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10 Tips for Creating Repeat Customers Like Amazon

Amazon has made a huge impact on the small business world — in both positive and negative ways. Entire industries have been uprooted by the ecommerce giant. But it has also given more than a million businesses in the U.S. a place to sell their wares. So it’s up to you to use the platform to your advantage — or at least to prevent it from putting you out of business. Robbie Kellman Baxter, author of The Membership Economy: Find Your Superusers, Master the Forever Transaction, and Build Recurring Revenue, said in an email to Small Business Trends, “Many small business owners, both manufacturers and retailers, specialize in items that can’t be found elsewhere—strings for musical instruments or essential oils for example, but now Amazon provides access to a tremendous range of items. Some SBs have gone on the Amazon platform to sell these long-tail items, while others have lost business because Amazon is taking away that niche.” Creating Repeat Customers To Amazon-proof your business, you need to focus on creating relationships with customers and getting them to come back to your specific business, rather than just browsing Amazon again and again. Stay Off Amazon If Your Product Is Really Unique It’s rare. But there are still a few niches that Amazon has yet to disrupt. There’s probably something fairly similar to your offering on the site — but if customers are still willing to come to you for your specific spin on the product, you don’t need to use the site to find customers. Baxter says, “Small businesses with a truly unique offering might do well to stay off Amazon altogether, like Northface and Birkenstock already have.” Use It to Get Eyes on Your Products However, new businesses and those looking to gain some new fans could use the platform’s massive reach to your advantage. It just depends on your specific situation and goals. Baxter adds, “Amazon can be a great place to build awareness, if you are able to translate that awareness to direct engagement with your business.” Offer Limited Products If you choose to sell on Amazon,…

Improving Your Customer Survey Responses Doesn’t Have to Be Hard, Read These 15 Tips

Surveys are a great way to get fast answers and collect valuable feedback you need to make important decisions. Did you know there’s a secret sauce to improve survey response rates? There is! Chances are you’re probably already doing a lot of things right. But there are so many tips and techniques that come into play when crafting an effective survey, that it’s good to always stay on top of your game. Here are 15 Ways You can Improve Survey Response Rates: 1.  Time it Right Timing is everything. Statistically, Friday surveys do not perform as well as polls that are sent at the top of the week. Your survey might get neglected if it’s timed poorly. Monday or Tuesday mornings work great when sending a survey; sending surveys early in the week gives recipients ample time to complete the survey throughout the week, and it also gives you time to send reminders on Thursday or Friday. 2. Keep it Short Keep your questionnaires short and sweet to maximize engagement. If a long list of questions appears on the user’s screen, chances are they are going to abandon ship and see it more as a chore versus an opportunity to provide feedback. A sweet spot of 5-10 questions that are quick to breeze through helps you raise your chances of a completed survey. 3. Make it Personal Always be attentive and warm towards your audience. If you’re a customer service representative who frequently sends follow up surveys to customers or leads, always be attentive and caring, thank them for their time, and address them by their name. After you’ve done the above, close your email with your call-to-action and survey link. 4. Tie In an Incentive If it’s appropriate, throw in an incentive. Incentives, such as tickets to a ball game or a gift card, are just one a few ways to excite people to participate in your survey. The chances of winning a cool prize or a free lunch makes it worth the effort for some participants. 5. Show your Audience that their Feedback Matters It’s nice to see feedback in action. For…

73% Say They’ve Made Purchases as a Result of Viewing Marketing Content, Survey Says

Content marketing remains important for small businesses, a Clutch survey says. But that’s only when the content is useful and valuable. 2018 Content Marketing Statistics According to the survey, 73% of respondents say they’ve made purchases as a result of viewing marketing content. Another 70% say they consider content marketing useful and valuable, which pushes them to further research the company and perhaps make a purchase. For small business owners with a digital presence, the Clutch survey underscores why they should continue to focus on creating quality content their audience can find value in. Because the Clutch survey says they are more likely to purchase their products and services if they do. The value of great content is further outlined in explained by Kane Jamison, founder of Content Harmony, a Seattle-based content marketing agency. Jamison explains, “Not many people are going out on a daily basis and looking for something to buy. They’re looking to fix a problem. The importance of content marketing is making the right consumers aware of your brand so that when the intent is there, when they do have a problem that your solution can fix, you’ve given them enough value where they think of your brand first.” Clutch carried out its survey with the participation of 384 employees made up of 85% full-time and 15% part-time workers. They were tasked with identifying the connection between the value they experience from content marketing and their actions as consumers after reading business-related content online over a one week period. Goal of the Survey and Report Grayson Kemper, Senior Content Developer and Marketer at Clutch says businesses can use the report to learn three approaches to producing content consumers will find value in to develop their intent and eventually make a purchase from your company. The Three Approaches Having the best content on your site will impact three factors which define the buying journey a consumer goes through. Clutch says these factors are value, intent, and action. Produce content that directly addresses customer issues and preferences. This means know your audience/customers. Demonstrate your expertise by answering your “core…

Catalog Provides Small Businesses with Branded Photography Service

Place the right image on your site, and it will get the attention of your visitors. Branded professional photos will do that better than stock images, which is what Catalog has managed to do for $20 per photo. According to the company, the $20 price tag is much lower than the hundreds of dollars creative agencies charge per image. At this price point, small businesses will be able to afford custom, professional quality images to post on their website, blog and social media. Having branded photos is one way you can differentiate your small online business from the competition. The Catalog platform brings all of the moving pieces together so you can control and manage the creative process to capture the perfect image. This includes handling the content creators, logistics, and usage rights along with legal and compliance. In an emailed press release to Small Business Trends, the CEO and Co-Founder of Catalog, Patrick Ip, explained why the company was founded. He said, “We founded Catalog to enable more companies to tell their stories and compete with industry giants, while also supporting the extremely talented people who create the visual content.” The New Catalog Platform Catalog says, “The current model for producing custom images that are high quality and on-brand is broken… because the networks used for this are slow, expensive, and have logistical hurdles.” Using automation, Catalog has made the production of custom visual content more efficient from start to finish, which is why it only charges $20 per photo. An artificial intelligence (AI) is used to find creators which meet the needs of a particular brand and the AI then handles the logistics and negotiations. Custom visuals are then produced which are on-brand and accurate to the specifications of the customer. Once a customer accepts an image, the AI analyzes the content and the customer’s brand guidelines for future images. Working with the creators, Catalog proactively produces visuals customers can pick and choose from a library of custom high-quality content already on-brand. This very approach was used to complete projects for National Geographic, Sony Music, OmniCharge, Pioneer, Patchology,…

Use These 13 Insider Tips to Make the Most of a Microinfluencer Partnership Like the Pros

Microinfluencers can be a big help when it comes to marketing, especially when their brand message aligns with your own. However, both parties need to be on the same page in order for a seamless working relationship to develop. So how do you make sure both parties are communicating well, as well as getting the most out of the deal? To find out, we asked 13 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following: “Microinfluencers can be an excellent resource, but you need to be on the same page as far as shared goals and other aspects of the relationship in order for everything to work right. What is a solid way of making sure that both parties get a good experience out of the arrangement, while at the same time making sure that all of their goals are met?”  Microinfluencer Partnership Tips Here’s what YEC community members had to say: 1. Set Clear Terms “When you work with a microinfluencer, you’re really paying for an audience above all else. Sometimes, when people begin a relationship by trading shoutouts, and terms aren’t clearly set, there’s room for people to get upset with the circumstances. Ultimately, it’s about finding a benefit both audiences like, such as samples for placement, and so on.” ~ Chris Quiocho, Offland Media 2. Give Them Creative Liberty “I often find that one of the biggest mistakes brands make when using microinfluencers is giving them too much guidance where it takes away from the microinfluencer’s personality. What ends up happening is that the message will look disingenuous. Instead, let them craft the message to bring more authenticity to the marketing campaign.” ~ Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner 3. Aim for Long-Term Partnerships “With long-term partnerships, both sides win. The microinfluencer knows that the potential exists for multiple revenue earning opportunities, so they are more likely to create better content for your brand and also engage with the posts more. The brand receives exposure to an audience that is more likely to warm up to the product or service because of multiple posts from the same influencer.” ~ Jonathan Long,…

10 Tips and Tools for Bringing Your Business into 2019

Every year, small businesses need to look back and determine what worked for their business and what strategies may need to be adjusted for the coming year. But these adjustments don’t need to be reserved for January 1. If you want to get a head start on preparing your business for 2019, check out these tips, insights and resources from members of the online small business community. Adjust Your Marketing Strategy with the Loss of Google+ By now, you’ve probably learned that Google is shutting down Google+ next year. Though the popularity of this platform burned out fairly quickly, its loss could still impact some marketing factors for local businesses. Learn more about how to adjust your strategy in this Bright Local post by Jamie Pitman. Identify Upcoming Content Marketing Trends If you want your content marketing strategy to continue to be effective going into 2019, you need to consider what trends are affecting consumers and other businesses. Constant adjustments are important. So check out this TopRank Marketing post by Joshua Nite for more insights on the B2B marketing trends of 2019. Use Voice Activated Tech to Up Your Content Marketing Game Voice assistants and other voice activated tech are changing the way people interact with online content. That also means that your strategy for reaching people online has to adjust. To update your strategy, check out this Content Marketing Institute post by Jodi Harris. Solve a Common Podcasting Pain Point with this Automation Tip Automation is working its way into so many industries and business functions — including podcasting. If you have a podcast and are looking to make the posting process easier, this post from Ileane Smith could help. You can also see commentary from the BizSugar community here. Measure the Effectiveness of Your Facebook Ads Facebook recently introduced a new tool for measuring the impact of your advertising campaigns. Keeping track of this data is important for all businesses looking to achieve great ROI. So visit Search Engine Journal to read more about this update from Matt Southern. Find the Best Franchise Opportunities Online If you’re thinking…

5 Steps to Promoting Your Business Blog with Facebook Messenger Ads

If you’re using Facebook Ads to promote your blog posts, I want to introduce you to a fundamentally more interesting way to promote content than a click campaign. Facebook traffic ads are donkeys compared to the unicorn click-to-Messenger ad objective. With traditional Facebook traffic ads: You’re probably paying $5-$6 per result. You’ll never know who visited the site. You can’t contact visitors after they leave. Instead, promote your blog posts with Facebook Messenger ads and buckle up for insanely higher ROI: Lower cost per result Higher conversion rate Customer contact information Opportunity to follow-up It’s an easy adjustment to your Facebook ad workflow to get the contact info of everyone who clicks on your ads and opt them into messaging, blasts and drip campaigns. See how this Messenger ad looks in your News Feed here. Messenger Ads for Blog Posts Here’s how to promote your blog posts with Facebook Messenger ads. Step 1. Create a Messenger Ad Campaign in Facebook Ads Manager. When you start building your ad campaign, choose the “Messages” marketing objective: Let’s zoom in on that real quick: “New! Get More Messages. Now your business can drive results through conversations and personal connections in Messenger.” Step 2. Build your Ad Set: Audience, Placement, Budget and Schedule. You’ll choose your audience targeting and set your budget in the same way as usual. I recommend being narrow and specific with your targeting. You’ll see the best results focusing on remarketing. The most likely buyers are the people who have heard of you before, like people who have visited your site or engaged with your page recently. People who’ve heard of you before have a tendency to have higher click-through and conversion rates. Step 3. Create Messenger Ad Creative in MobileMonkey. To choose the content you want to promote, you know the drill. Unicorn content is the top 3% of posts that result in 95% of the traffic, awareness, leads and sales. When unicorns emerge, blast them to the moon by promoting them for better visibility with Facebook Messenger ads. We’ll use this blog post on how to convert email contacts to Messenger contacts for today’s rocket-fueled unicorn…

5 User Generated Content Secrets Revealed to Boost Your eCommerce Sales

There are so many paid advertisements saturating websites and social media platforms that they are making users “immune” to their messages. Scrolling through social media, users recognize paid ads and largely decide to ignore them. On the contrast, user-generated content (UGC) is refreshing, and it beats stock photos and cookie cutter ads users see online. Although they might also be part of an advertisement, they inherently give the impression that they are just organic content. Most importantly, they look like a genuine review. It encourages users to consider trying the product and makes them intrigued. After all, if so many people like a particular product, there must be something good about it, right? Using User Generated Content for Ecommerce Here, we’ll discuss different ways to incorporate user-generated content to your advantage. Let’s begin! Create Brand Awareness Promoting user-generated content is one of the best ways to create brand awareness about a new product. Starbucks is a pro at doing this. Check out how they adeptly promoted their holiday red cups: This UGC post sets a few skilled intentions in motion: Prior to a product launch, the UGC builds expectation. Share your product before it drops on your site with a few selective influencers who can take pictures interacting with it. Encourage other users to generate content by creating a contest. The winner with the best photo can receive a special prize of more merchandise or a cash bonus. Use a special hashtag. It will help consumers discover other UGC and post new photos that can enrich the message. Showcase your Values What better way to showcase your brand values and beliefs than by showing them in action rather than just words? Aerie did just that by launching a very popular UGC campaign promoting self-love body images. They asked their followers to upload photos without filters and pledged to only release unaltered photos. This was part of their #AerieREAL campaign, which promoted body positivity through personalized messages and images that hadn’t been retouched. People loved the concept and rallied to support the brand, which resulted in a 20 percent increase in their sales.…

The A-Z of Keeping Your Customer Surveys Fresh

Businesses have used surveys to gather information for a long time. What started as the general store clerk asking, “Do you prefer your five pounds of flour in a cloth or paper sack?” has evolved into online surveys gathering sophisticated marketing data. Surveys are an incredibly important tool for business intelligence. The information age has made surveys more robust — and prevalent — than ever before. Some statistic companies report over 1 billion surveys are completed by consumers each year in the United States. That’s twice as many Big Macs sold each year! What Is Survey Fatigue? Now that you know the power of surveys, your want to use them all the time, right? The wealth of information available through customer surveys is tempting. But you can have too much of a good thing. Just like eating too much ice cream can make you sick, surveys can make your customers feel sick, too. It’s called survey fatigue. Survey fatigue happens when the survey taker becomes apathetic, bored, or just tired of the survey process. This can result in abandoned surveys, ineffective results, or inaccurate survey results. Even though it sounds like a vague concept, survey fatigue is very real. In fact, Stanford University conducted a study that found survey fatigue in three of the four survey areas measured. Types of Survey Fatigue There are two main issues here — survey response fatigue and survey taking fatigue. Survey Response Fatigue This happens when your customer is prompted to take a survey and they quickly click “no thanks” followed by an eye roll and a sigh. You see, your customer was already invited by another company to take a survey today. Add that to the survey they completed yesterday and the three they’ll be prompted for next week. Surveys are a useful tool, so now it seems everyone is doing them. But consumers can get tired of taking surveys, plain and simple. Survey Taking Fatigue This happens while your customer is actually taking the survey. If your survey questions are hard to understand or don’t apply to the customer, they’ll quickly lose interest. If your survey is…

The 10 Best Throwback Thursday Ideas for Small Businesses in 2018

Is your small business capitalizing on the Throwback Thursday — aka #TBT — phenomenon? If not, it’s time to join in the race to post nostalgic content to reach out to and strike a chord with followers. Throwback Thursday Ideas If you’re unsure how to execute a Throwback Thursday strategy, help is here, with the following 10 best Throwback Thursday ideas small businesses are successfully using to celebrate #TBT in 2018. Share an Event You Hosted a Long Time Ago Okay, so if you’re a start-up this idea might not be applicable, but if your small business has been going for some time, use the #TBT trend to alert followers of your past events. If you have an image of a past event you are proud of, post the image — on a Thursday of course — with the #TBT hashtag and a brief description of the event. Posting about past events can be an effective way to gauge interest in a forthcoming event you have by tying past and future events together. Tweet Old Business Cards Another popular way to celebrate Throwback Thursday is to post an image of your old business cards. For maximum effect, post the old business card alongside your current business card. This will provide some subtle but effective marketing getting your business in front of anyone searching the #TBT hashtag. Jessica Borg, a reporter at KHOU, the CBS affiliate in Houston, does just this on Twitter. Post Baby Photos of Yourself or Employees No one can resist looking at baby photos of colleagues or, better still, their boss! Generate interest on your social media feeds by posting Throwback Thursday pictures of you or your colleagues as babies or kids. Garner even greater interest in the posts by asking people to guess who the youngster is. Share Photos of Past Projects Representing Milestones Show just how much your business has evolved and expanded over the years by posting a Throwback Thursday image of your first office or home office. It doesn’t need to be from a bygone era, as a #TBT post from several years…

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