’ll need in order to create this strategy.

First, what are your sales goals? At the end of the year, you’ll need to have something to determine that your marketing efforts were effective.

Do you want to increase sales by 10 percent? Would you like to sell more of a certain product or service? At the end of the year, what numbers will tell you that you’ve had a successful year?

Second, what marketing efforts do you currently have in place? You will use this to ensure that current marketing efforts are being utilized and consistent throughout the year, and to determine which you would like to add or take away.

Do you have a website? Do you participate in social media? Have you purchased radio ads or a billboard? Have you noticed that some of these are more effective than others?

Third, what is your target audience? This will help determine the channel you use to distribute your message, what your message is, and even where to focus sales!

Who buys your products? Where do they hear about your company? What needs do they have that your products or services meet?

Last, what are your key messages? These messages should align your products and services with your target audience. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your organization.

What needs improvement; what is being improved? What are customers saying about your organization? How do your products and services meet the needs of your target audience? What products and services do you offer?

As you start to flush out what your organization offers, to whom, and how you can best reach your audience to meet your goals, your marketing strategy will start to unfold.

When you begin putting this together, focus on the big picture first and then later, the specific tactics you will use to accomplish these big picture plans. Your marketing strategy statements should look something like this; “We will make our target audience aware of our improved customer service for returns to increase online sales by 5 percent.”

Need some help putting together a marketing strategy and then creating tactics to meet your goals in 2015? Talk to a Duct Tape Marketing consultant.

profKala is a specialist in digital marketing, who loves nothing more than picking up a newspaper and tuning into the local stations. She’s worked with clients spanning a variety of industries and knows that people are the heart of a successful business. Currently enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute to receive a certificate of integrated design, she believes in continuous learning. She loves to travel and try new foods, and documents her travels in her blog. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

How to Build a Blog with 100,000+ Monthly Page Views

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Vinay Patankar – Enjoy!

how to build a blog

You’ve probably heard that blogging is a great way to generate leads and sales for your business. John has talked about blogging many times on this very blog. And the truth is, it does work, many companies have seen stellar results from creating compelling blogs and building large audiences around them.

But why is it so hard?

While this may be true, building a successful blog is much harder than it sounds. I’ve been blogging for a long time. I ran a personal blog and a number of different niche blogs during my time as an Affiliate Marketer. I wrote hundreds of posts and did various “link building” tactics to try and rank my blogs to get traffic. This did produce some results, I got a bit of traffic and a few sales, but it never turned into the lead-generating-cash-machine I dreamt about every night before bed.

It was only when I started blogging for my startup Process Street did I start to see some real numbers and results from my efforts. We are still in early days (the blog is about 6 months old) but we recently hit the 1,000 subscriber mark and are now receiving over 100,000 page views every month!

traffic stats

What changed?

So what did I do different this time than all the other times I blogged?

The answer is content promotion. In my early days of blogging, I would spend 90% of my time writing content, once it was done I’d share it on my social media properties then move on to the next post. I now spend just 30% of my time on creating content and 70% promoting it.

content creation vs content promotion

This does not mean I write lower quality content by any means, in fact, my content is much higher quality now, I just write fewer posts. Like much fewer. I was writing up to 10 articles a day across my various blogs, now I am lucky if I manage to get 1 per week out. But when I write, I write longer, more detailed, more personal, more actionable and more impactful posts than I ever did before. This is not by chance, this is part of the carefully curated content strategy that I came up with from watching some of the greatest SaaS content marketers in the world like Buffer and Moz.

Creating high quality content is absolutely necessary to build a blog that people read, share and link to, but creating high quality content is only half the battle (or 30%!). High quality content is not useful if nobody sees it. Today, I have a team of 3 Virtual Assistants that focus on promoting my content, and not just content on my blog, I have them promote guest posts I write on other peoples blogs (like this one) plus any post that links to one of my products or posts.

So what is content promotion and how do I do it?

Well I’m glad you asked. It just so happens that I created a very detailed and in-depth checklist that you can follow to promote your content. This checklist is responsible for driving at least 1,000 visitors to every post I have written, it in itself is a huge piece of content that took me 3 days to create! Now it’s all yours. Use it yourself or hand it off to a VA and watch the visitors roll in.

Grab my content promotion checklist below and supercharge your blog today.

vinay headshot process street 100x100Vinay Patankar is an ex digital nomad and startup growth specialist. He is the CEO of Process Street, a platform that manages recurring processes for teams and turns businesses into automated, self growing machines. Find him on Twitter, Google+ or his Blog. Sign up for a free trial of Process Street here: http://process.st

6 Key Tactics Agencies Use to Help Local Businesses Rank Higher in Google

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Dan Olson – Enjoy!

Small businesses today, more than ever, rely on agencies to help with organic search and local results to drive business in their local markets. The challenge for most is ranking in the top spots to be noticed and attract the right customers. As a matter-of-fact, 67.60% of all Google clicks come from the first 5 positions, making that real estate extremely valuable and highly sought after. Understanding this challenge, we’ve come up with six tactics agencies use to help their small business customers achieve search result success.

1) Pick long-tail keywords. Not only that, but pick the right ones.

Be sure to recommend that your customers pick keywords that aren’t too short. The shorter the keyword, the more competition they are to face from competitors in the same market. Not only that, but it will take a lot more effort to build the adequate link authority in order to meaningfully rank for that keyword. Instead, you should focus on more detailed (long-tail) keywords or phrases that are specific to your clients’ solution. This results in more relevant traffic to their sites and higher rankings within search results which can substantially decrease bounce rates and increase conversions. Here are a few examples of keywords: Short-tail keywords – Marketing, SEO, Social Media, Content Creation (usually one or two words, not very targeted). Long-tail keyphrases – web design ohio, seo guest posting strategies, local marketing chicago illinois, responsive wordpress theme templates (more focused and specific to target audiences).

2) Don’t write content for the search engines.

By this, we don’t mean writing content stuffed with keywords you hope will help with your rank. if you think that method works, prepare to be greatly disappointed. Rather, write valuable content that educates your audience. It’s often pretty tempting to copy and paste content to save time. However, when you do this, you sacrifice your credibility and dilute your link authority. You should always produce content you know your audience will consume and come back to for more! Tip: Many agencies don’t have the bandwidth nor resources to do this for each and every client, but will outsource these types of services to experts in the field

3) Co-create content with other authorities in your niche market.

Business owners, in most cases, spend a lot of time building up their own content and not enough time collaborating with other people in the same industry. As an agency, they rely on you to guide them in the right direction. Finding the right partners within an industry is crucial. Whether it’s teaming up with a blogger in your city to run a thought leadership piece or investing some time to share relevant content through a local community site, there are many outlets that help increase your clients’ local visibility and build up their reputation.

4) Claim and manage your client’s local listings.

This is more of a technical SEO tactic, but still very important. “Google My Business” is a platform that enables your small business customers to verify their online visibility and local business information through the search engines. By signing up on this platform, you can help businesses keep track of their local listings and social footprint. It’s a very simple way for agencies to help small businesses get found, manage their online presence, and build relationships with consumers. Places like Angie’s List, Google+ Local, Yelp, and Citysearch are also great sources to bolster their online visibility.

5) Publish content consistently.

Consistency is key when you’re just starting out. Search engine bots come by to scrape your content on a regular basis. With more consistent publishing, search engine bots associate your domain with authority and help you rise through the search rankings. To aid in doing this, create an editorial calendar. This way, you’ll be able to keep track of your content ideas, as well as your publishing schedule. Remember, Google loves when you deliver fresh and relevant content that is shared consistently, so keep producing content that is unique to your clients’ audience and the rest will fall into place.

6) Manage your client’s online reputation.

Lastly, you want to pay attention to your client’s online reputation. Reputation management plays a significant role in your influence with customers. If your client has negative mentions or reviews online, it’s in their best interest to find them as soon as possible. This way, they have time to craft a proper response that can address, if not alleviate, the situation. Clients can also capitalize on positive mentions by responding favorably to them, helping solidify them as a trustworthy place of business. Recap: We’ve found that these tactics can have the most significant impact on your clients’ search rankings. Remember, establishing a keyword strategy early on will keep you laser-focused on developing fresh and relevant content that drive true results. Positioning is key! Building up your clients’ reputation and maintaining an authoritative figure in the local market takes time, but done right will benefit you both greatly.

Dan OlsonDan Olson is the Co-Founder and CEO of UpCity.com, the industry’s most robust SEO software and inbound marketing platform designed to help clients achieve local digital marketing success. Designed by pioneers in the search engine optimization industry, UpCity makes getting free traffic even easier. With a built-in “task engine,” UpCity creates personalized action plans and performance tracking reports to help guide each campaign to achieve measurable SEO success. As a stand-alone technology solution or as an extension of your services team, we partner with agencies to help them acquire, retain and scale their small business relationships.

The Power of Gratitude in Marketing

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Nicole Kohler – Enjoy!

photo credit: pixabay

photo credit: pixabay

As a business owner, you probably say the phrase “thank you” multiple times a day without thinking about it. You thank your employees for their hard work, your customers or clients for working with you, or potential leads for getting in touch with you.

Saying “thank you” is probably automatic for you at this point. But what if expressing your gratitude could grow your social media following, boost your website conversions, or even attract new customers and leads?

A few months ago, I noticed that when I thanked people for sharing the content I’d written on Twitter, they seemed more likely to follow me than if I’d simply favorited their tweet. After doing an in-depth study of this trend, based on my last 50 tweets of gratitude, I discovered that around 26% of the people that I thanked for sharing my content followed me, just because I said “thank you.”

NCK-thank-you-diagramGratitude can be a very powerful tactic for growing your customer base and increasing conversions on your website. When you express genuine emotion (including gratitude) to others online, you’re humanizing your brand – and making it easier for others to connect with you.

Here are three ways you can harness the incredible power of gratitude in your marketing.

Create Actionable “Thank You” Pages

A customer’s journey on your website doesn’t end when they click the “place order” or “submit form” button – or at least it shouldn’t. By creating a more actionable “thank you” page at the end of a transaction or form submission, you can strengthen your relationship with that visitor and have them take additional desirable actions.

Along with a genuine note of thanks with a photo or other personal touch, you should consider adding any of the following to your page:

  • An explanation of what happens next (ex. when will they get their order? When will they hear from you? How can they contact you with questions?
  • Links to your social media pages
  • A call to action for a survey or questionnaire
  • Something fun, humorous, or touching that will make your customer smile!

Say “Thank You” When You Hit Important Milestones

Did your Facebook page reach 15,000 Likes? Is your Instagram account up to 1,000 followers? Now isn’t the time to be patting yourself on the back (well, okay, maybe just a little). Don’t forget: without your fans, none of this would be possible!

When you reach important business milestones, try to find a way to thank your fans, followers, and customers. It could be as simple as posting a message of thanks, or sending a personalized “we appreciate your support” email. Or, if you operate an ecommerce store, you could celebrate by sending out a coupon or special discount code.

As a small business, it’s important not to let the dedication of your fans go unnoticed, even as you continue to grow. Your customers will expect your acknowledgement and gratitude if you celebrate your early victories, so don’t forget about them as your wins get bigger!

Go Above and Beyond

Sometimes writing an email or tweet to a customer just isn’t enough to express your thanks. If a customer does something really incredible for you – like writes a glowing blog post about you – you should respond in kind.

In cases where your customers have been especially kind, you should have a plan to go above and beyond for them. This may involve something like:

  • Sending a handwritten note or card
  • Shipping them a free T-shirt, sticker, or piece of merchandise
  • Surprising them with a free shipping upgrade or addition to their latest order
  • Meeting them in person to treat them to lunch
  • Giving them your time – listening to their suggestions and acting on them where appropriate

Customers don’t always expect these “above and beyond” reactions – so by surprising them, you may delight them enough to strengthen your relationship with them, or convert them into a paying customer (if they aren’t one already).

Get Ahead With Gratitude

The next time you’re looking for a way to improve your marketing, think about using gratitude in one of the ways I’ve listed above. Saying “thank you” can have some unexpectedly powerful results!

NCK-150-headshotNicole Kohler is the Web Content Strategist for WebpageFX, a full-service Internet marketing agency. When she’s not blogging, tweeting, or writing about marketing, she can be found playing video games, hanging out with her husband and pets, or enjoying a good piece of classic literature. Follow her on Twitter @nicoleckohler.