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How to be Successful on Twitter

How to be Successful on Twitter

As a small business owner, you are probably thinking how can a social platform like Twitter impact my business?  What can I really say in 140 characters? If this sounds like something you would say – you could not be farther from the truth.
Social media has proven to be an effective marketing strategy for small businesses.  With the technology driven world we live in today, consumers expect all businesses (large and small) to be on social media and provide them with updates, specials and information at the press of a button.  Twitter is not just for teens, tycoons and celebrities – it is a marketing tool that can help grow your business – and many smart small business owners are using Twitter as one of their main online marketing tools in their tool belt.
The numbers are convincing. Twitter has been around since 2006 and has grown substantially.  Today, there are more than 284 million monthly active users, according to stats released by Twitter on their website.  With almost 500 million tweets sent per day, you can see why this is a powerful marketing tool for any small business owner.  As staggering as these stats may seem, you are probably asking yourself, how can Twitter help my business?
Here are just a few strategies you can implement to build your brand on Twitter:

  • Connect – With the number of active users on Twitter, it makes it one of the best places to look for and connect with potential customers.  Small businesses that cater to a niche market find that they are able to connect with their existing customers and interact with new customers easily, allowing potential customers the opportunity to learn more about their business and their brand. And stay informed of sales, promotions & special events.   
  • Brand Awareness – While the big brands do not need an introduction to get followers, small business owners need and want more people to know about their products and services.  Twitter allows you to drip brand information on your followers. Before you know it, you are recognizable, reliable and known for your brand to millions of followers.  Creating that trust with your followers is key in building lasting relationships with them, which will drive sales for your business.
  • Relationships – Positive relationships are the key to growing your business.  Your Twitter followers will feel connected to you and your business as you make an effort to post updates and tweets that your customers will find interesting and helpful.  Value driven content is more powerful today than any other type of information presented. There is a balance needed – keep your direct marketing or sales promotions to a minimum – too many ads can make you come across to your followers as pushy.
  • Informational Marketing – Introducing new products and services or making important announcements via Twitter has some great benefits.  Not only is this a more cost effective way to release information on new products and services, but it also can potentially reach millions of people much faster than other marketing methods, such as print advertisement and even radio and television.
  • Immediate Feedback – many small businesses are using Twitter to monitor, survey and handle feedback from their customers.  This is a very efficient tool in gathering your customers’ opinions and it allows you to respond quickly.  Responding to both positive and negative feedback, can set your small business apart from that big competitor down the street.  Managing your online reputation in a professional manner, creates a positive atmosphere with your followers.

So Twitter can be a very useful tool for small businesses in a multitude of ways.  Twitter can help you reach your consumers in ways that you never thought were possible.  Here’s a few examples of how a few twitter savvy businesses used Twitter to build their small business:

  • Coffee Groundz is a coffee shop in Houston, and was one of the first businesses to use Twitter for takeout orders.  They fill their Twitter stream with promotions, upcoming events, pictures, and the announcement of their special flavor of the day. 
  • Crème Brulee Cart was a small side business started by a carpenter.  Within a very short period, this business owner learned that customers were finding the cart each day through Twitter.  As customers would stop by the cart, they would then tweet where the cart was and what they purchased. This business owner quickly started using Twitter to post where the cart was located every day and what the daily flavors were.  Today, there are more than 20,000 followers on this Twitter account and the business owner was able to quit the carpentry business!
  • Roger Smith Hotel located in New York City needed an edge to compete against the big name hotels in Manhattan.  Twitter provided this hotel an edge that no one could have seen. After reaching out through Twitter to some online influencers and inviting them to stay during their next visit to NYC, the Roger Smith Hotel got exactly what it hoped for – happy guests that tweeted about their stay.  Word spread quickly and now they are consistently booked. The hotel gives their Twitter followers special discounts and even has a special Twitter kiosk in their lobby to give them a special welcome.

Social media can be the driving tool for small businesses to develop awareness of its products and services.  As a small business, you are in the perfect position to use Twitter to your advantage and build your business to heights you never thought possible.  Maintain your values and remember the tips mentioned above. Before you know it, your followers, and sales will increase.
Social media is not going away.  So don’t be one of those businesses that struggle and make the mistake of ignoring the potential of social media – especially Twitter. It’s one of the most economical ways you can increase your visibility and reach your audience.  Which is why it so popular among small businesses. Make it a part of your marketing strategy for your small business – reach your audience quicker, and easier than ever before.

Local SEO Myths

10 Local SEO Myths

As a small business owner, you have heard all the hype.  You know you need to have a presence online in order to survive in today’s technology driven business world.  Yet, online marketing is a mystery to many small business owners. And, even more intimidating is local marketing.
As confusing as it may be, many small business owners, just like you, are often lead to believe that they can conduct their local marketing SEO the same way as the national brands.  What works for the national brands will not work for your local small business trying to beat out the local competition.
It is hard for any business owner to understand the difference between right and wrong in relation to local SEO marketing, as the majority of information available is unclear and inconsistent.  Let’s look at some of the myths behind successful SEO for local business.

  • Link building is dead – This myth can be found everywhere today, and primarily stems from Google’s attempt to stop unnatural links.  Matt Cutts made a recent comment that people trying to build SEO should stop guest posting. However, there is nothing wrong with posting valuable content in the form of guest posts.  In fact, there are specific directories that every business should be in and is safe in Google’s eyes.
  • Business List claiming will boost your SEO – It has been thought by many local businesses, that if they claim their business listings online, it will boost their SEO.  Yes, it is beneficial to claim your business, but it is not the sole reason for boosting SEO. There are many other factors that are involved in SEO marketing.
  • Social Media does not help with SEO – Social media or social search is the rave today.  Businesses that have embraced social media are experiencing enhanced SEO marketing.  Social media creates natural backlinks when users on sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, share your site and information with others.  The key is to post consistently, post value driven content and stay active in conversations.
  • Keyword Loaded Domain Names – It’s best to keep your domain name focused on your company name or brand name.  Adding keywords to your domain name does not typically provide any SEO support, not anymore anyway.  It is the other SEO marketing activities that will promote you and help in achieving higher search rankings.
  • Mobile is the same as Desktop – Mobile searching is key for local SEO marketing.  The majority of searches completed on a mobile device, are performed for local services and products.  Making sure that your website is ideal for mobile devices can impact your rankings. If you have not considered a mobile platform for your business, you should.
  • Content is not relevant – It was once thought that link building was the only way to build successful SEO, however, with the changes in Google’s algorithms, writing compelling content is becoming the preferred method in SEO marketing.  As discussed above, link building is still relevant, however, investing in value-driven content for webpages, blog posts and more, will bring more quality links and leads to you and your website.
  • Local Pages are not needed – At the very least you definitely need to have your city and state listed on your website to be included in local searches.  Title tags, on-page citations and links should all clearly state where you are located. However, if you really want to boost your local SEO searches, create a separate local landing page for each niche of your business. These local landing pages will place you higher in local searches.
  • All I need is basic SEO to rank at the top of Google Local – You should know your local competition.  If your industry is saturated with businesses such as yours, you may find it difficult to rank near the top of local searches, though not impossible.  You will need to invest a great deal in multiple SEO approaches, consistently, to promote your business to new customers and increase your local search ranking.
  • Photos and/or Video are not important – Multimedia can be beneficial in increasing your local search ranking.  Images and videos often show in Google searches as blended displays, therefore, these multimedia pieces can provide additional opportunities to get your business found.  If you feel that there is no way to implement photos or videos into your business marketing, think again. Use your imagination – videos of processes, photos of company events or other local events related to your service or product, all make great marketing pieces.
  • Microsite and other domains I own will help my SEO – there is no real value in spreading your SEO thin.  Search engines today are smart enough to know who a domain name is registered to and setting up multiple domains and sites does not build your primary domain, but dilutes it.  Furthermore, many businesses have been penalized by Google for having microsites that have duplicate content. Concentrate on building your primary website!

There are many SEO marketing strategies, some that were once considered mainstream. It’s difficult for a business owner to keep up with constantly evolving SEO strategies and practices.  However, knowing which are the myths and which are not can help you to make more effective decisions with your SEO marketing campaigns.
Whether you hire a professional to help you with your SEO marketing or you do it yourself, you should understand that SEO is about the overall experience for the user or searcher.  Take that into consideration, and you’ll generate more leads and sales online.
.Marketing With Newsletters

Marketing With Newsletters 101

If you’re not marketing your small business with newsletters then you need to seriously consider it! The fact of the matter is that newsletters give you as a business owner, another chance to connect with your audience. Furthermore, newsletter marketing is something that your competition may not be doing so it will give you a competitive advantage amongst your local customer base.
You need to have your marketing message in front of your customers as much as possible – newsletters are an additional method of engagement that should be taken advantage of. And on top of that publishing a newsletter is an awesome way to help with your branding. Think about it – only the best, most authoritative businesses out there have their very own newsletter, right? Wouldn’t it be great if you were thought of as the “best” and most “authoritative?” Sure it would!
Here are a few things to consider that will help you get your newsletter marketing off the ground:

Let’s Talk Statistics

When you are putting your newsletter together there are a few different options that you have. First off, you can make your newsletter in “hard copy” format and distribute it to your customers as they are in your store or through direct mail – this is the hard way. The other, more efficient, way to craft your newsletter is digitally. If you are able to collect email addresses of past or potential customers then you can easily make a newsletter each month and email it out to them.
The statistics behind email newsletters for small businesses are staggering. For example, consider the fact that people who actually become customers through email spend 138% more than people that have not been marketed to via email. Additionally, data suggests that 44% of people who received an email with some type of promotion in it last year actually made a purchase.
Considering that, the only course of action to take is connecting with your potential customers through email newsletter marketing.

Who Do I Email Exactly?

One question that small business owners often ask is in regard to who exactly they should be emailing. After all, it is not easy to build a targeted email list, right? Well, though it isn’t easy, it is most definitely possible if you know what you are doing.
The best way to quickly build up your list of email subscribers is by having what is called an “opt in” form on your website. This is simply a place where your website visitors can enter their name and email address in order to be added to your email list that you send the newsletter to. A good service to start out with when starting to build your list is Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.
Believe it or not, Mail Chimp is totally free to use up until you get more than 2,000 people subscribed to your list so you can try it out for nothing to see how it works for you. The best part of Mail Chimp is that its functionality allows you to design, and send, a great looking newsletter from right within your account thus making the whole process streamlined.
An additional way to build your email list is to use your Facebook page. You can actually integrate your opt in form into your Facebook page so that as people visit and like your Facebook content they can also add themselves to your email list. Once again, this will allow you to grow that list quickly and subsequently market to your email subscribers through your newsletter.

Add Useful Content

Add Useful Content
The other question a lot of small business owners ask is in regard to exactly what type of content they should include in their newsletter. For the most part, it is a good idea to include information that focuses on filling needs of your customers or answering questions that they might have. On top of that, it is also imperative that you have information in your newsletter about any sales, specials or promotions that your business has coming up – after all, the newsletter is designed to drive your bottom line up.
An example, of content that focuses on filling a need or solving a problem may be something like “How to Care for Hair Extensions” if you are the owner of a small beauty salon. A good topic for a car repair station may be “DIY Wiper Blade Replacement.” As you can see, articles like this will not only be valuable to the readers, but they will also help to position you as the authority in the industry.

What Not To Do

What Not To Do
There are 2 major things that you need to be aware of when you are marketing with newsletters. The first one has to do with the newsletter itself – you cannot make it just a promotional newsletter or nobody will read it. The newsletter must be more about helping the potential client and less about you. Of course, you are going to include information about your services but this must be secondary to the useful content that you put out. Customers will find you no matter what if you position yourself correctly and make your newsletter useful.
The other thing that you cannot do when building your email list is sending out newsletters too often. You cannot send an email to your subscribers every day or they will become desensitized to it and stop opening the email. The best practice is to only send your newsletter once a week at the most – anything more and you may be considered a person that sends SPAM instead of a person that provides something valuable that the reader looks forward to getting.  
At the end of the day, creating an email list and sending newsletters is something that you need to be doing in order to grow your business. The steps are very simple to follow and the outcome will be very profitable for you if everything is setup in the manner described above. And the best part is that newsletter marking is cumulative – this means that over time as your number of email subscribers grows so will your profits!
YouTube Strategies

5 Killer YouTube Strategies for Success

As a small business owner there are a lot of different ways to market your business. You know it, I know it. That said, when operating in today’s day and age of advanced technology it is important to choose the strategies that are going to get you the best return on your investment of time. To that end, YouTube marketing is something that you need to be doing to ensure you are connecting with your current and potential customers or clients.
Now, don’t be scared – YouTube marketing is easy. You just need to pick out the right strategies to use and put them in action to start seeing results right away. Take a few minutes to think about how you could implement the following strategies into your marketing mix as well has how impactful they could be for your bottom line.

Be the Face Of Your Business

Be the Face Of Your Business
If you are like most small business owners out there then you likely want to lead from the front, not the back. That said, one great thing about YouTube is that you can actually get on camera, create videos and add them to your website or your Facebook page. This is great because it will allow potential customers to get to know, and feel comfortable with, you.
Think about this; if a potential customer is looking for a service that you offer and they come to your website to see a video where the owner invites them to learn more the impact can be massive. Simply put, people will start to feel a connection with your services and feel that they have a relationship with a local company that really cares about their clients. Better yet, when you have a YouTube account you can create as many videos as you want and keep switching them in and out. For example, you could have a holiday video themed video up during Christmas wishing everyone a happy and safe season while educating them and inviting them to your location for a sale.

Share a Valuable Message

Share a Valuable Message
With YouTube you can post and share videos to common problems that your customers have. Not only will this help to build your brand, it will also help you attract and retain loyal customers. As an example, if you are a plumber you can share a YouTube video on your website that shows how to stop a leaky faucet or a running toilet. Not only will your visitors appreciate this content but they will keep you in mind when they actually need a plumber.
The best part of sharing valuable content is that you do not have to be the one that creates it! You can simply go to YouTube and search for a video that solves a problem and embed it on your website. Under each video on YouTube there is a share option where you can get the information needed to take a video and place it on your website. How easy is that!

Get More Visitors

Get More Visitors
If you decide that you want to create some valuable videos full of your own content you will be able to put them to use right away. Not only will other people find and use your videos which will push traffic to your website, but having a catalog of video content that you can use on your website and direct potential customers to can give you a big boost.
A can’t miss strategy to get more visitors to your website is to have 2 videos that solve the same problem. Video 1 tells you what the problem is and the steps needed to fix it while video 2 actually shows how to carry the steps out. The magic occurs because as the owner of the videos you can designate that video 2 is private and is only used on your website. The result is people watch video 1 because it is shared all over the internet, but at the end of the video they are directed to your website to see video 2. Pretty neat, right?

Pay Per View

Pay Per View
Did you know that you can actively promote your videos by paying to have them show up in the YouTube search results? And with YouTube videos getting viewed more than 4-billion times per day there is really no reason why you should not be paying to get potential customers to your videos.
The great thing is that you can target who is exactly seeing your videos to ensure that you are getting the highest quality traffic possible. For example, if you are the owner of a hair salon you can target women who live within the zip code where you do business. Taking that approach will guarantee that the only people seeing the valuable content you are sharing are people who actually could come through your doors. Now, it does cost money of course as you are paying per video view, but if you understand the lifetime value of just one customer spending a few dollars on YouTube advertising is more than justifiable if it is getting new clients coming into your business.

Call to Action

Call to Action
One more sure fire YouTube strategy that needs mentioned is that you must always include a call to action in your videos. This is one small detail that often goes overlooked by business owners who are just starting out with their YouTube presence.
At the end of each video you must tell the viewer what you want them to do – maybe you want them to come into your shop, maybe call your phone number or maybe print out a coupon from your website. Whatever that action may be, it is your job to make sure that you clearly tell them what you want done. When you take this approach and give a clear call to action you will see that most people will do exactly what you ask them to do.
As a small business owner it is really important that you include YouTube in what you are doing regarding client acquisition. Video is hot right now and it is only going to get hotter in the future. By leveraging the power of YouTube you will easily be able to drive more visitors to your website and more dollars through your door.
Email Newsletter

Crafting the Perfect Email Newsletter (Local Business Edition)

So you finally want to start a newsletter for your local business? It’s a good idea for local businesses. In fact, email newsletters can help boost your sales dramatically but most small business owners simply overlook its significance.  Email open rates are still very high, making an email newsletter a solid investment – if you do it right.
However, a lot of companies start newsletters without really thinking about what they want to accomplish. Don’t be one of them. Follow the advice here, and you can use your newsletter to increase your revenue.

Find a Focus

Find a Focus
The first thing you need to do is to avoid the biggest mistake companies make when putting together a newsletter: they try to cover everything. A traditional marketing email is a relatively simple beast. It covers a single topic, and concludes with a single call to action. It’s quick to write, easy to read, and if you do it well, it can convert like crazy.
The problem with the average newsletter is that it tries to be all things to all people. If you want people to read your newsletter, you need to give them a compelling reason to do so. Pick one vertical and stick to that. You can always segment newsletters for other aspects of your business if you want to.

Information First, Sales Second

Information First, Sales Second
The second thing to keep in mind is that you are writing a newsletter, not a sales letter. People subscribe to a newsletter to get information, not to get a hard-core sales pitch delivered to their inbox. (Of course in many cases, they also went to hear about special promotions and deals, but we’ll get to that later.)
The ratio of information to sales pitch should be about nine to one in your newsletter. That means that 90% of the content you include is about educating and entertaining your subscribers. It’s fine to include a call to action at the end – you should do so – but if you spend all your time selling, you’re going to end up with a huge unsubscribe rate.
The benefit of leading with value for your subscribers is that it takes advantage of the psychological principle of reciprocity. It’s the same approach used by a lot of internet marketers who give away a freebie like an eBook or a list of tips to get people to sign up for their mailing lists.
When you give a subscriber something for nothing, you create a sense of obligation in them. You have provided them with something valuable, and they feel they owe you.

Keep it Short, Sweet, and Simple

Keep it Short, Sweet, and Simple
The third thing to remember when putting together your newsletter is that you want the content to come in small, easily-digestible chunks. It should be arranged in a single column with a few attractive images. If you want to include a long piece of content, embed a link back to your blog or website rather than copying the whole text into your email.
You should also choose a few relevant and dynamic images to illustrate your content. You don’t want to overdo it with pictures and video, so keep in mind that everything you add has the potential to slow a subscriber down when they scroll through the newsletter. Make sure to use alt image tags, too, so that if the pictures don’t display your subscribers will still know what they are.
Simplicity is also key for mobile search.

Add Video – and Mention It in Your Subject Line

Add Video
Video is hugely popular, and recent research shows that simply including the word “video” in the subject line of an email increases open rates by 19%. If videos are already part of your marketing mix, then you should include them in your newsletter. If not, you might think about adding them. Even a short, 30-second video can add a lot of appeal.

Write Killer Subject Lines

Write Killer Subject Lines
Speaking of subject lines, make sure yours are clear (you should state that you’re including your newsletter) and intriguing. You want to give subscribers a compelling reason to open your newsletter instead of ignoring it. For example, a local clothing store might try something like this:
April Newsletter: Spring Scarves and a Special Coupon for You!
That’s just one possibility, but you might try including a compelling line from a story, a mention of a product, or a detail about a promotion. However, make sure to stay away from clickbait headlines that have nothing to do with your newsletter. Your subscribers won’t thank you if they open your newsletter expecting something you promised in the subject line and don’t find it.

Include a Single Call to Action

Include a Single Call to Action
It might be tempting to include multiple calls to action, but remember that 80/20 ratio and stick with one. You might offer subscribers a chance to click your CTA (call to action) to get a special coupon or discount code.
Alternatively, you might link back to your online store, or give customers an opportunity to buy tickets to a special event. There’s really no limit to what you can do, but make sure that your call to action is relevant to your newsletter for the best results.
For local business owners, it’s also a good idea to offer customers the opportunity of downloading coupons or discount codes onto their mobile phones or mobile wallets.

Test, Test, Test

Test, Test, Test
The final thing I want to mention is the importance of testing. If you’re using an email automation service like MailChimp or Constant Contact, it’s very easy to test multiple versions of your headlines, colors, images, or content. Just because it’s a newsletter doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from studying variations in open rates and click-through rates.
The important thing to remember is that you should always test one option at a time. Testing more than one muddies the water, making it impossible for you to identify what’s working and what’s not.
Last but not least, make sure that you offer an easy-to-see, easy-to-use way for subscribers to opt out of getting your newsletter. No customer enjoys the feeling of trying to unsubscribe and not being able to do so.
Of course you would prefer that they stay subscribed, but you don’t want to aggravate them to the point where you lose them as customers. As long as you put your subscribers’ needs before your own, you can create a great newsletter that will help you grow your business.