Customer Reviews and Your Search Engine Ranking

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Many people once relied almost exclusively on word-of-mouth and face-to-face recommendations to determine whether a business was worth its salt or not. Now, we’re all living in a world where online customer reviews are an incredibly popular, massively powerful medium for consumers to share sentiments and help determine the fame and fortune of small businesses.

You’re already aware of the “incredibly popular” part, as you undoubtedly come across some form of online customer reviews for various products, services and enterprises daily. However, you likely haven’t taken the time to consider how often people pay any mind to these reviews, or what tangible effects they have on your business. Just how powerful are these reviews?

Do People Even Pay Attention to Online Customer Reviews?

Yes.

Sorry to be abrupt, but we wanted to make a point. Online customer reviews are indeed a powerful resource that affect consumer sentiment. Let’s look at a few facts and figures:

– In a 2014 consumer usage and attitudes questionnaire, BrightLocal gathered consumer sentiment toward the potency of online customer reviews for the fourth year running. The questionnaire (“Local Consumer Review Survey”) they conducted found that nearly 90% of study participants read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business. This number was up from the previous year (88% versus 85% in 2013).

– The same survey determined that 85% of consumers read up to 10 reviews of a single local business to educate themselves on the merits of the business’s services.

– BrightLocal’s survey also found that a startlingly high 39% utilize online customer reviews to gauge the quality of a business on a regular basis.

– Yelp!, one of the biggest players in the online review business, commissioned a Nielsen survey that found four out of five of their users head straight to Yelp! to check out a business prior to making a purchase.

Where Do Online Customer Reviews Show Up? Are They on Google?

The above are some pretty convincing numbers, but they wouldn’t matter much if existing reviews weren’t easy to find online.

Yelp! has become a name synonymous with business reviews and personal recommendations, and it’s incredibly easy to visit the site and type in a business to collect intel from consumers. What’s more, businesses don’t have any ability to prune unwanted reviews, which is why consumers enjoy Yelp! so much.

But Google’s the key here, right? Will positive (and negative) reviews show up purely when doing a Google search for your business? They can. Even if the search engine user in question doesn’t search using the term “reviews,” just typing in your business may bring up reviews under its Google business listing on the right side of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). There is a link under your business listing that allows users to immediately add reviews, and these added reviews will show up whenever someone searches for your business.

Additionally, anytime someone leaves a Google+ review of your business the review will automatically be pulled and listed under your business listing on the SERP, too.

Do Online Customer Reviews Directly Affect My Google Ranking?

They certainly do. While it’s difficult to currently determine the effect online customer reviews have on search engine optimization rankings overall, we do know that when performing a local search a user is first presented with matching businesses that have received many good reviews. The more highly-ranked online customer reviews your small business has received, the higher up among local businesses it’s likely to be listed.

This also applies to Google Maps. When searching directly within Google Maps, results are fed back to the user based on the “highest-rated shops nearby.” If you’re not highly-rated, your small business won’t be joining the party here. The same applies when a Google user performs a Google search on their mobile device, as well. Highly-rated businesses will be receiving the billing.

What Can I Do to Improve My Online Customer Reviews?

Responding to both negative and positive online customer reviews — and regularly communicating with customers and potential customers via social media and blogging — can lead to improved reviews for your business. This is highly dependent on understanding how to engage with your audience and how to incorporate the correct “tone” in your social media content and communication.

Read inBLOOM’s 5 Tips To Take When Responding to Negative Reviews for some expert advice.

Handle your reviews with compassion and brand integrity, no matter how upsetting the situation might be. Responding to reviews is a great way to learn from and build goodwill with your most vocal customers and brand ambassadors. Reviews are also important, as noted above, for increasing your visibility on search engines.

photo: menéame

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Turn Employees Into Brand Ambassadors On Social Media

Turn Employees Into Brand Ambassadors On Social Media

“Employees are a company’s greatest asset…” – Anne M. Mulcahy, Former Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation

Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, so why aren’t more companies tapping into their greatest resource? The lines between personal and professional social media accounts are becoming more and more blurred, making it possible and even ethical to promote organizational successes on personal pages.

Employee personal social media accounts can serve to enhance your brand, and more often than not those employees are proud of the work they, and their company are doing and they want to shout that pride from the rooftops. Just think, their reach can be your reach. So if you have that enthusiastic employee base, why not use it!

Here are some things to consider when turning employees into brand ambassadors:

1. Make a goal and communicate it

Think about what your organization’s overall goal is and how it can be satisfied by using employees as brand advocates. Is your goal to increase brand awareness? If so, give employees the tools necessary to introduce your brand to their audience. Is your goal to get more unique visitors to your website? Then give employees a way to share or retweet posts that link directly to your site. Goals come first, and they must be communicated to employees, especially if you want them to be an ambassador for your brand. These goals should be measurable and relate directly back to the organization’s business plan.

2. Give employees the training and tools they need to be successful

We all know posts on social media can turn ugly in the drop of a hat, but with the proper training and tools at their disposal, employees can become amateur social gurus in no time. The training needs to be face-to-face, the guidelines need to be in writing, and the tools need to be easily accessible and full of content. There are several online resources that can help organizations compile content for employees to share on social, such as Addvocate, Command Post, and Everyone Social. These tools can help guide you on your organizational social media journey. Also, it doesn’t hurt to make it clear that the organization encourages employees to use social media at work for organizational posting. Communicate the importance of sharing content on Facebook, posting blogs to LinkedIn, and using hashtags on Twitter. The more you teach them, the more excited they’ll be to become a brand ambassador, and good ones at that.

3. Encourage open conversation

Trusting your employees with organizational content can encourage open and honest dialogue on social media channels. This, in turn, can create confidence in your brand with a wider variety of audiences. Publics who see organizational content shared on personal accounts may view the brand as more authentic.

4. Measure, measure, measure

Understanding how employees are using social media is vital to understanding how successful an employee social media campaign is. And to do this it is absolutely necessary to measure everything. Make sure you’re using analytics to track social media activity. LinkedIn posts low? Facebook shares up only in the winter months? Analytics can help you pinpoint where your strengths and weaknesses are and allow you to make a plan based off real numbers. Hashtags are also a great way to measure employee activity on social media, and are an easy way for employees to keep track of what they’re posting. Once you have a few month’s worth of numbers to crunch, you’ll be able to see which employees are having success with their social media use. These staff members would make great social media champions for the company and can encourage other employees to promote the brand on social. Don’t forget to tout success stories with the entire company, it can be a boost for morale!

5. Monitor

While giving employees the training, tools, and trust to be brand ambassadors on social media is important, management should also monitor social media channels. This is true not only for employee posts, but for entire organizational social media accounts in general. Have a screening process in place to ensure quick action if something goes awry. This will allow you to get out ahead of a potential crisis quickly.

6. Don’t force employees to be brand ambassadors

No company should require employees to share posts on social media. This action should be voluntary, but there is no harm in providing incentives or rewards for those who feel comfortable using their personal social channels for professional posts. Check with your Human Resources department before you do anything.

Have questions about how you can turn your employees into brand ambassadors? Ready to take the plunge but not sure where to start? Contact us and we’ll help you navigate the waters of employee social media use.

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Know the 6 Types of Email That Deliver Success

Know the 6 Types of Email That Deliver Success

In order for a business or organization to thrive, it needs to stay in touch with its customers and prospects. Email marketing is the most effective tool for staying top of mind and ahead of competitors, and it’s important to know the six types of emails that deliver success to achieve both.

Successful marketing campaigns can empower people to take immediate action from making a purchase, signing a pledge, to taking a survey. The statistics show many of us favor email as a communication tool and welcome the daily or weekly communication we receive from the brands, businesses and organizations we know and love. Spammers need not apply.

Your emails should be visually appealing, relate to your audience, and optimized for mobile. An understanding of your subscribers’ needs is also important. If the content is relevant to them, the return on your time developing an email campaign will result in increased revenue and repeat business.

Email marketing delivers the highest ROI (about $44 per dollar spent, on average) of any digital marketing tactic. (SEO is second, and banner ads have the lowest ROI.) (Mark the Marketer)

Here are six types of emails that help you deliver success:

1. NEWSLETTER

What’s new with your business or organization? Keep everyone updated through a newsletter. Topics to consider include upcoming events, a recap of a past events with photos, current promotions or sales, new hires, new products or services, and any recent media attention brought to your brand.

You may even just want to send out an email with one message such as a holiday greeting, special announcement, press release, or letter from the company executive.

The key to creating a great newsletter, especially if you have a lot of announcements, is to make it easy to read and attractive. Constant Contact’s Toolkit offers a variety of newsletter templates.

2. PROMOTIONAL

If you’re offering a product or service promotion, you could create an email with the information and also offer coupon codes for an in-store discount. Your customers can print the coupon directly from the email. It will encourage new customers to sign up for emails, drive traffic to your website, and give you a bigger and more receptive customer base to send news and information.

You can also offer online coupons that are trackable, redeemable and sharable through email, the web, and social media. Whatever kind of promotion you’re running, email marketing is a great way to spread the word.

3. BLOG POST

In order to build buzz for your blog and increase readership, you should be actively promoting every post, via an email. inBLOOM sends weekly emails to our contacts highlighting our latest blog posts. We give a brief overview of the post, include the main image hyperlinked to the post and provide a call to action such as “read it here.” In Constant Contact, we keep track of our open and click-through rates, also taking note of which blog topics attract the most interest.

4. EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT / REGISTRATION

Event announcements commit people early. Before you send out an email with online registration, you can send an event announcement or save-the-date to let people know the who, what, where and when, so they can plan on attending. Constant Contact offers several templates for this purpose. Sending an event announcement to your contacts is the most important way to promote your event, along with social media promotions, print and online event calendars and advertisements.

Online registration for an event saves a lot of time and keeps you organized. It’s convenient for both you and your guests. Through Constant Contact’s online registration, all responses are organized as received. What’s great about the online registration is that it’s available 24/7 so if someone decides they want to register at midnight, they can do so. And it also means that you can log in and manage the event at any time. All the information you need is collected in one central location so you can stay organized, which is key to planning any successful event.

5. SURVEY / FEEDBACK

Turn your communications into conversations: send online surveys through emails or social media to get feedback and segment your audience. In Constant Contact, you can create surveys with a customizable survey template that includes sample questions or you can start with a blank survey. Surveys will give you ideas for new products and services, and provide you with a deeper understanding of what it takes to satisfy and keep your valued customers.

If you’ve just hosted an event, send out a thank you email to those who attended. Create a survey to get feedback on key insights such as the event venue, timing, food, entertainment, interests, and demographics. You can also include a newsletter sign-up, so those not subscribed have the chance to opt in.

Looking to get rates and reviews for your online listings sites? Ask, and you will receive! Constant Contact has both feedback and review email templates to keep things simple for you. If you have you’re on any business listing sites, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo or Angie’s List, you can share a direct link to the listing page. You can also ask your customers to share feedback and experiences with you in order to improve your customer service.

6. FUNDRAISING

Through email marketing, you can promote your organization’s fundraising campaign and collect donations instantly. Constant Contact has an email template where you can create a donation page, linked through a third party service provider, to raise money for your cause. There is a fee for this service, but that’s pretty much the norm with any online fundraising tool.

Set a default donation, goal amount, and most importantly, let people know why you’re raising money. You can share your donation campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

As a Constant Contact Solution Provider, inBLOOM is offering a 60-day trial so you’ll be able to get hands-on experience with the email marketing software. You are now able to email up to a 100 contacts during the trial.

Register for the Constant Contact Toolkit here.

Have any questions or comments about email marketing? Feel free to comment on this post or contact us.

If you found this blog helpful, also check out…

4 Ways to Get Better Results with Email

5 Tips for Running a Better Business Survey

Tips and Tools for Using Constant Contact to Promote Your Events

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4 Reasons Why You Should Be Tweeting

4 Reasons You Should Be Tweeting

Have you ever attended a networking event where you felt the excitement in the air? You eagerly moved around the room making small talk and swapping business cards. You made the most of your time introducing yourself and your services. You hopefully also did a lot of listening.

This process is similar to the excitement I experience daily on Twitter, but without the business attire and handshake.

Following thought leaders, starting or jumping in conversations, listening, sharing knowledge, and taking action are key strategies to successfully networking on Twitter. Like any in-person cocktail party or conference, you can use Twitter to get ahead in your career.

Yes, Twitter can be a powerful and exciting space if you understand its benefits and how to harness its potential. Everyone should carve out time to tweet.

Every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter, which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year. Surely, a few of these tweets resonate with you and can help you to succeed in business?

In order to tweet with a target, set goals for your time tweeting and have a purpose for spending the 20 minutes to one-hour a day on the social networking site. At a cocktail party, you wouldn’t watch from afar as people communicated, so don’t waste your precious time on Twitter pushing out content without purpose or watching from the sidelines.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before getting started.

Do you have a story or recent news to share? Then you’ll want to focus your efforts on getting to know the media on Twitter and connecting with them. Read our blog for more on this topic.

Maybe you’re looking to connect with like-minded experts in your industry and learn how to position your business or organization? Twitter is a great resource for research.

Or maybe you want to grow revenue via Twitter. Yes, it can be done. You need to be strategic when tweeting like any marketing campaign. Attract others with professional content in the form of blogs, infographics, pictures, special offers and contests. People relate to a good story, creativity and an approach that resonate on personal and emotional levels, not hard sales tactics. Same goes for your approach in person or on social media.

No matter how you use the tool, connect with people who add value to your life and help you to further your professional or personal goals.

Here are four reasons you should be tweeting.

1. TO KEEP UP WITH LATEST INDUSTRY TRENDS

Twitter is a great place to stay on top of relevant news and trends in your industry. Follow thought leaders, trade publications, groups, reporters, editors and news sites for updates that can help you gain a sense of your relevance in the world. You won’t know what you have to offer others until you know their wants and needs.

2. TO INCREASE SEARCH RANKINGS

Social media marketing and SEO are two tightly integrated strategies for increasing your search rankings. Both are organic, inbound strategies that focus on building an appealing identity that naturally attract visitors. Since social media relies on high-quality content and a visible, strong brand presence, the efforts you spend on SEO can improve your social media reach.

The total number of followers and connections your social media profiles contain does have a significant influence on your rankings. A company with 100 Twitter followers won’t receive nearly the ranking bonus of a mega-corporation with a million Facebook likes and a million Twitter followers.

Don’t despair if you have a low number of followers on Twitter though because by participating in the conversation on the site and using it as a networking and sales tool are more important. Concentrate less on numbers and communicate more with your Twitter followers.

3. TO ENGAGE THE MEDIA

According to ING’s 2014 Social Media Impact survey, 57% of journalists consider social media to be ideal for contacting PR professionals and vice versa. Use Twitter to build relationships with journalists and bloggers to gain a better understanding of what they write about, when they need resources, and how they prefer to work with you.

According to a 2014 report from the Indiana University School of Journalism, 40% of journalists said social media networks are very important to their work. Twitter was the most popular type of social media used by journalists, and over half of those surveyed said they regularly use the platform for gathering information and reporting stories.

 4. SELF-PROMOTION

Although you shouldn’t excessively tweet about yourself, Twitter is a great tool to promote your blog content, news, videos and events every so often. When you tweet about yourself or your business, do it in a way that entertains and educates. If it’s your latest blog post, avoid saying things like “Check out my latest blog post about……” or “My business is hosting this great event next week – you should check it out.” Let them know what you’re tweeting about and how it will benefit them, then link to your post or event.

Overall, your tweets should include a healthy mix of self-promotion, conversation, information sharing, etc. Make all your Twitter updates interesting and useful. Share links to articles and blog posts you enjoy. Retweet interesting updates. Join conversations and answer questions. Twitter success is rooted in conversations and reciprocal relationships.

If you need help managing your Twitter account, advice on what you should be tweeting or tips for building relationships on social networks, feel free to comment on this post. Connect with inBLOOM on Twitter @inBLOOMbuzz.

Resources:

6 Social Media Practices That Boost SEO, Forbes

Twitter Usage Statistics, Internet Live Stats

photo by Viktor Hanacek 

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4 Ways to Get Better Results with Email

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What makes us read one email and dump another? Is it possible to get better results with a few simple changes to your email? Yes and the new year is your perfect opportunity to get the opens and clicks you need to build your business and nurture those customer relationships.

Recent data shows that email continues to play a big role in our lives despite social media advances. We get our news and learn about the events and products that enhance our lives by email. It’s also a lifeline for work, alerting us to new projects, client or customer needs, and the conversations that are essential to courting and working with clients and colleagues.

If you’re using a marketing tool like Constant Contact to send and track your email, you’ll find these tips helpful to get better results:

1. Target Your Message

Before you even begin writing and designing your email, think about the message you’re trying to get across. What is your goal for sending the email? Are you trying to get more views on your blog post? If you’re holding an event, are you trying to generate more ticket sales? Maybe you’re simply creating buzz for your business or updating folks on recent news. Once you determine your goal, targeting your message will be a lot easier.

You may want to target specific audiences by sending separate emails to segmented lists. For instance, you could create two promotional emails with slightly different messages for lists of regular customers and new customers.

In Constant Contact, you can check the email stats to see how many people in each segmented list opened your emails. If one list did better than others, consider changing your wording or design and try again in the next round for that specific group that didn’t do so well.

 2. Create a Compelling, Attractive Design

In Constant Contact, you can choose among a variety of attractive templates. Whether it be a newsletter, announcement, promotion, survey or event registration, Constant Contact has got you covered. Get tips and tools on using the Constant Contact Toolkit for events and registration.

But even though these templates handle the layout, you still need to be creative when choosing the right font, color scheme, images, header, and footer.  The ideal size for a header image is 600 pixels wide and no more than 200 pixels tall. We recommend your header include your logo with your company tagline and services. It’s a good idea to hyperlink your website with your header. For example, here is inBLOOM’s header.

 

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Even if you use different templates, keep a consistent look with your company’s emails. Stick with the same font, color scheme, header, and footer. That way, you’ll establish a consistent look for your email marketing campaigns – people will know it’s from you just by looking at the design.

As visual creatures, we know the importance of images, but try not to overload your email with too many – one might be plenty. Stick with high-resolution photos that have something to do with your message. If you must use a stock photo, choose one that’s not so boring.

Avoid creating image-only emails, as delivery problems, often occur. However, there are templates in Constant Contact you could use to send emails that focus on an image.

 3. Use Enticing Subject Lines

The subject of your email is a major factor in whether or not it will be opened, trashed or marked as spam. Similar to a blog post or news article, the headline needs to be good or else it’s less likely to be read. So the million dollar question is: how do you write an enticing subject line that will get the recipient to open your email?

The length of your subject line matters – keep it short, simple and descriptive. We recommend no more than 5-8 words or 40 characters. Many email providers will cut off subject lines with greater than 60 characters.

Here’s an email from The New York Times that captured my attention right away!

 

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Most importantly, the subject line should draw the recipient’s attention and spark their curiosity. Will they benefit from opening the email? Does it interest them? Is it relevant to their life in some way? Even ask yourself, would I open this email I was them? Add value before the email is even opened with a specific, personalized subject line.

Sadly, your audience won’t see your email if it ends up in the dreaded spam folder. To avoid this nightmare, stay away from spam-like characteristics in your subject line. Common characteristics include phrases like be amazed, your income, subject to credit approval; writing in all caps; excessive use of punctuation marks like!!! or ???; and excessive symbols like $$$.

Tip: Use Constant Contact’s Spam Checker while previewing your email. The Spam Checker is a content-filtering tool that can help increase email delivery rates before you actually send to your contacts. It uses a mix of Constant Contact and SpamAssasin content-matching rules to assess the spam potential in the body, header (including subject line), and footer of your email and has no relation to spam complaints that may be reported when your email is received.

4. Write Words that Work

Research reveals how a single word makes all the difference. Write in everyday language that resonates with your audience. The words, which you use in your subject lines, headers, calls-to-action and body copy, can change your email’s meaning, mood, and motivation.

Check out Buffer’s Big List of 189 Words That Convert: Write Copy That Gets Your Customer’s Attention Every Time for more on the power of words.

In the book, “Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear”, Frank Luntz reveals that 80 percent of our life is emotion, and only 20 percent is intellect. Luntz frequently tests word and phrase choices using focus groups and interviews to learn the words people use. Referencing Orwell’s “Essay On Language”, he adds it’s important as to write with absolute clarity, to be succinct, to explain what the event is, to talk about what triggers something happening, and to do so without any disapproval. In summary, write for your people and in their words to guarantee they open your email.

To get started sending emails that get better results, you can start by signing up for a free trial of Constant Contact. Have questions along the way, comment on this blog and we’ll be in touch.

photo: Viktor Hanacek, PicJumbo

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10 Things To Do To Organically Reach Your Audience on Facebook

10 Things To Organically Reach Your Audience on Facebook

Fall is event season and it’s fast approaching. Those weekend trips to the beach will surely be missed, but we’re looking forward to planning lots of exciting events for our clients. We’ll be doing a lot of promoting, which means plugging away on social media like crazy.

You may have noticed that in recent months events are becoming a bit difficult to promote on the number one social network, Facebook. This is due to Facebook’s organic reach decline, all Page posts are becoming less visible in your fans’ News Feeds, which means fewer clicks, comments and shares.

If you managed a Facebook Page before 2012, you’ll remember how easy we had it as marketers. Basically, anyone could create a Page for their company or organization, get Fans, and post unlimited content without worrying if your audience would see it. Then in 2012, Facebook made it so only an average of 16% of people see Page posts in their News Feeds. Unfortunately, that fraction is now even smaller.

Over the past few years, Facebook has evolved into more of a paid marketing platform than an organic one and Page managers are realizing they’re now expected to pay for ads to reach their Fans. There are approximately 1,500 stories competing against one another to appear in a person’s News Feed and Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes only about 300 of them. But when you pay to boost your posts, it will surely get to your Fan’s News Feeds. Although you can get some fantastic results with advertising on Facebook, it doesn’t come cheap. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations often have no budget beyond the cost to hire a social media manager, so it’s up to us to be creative without paid advertising in order to get you noticed and shared.

There are ways to get around Facebook’s declining organic reach and still be seen while maintaining an ad-free presence. We’ve gotten creative and found that you can do a few things in order to keep your Fans seeing your posts.

1. Engage your audience with relevant content.

Facebook knows that your Fans don’t want to be spammed, which is why the News Feed is designed to show content most relevant to users. This means higher-quality, original content from both friends and business pages, and less spam than in the past. The number one thing to do in order to reach your audience is post things that are interesting and relevant, specifically to them. There’s a reason they’ve liked your page, right? It’s because they know you and want to see information about your business and things related to your industry.

For our client Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts, we post photos of guests enjoying their visits at daycare, news about upcoming events, promotions, retail products and services, blog posts, and holidays/stories/news related to pets. These posts are relevant and interesting to the Fans, and most likely what they expected to see when they decided to like the page.

2. Post content that you know your audience will share.

Feel your audience out to see what content gets the most engagement. Check out how many shares your posts receive and then determine what kind of posts win over your Fans enough that they’ll want to share them with friends. Visual content such as photos and videos tend to get shared a lot. You can also be consistent with something that you know is interesting to your Fans.

Every day, Alex and Ani posts a graphic with an inspirational quote and uses the hashtag #motivationnation. These posts get thousands of shares! They know their strategy works, so they’re consistent with it. When your content is shared, you reach people beyond your audience, introducing new users to your page. Posting shareable content is a great way to organically broaden your audience.

3. Post when your Fans are online.

This might be a tough one to figure out off the top of your head, especially if you have a large fan base with people living in different locations. According to Social Media Today, Fannit, a Certified Inbound Marketing Agency, conducted a study to find the best times for posting on the most popular social media outlets.

Fannit found the best times to post on Facebook are weekdays at 6:00-8:00 a.m. and 2:00-5:00 p.m. The worst times to post are weekends at 10:00 p.m.-4:00 a.m. You can apply this information to your own Page and see if it works for you. It’s also helpful to use Facebook Insights to get statistics. When you go to Insights, click on “People” and you can see the location of your Fans. This will help you determine if you need to take time zones into consideration. Also, go to “Posts” and then click on “When Your Fans Are Online.” The data shows the number of your Fans on Facebook at every hour over a 1-week period. 

4. Use Facebook Insights to learn what works and doesn’t work for your page.

Track the success of your content with Insights. Facebook Insights will pretty much give you all the information you can possibly want to know about your Fans, people reached, people engaged, post engagement and reach, likes, visits and more. In Insights under “Overview” click on “Your 5 Most Recent Posts.” Then you can review statistics for all posts published over the last three months to find out what’s received the most engagement and reach.

5. Reach out to businesses and organizations that may be interested in sharing your information.

Get mentioned in a post by another business or organization and your Page could show up in the News Feeds of users who don’t already like your Page. Send a friendly message to Pages you’ve established a relationship with and ask their page manager to spread the word about an event you’re having or even just promote your Page.

Keep in mind, it’s best to only contact those you already have a relationship with in order to avoid spamming.  You may even want to mention the possibility of cross promotion and offer to share anything they’d like to promote.

Our client EarthShare New Jersey just held the “Best and Beautiful NJ Summer” Photo Facebook Contest where participants submitted photos of their favorite park, beach, waterway, hiking trail, garden or just about any space they felt was the best place to enjoy New Jersey this summer. In order to get the word out, we contacted EarthShare New Jersey’s members and business partners, via Facebook and Twitter, with the details and link to the contest and kindly asked them to share the information. A few places that shared the contest included AARP, Visit New Jersey and TerraCycle.

6. Share posts, photos and events from other pages.

Skim over your News Feed frequently to see if there’s anything to share from Pages you’ve liked or visit Pages you already know post content you’re interested in. Sharing content from others will help you reach new people who haven’t already liked your Page and also establish relationships with other Pages. Look for content that has a lot of shares and likes as well. If the posts are popular on another Page, it might be a home run on your account, too.

7. Create events and invite friends.

Whenever you’re holding an event, be sure to list it on Facebook under the “Events” tab on your Page. You can invite your own personal Facebook friends, keep track of guests and send updates and messages to attendees. This is a great way to promote any event and it’s easy for others to share. If a person wants to post about the event on their page, they just click “Invite” and “Share Event.” You can also share the link to the event as well.

8. Remind your Fans they can click to view their “Pages Feed.”

On the left hand side of the News Feed it says “Pages Feed” with a little orange flag next to it. When users click on that, they’ll only see content from Pages they’ve liked. This option is great because it removes all posts from friends, so content from your Page has a much better chance of being seen.

9. Encourage Fans to “Get Notifications” from your Page.

When a user likes your Page, they have the option to get notifications from you. When you hover over the “Like” button on your Page you’ll see the “Get Notifications” option. When a Fan chooses to get notifications, they’ll get notified each time you post something. Your Page notifications will show up in the notification tab, just as any other activity would.

10. Inform Fans about the “Add to Interest List” option.

Also listed when you hover over the “Like” button on your Page is the option to “Add to Interest List.” Interest lists provide ways for people to organize and view the content they’re interested in. They can create their own interest lists based on the things they care about, or follow other people’s lists.

For example, a person could create a Top Restaurants list that features restaurant Pages. These lists also appear in the Interests section of a person’s bookmarks. They can click the list’s name to see all the recent posts and activity from the Pages and people featured in the list. It’s like a personal mini News Feed targeted toward specific topics. When your page is added to an Interest List, all your updates will appear in that mini News Feed.

Though frustrating at first, once you understand and use the tips above for engaging and building your “Likes” on Facebook, your business will benefit tremendously. You’ll be working harder, but you’ll also get to know your fans better and then be able to move them down the sales funnel.

And if you’re hiring a social media manager to assist you with your marketing, you can use our tips above to ask them questions and gauge if they truly understand the efforts that go into building an audience with no advertising dollars. We also hope you will consider making social media advertising a part of your budget in 2015 because the benefits of utilizing the tips above and advertising your services and events on Facebook will translate into revenue.

If you’re interested in hiring inBLOOM for your social campaign, contact us to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

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5 Tips for Running a Successful Business Survey

5 Tips To Running a Successful Business Survey

As a student at Quinnipiac University, everyone I meet asks two questions. The first question is how Quinnipiac is pronounced, to which I typically answer ‘whatever way you can’. (It is in fact pronounced KWIN-uh-pe-ack.) The second is if I work at the polling institute. While Quinnipiac is known locally for it’s outstanding academics and beautiful campus, it is known nationally for its Quinnipiac Poll.

The Quinnipiac Poll is a national poll that surveys the public on a variety of topics. Unofficially beginning in 1988 as a project for a marketing course, it has now blossomed into an important nationwide poll. The statistics from the polls have been cited by multiple major news outlets including Fox News, CNN and The Washington Post. However, polling is not solely used for coast-to-coast political questioning.

Surveying and polling are crucial for hundreds of companies. In order to sustain successful relationships, surveys are used by companies of all sizes to gain insightful feedback from clients and customers. This feedback is vital for the businesses that need to keep their customers happy. If their service is not up to standards, the public will be the first to let the business know. When the customers are happy, the polls and surveys will show that. There are more to these surveys than just yes or no answers. It can affect the influx of new customers as well.

Many people base their opinions on the opinions of others. It’s human nature to want to agree with others who may have more knowledge of a subject than you. This can severely affect a business. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire. If someone fills out a survey because they are unhappy, it is almost guaranteed that they will tell a friend about the bad service. This starts a snowball effect that can put a company in hot water. An example of this can be seen in one of Quinnipiac’s poll latest survey.

A recent Quinnipiac poll of adult Ohio natives showed that over 60% of the natives are happy that future Hall-of-Fame player, LeBron James is back with the team. LeBron had left his home state team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, to go play for the Miami Heat for three seasons. The initial departure from Cleveland left Ohio in a state of sports-induced chaos. The backlash from fans led many to burn their LeBron James jerseys. However, this seems to be all but forgotten by Ohioans, as fans scramble to find ways to “un-burn” their jerseys. It seems that even non-sports fans are excited about their homegrown talent returning. James’s ‘favorable’ rating went from a bleak 19% to an overwhelming 62%.

Just like LeBron James wants to be liked by fans, corporations want the majority, if not all of the public on their side. Through surveying and polling of their customers, happy or unhappy, these businesses can adhere to what the public wants and needs. As long as the customer or client is happy, the polls will show it.

Here are 5 Tips for Running A Successful Business Survey:

1. Know What You’re Asking… and Ask It Clearly

The first step to any effective survey is to know EXACTLY what you are looking for. Once your business understands what it wants, word it in a way the general public will understand. Limit the jargon because those who choose to engage in the survey should know exactly what is being asked of them.

2. A Little Goes A Long Way

A long survey is a boring survey. The easiest way to make sure that your survey is completed with accurate answers is to keep questions simple and short. Surveys that drag-on tend to have the “random clicking” effect. This is when the person being surveyed is losing interest in the subject rapidly and chooses random answers.

3. Remember Who You Want Answers From

If you are trying to ask college students or milleniums about what they would most like from your business, do not ask them through traditional mail. Know whom you are targeting and position the survey to be most accessible to them. Rather than go through a mailbox or email, try asking students through social media.

4. Consistent Questions Keep It Easy

If your first question is a scale from 1 to 5, keep the rest of the questions uniform. It makes keeping track of the statistics that much easier and those being surveyed don’t have to put more thought into answering than necessary.

5. Test It

Test it first with employees.  Your employees should be able to check for spelling mistakes, grammar miscues, etc. They will also be able to tell you if the survey is worth sending to the public.

We wish you the best of luck on launching your first business survey. If you are considering sending a survey by email, we recommend using Constant Contact’s Survey Tool. It has many templates to choose from and offers an easy and quick solution for surveying your email contacts and customers.

Have questions or want to share your experiences running surveys with us, please comment on this blog.

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Tips & Tools for Using Constant Contact to Promote Your Events

Tips & Tools for Using Constant Contact to Promote Your Event

Open for business and eager to get a crowd through your doors? You may use social media, email and your website to get the word out but there is now a tool that can combine all of your efforts.

Constant Contact’s new Toolkit can help you maintain sanity in this fast-paced world of online marketing. The product organizes your email contacts, registers guests for events, runs offers and promotions, surveys your customers, and shares your updates on social media. It does all this in one simple dashboard that you can easily access from your phone, tablet or computer.

Whether you’re hosting an open house, product launch, seminar, workshop, class, conference, fundraiser, or networking event, the Constant Contact Toolkit is a great tool for both event promotion and registration. You can send a save-the-date, create an event announcement email that includes online registration and a questionnaire, analyze data, and so much more.

Here are inBLOOM’s ten tips and tools for using the Constant Contact Toolkit for events and registration:

1. Event announcements commit people early. 

Before you send out an email with online registration, you can send an event announcement / save-the-date  to let people know the who, what, where and when so they can plan on attending. Constant Contact offers several templates to choose from, so based on the type of event you’re holding you might want to choose one over the other.  Sending an event announcement to your contacts is the most important way to promote your event, along with social media promotions, print and online event calendars and advertisements.

2. Online registration is convenient for you and your guests.

Through Constant Contact’s online registration, all responses are organized automatically, so you don’t need to manually keep track of the attendees. What’s great about the online registration is that it’s available 24/7 so if someone decides they want to register at midnight, they can do so. And it also means that you can log in and manage the event at any time. All the information you need is collected in one central location so you can stay organized, which is key to planning any successful event.

3. Build event buzz among friends by social proofing.

With the online registration tool, registrants have the option to share and inform other registrants that they’re attending. Allowing people to see who else is attending will increase the likelihood they will attend as well. There is also an option to allow the registrants to share the event on their social networks. This is a convenient way for them to spread the word. All of this creates social proofing – the perfect way to build buzz for an event!

4. Avoid embarrassing situations by limiting the number of registrants.

Have you ever held an event and too many people attended? When this happens, it can be exciting because you know you’re event is a hit, but at the same time it can create problems. Situations like this occur for a few reasons. For example, your venue may have capacity constraints; a workshop instructor may only be able teach a certain amount of people; and your budget may only allow for catering for a certain head count. With the online registration tool, you can close an event automatically after the set maximum amount of people have registered. The number will even include both registrants and their guests (if guests are allowed). Or, if you have a deadline registration date, you have the option to close on that date.

5. Charge people to attend your event for better results. 

Believe it or not, the cost of your event actually has little influence on your audience’s decision to attend your event. In a study of over 200,000 event declines, Constant Contact set out to find the reasons why the invitees didn’t attend. For 50% it was a date/time conflict, 29% it was some other reason, 10% it was the location, and for just 0.01% it was the cost. What this shows is that you shouldn’t be afraid to charge for your event. Those who pay in advance are less likely to be no shows come the day of the event, so it’s better to collect payment ahead of time. With the Constant Contact Toolkit you can give your registrants the option to pay when they register online. Payment methods include credit card and PayPal. You can also offer a discount code.

6. Connect your social network with an event hashtag.

When creating your event campaign, you can create a hashtag which will help you connect live tweets to the event. Registrants will see the hashtag in their confirmation email and if they tweet about the event, they can include the hashtag. When you tweet the event from within Constant Contact, the hashtag will auto-populate in the box. Don’t forget to use the hashtag on Instagram as well to build the buzz with fun pics that excite people about the event.

7. Track event interest with Google Analytics. 

When you link Google Analytics to your event campaign, you can see where the traffic to your event landing page is coming from, learn if and where prospects are falling out of your registration process, and collect geographical data on where your registrants are coming from. Simply input your Google Analytics Web Property ID and it will track all registration pages.

8. Brand your event with a custom registration form.

When you customize the registration form, you can edit the logo and design, and select the information you want to collect from your registrants. You can even decide what’s required for them to answer.  You can create badges within Constant Contact, so if you’ve decided you’re going to do that you can ask them to fill out the badge information, too. Want to know more about your registrants other than personal and business information? You can create custom questions that are either required or not required to answer.

9. Send a post-event thank you and survey. 

After the event is over, it’s important to send out a thank you email to those who attended. In Constant Contact, you can include a survey to get feedback on key insights such as the event venue, timing, food, entertainment, interests and demographics. You can also include a newsletter sign-up so those who aren’t already subscribed have the chance to do so.

10. Review event statistics and data. 

Now that your event is over and everyone is raving about what a success it was, you can analyze reports through the Constant Contact event management tool. You can identify shows and no-shows, review revenue or funds raised, and segment follow-up lists based on registration questions, activities participated in or behaviors. If you created an event hashtag, you can check out the social media activity that’s been tracked, and you’ll see the amount of tweets over time and at what time they were tweeted. Maybe a certain speaker stole the show or a specific moment had people excited. You’ll be able to identify the most popular portions of the event and see who your top participants were so you can start following and interacting with them on social media.

As a Constant Contact Solution Provider, inBLOOM is offering a 60 day trial so you’ll be able to get  hands-on experience using Toolkit to develop an event and registration campaign. Register for the Toolkit here.

You’re going to love it! Let us know what you think and leave a comment on this post.

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Get on Google Places for Business and Google+

Get on Google Places for Business and Google+

You’re spending the day in Red Bank, NJ and need to find some place to eat for dinner. You’re thinking some kind of Italian restaurant. Not too pricey, though. You type in the Google search bar “restaurants near Red Bank NJ” and hope for the best. Several listings appear so you skim through them. Basil T’s Brewery and Italian Grill might be a good one. Italian food, not too pricey, it has a great rating of 4.7 stars, and 309 reviews. Before you make your decision, you decide to check out those reviews.  For the most part, people have some excellent things to say about this place, and most of them have given 5 star ratings. Looks like you’ve found the place you’re going to eat tonight!

Ever gone through this process? You need to find a place to eat in a certain area you’re unfamiliar with so you search for it in Google and base your decision on the listings, their ratings and reviews? This is actually how many people make decisions on places to go for something specific. Looking for a bakery in NYC? Google it. How about a dog groomer near Jersey City, NJ? Go ahead and Google that too. You’ll see honest reviews, ratings, photos, business information and website show up right away in the search results. That is, of course, if the business is listed on Google Places for Business and Google+.

Google Places for Business and Google+ are managed on the Google My Business dashboard.  The single dashboard makes it simple to make sure your local business information can be easily found across Google, including Maps, Search, and Google+. You can edit your business information, share updates, get insights on how people find your business, stay on top of reviews and manage multiple business listings all in one place. You can also use the Google My Business app to access the dashboard from your phone or tablet.

Here are inBLOOM’s 8 reasons to get on Google My Business:

1. GET FOUND WITH GOOGLE PLACES

When people go through the process of searching for a certain type of business, you’re going to want your business to show up and be the chosen one. We can’t stress enough the importance of creating a Google Places listing for your business. Be sure to maintain your business listing and keep it up to date with the correct information including address, phone number, and website. If a person shows up at the wrong address, you can expect some bad reviews and an unhappy potential customer. Your information will also appear in Maps, helping customers find directions to your business.

2. PEOPLE TRUST GOOGLE RATINGS AND REVIEWS

When it comes to your business, what people want to hear most of all is true, honest experiences from real people – plain and simple. The main goal is to have a high overall rating because that is what people will notice first when your listing shows up. But when it comes to the reviews, you want those negative remarks to keep at bay. Be sure to keep tabs of your reviews. Check often for any new ones and respond to them if necessary.

3. YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS A GOOGLE+ PAGE

Google+ has over 500 million users, however it’s still not getting as much buzz as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Pinterest. Even so, it still has so much to offer in terms of marketing your brand. If you’ve been ignoring Google+, you’re falling behind. Begin engaging now and get a head start before this platform starts blowing up and maybe even dominating the social world.

4. GOOGLE+ PAGES KEEPS YOU CONNECTED

On your Google+ Page you can share an update or start a conversation with customers, business and organizations. Customers can +1 and comment, giving you a direct connection to their feedback. You can bring your page to life by posting photos and videos about your business. Since Google owns YouTube, your business YouTube account syncs right up to your Google+ Page. There is even a tab so people can find your videos easily.

5. GOOGLE+ POSTS GET INDEXED QUICKER ON GOOGLE

Evidence suggests that active profiles doing well on Google+ get indexed quicker on the search engine. Status updates are indexed right into search results, increasing the possibility that your Google+ network will see your content in their search results. In addition, Google+ Pages show up on search engine results pages.

6. GET INSIGHTS ON YOUR CUSTOMERS

You can access Insights right from the Google My Business dashboard. With Insights, you can see how many times customers find your business on Google, and trends over time. You’ll also see the number of clicks, driving direction requests and website visits you receive. And you can track where customers are when they get directions to your business. This is a fantastic tool for understanding your audience and learning how successful Google My Business is with helping you get customers.

7. HOST WEBINARS AND BROADCASTS WITH GOOGLE HANGOUTS ON AIR

Here’s your chance to really get connected with your audience and potential customers. Use Google+ Hangouts On Air to host a live webinar or broadcast. Go live in HD on Google+, YouTube, and your website. Your webinar or broadcast will be recorded and automatically saved on your YouTube channel. The great thing is that it’s free and you don’t have a limit on how many people can view your Hangout On Air.

8. GOOGLE IS THE RULER OF SEARCH ENGINES

There’s no doubt that Google is the most used search engine in the world. As you know, if you’re using Google My Business, you’re likely to show up in the Google search results. This being said, you should still list your business on directories like Bing, Yelp and Yahoo; however, keep in mind that Google Places for Business and Google+ take priority.

If you’d like some assistance with creating and managing a Google Places for Business listing and Google+ Page, feel free to contact us. We’d be more than happy to help your business achieve success with Google My Business.

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The Scoop on Facebook: Changes to Pages and News Feed Algorithm

The Scoop on Facebook: Changes to Pages and News Feed Algorithm

We have some big news that you are going to want to hear. On June 13, all Facebook Pages will be automatically updated to the new design. Right now, Facebook is giving you the option to update now or stick with the old design for just a little longer. Facebook first made an announcement of the changes in March and has been slowly rolling it out since then. Pretty soon your Page will get a huge makeover. Are you prepared for what’s ahead?

The new look has many exciting design changes that will make an admin’s work easier when accessing tools and make navigation smoother for visitors. Here’s the scoop on the new features and the change in design:

CHANGES TO COVER AND PROFILE PHOTOS

The good news is, sizing is still the same. The profile photo is still 160 x 160 pixels and the cover photo is still 851 x 315 pixels. However, the profile photo is now moved up farther into the cover photo. You’ll need to adjust any text or important images under the profile photo.

The Like and Share buttons are now incorporated into the bottom portion of the cover photo, so you’ll need to remove any writing in the lower 65 pixels. If you’ve included you’re business or organization’s name in the cover, you should consider removing it since it also appears in the overlay, along with the Page category (make sure the category reflects what you do).

The overlay limits the amount of text space you have if you use a graphic for your cover. Maybe this is a way for Facebook to limit free advertising on the cover so more Pages will purchase ads? Very sneaky!

Underneath the cover photo is a clean design for the apps. In the old design the apps were images, now just text. You can choose which apps to display (i.e. Photos, Events, Likes). You can only choose three to display, where before it was four.

UPDATED PAGE TIMELINE DESIGN

Visually, the Page looks cleaner, as the design of the left and right columns make much more sense.  On the Timeline, the right-side column now displays all Page posts. This one-column display means that all posts will appear consistently on the Timeline and in the News Feed. The left-side column features information about the Page’s business, including a map, photos, video, hours of operation, phone number and website URL. What an improvement in terms of organization!

EASIER ACCESS FOR PAGE ADMINISTRATORS

No matter where admins are on the Page, they can now view information about the ads they are running and new likes on the Page, as well as unread notifications and messages. Facebook has added new navigation options to the top of the Page, making it easier to access activity, insights and settings. The Build Audience menu at the top of the Page offers direct access to the Ads Manager account.

NEWS FEED ALGORITHM CHANGE

Automated posts from third party apps will now get less visibility in the News Feed. These are implicit posts, which are posts that automatically go on your wall and in the News Feed of your friends via an app, without your direct control. However, posts that you share explicitly via third party apps will continue to get visibility in the News Feed and will receive priority over implicitly shared posts. Basically, Facebook users will start seeing less auto-posts from game apps and the likes.

As we all know, Facebook is constantly changing its design and algorithm. inBLOOM Communications will continue to monitor changes and share updates on our blog and social media pages. Have questions? Feel free to leave us a comment or contact us.

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