Use YouTube Generate Real Estate Leads

YouTube Hacks

7 Smart YouTube Hacks for Local Business

If you’re still caught up in the thinking that YouTube is nothing more than a place to watch cat videos, then you’re missing out on a significant opportunity to increase your digital reach and engage your followers.
In fact, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world – and it’s got more than a billion users! No matter what you’re selling, YouTube should be part of your marketing mix.
For local businesses, the cost of producing videos might seem to be prohibitive, but it all comes down to the return you get on your investment. It’s worth spending a bit more up front if you can recoup those expenses on the back end.
We want you to put YouTube to work for your business – and so we’ve come up with these 7 smart YouTube hacks to help you do it.

#1: Get Your Transcripts in Order

You might not know that YouTube creates a transcript for every video that’s uploaded. It may take a while to appear – and it might not be perfect – but eventually, your videos will have transcripts.
The downside of the process is that the transcripts that YouTube creates are often riddled with mistakes – but you can correct them and boost your engagement at the same time.
You have two options here. The first is to upload your own transcript when you add the video. You can do that by clicking the CC (closed captioning) button, choosing a language, and then following the instructions.
The second option is to wait until YouTube adds the transcript and then access it via the CC button and edit it to correct mistakes. You can use the convenient “Pause while typing” feature to make changes.
Either way, we also recommend pasting the entire transcript into the description box so you can reap the SEO benefits.

#2: Start Shared Videos Right Where You Want Them

Shared Videos
What do you do when you want to share a video but you want to cut right to the chase? A simple hack can help you post a video so that it will start playing at the precise spot you choose.
All you need to do to use this hack is to click the share button on the video you want to post. Underneath the list of sharing options, you’ll see a little box that says “Start Video at” with a black space where you can enter the time stamp you want.
If you pause the video where you want it to start the field will auto-fill. Otherwise, you can type in the time. Then, wait a minute for the URL to update, copy it, and share it.

#3: Create a Custom YouTube URL

Custom YouTube URL
Do you want to make it easy for people to find your YouTube channel? One way to do it is to create a custom URL for it.
You’ll need to meet some minimum requirements to take advantage of this hack. As long as your channel has:

  • Been in existence for at least 30 days
  • Attracted at least 100 subscribers
  • An uploaded photo as a station icon
  • Uploaded station art

To create a custom URL, open your YouTube settings and click the “Advanced” option. If you’re eligible for a unique URL you’ll be prompted to create one.
Just one caveat: make sure to choose the name you want and double-check your spelling. Once you’ve created a URL, you cannot go back and edit it.

#4: Add Clickable Links to Your Videos

Clickable Links
You can put a URL to your website in the description of a video – but people might not see it. A better option is to add a clickable link in your video. When a user clicks it, the video will pause and your link will open in a new tab.
Adding a clickable link is easy, and you’ll have the option of choosing a note, a speech bubble, a title, a label, or a spotlight. To do it, go to the Video Manager and then select the video you want to edit. Click “Edit” and choose your link option from the drop-down menu. From there, you can simply follow the directions.
It’s worth noting that you can also add end cards to your video using this same feature.

#5: Stream Live on YouTube

Stream Live on YouTube
Live video options like Periscope and Facebook Live have been getting a ton of attention lately – and it makes sense. Streaming live to your followers is a great way to engage them and attract new followers, too.
You might not know that YouTube live streaming is an option. It’s not quite as straightforward as Facebook Live, but your subscribers will get a notification when you go live.
You can find detailed instructions on how to stream video live on YouTube by clicking here.

#6: Use YouTube’s Library of Free Sound Effects to Enhance Your Videos

YouTube’s Library
Producing videos can be expensive, but YouTube provides some free resources to make it affordable. You can access their huge library of free music and sound effects by clicking here.
To use the clips, all you need to do is click the download button and save it to your computer as an mp3 file. Once it’s saved, you can add it to a video or use it for any other purpose.
The one caveat here is that some of the music clips do require some attribution. Since the requirements may vary from clip to clip, you’ll have to look at the particular song you choose to make sure you’re handling it properly.

#7: Track Trends to Improve Your Reach

Track Trends to Improve Your Reach
YouTube is owned by Google, so it should come as no surprise that there are some pretty cool statistics you can access to help you evaluate your results and choose trends to boost your engagement.
If you click here, you can access Google Trends and then filter the results so you see only trends on YouTube.
In some cases the YouTube trends may be pretty close to what you’ll find on Google, but the results might surprise you. When the trends diverge, you can use the opportunity to create content that’s more likely to attract viewers on YouTube.

Now Start Making Videos…

What are you waiting for? YouTube is a great tool for marketing local businesses, and you can use it in many different ways. The 7 hacks here are really just the tip of the iceberg, but the more videos you create and share, the more creative you can get by exploring the other tools and options available.
YouTube Features

11 Cool YouTube Features You’re Not Using Yet

You probably already know that videos are a highly popular, highly shareable form of internet content. If you want to engage and entertain your customers, creating a compelling video and sharing it on YouTube is one of the best ways to do it.
In addition to being one of the most highly-trafficked websites in the world, YouTube is also the world’s second-largest search engine behind Google. And since it is now owned by Google, there are some legitimate SEO benefits you can reap by using YouTube to market your business.
If all you’re doing is uploading videos to YouTube, you might be missing out. Here are 11 cool features that you could be using to ramp up your marketing.

  1. YouTube will create a transcript of your video, and editing it – or uploading your own transcript – can help drive traffic to your video. The problem with sticking with the automatic transcript is that they can be very inaccurate. If you use keywords in your video, then transcribing it accurately can help move your video to the top of YouTube’s search rankings – and Google’s, too. To add a transcript, all you need to do is click the little “CC” icon under your video and paste in the transcript.
  2. After you upload your video, you can add clickable links to it using YouTube’s Creator Studio. The links act just like a call to action button on your website. That means that you can prompt viewers to subscribe to your list, buy a product, or just visit your website. To add them, simply go to Video Manager > Edit > Annotations and then choose the annotations you want to add. There are five options, including speech bubbles, notes, spotlights, titles, and labels. You don’t want to overdo it, but adding annotations is a great way to make your video interactive.
  3. When you post a long video, you can specify a starting point in the video instead of making people watch from the beginning. This is a great tool if you want to highlight a particular moment in the video. To use this feature, simply click Share and you will see a little box that says “Start at” underneath it. In the box, enter the time when you want the video to start (hours: minutes: seconds) and then post it. When people click on the video, it will begin playing at the exact spot you specify.
  4. If you have a lot of videos on your YouTube channel, you can easily organize them into playlists. For example, if you have created a series of demonstration videos, you might want to group them all together to make them easy for viewers to find. To create a playlist, simply click on Creator Studio > Video Manager > Playlists. From there, you can name your playlist and add as many videos to it as you choose.
  5. Instead of using the default URL that YouTube assigned to you when you created your channel, you may be eligible to create a memorable, custom URL. To find out if you are eligible, go to your Account Settings by clicking on your profile picture, and then click Advanced. If you see a note that says “You’re eligible for a custom URL. Claim it here,” click the link and choose the name of your URL. Make sure to choose carefully and double-check your spelling, because once you have submitted the request you can’t change it. You’ll have to agree to the Terms & Conditions and confirm, and once you do you’ll have a custom URL for your channel.
  6. YouTube offers its users a vast library of audio files and sound effects to use in their videos. All of the available files are royalty free, which means you can use them without paying for them. To access the library, simply go to Creator Studio > Create > Audio Library. From there you can browse sound effects and music clips and download them to use in your videos.
  7. You can stream videos live on YouTube instead of creating them beforehand. Live video has been getting a lot of attention lately with the addition of Facebook Live and apps like Meerkat. While many of the videos streamed live on YouTube so far have been news events such as the Democratic and Republican conventions, and sporting events, you can use them for marketing, too. A live video would be an effective way to preview a sale or demo a product. To live stream, simply click Upload and then choose the “Live Stream” option on the right-hand side of the page and follow instructions. After your video has concluded, it will be archived on your channel so people who missed seeing it live can watch it later.
  8. Instead of a video, consider creating a photo slideshow with a voiceover or music behind it. To create a slideshow, log in to YouTube and click the Upload button. Click “Create Videos” on the right-hand side of the screen, and then select “Photo Slideshow” from the options. You’ll be prompted to upload your photographs. The easiest way to do it is to put all of the photos you want to use into a single folder and then upload them all at once. Once they are added, you can arrange them, add effects and notations, and post the video to your channel.
  9. Another cool video creation option is 360 video, which you can create yourself if you have the tools to do it. You can find a list of compatible equipment here. When your viewers watch a 360 video, they can click to see different camera angles and perspectives. In other words, it gives your viewers a truly interactive and immersive experience.
  10. Thanks to Google’s affiliation with YouTube, you can use Google Trends to find the best keywords to use in your YouTube videos. All you need to do is go to Google Trends and then click Explore Topics and type in a search term. Then you need to click Web Search > YouTube Search to view the results. It can be interesting and informative to see the differences between how people search on Google and how they search on YouTube – and understanding those differences can help you increase traffic to your videos.
  11. Finally, YouTube has a Creator Studio app that allows you to manage the videos on your channel on the go. You can do all kinds of useful things, including updating thumbnails, enabling or disabling monetization, and managing subscribers.

These features can help you create cool and memorable video content that will help you attract new subscribers – and turn those subscribers into paying customers.
YouTube Ads

How to Generate Local Leads with YouTube Ads

Most small business don’t have a huge marketing budget.
Sounds familiar, right? Advertising is expensive. You want the money you spend to stretch as far as possible – and that means finding advertising opportunities that are going to get you the biggest possible bang for your buck.
There’s no shortage of options. And one option that you may have overlooked is something that you’ve probably spent a lot of time on as a consumer.
I’m talking about YouTube ads.
You probably visit YouTube often – maybe you even go there more than once a day. And when you do, you’ve seen the ads that run before videos. You’ve probably also noticed ads that display with your search results.
When it comes to generating leads, those ads are CRUSHING it.

YouTube Ad Statistics

YouTube Ad Statistics
Let’s start by checking the numbers. We’re warning you – what you’re about to read may shock you, especially if you’ve been spending money on local TV ads and other high-cost ads.

  • YouTube has more than one billion users – that’s almost one-third of all internet users.
  • 45% of users watch more than an hour of YouTube videos per week.
  • More video content is created online in 30 days than has been created by all major US television networks in 30 years.
  • 46% of all users act after watching a video ad.

We could quote dozens more facts like these, but these are sufficient to illustrate the point. Video advertising is hugely popular and hugely effective.
Now, let’s talk about how you can use YouTube to generate local leads.

Know Your Ad Types

Know Your Ad Types
The first step is knowing what your ad options are on YouTube. There are three to consider:

  1. TrueView In-Stream Ads are the ads you’re probably most familiar with on YouTube. These are the ads that stream before a video. They often come with a “Skip Ad” option that displays after five seconds. One thing you may not know is that if a viewer skips your ad, you won’t pay for the view. That’s key if you have a limited ad budget.
  2. Discovery Ads show up in YouTube search results and look just like other videos. To get viewers to choose your ad, you’ll need an eye-catching thumbnail to grab their attention. Here again, you’ll only pay if a viewer clicks on your ad. You won’t pay to have your ad displayed in the search results.
  3. Bumper Ads are very short ads that can’t be skipped. They’re most often targeted to mobile users, and they’re ideal if you have a message that can be conveyed in just a few seconds.

You’ll need to decide which ad format is best suited to your company.

YouTube Advertising Best Practices

YouTube Advertising Best Practices
Now, let’s look at some simple things that can help you generate tons of local leads with YouTube ads.
Keep Your Ads Short
Bumper ads are necessarily short. You’ll be limited in how long they can be – usually, they’re less than 10 seconds.
In-Stream ads can vary in length, but keep in mind that viewers will be able to see how long your ad is as soon as it appears on their screen. They may be willing to sit through a 30-second ad if it interest them, but unless you really grab their attention, they’re not going to sit through a two-minute ad before watching the content they came to see.
Discovery ads can be longer – as much as two minutes – but make sure the content is engaging. That’s the only way that you’ll keep a viewer’s attention and get them to click your call to action.

Grab Users’ Attention from the Start

Users’ Attention
YouTube advertising isn’t the place to indulge in a slow build. Your ad must grab viewers’ attention immediately if you want them to stick around.
There are a few ways to accomplish this. One is to start with a provocative statement, one that target’s your audience’s biggest pain point.
Another option is to use storytelling in your video. If you tell a compelling story, people will keep watching to find out how it ends.
But with this option, you will need a killer script for your video. If you can’t write one yourself, hire a pro to do it for you. It will be money well spent.

Don’t Wait to Display Your Call to Action

Call to Action
Keeping in mind that you have limited time to capture your audience’s attention, it makes sense not to wait for the end of your video to display your call to action.
Remember, your goal is to get people to click your CTA. By displaying it on the screen early in your video – and then again at the end – you can maximize conversions.
You may even want to include several calls to action – especially if your video is long. Place them when the content in your video is likely to spur action. You don’t want to overdo it but it’s important to make it very easy for viewers to take the next step.
Optimize Your Landing Page for Video Viewers
Where will the people who view your ad end up if they click your call to action? If you want to use YouTube advertising to generate leads, you’ve got to make sure that your landing page is optimized for the people who see your video.
First, make sure that the content on your page matches what’s in the video. You don’t want people who visit to be confused.
Next, link viewers to a page that’s intended for lead generation. That means that you should have an opt-in form or appointment link on the page. Nobody who lands there should have to guess what the next step is. It should be clear.

Lead Generation on YouTube Doesn’t Have to be Expensive…

Provided you choose the right place to run your ads and follow these simple guidelines, you should start seeing high-quality leads from your ads quickly. And from there, you can nurture those leads and turn them into loyal, paying customers.

Writing Web Copy

Expert Tips for Writing Web Copy That Converts

Content is your most powerful marketing weapon; but like any weapon, it needs to be mastered before you can use it effectively. If you’re looking to persuade your site visitors to do business with you, there are certain things you need to add to your copy to make it work.
Here, you’ll learn 3 tips for writing web content that converts.

  1. Inform, don’t sell

Inform, don’t sell
Obviously, the goal of your website is to convince the reader to buy your products and services. However, the key to doing this isn’t by aggressively advertising the products. Instead, highlighting the benefits of your business is what truly works. So what does this mean?
Well when a visitor lands on your page, they are there because they already know what they want and they know that you sell it. However, what they don’t know is whether or not they want to buy from you over your competitors. This is where you need to convince them; but there’s a right way to do it.
What benefits will the customer receive if they choose your services? Make sure most of your content addresses this without going into too much detail about the actual products you sell.
Above all else, make sure your content is written in a “useful” tone and not a “salesy” tone. Give value to the reader and they will learn to trust you; in turn encouraging them to do business with you.

  1. Focus on engagement

Focus on engagement
Keeping the reader engaged is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to writing copy. However, there are a few great ways you can hold their interest and even encourage interaction – especially if you have a blog.
Be sure to talk about anything relevant in your copy. Are there any special events or topics circulating right now that your customers are likely to be talking about?
If so, capitalize on that. Encourage interaction and this will really get your brand name out there. It also builds up a more personal relationship with the reader which is really going to help with conversions.

  1. Keep it short and simple

Keep it short and simple
Short, snappy content is much more effective than long-winded, intricate copy. Try to get your message across in as few words as possible. Simplicity is what makes good converting copy really stand out.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t add some personality to your content. In fact, that is actively encouraged! Just don’t waffle, that’s the key point to remember.
Creating copy that sells isn’t as easy as you think. There is a lot to consider when cooking up that perfect recipe for conversions. However, once you get it right, the efforts will pay off tenfold.

Customer Retention

Are you Paying Attention to Customer Retention?

In an ideal world, the tremendous amount of time, money, and energy you spend in building a great business; educating your audience about it; attracting them to your company; and finally turning them into paying customers would be rewarded by a long, profitable relationship between you and the newly-acquired customer(s).
But this is not that world, is it? You know that customer relationships are far from ideal.
However, did you know…

  • Losing customers is easier than you think

Engaging Customers
96 percent of customers have no qualms in walking out the proverbial door if they are
unhappy with your either your products or services and/or your manner of delivery.
Think that’s rough? Wait until you learn how easy it is for businesses to lose customers in today’s mega-completive age. Simple negligence or misconduct on social media – such as making rookie mistakes on Twitter (like over-tweeting), are enough to push customers away.
There are a host of other factors that can do the same.
Overall, you lose customers because of one or more of three primary reasons. Researchers of a Washington DC used a customer survey to find out the main reasons customers stop doing business with a company or service provider:

  • Poor customer service is typically the reason for 68 percent of the deferring customers, who cite poor attitude of the customer service representatives or complete indifference on their part as the trigger to leave. Consequently, poor customer service costs an estimated $83 billion in losses to US companies on an annual basis.
  • For 14 percent, dissatisfaction with the quality of product or service delivered is the key trigger to leave the current company and take their business elsewhere.
  • Another 14 percent get lured in by competition with the promise of a better or more valuable deal.

Apart from these reasons, which mark willful abandonment of a company, the other reasons why you lose customers are relocation (in about three percent of the cases) and death (in about one percent of the cases).

  • Losing customers is costlier than you think

Losing customers
Globally, companies lose an average of $243 on every customer they fail to retain.
This figure is tabulated by considering the average of lost sales and revenue. What this figure does not include is profit loss associated with wasted acquisition costs. The real cost of lost customers also includes losses created by the ripple effect of a customer leaving.
Consider this:

  • 95 percent of customers who are unhappy with your services and are contemplating a change do not complain to you. They leave without making a noise, which gives you no opportunity to right the wrong and win them over before they make the final shift. But they don’t just keep quiet about the bad experience…
  • About 13 percent of the unhappy customers talk to their friends. Things get worse.
  • While a happy customer is known to talk about the positive experience to about three or five people, an unhappy customer is known to complain about it to up to 20 people! You can forget about those 20 people bringing their business to your company.
  • Furthermore, a lost customer can cause serious damage to your reputation. This is especially true if the customer had a particularly bad experience with customer service and is rather furious. You may already know how a delighted customer tells his friends but a furious customer tells the whole world. Social media has made that easier than ever before. Back in 2015, an unhappy Virgin Airline passenger wrote about his in-flight experience, which has been re-tweeted 1134 times, and has more than 3000 backlinks, and is being shared even today!

The bottom line? A lost customer costs you significant business dollars in terms of not just lost sales and revenue but also lost reputation and market share; ultimately affecting your profit margins more seriously than anticipated.

  • Your loss is your competitor’s gain

loss is your competitor's gain
61 percent of lost customers go straight to a competitor when they are unhappy with their current company. Think about that. If your negligence or misconduct is the reason why you lost say 10 customers in a month, it is also the reason why your competitor gained six new customers in the same month.

  • The majority of businesses have it wrong

Know Your Ad Types
…And that probably includes you as well.
The majority of businesses continue to focus on customer acquisition when in fact they should be focusing on customer retention. 63 percent of marketer’s identify customer acquisition as the number one goal of their advertising campaign.
So why is that wrong? For the simple reason that mere customer acquisition is not the path to sustained profitability. And why is that, you ask?
Here’s why:
80 percent of your profits come (and will come in the future) from just 20 percent of your existing customers. It’s the Pareto Principle at work. Makes sense therefore to focus on the top 20 percent of the existing customers, doesn’t it?
They are your most loyal customers and they are your primary source of sales, revenue, and profits. Focusing on nurturing your relationship with them is both natural and desirable.
Yet, most companies fail to focus on the right thing – retaining existing customers and nurturing them into highly loyal customers. The need to focus on retention becomes even more clear when you consider that fact that:

  • Acquiring new customers is costlier than retaining current customers. You will typically spend up to seven times more on customer acquisition strategies than you will on customer retention strategies.
  • Selling to existing customers is easier than selling to new customers. Your chances of closing a sale successfully lie between 60 and 70 percent when targeting a repeat customer. On the other hand, chances of selling to a newly acquired customer range from a mere five to 20 percent.
  • Selling to existing customers is more profitable than selling to new customers. Not only do existing customers shop more often with you, but also spend roughly 33 percent more than new customers in the long run.
  • Existing customers are loyal and refrain from bargain hunting. This decreases their chances of being won over by competition over pricing. Because they are less sensitive to price changes, they are also more likely to continue doing business with you even when you increase prices of certain products or services.
  • Existing customers are also more likely to to try out new products or services from your company than newly-acquired customers.
  • Finally, existing bring more business to you. Loyal customers double as your brand advocate and often introduce friends and family to your company (even if there is no loyalty reward at play).

It’s easy to see why that is a good thing. Referred customers come to you for zero acquisition costs and sport roughly the same level of loyalty as the contact who referred them. They are more likely to shop with you often, to spend more in each purchase, and to be less sensitive to price fluctuations.
Once you have won them over, you can quickly turn these referred customers into brand evangelists and have them refer new customers as well. Another ripple effect gets produced, although this time it is a positive one.

  • Customer retention can be deceptively simple

Customer retention can be deceptively simple
Given how massively advantageous customer retention is for your business, you would think it must be a complex process. You would be wrong! Customer retention is simpler than you think.
As you may remember, poor or negligent customer service is the number one reason why retention efforts fail. This is followed by customers feeling unsatisfied with the product/service and being wooed away by competition. Thus, if your business offerings are up to the mark, customer reten3on is all about treating customers right for most part.
And the good news is, treating customers right does not mean making no mistakes. To err is human after all, and quality customers understand that very well. This means, treating customers right is about placing them first; displaying genuine interest and compassion when attending them; admitting mistakes; and correcting mistakes or compensating for them within time.

The true value of customer retention

The true value of customer retention
You know by now that customer retention is the only way your business can attain and maintain sustainable success. You know how retention is cheaper than acquisition and how repeat customers are more profitable for you. Wondering exactly how beneficial it can be for your overall business? Let’s put a number on it.
By retaining customers with exceptional customer service, nurturing the relationship, and boosting loyalty; you can see significant raise in your bottom line. A mere five percent rise in loyalty will help you raise overall profits by 25 to 95 percent!
Customer retention is an opportunity you just cannot afford to miss.
Engaging Videos for Social Media

How to Create Engaging Videos for Social Media

Video content will soon reign as king of content by 2019. Experts agree video is no longer an option as it will become 80% of internet traffic.
Even if you have a local offline business where you may not need to market on Instagram or Twitter, your business belongs on video regardless of where viewers may consume it. Imagine this – more than 3 million small businesses shared video content on Facebook within a one-month timeframe.  It’s no longer a matter of “if” but “when” the majority of online marketing will be driven by video.
By leaving your strategically created footprint on social media, you can effectively market to your audience 24-7 with compelling content. But with so many options, methods, and tools to create videos; are there any rules of thumb to give your videos a chance stand out?
We’ve put together a checklist of strategies to help you gain a clear understanding of what goes into creating great video content that is relative across all platforms. Our breakdown will help you share content that can capture your audiences’ attention in as little as 5 seconds and motivate viewers to take action.
The best thing is, you don’t need a degree in filmmaking or digital editing, so without further ado; here are our most essential tips to help your video content shine.

  • Mission Statement

Mission Statement
Does your video content contain a strong mission statement that allows your audience to quickly understand what your business is all about?  Starting with a great mission statement can inspire your audience to buy into who you are as an organization and will separate you from your competitors.

  • Focus on the Message

Focus on the Message
One of the most effective strategies to consider when creating a video is to focus on simplicity. By sticking to one message per video, and one call to action you can communicate your point more effectively and won’t clutter the message you’re trying to convey to your audience.
Pro Tip: One popular method is to utilize explainer videos, which in most cases describes a problem your customer has and how your business can help them fix it.  Sometimes, a quick and easy explanation is all a prospect need to clearly understand how your product or service can solve their problem.

  • How-to Content

How-to Content
The appeal of “how-to content” stems from our infatuation of immediate information gratification.  With the press of a button and a quick search on Google or YouTube.
How-to content dominates as over 100 million hours of practical tips and lessons were streamed on YouTube in 2016 – they are immensely popular regardless of the platform. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase the value your business can provide to your customers. Be cautious, however, of being too self promotional can turn your viewers off. 
One great strategy is to offer useful content on a topic that relates to your business – you can drive higher traffic with content marketing than traditional forms of advertising.

  • Trending Videos

Users’ Attention
Staying relevant on social media can be a bit intimidating as trending hashtags and memes change almost daily. It is an all-consuming effort to stay on top of so much user-generated content.  But if you can keep an eye on what your industry influencers are doing, you can take advantage of content and post topics that are highly engaging and people want to share.

  • Story Telling

Story Telling
In the age of personal connection through social media, audiences love a good story that they can and find relevance in through their own lives. Part of a great marketing strategy is to create compelling stories to captivate viewers on an emotional level to develop trust with your brand.
By going behind the scenes of your company, you share a story of who you are authentically.
Just like when a certain song comes on the radio and stirs up a vivid memory and the emotions that come along with it.  There is something about powerful narratives that impact your audience on an emotional level.
Our brains are more attuned to remembering information through emotional stories. Then when these emotions are experienced again later down the road, memories of your products and services will be triggered and that creates brand recognition.

  • Shareable Content

Shareable Content
Being emotional creatures, we make decisions and do things based off how we feel. Whether content is shareable really depends on how it appeals to our emotional state versus our logical state.
In a study done in 2010 about viral content, making people excited, laugh, or be angry will draw a higher likelihood of having content be shared. It is not the specific feeling a person has, but how intense that feeling is that drives them to share content.  Impact is everything.
So, ask yourself, does my content have the necessary ingredients to make someone want to share it?

  • Keep it Short and Precise

Keep it Short and Precise
In our instantly gratified culture, the best video content can capture the attention of its viewers within the first 5 seconds. Otherwise, it’s likely your viewers will lose interest and move onto the next video.
Pro Tip:  Be precise with the technical side of your video content; your video should be able to work without sound and automatically play in their newsfeed. Research has found that 85% of video’s in the Facebook feed is viewed without any audio. As well, viewer engagement increases tremendously if videos were to auto play versus being shared from a link.

Final Word

Traditional marketing that was once so effective has shifted into the conglomerate that is content marketing today. Video engagement will continue to increase through social media at a phenomenal pace. The million-dollar question is – what will you do to adapt to the changes in your marketing strategy?

Word of MouthWord of Mouth – Still Rules the Marketing Word

Word of mouth advertising is one of the oldest, but most effective forms of advertising. Simply put, it is the means of one person telling another person something about your business.
It has always been one of the most powerful tools to have as an advertising medium. Ask yourself, are you more interested in listening to what a commercial has to say or what your best friend has to say? Who is more believable?
As a business, part of your advertising plan should focus on word of mouth advertising.  But in the world of today, word of mouth advertising is not just one person telling another of a product, as in one woman telling another woman about a product they love. Rather, there are many online and offline methods for delivering a word of mouth experience.  
In this article, we focus on a few methods of advertising that can help you to pull out those recommendations that you want to get from others. How can you get recommendations and referrals from the customers you already have or the ones that you will be getting?

Focus on Providing a GREAT Customer Experience

GREAT Customer Experience
The first and most important element of advertising is not spoiling the business that you have. Each customer that comes into your doors needs to be a customer treated as if they are the most important customer for the business. Although this may seem difficult to do, it is all about delivering a quality service and smiling.
Customer service is important to business success. If you have a bad experience at a restaurant, you tell your family and friends about it, and stop them from going there.
Not only does the business lose your business but that of your family and friends, too. What you want to create, on the other hand, is an atmosphere in which the words being passed on are top quality recommendations to visit your establishment.
If you are not sure what you can do to improve your customer service, go right to the source: your customer. Find out from them what you can do to improve your overall experience.

Empower Brand Ambassadors

Empower Brand Ambassadors
If your business is a locally based one, as opposed to one that is Internet based, focus on local offers that can help bring in customers. For example, a customer comes in to your hair salon.
You know they had a great experience and so you offer them a discount card for their next visit and include one for their friend. If they pass on the card, you have an opportunity for them to tell the potentially new customer about your salon. This is easy advertising!

Be Active In the Community

Be Active In the Community
Another way to generate more word of mouth advertising is to let others know about your business by allowing them to get to know you. Be visible and an active player in the community. Schools, Churches, community organizations as well as government offices are great ways for you to grow your local popularity.
Introduce yourself to your customers. Shake their hand. Be present in your place of business.

Ask for the Recommendation

Ask for the Recommendation
Unbelievably, one of the best ways for you to get the customers to respond to you is to ask for a recommendation. For example, you have saved someone $250 off his or her car repair bill. That is nothing to be shy about.
As the customer is happily paying their now discounted bill, you can easily say to them that you are looking for new clients. Would they please recommend your service to their friends and family?
When you ask for business, even if it is simply by asking for a group of customers to come back again, you allow those customers to feel welcome within your business. More so, they are happy to tell others about their experience, especially when asked to do so.

Ask Customers to Complain

Ask Customers to Complain
Did you know that most customers who have a bad experience never report that experience to the business? However, they do tell family and friends about it, or even worse, they get online and start talking about it. Ask customers to tell you of the problems they have with your business so you can turnaround their bad experience into a good one.

Under Promise… Over Deliver

Under Promise… Over Deliver
Next, work on going over the expectations of your clients. You do not want to do the bare minimum or to get the basic level of acceptance. Rather, you want to focus on beating their expectations so that your business can flourish when they come back repeatedly so you can take advantage of what you have to offer.

Satisfy the Unhappy Customer

Satisfy the Unhappy Customer
The customer is never wrong, even when you know they are wrong. It happens within every business.  How do you handle the disgruntled, unsatisfied customer? That’s easy… You do whatever you can to satisfy them.  
It’s not worth jeopardizing the good reputation you’ve spent years building.  In fact, many studies show that when an unhappy customer is satisfied, they become a lifetime customer of the business, simply because the business listened to them and fixed the problem.

Look Them In The Eye

Look Them In The Eye
When you are working with customers hand in hand, shake their hand, look them in the eye and let them know how important they are to you. This establishes a bond of trust and it helps to develop customer loyalty. Reach out, ask for their business and thank them for visiting you. This will make a difference.
As you will notice, virtually all of these word of mouth advertising methods are free or inexpensive. They make sense. They should be part of your advertising plan without fail. If they are not, add them in to the mix to ensure that your business has the foundation it needs to excel in 2016.
Local Search

5 Biggest Trends in Local Search Right Now

2015 saw some big changes in local search, with Google basically demanding that all websites be mobile-friendly or pay a price. Mobile searches outpaced computer searches for the first time, and Google searches now return only three local search results where there used to be seven. Clearly, the times are changing when it comes to local search. Here’s what you need to know to stay on top of what’s happening in the New Year.

Local Data and Local Search Are Linked

Local Data and Local Search Are Linked
You probably already know that it’s important to make sure that your business name, address, and phone number (your NAP listings) are in sync with one another for SEO purposes. Even small variations in the way you list that information can impact your search rank, so if you haven’t already done so, take a tour of your online listings and make sure everything matches.
In 2016, Google is taking things beyond SEO and using NAP listings to help gather relevant local search information. This trend is especially important given the surge in mobile searches in 2015. When your customers are out and about, you want them to be able to find you – and you can be sure that if they can’t locate you because of confusing information, they’ll find your competitor instead.
Speaking of local search, one of the most popular kinds of searches on mobile devices is the “near me” function that uses NAP information and GPS to direct users to local businesses. No local business can afford to ignore this trend.

Google Is Prioritizing Local Search

Google Is Prioritizing Local Search
Just as Google made mobile readiness a priority in 2015, they are making local search a priority in 2016. The latest Search Quality Ratings Guidelines put a lot of emphasis on local search, to the point where they included a Google My Business API to allow business owners and managers to control information about their companies.
The first sign of disruption from Google regarding local search was the removal of local business information from social media site Google+. It’s safe to assume that more disruptions will be coming, so keep your eyes and ears open for changes. The businesses that stay on top of Google’s priorities won’t end up getting caught flat-footed the way some companies did with 2015’s Mobilegeddon.
Google never makes their algorithms public, but if you notice a big change in your local search listing, it’s a good indication that Google has been tweaking their formulas. There’s no way to predict how or when that will happen, so for now, the smart business owner should focus on standardizing all NAP listings.

Mobile Wallet Usage Is on the Rise

Mobile Wallet
2015 was the year of the beacon, with many companies making use of the store-based devices to interact with customers as they neared the store. While some retailers are still using beacons, the wave of the future appears to be moving away from beacons and embracing the idea of mobile wallets.
A mobile wallet is a mobile storage app that allows users to store a variety of things to make shopping easier. For example, they might store their credit card information, identification, and special offers and coupons from their favorite companies.
The uses for mobile wallets are always expanding. The popularity of “near me” searches on mobile devices combined with customers’ desire to get insider information and special deals are on trend to make mobile wallet usage go through the roof in 2016. You can expect to see retailers moving away from beacons and getting on board with communicating with customers’ mobile wallets, instead.

Apps Are Getting in on the Local Marketing Game

Local Marketing Game
There has been a lot of talk about apps in recent years, as one expert after another weighs in on whether local businesses should have their own apps. Now there’s a new trend, which involves using well-established global apps, such as Periscope and Snapchat, to target local customers.
One recent example involved Dunkin’ Donuts using Snapchat to promote National Coffee Day. Using an established app offers the opportunity for big corporations to reach out to local customers, enticing them to visit a particular location. Local businesses would do well to notice the trend, as it could easily be adapted to their purposes too.
It might be worth experimenting with Snapchat or Periscope to see if your customers might be influenced by app-based local marketing.

There’s New Competition for Google

Competition for Google
While Google is still the undisputed king of search, there are barbarians at the gate. As local search gains in importance, Facebook has an eye on giving them a run for it when it comes to search.
Facebook is already a popular search engine for users seeking out local businesses. The social media giant already has a good handle on user demographics thanks to the profile information of its users. They continue to fine-tune their search function, and it’s probable that before long, they’ll be displaying local business information next to queries about what to buy.
Apple iOS is in on the game too, offering a powerful local search tool with iOS 9. Google is still in the lead for now, but for the first time in a long time, they have some serious competition.
Facebook appears to be the bigger threat based on reach, but don’t underestimate Apple, either. The trends in local search may end up attracting other competitors to the game too. It should be interesting to follow.
No matter how you slice it, the trends for 2016 are clear. While our society tends to be more global than ever before, the marketing trends are all about localization and personalization. In many ways, 2016 looks to be an ideal year for local marketing.
The trends are all heavily geared toward helping local businesses (or local locations of national or international businesses) reach customers where they are. And with the increasing importance that Millennials put on personal service, the time couldn’t be riper for making the most of your local search options.
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.
Testimonial Page

It’s Time to 86 Your Testimonial Page

If you’re like a lot of business owners, you’ve done your research about the importance of reviews. You know that a huge majority of internet users rely on reviews of businesses to make purchasing decisions, and you’ve probably put a lot of effort into managing your review pages, responding to negative reviews, and demonstrating how helpful you are to potential customers. All of that is great, and you should keep doing it.
What’s the problem, then? If you’re taking those reviews and sticking them on a Testimonials page on your website, you’re undoing all your hard work. Here’s why.

Testimonials and Trust

Testimonials and Trust
But wait, you might be thinking. Didn’t I just say that the majority of customers rely on reviews when making purchasing decisions?
Note the language. They rely on reviews, not testimonials. It doesn’t matter if your testimonials started out as reviews. The moment you pick one out and stick it on your website, it’s a testimonial – something you solicited from a customer you knew was happy and satisfied.
Even if you include a few less than stellar reviews in the mix, it’s unlikely that customers will even bother to visit the page. They are going to assume that you picked out the best of the best, and that they won’t learn anything real about your company, products, or service by visiting the page.
In case you’re still not convinced, let’s envision a scenario where a company culls their best online reviews to put on their website. A customer decides to read them, and then – still unconvinced – decides to bounce over to Yelp to see what the people there have to say.
How do you think it will affect your credibility if there’s a significant disconnect between what’s on your site and your average Yelp rating? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not going to do you any favors. Customers want to see honest reviews, including the negative ones – and they want to see how you respond to the bad reviews.
It’s also important to note that the changes that Google made to local business information on Google+ mean that the only thing customers will see there are your location information and your reviews. You might as well make the most of them.

How to Link to Reviews

Respond to negative reviews
If you’re wondering how you can harness the power of reviews while avoiding the pitfalls I have described above, don’t worry. I’m about to tell you. The key here is to link to (not copy) reviews from your website, and to do so in a way that doesn’t step on anybody’s toes. Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Ditch the “Testimonials” page and make it a “Reviews” page instead.
  2. At the top of the page, put a few sentences about how you think it’s important for potential customers to hear what existing customers think of you. With that in mind, you’re providing them with some quick and easy links so they can see for themselves.
  3. For every link you include, make sure to use the target=”_blank” command so that the review site opens in a separate tab. You don’t want to encourage people to navigate away from your page, so don’t skip this step.
  4. Put a link to Google reviews at the top of your page. Google reviews are always going to be at the top of any list of search results, so you might as well list them first on your page.
  5. Do not link directly to your Yelp page. That might not seem to make sense, but Yelp frowns on direct links, so you want to make it look like visitors from your site are arriving at Yelp via organic search. The way to do that is to do a Google search for [your business] Yelp, and then copy the link to the SERP (search engine results page) url. When visitors click it, they will be taken to the Google SERP page with Yelp at the top of the listings where they can easily click it.
  6. Do the same thing for any other relevant review sites, including Angie’s List and industry-specific sites.

The point of doing things like this is that you get all the benefit of directing customers to reviews without the suspicious element of listing them on your own website. Whether you agree with the perception that Testimonial pages are not to be trusted or not, the fact is that customers want to feel they have access to unbiased and honest reviews that are a true reflection of what they can expect if they do business with you.

Tips for Handling Reviews

Tips for Handling Reviews
If you’re worried about linking to unfiltered review pages, there is actually a very easy two-part solution that can alleviate that fear altogether:

  1. Do a great job of monitoring your review pages and replying in a professional and helpful manner to negative reviews. I know, it seems obvious – but sometimes the obvious solution really is the best one. If you want to be sure that customers are getting a clear picture of your great products and services, show them how important customers are by giving great customer service. It’s not rocket science – nor should it be.
  2. Some customers might leave a review anyway, but there’s no harm in encouraging them to do so. By providing a card, you’re making it easy.

If you find yourself resisting the idea of doing away with Testimonials, think of it this way. You still have them, you’re only changing the name.
If you were listing only rave reviews on your site, the chances are good that your customers would go seek out the rest of your reviews in spite of that. This way, you’re being up front with them about your reviews, which shows them you have nothing to hide.