Instagram Brand My Real Estate Business

Facebook Engagement

Boost Your Facebook Engagement in 5 Steps!  

Facebook continues to be one of the most popular and influential social media platforms in the world with more than one billion active users. As a business, you can no longer continue to leave Facebook out of your online marketing strategy.
If you want to grow your business, you have to have a presence on Facebook. However, to be successful, and build your Facebook fan base, you have to be engaged with your audience. Here are five of the best ways that you can boost Facebook engagement and increase your fan base.

Ask Questions

A great way to spark dialogue with your audience is to ask them questions. It’s by far one of the easiest ways to boost audience engagement on your Facebook fan page. The type questions that you can ask to get your fans to engage with you are endless. The key is to just get the conversation started.

Include Call to Actions

Unfortunately, from a marketing standpoint using clear CTA’s is something a lot of small businesses simply overlook.   
Placing a call to action on your website pages and social media platforms sends psychological nudges that are proven to help you drive your audience to respond the way you want.  
Want your audience to click here, call now, or schedule a consultation?  Then tell them to do so. People tend to respond more often when they are told what to respond to.

Get the Timing Right

This may be obvious, but when it comes to posting to your Facebook page, timing is crucial. Facebook’s organic reach is already pretty low so the last thing that you want to do is post when everyone is working or sleeping.
Numerous studies have proven that the best times to engage with your audience is to post at 9 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. These are the times that your audience is most likely to check for updates. Scheduling your posts ahead of time is an easy way to keep your audience engaged, even when you’re not online.

Utilize Facebook Ads

Due to Facebook’s newest algorithm, only a small fraction of your audience will get to see the wall posts on your Facebook page. If you want to boost the engagement of your audience, you can promote it through page post story ads, which will help your posts reach more people.

Posting Frequency

The frequency that you post has been shown to have a significant effect on Facebook engagement. According to recent studies, businesses that post one or two times per day have 40 percent higher engagement rate than those who post more than three times per day.
What works for some businesses may not work for others when it comes to boosting audience engagement. But generally speaking these tips are a great place to start if you want to increase your engagement with your audience, and generate more targeted traffic to your business.  

Brand Message

How to Define Your Brand Message

When it comes to establishing a strong foothold within your industry, it is absolutely necessary to build a unique and recognized brand that aligns with a clear and direct brand message.

Your brand message should clearly and concisely convey to potential customers what you have to offer, and how committed you are to providing quality and value.  

But here’s the thing… “You aren’t the one who defines your brand message – your customers do!

It’s your job to lay the groundwork for what you want people to know about your business and then supporting that identity by demonstrating your expertise and capability to deliver what you promise.
However, your customers will be the ones who decide what your overall brand image is based on their interactions with your business.
A well-defined, strategic brand message can build instant credibility in your industry, while helping you gain authority in your market and shape how customers perceive your business.  It’s quite often the key difference between a well-structured online presence, and a faltering business that is struggling to connect with its audience.

So, how can you build a recognized brand that provides a clear message that resonates with your market?
Start by thinking about your target audience and what is most important to them.  Once you’ve evaluated your audience, you will be able to position yourself so that you are directly addressing their most burning questions, concerns and needs.  
To do this, you need to gather as much intel on your market as possible, which you can do easily just by looking at the competition.

What are other business owners and product developers offering your audience? What kind of products and services are they successfully selling?  

Take things to social media and begin by evaluating social signals – which are clear indicators as to what is currently in demand, popular and selling well.  The higher level of interaction, the more advertising dollars spent, and the more engagement; the better.
Knowing how to develop a strategic brand message begins by recognizing what is already successful and improving on it within your own business.  
You want to become the go-to person in your niche market, the obvious choice when customers are considering who to turn to when making their purchasing decisions.
When you work towards building an unwavering presence in your market, starting with a strong foundation of trust, you’ll eliminate the initial barriers standing in the way of you connecting with your target audience.
To do that, you need to learn as much about them (your customers) as possible so that you can build a brand around what is most likely to capture their attention.
You’ll also be able to lower the barrier of resistance and leave a lasting impression on them. When you do that, they’ll come back to you time and time again.

And how do you do begin?  It starts with what is called a U.S.P.  
USP stands for unique selling proposition (or unique selling point), and it is critical that you establish what yours will be right from the start.

What U.S.P Really Means
Contrary to popular belief, a USP has nothing to do with logos, slogans or graphic design. 
Sure, those are components of your overall brand that help people identify your products and recognize you, however, a USP is far more important than that when it comes to building your customer base, and breaking through the barriers of resistance that most businesses experience when they first appear in their market.

A USP is what truly tells potential customers how you are different from the competition.  It helps to align your goals with your customer’s. Your USP tells them that you can be trusted, that you have their best interests at heart, and that you fulfill all promises.  And most importantly, a USP ensures you aren’t a faceless brand.
This would include key factors that differentiate a product or service from its competition, such as the lowest price, an extended, no-risk guarantee, a unique or exclusive product or offer not found anywhere else, or the first-ever product of its kind.  
Your USP should also demonstrate your dedication to satisfying customers, and provide reassurance that you stand by your products, and that there is no risk to your customer when doing business with you.
To start, think about what your product or service has that the competition doesn’t.   
Consider ways you can highlight those differences and emphasize the benefits. Paint a clear picture as to why a prospect is making a wiser, sound decision to purchase your product instead of someone else’s.
Your USP is the driving force behind clearly illustrating value and giving potential customers a reason to purchase from you rather than the competition. That’s its one and only job.
Creating a unique brand that stands out in your industry and communicates to customers that you have something better to offer than your competitors can be an up hill climb at times, and nobody said it would be easy.
The key is to focus on defining how your brand is different than others and why customers should choose you over the competition and then going the extra mile for them.

Is Instagram Right your Businesses?

Instagram
It’s easy to share images of entrées you serve in your restaurant. And
who is really going to complain about your new fall fashion line for your boutique clothing store?
And if your business sells items like handmade crafts, you have definitely got an “in” on Instagram. But, does this mean that every business should consider using Instagram as part of their marketing strategy?
It IS possible for just about any business to use Instagram. But, some businesses may need to be more strategic than others in their approach.
For instance, you don’t want to post images of actuarial tables when you sell insurance.  Yes, it’s an integral part of the insurance business, but it’s not going to inspire many people to share your content…
.. And may end up with unfollows if you this approach.
If your business doesn’t translate well on Instagram, you may have to think of alternative methods to get your message out. For example, that same insurance agency could use images of disaster aftermaths and their company disaster relief team helping the people who were affected.
Then ask your followers to comment about their own experiences & encourage them to share their own images.  
This is just one example of the many ways you can engage with your audience through Instagram, even if you don’t think you have post worthy content to share.
The more you get your followers involved, the easier it will be to get people to share. Also, the higher the influence of the people sharing, the greater the reach.
This is not to say you should just simply focus on influencers, but, they can definitely expedite the growth of your following.
Instagram is a new medium for small businesses but that is changing, and there hasn’t been a better time to “get in” when it’s good.
Do a little competitor research and find other insurance companies on Instagram (or whatever your business happens to be) and pay attention to the type of engagement that is happening.  If It works for them, there is a good chance something similar can work for you.
Another option is to consider partnering with other businesses that are complimentary to yours. Connect with these businesses and brainstorm some mutually beneficial promotional ideas.  
One idea is to offer special discounts for your partner’s business through your Instagram and your partner does the same for you.  Keep in mind REFERRAL business is the BEST business. And both businesses benefit by tapping into a fresh customer base.
It’s important to not lose sight of the fact that Instagram is a social platform. Be less willing to sell and more willing to reach out and help others. Be involved in a meaningful way.
Find ways to give valuable content that makes it easy for followers to share it and you might find Instagram to be a great platform for your business… No matter what business that happens to be.

What Content Marketing Can Do for Your Business

Content Marketing
Promoting your business online in today’s short attention span theater isn’t easy. Even those companies that currently rank well on search engines or have a thriving social media presence still face stiff competition. But simply ranking fairly well and engaging with your audience on social media is going to cut it.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, an effective content marketing strategy is a must. Developing and executing an effective content marketing campaign takes a lot of work, but it will be well worth the long term benefits it can provide your business.  

Higher Visibility in Search Engines

Search Engine
Every time you add a new post to your blog, it’s another page that Google is going to index. While having more pages doesn’t necessarily correlate to more search traffic, it does give you the opportunity to rank higher for more search queries. By targeting long-tail keywords and topics that your customers search for, you won’t have any trouble appearing in those searches with your archived information.
 

Higher Domain Authority

Domain Authority
Producing more, higher-quality content will increase your perceived authority, expertise, relevance, and trust of your site and business. When your content gets more inbound links from external sources, your domain authority rises. A higher domain authority directly relates to higher search rankings.
 
 

Increased Conversion Potential

Increased Conversion  
The primary reason to create content is to engage, inform, help, and bring value to your audience. Once you’ve taken care of this, you can use the remaining space to pitch what your business has to offer. When done right, this can lead to a noticeable increase in your conversion rate.
 

Improved Brand Recognition

Brand Recognition
The people that are reading your content are building an impression of your business. When visitors are looking for helpful information to a problem or an immediate need they have, and they find what they are searching for on your website – This builds trust and credibility, and you can quickly become an authority with your audience.
 
 

Decreased Marketing Costs

Marketing Cost
The only thing that content marketing will cost you is time (and effort) but it can provide a pretty darn good ROI.  Effective content marketing isn’t a race. But you’ll get there. The sooner you start investing your time in a solid content marketing campaign, the sooner you’ll begin to see results.  
No matter what you are looking to achieve, whether its higher conversion rates, increased traffic, or a genuine relationship with your customers, there’s no reason not to include content marketing in your overall marketing strategy.  
Grow Your Brand on Social Media Via Contests

How to Grow Your Brand on Social Media Via Contests

We’ve all been there, trying to organize a contest on social media and ending up in total disaster with only a dozen subscribers and an prize that was wrote off as an expense rather than investment in traffic and conversions.
What happened in these cases?
It’s quite clear actually – Their contest was probably designed to fail from the start.  The truth is, contests on social media can be a great way to boost the subscribers number, drum up the excitement and trigger the loyalty in your best and most potential customers.
But how to do them right?
Today, we are sharing our best kept secrets.

1. Set Goals Right from The Start

Is there a goal you want to achieve with your contest? Write it down. However, make sure that your contest goals are S.M.A.R.T. What does this mean?
Essentially, a SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Not to mention that this rule absolutely applies to contests on social media. So, make sure to define your contest’s goals before even planning it.
Want to promote your product or service?  Or maybe grow your email list? Social media contests can generate traffic for any of these goals.

2. Choose the Type of The Contest

Many contests fall short because it’s the wrong type of contest for their fans & followers.  But that’s mainly due to lack of planning and preparation. Choosing the right type of contest is the first step.  And there’s plenty that like gangbusters.
For example, there are caption-based contests, photo-vote contests, video-vote contests as well as sweepstakes, which are always a great choice for Facebook.
Offering some kind of prize for the winner will typically get the best engagement – and is referred to as a giveaway.  

3. Choose the Right Software

You’re not planning on running the contest, manually are you?  Unless you have a lot of extra time on your hands, using contest software like from Hootsuite or Rafflecopter for your social media contest is probably the best way to manage it.
The truth is, software programs come with built-in voter verification features and other tools that will let you collect Facebook user numbers and name from everyone engaged with your post. And the best part?
Whatever type of contest you choose, you can always use the information you collect for any of your future marketing campaigns.  Insights you can use to market to your audience better.

4. Set Your Time Frame

Do you have an idea of how long will your contest actually last?
One of the first things your audience should know is the start and end date of your contest.
The best-case scenarios for contests are typically one day contests for products and goods – and weekly or monthly contests for more valuable prizes (ex. higher value services, hotel stays, yearly prizes etc.)

5. Create Your List of Rules

How will you choose the winner? By random – or the community votes?
Your rules should be clearly displayed for everyone who enters the contest.
Make sure it’s clear that voting is only part of the process, and that a judge or panel of judges will determine the final winner. Also, in the case of suspected fraud scenarios (yes, it happens unfortunately) – you have the right to choose the winner.

6. Determine Who Can Enter

If your local business wants to increase the foot traffic to your physical location, you should know that specifying an age requirement goes a long way when you are establishing your contest rules.

7. Make Sure Your Prize Is Relevant and Attractive

This pretty much goes without saying.  But just in case we didn’t emphasize this point enough just about every successful social media contest offers up an appealing prize for the winner. Without it, you won’t attract any contest entrants.
Make sure to stay relevant to your business and your audience and choose relevant prizes. If you own a hotel, offer a night for two. An art dealer could offer a limited-edition reprint. If you run a spa, you might offer a free 1 hour massage.  The key is to offer something that attracts the most amount of people. Make sure to include a photo of your prize to give people even more reason to enter.

8. Create Your Custom Hashtag

If you have ever wondered why brands choose personal and custom hashtags when running social media contests, there is a science behind it. Coming up with a unique hashtag that reflects your brand and your contest can be used to extend the reach of your contest across all social networks.
For example, there are tools like Hashtagify.me that can help you find trends related to your industry and potential gold mines in terms of hashtags.
So, there you have it – you now know our best kept secrets to running a perfect social media contest. However, you should know that not every social media is the same.  
The demographics, type of content and a ton of other variables can play a role in how successful your contest ends up being.  But following these rules will definitely give you an edge, especially if you’ve never run a contest before.
Instagram Adds Business Profiles

Instagram Adds Business Profiles & What This Means for You

Let’s face it – social media took the world by storm. And while it initially captured most of consumers, it also paved the way for the businesses to take part in the action too. And that is exactly what is happening on Instagram right now.
As of April, this year, Instagram launched a completely new feature to the platform – the Instagram business profiles.  And just like Facebook there will be a lot of advantages for businesses who embrace it sooner than later.

So, What Are the New Instagram Business Profile Features Like?

Basically, the Instagram algorithm for businesses is mimicking the Facebook for Business idea of advertising to a local audience and getting the best bang for your buck. You can reach your target audience and get exposure for your business for even a small ad spend.
However, a lot of people would agree that the new Instagram algorithm for business is even more personal than the Facebook algorithm that is already used by businesses worldwide. The difference is basically in the personal versus the public use.
In short, the new Instagram update filters the advertised content according to two factors – engagement and interest. That way, when a user that you follow engages with the advertised content (likes it or follows it) – you automatically see that content higher in your feed.

What Does This Mean for Marketers?

The best way to answer this question is simple. This new Instagram algorithm for businesses is like music to the ears of every marketer. More so, marketers see this content positioning as extremely helpful when promoting on Instagram.
So… What’s so great about it?
Well, before this update, business profiles were hard to find on Instagram. The only way followers could engage with them was to click their website link in their profile. However, the all new Instagram for Business comes with contact buttons that directly lead to the business’ email or phone – as well as its location on map.
Whether you’re a seasoned Instagram pro or have never used Instagram before – This platform is here to stay and they’ve just made it even easier to promote your business.  

Here’s 5 Tricks to Maximize Your Success When Using Instagram For Business

  • Upgrade A Personal Instagram Profile to A Business Profile – First and foremost is to upgrade to a business profile on Instagram. You can do that by linking your Instagram account to your Facebook business page. Yup that’s it!  Instagram will see the designation and connect it accordingly.
  • Ditch the Stories at Start–Some businesses do very well with “Stories” on Snapchat and Facebook.  But for now, Instagram doesn’t support stories – Instead, try out some of the other great tools and features.
  • Make Use of the CTA/Contact Button – Direct communication is one of the best features of Instagram for Business. When you set up the Contact button, you can choose how people will reach you – whether it’s email, phone or both.
  • Post on A Regular Basis, But Don’t Over-post – Sometimes people can get too much of a good thing, right?  And it’s certainly true in this case. Over-posting can have a counter-effect and followers will be more likely to skip your posts. That is why 3 great posts a week can out-perform 30 of them.
  • Track the Analytics – Another great part of the all new Instagram for businesses algorithm are the analytics. Only business profiles have access to this feature which definitely makes it an exclusive perk. In order to open it, tap or click the little bar graph icon on your profile and you will see several metrics – one of which is the ‘Insights’ option. There, you can analyze and see how many people see your posts and how many of them viewed your business profile.

A Final Word

It certainly goes without saying that Instagram’s latest update is an exciting new option to promote your business with.
But the bottom line is that no matter how many updates and new features social media platforms rollout on us, what really matters is the content that you choose to share and the people engaging with it. So, I say give it a shot.  There has never been a better time to promote your business on this immensely popular platform. Instagram profiles for business is nothing short of a bulls-eye for small business.

Geo-Topical Authority

What is Geo-Topical Authority and Why Does My Website Need It?

What do you want local consumers to do when they need a product or service that you provide?
It’s hardly a mystery, right?
You want them to think of YOU, immediately and without hesitation, as the best possible source of information (and products) in your area of expertise. Not your competition, not the company that’s in the next town. You, and you alone.
The good news is that there’s a way for you to create precisely that reality. It’s called geo-topical authority, and we’re here to help you take the steps you need to become the go-to resource for your target audience.

What Is Geo-Topical Authority?   

Geo-Topical Authority
Let’s start with a quick explanation. Geo-topical authority is just like any kind of authority, except it is both:

  1. Specific to the geographical area where you do business; and
  2. Specific to the topics that are most important to your customers.

That makes sense, right? The idea is that your website – and indeed, your entire online presence – should establish you as a company that can provide detailed, valuable, and actionable information about any topic related to what you do.
Let’s consider an example to make sure you know what we mean. Imagine a pest control company that has several nearby competitors. The company that will win out in terms of online searches is the one that has:

  • A website that makes it easy to find all relevant information about the business (we’ll talk more about that in a minute)
  • Content that’s geared toward answering their target audience’s most common questions
  • A coherent online presence that maintains a strong brand voice and vision

This company might publish blog posts or videos to show people how to prevent pests from taking up residence in their homes. That, combined with accurate and comprehensive information about the business, will turn them into a geo-topical authority on pest control.

Why Do You Need Geo-Topical Authority?

Need Geo-Topical Authority
The answer to this question might be obvious, but let’s talk about it anyway.
The only way for your business to succeed is for you to differentiate yourself from the competition and make it clear to consumers in your area that you are the best possible choice to help answer their questions and meet their needs.
If your website isn’t designed with geo-topical authority in mind, then the chances are good that you’re missing out on attracting new customers.
In other words, building geo-topical authority will help you beat out your competitors and increase your profits. You can get more online traffic, more foot traffic to your store, more referrals, and a bigger social following – and that’s just the beginning!

What Your Website Needs

Now, let’s talk about what your website needs for you to become a geo-topical authority in your niche. You may already have some of these things, but we highly recommend that you review this list and then get started on adding those things that you’re missing.

Home Page

You undoubtedly have a home page, but does it have all the information it should? To be effective at building geo-topical authority, your home page must include key information about your company at a glance, so that customers who are in a hurry can contact or find you immediately.
It should also have intuitive navigation, an easy-to-find menu, and a structure that makes it easy for customers with more time on their hands to explore your site.

Customer Service Policy/Customer Bill of Rights

This first item includes one piece of content that will remain internal to your company and one that will be published on your site.
Every company needs a well-thought-out customer service policy so that employees know your guidelines for handling customers.
The flip side of that is a customer bill of rights that lets your customers in on how they should expect to be treated by your employees.

NAP Listings

Your name, address, and phone number must be clearly listed on your site – and identical on every page. That’s important because it helps customers find you and also helps Google connect all of your online listings.
Make sure everything is spelled properly and punctuated in the same way on every page. Your NAP listings should be in crawlable HTML, and ideally, you should mark them with Schema to help search engines find your site.
While you’re at it, you should also check your off-site NAP listings if you haven’t done so recently. Any discrepancy can hurt your geo-topical authority.

Reviews and Testimonials

You already know that social proof in the form of customer reviews is important for every local business. For that reason, your site needs a review/testimonial page and a clearly stated policy that lets customers know what you will and won’t publish in terms of reviews.
A typical policy specifies that you will remove reviews that are profane, abusive, or threatening, as well as any that include personal information about the customer or a third party.

Contact Us Page

You probably have this page too, but again, you need to make sure that it’s comprehensive. You need a complete NAP listing, a list of every possible way that customers can contact you (phone, email, social media, online chat, etc.)
You should also include a map, detailed directions to your store, and photographs of the exterior. The more thorough this page is, the easier it will be for customers to find you.

Location-Specific Landing Pages

If you have more than one location or service more than one geographical area, you should have a dedicated page for each one. That way, customers can find the precise information they need.
You may also want to add store finder location to your home page to make it as easy as possible for local customers in each area to find you.

Products/Services

Your product or service page should be detailed and thorough. It should give descriptions of each item or service, including parameters and prices, and include high-quality images as well.
It may also be helpful here to include reviews or information that helps to differentiate you from your competitors in the area.

Other Pages

In addition to the other items listed, your website needs to have:

  • A FAQ page that answers the most common questions you receive and provides a mechanism for users to enter a question you haven’t addressed yet
  • An About Us page to tell your company’s story and explain what makes you special
  • A call to action on every page that makes it clear what you want users to do

A site that has all of these things will go a long way toward making you a geo-topical authority.

But Wait… There’s More

Your quest to become a geo-topical authority doesn’t end with your website. In addition to doing what’s outlined above, you should claim your profile on all third-party review sites and check your NAP listings.
You should also create content that addresses helps potential customers answer questions and complete tasks. What do your customers want to do, know, find, or buy? The more you do to answer those questions, the more likely it is that your company will be the geo-topical authority you want it to be.
Effective Direct Mail

Winning with Effective Direct Mail

These days, digital marketing seems to get all of the attention. That’s with good reason – no company can afford to skip it given how reliant on the internet consumers have become. But what if you’re missing an opportunity connect with clients in a new way?
Believe it or not, we’re talking about… direct mail!
That’s right – but this isn’t your grandfather’s direct mail, or even your older sister’s. The key to using direct mail effectively in this day and age is to update it, twist it, and make it feel brand new.
Printed marketing materials have a permanence and impact that simply can’t be matched by looking at a computer screen. When you hold a postcard or brochure in your hand, it connects you to a company in a way that an email can’t.
So how can you update your direct mailers and make them relevant? Keep reading to learn six ways to do it.

Variable Data Printing

Variable Data Printing
Did you know that there are printers who will segment mailers into small batches to print personalized information on mailers? It’s called variable data printing and it’s one way to bring information you gather digitally into your prospects’ homes.
You can choose to print mailers based on users’ geographical information. For example, if you were targeting a nationwide audience, you might do a different mailer for each state featuring an iconic image like the Empire State Building for New York or the Everglades for Florida.
If you wanted to get more specific than that, you could even produce postcards that showed customers in your local area how to get to your store from their neighborhood.
Alternatives might be based on customers’ previous buying habits or their ages. You can get creative with it and give your direct mail pieces the kind of personal touch that translates into sales.

Personalized URLs

Personalized URLs
One of the coolest ways to bring your direct mail campaigns into the digital age is to give customers a personalized URL (PURL). When they enter it in their browser, it directs them to a special page that you’ve created for your campaign.
What makes the page personalized is that the PURL you create incorporates their name. It might look like this:
www.yourcompanyname.com/customername
The benefits here are two-fold. First, your customer feels that you have reached out directly to them, and that increases the chances that they will visit the website and check it out. Second, it gives you the opportunity to determine exactly who has responded to your mailer – and you can use that information to follow up based on the actions they take once they visit the PURL.

QR Codes  

QR Codes  
Another thing you can do is to combine mobile marketing with direct mail by including a Quick Response (QR) code on your mailer.
A QR code is similar to a barcode but it can store up to 100 times as much information as a traditional barcode. The people on your mailing list can scan the QR code with their smartphones and from there, the sky’s the limit.
You can use your QR code to direct people to a PURL or landing page, provide them with personalized coupons, or give them access to exclusive content. QR codes are easy to create, and they’re an especially good marketing tactic for local companies and companies with ecommerce stores.

Interactive Mailers

Interactive Mailers
While it’s definitely a good idea to try to combine digital marketing with print marketing, you can still create interesting and compelling mailers without a digital component.
For example, you might try creating a mailer with multiple folds that recipients have to open to reveal relevant information. They’re more interesting than sending a flat postcard or letter – and they can be a great way to create suspense and surprise.
Another option is to create an unusual mailer that changes in some way as the recipient interacts with it. Here are two suggestions:

  1. Use a magnetized mailer that encourages recipients to move one piece of your mailer (an attached cutout of an image, for example) and put it in a designated spot on the card. When they do it, the embedded magnet moves the object. Bonus points if you can use this one to illustrate one of the benefits of your product or service.
  2. Use interesting shapes to create movement. If you’re advertising an event that includes a meal, you might have a small round envelope shaped like a plate with food showing through a window. When the customer pulls out the insert, the plate is empty, and the food is in their hand.

These are just a couple of examples, but you can really get creative with this idea.

Pop-up Mailers

Pop-up Mailers
When you were a kid, you probably owned at least one pop-up book. While these books are aimed at children, you can take the same basic idea and use it in a mailer.
One classic example of this technique came from the retailer IKEA. They sent out a mailer that popped up and turned into an IKEA table when it was removed from the envelope. The mailer was fun and creative and made a big impression on their customers.
There are thousands of ways you could adapt this idea for your business. They key is to choose a pop-up that represents you, your product, or your service.

3D Mailers

3D Mailers
A variation on the pop-up mailer is creating a 3D mailer. Instead of simply sending a boring postcard of envelope, consider doing one of the following:

  • Send a larger item, such as a poster, in a tube
  • Print your marketing information on an object and send it in a box. For example, Amnesty International did a mailer that looked like a pair of chopsticks. When the recipients opened it, they turned out to be pencils. The enclosed material encouraged people to write letters to the Chinese government on behalf of political prisoners.
  • Enclose a sample of your product. This technique isn’t new – but it still works! It’s especially effective if you’re launching a new product.

Again, don’t be afraid to get creative with these ideas. A 3D mailer is more likely to be opened than a letter.

From Inbox to Mailbox 

What are you waiting for? Use these ideas to expand your marketing from your target audience’s inbox to their mailbox – and reap the rewards of giving them a reason to look forward to the mail truck’s arrival every day.
Instagram Adds Business Profiles

How to Promote Your Local Business with Instagram

If you’re tempted to dismiss Instagram as a marketing tool because it got its start as an app for sharing mobile photos, don’t. The truth is that Instagram marketing is on the rise, and the companies who use it reap significant benefits from their efforts there.
Instagram Statistics for Business
Instagram Statistics for Business
To begin, it may help to understand how big the potential rewards are for using Instagram as part of your marketing mix.

  • As of the end of 2016/early 2017, Instagram has over 600,000 actively monthly users. 400,000 of those visit the site daily.
  • As of 2016, 48.8% of all businesses were using Instagram for marketing purposes, a number that is expected to increase by nearly 50% by the end of 2017.
  • Brands that use Instagram for marketing post an average of 4.9 times every week.
  • 75% of all Instagram users take action – such as visiting a website, clicking a link, or making a purchase – after viewing Instagram marketing posts.
  • Posts that include at least one hashtag perform 12.6% better than posts with no hashtags.

There is no question that marketing with Instagram offers a way for businesses to connect with existing and potential customers. The high level of engagement makes Instagram particularly effective for businesses to reach consumers directly.

Getting Started on Instagram

Getting Started on Instagram
Do you want to get started on Instagram? Here’s a quick checklist to get you going.

  1. Download the Instagram app onto a mobile device. While you can view Instagram on a computer, you need a mobile device to upload content. You can download it from the Apple app store, Google Play, or the Windows App Store.
  2. Tap “Sign Up” to enter your email address, or else use Facebook to sign in.
  3. Choose a profile picture. Make sure to choose a clean and striking image that looks good as a thumbnail.
  4. Complete your bio. You have only 150 characters, so you may want to avail yourself of the vertical formatting option and use bullet points (or emoji) to describe who you are and what you do. Make sure to include the URL of your website since this is the only place you can include a clickable link.

Once you have completed these four simple steps, you’ll be set up and ready to start marketing with Instagram.

Building a Following

Building a Following
The next step is to build a following. Here are a few ideas to help you do that.

  • Add an Instagram follow button to your website and blog
  • Share a link to your Instagram feed on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media sites you use for marketing
  • Comment on Instagram posts shared by influencers in your industry or even by your fans
  • Host a contest or promotion and make sharing your post a criterion for entry
  • Share your Instagram posts on Facebook
  • Comment on posts shared by other local businesses

The main thing you need to do to build a following is to increase your visibility. People might not know that you’re on Instagram. But if you share content regularly, keep it relevant, and comment wherever it’s appropriate, people will find you.

How to Use Hashtags Effectively

How to Use Hashtags Effectively
Like Twitter, Instagram allows the use of hashtags to help users find relevant content. Hashtag use is really an art form and it’s important for businesses who market on Instagram to use hashtags wisely.
Here are some pointers that can help you.

  1. Join in on community events such as #ThrowbackThursday or #ManicMonday to make yourself part of the Instagram community. An example of a business throwback might be an early prototype of one of your signature products or a shot of your grand opening.
  2. Create a brand hashtag to use on all of your posts. Some companies simply use the name of their brand as a hashtag, but don’t be afraid to get creative with it. One example comes from candy company Kit Kat, who uses the #HaveABreak hashtag on all of their posts.
  3. You can highlight photos and content that’s especially important to you by tagging it with #PicOfTheDay or #PhotoOfTheDay hashtags.

It’s also a good idea to create campaign-specific hashtags for special promotions and contests. For example, if you wanted to sponsor a contest that asked your followers to take photos of themselves using your products, you might create a special hashtag to allow you to track entries – and to allow your fans to view all the entries easily.
One final note: you may want to check out trending hashtags and use them, but be cautious. It’s easy to come off as callous if you attempt to use certain hashtags as a way of promoting your products. For example, you can certainly post a patriotic photo with the #NeverForget hashtag on September 11th, but it would be a mistake to try to make such a post about your product.

Instagram Stories for Marketing

Instagram Stories for Marketing
In late summer of 2016, Instagram added a new feature that’s ideal for marketing: Instagram Stories. It’s similar to a feature on Snapchat that allows users to add content (in this case, images or videos) that last for only 24 hours. The content doesn’t appear on your regular Instagram feed, but creating a story can be an effective way to connect with your followers.

  • At present, stories appear to get priority, allowing companies a way to “beat” Instagram’s algorithms and connect with a significant percentage of their followers.
  • Stories can be used to show the development of a product, give your followers a peek behind the scenes of your business, or provide coverage of a live event.
  • Stories don’t allow regular commenting, but you can encourage the people who view your story to send you a direct message to ask a question or encourage them to visit the link in your bio.
  • You can pick a single image from your story and post it on your regular feed to attract traffic to your story.

Instagram stories provide a fun and unique way to engage followers and drive traffic to your website. Many businesses have yet to adopt Instagram Story as part of their marketing strategy, but you can be an early adopter and reap the benefits right now.
Conclusion
Instagram might have started as a fun mobile app, but it has turned into an extremely valuable and powerful marketing tool for companies that know how to use it. If you create a compelling profile, use hashtags appropriately, and take advantage of new options like Instagram Stories, you can use Instagram to build brand awareness and attract new customers.

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