It was only a few years ago when the term “Word of Mouth” was interpreted literally: Person A heard about Product or Service directly from Person B’s mouth. Through the past few years, it has taken on a completely new meaning as communication on a whole between people has drastically changed.
Many businesses, primarily small-medium sized ones were built on and sustained by customer recommendations and through the “old word of mouth method”. As technology expands, our communication skills among people, customers, families and friends has adapted as well. Many schools have lessened curriculum on cursive writing, and increased curricula surrounding computer skills and even teaching coding and social media. People now share life history, pictures, and personal stories through social media, texts and emails. When someone is looking for a suggestion of a doctor, service or product, they crowd-source online.
So how do we utilize this relatively new way of communication and still hold on to our word of mouth marketing strategy?
5 Ways to Increase your Word of Mouth Online Marketing Success:
- Generate likes on your products, services and pages. Make sure your website is optimized with social media buttons. While in the past, people verbally told their friends they liked something, now people are share their preferences through “likes” and clicks. When one person “likes” a website, Facebook business page, LinkedIn update etc. all of their followers are potentially exposed to seeing that “like”. Just as with the traditional word of mouth, this new way is powerful in that people “trust” what their friends share and like online.
- Solicit Positive Reviews. Set up your company YELP, Google Maps, Facebook and LinkedIn pages and encourage your happy customers to write a short review about why they come to you. These reviews are magnificent in that they are always available (24/7!) and can be found by just about anyone looking for information on your company.
- Watch your “company” with Google Alerts. Strategically outline important Brand and Industry keywords and sign up for notifications whenever those keywords are mentioned online. Then, JOIN THE CONVERSATION. If someone is searching in an online group for a product or service you sell, Google Alerts will let you know so you may answer them in that group in real time.
- Become the thought leader in your industry. The more you position yourself as the expert, the higher the likelihood people will recommend you to others for that service. If you are blogging all the time about a specific subject, you will be seen as the professional, even if that reader has never used you before. When people read your blogs, watch your videos, see your tweets and posts about industry related services or products, they begin to respect and TRUST your knowledge. They then feel comfortable recommending you to others as that expert!
- Find influential people in your target industry. This one takes a bit more research work, but there are always tweeters, bloggers and facebookers who love to write about YOUR product and industry. They have tons followers who already trust them, and they can become a very strong ally when it comes to recommending your services. Find them, befriend them and join forces to create an equally beneficial partnership!
Too often I receive a blast from a small or medium sized business that just makes me cringe. For example, the other day, I received an email from a company that had information in it for its current clients, which I am not. It made no sense that they sent it to me, but odds are, they sent it to their entire list. There are clear ways to increase your unsubscribe rate, and not sending relevant information to your entire list is the biggest one.
According to an Epsilon Study in 2009 67% of North Americans unsubscribe from a company’s email list because they found the content irrelevant. Follow the tips below to increase your open rates, decrease your unsubscribe rate and encourage overall engagement with your email readers.
6 Steps to Decrease Unsubscribe Rates:
- Use your email provider to create segregated lists. No matter if you only have 50 subscribers or if you have 30,000 subscribers, each subscriber is unique, has his/her own needs and should be treated as such. Remember your lists are only seen by you and your marketing team so do not worry about the subscribers knowing which list they are on. Utilize the list option in your email platform and separate subscribers by services, products or client type.
- On your sign up form create interest choices. This is the best way to truly gain an understanding of what you client wants. Let your client decide which list they want to be on! Keep the choices less than 6, as too many choices can lead to a subscriber abandoning the sign-up altogether.
- Import your own list of current clients. Keep an updated list of your current clients in your email database. Use this list to send updates about client related events, updates, and information that pertain to just the active customer. The same goes for creating a list of potential customers. Think of each subscriber as in a different phase of the purchaser’s path. Your email communications need to nurture each lead appropriately according to his/her place on that path.
- Keep the titles (and content) relevant to the audience. Even if they personally signed up for your list, a subscriber still needs motivation to open the email. Make sure the title is as relevant as the content in the email!
- Only send one large communication piece to the entire list per month. The second reason people unsubscribe? Too many emails. If you are sending more than one large blast to your entire list each month, you become a nuance and also devalue the information you are sharing. By limiting your large blast to once a month, you create anticipation from your customers. Make sure your ‘entire list’ email combines “something for everyone”.
- Make sure your “forward to a friend” button is prominently displayed. Did you know that depending on your email provider, and unsubscribe process, if someone forwards your blast to a friend (using the traditional forward method, not the button in your email), the friend can unsubscribe the original subscriber? All the friend has to do is forget it was sent as a forward and click the unsubscribe button. To avoid “wrongful unsubscribes” make sure you place the “forward to a friend” button at both the top and in the footer of the email. By using the button, friends can not unsubscribe for the sender.
A question that comes up often as companies rebrand or delve more into digital marketing is: should a URL have a branded name, company name or be keyword targeted? Below we take a look at each aspect and the best practices of choosing URLs.
What is a URL?
A URL, aka Uniform Resource Locator is what most people refer to as the “web address”. The URL is a string of characters that help browsers identify the website file location. Typically, the URL is located in the top of the browser in the ‘address bar’.
Should my URL be SEO friendly?
Yes. Ideally, everything dealing with your site should be SEO friendly. However, there are different ways of achieving optimization. So while, having a URL with keywords can be helpful in specific situations, you must keep in mind that in order to rank well and receive a high quality score with the search engines, a URL of your entire site should exemplify what a visitor will see on the website. Therefore, the main URL of your site should be more in line with your company name or brand as opposed to just the keywords.
Why choose your company name as your URL:
Often, searchers want to click on a trustworthy link. That means the link should have your name in it to increase clickthrough rates. Then make sure you have a killer meta description that outlines the keywords the web searcher may be looking for. For instance, if someone is searching for “coffee shop in Chicago”, and a search result comes with the two choices of “www.BestChicagoCoffeeEver.com” or “www.TheBrewCrew.com(as the actual company name)”, the clickthrough rate will be higher on the branded company name URL. Please note that if designing keyword URL’s, the rank of the URL may also be lower if the URL sounds to “gimmicky”. Another reason to have your company name as the URL is because you want to be easily found by customers searching for you. If your company is called “Bob’s Fences”, but your URL is www.Californiayardexperts.com you may lose visitors due to them not knowing how to find you or which link goes to your website.
How can you optimize URL’s?
- Utilize your pages to include URL’s that are specific to your services and products. Example: www.GreatHillsInsurance.com/PersonalQuotes
- Create blog posts to include keywords and search terms. This means your URL should look something like this: www.TinasYoga.com/blog/best-yoga-positions-to-practice-at-work
- If you have a large product that you want to focus on, create a URL for that product, and direct it or redirect it to a specific landing page pertaining to that product.
Feel free to leave a comment with your URL experiences and what has worked for you!
Before covering the tips on how to increase sign-ups, you need to be clear on why you want more. People often think the larger number of sign-ups means you are doing better at marketing your business. This is not the case. It’s what actions the subscribers take after reading the content- that matters. Therefore, you need a newsletter goal. Each piece of communication should have a planned purpose and desired outcome prior to sending it. Once you have an idea of what action you would the readers to take, you can strategize the content you want in it.
6 Tips to Increase Newsletter Sign-ups:
- Create Sign-Up Forms. This seems simple enough, yet I have seen many clients that enter in emails personally whenever they get them and don’t provide website “passerby’s” to sign up on their own. Remember that there may be a potential customer who is not ready to call you about services, but is still interested in your content. By providing sign-up forms on your site, you are supplying customers with an easy and non-pressured way to learn about your company.
- Place the forms everywhere! Have a link in the navigation of your site titled “newsletter”. You should provide sign-up forms in the sidebar of your site and buttons to sign up on appropriate pages. You should also have a sign-up extension on your Facebook business page.
- Opt-in option. No reputable email platforms these days allow you to use unauthorized or purchased emails. If you want to gain the trust of your readers, gain their subscription and ultimately gain their business, make sure your opt-in (and opt-out for the matter) options are set correctly and easy to manage!
- Provide subject choices. Email open rates will increase when the email is specific to the needs of the reader. Provide a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6 different subject check-boxes for new sign-ups. See example here by click here.
- Clearly state the value. Explain in a sentence or two above the newsletter fields, what the reader will receive or how they will benefit by signing up. What makes your emails unique? Keep it short and sweet.
- Make the emails forwardable and sharable. Make sure you have a “forward to a friend” option inserted in every email communication that goes out to the public. You also want to connect your newsletters with your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages to autopost. And thirdly, insert social sharing buttons in each email campaign. As outsiders see the emails from a friend’s (whom they already trust) page or a forward, they are likely to sign up as well.
The position and title of “Online Community Manager, Social Media Manager, Online Marketer etc.” is fairly new to many companies. If you are striving to take your company to the next level and utilize the web to gain a greater online presence and ultimately increase new customers, you have likely already started planning to add this new role to your marketing department.
Below are 7 qualifications to look for when hiring an Online Community Manager:
This person should have at least 3 years experience with Social Media Marketing. Just because someone is active on twitter and Facebook, does not necessarily mean that he or she is qualified to run your Online Marketing Campaigns. What blogs and websites do they follow? This will show you how current this person’s social media knowledge is. How many facebook friends does he/she have? This is important for a couple of reasons. First, you want someone who is social. Second, you want someone who is well networked already, giving you instant access to hundreds or thousands of new people.
Other important questions to ask:
What Linkedin, FB groups do they already belong in?
How do they leverage those groups for their social media strategy?
What Social Media publishing tools do they use?
Does he or she know what Facebook EdgeRank is?
2. They know and LOVE your product:
The Online Community Manager is going to be the face of your company also known as your company ambassador. Do they want to SCREAM with excitement everything your company offers? This person needs to be proud to be a part of your team. An ideal candidate will not be hesitant to use his or her personal accounts/name to promote the company.
How well does this person know your product and services? The online community manager should know your products and key audience so well that he or she can feel confidant promoting, marketing and fielding questions. You do not want someone who has to depend on you to develop content conception. When it comes to Social Media, passion is key. Your company is best represented by those who are passionate about it!
3. They are a marketing maven:
This person knows how conduct market research, has experience with brand development and brand awareness. Ask if he or she has experience tracking marketing analytics. Many print marketing practices can be re-purposed for online strategy. It’s equally important that this person has online marketing experience and knowledge. This includes basic tech comprehension, best practice understanding of how, why and when to post online and more.
4. Awesome and engaging personality:
We used to hire introverts as our IT/Computer people. Nowadays however, we need outgoing people to represent us online. Does your OCM have a great sense of humor? Great posts and status updates are often the funny and witty ones. Your hire needs to have the ability to engage customers online. Usually the way people talk in person is reflected in how they converse on Social Media.
5. Creative, strategic and analytic:
Yes, usually it is hard to find an extrovert (see above) who is also analytical, but if you do- you’ve hit the jack-pot! Ask your candidates to provide a 3 month strategy plan for your Facebook page. See how creative they are in these plans. Creativity comes into play with how this person goes about executing such strategies. Another question to ask is how this person would turn Facebook Fans or Twitter/Pinterest Followers into customers. It is one thing to generate “likes”, it’s another thing to convert a Like or Follower into a paying customer.
6. Great time management skills:
Re-activity is extremely important in building online relationship with potential customers. If someone asks a question on one of your social media platforms, an answer cannot and should not take more than hour to appear. By then your potential client has already moved on. And so have all the other people watching. Find someone who is willing to be “on-call”. Most OCM’s have every social app on their phone so that they can be accessible on the go!
7. They have a common community with your company’s community:
If you are interviewing someone who claims to be “well-connected”, great! Please note though of who these connections are! It does not really do much for your business if their connections do not coincide with your target audience. If they are sharing content from your site to their connections, how effective will it be in getting you qualified leads?
Obviously, there is no perfect candidate. If you can find someone who possesses the majority of the above 7 qualifications you are on the right track!
Click the button below for more on how to hire and train a rock star Social Media Professional:
Congratulations! You finally put together your facebook page. Now you need to grow your fan-base, figure out what to post and how to post it. Below are a few best practice methods to getting started on your facebook business page.
- Think about your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? What type of things would they like to know? What age group does your fan base consist of? Is it mostly female or males? You can actually find all of these statistics on your page’s “insights”. Once you can answer those questions, you will be better equipped to providing a great “fan” experience.
- What you post. Is it relevant to your followers? Are you posting something that will be of interest to them? Are you providing your fans with original material? People like your page because they like your business, brand or what you represent. Everything you post should have something to do with your business or industry. It is very beneficial to create a “publishing calender” with enough content to post for 3 months out.
- Be the first to post. If something comes out in the news, you want to be the first to share it. That way you own the post that everybody is sharing. Therefore, I suggest that every morning, you search different news sites for important information in your industry.
- When you post. When are your fans likely to be on facebook, and thus see your updates? If your target audience is comprised of retired empty-nesters, 2:00pm may be the best time to post. If your fan base is mostly stay at home moms, nap times are the best time to post. Common practices show that 7:00am, 11:00am, 3:00pm and 8:00pm are the prime times for facebook activity, but that may vary depending on your audience demographics. This takes us back to the first tip of knowing your audience.
- How often you post. This is an important one. You don’t want to be posting so often that your followers start hiding your updates. Likewise, you don’t want to have any empty page. Most successful pages post 3-4 times a day, and post different things. There isn’t anything more annoying to followers than seeing the same post multiple times a day! Make sure to spread the posts outs throughout the day. You can use social media tools such as HootSuite, Sprout Social or even on Facebook, using the scheduler below your actual post.
- Keep posts short and sweet. When you start rambling, people stop reading. It’s that simple.
- Don’t just sell your business. If people want to learn about your services or products, they can visit your website. You should use facebook to engage your customers. Show them that you want to provide them with valuable information, listen to their wants and needs, and every now and then let them know about a sale or new service.
- Give them something to talk about. If you want your fan-base to continuously grow, you have to provide buzz-worthy information. Sometimes the most shared content is the most controversial. Use this method to ask questions and encourage your followers to participate in the conversation and share with their friends!
Good luck and may your facebook page numbers continue to grow!