Online Reviews: Five Reasons They are Your Most Powerful Marketing Tool

Online reviews are one of – if not the – most powerful tools you have available for influencing customer behavior and promoting your business.   Millions of people use reviews to make buying decisions and if you are not using reviews as an opportunity to reach potential customers, you are missing out.

What are some of the most powerful ways you can use reviews – clear social proof – to show people that your business stands out from the competition and is the best choice.

Offer as Many High-Quality Reviews as Possible

Reviews need to be more than just star ratings.   Star ratings are a great initial filter, but once customers have eliminated the lowest rated businesses, they need more on which to base their decisions.

When you ask for reviews, make sure you are asking for customers to be as detailed as possible.

And make sure you are asking as often as possible.   The more reviews you have the better.   This helps people ignore the occasional negative reviews that are bound to occur, and it shows you are a reputable business, even not every single customer has given you the highest star rating.

Five hundred four star reviews is more important than a dozen five start reviews because it shows your business is consistently above average, even if it is not always perfect.

Dealing with Negativity

Speaking of those negative reviews that are bound to happen, learn to deal with them effectively.   The last thing you want to do is censor them.

Everyone understands that businesses make mistakes.   The key is to limit the number of mistakes made and fix the problems when they do occur.   The most savvy business owners are able to take their negative reviews and turn them into something positive by responding appropriately and dealing with the problem.

Put Your Reviews to Work for You

There are many review sites out there and you want to get your reviews on as many platforms as possible.   It is acceptable to re-purpose your reviews and have them appear on multiple sites.   This way you are providing people with information no matter where they choose to find it.

It is also a good idea to optimize your reviews.   There are ways to code your reviews so they attract the attention of search engines.   If you would like to know more, we can help you create rich snippets that are within the rules of Google’s requirements.

To learn more about how reviews can help you or to get a review system in place, give us a call!

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Why a Site Optimized for Mobile is a Must for Business Owners

As you might have already figured out from your own online activities, people are no longer only accessing the internet from their computers.   As a matter of fact, the majority of internet users are on when they are on-the-go, or at least away from their desktops and laptops.

Mobile use is on the rise and is predicted to continue to be so.   Tablets and Smartphones offer convenience and have opened up a variety of advertising opportunities for business owners.   You are able to reach potential customers just as they are making decisions when they are out and about.

So what happens if your site is unappealing or does not work at all for mobile visitors?

You lose their business.

It is more important than ever to get your site optimized for mobile use.

What are some of the best things you can do to make your site mobile-user-friendly? 

  1. Keep Your Content Short and Sweet

This does not mean you do not need a lot of content.   It just means you need to break up writing into small paragraphs and use small images that load easily.

Nobody wants to wait for anything when they are searching for information online, especially when using their phone.

The fast you give them access the happier they will be.

      2. Pop-ups are Customer Repellent

Avoid pop-ups as much as you can.   They are never welcomed, but they are especially loathsome on a Smartphone.

  1. Simple Designs are the Best

In addition to having short and sweet content, make sure your design is simple.   You will want to have brand consistency without overwhelming mobile visitors.

  1. Do not Ask Them to Type

Sometimes it is unavoidable, but whenever you can, avoid asking users to type anything. Include a scroll option menu if they must provide you with more information.

  1. Use a Splash Screen

This is the first screen users see when they open an app.   It is a great advertising tool, and gives users something to see while the app loads.

Finally, if you are not able to fit everything onto your mobile site, do not worry.   You can always offer a convenient “click here for the desktop site” on each page.   This way if someone needs to do something that does not work on the mobile site, they have an option that is easy to access.

If you would like assistance creating a mobile site or you are not sure yours is accomplishing what you want it to accomplish, we can help.   To learn more, give us a call!

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Facebook Marketing: How It is Going to Help Your Business Grow

Facebook marketing is something far too many business owners dismiss.   Social media in general might seem like throwing dollars into the wind for some, but the truth is Facebook is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have available for your business.

A well-executed Facebook marketing plan can help your business, no matter its size or your current goals.   It is a social networking platform that allows you to reach millions of people who are already interested in your products or services.

What are some of the simplest ways you can make Facebook marketing start working for your business immediately?

Set Up a Page and Start Posting

There are few things simpler than just getting started with Facebook marketing.   If you do not have a business page you have already fallen behind.

It only takes a short time to get your business page set up and once it is set up, you can invest just a few minutes each day to gain attention from Facebook’s community.   You will even get prompts from Facebook if it seems like you are not doing enough or if you have neglected your page.

This is a great way to get involved with your current customers and help potential new customers find you.

Pro Tip: make sure you include an image with every Facebook post, even if it is just a stock photo.   However, you can have a lot of fun snapping quick pics related to your business and including those when you post.

Make Sure You are Using Location Filters to Target Your Audience on Facebook

One of the best things about using Facebook for marketing is being able to target people in your business’s geographic location.

When you set up an ad, filters make it possible to reach the people you want to reach, not only in your local area, but also according to age and gender.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have identified your target audience! If you are still throwing out a big net when it comes to attracting customers, you are wasting time and other resources.   Take some time to create your ideal customer, which will help you create targeted ads and make the most of your marketing dollars.

Implement the Store Visits Facebook Feature

This is a newer option for Facebook advertising, but one we think it going to be a success.   The Store Visits campaign lets you create an ad, which Facebook will to people most likely in your area.   Obviously, it is best to have a brick and mortar location for this.

Pro Tip: Do not let this replace your current marketing strategies.

Need more Facebook marketing tips? Let us know!

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How to Increase Online Reviews

What do people see when they search for your business? Are there reviews out there that might influence their decision to do business with you? How do you make sure your reviews are working for you? Here are a few ways you can manage your online identity and ensure the search results people get when they search within your industry are positive and motivate them to work with you:

Proactively Ask for Reviews 

This can seem intimidating because what if you ask and you do not like what you hear? Chances are most of your reviews will be decent – some even glowing – so the more you get the better off you are.   And the only way you are going to get more reviews is to ask.   It is easy to find ways to encourage customers to leave you a review and in most cases, those that do review your business will have good things to say.

It is also a good idea to incorporate social media check-ins to your marketing plans.   This is a great way to create the appearance that your business is popular.   If a friend sees someone visiting a business, they are more likely to do the same themselves.  

Deal with the Negative

If you receive a negative review, you might want to run away from it and hide under a rock.   It is  understandable – your business is important to you and you want people saying good things about it.

Ignoring bad reviews is actually the worst thing you can do.   As a matter of fact, negative reviews can be even more valuable than positive ones when it comes to building a good reputation online.   People pay close attention to how businesses deal with negative reviews and if you do so effectively, it will have a bigger impact on the audience than a run-of-the-mill positive review.

People like doing business with companies that are proactive problem-solvers and confident enough in their products or services to take action when something goes wrong.   Dealing with negative reviews also creates a human side to your business – acknowledge that every makes mistakes and then fix that mistake.   You will be happy you did.

If you are looking for a way to grow your online presence and you have not quite mastered reviews – or you are not using them at all yet – we can help.   Contact us to learn more about how you can increase your reviews and put them to work for you as one of your most valuable marketing tools.

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Think It is Time to Launch a Blog? Here are the Pros and Cons

If you are like most business owners, you have heard how important it is to blog on your website.   Many even feel like failures if they are not blogging or blogging on a regular basis.

Like most things related to marketing, blogging is a double-edged sword.   It can be a great tool for business owners to grow their brand, but it is not as easy as many make it seem.   It takes time and commitment, and often falls to the wayside as your business becomes more successful.

There are pros and cons to blogging, and evaluating those pros and cons can help you determine whether or not blogging is right for your business.

What are some of the good things about blogging?

Helps You Build Authority

The purpose of a blog is to educate people about your products or services, and about the industry in general.   And if you are doing this, people will begin to view you as an authority.   A blog allows you to show off what you know about your field and can help potential customers feel confident when shopping with you.

Helps You Target Your Industry

Blogging is a great way to narrow down your marketing to reach your ideal customers.   It is a chance to implement keywords effectively into your content and to ensure you are building content that is targeted to those who are most likely to become customers.   Blogging is also effective for helping you reach a specific geographic location.   Not only can you use keywords to do this, but you can address specific issues affecting your community through your blog.

With all a blog has to offer, there are drawbacks.   Some of the cons of blogging include:

Having the Resources to Blog Consistently 

Blogging takes time and money – something that is often in short supply for small businesses and their owners.   Keeping a blog alive with high-quality content is a commitment and it is one not many people have the time or energy to do.   It is possible to hire a professional writer for your blog, but you will need to make sure he or she understands your industry and your target market well enough to write high-quality posts.

Exposure 

Not only are you getting exposure for your company, you are also getting exposure for all of your flaws.   In order for your blog to be effective, it needs to show people your business’s best side.   Make sure you are using good grammar, staying on topic, not using too much industry jargon, and not ranting and raving in a way that might turn people away.

Want more tips for blogging or need help creating blog posts? Give us a call!

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Email Marketing: Old Tricks Still Bring a Big Return

One of the most important things you can do for business success is to make sure you are aware of and implementing as suitable the latest in internet marketing tricks.   Falling behind is a sure way to allow your competition to rise above you.   Of course, many of the “latest and greatest” internet marketing trends are actually a rehash of what was successful in the past.   All you need to do is figure out how to put a modern spin on what was popular in the past.   When it comes to email marketing, what is old is new again.

Email marketing lost some of its popularity throughout the 2000s and into the 20-teens, but it is making a major comeback.   People were overwhelmed by all the junk mail and they started to ignore their inboxes as much as possible – luckily not completely though.

Today, email marketing is once again – and still – one of the best ways to reach your customers.   Email offers an incredible return on your investment – studies show as much as $38 per dollar spent.   This is thanks in part to millennials – email is a part of everyday life for this generation and they managed their inboxes effectively right from the start, not making some of the mistakes older generations did when it came to junk mail.

So now that you are convinced email marketing is going to help your business, what should you do?

For starters, you are going to need an email list.   You need people who are worth your time and who have given you permission to enter their inboxes.   At one point, buying an email list was permitted, but while you can still do it today, it is a terrible idea.   The best list you can create is the one you create for your business specifically.

In addition to an email list, you also need a strong website.   After all, once people open your emails and are interested in your products or services, where are they going to go to learn more?

Finally, you need to stay in touch with your list.   Whether this is through daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly contact is up to you – you will know what works best for your business.   Create content that is worthy of sharing with your list and you will be sure to keep the lines of communication open with your biggest fans.

And do not forget, once you have an email marketing campaign in place, you will want to keep adding to your list.   Odds are you will lose a chunk of subscribers every year – HubSpot estimates about 22 percent – so keep adding to your list as you go.

Want more tips for email marketing? Let us know!

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Optimizing Your Blog Content for Google Search: What You Need to Know about SEO

Businesses already know the importance of ranking well in search results, but how do you achieve this? It is tough to master Google, Bing, and the other search engines, and for many business owners, it seems like the moment they do master the search engine algorithms, changes force them back to the starting line.

Understanding and implementing SEO properly is the key to success, but it takes time.   The good news is there are tools and support available to help you, even when you already have a million things on your plate.   Here is what you need to know about optimization for your site:

Step 1: Make Sure You Have the Best Domain Name

If you have not already chosen a domain name, or you know the one you are using is not working, you will want to pick one that is suited for your business and for SEO.   Keep in mind it is easy to change your domain name later, so it should not be a problem to make a change if the time comes.

You will want your domain name, blog, and business to be linked as closely as possible.   Make sure your primary keyword is in your domain name, but do not force it if it does not sound natural.   If your business is just launching, make sure your business’s name includes your keyword.   Also make sure you do not hyphenate and make sure your domain name stands out from others.   Otherwise, you will be helping another business with SEO.

Step 2: Keyword Research

You will want to have a collection of keywords that will help you from the start and throughout the lifetime of your SEO.   Keywords are words associated with your industry that are often searched by potential customers.   You can check out your competition to see what they are using and you can use keyword search tools to give you a start.   Once you have an overall list, narrow it down by choosing keywords that are popular, but not the ones used often by your competition.

So, for instance, if you are a baker and some popular keywords for your industry include cake decorating, cakes for parties, wedding cakes, and party cakes, and the other bakery in your town is using primary wedding cakes for a keyword, you can implement the other three into your content and website design.

Step 3: Consistent, Quality Content

Finally, make sure you are filling your site with high-quality content on a consistent and predictable basis.   This is often the toughest challenge for business owners because it takes time.   It can also be the key to success, because consistency gets your site noticed by search engines.

Want more SEO tips or need help implementing these? Give us a call!

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Tips for Using Social Media to Your Advantage

Social media is one of the most powerful tools you have available for marketing your business.   Though you often hear horror stories about ways businesses and brands have failed at social media, there are many companies out there doing it right.   How do you make sure you are using social media to your advantage?

First, make sure you understand the value of social media.   Far too many business owners write it off in favor of more formal or more old-fashioned marketing tools.   If you have found something that works for you, keep utilizing it, but also look for ways to incorporate social media into your marketing plan.   One reason why? It helps businesses of all sizes build brand recognition.   Nowadays, social media makes it possible for a small brand to be on par with larger ones in the social media universe, even when they lack the huge budget and staff.

Now that you know why you should be using social media, let us look at a few things you can do to incorporate it into your marketing plan:

Try a Social Media Series

One of the best ways to ensure your business’s social media campaign is consistent is to create a series.   Through a series, you will produce and share contact on a predictable basis.   It might be daily, weekly, or monthly, but whatever option you choose, your audience will know when to expect it.   It might also help to create a unique hashtag, so followers can search for the series with ease.

Know Your Competition

Every business has competition, and when it comes to social media, you need to know what your competition is up to.   There are plenty of tools that make it easy to monitor your competition and to know what they are doing on social media.   You can use these ideas as a launching pad to come up with your own ideas for social media content.   Keep in mind, this does not mean copying your competition, but monitoring them can help you determine what is important to your target audience.

Give Back

Another great way to use social media is to run a contest or charitable drive.   This helps your brand get attention, shows you care about your audience and the community, rewards your followers, and helps you build a social media following.

Schedule Posts

Finally, make sure you are scheduling posts in advance.   This can be tricky because you never know what the world will bring day-to-day, so you still need to monitor your social media accounts.   However, scheduling posts in advance ensures consistency – one of the benchmarks of social media success.

Want more tips or help with social media? Give us a call!

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Tips to Improve Online Reviews

Most business owners understand that reviews are important for boosting local business, but many fail to understand just how important.   According to recent data, these reviews could actually determine whether customers even click on your site, as well as whether they choose a competitor over you.

Shoppers are reading online reviews now more than ever before and more than half report searching for a local business online and reading reviews at least one time per month.   More than 91 percent of consumers read online reviews at least occasionally, and perhaps just as money use them as a critical part of their decision making process.

This allows consumers to form opinions faster than ever before.   It used to be someone would visit your store, interact with sales associates, and form an opinion over time based on their experience.   Now, most consumers have opinions about your brand before they ever do any business with you at all.   Many form their opinions based on less than half a dozen online reviews – which means you need to be on top of this information and use it to help your business.

So what are consumers looking for when they read online reviews? Obviously, overall star ranking.   Some never even read specific reviews, they are just looking at companies with 4.5 to 5 stars, give a particular ranking system.

This is not to say that specific reviews are not important, of course.   Many people do read the specifics of reviews and look for patterns.   If you notice the same complaint about something over and over again in customer reviews, you need to address the problem.

Also keep in mind that one bad review is not likely to hurt you.   This is especially true if that one bad review is really bad.   Many business assume a single ranting customer can make or break them, but review readers tend to dismiss these types of reviews.   It is the two or three star reviews with well thought out, reasoned opinions that will hurt you made than a single angry customer.

The key to using reviews to your advantage is to work toward getting the best reviews.   This means providing the best service or product to begin with, then addressing problems if they arise.   It is important to show active engagement and let those reading reviews know you are involved.   If someone writes a negative review, address it directly and offer to fix the problem.

Finally, encourage happy customers to use an online review platform to share their thoughts and opinions.   Most people like to tell others when they have a great experience, but they might be less likely to go online and write about it.

To learn more about making reviews work for you, give us a call!

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Fake or Fraud Reviews? Hereis How to Spot Them!

Reviews are an excellent way to learn about a product or service before making a purchase.   More and more people these days are turning to online reviews especially before deciding on larger and expensive purchases.

Unfortunately, some companies – estimates show about 15 percent – are taking advantage of this and using fake or fraudulent reviews to influence customer behavior.   How can you recognize a review is manufactured and not the true opinions of a customer?

Use different sources to gather review information.   If you notice the same things are being said – possibly by the same usernames – across multiple platforms, it might be part of a fake review campaign.   Reviews should be unique and provide information about specific customer experiences.   Also pay attention to reviews that are remarkably similar but posted by different users.

If there is a sharp spike in negative or positive reviews around the same time, it could indicate that a company is trying to beef up its good reviews or that it is being targeted by a competitor with bad reviews.

Review sites are doing their best to eliminate fake reviews by searching for words and accounts that look suspicious.   Unfortunately, it is impossible to keep up with all of the trickery that occurs.

So with all the fake reviews that occur, how do you make sure people believe in your reviews? Encourage customers to speak up when they are satisfied or dissatisfied.   And make sure a representative from your business is interacting with the reviews when possible, regardless of whether they are good or bad.

If possible, encourage customers to be as specific and detailed about their situation as possible.   One hundred reviews that are just five stars and say “good product” would not have the same impact as a single review that goes into some specifics about a situation and the customer’s detailed explanation of his or her purchase.

Keep tabs on your reviews.   If there is a pattern to customer concerns, it needs to be addressed.   This not only makes customers happier, it makes your reviews more trustworthy.

For instance, if there are 10 reviews describing a problem with a sagging couch cushion, your company fixes the problem so the couch no longer sags and in response, the next 10 purchasers of that couch write in their review they did not experience that problem, it builds a great deal of trust.   You took action to fix a problem and showed that the reviews you have posted are genuine and treated significantly.

To learn more about how reviews can help your brand, give us a call!

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