The Right Social Media For Real Estate

Drive More Customers

5 Ways to Drive More Customers with Content Marketing

Online marketers talk about driving customers more than your average Uber driver – and who can blame them? Traffic is income, or at least it is if you do your job. If you can’t get people through the virtual door of your website, they won’t buy from you. It’s as simple as that.
The trick, of course, is getting them there. Your competitors are lined up like a row of carnival barkers, each trying to out-yell the others. You’ve got to find a way to make your voice heard above the chaos. And the secret it a surprisingly simple one:
Create better content than they do.
It’s been a long time since Bill Gates famously declared, “Content is king.” That doesn’t mean that it’s not true. In fact, content is happily sitting on that throne – and it determines how highly your site is ranked by Google and whether people will visit it, subscribe to your list, and turn into paying customers.
Easier said than done? Maybe, but here are 5 methods you can try to drive more customers with content marketing.

#1: Build Social Media Profiles & Engage Your Audience Consistently

Testing and Refining your Page
There’s no denying that social media marketing is essential for local businesses. In fact, social content accounts for a whopping 93% of all B2B content and it’s responsible for a significant amount of B2C content, as well.
The first step is building your profiles. That means creating a consistent brand image by using your logo and a dedicated brand voice so that someone who finds you on Facebook won’t have any problem recognizing you from your website or other social accounts.
The second step is engaging your audience. You should plan on creating some content that’s unique to social media. You can also share your blog posts, YouTube videos, and other content from your website.
However, you should also be curating content from other sources as long as it fits in with your brand’s message. For example, we found a craft store in Seattle that shares:

  • DIY videos for craft projects from various YouTubers
  • Photographs and videos from artists
  • Information about local events of interest to crafters

The key is to make sure that the content you share is relevant to your followers.

#2: Contact Local Content Creators/Influencers

Local Content Creators
The next thing you can do is to pair up with local content creators and influencers both for content creation and for amplifying your brand’s reach.
Imagine that you owned a restaurant and you noticed that one of your food suppliers had a large following. You might approach them about creating content together or sharing one another’s content to help both of you. People who eat at your restaurant might like to know more about the person producing your ingredients and likewise, the people who follow your supplier might like to know where they can sample their products locally.
Of course, influencers don’t need to be directly connected to your business. Instead, they might simply have a lot of audience overlap to make cultivating a relationship with them worth your while. Use your imagination and keep an open mind for the best results.
You can find local influencers using websites like .peoplemap.co and tribegroup.co

#3: Partner with Local Businesses

Local Businesses
You might also consider partnering with local businesses to build your brand and attract new customers. Sometimes, a partnership is the ideal way to lift both partners while at the same time providing relevant content to your followers.
For example, a local office supply store might pair up with a CPA to create content about how to organize your receipts and other information necessary for filing your taxes. Or a hair salon could pair up with a local charity that makes wigs for chemotherapy patients showing the process of how donated hair becomes a wig.
Here again the key is relevance. Any joint content you create should be relevant to your followers and give them the opportunity to learn something new – or try something new.

#4: Confirm Your Business on Mapping Platforms

Mapping Platforms
Helping people find you online and in person is a key aspect of content marketing – and one you may be neglecting. Here are some examples of what you can do to make your business more visible:

  1. Claim your listings on Yelp and other review sites and update all relevant information
  2. Likewise, claim your listings on Google Maps and Apple Maps
  3. Check your social media accounts to make sure your information is accurate and uniform
  4. Enable check-ins and badges on Facebook and FourSquare
  5. Respond to customer reviews on Yelp, Facebook, and Google

Doing these things will ensure that your business listings are accurate, and that people know you are a responsive and dedicated business owner – and trust us, that matters!

#5: Event Marketing (Hosting Events and Experiences)

Event Marketing
Finally, check out local events that you might be able to attend or sponsor. While our focus is on digital marketing, sometimes there’s no substitute for the personal touch.
If your marketing is primarily B2B, you might look for:

  • Chamber of Commerce meetings and events
  • Service organization meetings and events (think the Elks or the Lions)
  • Trade shows in your industry or related industries
  • Charitable events with corporate sponsors

B2C marketing requires a slightly different approach, but here are some suggestions:

  • Local charity events
  • Local festivals and holiday events, including street fairs and community celebrations
  • Gift fairs
  • Little league games (you could even sponsor a team)

If you don’t see any suitable events in your area, then you can always create one, either alone or by pairing up with other local business owners. The key is to increase your visibility by getting out into the community.
Remember, great content will always win out…
It might feel a bit daunting to constantly need to come up with new content, but the five strategies we’ve outlined here can help to demystify the process and ensure that your content is always stands out and gets noticed.
SEO Rankings

Can Reviews Affect Your SEO Rankings?

You already know that local SEO is the name of the game. It’s essential to send Google signals – through keyword use and other SEO techniques – that your business is local, as well as it who it serves and where it is.
What you might not know is this:
Your online reviews play a direct role in your business making the cut to appear in the Google local three-pack.
In case you don’t know, that’s the collection of businesses that appear at the top of Google’s SERP when someone searches a keyword. It turns out that one of the keys to landing a coveted spot in the three-pack is getting good reviews. Here’s what you need to know.

The Proof That Reviews Matter

Reviews
How can we tell that reviews make a difference in SEO? Google’s algorithm is proprietary and the known ranking factors (keywords, links, and Google Rankbrain, to name a few) don’t include reviews.
Local SEO experts have been saying this for a years, but it’s actually fairly easy to see that reviews are important. Google any local business category and you will get a list of results with a three-pack at the top. When you look at the businesses that made it into the three-pack, you’ll most likely see the following:

  • Star ratings pulled directly from online reviews of the business
  • Keywords in those reviews

For example, if you searched for the keyword “Spokane hair salon,” you would see reviews that related to that keyword. That’s all the proof we need to know that reviews make a difference in determining which businesses appear at the top of the SERP.
It’s also worth noting that the Local SEO Guide found that local reviews were the second most influential factor in determining search rank in their 2017 Local SEO Ranking Factors study. The influence in this study did appear to be limited to reviews that specifically included the keyword searched, but customers are likely to use the most commonly searched terms naturally.
In addition, LSI keywords that are related to the search term may also play a role. Try Googling your top keyword and looking at what’s highlighted in the reviews in the three-pack. You may notice that reviews that use semantically-related words show up even if they don’t use the precise term you searched.

The Reasons Google Likes Reviews for SEO

Reviews for SEO
There are some concrete reasons that Google thinks reviews matter. They’re directly related to the ways that Google’s algorithm has evolved. In the early days of the internet, it was possible to get a page to rank highly on any search engine by simply stuffing it with keywords.
That changed because it omitted any concern for the experience of a user who clicked through to a site. After all, if you could click on a site because it ranked for a keyword only to find that it was useless to your needs, you wouldn’t revisit it – and you might resent the search engine that directed you to it in the first place.
With that in mind, here are the top three reasons that Google likes reviews for SEO.

  1. It trusts outside sources more than it trusts you (at least when it comes to the relevance of your site.) This first reason is related to the ongoing importance that Google places on authority backlinks. It stands to reason that it would accept mentions and references from other sources as proof that your site is relevant to certain keywords and topics.
  2. Google uses written content as a way of determining authenticity. When customers write reviews, they describe your business. They may even include information that’s not on your website. Even if you don’t list reviews on your site, these things can help flesh out the information on your site and give Google more context for its interpretation of your site.
  3. Click-through rates also influence Google’s ranking algorithm. That might seem obvious, but what you need to know is that a business with lots of good reviews is, inevitably, going to get more clicks and traffic than a business with a few mediocre reviews. It’s in your best interest to encourage reviews if you want to boost your Google rank.

These three things explain why reviews matter to Google. The key takeaways here is that Google takes outside resources into account to help it determine the authenticity and usefulness of your website. Users “vote” for your site by writing reviews and describing your site. Just as web users trust peer reviews to help them make buying decisions, Google trusts them to help it make recommendations of which sites are most likely to be useful for the keyword searched.

How to Make the Most of Your Reviews

Here are some quick tips to help you make the most of your reviews:

  1. Claim your listings on all relevant review sites. This includes Yelp and Google My Business, as well as local review sites. You want to make sure that you use keywords in your listing, link to your site, and include relevant information that will help people find you
  2. Link to your review pages directly from your website so customers can leave reviews if they want to.
  3. Put a reminder about reviews on your receipts or comment cards. Remember that dissatisfied customers are often motivated to leave reviews, but happy customers will do so if you make it easy for them.
  4. Send a note to your email list with a link to your review sites and ask them to leave a review.
  5. Reply promptly to negative reviews to try to resolve them and get the reviewer to update their review.

These things will help you dial up the impact of your reviews and help you get into the coveted local three-pack for your most important keywords.
Reviews matter…
You know that, and now you can do something about it. Organic traffic is increasingly difficult to come by but encouraging and highlighting your reviews can help you get the biggest possible bang for your marketing bucks.
Right Social Media Platform

How to Choose the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

The social media landscape always seems to be changing. New sites don’t pop up every day, but our perception of them is always shifting. The same is true of the general public. You might feel like you need to maintain a presence on every social media site from Facebook to Instagram, but guess what?
You don’t. Not by a long shot.
In fact, it could be detrimental to your business to do that. Your target audience might be very active on Pinterest and Facebook and never give Twitter a second glance.
The trick is knowing which platforms are most likely to bear fruit – and which are better left alone. Here are some things that can help.

Understand the Key Attributes of Each Platform

Each social media platform has unique qualities. Sometimes the benefits of one platform overlap with another and sometimes, they don’t. Here’s a rundown of each platform’s marketing value as we see it.

Facebook

Facebook
Facebook is still the biggest social media platform. That means that you’re likely to find a significant percentage of your target audience there. In most cases, choosing just one social media site for marketing probably means choosing Facebook.
Facebook is ideal for brand-building, establishing yourself as an authority in your industry or niche, and strengthening customer loyalty. It’s easy to share an array of content, including written, visual, and video content.
Of course, arguable Facebook’s biggest strength in terms of marketing is its advertising options. You can easily segment your target audience, run ads, view detailed analytics, and adjust as needed.

Twitter

Twitter
Twitter is built for instant communications. It’s the perfect place to share updates with your followers, create an immediate give-and-take, and release company news without relying on the media.
Twitter’s use of hashtags also makes it easy to track your company’s mentions and trending topics. Many companies have integrated their customer service with their Twitter accounts to provide immediate support when it’s needed.

Pinterest

Pinterest
Pinterest focuses on visual content and is a great platform for driving users back to your blog or website. They also have an option that allows retailers to sell directly on Pinterest.
The ability to create micro-targeted boards and use hashtags can make it easy to ensure that people in your target audience see the content you create.
 

Instagram

Instagram
Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual platform where you can share photographs and videos of your products or services. It has a slightly more casual feel that the other sites we’ve mentioned so far and that can be useful for some brands because it can help them connect with customers.
Instagram is also a good place for user-generated content. For example. Starbucks uses Instagram every year for its White Cup Contest, where it asks users to decorate a plain white Starbucks cup with a unique design. The contest winner’s design is manufactured each year and available as a limited-run product in stores.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the best social media platform for B2B marketers. It’s where you can share relevant blog posts, connect with other leaders in your industry, and make the kinds of connections that can help your business grow.
You can target LinkedIn users by their industry and job title, as well as by using traditional keywords. Sharing information about your business is a good way to build credibility and trust.

Identify your target audienceIdentify Your Target Audience’s Preferred Platforms

Now, you’ve got to take the time to clearly define your target audience and identify the social media platforms that they are most likely to use. To do that, it’s helpful to have a demographic breakdown of each site so you can narrow your options.

  • Facebook’s users are most often between the ages of 25 and 45, and they’re slightly more likely to be female than male (there’s a 60/40 split)
  • Twitter’s users are younger and mostly between the ages of 18 and 29. They are split evenly between men and women
  • Pinterest’s users are 80% women, and most are between the ages of 18 and 35, and they also tend to be affluent
  • Instagram’s users are mostly between the ages of 18 and 40, and skew slightly female with a 58%/42% split
  • LinkedIn’s users are professionals between the ages of 22 and 54, with a slight edge toward men, who make up 52% of users

These details should help you narrow your choices and decide which platforms make the most sense for your business. If you sell aspirational products that photograph well and appeal to women – for example, if you own a bridal boutique – you probably can’t afford to pass up on Pinterest.

Know How Much Time You’re Willing to Spend on Social Media

time spend on social media
Let’s say that you’ve identified Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram as the most beneficial social platforms for your business. Does that mean you should set up accounts on all three?
Not necessarily.
To be effective, a social account must be active. That means you’ve got to tend to it every day, creating or curating new content and being there to answer questions and comments as needed. Here’s a rule of thumb for posting on each platform:

  • Facebook accounts should post one or two times per day
  • Twitter accounts should post three to four times per day
  • Pinterest accounts should post two or three times per day
  • Instagram accounts should post at least once a day
  • LinkedIn accounts should post two to four times per day

That would mean that if you chose the three platforms we mentioned above, you’d need to be prepared to post, at minimum, four times per day. While you can certainly overlap and post the same content in more than once place, you’ll also need to consider the platform’s strengths. For example, you won’t need hashtags on Facebook, but you will on Instagram.

Choosing the right social platforms may take a little time…  

But, it’s time well spent. Your time is valuable, and it makes no sense to waste it posting on platforms that your audience is not using.  
If you’re a CPA or Attorney, you probably don’t use Pinterest…
Auto repair shops probably aren’t too active on LinkedIn…  
Home remodeling & roofing contactors don’t do a lot of tweeting…
You see where I’m going with this?
So we hope this article will help you make the best choice for your own business – and for your bottom line.
Google

What’s Changing with Google (and How It Affects You)

Trying to pin down Google’s algorithm is a little like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. Why would you even try? It’s just going to fall off the nail anyway.
If that’s how you feel, it’s understandable. It can be frustrating. You want your site to appear on the first page of Google’s search results. But, the algorithm isn’t public, and Google is notoriously close-mouthed about it. But guess what?
You can’t stop trying.
Ranking high on Google is a must for every local business. The businesses that appear in the top five spots on Google get the lion’s share of the traffic. If you miss the mark, you’ll be missing out on business.
With that in mind, here are the most important things you need to know about what’s changing with Google – and why you should care.

#1: Google Searches Will Be Mobile-First

Google Searches
This first one is a big one and you can expect to have a big impact on your business. Google has a huge advantage in mobile search.
One estimate is that while Google garners approximately 63% of desktop services, it grabs a whopping 95% of mobile search. People with smart phones really need to go out of their way to use a search engine other than Google.
Google knows that people are more likely to search local business on their mobile devices than on a desktop, and it also recognizes the importance of the “near me” search term when people are out and about.
You want to make sure that your business grabs one of those top spots in mobile search? Here are some quick tips to help you ensure that it does:

  • Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing and check your other online listings for accuracy
  • Make sure that your website is mobile-optimized and has a responsive format that will adjust to any device
  • Produce plenty of mobile-friendly content for your site

These things will ensure that Google knows your site is useful to mobile users.

#2: SEO Is Your Key to Showing Google Your Relevance

Google Your Relevance
It’s no secret that Google prioritizes the user experience over everything else. That’s why keywords have diminished in importance while things like LSI, authority backlinks, and local reviews have risen as indicators of a site’s relevance and usefulness.
Keywords may not have the impact they once had, but there are other elements of SEO that are essential to ensuring that Google knows what your site’s about and why users will care about it.
The first thing is creating optimized content that’s highly engaging and useful to your site visitors. The more recent the content the better.
If your site doesn’t have a blog, it should – and you shouldn’t wait to add one. Every blog post you write gives Google another reason to crawl your site, and users another reason to visit.
The second thing is your data. If you’re not already drilling down into your data from Google Analytics and social media, you should start. Those numbers aren’t just numbers – they’re a map that can show you the kind of content that’s most appealing to your followers.

#3: Content Still Reigns Supreme  

Content Still Reigns Supreme
Speaking of content, there’s simply no way to overstate its importance. While you’ll still need to optimize your site for keywords and use appropriate tags, your content is what will ultimately make a user decide to stay on your site or – alternatively – to click the dreaded back button and try again.
The truth is that posting content regularly is likely to garner you up to five times the results that you’ll get without regular content updates. That’s not a statistic you can afford to ignore – and you can be sure that Google will notice if you don’t create content that users care about.
Of course, content can take many forms. It might include:

  • Blog posts on your website
  • Curated content that you post on your social media pages
  • Text messages you send to people who have opted in to receive them
  • Videos you post on YouTube
  • Tweets you send out
  • The emails you send to your subscribers

Google won’t see all of these directly but that doesn’t mean they won’t have an impact on your Google search rank. If a text message prompts a mobile user to visit your site, Google will notice the traffic – and your site’s ranking may ultimately be affected by it.

#4: Video Content is Huge

Video Content is Huge
Finally, there’s reason to believe that 2018 will truly be the Year of Video Marketing. We’ve been talking about the rise of video for a while now, but its importance continues to increase. Let’s start with this:
By 2021, 82% of all global IP traffic will be video traffic.
Whoa. We’re not talking about a tiny chunk of traffic here. Video traffic was already at 73% as of 2016 and its rise is ongoing.
Visitors to your site are four times more likely to watch an explainer video about your product or service than they are to read a page of text. Of course, there are exceptions – but you can’t afford to ignore the fact that preferences have changed.
The good news is that video is cheaper and easier than ever to product. You can pay big bucks for a professional videographer to make videos for your business, but you don’t need to. Even a decent smartphone camera can shoot video that’s good enough to represent your business.
Some videos – the more formal ones that appear on your site, for example – might benefit from high production values. But the videos that you post on social media can be casual and short – and don’t forget about live video as an option, too.
Now, about that Jell-O…
Yes, it’s a pain to keep up with Google’s constant changes. But ultimately, getting a nail through that Jell-O – even if you have to do it again tomorrow – is worth the time and effort. It’s the thing that will bring new visitors to your site – and help your business earn more revenue.
Amp Up Your Local Marketing

5 Killer Ways to Amp Up Your Local Marketing

Local marketing isn’t easy.
No kidding, right?
Marketing a local, brick-and-mortar company requires a mix of online and in-person marketing. You need to be thinking about how to connect with current and prospective customers on the web, but you can’t afford to forget about local connections and the fact that many of them happen in the real world.
If your marketing isn’t getting the job done right now, it could be because you’re not hitting the right notes with your campaigns. Maybe you feel scattered – or maybe you’re just not sure which strategies should be in your marketing mix.
We get it. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for local marketing, but there are methods that are proven to be effective. Here are five killer ways to get your local marketing on track.

#1: Use Yelp

Yelp
As you probably know, Yelp is a crowd-review website where users can post reviews of local businesses. The site has become a first stop for consumers – and it’s easy to understand why. 80% of all consumers say that they trust an online review from a stranger as much as they would a recommendation from a friend.
To use Yelp, you’ll need to start by claiming your listing. Once you do that, you can update your profile. You should make sure to:

  • Verify your name, address, and telephone number
  • Add your store hours
  • Add the URL of your website
  • Post pictures of your business

Going forward, make sure to monitor your reviews and respond to customer comments and complaints as quickly and professionally as possible. Even a bad review can be a marketing opportunity!

#2: Update Your Local SEO

Update Your Local SEO
If it’s been a while since you updated the SEO on your website, then it’s time to revisit it. Why? Because for local businesses, SEO can spell the difference between success and failure.
Local SEO uses keywords that include local words. For example, “children’s clothing boutique” is a general keyword; “Minneapolis children’s clothing boutique” is local.
Using local keywords can help you land a spot in Google’s coveted 3-pack. This is the group of three business listings that appears at the top of each page of local search results. The companies whose listings are in the 3-pack get the lion’s share of the clicks, so you want to be there!
Other aspects of local SEO to update include:

  • Getting your company listed in local business directories
  • Standardizing your NAP (name, address, phone number) listings anywhere they appear online
  • Using local keywords in your URLs if possible
  • Adding local keywords to tags on your website

These things all help raise your profile and make it easy for local customers to find you online.

#3: Target Your Ads to Local Customers

Target Your Ads
Marketing local companies online doesn’t stop with SEO. You can also target your ads on Facebook and Google AdWords, so they display only to local customers.
The benefit of this, of course, is that you pay for advertising based on the number of impressions your ad makes. Narrowing your audience to only local searchers means that you’ll have a better chance of getting the clicks and conversions you want.
Location targeting makes sense. The more carefully and accurately you define your audience, the more new customers you’ll be able to attract. And, you’ll also have an easier time connecting with existing customers!
Google AdWords and Facebook both offer locational targeting, and using it can make a big difference in the success of your marketing campaigns.

#4: Join a Referral Network

Referral Network
You expect to spend some money on marketing and advertising, but wouldn’t we all prefer to get referrals from people who know us? Referrals are free, and they’re likely to be pre-qualified, too. After all, few of us refer a friend to a business unless we know they’re interested in it!
You can look for online referral networks and local networks, as well. It’s possible that your Chamber of Commerce or a local business organization has a working referral network. Checking with online resources may be helpful, too.
Referrals can come from people in similar or related businesses. For example, the owner of a bakery might team up with a party planner to get referrals. These businesses have a lot of overlap, so referrals make sense.
If your area doesn’t have a referral network and you can’t find one online, don’t give up! Instead, start one yourself. Reach out to other businesses in your area and suggest that you might be able to help one another by making referrals.

#5: Combine Your Marketing Efforts with a Neighbor

Marketing Efforts
Sometimes, marketing can be a solitary affair. You might feel that it’s a burden you have to bear on your own – but what if that weren’t the case?
One of the best ways to give your marketing efforts a boost is to pair up with one or more of your business neighbors. Here are a few suggestions:

  • You can agree to keep one another’s business cards and brochures on display in your establishment, so your customers can see them
  • You can team up to co-sponsor a local event
  • You can offer joint promotions (buy something from us, get something from them at 10% off)
  • You can offer package deals where you bundle your products together, sell them in both establishments, and share in the profits

These are just a few ideas. Pairing up with one or more local companies is a great way to increase your visibility, attract new customers, and make yourself an indispensable part of the community.

Local Marketing Is a Must…

While the world marketplace is an increasingly global one, many consumers prefer to shop close to home. They understand that buying local products and services supports the community and creates a positive climate for residents and business owners alike.
These five marketing musts can help you shepherd your company to new levels of success in the coming year.
Approach Social Media

How to Approach Social Media in 2018

Where is social media marketing going in 2018?
Good question. The social media landscape seems to change constantly. Facebook is constantly adding new features and tweaking their algorithms, and even people who use social media to market every day sometimes find themselves wondering how to keep up.
The key is not so much trying to stay on top of Facebook’s changes as it is getting a handle on what your marketing goals are.
So – what is it you want to accomplish in 2018? Let’s start there.

Setting Social Media Marketing Goals

Marketing Goals
One of the great things about social media marketing is how versatile it is. Whatever goal you want to achieve, you can do it using social media.
The problem that a lot of companies run into is that they don’t know what they want. They end up taking a scattershot approach to social media marketing. As a result, they:

  • Don’t meet their goals
  • Lose money
  • Throw good money after bad

How do you avoid these things? The answer is simple. You do it by taking some time to think about what you want to accomplish it, and then planning how to do it.
Here are some of the common goals of marketers:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Drive traffic to their website
  • Re-engage existing customers
  • Building an online community
  • Boosting engagement
  • Building a list
  • Making social sales

You might want to do all these things, but it’s not going to help you focus your efforts if you don’t prioritize the goals that you value most.
We suggest picking three goals that will be your priorities in the coming year. You may have secondary goals as well, but your top three will determine what you do on social media – and how you do it.

Choosing Your Social Media Strategies

Social Media Strategies
Your next step must be deciding on the specific strategies and tactics you’ll use on social media to achieve your goals.
This is where social media marketing can be a little overwhelming. There are many potential strategies to consider. For example:

  • You might connect with influencers and offer them payment or incentives to talk about your brand
  • You could set up a posting schedule to increase engagement
  • Designing a Facebook ad could help you generate leads or build your list
  • Setting up an account on Instagram might help you attract younger customers

The more specific you are about your social media marketing goals, the easier it will be to choose the strategies that will help you achieve them.
For example, if you want to make influencer marketing a priority in 2018, you might do some research and make a list of potential influencers to approach. You could also give some thought to what kinds of things you would want your influencers to do, and quantify the results you hope to get.
The strategies you choose should be specific to your goals and appealing to your target audience. If you’re eager to attract male customers, for example, then a dedicated Pinterest campaign probably isn’t the way to go.

Social Media Trends for 2018

Social Media Trends
After you’ve identified your goals and chosen some general strategies, you can brush up on the latest and greatest social media trends and see if any of them fit into your plans for the coming year.
Let’s break down some of the biggest and most important trends.

  1. Live Streaming is more popular than ever before. Facebook has made its Facebook Live feature available to all users, and it’s not uncommon to see streaming videos from both brands and consumers. Live Streaming provides marketers with a way to connect directly with customers, answer questions, and give an inside look at their products, people, and services.
  2. Augmented and virtual reality usage are on the rise. While these technologies are still new, the new iPhone 8 and iPhone X feature virtual reality chips. Facebook Spaces is still in the testing stage, but it’s expected to go into wide release in 2018. VR is coming – and many companies will be jumping on the bandwagon.
  3. Instagram Stories have been around for a year, but marketers’ use of them is expected to skyrocket in 2018. 200,000 people use it each month, and if the trend continues, more than half of all Instagram users will be on board by the end of next year.
  4. Influencer marketing is still on the rise and is one of the most popular ways for brands to attract new customers. Big brands may go after celebrity endorsers, but choosing the right influential blogger or Instagrammer can make a huge difference in your visibility.
  5. The use of messaging platforms has increased dramatically as many companies integrate their social media with customer service. Apps like Messenger, Kik, and WhatsApp can be used to provide immediate responses to customer inquiries.
  6. The popularity of Houseparty – a new-ish digital hangout platform – has prompted talk that Facebook might launch a similar feature this year. It could represent an easy way for brands to “hang out” with their customers in cyberspace.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention the trend that was inspired by the recent Congressional inquiries about Facebook advertising during the election. You can expect a crackdown on ad content in the coming months.
Most routine ads won’t be affected, but it’s important to note that Facebook is adding new AI monitoring as well as human monitoring. It may take a little longer to get ads approved in the future, and it’s possible that glitches and misunderstandings might occur, as well.

The Landscape of Social Media Is Constantly Changing…

New technologies, apps, and trends appear on the horizon faster than we can keep up.
The keys to making your social media marketing successful in 2018 are to:

  1. Identify your goals as completely as possible
  2. Choose strategies to help you achieve your goals
  3. Embrace new trends and technologies where they make sense

Do these three things, and your social media approach in the new year will be a successful one.
Value of a Lifetime Customer

Calculating the Value of a Lifetime Customer – What You Need to Know

Attracting new customers is the most important marketing goal you can have. That’s what you’d think based on the way a lot of people approach marketing.
But is that the correct approach? Is your time (and money) well spent if you focus on attracting new customers?
Brace yourself, because the opposite is true. You’ll get the biggest bang for your marketing buck if you make retaining existing customers a priority.
That doesn’t mean that attracting new customers is a waste of time. But it does mean that your long-term goals might be suffering as a result of your current marketing strategy.
With that in mind, let’s talk about how to calculate the value of a lifetime customer. How much is it worth to hang on to one customer?

The Cost of Acquiring New Customer

Cost of Acquiring New Customer
You’ve probably heard the statistics about the cost of acquiring a new customer compared to the cost of retaining an existing one – but they bear repeating.
Research shows that it costs five times as much to get a new customer to make a purchase as it does to build loyalty with the customers you already have.
Why is new customer acquisition so expensive? It makes sense if you think about it. For example:

  • Consumers require, as a rule, 7 to 10 “touches” from a brand before they’ll make a purchase
  • Only a small percentage of the people who see your ads or social media posts will make a purchase

That explains it, doesn’t it? You must work hard to attract a new customer. It’s expensive. Wouldn’t you rather put your money to work keeping the customers you have?

Loyalty Drives Sales

Loyalty Drives Sales
What happens when a customer makes a purchase from you? It turns out there are some psychological quirks that kick in that make it more likely they’ll buy from you again.

  1. The Sunk Cost Fallacy tells us that once we’ve spent money on something, it must be a good thing. We’re more likely to give money to the same source because it reinforces our belief that we made the right decision the first time around.
  2. Choice-Supportive Bias is what makes us more comfortable buying familiar things than unfamiliar ones. Our reasons for buying something might not be rational, but we’d rather stick with a product we’ve already tried than choosing a new one. Think of it as “the devil you know” in action.
  3. In-Group Favoritism is a cognitive bias that Apple used quite effectively to create a feeling of camaraderie and superiority among their customers. In other words, identifying with the Apple brand was something that made their customers feel special – and that increased their loyalty to the brand.

The takeaway here is that one-time customers want to become repeat customers. There’s a human inclination to be loyal and to repeat behavior, and that’s one of the reasons that it’s less expensive to keep a customer than to attract a new one.

What Your Customers Are Worth

Customers Are Worth
How much is a lifetime customer worth? As you might expect, the specific answers can vary. One loyal customer might spend ten times as much as another. But that said, there are some statistics that can show you the average lifetime value of a single customer.
The initial conversion rate for any potential customer is very low – usually between 3% and 5%. However, the conversion rate goes way up when we’re talking about repeat customers.

  • A one-time customer has a 27% chance of making a repeat purchase
  • A two-time customer has a 45% chance of making a third purchase
  • A three-time customer has a 54% chance of making a fourth purchase

Let’s talk about what that means in practical terms. If a prospective customer has only a 3% chance of converting, it means that 97 out of 100 prospects are costing you money that you have no chance of recovering. Pretty grim, right?
But those 3 customers who do convert are nine times as likely to make a purchase as any new customer would be. Just like that, your conversion rate skyrocketed!
As you can see above, the numbers continue to increase over time. That’s due in part to repeat customers having a comfort level with your products, as we discussed above.
Now, let’s use some hard numbers to get an idea of what a lifelong customer might be worth to you. Let’s say that you spend $1,000 a year on marketing to new customers, and a year, you attract 100 new customers. That means that your cost per customer acquisition is $10.00.
That number might seem high, but you can’t understand your acquisition cost without including the average purchase made by customers and the likelihood that they’ll buy from you repeatedly.
If your product sells for $20.00 with a 100% mark-up, and you spend 25% of your profits on overhead, you’re looking at an initial return of $7.50 per customer. In other words, you’ve earned back 75% of what you spent to acquire that customer.
Now, let’s look at what happens if that customer buys from you repeatedly, assuming all prices, mark-ups, and overhead stay the same:

  • If they buy from you twice, you’ll have earned back 150% of what you spent
  • At three times, your ROI goes up to 225%
  • At four times, it increases to 300%

As you can see, each additional purchase puts you further into the black with that customer. If yours is the type of product that people buy every month or even once a year, it’s easy to see why you would want to retain that customer for as long as possible. Even if you spend a little money on email marketing or loyalty programs to help retain them, it’s still more cost-effective than it is to find new customers.
Conclusion
Attracting new customers might feel more exciting than retaining old ones, but you’ve got to ask what’s more important to you: the thrill of attracting a new buyer, or the money that comes with retaining an existing one. Personally, we’ll take the money.
SSL for Beginners

Upgrading SSL for Beginners – Why This is a Must for 2018!

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard something about upgrading your site with SSL. It’s been in the news a lot.
But what does it mean?
If you’re confused about SSL and why it matters, you’re not alone. A lot of entrepreneurs are wondering whether they really need to worry about it – and what to do if the answer is yes.
So, let’s break it down.

What Is SSL?

What Is SSL?
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. That might not mean much to you, but it means a lot to Google. Here’s why.
SSL is the standard encryption used to protect web users’ information when it’s transmitted online. You may have noticed that some websites’ URLs start with:
http://
While others start with:
https://
That “s” makes all the difference when it comes to security. When a user gives you their personal information, whether it’s an email address, a home address, a cell phone number, or a credit card number, they want to be confident that thieves and hackers can’t access their data.
It makes sense. SSL is the protection that stands between your customers’ personal information and the dishonest online predators who want to steal it.

Why Does SSL Matter?

Does SSL Matter
What if your website isn’t a place where you collect private information? Do you still need to worry about SSL?
The short answer is yes. At the beginning of 2017, Google announced that by October, it would start labeling any sites not using SSL as Insecure. This was a change from their previous policy, which highlighted secure sites with a green padlock webicon on the browser bar.
The bottom line here is that even if you’re not collecting sensitive information on your site, you don’t want Google telling your visitors that your site isn’t secure. Many of them won’t stop to consider that they have the option of not giving you personal information. They’ll just leave.
That’s a bad thing for obvious reasons. You want both your current customers and potential leads to feel that it’s safe to do business with you.
Once you’ve properly installed your SSL certificate, Google will display your URL with a gray padlock next to it. That tells customers that your site is secure.

How to Upgrade SSL

Upgrade SSL
The process of upgrading your SSL and complying with Google’s new rules isn’t a complex one, but it might seem that way to beginners. You’ll have to follow several steps to get it done.
We’ll run through them here, but don’t worry if it seems like a hassle. At the end of this article, we’ll give you a link to a service that can take care of the whole thing for you.
Here are the steps you should follow.

Determine What Kind of Certificate You Need

There are three different types of SSL certificates, and you must choose the proper one to make your site secure:

  • DV or Domain Validation – suitable if you only need to protect a single domain
  • OV or Organization Validation – suitable if you must protect many subdomains
  • EV or Extended Validation – suitable if you must protect many domains

Most eCommerce stores will want to choose the OV or EV certificate to ensure that all areas of their site are secure. You can find more information about how to choose the right certificate here.
You’ll have to verify ownership of your site to generate the certificate.

Obtain or Purchase Your Certificate

Next, you must obtain your SSL certificate to install on your website. Some hosting companies offer certificates at no cost, but you also have the option of buying a custom certificate. The costs may range from less than $50 to more than $200, depending on your needs or where you buy the certificate.
Keep in mind that the SSL certificate you buy will need to be updated regularly. Each certificate is good for between one and two years. Most sites that issue certificates will allow you to sign up for automatic renewals, so you won’t have to worry about your certificate expiring.
A good rule of thumb is to pay for a certificate only if you need to. If a simple DV certificate will do and you can get one at no cost, that’s what you should do.

Install Your Certificate

Now, it’s time to install your certificate. The specific installation process will vary depending on your host and server, and it’s not practical to list step-by-step instructions for every option.
That said, the process of installing a certificate is usually well-documented and you should be able to find instructions that tell you how to do it.
The tricky thing about the installation process is that it requires you to go in and do a lot of redirecting and tweaking to your site’s code after the fact. Every link that redirects users to the http:// version of your site must be updated to redirect them to the new, secure version.
It’s this part of the process that can be a roadblock for entrepreneurs. Without the specific technical knowledge to do it – and without time in their busy schedules – it can be easy to overlook links and leave your site partially or completely unprotected as a result.

Test Your Site

The final step is to test your site and make sure that the SSL is working the way it’s supposed to. There are online tools you can use to do it, and your hosting company may give you a verification after you’ve completed the installation.
Just remember that testing is crucial. If you miss any step along the way, you might end up with only a partial installation.

Here’s Help If You Need It…

Whew – that sounds like a lot to do, doesn’t it? The good news is that you don’t have to do it on your own.
If you’d like a pro to help you upgrade your SSL and prevent Google from flagging your site as insecure, we recommend SSL Sniper. Click here to find out how they can help you get through the process of installing and testing your SSL certificate.

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