Use social media to drive traffic to your business’ website

Social media is an ever-increasing facet of everyday business. Companies large (Starbucks) and small (your local car shop) are using social media to expand their exposure and reach a broad base of prospective consumers.

B2B marketers are now spending 30% of their budgets on social media programs, trying to reach, among others, the 21 million+ Twitter users  (per eMarketer). There are big audiences on social media for your company, and using some strategies are more effective than others.

Here are five strategies you can employ to promote your business website through social media.

Engage Directly with Consumers

To generate online conversations, businesses can engage customers and fans with photos, links and more from their blog or website. That conversation can lead to new product insights and customer service issues.

Maintain and Develop Visibility Among Your Consumer Base

Be visible with social media. Post links, pictures and video clips on social networks for your current and prospective customers. Your steady use of social media can help keep your business relevant and known, while gradually expanding exposure.

Target specialty audiences online with a microsite, which refers traffic to your main website. Create SEO marketing materials for direct sales through your primary domain via a website like MyHosting VPS hosting.

Generate Sales Referrals Through Social Media Platforms

Provide links to products or other pages that are likely to prompt consumers to make a purchase. The links you use, and the way you present them through your social media profiles, will have an impact on your business’ performance. Helpful tip: send tweets on your company’s various white papers, articles and case studies to encourage consumer interest in your company.

Data Collection and Analysis to Improve Operations Efficiency

When it comes to data, social media is a gold mine. Data analysis informs you of the size of your social media following, its growth rate and levels of engagement. You can also track total referrals to determine which social networks are most effective in generating new business. Look at these numbers for the percentage of referrals that lead to sales.

Use Feedback to Guide Future Efforts

As you gain insights from comments and data analysis, your internal teams should start to identify areas for improvement. Then you can implement solutions in your day-to-day operations.

By establishing a basic social media marketing approach, you can set yourself on the course to increased revenue and a much greater return on the investment into your website.

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Useful = today’s marketing secret

Youtility, how being useful is today's marketing secretLet’s look at the reality:

  • Fragmented media choices
  • Permission-based media on the rise
  • Ability to filter, skip, ignore irrelevant advertising
  • Nothing beats word of mouth
  • A jaded, cynical consumer
  • Consumers tuning out, taking over and talking loudly about brands

That mountain of challenges is what faces marketers every single day.  So how in the world do we earn their attention, their dollars and even tougher — their loyalty?

Author, consultant and tequila loving Jay Baer believes he has the answer and outlines it in his book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype.*  (I have 9 copies to give away — read to the end to find out how you can win!)

Jay’s premise is simple enough. If brands focus on being helpful, consumers will be drawn to them and when they’re ready to buy, that brand will have already earned the consumer’s trust — so they’re more likely to also give you their money.

Jay calls this friend-of-mine awareness (as opposed to top of mind awareness) and argues that in a congested, time starved world – if you want to keep earning market share, you need this level of connection with both customers and prospects.

The book is packed with stories, examples and very pragmatic ideas that any business — big, small, consumer or business focused — can implement.  It’s one of my favorites for 2013 — and a book you should definitely read. (Click here to order it from Amazon*)

I asked Jay a few questions about the book.  Here’s what he had to say:

If you had to describe the content of your book in a single sentence (no run ons) what would it be?  

If you sell something, you make a customer today. If you help someone, you can create a customer for life. 

What one book that you’ve read do you wish you could claim as your own?

Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd by YoungMe Moon, and anything by Bill Bryson.

In your opinion, what is the one trait that all uber successful business people possess?

A true understanding of customer needs.

What’s the biggest business mistake you’ve ever made and what did you learn from it?

I botched a 1031 real estate exchange eight years ago, costing myself a ton of money. I learned to trust experts that you hire, but always follow up.

Why did you have to write this book?  What truth or insight was missing from the human consciousness — that you’ve now answered?

2 reasons. I wrote their book as a reaction to the landslide of punditry that prescribes “make your company amazing” as a strategic approach. Also, I wanted to give people a thoughtful scaffolding for why and how they should be creating content.

After someone is done reading your book — what do you hope they do as a result?

First, begin to understand how your company can insert itself gracefully into the lives of customers and prospects by being useful. Second (or maybe first), tell 3 friends to buy the book! 

Okay — the book is awesome and you should read it.  And 9 of you will get to read it for free.  Winning a copy is simple.  Leave a comment on this post and I’ll use the randomizer at random.org to pick the lucky readers!

 

*affiliate link
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Moving your prospects to the next step

BabyStepsWhen you’re creating any sort of communication aimed at a potential buyer, you want them to do what?

When I ask this question, I typically hear a range of answers like:

• Know more about our business
• Understand how we’re better than our competitors
• Wonder if we’re the right fit for them

And of course….

• Buy what we sell!

All of that is probably true. But it’s too complicated. No matter how or where we’re communicating with a prospect, what we should want them to do is… take the next step.

Your job is simply moving your prospect to the next step.

That next step might be downloading an ebook, filling out the bounce back postcard to get a no obligation quote, emailing us with questions, signing up for a workshop, clicking on the buy now button or picking up the phone to schedule a meeting.

The answer is…we want them to take the next step in the sales cycle, whatever that may be. You want the reader (or listener or viewer) to do something to escalate the conversation. At that moment – you are talking to them. You want them to talk back somehow. And your copy should tell them exactly what to do.

I can hear you now… “I don’t have to tell them to call me. They’re not stupid. They know it’s an ad.” Very true. They’re not stupid. But they are incredibly busy, fragmented and they’re probably doing three other things while they flip through that magazine that houses your ad or click to the page on your website that has your workshops on it.

A call to action isn’t a remedy for stupid; it’s a remedy for their attention deficit. Its purpose is to get them to step out of a passive role and take a more active one. Because you have about 2 seconds before they change the channel, turn the page or click on the clapping monkey animated GIF that will take them away from your offer.

How do you write copy that captures their attention for that millisecond so they’ll take action?

Be very specific and direct: You need to spell it out for them and it needs to be simple. Click here to sign up or call XXX-XXXX to schedule an appointment. This isn’t the place to be cute or vague. You don’t even have to be polite and add a “please: or “thank you.” Just give them simple instructions that leave no room for doubt.

Focus on the benefit: Remember, you are trying to stop a moving train. They’re halfway to that next click or page turn. To get them to stop that momentum and move in a different direction will take something pretty compelling. Remember that we’re all motivated by the “what’s in it for me” equation so don’t be shy about telling them how they will benefit.

Keep it simple: If what you ask them to do is complicated, requires multiple steps, has complex directions or asks for too much information, — they will just move on. How many times have you started to fill out a form and then looked at how many questions it asked and said, “forget it” as you stopped?

Make it immediate: Sometimes this isn’t possible but whenever you can, make the call to action something they can complete right now in the moment. Remember, they might discover your ad or marketing piece at 2 am or while they’re standing in line at an airport.

For most organizations, a sale is a multi-step, complicated process. So keep that in mind as you create your calls to action. You’ll have a lot more success getting people to take one baby step at a time. Just give them the steps.

Hey media rep… do it like this (please)

listentomeI totally get that you are trying to make a living and that someone at your radio station, newspaper, TV station, magazine etc. says that my client should be advertising with you.  And maybe they should.

And I know you’re just trying to do your job.  But you need to understand that sometimes you trying to do your job is keeping me from doing mine.

Which does not make me love you.

So here’s my top ten suggestions for media reps trying to get an agency’s attention:

Reach out and introduce yourself when you aren’t trying to sell something.  Just let me know you’re there, you’ve been assigned to my client’s account and that you know we are the agency.

Acknowledge and honor the relationship I have with my client.  That means you don’t write or call my client.  Even if you’re having trouble getting through to me.  Ever.

Understand there’s one of me and a ton of you. I’d love to have coffee or a beer with all of you.  I’d like to get to know you. I’d be happy to hear about every new idea you have.  But, I can’t.  I simply don’t have enough time.  It’s not you.  It’s that there are a lot of you.

Find out how I prefer to communicate.  Phone, text, email, carrier pigeon.  And talk to me that way.  It’s not that I am ignoring your efforts to reach me.  It may just be that the demands on my day make it impossible for me to return a call or email, but I could text you back etc.

Trust that I know what I’m doing. I know about your media’s offerings and when the time and budget are right — I will reach out to you.  I’m not dodging you or your products.  It’s just not the right choice right now.

Stay in touch but do it gently.  Don’t send me every sales flier.  And don’t only contact me when you have something to sell.  You say you understand my client?  Prove it.  Send me (and only me) an article you think is insightful and that my client and I might value.  Be helpful and I will remember that.

Know that there’s a lot you can’t know.  Clients come with their own baggage.  It might be a budget issue we’re not allowed to talk about.  Or a leadership change or board edict that means there’s something big coming that is impacting our choices.  I won’t ever violate my client’s trust so I’d rather you think I am obtuse or stupid than say something out of school.

Don’t make me the enemy.  If you mess up, tell me fast.  If you gave me bad information, fess up.  Missed a deadline or forgot to follow up — just say so.  I get it, we’re all human. I’ll forgive almost anything. But, if you do an end run around me to the client – I’m going to find out. And that’s not going to end well.

Stick around.  Remember when I said there were a ton of you?  Well, there are.  So be sure you reach out every so often, so I don’t forget about you.  (by the way…every so often is probably once a quarter at the most.)

Care about what I care about. There are media reps that I do stay in touch with, grab a beer or coffee with etc.   They’re the ones who have sent me a new business lead, served on a board with me, suggested me as a source to a reporter who was doing a story, connected with me (genuinely) on Facebook or other social networks, or found some other way to actually create a relationship with me that isn’t just about selling me something.

I know it’s a fine balance and there are probably days that you’d like to wring my neck, but we both need to make it work.  After all — ultimately, we’re both committed to helping our clients.

And although I’m sure you’d rather it was someone else — I’m yours.

 

 

Stock photo courtesy of www.BigStockPhoto.com

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Selling shouldn’t equal annoying

hand putting a penny in a money jar - charity donationThere’s a Walgreens a few blocks from my house. It’s a convenient place to get just about everything, so I’m there a few times a week.  It seems like every week they are collecting money for some charity.

They have the cause of the week prominently displayed.  I can buy a paper boot, heart, ribbon or balloon. And when I go to check out, there’s a jug there — inviting cash donations.  When I run my credit card through — as I approve the charge, I am given the opportunity to donate.

So — I have ample opportunity to give.  But then, if all those efforts have failed to get me to donate — the clerk asks me — do you want to make a donation to XYZ?

Now I’m feeling cornered.  The people in the line are listening. The clerk is looking at me like I’m a cheap jerk and while I should not care about what these strangers think — I sort of do.

That’s not a comfortable position and we shouldn’t be putting that sort of squeeze on our prospects or clients.

There’s a fine line in marketing and sales.  We’ve talked about it before.  You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. If someone is not ready to part with their money, you can’t force or humiliate them into doing so.  And if you keep pushing — all you do is alienate them.

Sometimes this over the line behavior is overt, like my Walgreens friends.  Other times, it’s more subtle – like the passive aggressive voice mail messages or constant up selling or incessant follow up even when you’ve been told no.

Subtle or not — it’s not effective. It makes us question your motives (I am pretty sure Walgreens has some sort of contest among their stores…to see who can raise the most money) and it feels a little desperate.

I know this flies into the face of the sales motto — always be closing.  But the hard sell doesn’t work anymore (Did it ever?).

Instead — you have to find a way to know who your real audience is, capture their attention, market consistently and have something of value to share/teach often enough that you stay on their radar screen until they’re ready to buy.

If it was easy — everyone could do it.  Do you have the stamina to sell?

 

Photo courtesy of www.BigStockPhotos.com

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Touching my heart doesn’t necessarily touch my wallet

Two of the best Superbowl commercials from yesterday were by Budweiser (no shock) and Jeep (a little more surprising).  Lots of tweets and FB updates mentioned “tearing up” as they watched them.  I reacted the same way.

The Budweiser spot:

 

The Jeep spot:

 

Both spots were really well done and very heart tugging.  I will admit, I got a little teary-eyed during both of them too. But neither spot had me reaching for my wallet.  I really, really do not like Bud beer.  I love their brand, their Clydesdales and their lore.  But nothing they do could get me to become a regular Bud drinker.

I don’t have those same kind of feelings about a Jeep.  I like them and I’ve even test driven them in the past.  But, I’m not in the market for a new truck, so Jeep’s spot didn’t have me changing my shopping plans either.

The spot made me appreciate that they invested that kind of money to honor our country’s troops but even if I was in the market, that wouldn’t be the tipping point.

Both spots are a good reminder that playing the emotion card alone usually isn’t enough to earn a new customer. We buy based on emotion, that is true.  But we also need something more.  Features, facts and need.

Brand building ads like Bud’s and Jeep’s earn brand respect and affinity. The spots probably had more of an effect on their current customers (who now have their buying decision reinforced) than prospects.  But for some people who might not be in the market today — these spots certainly didn’t discourage interest.

For those of us who can’t afford a Super Bowl commercial the lesson is even more important.  On a more finite budget — we need to be sure we find a balance between emotion and facts. Either alone just won’t get the job done.

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