Social Media Marketing

 


4 Reasons Social Media is The Future of Customer Care [Infographic]

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Editor's Note: Josh Wardini is a community manager for Websitebuilder, where a version of this article first appeared. He joins us today to discuss the way that social media is transforming customer support with a simple infographic that explains it all.

 

Social media has quickly become a worldwide phenomenon reaching every corner of the international free market economy. By harnessing social media, brands big and small have managed to reach more customers from a vast array of backgrounds, countries and regions than ever before.

One of the biggest changes ushered in with widespread adoption of social networks is a gap in the way that customers interact with brands. In conventional customer care, businesses relied mainly on call centers and a small army of representatives to handle inquiries over the phone.

In the still-developing online economy, formal storefronts do not exist; nevertheless, customers looking to make a purchase continue to require customer care.

In response to this need, many of the world’s largest brands have recognized that social media is the most effective way to interact with and support customers. In the future, more will adopt this strategy until it becomes the industry standard for customer support.

In the following infographic, we summarize statistics on social media use and customer support preferences to help you make the best decisions for your brand.

Here is a four point summary:

1. Social Media Adoption

Social media is one of the fastest growing forms of technology in the past 30 years. Its adoption rates far surpass the adoption rates of conventional media forms, and most other new technologies. Seven in ten Americans use social media daily, and in the last 10 years saturation has gone from 5% in 2005 to 69% in 2016.

With so many users and potential customers on social media, brands have a growing and potentially unlimited reach.

2. Customer Preferences

90% of users have communicated with a brand on social media. In studies, 34.5% of respondents expressed a strong preference for this form of customer care. At 24.7%, website and live chat came in second, while email cam in third at 19.4%. Preference for conventional telephone support has dropped to less than 16.1%, showing the public attitudes have radically transformed.

Brands hoping to reach clients where they're at should listen and respond accordingly.

3. Software & Innovation

With software companies now creating products to help businesses better interact with their clients, the innovation is finally catching up to demand. Social business software is expected to be a $37 billion industry by 2017. These new products will continue to help streamline the online customer care process, and bring down support tickets as frequently asked questions are handled with machine intelligence and databases.

4. Decreased Cost

On average, it costs $1 to solve a customer issue on social media, while conventional call center interactions cost 6 times as much. Furthermore, social media agents have proven to be 167% more efficient, which marks significant savings for a brand while increasing the overall effectiveness of their customer service program.

Learn more about the growing predominance of social media support with the infographic below. Feel free to save for future reference, or pass it along to your colleagues!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Developing a Social Media Customer Service Plan

Measuring the Value of Social Media Using Simple Analytics

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media market

 


A Realtor’s Guide to Digital Selling: Leveraging The Web to Find Buyers

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Editor's Note: Sundeep Kapur is the OMI Training Industry Director, digital consultant and successful real estate agent. To celebrate our new Real Estate learning series and upcoming webinar, he joins us today to discuss how realtors can use the power of the web to boost their business.

How can you leverage the power of digital media to attract buyers to your property listings? As a real estate professional, you already work hard to connect buyers with sellers - earning their business is even harder, and your time is limited. The digital storefront, on the other hand, is always open. Buyers peruse online listings 24/7, and sellers are always looking for the best way to make an impression. Both buyers and sellers are looking for three things:

  1. A trustworthy brand
  2. Relevant advice
  3. Easy access to information

Starting with your profile, here are some ideas that can enhance your digital presence to address clients’ needs, and win their business:

Profile Do’s

Build and maintain a website that clearly identifies your value proposition – think of it as a digital business card that tells the consumer:

  • Who you are
  • Your expertise
  • The area(s) that you serve.

Your site needs content that can engage readers – think useful, important, and entertaining.

Leverage social media channels to describe yourself – good platforms include LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. A LinkedIn profile should provide a succinct overview of who you are as a business, your experience, and your value proposition. A good Facebook presence is similar, but expands to include content like images and articles - being a Facebook brand constitutes a balance of professionalism and personality.. Twitter is also a great way to be found online - tweet useful information, follow people relevant to your business, and learn the art of tagging (#hashtag) key content.

The content you share doesn’t have to be original, and you may have little time to create it - but consider curating and publishing relevant articles that your prospective clients will find useful. Mix up your content with text, pictures, and even video: good multimedia content goes a long way to keep people engaged, and raises your visibility in the digital world.

Collect leads by offering something of value, and using a form on your website called a lead form to capture the contact information of prospective clients. Your value or incentive could include valuable information on buying or selling; the lead form you create should be as simple as possible – contact information, area of interest, and permission to get in touch via digital channels (allowing them to opt into your messaging).

Email leads as soon as possible, and use your messages to learn more about their needs. Keep emails short, and include a short survey (one or two questions) that will allow them to share additional information about their requirements. If it makes sense, send out two to three messages spaced at regular intervals, each containing information that builds on the last.

Because so many consumers now use smartphones, your strategy to connect with them should be “smarter.” Ensure that the content you share is brief and your website is responsive. Just because the consumer has a phone with them at all times does not mean that it is okay to message them excessively. Make every interaction simple, engaging, and useful.

Stay in touch with those you serve by providing a useful amount of information on a regular basis. Determining frequency can be a challenge, but an ideal goal is to ensure that every question asked on your digital channels is responded to within a day. This encourages prospects and clients to ask questions, and reduces your posting burden.

What Drives Success

Successful digital brands ensure that the information they share is current, that they have conversations to nurture a relationship with the consumer, and that they are timely in responding. Being responsive does not mean that you have to monitor your digital assets around the clock: a well-defined strategy of organizing the right information, automating responses to frequently asked questions and adding a personal touch goes a long way in driving digital success.

Consumers seek approachable brands that inspire confidence and earn trust. You build confidence by providing relevant information and showcasing your thought leadership. Trust comes from good customer experiences and (digital) word of mouth. Being approachable comes from a combination of a number of factors, including your ability to respond quickly and personably.

Listings abound and buyers are out there looking. As a real estate professional you work hard to connect the buyer and seller. You are busy, and there are so many hands to shake/contacts to make.

  • How can you leverage the power of digital to attract buyers to your listing?
  • How do you get sellers to list with you?
  • How do you answer their questions/concerns 24x7?
  • How do you bring them in/convert them?
  • How do you nurture these relationships forever?

To find answers to these questions and to learn more about using the web to boost your real estate business, join us for a FREE webinar on digital best practices and dramatically increase your success.

 


12 Tips for Creating Shareable Social Media Content

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Editor's Note: Rachel Bartee is an experienced content writer, and joins us today to discuss several content creation tips that will encourage social media followers to like and share.

 

Content creation is a vital element in contemporary marketing strategies. However, while nearly 90% of all companies engage in content marketing on some level, few manage to produce contagious content that Internet users share. Without this level of engagement, content can hardly fulfill its true purpose.

Fortunately, there are many ways to create interesting content that is more likely to spread across social media, and in this article I will present you with practical tips for doing so. But first, let’s talk about what goes on behind the scenes of social media sharing -

What Motivates Users to Share Content?

There is a science behind what motivates users to share digital content. Researchers have discovered a number of psychological triggers that inspire people to engage in online activities, and here are some of the most important ones:

  • Social Approval: People love to express their attitudes and receive affirmative feedback from their circle of friends and acquaintances. Sharing content is a way to express one's personality to a group.
  • Communication: Humans are social beings. We all want to nurture relationships with other people, and digital content enables us to do this more easily and frequently.
  • Support Ideas: Social media is often used to signal support for ideas, political views and personal beliefs; in this is way, users connect with a greater, altruistic good.
  • Entertainment: At the end of the day, plenty of people use social media to wind down. Entertaining content includes humor, memes, videos, music, and more.

It can be difficult to segment the way people interact online, since these categories can and frequently do overlap. However, thinking about these basic motivations is still a useful starting point for developing content that will motivate users to get involved. With that being said, here are:

12 Tips to Make Your Social Media Content More Shareable

1. Create High-Quality Content

This seems like the most obvious point, and it is, but it's also forgotten too often. There are no shortcuts: shareable content is always high-quality content. If you focus on superficial topics and don’t invest enough time into research or content creation, you cannot expect your followers to become interested and engaged. This is one reason why longform content is doing better than ever.

Content development can take time and effort, so if you need professional help, here are some simple resources I have used in the past:

  • Blog Title Generator: This tool will show you the list of the most relevant topics in any given niche.
  • Headline Analyzer: Headline is the first thing that your readers notice and you have to come up with a catchy and intriguing solution. Headline Analyzer will tell you if you’ve succeeded.
  • Essaysontime: If you decide that serious content creation is out of your reach, you can always ask for help from this expert writing service.

2. Use Smart Structuring

Internet users read very quickly, and nothing will turn them off more than a "wall of text". Format your content intelligently by using numbered lists, bullet points and headers to easily highlight key information points.

3. Add Value to Users' Lives

Informative content is good, but if your readers and clients can’t put your words in practice then they will not benefit from what you publish. A primary goal of content is to solve users' problems and show how to overcome them; this will not only build brand loyalty, but it will keep them coming back for more. As long as the content you create is genuinely helpful, it's also certain to be passed around.

4. Keep Your Audience in Mind

Before ever creating or sharing content, think about your audience: ask yourself if it's something they would like to see and share with their friends. Once you have some ideas, you can even poll your audience to generate comments and perhaps initiate debate. This not only creates engagement, but gives you special insight into what they want.

5. Create Infographics

Infographics are informative but easy to understand. And because they come in the form of images, they are convenient for the majority of Internet users who mostly share visual content on social media. Using tools like Piktochart, you don’t even need the knowledge of a graphic designer to create a reasonably high quality infographic. The most important thing is to use your business expertise and data to create something your audience will find valuable.

6. Trigger Emotions

Some of the most successful marketing campaigns went viral because they sparked strong emotional reactions among users. A lot of studies have proven that emotions like happiness, anger, or sorrow have the power to engage people and make them share digital content. Do you remember the #ItCanWait campaign? Study how AT&T used narrative, art and user engagement to skyrocket this public safety campaign. Be careful not to co-opt causes that are unrelated to your business, since insincerity can backfire. But when you see an opportunity to contribute, do it well.

7. Remember the good old times

Talking about emotions, never forget nostalgia. Users universally enjoy content that hearkens back to old memories, and if you analyze your audience precisely, you can get an easy target for what will appeal to them. Consider this 90s themed commercial by Microsoft, aimed at Millennials to promote its Internet Explorer web browser (and be sure to notice the tremendously positive response it elicited):

8. Offer Incentives

People love free stuff. It’s a fact that you can occasionally use to boost interest in your products or services. Frequently social media pages will offer a giveaway based on a random drawing, and to enter the drawing users are simply asked to share, like, or follow a page. This can create a big ripple effect that more than compensates for the investment in a reward.

9. Exploit Trendy Topics

Staying up to date with trendy topics is obligatory for all marketers. You should always follow the latest industry news, and use them to create shareable content when appropriate. Consider how this Norwegian Airlines commercial provoked positive reactions by responding to celebrity news surrounding Brad Pitt.

10. Organize Contests

Contests are a great way to engage your audience and inspire them to share your content. Users love to compete and they usually do it with their friends and colleagues, which is the main sharing motive for them. All it takes is a nice idea and a little bit of budget to launch the contest – just take a look at the KFC football challenge.

11. Be Funny

Your business is serious but your content doesn’t have to be. On the contrary, funny posts, images, and videos grab the users’ attention and promise you a fair portion of shares, so don’t run away from it.   

12. Use video content

Video is quickly becoming the dominant form of online content, and some studies even say that video content will make up 80% of all Internet traffic by 2018. As a result, you have to embrace video as part of your content strategy. This is also why Twitter – once known as the photo-sharing network – added video to its portfolio. This kind of content has a big potential to go viral, just like this Nike video did.

About the Author: Rachel Bartee is a content writer and a marketing consultant from Davenport. She is content-oriented and knows how to put words into action. She feels passionate about travelling and inspired by her morning yoga. Reach her on Facebook or Twitter.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Introduction to Content Marketing Strategy

8 Steps to Discovering and Creating Content Your Audience Will Love

B2B Social Visual Storytelling on Instagram, Pinterest & Tumblr

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 

 

 


How Marketers Use Social Media for Recruitment

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To compliment the brand new classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to discuss how social media is used for recruitment, and how employers can benefit.

 

What if I told you that 94% of recruiters have reported using LinkedIn to vet candidates?

Or that the number of employers using social media to screen candidates has increased over 500% in the last decade?

If you’re looking for a new job, you might think I’m trying to give you a piece of conventional wisdom: “Keep your online presence professional.” (And that’s still true!)

But here's something you hear less often: if you’re looking for a new hire, then you already know these social stats spell far greater changes for recruitment and human resources than for jobseekers, unless they too aspire to become recruiters.

The Great Talent Tug of War

Before LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter were used to headhunt the best talent, Human Resources was the primary driver of talent acquisition.

But over the last 10 years, social recruiting on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms has revolutionized the way we hire, so that now what was once a job for the accounting team has become a job for the marketing team.

So how did this great talent tug of war wind up on the marketing end of things? Short answer: the Great Recession.

When huge job losses started occurring around 2008, HR departments became understandably less concerned with filling positions and more concerned with compensation and risk management.

Around the same time, all of our most popular modern social media platforms (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram) were undergoing a development renaissance, all while performing an admirable job of bucking the Recession’s downward trends and revitalizing the online economy that had crashed at the beginning of the 21st century.

The net result of this decline in hiring and ascent of social media was that social recruiting became many companies’ primary resource for not only scouting talent but acquiring it.

Where we once followed recruitment protocols that relied heavily on HR spending, talent scouts, and physical energy to go forth and fill a company’s talent pipeline, we now inhabit a world where free social recruiting technology has placed a vast and easily accessible talent pool right at our fingertips.

This heightened selectability has altered the job market’s center of gravity in major ways. If you’re an investor, then you might say what was once a seller’s market became a buyer’s market. If you’re in HR, you might say what was once an employee’s job market became an employer’s job market. And if you’re a social recruiter, you might say what was once a hustle for HR to fill an abundance of positions is now headhunting: the practice of sifting through hundreds of perfect-fit candidates to fill a choice few jobs with the best talent possible.

Yet with all of the convenient recruiting this talent acquisition revolution has created, there are perhaps an equal number of complications that arise from vetting people online. Chief among these is the age-old HR question: “How do I know I can I trust this person?

How to Know: Using Facebook for Social Recruiting and Talent Acquisition

Using Facebook for social recruiting requires a very discerning eye, but if used wisely, the world’s largest social network can be an excellent tool for talent acquisition.

One of the first reasons Facebook emerged as a tool for talent acquisition was largely a negative one; in its early years, Facebook was a more personal posting platform where employers could research whether prospective new hires behaved badly outside of work and could result in a PR nightmare for the company.

Rest assured, Facebook can be (and still is) used in this way. But many prospective hires know their Facebook pages will be vetted, so they often take precautionary measures that render the process of using Facebook to root out the bad apples less effective.

But there are still jobs for which Facebook vetting remains a highly recommended recruitment strategy. In fact, some of the web’s best social media managers were picked up from scrolling organically through News Feed and coming across users with carefully curated Facebook posts and great, engaging voices. Others use Facebook to cultivate and monitor an audience of enthusiastic fans, followers and groups that can be used as an excellent resource to mine brand advocates whose skill with word-of-mouth messaging could make them excellent candidates for new marketing jobs.

How to Know: Using LinkedIn for Social Recruiting

At first glance, LinkedIn might seem like the easiest tool to use for social recruiting. After all, it was created to connect job seekers with job offers, right?

In fact it was, but its features have grown in number and complexity since the service’s inception, so that now users have to navigate interfaces such as LinkedIn Premium and LinkedIn Pulse, and constantly think about how to execute a content strategy or promote their brand outside of the seasonal job search.

That makes good leads out of job candidates who regularly update their profiles with new content, experience, and education. But as with print resumes, social recruiters should trust but verify what they read on a job candidate’s LinkedIn profile and cross-check all of the candidate’s online profiles for consistency, credibility, and digital footprint.

All these layers of complexity mean that those who want to engage in social recruiting as a form of talent acquisition should be working hard to revolutionize their marketing strategy on the micro-level every day, especially if their brands, businesses and HR departments want to stay on top of the job market.

 

How are you using social recruiting for talent acquisition? To learn more, check out OMI’s brand new selection of classes. Our expert educators cover social recruiting, human resources, talent acquisition, and many other topics. For ten days, access is completely free.

 


How to Build an Engaged Social Media Community

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Editor's Note: Tess Pajaron works in business management for Open Colleges. Today, she joins us to explore how brands can build an active and engaged social media community.

 

While consumers have been using platforms like Facebook and Twitter for over a decade now - beginning with the raging success of MySpace in the early 2000s - brands have only begun to catch on in the last five years and realize the full potential of social media for marketing.

Social media not only makes people better, but offers plenty of amazing opportunities to businesses of every shape and size.

Instead of using social networks solely as marketing platforms to advertise products, companies can now use social media to build customer experience and create engagement. The ability to connect and communicate directly with a target audience allows brands to build a solid fan base and grow their community easily.

Here are 6 tips to help you create an engaged network of followers that will support your brand -

1. Make sure your business is easy to find

You can't grow your social media community or spread the word about your product unless customers can easily connect with your business.

Here are a couple of tricks you should use to make sure that your brand is accessible to customers and prospects:

  • Your social sharing icons should be prominent on your website
  • Feature the URL of your website and social media handles on business cards and other print media
  • Include a link to your brand website in social media channel descriptions
  • Personalize your email responses: don't solely rely on automated messages
  • Track all associated hashtags and mentions to know who is talking about you and your product. Engage with those who are!

2. Know your audience

Your social media community is not a homogeneous gathering of people who behave in the exact same way. Rather, it is comprised of individuals. Each one of them has unique reasoning and behaviors that predict how they will interact with your brand. Segment your audience, and target these smaller groups with the right messaging in order to reach them more effectively.

To create a strong social media community, good communication is vital. And in order to communicate well, you need to get to know your family. You will have a completely different relationship with different segments of your family. Your engagement with followers will differ on the basis of what you know, resulting in better responses.

3. Solve the problems of your followers

Use social media not just to directly promote your products, but to interact with your customers and learn what their key pain points are. If you want more results from your marketing, you need to do your best to solve problems for your customers.

Most likely, there are plenty of businesses out there that offer similar products to yours, so you need to stand out. That's something you can achieve by building trust in your community and helping your followers with issues unique to them.

Invite your community to join you in helping others deal with such issues. Promote user-generated content on your social media channels as well – that's how you build loyalty and offer real value.

4. Be generous

Motivate the members of your community to share their own content and spark exciting conversations on your social profiles. One way to do this is offering incentives, like coupons, or giveaways. Another way is by sharing user-generated content, and bringing valuable contributors into the spotlight.

Analyze your social media data to find out who your top contributors are. These will be the people responsible for engagement on your website. The more feedback signals you get – like shares or comments – the more likely the social platform is to show your posts to a higher percentage of your followers.

Create content for your top users. Be generous and add a personal touch to all your communications. That's how you build relationships and help fans feel connected in the community surrounding your brand.

Don't forget to keep the communication lines open and instantly respond to your followers if they reach out to you.  

5. Listen to your audience

To build a social media community, you need to produce content that your audience wants to consume. That's why your first step is finding out what they want, and there are many ways to go about doing this.

Create a quick video and ask your fans what they want to talk about. When your community provides you with answers, follow through by implementing new initiatives based on what they requested.  

Put your followers and their needs or desires at the center of your social media strategy. Actively listen to their social chatter to build further engagement.

Instead of asking your followers to share photos of the products that they purchased, ask them to share content that shows what your products have enabled them to do.

Make your social media channels focus on lifestyle, not just on products or services. You can be sure that purely promotional content will reduce engagement. Offer your fans behind-the-scene content that shows the inside of your company or how your product is developed. That's how you take your brand to the next level and develop a community of people who share a sense of purpose.

6. Be honest

People like to deal with businesses they trust. A smart way to build trust in your business is admitting to your mistakes when you make them. No company is 100% perfect. And some forget that it pays to be open and honest.

If you admit your faults and offer transparency in the face of criticism, you will win big among followers by showing your willingness to listen and your ability to adapt. On the other hand, if you try to mask a bad situation or avoid the problem, you will be on your way to destroying that trust. Show the human side of your business to win loyalty among your fans.

Conclusion

Social media is a great opportunity for brands, but building a community is about much more than just promotion. With a little bit of effort and creativity, you stand a great chance of engaging existing customers and raising your bottom line in terms of prospects and exposure.

Get started with any of the methods listed above, and watch your community grow!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

 

How to Perform Segmentation Using Google Analytics

Content Marketing Implementation: Executing a Winning Content Program

Crisis Management with Social Media

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media market

 


Why Email is the Ultimate Marketing Omnichannel

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To celebrate the launch of our new Email Marketing Course, Josh joins us today to discuss email as the first step in an omnichannel strategy that can skyrocket your traditional or online business.

 

Despite the hype surrounding social media, email is still the most popular and effective marketing tool for gaining and retaining customers.

Why?

Longevity. Of all internet marketing tools, email has been around the longest, which means it had a head start in the race for global users. As a result, those users - and all potential users - have had a long time to get comfortable with the service email provides, and think of that service as a part of everyday life, like telephone, TV, and billboards on the side of the road.

Another reason is success. Email is the top channel driving both leads and conversions, especially when it comes to doing business with other businesses, as well as doing business with consumers who want to do business. In other words, there’s a good reason 80% of businesses use email for retention. It works.

In other words, email is the most trusted, time-tested resource for converting leads into customers.

The Biggest Reason

Those reasons alone make email an essential tool for acquiring and retaining customers.

But while success and longevity are good answers to why email is essential for acquiring and retaining customers, they are not the be-all-end-all, nor the most pressing and relevant answers to why email marketing is so essential today.

In fact, arguably the biggest, most relevant and underrated reason that email marketing is essential to the customer lifecycle is that - at a time when brick-and-mortar stores are shrinking - email is the ultimate marketing channel to unify online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Here’s why.

Omnichannel Marketing

Social media is an excellent channel for increasing brand awareness in marketing and sales, but when it comes to conversions, social media platforms do not lend themselves to customers making buyer decisions.

Email does. If a user is willing to give you their email address, you have already sold them on your journey. And they are certainly willing to listen to your offer, if not entirely willing to buy your product, wherever it may be.

When a customer gives you their email address, they are giving you permission to enter their private online universe. They are also expressing a certain degree of brand loyalty and customer trust that is greater than a like on social media, and greater than or equal to an in-store purchase.

But all this is to say: acquiring a customer’s email by their own permission falls along the same spectrum of customer loyalty as online and in-store shopping. Many customers are willing to give their email addresses during purchase, especially if it means access to promotions and discounts—which is what makes email uniquely suited to being the most suitable marketing channel to unify online and brick-and-mortar stores.

So, instead of worrying about online sales cannibalizing brick-and-mortar sales or vice versa, businesses should see email as a unifying marketing channel, or what’s known as an “omnichannel." In this case, omnichannel marketing is the practice of using online messaging to lead customers to brick-and-mortar stores, and brick-and-mortar messaging to lead customers to online stores, all of which works to keep the customer lifecycle of acquisition and retention alive.    

Something to Consider

It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar retail stores are closing at a rate that could see 1 in every 4 U.S. malls shuttered by 2022. In 2016, the biggest retailer in the world, Walmart, closed 269 brick-and-mortar stores and bought Jet.com in an apparent bid to expand its online sales.

Meanwhile, Amazon.com continues to grow its already burgeoning online sales, and just last month expanded to the point of bursting its own digital bubble by purchasing Whole Foods and entering the brick-and-mortar business, wholesale.

Barring discussions of what all that says about the epic power struggle between Walmart and Amazon—which is impossible to say this early in the game—the expansion of each retailer into the other’s “domain” spells out what we’re seeing in the retail industry as a whole: a contraction for brick-and-mortar, an expansion for eCommerce.

What most businesses would rather see is a balance, which is why the first businesses to adopt an acquisition and retention model that can successfully unify online with brick-and-mortar could be the start of something new.

Why not start with email and add the ultimate marketing omnichannel to your business cycle?

Email marketing is a HUGE marketing channel. If you want more in-depth knowledge about integrating email into your marketing strategy, check out our updated class library with brand new email marketing courses.

 

 


11 Reasons You Should Care About Mobile Marketing

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mobile marketing header

Editor’s Note: Kent Lewis is the president of digital marketing agency Anvil Media Inc. In preparation for his upcoming Mobile Marketing webinar, he joins us today to discuss trends that make mobile marketing imperative for your business.

 

Since 2007, my measurable marketing agency Anvil has been claiming the ‘Year of Mobile’ is upon us every year. Why? Because every year, mobile has reliably become a more important part of the marketing mix. In 2017, most brands are finally beginning to think about how mobile marketing plays into their overall strategy, and some are even developing mobile-first campaigns. Here are a few compelling statistics about the immense impact mobile is having on the marketing world:

  • By the end of the year, 75 percent of internet use will be via mobile devices.
  • 36 percent of Americans now go online using multiple devices.
  • 86 percent of respondents say it’s important to create mobile apps, according to Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s State of Marketing report.

As I originally outlined in a 2012 article, Mobilizing Your Marketing is now table stakes; but as time goes by, a host of new trends has redefined mobile marketing. In this article, I’ve outlined eleven trends in mobile that your brand must consider when implementing or refining a mobile-friendly marketing program.

1. Voice Search

Searches originating from mobile devices continue to grow exponentially. Thanks to rapid adoption of Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Apple Siri and Google Home, voice search will continue to increase in popularity. Amazon recently announced that Alexa now has 15,000 skills. According to recent research, 49 percent of US respondents use their voice assistants on a weekly basis, compared to 31 percent of global respondents. Interestingly, 57 percent said they would use voice search more if it recognized more complex commands. The good news is that each platform provider continues to increase the number of voice commands by thousands at a time. More than 20 percent of current searches on Android devices are voice searches.

This trend directly impacts search engine optimization and paid search, as both need to utilize voice-search-related initiatives to maintain a competitive edge. The first step is to optimize your website for long-tail search terms more common with voice-based searches. Similarly, paid search campaigns should target similar terms with mobile-optimized ads. On the web design side, leveraging Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology has shown to increase click-through-rates by up to 90 percent. Mobile searchers also spend 35 percent more time with AMP content than dedicated mobile web pages.

2. Location-based Marketing (LBM)

When Foursquare launched in 2009, the future looked bright for location-based marketing (LBM). For at least a year or two, mobile users were obsessed with “checking in” at local businesses via Foursquare or Facebook. While Foursquare may have gone the way of Groupon (still alive, but not exactly an Internet darling), LBM is still a thing. Key components of LBM include near field communications (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), wi-fi, geo-fencing, beaconing and local listings. Last year, beacon messages generated $44 billion in US retail sales. Nearly 80 percent of social media interactions now occur on mobile devices, which include location-based platforms.

While many consumers aren’t familiar with NFC technology, it is the missing link between location-based marketing and sales: Apple Pay, Google Wallet and other payment technologies rely on it for transactions. With greater support this year from Apple, expect much wider adoption of mobile wallets. Beyond leveraging RFID and beaconing to target in-store shoppers with unique messages, brands must embrace responsive-design for websites and proactive management of local business directory listings (Google My Business) and social platforms (Yelp!), including associated ratings and reviews, to ensure a holistic view of your customer journey.

3. Advertising Evolved

2017 is a special year for advertising, as it marks the first time in history that the total digital ad spend will surpass that of television. This year also provides a perfect storm of evolving ad options for mobile, with programmatic, video and native advertising. eMarketer recently reported that video ad spending for mobile will cross $6 billion in 2017, which is a 32 percent increase from 2016, according to another report.

Within mobile marketing, programmatic is expected to provide a major opportunity for advertisers. Brands are expected to spend more than $20 billion on mobile-programmatic advertising in 2017. Within mobile, video programmatic marketing will account for 28 percent of total spend by 2019. The third key trend in mobile advertising will be native advertising, which is expected to make up 63 percent of mobile display ad spend by 2020. Mobile advertising has clearly evolved from simple network and in-app display ads to today’s creative options across programmatic, video and native formats. Ensure your mobile advertising involves these developing technologies and trends to maximize ROI for your brand.

4. Augmented Experiences

Oculus Rift recently announced the ability to record real-world content and incorporate it into virtual reality (VR) experiences. Known as mixed reality, the new function will allow developers to bring video recordings from the real world into game/VR environments. This is an evolution from the other side of the spectrum, known as augmented reality (AR), which overlays virtual elements onto real world environments (Google Glass and Spectacles by Snap Inc.).

IKEA's VR showroom tech

According to Forbes, augmented reality technology will be a $5.7 billion industry by 2021. In comparison, global brands ranging from Coca-Cola and Ocean Spray to IKEA and Volvo have bet big on VR, creating immersive experiences to sell kitchen remodels, beverages and SUVs. Mobile devices are ground zero for the AR/VR experiences, as they are ubiquitous, powerful and highly personal. Google, Facebook, Samsung and Apple have all invested in VR technology, making it more affordable, accessible and engaging than ever. In the next 3 years, brands of all shapes and sizes should include AR/VR elements in their advertising.

5. Video Consumption

Over the past decade, mobile devices have dramatically changed how we consume video. According to HubSpot, video is the most popular online content format. Video is also viral: 92 percent of mobile video consumers share videos with others. In 2015, Flurry found that U.S. consumers spent more time on apps than watching television. Research also shows that younger consumers are less interested in watching TV, and prefer free or low-cost online video-streaming services. Remaining cable and satellite subscribers tend to multi-task on a second screen when watching TV, usually a mobile device. YouTube and Facebook dominate mobile video consumption currently, which means brands should actively create and sponsor content on those platforms.

360 video is growing in popularity, particularly on Facebook. Investing in 360 video can be costly and intimidating. For this reason, YouTube recently announced its VR180 initiative. According to recent Google research, 75 percent of 360-degree video users only look at the quadrant in front of them at the start of a video. With current 360 video offerings being largely under-utilized, grainy and unintuitive, 180 degree video offers a viable alternative for brands, as the same 4K resolution is condensed into half the viewing space, resulting in a sharper picture. With increased video consumption comes advertising opportunities. Mobile video ad spend is projected to exceed $6 billion by the end of 2017. This means that brands can buy into the conversation without committing significant initial resources to production.

6. Intelligent Messaging

A trend has been clear for the past few years: mobile device owners are downloading fewer apps, which creates challenges for brands looking to create their own dedicated mobile experience. Conversely, consumers are spending more time on mobile devices, which means more time on fewer apps. Nearly 80 percent of mobile users globally have downloaded messaging apps (including WhatsApp, TextNow, Facebook Messenger, Line and Viber), and that market continues to expand. Brands that embrace artificial intelligence (AI) based chatbots to connect with consumers are taking a leadership role.

mobile marketing image

Pizza Hut's chatbot

The benefit of tapping messaging apps is that they shorten the sales funnel by understanding the context of conversations and feeding relevant information in return. The rise of in-app chatbots from the likes of 1-800-Flowers, Uber and Dominos validates further investment in the sector, particularly for customer service. More importantly, messaging apps are getting closer to commerce. Messaging app Kik, with more than 300 million registered users, recently announced its own digital currency Kin, which can be used globally to buy and sell goods. The opportunity for brands to create contextually-relevant conversations with a layer of commerce on top provides new ways to mitigate otherwise challenging mobile usage trends.

7. Shopping

Who doesn’t like shopping? According to multiple sources, not very many US-based digital consumers. In fact, 51 percent of Americans say they prefer to shop online. According to comScore, mobile ecommerce growth outpaced that of desktop e-commerce in the last quarter of 2016, growing 45 percent year-over-year (to $22.7 billion). 2017 looks to continue the trend, as Internet Retailer reports mobile commerce sales will top 30 percent for the first time. A ReadyCloud report found that 44 percent of retail internet minutes were spent on smartphones. That translates to roughly $2 billion in US mobile commerce, according to Invesp.

Mobile devices enable shopping on a whim, and 20 percent of American have purchased from the bathroom or while in the car. Social media plays an important role in mobile commerce, and 30 percent of online shoppers say they would purchase from a social media network. The most influential social platforms include Facebook, accounting for 38 percent of all e-commerce referrals. Pinterest comes in second at 29 percent and Twitter in third place with 22 percent of referrals. The bottom line: mobile devices make shopping as easy as a single click (patented by Amazon) and consumer brands need to adjust marketing and commerce initiatives accordingly.

8. Big Data Insights

Since Big Data came on the technology scene five years ago, marketers have latched onto the term and its implications for potential. The reason is that we know information is power, and we are surrounded by information. There are currently 2.7 Zetabytes of data in the digital universe today, and that number is growing rapidly. More than 5 billion people are calling, texting, tweeting and browsing on mobile phones worldwide (don’t look for that number to shrink either, as Facebook recently ran a successful test of its solar-powered drone designed to stay airborne for years to provide internet access to remote areas of the world). Speaking of Facebook, users upload 100 terabytes of data daily to its platform. To give you a sense of scope, 1.8 Zetabytes of data were created in 2011 alone, which equates to more than 200 billion HD movies, which would take you 47 million years to view.

Most alarmingly, the volume of business data worldwide across all companies doubles every 1.2 years. These numbers translate into opportunities, and Wikibon estimates that big data will be a $50 billion business this year. With all of the interest in big data, it may come as a surprise that far too many companies are not leveraging the opportunity as of yet. The DMA recently reported that up to 70 percent of companies are not collecting user content data from social media alone. Thankfully, a host of marketing technology (martech) vendors are providing solutions for big data capture and analysis.

9. Internet of Things

One area likely to contribute significantly to the big data vortex is the Internet of Things (IoT). Particularly relevant to mobile marketing, IoT offers brands an opportunity to gain insights into consumer behavior, as well as gain data-driven insights directly from smart products in and outside the home. Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016. It’s expected that there will be more than 30 billion connected devices in 2020 and 75 billion by 2025. In 2016, global spending on IoT across markets was $737 billion. IDC predicts that by 2020, this number will reach $1.29 trillion. With unprecedented potential to collect and analyze massive amounts of data from mobile and Internet-connected devices, marketers must be diligent in researching and adopting martech solutions to gain insights into current and potential markets and customers.

10. Mobile Wallet

Seasoned digital marketers may feel this article provides little more than validation. If you are one of those people, then this trend is for you. Living in the mobile Valhalla that is Portland, I’m sometimes privy to bleeding edge technology and trends. While we’re all familiar with mobile wallets, which provide convenient and secure payment options, you may not be aware of the potential power of mobile wallets for marketing. Mobile wallets can provide “passes” which are non-payment related, but can be transactional content, including loyalty cards, coupons, event tickets and ID cards.

Certain types of brands are natural fits for mobile marketing opportunities, including restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, sports teams and venues. Unlike paper or plastic alternatives, mobile wallet passes can be updated remotely and seamlessly. This is particularly powerful for couponing, since promotions expire regularly. A few examples of mobile wallet passes in action include WeChat’s social gifting, Alipay’s augmented reality coupons and PayPal’s “stores nearby” and “order ahead” functionality, which is designed to drive more traffic to physical retail stores.

11. Apps

I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on mobile applications, and how they’ve evolved over the past five years. As I mentioned earlier, mobile users are downloading fewer apps but using them more frequently than ever. Research shows that only 6 percent of people use an app after thirty days and five out of ten apps are used only ten times, according to the Adobe Digital Insights Mobile Benchmark Report. The same report indicates that app launches grew 24 percent year-over-year in 2016, but app installs only grew six percent.

Despite the challenges, 197 billion mobile app downloads are expected in 2017, and mobile app revenue is predicted to reach $77 billion this year. Perhaps the most intriguing new trend in the world of mobile apps is Android Instant Apps (AIA), which work without installation. Announced at Google I/O in 2016, AIA are now available to developers. AIA offer a way for brands to distribute lightweight versions of Android apps without requiring a visit to Play Store for a download. Users click on a link in the web browser and are able to get the nearly-full app experience, while circumventing some of the most concerning statistics regarding download and usage rates.

Conclusion:

Regardless of your marketing objectives, target audiences, budgets and available resources, these are at least ten emerging trends to consider when developing a mobile marketing strategy. Ensure you’ve factored in each of the above mobile factors into your mix to ensure your marketing efforts are exponentially more effective in the near future. 

Author Bio: Kent Lewis is President & Founder of Anvil Media, Inc., a digital marketing agency specializing in search engine, social media and mobile marketing for clients worldwide. Based in Portland, Anvil was founded in 2000 and services over 50 clients. For more information, visit www.anvilmediainc.com.

Want to learn more about prepping your brand with a mobile marketing strategy? Join our FREE webinar with Kent Lewis on August 22 at 12pm PST / 3pm EST. 

 


Build a Social Media Presence From Scratch

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Editor's Note: Jo Robinson is a content writer for Media Shark. Today she joins us to explain the importance of a social media strategy for business, and how your company can build a presence from scratch.

 

As a business owner, your social media presence is non-negotiable.

On a personal level, you might find Facebook futile or Instagram infuriating. But professionally, if you want your business - and especially your online business - to succeed, an active presence on those platforms is crucial.

#That's a bit dramatic @writer', I see you tweet.

But it's not.

Your potential customers are active on social media and it's essential to keep yourself at the forefront of their minds; to increase sales, you meet your prospects where they are at.

Establishing a social media presence will also help you build relationships with your existing clients, strengthen their loyalty, increase your web traffic, and offer a point of difference to your competition.

Assuming, that is, you do it right.

Your attendance on social media is compulsory, but if you've been delaying the inevitable, do not be afraid: it's never too late. Now is the time for your brand to get socially active. Here are seven steps for building your social media presence from scratch, and gaining a meaningful following that will help you build your business.

1. Pick the platform(s) that work best for you and your brand

There are many social platforms to choose from these days: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, and Tumblr are just some of the mediums in a growing list of viable social networking sites.

The good news is, you don't need to be on all of them! In fact, spreading your resources too thin is counterproductive: there's nothing worse than Googling a business and finding an old, abandoned Twitter account sitting among half-baked hashtags and a default profile picture.

In the beginning, choose one or two platforms, and start there. Do some research, and pick the ones where your target audience is present. The quality of your content reflects on your company, so don't create profiles for the sake of it. Put your energy into growing and maintaining relevant platforms to avoid seeming like someone who isn't committed to their business.

2. Craft your profiles

You showed up, and made an account. Good job, but you're not done yet: your social media profiles should never be an after-thought. They're extremely powerful opportunities to strengthen your brand and communicate who you are, so it's essential that you give your profiles the #TLC they deserve.

Good Branding

Choose a profile and cover image that's consistent with your brand. Depending on the nature of your business, either a logo or a professional image of the business-owner works well. Low-quality images are a no-no, so make sure to use high-resolution images if you have them, or produce them if you don't.

Add your logo to all images throughout your social media and when you add any copy, consistently use the same font in line with your style guide.  

nutella social media

Nutella's brand imagery is front and center

Your biographies should be completed using your short and long business description, and all contact information should be filled out.

Make sure you add a ‘contact now' button to Facebook and Instagram so people can call you as an easy next step to their browsing.

Social media counts towards your SEO search ranking, so this is another golden opportunity to get keywords next to your business name on search engines. 

With informative and engaging profiles, social browsers who visit your page(s) will know that you mean business and you've got something worth their time, so never slack on this bit.

3. Share with your audience

On the Internet, it's easy to buy fake followers. Don't do this. Not only is it inauthentic, it's also completely unnecessary: if you produce engaging content that your market enjoys, your followers will grow organically and you'll also get engagement too.

Content is the currency of social media, so if you haven't begun a content strategy yet, now is the time to start. Here are some suggestions:

  • Attach a blog to your website, and write helpful articles related to your niche - you can hire writers to help you with this job, or invite guest posts from influencers
  • Commission white papers that reflect the state of your industry
  • On heavily visual networks like Pinterest, infographics are a proven strategy

Whatever you do, give to your audience, and they will have a good reason to stick around.

Nutella_Facebook_Posts.png

Nutella shares content featuring their own product to encourage interaction

Before your page grows, you need a small initial following. Start by:

  • Sharing your page with people you know, or people in your company
  • Share it with existing customers by email
  • If you're on Facebook, join relevant Facebook groups, and share page content there
  • On sites with tags (like Twitter and Instagram), adding useful tags will help you get discovered

Once you've made a start, your followers will grow organically and you'll know that people are there because they will be genuinely interested in you and your content.

4. Post consistently

We've all seen it. A nice, attractive page, a few posts bubbling with excitement about a new business, and then...

...nothing. nothing but a screen-based version of an awkward silence. Think tumbleweeds and crickets floating across your screen as people wonder where the rest of your content is. The last post was 40 weeks ago and your customers - protip: the people with money to give you - have no idea if you're even still in business.

Until you've built up a loyal following, you need to post regularly and consistently. This might be once a week, or it might be once or more per day. How often you post depends on the nature of your business and your market, but the key is consistency.

Unless you have a dedicated social media manager, uploading content on the fly will never work. You're a busy person and social media will always get pushed to the bottom of the pile. Spend some time scheduling content to make sure your reach is constant, and your followers know what they can expect from you.

5. Offer incentives for sharing your posts

All humans have a ‘what's in it for me' attitude, so once your immediate friends and family have liked and shared your page, it's helpful to devise incentive-based offers to create a traffic boon.

Offer goods to your audience and potential audience such as discount vouchers, a free product, or entry into a competition for sharing a post which will extend your reach.

Always check with your platform owner as restrictions can apply to competitions, and you need to make sure your posts always sit within their guidelines.

6. Respond to engagement

Your pages should be a welcoming environment where people can hang out, express their opinions, and feel included, so always acknowledge people who respond to your content.

Tag people in comments, and like/reply to reviews and posts on your page; yes, even the negative ones!

This is your opportunity to create strong relationships with your market and put yourself at the forefront of their minds. As your followers witness this engagement, they're more likely to pop over and follow you too, further building your audience.

7. Use analytics

Finally, most platforms now provide free analytics which you should take advantage ofPosting the wrong content at the wrong time for the wrong audience will bring you to a roadblock in terms of growth. Useful metrics to pay attention to include

  • Number of reactions/shares/comments on a post
  • Days of the week, and times of day that your users are most active
  • How many clicks a link received
  • Demographics of your audience: age, sex, location, interests

Using this information, you can build a better social media strategy while simultaneously boosting your marketing efforts. Pay attention to people, and they will pay attention to you.

Conclusion

Building a social media presence can be a slow process, but it has a snowball effect. Stay in it for the long haul! With consistency and effort, an active social media presence is well worth the benefits it will bring your business, so use the outline above to devise a strategy you can commit to.

Bio: Jo Robinson is a content writer at Media Shark, where she can be contacted. With an exciting background that includes police forensics and professional fundraising, Jo's a whiz with words and appeals to a wide range of audiences.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Social Media Brand: Expressing Brand through Social Media

Creating and Curating Content People Love

Leveraging Analytics

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 

 


Infographic: Fundamentals of Facebook Marketing

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Editor’s note: To celebrate the launch of our New Social Media Fundamentals Certification, we've created an infographic to summarize the basic steps of a comprehensive Facebook marketing strategy from advertising, to sharing content and managing a community, to understanding and leveraging Insights.

 

A sixth of the world's population logs into the same website every week to read news, catch up with friends and see the latest content from their favorite online and retail businesses. Let's face it: Facebook is beyond huge, and there are few better places for an online marketer to gain new customers and communicate with old ones.

When getting your feet wet in Facebook marketing, it can be hard to know where to start. But with some simple strategy under your belt, it's very easy to carve out a space for your business where you can attract leads and traffic to your website, field customer inquiries, and establish your team as trusted experts in a field.

To help you get started, we've created an infographic that has all the information you need to get started with Facebook marketing. Here's a breakdown of the main points:

  • Your business page is your 'face' on Facebook, and serves as an introduction for newcomers and fans alike. Follow your branding rules with a consistent visual layout, make sure that links are easily available to your products and resources. Moderate user interaction to ensure that your page is a safe and comfortable place for casual browsers.
  • Over time, your business page should become a community. Start by inviting friends, employees and current customers to like your page and engage with your content. Expand your reach with targeted advertisements which will expose your business to prospects and likely fans, and build relationships with similar business pages by liking and sharing their content.
  • Create your own content to keep your community interested and engaged, and post on a consistent schedule. Social media is becoming increasingly visual, so images and videos are most effective, while text-only posts should be avoided. Maintain an 80/20 balance between useful, entertaining posts, and promotional posts.
  • Facebook has one of the best paid targeted advertisement solutions on the web. First, determine what you want to promote, and who you want to reach. Facebook has versatile targeting features that account for interests, occupations, and highly detailed demographic data which you can easily leverage to get the most bang for your buck.

Without further ado, here is the graphic. Feel free to save this, and share with fellow online marketers who can use the information!

 

facebook marketing infographic

Want to master social media marketing? Get certified with OMI