Tuesday, February 23, 2016 by Kevin WoodIf you do business in the online or the offline space, then you need to start collecting email addresses. With all of the marketing channels available email, has stood the test of time when it comes to building customer relationships. When it comes to doing business online your email list can be your biggest ally. A lot of business owners focus on page views, or building a social media following, instead of building their lists and talking to their email subscribers. Below we highlight why you need to build an email list, and the benefits of email marketing over other forms of online marketing.
Thursday, February 18, 2016 by Kevin WoodDo you know what it’s like to be a customer interacting with your business? Even the most empathic business owners might have a hard time with that question. A customer map helps to illuminate central touch points of interaction between the business owner and a customer. By having a deeper understanding of this process you’ll cultivate a deeper relationship with your customers. Deeper relationships turn into an easier sales process, a more custom-tailored marketing approach, and even the ability to predict your customers deep needs and desires. Below we’ll dive into what customer map actually is, and show you how you can create your very own.
What Is A Customer Map?A customer map isn’t a literal roadmap, but instead it’s more like a highlight reel. It breaks down the crucial moments of interaction you’re going to have with your customer, and tries to uncover potential objections and pain points that may cause the marketing process to derail. Your customer map doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. Usually, you’ll start with a simple map and build it out with time as you uncover more data through your analytics tools and marketing campaigns.
Common Customer Map ElementsMost customer maps contain the common touch points that are highlighted below. However, a lot of maps contain a lot more. It all depends on how complex your marketing and sales process is. Below we showcase the main customer map elements that will get you started.
1. Initial ContactThis touch point is one of the most crucial. This is when the customer first learns about your business. During this phase it’s crucial you make a good first impression. Your customer won’t have a lot invested at this stage, so it’s easier for them to break off the relationship before it’s had a chance to develop. There are multiple ways they can come in contact with your business, whether it’s through content marketing, a social media update, or even a direct visit to your website.
2. Customer ComparisonOnce they actually know you exist this is when your customer will begin shopping around for alternatives. They’ll read your blog posts and research your company, and they’ll also check out your competitors. This is where a blog can be truly valuable, as you can provide your customer with all of the necessary materials and information to sway the decision in your favor. This is the trust building phase. Lead with value to truly show your potential customer you care about the relationship.
3. Decision and ActionThe action phase is when they buy something from you, or take the desired action. You’ll want to make this part of the process as seamless as possible, so you avoid derailing the sale when you’re so close to the finish line. Just think about how seamless and easy it is to buy something from Amazon, all it takes is a single click and the item is en route to your house. How can you make your sales process seamless?
4. Business Follow-Up and RetentionAfter the customer has bought something from you it’s time to deepen the relationship with this customer, so they will continue to buy from you well into the future. After all, it’s cheaper to sell to an existing customer than to continue to acquire new leads. Customer retention is built on customer understanding, and by delivering consistent value. You can do this via multiple means, but some of the most common are through in-depth blog posts, email marketing, surveys, social media interaction, and even small gifts. Remember, your first iteration of your customer map will be rough. But, it’ll take shape with time as you collect more customer data and get feedback on your offerings. The tips above are just a starting point to building a framework that helps you define the most crucial points in your business-to-customer relationship.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016 by Alex IvanovsEach minute passes, several million Likes are recorded in the Facebook database, hundreds of thousands of shares, and comments too many to count. Facebook is a social networking giant, with more than a billion active monthly users, it does not come as a surprise that many business owners are turning to Facebook for new customer acquisition. In itself, Facebook is a huge social platform, but it's one thing to know how to share status updates between your friends, it's a completely different story when we're trying to promote our business. Though in the recent years this process has eased immensely, as more of the social platforms population has accepted the fact that Facebook Pages are a big part of the network, and many actually embrace the fact that businesses interact with their customers directly.
Start with the official Business guideFacebook Business is a real thing, and there's a specifically built page that discusses everything in and outside of Facebook Business and how you can take your Business to Facebook for interacting with your existing customers, as well as for acquiring new customers as you go. This page talks about news, tips and also success stories that anyone can learn from. It should be the absolute starting point for any business owner who wants to take his business venture to Facebook.
Let your friends and customers knowThe next step after reading the official Facebook Business guide is to actually setup your own Business Page, all of which is a step-by-step process and is self-explanatory most of the time. You want to fill in as much info about your Business as possible, not only to make sure that it's easy to find, but also to comfort people who are looking for a service just like yours. Restaurants come in many different forms, emphasize why you are different from the rest, and so forth.
"Comment as your page on other business pages and "like'' pages of your employees, companies near you if you have a physical location, businesses you are collaborating with or companies whose services or products you are using. Liked or tagged pages will often times return the favor and mention or like your page in return, which is free cross-promotion. Any pages you like with your own page can be displayed on the left hand side as vertical tab." - Christina BaldassarreAs soon as you have done all of that, it is time to put yourself out in the sunlight and generate some actual likes. First, you will want to send out an invite to your closest friends and people who made it all possible for you. You will also want to put some physical and digital badges around your business to let customers know that you exist on Facebook. People love to use the check-in feature for their favorite places, and this is a great way to attract more customers.
The best way to share on FacebookApart from everything else, a lot of your time on Facebook will be spent sharing posts and writing comments, it's inevitable. At first, it might seem like a good idea to share content as frequently as possible, to comment everywhere all at once, but that will only raise some serious red flags and might hurt your business in long-term. Facebook is a professional social platform, and you should always remember its do's and don'ts. If you're a restaurant, your main type of content that you're going to be sharing is going to be food related. With that in mind, be receptive of your customers and ask for their input on new dishes and ideas, place special offers for weekends, advertising special drink offers, you can even promote a set of tickets to a big game in town. You will find that many businesses are willing to do giveaways in exchange for likes, comments and shares, all of which automatically exposure your business to new people, thus new potential customers. In general, Facebook is a low-cost marketing platform, and if you want to experiment with reaching new audiences in new places, the best way to do is through Facebook Advertising. Reasonable prices and a sophisticated Advertising Platform guarantees results that will deliver on their promise.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016 by Kyler PattersonThere are over 28 million small businesses in America, accounting for 54% of all sales within the country. Yet more than half of them are missing out on billions of dollars, combined. If you have a small business, you know that every penny counts. Wouldn’t you do anything within reason to get yourself a leg up on your competition? If at least half of small businesses aren’t doing this one simple thing, then you have a solid chance of bringing in more sales than your competitor down the street, simply by doing it. This one thing brought in over $250 Billion (in the first 3 quarters of 2015 alone). If you don’t have it, then you’re clearly missing out. What is that one thing? Having a website. Simple, right? Well yes and no. That dollar amount quoted above was just for ecommerce sales within the United States. So if your business isn’t online in some manner, then yes - you missed out on your slice of that pie. Think about how much time you spend online (you’re reading this article online, for example). You’re likely on some form of social media for hours each day; maybe even doing some of your own shopping online. Point being that you’re online already, so why not spend a small portion of that time getting your business online? With a website, you’d likely be able to grab a share of all that money spent online last year. And while you could sell your stuff through eBay, Etsy, or the like, it doesn’t provide you the chance to really create your own brand on the web. You may not become the next Amazon, but if you could just bring in a few more sales, then why wouldn’t you at least try it? Now, you may be saying that you’ve thought about having your own website before, but it’s just too hard or too expensive. And that may have been true - in the 90s. But with today’s technologies, you could actually have a website online within the hour and for only a few bucks. It’s true. Conversely, you may think that a Facebook page alone may suffice, or Yelp, Twitter, or whatever other free online service of choice. While that may be a great start for your online presence, it shouldn’t be the pillar of it. What if the platform were to vanish tomorrow? Or your page gets removed for breaking some random clause in the terms of service? Having your own website allows you to actually own your piece of the web. If you’re bringing people to your Facebook page, you’re essentially building Facebook more for them. You can’t really do much with that audience outside of that platform. On the other hand, if you attract that traffic to your own website, you have their attention on something you own. Plus, if you’re interested in any online marketing, it looks a lot better to send them to your own site versus a Yelp page. At HostGator, you could get started for just $5.56* per month. With that, you receive everything you need to claim your spot of the Internet. Without boring you too much, here are some of the features you’d get when signing up with HostGator.
- Domain Name - A domain name is essentially the virtual sign for your website. It tells people who you are and how to access you. We’ve got some tips on choosing a good domain that can help you come up with ideas.
- Website Hosting - Your website needs to live somewhere on the web. Just like you need somewhere for your customers to come to your store. Hosting is the space you’re renting online at which your website will live.
- Website Building Software - If you can use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) then you can build a website with our Weebly website builder. It’s a drag and drop tool that you use to design and publish your website. If you need a little more functionality, then you can install WordPress (used by 23% of the top 10 million websites) with one click and customize it as much as you’d like.
- Customized Emails - If people are contacting your or your business, what do you think looks more professional? email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org? With customized emails, you can create any email address under your domain name (email@example.com, for example).
- $200 in Advertising Credit - You need to get people to your website. If you’re just starting out online, then people won’t know to find you immediately. To help you with this, HostGator provides $100 in Google Adwords and $100 in Yahoo!/Bing credit.
- Helpful Support - You’re not alone when it comes to your website. Our staff is here 24/7 to help you. If you have questions about signup, or even if it’s 2 am and accidentally cause an error on your site, we’re here to take care of it. Don’t believe us? Give us a call right now to see if we pick up. 1-866-96-GATOR. We can even walk you through signup and familiarize you with any of the tools necessary to build your site.
Thursday, January 21, 2016 by Kevin WoodWhen it comes to blogging there are so many different types of content for you to choose from. Some will resonate with your audience more than others. However, there is one style of content can actually send you traffic for years to come. All you have to do is invest the initial time in creating it. What is this valuable style of content? It’s called evergreen content. In this post we’ll dive into what evergreen content is, and why your content strategy needs to include posts of this nature.
What Exactly Is Evergreen Content?Evergreen content is content that remains useful to your audience year after year. It’s not based around trends, or news. It tackles a core issue that your audience faces, that’s going to remain relevant. Evergreen content is the style of post you bookmark and come back to time and time again, because it’s so valuable. There’s so much good information within you wouldn’t feel cheated if you had to pay for it. Evergreen content is timeless and won’t fade away. You might have to update these posts over time, as new information becomes available. But, usually they’ll stand the test of time without any massive changes. Evergreen content is incredibly valuable. When you first publish a post of this nature you should do what you can to create attention around it. As the more initial attention it receives the more likely you will cement its evergreen status. This piece of content is usually the definitive guide on the subject matter. It’s very in-depth and covers the topic from every angle. These posts are usually incredibly long, and can often get into five figure word counts. Depending on your industry even a content piece that’s valuable for a year or two can still be considered evergreen. It all depends on the speed at which your industry moves.
Why You Need To Include Evergreen ContentSo, now that you know what evergreen content is, you might be wondering what makes it so valuable? After all, this kind of post will take a lot of time to create. Below you’ll find the three main reasons evergreen content needs to play a role in your content strategy.
1. Gets Higher Search Engine RankingsSince evergreen content is very-high quality and tends to have a high word count, it tends to rank very highly in the search engines. Some research suggests that longer content is actually valued by the search engines. This also means you’ll want to ensure this content focuses around a few high traffic keywords in your niche.
2. Generates Leads Over TimeSince these posts will be ranking highly and receiving a large amount of traffic you should properly optimize these posts to collect leads. These posts can bring you a steady stream of leads for a long time without you having to do any additional work beyond the initial publishing and promotion.
3. These Are High Traffic PostsSince evergreen content tends to rank higher in the search engines, this means these posts can be responsible for a lot of website traffic. Once these posts rank highly they tend to stay, since they are often the definitive pieces of content on the topic. This means this kind of post will send your site a high volume of traffic even a long while after you published the post. Evergreen content will work for your business a long time after it’s originally published. To make your blog a timeless resource make sure you included posts that will serve your audience for years to come.