SteamFeed http://www.steamfeed.com Marketing, Social Media, Technology, SEO, Business, and Blogging Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:25:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 Top 10 Best and Worst Email Marketing Strategies… and Why You Should Care! http://www.steamfeed.com/top-10-best-worst-email-marketing-strategies-care/ http://www.steamfeed.com/top-10-best-worst-email-marketing-strategies-care/#respond Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:25:32 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26984 Regardless of what you may hear, email marketing is still a very effective technique for most businesses. In fact, it’s probably among the most effective tools in your marketing toolbox. For one thing, since emails are targeted for specific members of your audience, chances are good that the “right” people receive your business’ messages. This […]

Author information

Jamie Teasdale

Founder & Lead Strategist at Plan Promote Prosper

Jamie Teasdale is a business growth advocate and strategist who is passionate about supporting small businesses in their quest to effectively communicate with their target market. Focusing on content marketing (inbound and outbound) and brand messaging, Jamie's company Plan Promote Prosper assists companies who recognize the value of strategic and consistent content marketing through blogging, email marketing and social media engagement, and the impact it makes toward positive SEO.

Planning a content marketing strategy is no small endeavor and should be done each year. Jamie and her team make it easy and affordable. Plan Promote Prosper offers eight white-labeled content marketing products and services that are sought after by leading marketing companies, web firms, copywriters and social managers. Jamie's office is located in downtown Portland, Oregon. In her spare time, Jamie enjoys painting, traveling and spending time with friends and family.

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Email SendRegardless of what you may hear, email marketing is still a very effective technique for most businesses. In fact, it’s probably among the most effective tools in your marketing toolbox. For one thing, since emails are targeted for specific members of your audience, chances are good that the “right” people receive your business’ messages. This is especially true when compared to the “spray and pray” activities seen with some social media marketing tactics.

As with all marketing techniques, you must start with a strategy! Half the battle is getting the right emails in front of the right people. Otherwise, you’re no better off than the social media “spammers.” The last thing you want is for your emails to be categorized in your recipients’ spam folders. Or worse…for you and your email server to end up on “blacklists” because people think YOU are a spammer and report you.

This article touches on various email marketing strategies: the good, the bad…and yes, the ugly.

  • What is a “blacklist,” and why you must avoid it
  • 10 best email marketing strategies
  • 10 worst email marketing strategies

Beware the email marketing “black hole” – the blacklist is there for a reason, but you don’t want to be on it!

If you send emails, but no one is getting them, then it’s possible you’ve been blacklisted. And yes, this is as bad as it sounds. However, if you have ended up on this list through innocent mistakes, then it’s something which you can fix.

First let’s define what it means to be blacklisted. Hint: it has much to do with the amount of spam being emailed.

In a recent article for inmotion hosting, Jacob Nicholson says the following about spam:

Depending on who you ask, most people who attempt to track the global level of spam being sent, estimate anywhere between 80%-95% of all email transmitted daily on the Internet is spam.

Notice that Nicholson says this is a DAILY estimate. You may think you’re receiving too many emails already, but imagine how invasive it could be if no filters were set in place.

One way to keep your emails off public blacklists is by controlling the number of emails you’re sending out from your server at one time. Also, when creating content for your emails, avoid titles and messages which may be considered “spammy.” Finally, make sure you’re sending your emails only to those who have an interest in what your business offers them, or who will find the content relevant.

Which brings us to the various email marketing strategies and which ones you might consider using as part of your marketing mix. Your primary goals for email marketing most likely involve the following:

  • Creating email marketing campaigns with emails that people want to open
  • Including calls to action within your emails which generate leads and clients
  • Staying off blacklists

Let’s start with the “good” techniques first…the ones which help your emails end up in the intended targets’ inboxes, and that the recipient hopefully opens and reads it. In the best case scenarios, the reader feels enticed enough to click-through and then act upon your request(s).

10 Best Email Strategies10 Best Email Marketing Strategies

1)     “Faking” familiarity with subscribers by personalizing emails with just a first name is no longer effective. If you personalize, do so in a meaningful way. Consider taking the recipients’ real interests into account, for example. Think about the reader and execute accordingly.

2)     In recent tests, “perfect” subject lines were either short (49 characters or below) or long (greater than 70 characters).

Breaking it out a step further, it appears the shorter subject lines increased open rates, while longer ones boosted clickthroughs. Either way, marketers should avoid the “dead zone,” which is a subject line with 60-70 characters since no increases were found with subject lines of this length.

3)     Timing really is everything. According to studies, the best time to send emails is at night, specifically between 8:00PM and midnight. This helps because your email is less likely to get lost in the shuffle during the busiest times of the day, when people are at work. However, depending on your industry and targets, the timing really will vary. You may consider A/B split testing to determine the best days and times for readership.

4)     Give something away. Freebies in the form of content, and especially when they provide templates and tools, are big hits. It could be a PDF resource, or an email series that your readers will find valuable enough to give you their contact information.

5)     Design your emails with mobile users in mind. More people are using mobile devices – and they are increasingly opening their emails this way.

In an article for Buffer, Kevan Lee provides great mobile design tips that help make your emails more attractive to mobile users:

  • Convert your email to a one column template for an easy mobile fix.
  • Bump up the font size for improved readability on smart phones.
  • Follow the iOS guideline of buttons at least 44 pixels wide by 44 pixels tall.
  • Make the call-to-action obvious and easy to tap. Above the fold is preferable.
  • Consider ergonomics. Many users tap and scroll with their thumb, so keep important “tappable” elements in the middle of the screen.

6)     Less talk, more action. In other words, focus on brief and to-the-point messages with a strong value proposition. Less text is also more likely to engage busy readers. Offer them an optimized and attractive (both visually and offer-wise) call to action which easily shows readers how they can take the next step.

7)     Use a newsletter service, such as MailChimp or AWeber. They take a lot of the “grunt” work out your emailing campaigns, such as helping you create and segment email lists, integrate forms and sign-ups on your website. Plus, they allow you to track email analytics such as open rates, clickthroughs and number of unsubscribes.

8)     Include social sharing buttons on your emails. This encourages sharing of your emails between your email’s original recipients and their networks. More eyeballs on your content means higher percentages of lead generation and conversion.

9)     Since your email’s best recipients are those who willingly opt-in, seek out creative ways that entice people to do so. The following are tips from an article via imFORZA:

  • Place a simple email newsletter signup form on every relevant page of your website
  • Add a link in your email signature to remind recipients of your one-off emails to opt-in
  • Add an opt-in field to your inquiry forms
  • Add an opt-in link to order confirmations and customer surveys that you send out

10)  Test and refine…and repeat as necessary. For best results with your email marketing strategies, you may find your original plans didn’t work as well as you hoped. Tweak as necessary…but more importantly, don’t give up.

Now that we’ve covered the good, we should also touch upon the bad…and the “ugly.” These are the email marketing strategies you should avoid. Not only do you run the risk of ending up on email blacklists, but you may also damage online relationships with current and potential clients. At the very least, you may unnecessarily lose out on viable opportunities for client acquisition.

10 Worst Email Strategies10 Worst Email Marketing Strategies

1)     Blasting out emails without the recipients’ permission and adding recipients to your list without their permission.

2)     Sending out an impersonal, one-size-fits-all email to everyone on your list

3)     Sending emails with anonymous or vague “from” fields

4)     Overwhelming your email recipient with too much text and/or too many calls-to-action

5)     Sending too many emails in a short amount of time

6)     Using poorly written and/or sloppy content

7)     Crafting subject lines that make people cringe: examples include the following:

  • ALL CAPS SCREAMERS
  • Desperate Pleas (“Open Me!”)
  • Misspellings
  • Novellas
  • Punctuation Abusers (!!!)

8)     Forgetting the most important tenet of marketing by sending only promotional emails; you should focus on relationship-building with your content rather than blatant selling.

9)     Making it too complicated for email recipients to unsubscribe from your list

10)  Using designs for your email which are not mobile-friendly.

Now that you know more about the “best” and “worst” emails, do you feel differently about your own business’ email marketing strategies? Please feel free to leave comments or suggestions for better emailing below.

 

Related Resources:

Clickz: http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2336717/7-strategies-to-optimize-your-email-marketing-campaign

Innovative Marketing Resources: http://www.imrcorp.com/innovative-marketing-blog/bid/57494/Avoid-8-of-The-Worst-Small-Business-Email-Marketing-Mistakes


Author information

Jamie Teasdale
Founder & Lead Strategist at Plan Promote Prosper
Jamie Teasdale is a business growth advocate and strategist who is passionate about supporting small businesses in their quest to effectively communicate with their target market. Focusing on content marketing (inbound and outbound) and brand messaging, Jamie's company Plan Promote Prosper assists companies who recognize the value of strategic and consistent content marketing through blogging, email marketing and social media engagement, and the impact it makes toward positive SEO. Planning a content marketing strategy is no small endeavor and should be done each year. Jamie and her team make it easy and affordable. Plan Promote Prosper offers eight white-labeled content marketing products and services that are sought after by leading marketing companies, web firms, copywriters and social managers. Jamie's office is located in downtown Portland, Oregon. In her spare time, Jamie enjoys painting, traveling and spending time with friends and family.

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How To Create A Content Marketing Plan That Quadruples Your Leads http://www.steamfeed.com/content-marketing-plan-quadruples-leads/ http://www.steamfeed.com/content-marketing-plan-quadruples-leads/#respond Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:00:02 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=27024 There’s no denying the content marketing plan that quadruples leads is rare. Why? It’s an ambitious goal. And ambitious goals are usually not achieved without a plan.  Most companies don’t have a content marketing plan. And most companies don’t succeed with content marketing. You can connect the dots. But you actually can quadruples leads—or achieve other […]

Author information

Barry Feldman

Barry Feldman operates Feldman Creative and provides clients content marketing strategies that rock and creative that rolls. Barry has recently been named a Top 40 Digital Strategist by Online Marketing Institute and one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. Visit Feldman Creative and his blog, The Point.

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Content-Marketing-Plan

There’s no denying the content marketing plan that quadruples leads is rare.

Why? It’s an ambitious goal. And ambitious goals are usually not achieved without a plan. 

Most companies don’t have a content marketing plan. And most companies don’t succeed with content marketing. You can connect the dots.

But you actually can quadruples leads—or achieve other impressive achievements—with content marketing. Of course, it will require great content. It will require great marketing. It will require quantifying and qualifying the objective. How many leads? What’s a lead?

Above all, it will require a content marketing plan. You need to get one together. Not soon. Not next week. Now.

So power-down your phone and plug into this post. I’m going to give you a solid plan for creating a solid plan. Sound like a plan?

The idea here is to document a strategy

The tasks you never seem to get done are long and laborious. Failure’s not an option, so let’s make your content marketing plan short and simple.

Later, when you’re implementing your content marketing plan, you’ll make some revelations. The plan you’ll put together today may prove imperfect.

So you’ll amend it. Even the best-laid plans get amended.

The planning shall hereby commence

You begin your content marketing plan by establishing objectives.
You probably want to generate leads. Write it down. Or cut and paste:

The objective of our content marketing is to generate X leads.

X can be a number (with a unit of time) or percentage. If you have a different objective, that’s fine. Replace the “generate X leads” part.

If you don’t have an objective, you have no need for a content marketing plan. But—and a great BIG but—you also have no business doing content marketing. You’ll be wasting time.

Okay? Now, I don’t mean to be fussy, but next I want you to define “lead.”

A lead is defined as a new email opt-in.

Copy and paste that one too. You might define a lead as a phone call, trial, webinar registration, download, survey completion, or some other action. Fine. You know what to do: replace the italic part.

Your plan has purpose now. You need to keep score. Add this:

We will measure leads with (specific tool)(specific interval) and record it in (specific document).

The above might look like this:

We will measure leads with Campaign Monitor, monthly, and record it in our email list growth report.

You’ve documented and defined an objective. That’s powerful. But you probably have additional objectives: improve support, increase retention, build community, establish greater authority, etc. If so, repeat the exercise for each. Your content plan is getting even more powerful.

This is going quite well.

Who goes there?

Effective content marketers know precisely who their customers are and what makes them tick. Though the chilly word “persona” must become central to this step, it should result in giving your potential customers faces, names and motivations.

Start with the ideal customer. Most marketers develop a fictional person, but a real one works too. There may be some research involved, but you really should know your customers. Who are they?

Use this template and simply fill in the blanks. Feel free to add and subtract items depending on the things that matter most. B2B personas will differ from B2C personas.

  • Name (consider using a photo too)
  • Job/role
  • Job responsibilities (or life responsibilities)
  • Toughest challenges and most pressing needs
  • Pains (and pleasures)
  • Role in decision-making
  • What influences him or her?
  • Media consumption preferences

The task of creating personas tends to be unnecessarily complicated when it’s explained (and interpreted). Don’t let it. Knock one out right now and if you’ve only described one of several persons that make-up your customer base, repeat the process as needed.

What’s your story?

No, I’m not going to get into the fine art of storytelling. We’re working on a plan here, not prose. However, I want the next two passages you add to your plan to:

  1. Define what makes your company unique.
  2. Define your content marketing mission.

Number one should be your selling (or value) proposition.
Why do people do business with you? It may come as a surprise, but the answer is probably not the thing you sell. Delve into the who, what, when, where and why and you’ll hopefully uncover something magical…

An emotion.

Find it and put it down. I’ve made-up a company to demonstrate.

SayHeyPayDay puts employers’ minds at ease knowing they don’t have to fuss with the tedious task of issuing paychecks.

Number two is your content marketing mission.
As a content marketer, you are a publisher. So we’ll follow an age-old publishing practice: defining your publication.

Your content marketing mission needs to:

  • Articulate your approach to the content and industry.
  • Clearly define whom the content is for.
  • State how the content will satisfy the needs of those that consume it.

(The list above comes from a LinkedIn Influencer post by Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute.) 

Joe-Pulizzi-influencer-300x143

For example:

SayHeyPayDay publishes a blog and information resources for employers of 5 – 5,000 people to teach them ways to create a happier and more productive workforce.

That’s your story: why you matter and why your content will too. Write it down.

How can you help?

Another hunk o’ marketing speak enters the fray here: the funnel.
The funnel is a metaphor to symbolize the progression of a person from stranger to prospect to customer. Let’s allow it to remain as simple as this:

  • Stranger. He or she didn’t know your company before. That just changed. Thanks to your content marketing, you’ve achieved awareness.
  • Prospect. The person has demonstrated interest. He or she is doing research. As a marketer, you are challenged to help them with evaluation.
  • Customer. The person is making the action you seek, buying, most likely. You’re a useful marketer because your content has inspired a purchase. 

Rest assured, different organizations will have different names for the steps. Different descriptions. Often, they’ll have more steps. It’s your funnel, so have it your way. What matters is you’re comfortable with a reasonable description of the buying cycle in your customers’ journey. K?

Document the steps. Do so on the horizontal axis of a matrix because next you’re going to populate the vertical axis with content types.

HubSpot-funnel

Source: HubSpot

Plug in content types. The image I’m showing you here does a nice job of demonstrating the concept and providing examples. Could some of the content types blur the lines or gravitate to the left or right in your model? Probably. Don’t fret too much about this. The goal is to determine:

  • What you have
  • And what you don’t

Here’s another take on the same idea, presented as top, middle and bottom of the funnel content, courtesy of Gini Dietrich of SpinSucks.com.

Of course, determining the have/have-nots in your content audit beget additional considerations:

  • What performs well and what doesn’t
  • What will be easy to develop and what won’t
  • What questions do prospects have (at varying phases in the cycle) and what’s the best way to answer them

At this point, try not to get bogged down with content production challenges. Think big. Make a buying cycle matrix that covers all the bases.

Think like a publisher

Your personas defined potential customers. Your selling proposition and mission statement defined your story. Your buying cycle matrix defined your content production needs.

Now it’s time to satisfy them. Given the array of content types, you may not know exactly what to create. You’re going to have to settle for good guesses. Over time, the results will help steer the course. Begin by considering the most popular, and often, effective options.

  • Blogs
  • Newsletters
  • Social media
  • Events (online and off)
  • Case studies
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • eBooks and white papers
  • Presentations
  • Infographics
  • Webinars
  • Research reports
  • Microsites
  • Apps

Long-term, you’ll do some research. You’ll test. You’ll analyze your metrics. You’ll repurpose winners, dump losers, and refine middle-of-the-pack stuff. But short-term, you’ll speculate, make some decisions and create a content marketing calendar. Bloggers tend to call it an editorial calendar.

Create a worksheet. For each item, dictate a:

  • Date
  • Owner/author
  • Format/channel
  • Brief description (or title)
  • Persona
  • The need addressed
  • Buying cycle stage
  • Call to action
  • Useful metric(s) for assessment

Do this for a month or maybe a quarter. Any longer probably won’t be useful.

Plan for distribution

It’s only fair I warn you: most content drifts about unnoticed in the crazy big sea of media.

Of course, I don’t want to foil your plan. I want to facilitate it. So I shall be loud and clear:

You need to make CONTENT DISTRIBUTION AND PROMOTION a part of your plan.

Content marketing expert Jay Baer often says, “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.”

Jay-Baer-content-and-social

See? Jay also wrote, “You must market your marketing and create a distribution plan for each piece of content.” Solid advice. Consider your resources (and, of course, your audience) and attempt to make smart choices amongst:

  • Social media networks
  • Advocacy programs
  • Email
  • Search
  • Paid search
  • Advertising
  • Sponsored content (on blogs and social networks)
  • Guest posts
  • PR

Map your strategies per content type. For instance…

  • We’ll promote our blog via (Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+).
  • We’ll promote our webinars via (our enewsletter and PPC ads).
  • And so on

Again, adjust the specifics in italics to your needs.

I have some awesome news. Your plan’s getting progressively powerful.

Measure what matters

Content analytics and metrics are your friend. Not true? Then it’s time to cozy up the all-important number crunching component of content marketing.

Like the planning process at large, it need not be overly complicated. Apply this simple approach: the objectives you’ve documented inform the metrics you’ll use.

If your objective is to generate leads, you will measure how many leads you’ve generated. In my post, Content Analytics Simplified, I’ve categorized metrics into five categories and explained how to get the numbers and what they mean.

You need not track a massive list of metrics. You documented your objectives. Make a short list of the most meaningful metrics that indicate your progress and create a simple dashboard for tracking them.

And that’s your plan

Yes, it’s work. But it’s important work. It requires thinking, the thinking accomplished content marketers do because they understand the content marketing plan is the foundation of a successful content marketing program.

If you’d like to see more resources related to content marketing strategy, you’ve come to the right website. You might check out:

This article “The Content Marketing Plan That Quadruples Your Leads” first appeared on FeldmanCreative


Author information

Barry Feldman
Barry Feldman operates Feldman Creative and provides clients content marketing strategies that rock and creative that rolls. Barry has recently been named a Top 40 Digital Strategist by Online Marketing Institute and one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. Visit Feldman Creative and his blog, The Point.

The post How To Create A Content Marketing Plan That Quadruples Your Leads appeared first on SteamFeed.

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What Are The Differences Between Evil And Effective Pop-ups? http://www.steamfeed.com/differences-evil-effective-pop-ups/ http://www.steamfeed.com/differences-evil-effective-pop-ups/#respond Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:49:09 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26975 If you were from another planet and were reading some random posts on what people liked and disliked about the Internet, you might assume that pop-up advertisements were the scourge of society: The page loads, much to the expectation of the user, who, naturally decides to browse around. All is well. The user and the site […]

Author information

Jesse Aaron

Jesse Aaron is a professional blogger with a passion for homebrewing, and writes on a variety of topics on his blog Mashbout. In his spare time Jesse enjoys redditting, brewing beer (as you may have guessed), slowly learning Python, and reading (currently reading Infinite Jest). Follow Jesse on Google Plus

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If you were from another planet and were reading some random posts on what people liked and disliked about the Internet, you might assume that pop-up advertisements were the scourge of society:

The page loads, much to the expectation of the user, who, naturally decides to browse around. All is well. The user and the site are taking the first step toward a beautiful relationship. Unfortunately, before any kindling occurs, the background instantaneously darkens. The user is startled, and, before having a chance to think, freezes before a glowing box.

The box is filled with seduction; magic words and phrases that pull on our heartstrings, compelling imagery that we undeniably succumb to, and an unholy button that flashes with urgency. The user is weak, beaten with marketing savvy. Then the user sees a light – a way out of this madness.

The ‘X’ in the upper right corner of the box shines brighter than anything the user has seen before. Filled with hope, the user moves their mouse to the ‘X’. They click. The dark background vanishes and order is restored.

At least, that’s how I envision people experience pop-ups. Some of us are not so lucky and end up with our wallets out. But not all pop-ups are bad. It really depends on the context; the goals and messages. Are we supporting a charitable cause?

Alright a pop-up is not so bad in this case if it’s just asking for a small donation. Do we only have 30 seconds left to save $xx.xx on some product we don’t really need? Alright, those are pop-ups we can do without. In fact, they are designed as dark patterns. A whole book can be dedicated to this topic, but I think you’ll find it preferable to watch this video instead:

 

Ironically, pop-ups have their pros; it’s just that the cons always get more attention. I honestly can’t say that marketers strive to create user-friendly pop-ups. That would be a straight up lie. They have an insanely positive effect on metrics, are incredibly easy to implement and test, and actually have little effect on traffic – most users will just close them and stay on your site.

In this piece we’ll explore the vices and virtues of pop-ups, such as:

  • The characteristics and nature of pop-ups that are detrimental to the user experience
  • The characteristics and nature of pop-ups that do not detract from the user experience – and may even enhance it
  • Mini case studies of pop-ups helping to show the difference between different pop-up goals
  • The relationship of conversion rate/conversion goals from pop-ups to the overall user experience
  • A conclusion with an open-ended question about how you, personally, feel about pop-ups

Harmless vs. Nefarious

We’ve all had the experience of going to a website and instantly being bombarded by at least one pop-up. This is bothersome, to say the least. After all, we haven’t even had the opportunity to read the content… so how could we possibly decide whether to give our information to the site’s marketing team?

*cough* Inc*cough*

inc ad

Even though this ad is not ‘evil’ it’s acting as a gateway. Our URL is showing us the article we expected to read and then the whole page changes to this full screen pop-up ad. We can easily close it out but I’m sure a lot of people miss the small text to skip it in the top right corner. I would classify a pop-up ad like this as being between harmless and nefarious. It has the option for us to close it immediately, but it also interrupts our expectation immediately. The link we clicked on is for an article, not an ad. If we put ourselves in their marketing team’s shoes, we might discover how these gateway ads end up netting us the most view time. If that’s the case then there’s no way in hell they’re going down. That’s why I can’t say marketers want to create user-friendly experiences, that’s just not how the game works.

I’m going to use the blog of a well known internet market, Neil Patel’s Quicksprout, as an example of that borderline pop-up abuse. I’ve actually seen a good number of people who are turned off by the two-punch tactic. Basically, we’re first greeted with this:

quicksprout 1

And then if we hit ‘No’ this next pop-up immediately appears:

quicksprout 2

It’s two gates we have to go through to get to our originally intended destination – kind of tedious, right? Even if it’s tedious, I’m entirely confident it’s converting well. Don’t forget: most users will still say on the site. Pop-ups are just temporary obstacles. A lot of marketing psychology is being applied in these particular pop-ups: it’s the negative-positive of saying “No thanks, Conversion Rate is not important to me.” – well of course it is, I just don’t want to deal with these pop-ups right now. The reward for entering in our emails is attractive though. Doubling conversion rates is mighty impressive wouldn’t you say? Plus, they aren’t off-putting. The design is very professional and that helps makes the pop-ups less ‘harmful’ to the user.

Let’s take a look at  the characteristics of the more nefarious pop-up types:

  • The pop-up opens as soon as you land on the page.
  • The pop-up doesn’t immediately show you how to opt-out and get back to the site.
  • The pop-up isn’t relevant to what you want. In fact, 70% of internet users rated irrelevant pop-ups as the most annoying type of advertising.
  • The pop-up asks for too much personal information. (Why do you need your phone number? Or your birthday?)
  • The pop-up includes music that starts blaring through your speakers.
  • The pop-up is wordy and confusing.
  • The pop-up is not safe for work (NSFW) because of images or words.
  • The pop-up comes up every time you visit the site… even if you already subscribed!
  • The pop-up comes up on a page when you’re just about ready to make a purchase… and then turns you off from completing a transaction.

Why in the world do these pop-ups exist, especially when there are truly harmless types of pop-ups that aren’t going to make your visitors scurry to the competition? The answer is that many marketers are just doing what they think they should, and aren’t researching the traits of pop-ups that have virtues, rather than those that are vice-ridden.

A virtuous pop-up, as opposed to its wicked brethren, usually contains one or more of the following features:

  • The pop-up doesn’t open instantly. Instead, it opens after the visitor has a chance to start reading, most likely triggered when the user has reached the bottom of the page. Truth be told, no one knows the exact timeframe that works best for a pop-up to arrive on the screen. One pop-up expert may say 10 seconds; another may suggest waiting a full minute before enabling a pop-up. This is where A/B split testing comes into play, as every audience depending upon market and even geographic location may have a different sweet spot.
  • The pop-up has a clear-cut area so you can tell how to “x” out of the ad. In other words, the “x” isn’t hidden or in some color that’s only slightly different from the background. It also doesn’t require the user to scroll to another part of the screen.
  • The pop-up has relevancy to the visitor. For instance, if your site were selling vacuums, your pop-up should entice the visitor. You may want to give away a special PDF download on how to get great deals on the hottest vacuums. Or you could be asking for emails so you can send those who subscribe to your email list 30 secrets to keeping a vacuum going for twice as long as expected. The point is that you’re not simply throwing a slapdash pop-up together: You’re targeting it. Word to the wise – prepare to spend time on the headline. On my own blog I started testing pop-ups last month. In the past 40 days I’ve received 72 subscribers and I haven’t heard any negative feedback about the pop up itself. This is what it looks like:

mashbout popup example

There are two clear areas to close the pop up and also make sure users never see the pop up again. The goal of this pop-up is to first make users laugh with a popular meme (the success kid), and then get them interested in receiving a free resource. To get the resource they just have to put in their email and boom, they get it. This isn’t a new or innovative tactic – in fact, almost every blogger and their mom use pop-ups to secure emails. It’s almost become a standard. There are much more direct ways, such as a simple email opt-in like SteamFeed’s:

steamfeed pop up

It’s a clear cut pop-up users can easily opt in or out of. There’s nothing too fancy going on and it actually compliments the reading experience because it seems to only trigger when we go to navigate to the upper right quadrant. It’s kind of like a friendly reminder on your way out the door.

Another site that does this well except for a direct business goal is the NYTimes:

nytimes popup cta

The Times, along with similar A-list news publications, have a limit on how many of their articles we can read for free in a given day or week. Their pop-ups will trigger when we hit these limits and become a gateway. Some of us might have our own opinions about whether or not this is ethical, but it’s hard to deny this isn’t a brilliant marketing plan.

  • The pop-up doesn’t demand too much of the visitor. Let’s say your visitor isn’t turned off by the pop-up, which is terrific. Don’t make him or her input too much data. Get as little as you need, such as an email address or phone number (if you’re planning on texting them info or coupons.) Keep it short and sweet.
  • The pop-up should be quiet. The one exception would be if your website were for a musician or musical group. In that case, the pop-up might be accompanied by a new or popular tune. In addition the auditory meaning, a nice pop-up will be optional. A very sleek example of this I found here on the left side of the homepage.

optional popup

If we click on the ‘save $5 instantly’ then a pop-up is generated. This gives us, the users, the power to control when the following pop-up actually ‘pops up’:

social popup

Plus, the pop-up itself is a discount for social shares, which is not nearly as taxing as asking for credit card information or even an email.

  • The pop-up should make sense. Never hire someone who isn’t a native speaker to write your pop-up content. And make certain everything is clear to the reader. Remove any words that aren’t pertinent. Wordstream does this exceptionally well with highly targeted/specific offers in the form of pop-ups:

wordstream popup

  • The pop-up should pretty much always be G- or PG-rated unless you’re in a business where something else would be appropriate.
  • The pop-up needs to stop at some point, especially if a person has already opted in and given his or her data. Free pop-up software might not give you the flexibility that you need to avoid having the pop-up flash on the screen for repeat visitors. Spend a little money, and your audience will thank you.
  • The pop-up should rarely be used on a high-conversion webpage, such as where someone is placing an order. It convolutes the experience too greatly for the user, and can lead to abandoned shopping carts. Pick other webpages to showcase pop-ups, not high-conversion ones.

The healthy and high conversion rates of pop-ups, along with their tainted connotations, make them a worthy tactic we must approach with caution and creativity. This very nature of them makes it a hot topic for debate:

debate on popups

I would have to side with Neil here. As much as we want to sympathize with users such as Charles – and believe me, we really do – it just doesn’t make sense from both a business and strategic standpoint. It’s an equation. Additionally, many users do not see the link between a pop-up converts and the products/services they receive. More conversions = more budget = reinvesting in product/UX/etc.

How do you feel about pop-ups? Do they agonize you or do you find them okay – even beneficial every now and then?


Author information

Jesse Aaron
Jesse Aaron is a professional blogger with a passion for homebrewing, and writes on a variety of topics on his blog Mashbout. In his spare time Jesse enjoys redditting, brewing beer (as you may have guessed), slowly learning Python, and reading (currently reading Infinite Jest). Follow Jesse on Google Plus

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Mapping Quality Content to Different Audiences in Your Funnel http://www.steamfeed.com/mapping-quality-content-different-audiences-funnel/ http://www.steamfeed.com/mapping-quality-content-different-audiences-funnel/#respond Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:05:55 +0000 http://blog.atomicreach.com/?p=13412 In order to be an effective marketer in lead nurturing, you must know how to educate and inform your prospects through the buying cycle. 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales due to a lack of lead nurturing (MarketingSherpa). This is the common cause of poor performance but it doesn’t have

The post Mapping Quality Content to Different Audiences in Your Funnel appeared first on Atomic Reach Blog :: Content Marketing & Scoring Engine.

Author information

Atomic Reach

We think creating audience-centric content is the most important thing you can do to grow your connection with your audience. Our platform, through a series of diagnostic and prescriptive measures, helps you create highly engaging audience focused content. It's that simple. Love your audience and they will love you back.

The post Mapping Quality Content to Different Audiences in Your Funnel appeared first on SteamFeed.


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Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 8.13.26 AM

targetedcontent

In order to be an effective marketer in lead nurturing, you must know how to educate and inform your prospects through the buying cycle. 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales due to a lack of lead nurturing (MarketingSherpa). This is the common cause of poor performance but it doesn’t have to be that way. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of lead nurturing and how to map strategic content to different buying stages in your sales funnel.

Buyer Personas

The first step is to identify who your target audience and segment is.  Understand who they are, what they want, what they need, etc. Interview your customers – as well as those who didn’t buy from you – to create your buyer profile(s).  Take the time to research and survey your customers and prospects. Here’s a small sample list of questions to answer:

  • What are your customers’ pain points?
  • What purchase paths do they follow?
  • Why should they care about your product?
  • What motivates your buyers?
  • What are their roles? (job title)

Check out this article on identifying buyer personas here.

Buyer Lifecycle

The buyer lifecycle is composed of the stages customers go through before they become a paying client. Here is a simple way of looking at the stages by David Skok:

buyingstages-300x39

Understanding the three stages will help you create targeted content for your prospects. Here is David’s definition:

  1. Awareness – when a customer first becomes aware of your product. Or could also refer to the point where a customer first becomes aware of a need that they want to fulfill.
  2. Consideration – when a customer starts evaluating solutions to their need
  3. Purchase

Mapping Out The Content

pardot-300x178

When you have identified who your target audience is and understand the path they take  before they become a customer, you can now map out the content to send to them at the right  time, in the right place. Leads nurtured with targeted content produce an increase in sales  opportunities of more than 20%. Check out this guide by Pardot on how to map out content  to the buyer’s journey. It contains worksheets to guide you through it all!

Here’s something else to think about: map the content out to your buyer personas, based on their knowledge level. So for example, when you’re selecting which content is going to the people in the awareness stage, think about how much they know about the topic. Probably not a whole lot because they are just learning about it. One could say that they probably have a general knowledge level on the topic.

Now, for people in the stage after that – consideration stage – they’ve probably educated themselves enough to know a thing or two but are not quite an expert yet. You could say that they have a working knowledge on the subject. As prospects move further along the funnel, they’re knowledge level on the topic becomes more in-depth.

So it only makes sense that you provide the right content to your target audience, based on their knowledge level. If you’re wondering what tool can help you with that, look no further. Atomic Reach is just the platform for you.

Overall, there are still many companies overlooking the practice of lead nurturing. The truth is, it’s one of the  most important functions of sales and marketing. Don’t ever lose a lead again and make sure that you put a lead nurturing program in place today!

 

The post Mapping Quality Content to Different Audiences in Your Funnel appeared first on Atomic Reach Blog :: Content Marketing & Scoring Engine.

*This post is part of SteamFeed’s Corporate Syndication program. SteamFeed was compensated to re-publish this post.*


Author information

Atomic Reach
We think creating audience-centric content is the most important thing you can do to grow your connection with your audience. Our platform, through a series of diagnostic and prescriptive measures, helps you create highly engaging audience focused content. It's that simple. Love your audience and they will love you back.

The post Mapping Quality Content to Different Audiences in Your Funnel appeared first on SteamFeed.

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4 New Social Media Ads You Should Try In 2015 http://www.steamfeed.com/4-new-social-media-ads-try-2015/ http://www.steamfeed.com/4-new-social-media-ads-try-2015/#respond Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:22:42 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=27015 According to ZenithOptimedia, the Internet is the fastest growing medium in advertising with 16.9% growth in 2014 and a forecast of 15% growth for the next two years. Ten years ago, only 4% of budgets were given to digital (social media/internet) advertising. As social media advertising grows, there will always be new options available and […]

Author information

Mandy Edwards

Mandy is the owner of ME Marketing Services, a social marketing company located in Georgia providing social media consulting & management for small to medium-sized businesses. A proud graduate of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia she has a thorough marketing background of over 12+ years. In the fall you can find her & her family at Sanford Stadium cheering on their beloved Georgia Bulldogs.

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According to ZenithOptimedia, the Internet is the fastest growing medium in advertising with 16.9% growth in 2014 and a forecast of 15% growth for the next two years. Ten years ago, only 4% of budgets were given to digital (social media/internet) advertising.

As social media advertising grows, there will always be new options available and current offerings will be updated and upgraded to compete with other platforms. The year 2015 will see this.

In this article I will give you 4 new social media ads to try this year to help your business online:

  • Plus Post Ads from Google
  • Facebook Mobile App Ads
  • “Buy Now” Ads on Facebook
  • Facebook ads that target people who have visited your website.

1. Plus Post Ads from Google

One perk of using Google Plus is that you do not have ads in your stream like you do on Facebook. Google has long held to their no-advertising policy on Google Plus. However, a new option debuted this past year and is starting to make some traction: Plus Post Ads.

These ads allow you to turn your Google+ page posts into a display ad that runs across the web. People can leave a comment, follow your brand, give a +1, or join a Hangout right from an ad. These will also show up along side the Google search results. Plus Post ads are not available to everyone. There are a few requirements:

Plus Post ads are a great way to spread the word about your Google Plus page since the entire platform is 100% organic. Since this runs through AdWords, you will have the same targeting options and can now have one of your great pieces of content run as an ad on the web.

Plus Post Ads Toyota Google

 

2. Facebook Mobile App Ads

According to Facebook, “advertisers can buy Facebook mobile app ads with highly predictable reach and frequency. This allows advertisers to boost awareness while controlling how often someone sees an ad. For example, advertisers can set their app ad campaign to reach 5 million people with a frequency cap of three impressions per person for one week. Since reach and frequency optimizes for unique reach, it should only be used for campaigns with brand awareness goals, like those for app launches or updates.”

Some new features to these mobile ads are auto-play videos, which advertisers are now able to purchase mobile app ads with video creative through Power Editor. The Amazon Fire device has been added to devices you can target as well.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that everything is shifting to mobile. Most people are using their mobile devices (phones and tablets) to research, communicate and shop. I did a lot of my Christmas shopping through the Amazon app on my iPhone and iPad. Facebook gives you the option to run your ads on the desktop and/or mobile versions of their platform. These new options though are for ads on the mobile app only.

Facebook Demo Auto Play Video Ad

 

3. “Buy Now” Ads on Facebook

It would be so easy to just click a button to buy an outfit or item you’ve seen on Facebook without having to be redirected to a website then to find it and then 10, 15, 20 minutes later check out. Facebook is still in the testing phase of this, however, I would expect this to be available by the 3rd or 4th quarter (my opinion, not fact).

This option was quietly announced in July 2014 but really made it to the forefront after Twitter announced this past fall their version called “Offers.” Facebook still has not released that much information about this except that, “We’ve built this feature with privacy in mind, and have taken steps to help make the payment experience safe and secure. None of the credit or debit card information people share with Facebook when completing a transaction will be shared with other advertisers, and people can select whether or not they’d like to save payment information for future purchases.”

If you work with retail businesses or others who offer online shopping, this will be an ad you will want to jump on as soon as it’s available to everyone. The user can purchase that business’ item without ever leaving Facebook. Talk about going straight to the shopper and giving them what they are looking for!

Facebook Buy Now Button Ad

 

4. Target People on Facebook Who Visited Your Website

I recently was given this option. I know larger companies have long had this option, but not smaller businesses. I logged into Facebook and had that nice banner across the top telling me I now had the option to target Facebook users who had visited my website in the past. So naturally I clicked it.

This gives me the opportunity to advertise to people who have visited my website in the past set number of days. You get to choose how far you want to go back. When this is set up, Facebook will give you a piece of code to install on your website so they can track this. Your data will change based on the traffic from your website.

This is simply retargeting via a custom audience, but now you have the opportunity to reach people who have been known to have visited your website in the past 30, 60 or 90 days. Consider this a new form of lead generation and follow-up.

Facebook Retargeting Web Visitors

Businesses are going to have to start advertising on social media if they are not already. Facebook is going to be limiting posts that seem promotional, Twitter is teasing a new Home Feed – the list could go on of changes that will happen in 2015. Is your business ready to advertise? It better be because all successful social media campaigns and strategies will include some form of social media advertising in 2015.

Will you try any of these ads this upcoming year?


Author information

Mandy Edwards
Mandy is the owner of ME Marketing Services, a social marketing company located in Georgia providing social media consulting & management for small to medium-sized businesses. A proud graduate of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia she has a thorough marketing background of over 12+ years. In the fall you can find her & her family at Sanford Stadium cheering on their beloved Georgia Bulldogs.

The post 4 New Social Media Ads You Should Try In 2015 appeared first on SteamFeed.

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How To Share Your Content The Right Way http://www.steamfeed.com/share-content-right-way/ http://www.steamfeed.com/share-content-right-way/#respond Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:06:13 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26908 Sharing content is an art, whoever says that all you have to do is write, post and press share is far from being close to mastering the art of content sharing. To be honest I didn’t think I was going to be a content marketer, I love writing and I am fond of sharing content […]

Author information

Avishai Sam Bitton

VP of Marketing at imonomy

Avishai Sam Bitton is the Founder of Startup Bloggers and VP of Marketing at imonomy. He loves Internet startups, PC gaming, Star Wars, blogging, photography and Linda.

The post How To Share Your Content The Right Way appeared first on SteamFeed.


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Social Media

Sharing content is an art, whoever says that all you have to do is write, post and press share is far from being close to mastering the art of content sharing.

To be honest I didn’t think I was going to be a content marketer, I love writing and I am fond of sharing content on social media, fortunately for me these two loves apparently work great together. When I first started out I really didn’t know all the rules of great content sharing, it took me some time to understand the concept of giving “added value” to readers.

That was 5 years ago, let me tell what I have learned since then so you can share content in the best way possible (I use all my own tips mostly at imonomy where I work full time).

Great sharing starts with great content

It really doesn’t matter if you are creating your own content, or looking to share other people’s posts, in order to be an ‘influencer’, sharing valuable pieces of content that people love, you must first create or locate content that was created in order to do one of the following

  • Update people on something new
  • Teach people something that they might not have known how to do
  • Make people think and invoke a discussion that might turn into a shit-storm in the comments section

Now you might think that this means that you have to focus everything on your wording, but truth be told, the visual cues are the secret sauce to really great content. Infographics, related images and to-the-point videos are the building blocks for the most shared content in history. No-one can argue with the statistics, which clearly show that people engage with images on social media more than any other type of format.

So in order to share great content make sure that what you are looking at is new, valuable and worth spreading, while at the same time visually attractive and engaging. Be picky, because the web is filled with billions pages that have content on them, make sure that what you are sharing is the real deal and not the recycled deal.

Share with the right people

You found or created an amazing article or a shocking graph? Where do you share it? With who? It may sound odd to some, but my personal experience has taught me to share with friends and family before anyone else. If you can count on someone to get the ball rolling it is the people who are closest to you. Make sure you don’t spam them and that you schedule your posts at the right time of day; this will ensure your closest people will become content distribution allies in the future to come.

Once you share your content with people close to you, it is time to find what I like to call “interested strangers”, these are like-minded people who are lurking in Facebook groups, and LinkedIn groups whose interests match the content you are sharing. Remember that if people comment on your shared content, you should always comment back. The best way to get long-term engagement is to reply to people, don’t forget that they actually took the time to stop and give you their attention, something that is rare these days.

Voting sites as the cherry on the topping

Are you familiarized with Reddit? StumbleUpon? Digg? If not, prepare to learn how to unleash the power of the web. These sites are voting sites where you can submit your URL and get a chance to see your content featured. Usually if you share something really unique there is no reason to not get the deserved attention from these communities, the important thing to do is to put your content in the proper category, don’t share a business post in a category about green living, you will just get banned faster than the speed of light.

To give your shared content even more traction on these sites we need to go back to friends and family. Ask them to upvote your Reddit or StumbleUpon post or visit your content on Digg; the more attention it gets from people you know, the more strangers are likely to see it.

Reddit Stumble

Write your own take on things

Don’t just spread content without giving out your opinion on what you are sharing, how is someone supposed to understand your connection to the content you just shared?

Bring your own set of added value by writing something before you post a link, and make it good so they will remember you no less than they remember the content you just shared. People want to know why you find this link interesting and what it is they could potentially find interesting, to justify spending time on clicking and reading through. Using a controversial quote from your shared content is an excellent way to get people to click, read, and share.

Useful tools for content sharing

The internet is packed full of useful tools that will help boost engagement with your shared content. Here are just some of the best tools to use, if you want to share your content the right way:

  • Oktopost – We’ve already spoken about how important it is to schedule your content around the times people are likely to see it; it is also important to measure the results of your hard work. Oktopost is the key to scheduling posts and monitoring engagement. It may seem similar to other tools, like Hootsuite, but its capabilities are much more impressive.
  • Canva – Another thing we have spoken about is the importance of images within your blog post. Images keep people interested and engaged, but they can be tricky to source. If you’ve got a spare 5 minutes and a creative mind, simply make your own on this easy to use image tool.
  • Roojoom – This is an excellent tool that will allow you to readers engaged and focused for longer. Drag and drop content from online resources, add your own insight, then share it via social networks. You can even embed your content onto your website.

Anyone can share content, but not everyone can share content the right way. Hopefully these hints and tips will draw in more readers, keep them engaged, and even get them to share for you; after all, the more other people share, the less work you have to do!


Author information

Avishai Sam Bitton
VP of Marketing at imonomy
Avishai Sam Bitton is the Founder of Startup Bloggers and VP of Marketing at imonomy. He loves Internet startups, PC gaming, Star Wars, blogging, photography and Linda.

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Boost Your Marketing in 2015 With Hootsuite http://www.steamfeed.com/boost-marketing-2015-hootsuite/ http://www.steamfeed.com/boost-marketing-2015-hootsuite/#respond Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:44:04 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26852 Thinking of boosting your 2015 social media marketing with Hootsuite? This is the perfect time of year to go from a free user to a Pro Account, and ramp up your brand on social media. To help you decide whether to purchase the Pro account, check out some of the benefits of adding Hootsuite to […]

Author information

Laurie Thompson

Project Manager and Social Media Manager at SiteMast

Laurie currently owns and operates SiteMast, which is where WordPress Web Design and Social Media meet. She also is a project manager and social media manager for K-3 Technologies in Atlanta. Diet Coke addict, Iowa Cyclones Football supporter, and animal lover. Can't wait to connect with everyone!

The post Boost Your Marketing in 2015 With Hootsuite appeared first on SteamFeed.


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Thinking of boosting your 2015 social media marketing with Hootsuite? This is the perfect time of year to go from a free user to a Pro Account, and ramp up your brand on social media. To help you decide whether to purchase the Pro account, check out some of the benefits of adding Hootsuite to your arsenal.

In this article you will find:

  • Social Marketing Uses In The Dashboard
  • Links to Helpful Articles About These Uses

Enabling Auto-Initialing

If you are a Hootsuite Pro user, you can enable Auto-Initial in your posts. If you have quite a few people responding for your company, you might want to consider letting your customers see the initials of the person responding. This gives a “name” and a human quality to your responses.

In the Hootsuite dashboard go to “settings” then “account”. Your profile pop up window should open up. Check “auto initial when composing messages box”, and then add in the initials of the person responding. Click save, and now you have automatic initials.

For example: Brooke Ballard and Jenn Hanford of B Squared Media are pros at using this in their social media, and it is really nice to know who you are talking to!

FireShot Screen Capture #025 - 'Tweets with replies by B Squared Media (@B2MediaLLC) I Twitter' - twitter_com_B2MediaLLC_with_replies

 

Drag and Drop Images/PDFs

Using Owl.ly’s pre-shortened link, you can upload images or PDFs for easy download by your customers or staff. It’s simple, just select the file or image that you want to share and drag it into the compose message box in the Hootsuite Dashboard. Wait until the file uploads into your message.

Once complete you should see an Owl.ly link, along with “file uploaded successfully”. Hootsuite does suggest watching the size of your files, because it may take a long time to upload or it may not upload at all if the file is too large.  Also be aware of how long the Owl.ly shortener link is, because you WANT your followers to retweet these images, especially on Twitter.

For example:  Applebee’s does a great job of typing in “Love In The Club” a hashtag, and the picture link. Plenty of room to retweet, and even allow customers to add their own content. The picture grabbed my attention!

FireShot Screen Capture #029 - 'Hootsuite' - hootsuite_com_dashboard#_tabs_id=14555103

 

Targeting Your Customers

Want to get in touch with customers or prospects in a specific location, to find out what they are talking about, or if they are talking about you? Then you need to use Targeting. This tool helps you direct your searches to specific locations, people, or brands. Want to try it out? First go to the search icon in your Hootsuite dashboard. Then enter your search item in the Twitter search field.

If you are a phone company you may want to enter: #christmas. Then click on the circle button at the top right. Now Twitter will automatically refresh showing searches for #christmas within 15 miles of your current location. If that is the area you want to continue to watch you can save the stream in your dashboard. This is perfect for A/B testing in different markets.

For Example: I just found this article from Visual.ly: Five B2B Marketing Trends for 2015 That You Should Get  A Head Start On Now. Check out number 1:  Micro-Targeting, and getting to know your customers. Use Hootsuite to find and communicate with your customers. Don’t just throw content out there and hope it sticks.

 

Vanity URLS

Did you know that you do not have to Owl.ly as the link shortener in Hootsuite? You can actually create your own branded URL shortener, that can still make use of the tracking and click-through rate information that is provided through Hootsuite.

Now you can even brand your own link shortener to represent your account. This is incredibly important if you are striving to get your brand consistent across all social media platforms. Easy enough to invest in a link shorterner that has your brand on it! This option is only available for the Pro and Executive versions.

For Example: Again I will give a shout out to Brooke Ballard at B2Media’s Twitter Account. They use a link shortener for their links. Brooke and Jenn are amazing at taking the brand and including little reminders to keep the name of the company front and center in your mind. B Squared is everywhere!

FireShot Screen Capture #030 - 'B Squared Media (@B2MediaLLC) I Twitter' - twitter_com_B2MediaLLC

Hootsuite Help Articles

Enabling Auto-Initialing

Using Geo-Targeting

How To Use Drag and Drop

What Are URL Shorteners?

So many new and exciting uses for Hootsuite in the New Year! Let me know, have you used any of these, or have wanted too but were not sure if it would be effective? Try some A/B testing in 2015 with a few of these tools in the dashboard. If you have used some of these tools, let us know how they worked for you and maybe some tips and tricks for new users to get a better impact!


Author information

Laurie Thompson
Project Manager and Social Media Manager at SiteMast
Laurie currently owns and operates SiteMast, which is where WordPress Web Design and Social Media meet. She also is a project manager and social media manager for K-3 Technologies in Atlanta. Diet Coke addict, Iowa Cyclones Football supporter, and animal lover. Can't wait to connect with everyone!

The post Boost Your Marketing in 2015 With Hootsuite appeared first on SteamFeed.

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Will Big Data Resolve Questions of Measurement in Social Research? http://www.steamfeed.com/will-big-data-resolve-questions-measurement-social-research/ http://www.steamfeed.com/will-big-data-resolve-questions-measurement-social-research/#respond Mon, 15 Dec 2014 12:33:02 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26905 The big five personality traits are some of the most well researched concepts in the field of psychology. It is a framework used to understand human personality along five factors; openness, conscientious, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Each factor has its own spectrum and an individual may rank anywhere between the points of the two extremes. […]

Author information

Susan Silver

Social Strategist at ArCompany

Susan Silver is a social strategist working on content and community for ArCompany. She builds all the things; communities, websites and apps. Her personal blog, Cirquedumot, covers thoughts on technology and WordPress development.

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medium_5068482201

The big five personality traits are some of the most well researched concepts in the field of psychology. It is a framework used to understand human personality along five factors; openness, conscientious, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Each factor has its own spectrum and an individual may rank anywhere between the points of the two extremes. An individual’s personality will be an amalgam of these factors.

Learning about the personalities of our customers, we have a model to work from when developing our messaging in digital mediums, by predicating how they will behave in reaction to emotional cues.

In Handling “The Algorithm: Social Data Insights You Need To Know”, I made the claim that social data was best interpreted by applying it in this way.

Are psychographics based on such data still relevant to our purposes? This would be a reasonable objection to the above statement as psychology is often faulted for being a “soft science”. This is generally understood to mean lacking in rigor because measurable data is difficult to obtain.

I believe that big data resolves this issue for us in important ways and that insights from psychology will become more valuable to market researchers as technology develops to correct for social data biases.

This article will provide you with a framework for understanding personality research in psychology which will clarify the following points:

  • How to critically read research in the social sciences
  • How psychologists define and measure human personality
  • Why we should question social data sets
  • What is required to resolve these issues

A Brief Primer for those Unfamiliar with Social Research

I feel that at this point I should reveal that my college major was cognitive psychology. Psychology is the 2nd most popular major in US Colleges, but, it is one of the least likely to lead to a professional career after graduation. That education is relevant to many job paths, but it is expected that students will continue on to a post-graduate degree or certification. My professors left a deep impression on me in regards to methodology and statistics because of this.

I offer a brief primer for those unfamiliar with social research or those who may need a quick refresher. The first thing I read is the introductory material which is critical to make sense of a paper’s conclusion. These paragraphs provide the theoretical groundwork for the study, but more importantly we can look to these paragraphs to assess the credibility of the results.

Criterion Validity

One of the most important questions a researcher must address is how they will measure the data for their experiment. They must present a theory and the variables for which they will test. We can ask ourselves if these are appropriate predictors for the outcome of interest.

An example might be a study which looks at age and the ability to whistle. We could question that age is a good predictor of ability. True, age might correlate with more practice, but it is a tenuous connection at best.  A better predictor might be the number of individuals in a test subject’s family who whistle.

Construct Validity

The other question a researcher must answer is if a measurement instrument represents that which they intend to measure. We might want to use a particular depression measure, but we have to make sure that a score on this scale represents the level of low mood a test subject experiences.  If we discover that it really is measuring how annoyed  a test subject is to fill out a survey, then the results are invalid.

I don’t know about you, but I hate filling out long questionnaires.

Of course this explanation is leaving out the nuances of making determinations about the reliability and validity of social research. Here is a video lecture covering critical evaluation of research methods in psychology for those who want to dig in deeper.

A Summary of Research on Big Five Personality traits from Psychology

When I tell you that the big five personality traits are a valid framework then I have to prove to you that the research in the field meets the measurement criteria.

It does in spades.

We have 50+ years of evidence to go on which is remarkably consistent across cultures and regions of the world. This is a rarity in social research. While debate continues, it is clear, this framework is leading us in the right direction.

(DFTBA!)

It is not surprising then that a paper in computer science which relates social data with personality would use the big five traits model.

Big Five Personality Traits and Digital Identity

There is an argument which you could make about the accuracy of a personality profile generated from social data. I have only really proven that the criterion validity of using the big five personality trait framework is correct.

We haven’t addressed construct validity.

Does the data which I have collected represent the personality of the individual whose profile I have taken it from?

There are a pair of Computer Scientists who are raising this question in academic circles.

“As anyone who has used social media can attest, not all ‘people’ on these sites are even people. Some are professional writers or public relations representatives, who post on behalf of celebrities or corporations, others are simply phantom accounts. Some ‘followers’ can be bought. The social media sites try to hunt down and eliminate such bogus accounts  — half of all Twitter accounts created in 2013 have already been deleted — but a lone researcher may have difficulty detecting those accounts within a dataset.” – Using Social Media For Large Behavioral Studies Is Fast and Cheap, But Fraught With Biases and Distortion, Carnegie Mellon

I bet more than a few people reading this right now are representative of these examples. I know that I am. I cannot offer an easy answer for this, but I wonder what you would suggest.

One idea that I will throw out there is to consider the elusive nature of self, alluded to by Hank Green in the Crash Course video. There is a black box when it comes to cognition. Even when I am face to face interacting with another there is no proper way to discern what they may or may not be hiding from me. Uncertainty is always part of the equation.

We must acknowledge that social data has baked in biases, but they may not be very different from the ones we encounter in our daily lives offline.

I am still hopeful that we are at a place where computer science and cognitive science may inform each other in ways we have yet to fully understand. Big data offers us one way to resolve the issue of construct validity in this specific case. Large data sets, with appropriate precaution to account for biases, may provide us with an accurate picture of  an individual’s social footprint and the mental state of the mind behind the profile.

As always, we must tread with caution because of the ethical implication of such tactics.

Have you ever encountered a strange result which was produced by an algorithm?  Have you been served a bizarre ad on Facebook or other social network? Was there a time when an  algorithm worked in you favor?

photo credit: Elif Ayiter/Alpha Auer/…./ via photopin cc


Author information

Susan Silver
Social Strategist at ArCompany
Susan Silver is a social strategist working on content and community for ArCompany. She builds all the things; communities, websites and apps. Her personal blog, Cirquedumot, covers thoughts on technology and WordPress development.

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Your SEO Insider: How Google Works [Infographic], the Art of Keyword Selection, SEO in 2015 http://www.steamfeed.com/seo-insider-google-works-infographic-art-keyword-selection-seo-2015/ http://www.steamfeed.com/seo-insider-google-works-infographic-art-keyword-selection-seo-2015/#respond Sun, 14 Dec 2014 15:56:37 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=27077 Welcome back SteamFeeders! Yet another week of great information from the world of Search Engines and SEO – already sorted, sifted and delivered straight to your display screen for your enjoyment, education, and increased traffic generation! Enjoy! Don’t Miss: How Google Works [Infographic] How Bing determines quality content Reducing your bounce rate Choosing your keywords […]

Author information

Brent Carnduff

I am an Search Engine Marketing specialist and speaker, former teacher and basketball coach, married with 2 children (Daniel & Ashley), a wanna be author, avid reader, an out of shape cyclist, and a Canadian ex-pat.

I hope to add a voice of reason, understanding, and professionalism to the SEO industry.

The post Your SEO Insider: How Google Works [Infographic], the Art of Keyword Selection, SEO in 2015 appeared first on SteamFeed.


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SEO Insider-2

Welcome back SteamFeeders! Yet another week of great information from the world of Search Engines and SEO – already sorted, sifted and delivered straight to your display screen for your enjoyment, education, and increased traffic generation! Enjoy!

Don’t Miss:

  • How Google Works [Infographic]
  • How Bing determines quality content
  • Reducing your bounce rate
  • Choosing your keywords
  • SEO in 2015

Organic SEO

An entertaining, animated infographic outlining some of Google’s features.

How Google Works [Infographic] by Neal Patel on The WordStream blog

How Google Works
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

Bing Optimization

Bing reveals how it measures Content Quality.

Bing: Content Quality is a Primary Ranking Factor Made Up of Authority, Utility & Presentation by Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Land

Penguin Update

No more waiting for more than a year. Google announces that Penguin Updates will be on-going.

Google Says Penguin to Shift to “Continuous Updates” by Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Land

Do-It-Yourself SEO

Effective SEO is part art and part science – this is especially true when it comes to keyword selection.

The Art of Keyword Selection for Search Campaigns by Jason Barrett on Local Search Insider

Although Bounce Rate – which represents the number of people that leave the site without visiting another page – is often over emphasized as a concern, you want to make sure that you encourage your visitors to stay on site as long as possible.

4 Simple Tips to Reduce Bounce Rate by Sam Barnes on semrush blog

Local SEO

Part 2 of a comparison between Google’s new and old Google My Business guidelines. See Part 1.

Google My Business Guidelines – A Detailed Comparison New & Old – Part 2: Chains, Brands, & Departments by Mike Blumenthal on Understanding Google Places & Local Search

SEO in 2015

The New Year is fast upon us, and with it, the accompanying “best of” blogs and predictions on the future of SEO. What does the future hold for SEO? Safe to say that “change” will continue to be a common theme. Read the following articles for more ideas on what to expect in 2015.

Ask the Digital Marketing Experts: What’s Up in 2015?by John Gagnon on ClickZ

5 SEO Strategies That Will Still Work in 2015 by ClickZ News Staff on ClickZ

Online Advertising To Grow By 15% Over Next Two Years, Driven By Mobile and Display by Matt Southern on Search Engine Journal

Thanks for reading. Have a great week in search!

What are your SEO plans for 2015?


Author information

Brent Carnduff
I am an Search Engine Marketing specialist and speaker, former teacher and basketball coach, married with 2 children (Daniel & Ashley), a wanna be author, avid reader, an out of shape cyclist, and a Canadian ex-pat. I hope to add a voice of reason, understanding, and professionalism to the SEO industry.

The post Your SEO Insider: How Google Works [Infographic], the Art of Keyword Selection, SEO in 2015 appeared first on SteamFeed.

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How To Improve Customer Experience For Your Business http://www.steamfeed.com/5-ideas-help-improve-customer-experience/ http://www.steamfeed.com/5-ideas-help-improve-customer-experience/#respond Sat, 13 Dec 2014 13:38:50 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26938 Last year I wrote about one of Australia’s best new brands and how customer experience extends far beyond customer service. Although Customer service is of paramount importance, it is still only one aspect of the overall customer experience. Feelings play a critical role in the way customers are influenced and this week I enjoyed a […]

Author information

Matt Crawford

Matt Crawford is a marketing executive with an accomplished career in digital media sales. His background is in the B2B sector and he has extensive experience in retail management and hospitality. Matt has worked with national and international brands as well as small to medium enterprises to help develop effective digital marketing strategies. His down to earth approach makes it easy for businesses to communicate their objectives and consequently achieve their goals.

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Last year I wrote about one of Australia’s best new brands and how customer experience extends far beyond customer service. Although Customer service is of paramount importance, it is still only one aspect of the overall customer experience. Feelings play a critical role in the way customers are influenced and this week I enjoyed a customer experience that pleased me so much I feel compelled to tell you about it.

I travel regularly for business at the moment and most often choose to fly Virgin Australia because I enjoy the customer experience. It’s so important to them that the first tab on their website is actually ‘Experience‘. One of the options on the drop menu on that tab is ‘Virgin Australia Lounge’. After extensive travel Virgin rewards frequent fliers with either a Silver, Gold, or Platinum status that include varying levels of benefits.

Once recognised as Gold or Platinum, members gain access to ‘The Lounge’. Occasionally I travel with colleagues with Lounge access and visit as a guest. However travelling weekly, I can’t tell you how much I have been looking forward to qualifying for Gold status so that I can take advantage of The Lounge facilities and services.


You need 500 status credits to qualify and after my recent trip to Melbourne I should have been on about 495. When I logged in to check on my status, sure enough I was on 495 as anticipated but my status had already been upgraded to Gold. Now I had been expecting that after my flight to Sydney today I’d get across the line and enjoy The Lounge for travel after next week.

Needless to say I was thrilled that my loyalty had been recognised and that I had been rewarded early. They could have made me wait until I reached 500 and I was prepared to do so. It’s just a little thing (and only 5 credits), but it has made a huge impact on how I feel about doing business with the brand.



I’ve actually had to try pretty hard to write this post so that it doesn’t seem as though I work for Virgin or was paid to write it. So rather than banging on about all of the ways The Lounge improves the customer experience, here are five ideas that you can apply to your business to improve the customer experience.

5 ideas to help improve customer experience

1. Be aware of what’s important to your customers

I’m sure that I’m not the only traveller focussed on reaching and maintaining Gold or Platinum status and utilizing The Lounge facilities and other benefits. It’s a loyalty program that has gone beyond loyalty creation and forms an integral part of the customer experience. Whether my upgrade was automated, someone made a call on it, or they’ve been monitoring how many times I’ve checked my status balance recently, I’m certain that they knew that at 495 credits I was anticipating Gold status eagerly. Takeout: Don’t just reward your customers as part of a program, reward them however you can. Unconventional rewards will stand out.

2. Make it easy for customers to do business with you

From the online booking process to providing plenty of power points and USB charging stations at the gates, it’s pretty easy to do business with this airline. Takeout: There’s a good chance that many of your customers feel time-poor. By streamlining your processes and providing facilities or services to make life easier, your customer experience has the potential to actually improve people’s lives.

3. Provide an omnichannel experience

I book my flights online, I check-in through the mobile app and use the entertainment app on my iPad during flights. Your customers expect to be able to do business with you however it suits them. Takeout: By designing your transaction process and service offering with the connected consumer in mind, it will be easier to meet your customers expectations and increase opportunities to engage with them.

4. Cultivate a compelling company culture

I’ve never worked for Virgin, but I imagine that it’s an excellent organisation to be a part of. All the staff always seem glad to be at work, and that has a flow on effect to the guests. Takeout: When your company culture compels staff to be better at their job it should be no surprise when it has a positive impact on the customer experience.

5. Update policies as the market evolves

In August this year the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority relaxed their guidelines regarding the use of personal electronic devices in flight. Virgin were quick to act and updated their policy and flight safety messages so that passengers could enjoy ‘gate-to-gate’ use of their smartphones, tablets and eReaders as soon as possible. Takeout: Your policies need to evolve with your market. A carefully planned, proactive policy update could help to increase market share, improve brand sentiment and do wonders for the customer experience.

Conclusion

Sometimes it’s the little things that count. Apart from my breakfast this morning my early upgrade cost the business nothing. However in the long run the impact that it made will be worth a lot more than my flight today. A study by McKinsey revealed that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Right now I feel like I’ve been treated pretty well and I am planning a lot more travel (and breakfasts in The Lounge).

Little things that improve the way your customers feel can make such a great difference that it may even be hard to measure the effect. I hope these 5 ideas to help improve customer experience will inspire changes that influence the way your customers feel about your brand and deepen your relationship with them.

Can you think of a little thing that a brand did to improve the way you feel? The SteamFeed community would love you to leave a short comment below. If you have found this post helpful please consider sharing it to help businesses everywhere improve their customer experience and the way we feel about them. Thanks for reading and sharing.

Image credit: Emi Yañez


Author information

Matt Crawford
Matt Crawford is a marketing executive with an accomplished career in digital media sales. His background is in the B2B sector and he has extensive experience in retail management and hospitality. Matt has worked with national and international brands as well as small to medium enterprises to help develop effective digital marketing strategies. His down to earth approach makes it easy for businesses to communicate their objectives and consequently achieve their goals.

The post How To Improve Customer Experience For Your Business appeared first on SteamFeed.

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How To Use Wunderlist To Boost Your Business Blogging http://www.steamfeed.com/use-wunderlist-boost-business-blogging/ http://www.steamfeed.com/use-wunderlist-boost-business-blogging/#respond Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:27:33 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26898 Whether you use Wunderlist or another task management system, what gets scheduled gets done. Use these tips to give business blogging the time it deserves.

Author information

Linda Dessau

Business Blogging Consultant at Content Mastery Guide

Linda Dessau is the author of Write Your Way to More Clients Online and the founder of Content Mastery Guide. Her hands-free blog writing service helps small businesses attract their ideal customers with captivating content.

The post How To Use Wunderlist To Boost Your Business Blogging appeared first on SteamFeed.


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Wunderlist   To do list  Reminders  Errands   App of the Year

There is a productivity principle that what gets scheduled gets done. This concept has definitely been central in my both my personal and work life, and is even more important when the two connect. Meal times during work days, for example, are a non-negotiable break from the computer.

Aside from Google Calendar, my other essential scheduling tool is Wunderlist, a beautifully-designed task management application that seamlessly syncs across multiple devices. It’s completely free to use, or you can upgrade if you want additional features.

Everything I discuss in today’s post is possible with the free version of Wunderlist, and the general ideas should also apply to whatever task management system you may already be using. We’ll cover:

  • Why scheduling is important for business blogging
  • The benefits of Wunderlist as a blog scheduling tool
  • How I use Wunderlist in my business blogging workflow
  • Three steps for scheduling your business blogging tasks

Why scheduling is important for business blogging

Though anyone can publish their thoughts online in an instant, effective business blogging is not that simple. Before you even start writing a blog post, you need a marketing strategy, blogging plan, time for brainstorming, a place to capture random blog post ideas, and an outline you can build from later.

After drafting, research, writing, editing and proofreading, your post is ready to publish. Then there is the social media promotion!

You may have a set day you like to publish on your own site, or you have a specific submission date for your company site or a guest post. Either way, you need to make sure all those steps are completed in enough time to meet your goal.

The last thing you want is to be rushing through the blogging process so you’re tempted to skip an important step like proofreading, adding links, or creating a compelling image. Scheduling your blogging time makes sure nothing gets missed.

The benefits of Wunderlist as a scheduling tool

You already know that I think Wunderlist is beautiful, and that’s important to me. If I don’t enjoy the experience of using an app, I won’t use it consistently. If I do enjoy it, that tool quickly becomes entrenched in my day-to-day routines.

Case in point: I started out using Wunderlist for business tasks, but now I also have a “Health and Household” list for assorted personal tasks, shopping lists for the stores I frequent, and even my packing list for the annual Content Marketing World conference!

Because it syncs so efficiently across all my devices, Wunderlist makes an excellent idea catcher for Content Mastery Guide, SteamFeed and the other sites where I blog. Wherever I am, I can add a new title or additional ideas to something I’ve already planned.

I also appreciate how in Wunderlist I can sort and display my lists in different ways. For blogging, I display tasks in order of the due date. That way I can quickly get a snapshot of what I need to be working on next for each blog or client.

Wunderlist also has smart lists like Today and Week, which display all tasks with due dates on those particular days. These help me stay realistic about what I can and will get done.

I use the Today list every morning day to plan my time for the day, and on the weekends I use the Week list to plot out my tasks and adjust any due dates based on my available time each day.

How I use Wunderlist in my business blogging workflow

In addition to laying out the specific ways I use Wunderlist, I’ve included broader steps you can use in any scheduling system.

Step 1: Batch your blogging tasks into scheduled blocks that make sense for you, and name those blocks.

These are the blocks my team and I use when working on our clients’ posts:

  1. Initial draft (includes research, writing, editing, choosing photos, and social media promotion text) – complete once delivered to client
  2. Revisions (includes editing and proofreading) – complete once delivered to assistant
  3. Production (includes publishing to site with photo, SEO optimization, and scheduling social media updates) – completed by assistant

In Wunderlist, I have a separate list for every blog or client. In the appropriate list, I create a list item with the name of the blog post, and then add the name of the block, e.g., How I Use Wunderlist – initial draft.

Step 2: Estimate the time you will need for each of those blocks.

This may be difficult at first. Overestimate your time at the beginning, until you get a clearer sense of your own blogging workflow.

I use the Pomodoro Technique of working in concentrated 25-minute blocks, so I’ll add a hashtag to my Wunderlist item such as #2POM. That represents one hour, with a five-minute break in the middle.

Sometimes I’ll also note whether this is ideally a morning task versus an afternoon task (#AM or #PM), though I can usually determine that in a split second when reviewing my lists and planning my work day.

Step 3: Work backwards to schedule those blocks in enough time to meet your submission date.

If you know you want to publish or submit on a Tuesday, and you’ve determined you’ll need three blocks of one hour each, you might start the whole process on the preceding Wednesday or Thursday.

Your due dates for each blogging block will depend on what else is going on in your week, and when you typically like to do your blogging.

If you’re lucky enough to have help with your blogging, you need to work those people into your schedule as well. If your editor or assistant typically needs a turnaround time of two business days, that means your final day to submit to that person must be two days ahead of your actual due date.

In Wunderlist, once I’ve completed one phase of the blogging process, I revise the list item with the next block name and estimated time, and forward the task’s due date to the next date. For example, How I Use Wunderlist – initial draft #2POM, becomes How I Use Wunderlist – revisions #1POM.

Wunderlist does offer the option of creating sub-tasks, so why do I type these details manually into the task title? For a couple of reasons:

  1. Sometimes I like to print out all tasks due on a particular day (the “Today” smart list). Sub-tasks take up more space on the page, often requiring a second page.
  2. If the block name is part of the task name, I can see it at a glance when viewing a list or smart list. To see sub-tasks I’d have to click through to open up a particular task.

Whether you use Wunderlist or another task management system, if you want to keep blogging consistently and see results from your efforts, you must schedule time for your business blogging tasks.


Author information

Linda Dessau
Business Blogging Consultant at Content Mastery Guide
Linda Dessau is the author of Write Your Way to More Clients Online and the founder of Content Mastery Guide. Her hands-free blog writing service helps small businesses attract their ideal customers with captivating content.

The post How To Use Wunderlist To Boost Your Business Blogging appeared first on SteamFeed.

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Making The Most Of 2014 On Your Blog http://www.steamfeed.com/making-2014-blog/ http://www.steamfeed.com/making-2014-blog/#respond Thu, 11 Dec 2014 12:06:23 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26288 In this article we’ll look at what you can blog about in the last 2 weeks of 2014. What types of post earn revenue Why easy to consume posts are important How content curation will help you if you’re pushed for time There’s just over 2 weeks to 2014 left. Have you mapped out the […]

Author information

Sarah Arrow

Chief Blog Coach at Sark eMedia

Blogging an issue for you? Bah! You can do it, after all I an award winning blogger. I've created of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women) and I'm the creator of a results getting 30 day blogging challenge
You want your blog to make a difference, so join my challenge and get great results from your blog. Did I mention it was free?

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In this article we’ll look at what you can blog about in the last 2 weeks of 2014.

  • What types of post earn revenue
  • Why easy to consume posts are important
  • How content curation will help you if you’re pushed for time

There’s just over 2 weeks to 2014 left. Have you mapped out the rest of your blogging year?

Books make great spur of the moment purchases and stocking fillers, and if you are an Amazon affiliate you also get a commission on other things your reader may buy too. Now is the time to get your book reviews in place and promoted. Amazon Associates are a mine of information. Over at Birds on the Blog we look at ours in January and have a giggle; someone always buys humorous wrapping paper. Last year it was Guinea Pig wrapping paper.

If you are looking to earn Amazon affiliate commissions  you need to get your book reviews out and promoted. Pronto.

I Predict Posts & Content Curation

December is a good time to write a few predictions. It doesn’t matter how outlandish the prediction is, just give it a go, it will be fun. It also stimulates healthy discussion on your blog. Topics you can make predictions about include:

  • Email marketing being dead in 2015
  • Email marketing making a comeback
  • SEO being dead
  • SEO making a comeback
  • Content Curation is dead…

December isn’t just about prediction posts, it’s also about the best-of posts. It’s a month of the finest content curation that you can possibly come up with. Check out tools like:

Not only will they make your curating life easier, you can interact with a whole new community of people.

Have a budget for your content curation? These tools have a price tag:

  • Curationsoft - Searches multiple online locations by keyword and then provides you with a drag and drop tool to put the content altogether. Has a free version that is ad-supported.
  • Curata A more comprehensive  tool for finding, curating and sharing content on multiple platforms, including email.
  • XYDO  Searches multiple sources for content and can integrate with Mailchimp and Constant Contact to created newsletters with curated content.
  • Bundlepost I have to include Bundlepost, not just because it’s fantastic (it is), but because it’s founder will ask me why I’ve not included it if I don’t. As I’ve got a full inbox this week, I’ve mentioned it ;)

Never under estimate the power of a content curation email. I had one forwarded to 700 different people. One email, and my reader loved the content so much he shared it with his address book. I was very popular that day

Making a list… and checking it twice

List posts are also popular at this time of year – 2014′s best bloggers, 2015′s up-and-coming-bloggers and so on. It’s an opportunity for you to reach out into the blogging community and honour the people that have made a difference to you.  Create your own lists and get nostalgic…

  • 10 best WP plugins released in 2014
  • 5 bloggers that swapped niches in 2014
  • 3 bloggers that declared they hated cute cat pics
  • 27 Bloggers that have helped you

And the purpose of these posts? They are respectful to your reader. They acknowledge that they’re busy people with not a lot of time. They show you are still active on your blog and taking into account your readers needs. It’s fast, fun, easy reading.

What posts have you got in your end of year blogging schedule? If your blog didn’t quite work out as it should, why not join me in January in my 30 day blogging challenge. Start 2015 on a high. Join here


Author information

Sarah Arrow
Chief Blog Coach at Sark eMedia
Blogging an issue for you? Bah! You can do it, after all I an award winning blogger. I've created of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women) and I'm the creator of a results getting 30 day blogging challenge You want your blog to make a difference, so join my challenge and get great results from your blog. Did I mention it was free?

The post Making The Most Of 2014 On Your Blog appeared first on SteamFeed.

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5 Tips to Engage Your Audience With Visual Content http://www.steamfeed.com/5-tips-engage-audience-visual-content/ http://www.steamfeed.com/5-tips-engage-audience-visual-content/#respond Thu, 11 Dec 2014 11:50:39 +0000 http://blog.atomicreach.com/?p=13259 People love visuals. It really is as simple as that. Want to engage your audience? Give them something to really connect to. They are already on the Internet looking to do so. And with so many options available for visual content delivery—photos, videos, gifs, infographics, animations, etc.—there’s no excuse not to use them in some way. Here […]

Author information

Atomic Reach

We think creating audience-centric content is the most important thing you can do to grow your connection with your audience. Our platform, through a series of diagnostic and prescriptive measures, helps you create highly engaging audience focused content. It's that simple. Love your audience and they will love you back.

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engage-your-audience-with-visual-content

People love visuals. It really is as simple as that. Want to engage your audience? Give them something to really connect to. They are already on the Internet looking to do so. And with so many options available for visual content delivery—photos, videos, gifs, infographics, animations, etc.—there’s no excuse not to use them in some way.

Here are five tips to help you engage with your audience using visual content:

1. Be Informative

All visual content, be it a small static icon or an instructional video, carries a message. Remove it if it doesn’t carry a message because it is clutter. Similarly, if there is too much imagery it becomes cluttered and your message will be lost. Figure out what you want your visuals to say and make sure the message is clear. Get second opinions whenever possible. Just because you are sure your message is clear, doesn’t mean everyone else would agree.

Examples: Want to communicate that there are real, loving humans behind your brand? Why not post images about your outing to the local non-for-profit. Trying to convey how drastically using your product has helped other businesses? Offer informative graphic-focused charts rather than plain tables with numbers.

2. Keep It Short (and to the point)

This ties in with the previous point. Just like written content, visual content shouldn’t drag on unnecessarily. Too many relevant visuals create clutter. Your audience wants engagement, but not overwhelmed. Remember people have short attention spans, especially when it comes to the internet.

Example: Just because you have years of data to offer your potential clients, doesn’t mean they want to see it all at once. Infographics should visually represent your message with as few steps and as little descriptive text as possible. With a few exceptions videos should also be as short and concise as possible. If you have multiple messages to deliver with video, make multiple videos.

3. Connect Emotionally & Inspire

What ads really stick with you? The ones that made you feel something. We’ve know every visual carries a message. Make sure that message resonates with your audience. Know your audience and use that knowledge to figure out what type of visuals they most connect to and crave. If you can crack that code you will inspire them to share your content.

Example: No matter what audience you are trying to reach understand what it is that’s shared. Are they connecting to beautiful photography? Perhaps they are looking for clever memes. Or maybe they want beautifully animated infographics.

4. Sharing is Caring

Your audience wants to be heard. So hear them. Whenever possible ask for their visual contributions. Don’t just create graphics yourself. Let your customers share their own visual stories. This is especially easy with the power of hashtags. This will solidify your relationship to the online community.

Example: Ask you customers to use relevant hashtags. Encourage them to respond to clever YouTube videos. Then share these creations to encourage more creations.

5. Make it Attractive and Current

Two points that go hand-in-hand. If it’s not visually appealing people will not want to give it any mind. Know what your audience is attracted to TODAY. Today’s taste will drastically change by tomorrow. Luckily, if you know your audience and maintain a strong relationship they will share with you what is current. Then it’s just about adapting and offering them what they want.

Example: GIFs. GIFs have had quite the history of coming in style, then going out of style, now they are back with vengeance (presuming they are used appropriately and effectively).

The post 5 Tips to Engage Your Audience With Visual Content appeared first on Atomic Reach Blog

*This post is part of SteamFeed’s Corporate Syndication program. SteamFeed was compensated to re-publish this post.*


Author information

Atomic Reach
We think creating audience-centric content is the most important thing you can do to grow your connection with your audience. Our platform, through a series of diagnostic and prescriptive measures, helps you create highly engaging audience focused content. It's that simple. Love your audience and they will love you back.

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The Success of Your Business Lies In Twitter Cards http://www.steamfeed.com/success-business-lies-twitter-cards/ http://www.steamfeed.com/success-business-lies-twitter-cards/#respond Wed, 10 Dec 2014 12:15:29 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26656 Last week, Twitter’s stock soared 7.5% after they held their first ever Twitter Analyst Day, on November 12, 2014. The 140 character social network rolled out a mega 7-hour presentation, complete with 500 slides, touting their success to media and investors. What’s making Twitter so valuable? Is this stock increase a sign that Twitter’s monetization […]

Author information

Vee Popat

Founder, Chief Strategist at VPDM Digital Marketing

I am a marketing and promotion professional with 17 years strategic experience, accomplished in search engine optimization (SEO), inbound content marketing, and viral social media strategy.

VPDM Digital my boutique marketing agency based in downtown St. Catharines, Ontario, in the heart of the Niagara Region. We specialize in customized, targeted, ROI driven internet marketing campaigns using what we believe are the three fundamentals of digital marketing: Content, Search, & Social.

Reach out, connect, and be social with us.

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Last week, Twitter’s stock soared 7.5% after they held their first ever Twitter Analyst Day, on November 12, 2014. The 140 character social network rolled out a mega 7-hour presentation, complete with 500 slides, touting their success to media and investors.

What’s making Twitter so valuable? Is this stock increase a sign that Twitter’s monetization strategy is a winner, and that brands can finally point to significant engagement, referrals, conversions and ROI from Twitter?

Well, Twitter’s presentation at Analyst Day has shed a bit of light to some excellent news and a few Twitter secrets to success exposed, for brands and digital marketers.

You can access parts of the presentation here and view a speaker’s list here. But fair warning, it’s a ton to digest.

If you want to save yourself 7-hours of Tweeters giving props and big ups to Twitter, stay here and keep reading.

I’m about to illustrate how Twitter’s secret weapon for growth and success can also be your businesses secret weapon, to crush your competition with social media marketing ROI.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to increase website conversions with higher engagement on Twitter.
  • How many Twitter Cards are available?
  • What are the 3 new cards twitter just introduced?
  • How to get more downloads for your new App!
  • The best way to kick start your lead generation strategy.

Twitter’s Future is Literally In the Cards

If you haven’t used Twitter cards in your social strategy yet, you’re really missing a very simple and lucrative opportunity to engage deeply with your customer and prospects, and boost not only your Twitter referral traffic, but also to increase you website conversions from Twitter.

If you’re reading this, I’ll assume that you know a little about Twitter cards and how to strategically use them to increase social engagement and website conversions.

If you need a refresher, read this introductory guide titled What Twitter Cards and What Do They Do, or this everything guide to Twitter Cards.

Twitter Cards Are Essentially Ad Units

After crafting social media strategies since before Twitter or Twitter cards existed, I’m starting to believe that Twitter Cards are the platform’s biggest benefit to brands. Marketers need to think of Twitter cards as “free” ad units.

Best part – they’re more than just ad units.

Twitter cards are so, so awesome as ad units because they include amazing functionality, right in the Tweet, that can really help sell your brand, product, or service, and convert prospects quickly.

Reason being, they can consume your interactive content, directly in their Twitter app, while on their personal Twitter timeline.

If you have ever promoted tweets equipped with Twitter cards, with proper, strategic targeting, you’ll know I’m talking about focused unobtrusive engagement with qualified prospects.

Before I wrote this post, there were a total of 10 types of Twitter Cards. I just found out recently that Twitter has started testing two brand new cards that really change the game.

If you thought the existing 10 Twitter Cards provided useful and lucrative options for digital marketers, wait till you see what sort of cards Twitter has up it’s sleeve.

I’ll start by providing an example of a Twitter card campaign I’m working on for an existing client. I’ll then introducing the proposed new Twitter cards and then summarize the existing ten.

Example of Twitter Card Campaign

A client of VPDM Digital, Weinkeller, the #1 restaurant in Niagara Falls (Trip Advisor), wants to run a local Twitter campaign to promote their new gift certificates. We created two options for prospective buyers to choose from; $50 and $100. Our strategy is to use Product Cards with clear calls-to-action (CTA) to purchase the gift certificates before Christmas.

I also found these case studies on how Adobe and Webtrends both used Twitter cards to drive leads. Adobe was able to increase their conversion rate on their new online college by 101 percent at a 55 percent lower cost per lead. Webtrends was able to increase their lead acquisition by 996 percent, while making a 500 percent improvement in cost per lead.

As you’ll see in the descriptions below, Twitter’s Product Cards allow brands to showcase (and sell!) products, with current price points and CTAs, directly on Twitter. These cards also allow your business to include information on inventory.

So why use this type of Twitter card for this promotion? Very simply, if your business is selling products online, Product cards will make it super easy for your prospects and customers to buy your product.

Now let’s look at your options for implementing a Twitter card strategy, starting with 3 brand new cards.

The 3 “New” Twitter Cards

1. Click To Call

This is the first rumored “new” Twitter card I came across. It’s way cool too. Note that this card isn’t official, but Twitter is testing it.

Twitter wants to make it easy for users to buy stuff from their favorite brands. Right on!! I hope every social media platform drinks this same Kool-Aid.

Only thing is, Twitter, being a digital platform, wants users to start getting a hold of their favorite business by using the telephone. That’s right, the digital social platform wants people to call a store – not tweet at them.

They are now testing a “Click to Call” button with certain brands. According to this article from WSJ.com, Twitter’s spokesperson won’t divulge which brands are testing this new card.

Marketers should look at this card as an extension of the lead generation card. This card allows advertisers to use photos in their Tweets as well as the user name, Twitter handle and email address as well as a “Click to Call” button, so users can call directly instead of joint a mailing list first.

2. Polling Card

This card has already been used on Twitter prior to the 2014 Oscars. It’s clearly used to “poll” Twitter users to vote for their favs to win at the Oscars.

The card is simple for users. They simply just tap on their choice to vote. Once the choice has been made by the user, the card reloads and shows who in first place right now.

This new type of card is likely to be used heavily on Monday as many news organizations live tweet the Oscars and seek to engage their fans more.

Smart and savvy digital marketers are likely getting many ideas on how to use these polling cards on Twitter to engage their followers, gain new ones, and to amplify their product messages.

3. T-Commerce is E-Commerce on Twitter

To just feed the rumor mill, word around the water cooler is that Twitter wants e-commerce on its platform. Badly.

All the cool kids are saying that T-commerce is coming to Twitter soon, in the form of T-commerce, or e-commerce cards. Cool huh?

These cards will let users purchase your company’s products directly on their Twitter Timeline. Not leave Twitter, or any social platform you’re on, is always a big plus for users.

The 10 Existing Twitter Cards

In addition to the rumored “new” cards being rolled out, the following are the existing ten Twitter Cards that you can start implementing in your social strategy today.

With the 10 existing Twitter cards, smart digital marketers can start doing the following engaging tactics on Twitter today!

1. Show a Small Engaging Photo with a Summary

These are Twitter’s default cards. With these cards you can include a title, description, small image, and info about the Twitter account that is linked in the content and that has Twitter cards installed.

Application: Typically for promoting blog posts and articles.

 

 

2. Show a Large Engaging Photo with a Summary

These are sort of like summary cards with similar features, but these ones host a large image – much more engaging to the average Twitter user.

Application: This one is perfect for any brands that want to feature a highly visual piece of content.

 

 

3. Showcase Your product with price points and calls-to-action (CTAs)

Product cards feature pricing info as well as inventory available. They also feature a description of the product of course, with a click through link to “view on web” and outside of Twitter. This makes it super convenient for both you to sell your product on Twitter and even better, Product Cards make it super easy for the user to buy your product, when they get prompted with the organic (or paid) Tweet on Twitter. Application: Use this card if your company is trying to sell product online.
Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 6.57.50 AM

4. Feature Your Website and Drive Traffic

Use Twitter’s Website Cards to drive traffic directly to your website or landing page form Twitter. You get a horizontal image, link to the website or landing page, and a nice CTA button.

Application: If your business has limited time offers of new products being released, you can use these Website Cards to communicate this important info to your Twitter users.
Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 6.59.19 AM

5. Promote and Sell Your App

If your company is in the business of making and selling Apps, Twitter’s App cards are exactly what you need to engage your qualified prospects.

These cards will drive traffic to your app with a description of the App, the App name, it’s rating, price and of course a CTA with a direct link to the app store of your choice.

Application: For anyone developer who is releasing an app on iOS or Android.
Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 7.01.47 AM

6. Generate Qualified Leads

These ones are one of my favorites. Interestingly enough, this type of Twitter card can NOT be used to link to a company website or landing page. Instead, these lead gen cards ask users to sign up for a special offer of some sort, or even to your company newsletter. The brand will then get an email address which they can then use to target any future relevant content.

Application: Lead generation cards are used when your social strategy calls for developing leads and growing your company email list.
Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 7.02.34 AM

7. Play Video

Love this one too! Player Cards are absolutely vital for any marketers who work with clients promoting video or music. The beauty of these cards is that Twitter users can consume the video, right in their timeline, without ever leaving Twitter. They’ll also be able to read a video description and see a link to the website page or landing page.

Application: Anyone looking for inexpensive exposure. These cards work well to bring attention to a new piece of content.

 

8. Showcase One Photo

Use Twitter’s Photo Cards when you want to showcase on special photo. The emphasis of this card is completely on the photo. No description. The photo is linked to your chosen source.

Application: These cards provide the same functions as the Player cards. Work very well for bringing exposure to new pieces of artistic content and visuals.

 

9. Post a Photo Gallery

Has your brand ever wanted to feature up to 4 photos in one Tweet? Just to add better content or context to a tweet?

You can now! Twitter’s Gallery Cards allow brands to upload up to 4 photos to create a collection in one Tweet. They also link to a webpage that has the rest of the photo set.

Application: When companies want to showcase a few photos promoting a product, and event, etc, ethyl can easily do so by targeting a specific audience, in a specific geographic area, with these Gallery cards.

 

 

10. Play Audio

If you can play a video directly in a Tweet, why can’t you listen to an audio clip or mp3 of a new song you want to check out? Good question, better answer!

You can with Audio cards. They allow users to play audio/music while browsing Twitter.

Application: Music artists?
Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 7.05.00 AM

The Wrap

As you can see, companies with websites who use Twitter Cards, and have a comprehensive social media strategy, stand to benefit from some creative use of this secret Twitter tool.

With the proper use of Twitter cards, your brand’s engagement and website referrals from Twitter should increase if your Twitter social strategy includes customized messages for each of your targeted marketing personas, and where they are in the marketing/sales funnel.

Are you ready to get Twitter cards implemented on your website? It’s very easy to do. However, after you add the required code to your website, you must make sure you validate each Twitter Card you add to your website.

To validate your Twitter cards, first make sure you are logged into Twitter, then use the Twitter Card Validation tool here.

If all looks good, your social sharing and social media ROI is set up very well to succeed. Just make sure you have a solid content strategy to attract the qualified traffic you’re looking for.


Author information

Vee Popat
Founder, Chief Strategist at VPDM Digital Marketing
I am a marketing and promotion professional with 17 years strategic experience, accomplished in search engine optimization (SEO), inbound content marketing, and viral social media strategy. VPDM Digital my boutique marketing agency based in downtown St. Catharines, Ontario, in the heart of the Niagara Region. We specialize in customized, targeted, ROI driven internet marketing campaigns using what we believe are the three fundamentals of digital marketing: Content, Search, & Social. Reach out, connect, and be social with us.

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How Developed is Your Customer-Centric Strategy for 2015? http://www.steamfeed.com/developed-customer-centric-strategy-2015/ http://www.steamfeed.com/developed-customer-centric-strategy-2015/#respond Tue, 09 Dec 2014 12:53:45 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26749 It’s that time of year when we look ahead, make enormous plans and discuss new strategies for the coming year. As more leaders discuss becoming a customer-centric company, I wonder if they actually walk the talk and put actions into their plans. What if all strategy plans included customer-centric ideas and tactics? A successful customer-centric strategy emerges with […]

Author information

Jeannie Walters

CEO/Founder at 360Connext

Jeannie Walters (@jeanniecw) is the CEO of 360Connext, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. Her trademarked process, called Customer Experience Investigation™, has helped companies improve customer experience for 16 years.

Jeannie is a charter member, and the Chicagoland Ambassador for, the Customer Experience Professionals Association, an editorial team member for Social Media Club, and a TEDx Speaker. To learn more about improving customer experience, read her publications on InsideCXM, iMedia Connection, Social Media Today, and 360Connext.com.

The post How Developed is Your Customer-Centric Strategy for 2015? appeared first on SteamFeed.


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customer-centric strategy

It’s that time of year when we look ahead, make enormous plans and discuss new strategies for the coming year. As more leaders discuss becoming a customer-centric company, I wonder if they actually walk the talk and put actions into their plans.

What if all strategy plans included customer-centric ideas and tactics?

A successful customer-centric strategy emerges with these things in mind:

  • Customers act on their own emotions, not metrics.
  • Internal culture has a direct impact on the customer experience.
  • It’s not just what you say, but how you say it.
  • Good and bad feedback are welcome from all sides.
  • Customer insight is essential to innovation.

Instead of just the traditional, out-dated strategy, why not include customer-focused ideas like these?

1. Track customer-centric KPI’s.

Instead of only listing profit and revenue and new customer growth as the important numbers to track, customer experience leaders and industry game-changers include items like customer lifetime value, customer satisfaction and/or Net Promoter Score, and customer referrals in their customer-centric strategies.

2. Invest in employees, then invest more.

My favorite example of this is how Whole Foods CEO John Mackey described his overall strategy.

 In a Harvard Business Review interview, Mackey describes what has brought success to Whole Foods. “Customers, employees, investors, suppliers, larger communities, and the environment are all interdependent,” he explains. “Management’s job at Whole Foods is to make sure that we hire good people, that they are well trained, and that they flourish in the workplace, because we found that when people are really happy in their jobs, they provide much higher degrees of service to the customers.  Happy team members result in happy customers.  Happy customers do more business with you.  They become advocates for your enterprise, which results in happy investors.  That is a win, win, win, win strategy.”tech

Nothing serves customers better than happy, well-trained and empowered employees. Investing in them is a vital part of your overall strategy.

customer-centric strategy

3. Revise your communications strategy.

Decide that 2015 will be the year of living transparently and thoughtfully.

Share your plans with your customers. Involve them in the process. Speak and write in the tone you would use for a friend. Lose all the corporate speak, both inside and out of your organization. If it doesn’t sound honest, it’s probably not. Trust your communication pros to shine by being honest and transparent.

4. Stop shooting the messengers.

Your employees know more than you think. They recognize when processes and standards aren’t working for your customers. But if they’ve learned not to speak up about what goes wrong because they fear punishment, it’s time to put an end to that. Pronto.

Make a positive example out of those employees who speak up about broken parts of the customer experience. Reward the naysayers who make the entire journey better. Write this into your strategy. Make it a corporate value. Embrace the stuff that goes wrong, and celebrate those who tell you about it!

5. Invite your customers into your most important meetings.

Consider a standard meeting you have. Invite at least one customer into a board meeting every month. Ask customers to share their success and horror stories with your sales teams at their quarterly retreats. Invite your most tech-unsavvy customers to speak with your digital marketing department at the kick-off meeting for the online experience redesign.

Customers should be part of the everyday and the important, but if it’s not written into your strategy, they will be pushed aside for the next big goal.

There are so many small changes that can add up to a big result. As you develop your 2015 business strategy, don’t forget to include the very people for whom you’re doing all the work.

Image credits: John-Morganaturkus via Creative Commons license

Author information

Jeannie Walters
Jeannie Walters (@jeanniecw) is the CEO of 360Connext, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. Her trademarked process, called Customer Experience Investigation™, has helped companies improve customer experience for 16 years. Jeannie is a charter member, and the Chicagoland Ambassador for, the Customer Experience Professionals Association, an editorial team member for Social Media Club, and a TEDx Speaker. To learn more about improving customer experience, read her publications on InsideCXM, iMedia Connection, Social Media Today, and 360Connext.com.

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How To Make Coupon Sites Work For Your Brand http://www.steamfeed.com/6-ways-make-coupon-sites-work-brand/ http://www.steamfeed.com/6-ways-make-coupon-sites-work-brand/#respond Tue, 09 Dec 2014 12:45:14 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26824 Trying to navigate the world of coupon sites can be challenging as retailers seek to gain exposure and traffic without sacrificing margin or compromising the brand. While much of the focus over the past few years has been about “if” retailers should work with coupon sites, the real focus for many retailers should be on […]

Author information

Robert Glazer

Founder and Managing Director at Acceleration Partners

Robert Glazer, founder and managing director of Acceleration Partners, is a customer acquisition specialist with an exceptional track record in growing revenue and profits for fast-growing consumer products and services companies. His clients include adidas, eBay, ModCloth, One Kings Lane, Reebok, Shutterfly, Target, Gymboree Tiny Prints, zulily, and many other consumer brands.

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large_10866048103

Trying to navigate the world of coupon sites can be challenging as retailers seek to gain exposure and traffic without sacrificing margin or compromising the brand. While much of the focus over the past few years has been about “if” retailers should work with coupon sites, the real focus for many retailers should be on “how” to do so productively.

As with any successful marketing program, it starts with aligning your promotional strategy with your brand and business goals. Read on to find out:

  • Whether you should work with a coupon site.
  • What an effective online promotion strategy can give your brand.
  • How to get a great return on your investment.
  • How to build successful relationships with individual coupon sites.

Should You Work With Coupon Sites?

Traditionally, online retailers have leveraged coupon sites under the belief that they bring great reach and results. But there are some efficiencies and considerations to keep in mind.

For example, if your brand is advertising on a coupon site but you don’t offer coupons or don’t want to be associated with discounts, working with coupon sites likely wouldn’t support your business strategy.

Conversely, if you sell commodity products that have a lot of competition and if discounts are important for driving sales, partnering with coupon sites could make a lot of sense.

Additionally, if your online marketing efforts are mature and you’re looking for additional sales levers to pull, coupon sites could be a good opportunity if you use some creativity to ensure they’re supporting your overarching business goals.

What Coupon Sites Can Do for You

If you carefully navigate your way through the available options, coupon sites can provide a powerful way to drive brand awareness and sales. These sites have broad reach and access to huge user bases, which can help you connect with your target customers and increase brand awareness, loyalty, and impulse buys. But to truly reap the benefits of coupon sites, retailers must figure out exactly where they need help and drive these opportunities.

Here are examples of retailers leveraging coupon sites to:

Drive in-store sales.

A global brand with both online and brick-and-mortar stores was interested in testing whether affiliates could drive offline sales. Five top coupon sites were given printable coupons with unique barcodes that could be redeemed for an in-store discount. Over the course of the three-month test, the five coupon sites drove 17 percent of the total affiliate program sales in brick-and-mortar stores.

The in-store team gained a new mechanism to drive sales, the affiliate team was pleased with the increase in sales, and the coupon sites enjoyed the increased commissions, as well as the opportunity to prove their value.

Sell excess inventory.

A leading athletic apparel retailer had excess inventory that was difficult to sell because it only included limited sizes and colors. This liability was turned into a major opportunity by creating an affiliate-exclusive private sale. The retailer created a hidden landing page with the excess inventory and offered coupon sites an exclusive coupon code on the limited-time private sale. The sale ran during an otherwise slow sales week. Affiliates sold the inventory in three days, and weekly revenue increased 46 percent compared to the same week the previous year.

Results like these are hard to ignore, and the deals these sites offer make your brand even harder to ignore. So how can you duplicate those kinds of results for your company? By making each coupon site you work with part of an airtight marketing strategy.

How to Use Coupon Sites Effectively

Here are a few tips for making the most of coupon sites:

1. Choose your partners wisely. You don’t have to associate your company with every coupon site in existence to make the most of your online promotion strategy. Being selective with partners and placements ensures you’re not overinvesting or spreading your marketing efforts too thin.

Compliance is also a large part of the coupon business, and trying to monitor 100 sites is nearly impossible. This is why it’s essential to work with coupon sites that have account managers who are innovative, responsive, and results-focused. Some coupon sites with strong account management teams include RetailMeNot, Brad’s Deals, and Coupons.com.

2. Actively manage your relationships. The best strategies for leveraging coupon sites involve tight management structures, where an in-house manager or independent third-party agency works closely with his counterpart at the coupon site to create a strategy tailored to your brand.

Utilizing experienced in-house managers or specialized third-party firms will help you make educated choices, optimize your campaigns, and establish success metrics to ensure your ideal customers find your products. If you don’t pay any attention to your partners and don’t provide them with content, incentives, or direction, you shouldn’t expect great results.

3. Set commissions based on value. Coupon sites won’t be worthwhile for you if they don’t encourage the behavior you want from customers. Companies are increasingly putting less value on clicks and sales that come after the product is in the cart or from a trademark search. They’re placing a higher value on actively promoted offers and in-store coupons.

To build a successful relationship with a coupon site, adjust your commission structure to reward your partners for the actions you value, and avoid paying out large commissions on cart-based traffic. Your coupon site strategy should sit right at the top of the sales funnel or focus on winning back customers.

4. Focus on offers and placements. Once you have a secure, holistic strategy in place for managing your participation across a range of coupon sites, you can focus on building relationships with individual sites. Make your offers clear and easy for affiliates to use. Deliver simple, compelling commissions, and offer performance incentives for surpassing sales goals to make promoting your brand more attractive.

It’s essential to update your offers regularly. Develop new, unique promotions for each site you work with, and jump on their blogging, social media, and email opportunities so they’re incentivized to promote your brand.

5. Track results and incrementality. Carefully choose a tracking platform to accompany your promotion strategy that will allow you to get a holistic view of where your sales are coming from and which channels are responsible. Incrementality can show you which efforts are delivering new customers and which are simply targeting existing customers.

Tracking and analyzing the customer journey at regular intervals will allow you to understand how coupon sites are supporting your goals, increase your average order value, and improve your bottom line.

6. Keep it fresh. It may seem obvious, but it’s important that you keep your offers fresh so you’re ready to strike while the iron is hot. Try out a few different kinds of offers to see what moves the needle, and refine as you go. Favor single-use coupon codes over more universally accepted coupon codes, and expire your coupons within a reasonable amount of time so they stay within the intended channels. This not only makes it easier to track results, but it also creates a sense of urgency for shoppers.

By shaping your strategy and investing in each site you use, you can leverage online promotions to drive awareness, attract and excite new and existing customers, and grow your ROI in the long run. How are you shaping your coupon site strategy to serve your brand?

photo credit: rose3694 via photopin cc


Author information

Robert Glazer
Founder and Managing Director at Acceleration Partners
Robert Glazer, founder and managing director of Acceleration Partners, is a customer acquisition specialist with an exceptional track record in growing revenue and profits for fast-growing consumer products and services companies. His clients include adidas, eBay, ModCloth, One Kings Lane, Reebok, Shutterfly, Target, Gymboree Tiny Prints, zulily, and many other consumer brands.

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29 Musts You Need To Do Before Launching Your Blog http://www.steamfeed.com/29-musts-need-before-launching-your-blog/ http://www.steamfeed.com/29-musts-need-before-launching-your-blog/#respond Tue, 09 Dec 2014 03:58:00 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=22061 Your blog is most likely going to fail. Want to know why most people fail when it comes to building a successful blog? It’s actually quite simple. For whatever reason (time, money, job, family, etc…) they can’t put in the love that is required to make it successful. Readership is not built overnight nor is […]

Author information

DJ Thistle

D.J. Thistle is a co-founder of SteamFeed, a blog that focuses on the latest trends in social media, technology, and marketing. His passion in technology is only rivaled by his desire to connect with others through social media. He has been a featured speaker multiple times on how to get started in social media at various wine industry events. He has spent the last 9 years teaching in public and private schools in Massachusetts and California. He is happily married and enjoys every moment of raising his beautiful daughter.

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Your blog is most likely going to fail.

Want to know why most people fail when it comes to building a successful blog?

It’s actually quite simple.

For whatever reason (time, money, job, family, etc…) they can’t put in the love that is required to make it successful.

Readership is not built overnight

Readership is not built overnight nor is it due to some stroke of luck (okay a bit of luck wouldn’t be a bad thing but it’s only a small part of a successful blog). It takes preparation, time, promotion, commitment, constant education, and most of all awesome.

Awesome?

Absolutely. I know it sounds gimmicky but it’s true. If your blog isn’t making people react, engage, or share then your blog is boring and you’re just wasting your time.

Let me put it this way:

In my attempt to make this article “awesome” and provide value to you the reader from start to finish I’ve completely rewritten this introduction three times. I simply don’t want to publish lame content.

Ask yourself if what you just wrote adds to the noise or does it provide real value?

Now that we’re on the same page about the type of content that I believe is necessary to be a successful blogger let’s dive into my tips you should do before launching your blog.

In this article you’ll learn about the following:

  1. What & how much content you’ll need to get started.
  2. Utilizing your network so your content gets distributed.
  3. Setting up your blog.
  4. Marketing your blog.
  5. Creating a balance with your personal life and your blog.

Content

1. Write Your First Article

First, find a topic you’re so passionate about that you can’t help but debate every Tom, Dick, and Harry you see (it helps if you’re also knowledgeable about said topic so you don’t lose credibility with your readers right off the bat).

I would spend no less than 5 hours on this one (writing, research, and images). This is going to be the article that introduces you, your brand and your blog to the world. First impressions are important.

You should consider the following:

  • Blogging voice. Make it unique but stay true to what you’re passionate about.
  • Make the reader come away with a clear picture of what they can’t expect from your blog.
  • Have a CTA (call to action) to get them to subscribe or follow you on social media and/or join your email list.
  • Triple check your grammar, word choice, and formatting. Get someone to edit for you.

Resources you should check out:

2. Write Your Next 10 Articles

I know that’s a big jump from writing one but trust me you’ll want a bank of articles you can rely on for the first 90 days or so your blog is live. You’re going to be very busy marketing your articles, blog, brand, etc…  plus life just always gets in the way. You won’t always have time to write. Spend at least 3 hours on each of these articles so you’ll feel good about hitting the publish button on all of them when that rainy day comes.

You should consider the following:

  • Think about what topics your blog will cover. Make sure that these 10 articles span these topics.
  • Don’t get bogged down by the perfect article. Just write. You’ll need to go back a number of times and edit anyways. Get the core of the article down.

Resources you should check out:

3. Editorial Calendar

Keeping your content organized is essential. If you’re like me you may be writing 3-4 articles at any given time. Mix that in with possible guest contributors and boom things can get hectic quick. You need a way to stay on top of it.

Resources you should check out:

4. Images

A proper image will do wonders for your posts. People are much more likely to share and read your content with a beautiful image.

Have a plan for what you’re going to use for images with your articles. Articles with images get more shares and thus more views.

You should consider the following:

  • You can’t just grab an image off of Google.
  • You can spend as little as a buck on Canva to create something beautiful. Think about how much time you spent on writing and researching the article. Is it not worth at least a $1 to include a great eye-popping image?

Resources you should check out:

Images areImportant!

5. Brainstorm Article Ideas

Create a list of possible article ideas. This shouldn’t take a lot of time. Once you get going you’ll see that one idea leads to another and then it all just starts flowing. You’re bound to have days or weeks that are harder than others. You’ll thank me later that you have this quick list of ideas set aside for moments like that.

Resources you should check out:

6. Evergreen Content

Having a strategy to create quality evergreen content could eventually become the lifeblood of your blog’s traffic. This type of content could provide traffic to your blog for years. Take a look at this great case study on Moz about evergreen content to learn more.

You should consider the following:

  • Pick a specific topic
  • Be as thorough as possible without being long-winded.
  • Make sure your content will be relevant 6-months, 12-months, or even 18-months from the publish date.

Resources you should check out:

7. Set up Guest Posting

Hopefully you’ve been networking with other like-minded bloggers and professionals in your industry. If you have then start letting them know that you’ll be launching your blog soon and would love for them to be a featured guest blogger on your site.

You should consider the following:

  • Don’t cold call people. Build the relationship first before asking for guest posts. Try guest posting for them first so they know that you’re for real and you’re willing to provide value to them as well.

Resources you should check out:

Networking

8. Social Accounts

Make sure you set up your social accounts with a consistent brand name. Pick and choose which networks make the most sense for you to be active on.

You should consider the following:

  • You don’t need to be active on every network but you may want to grab your brand name on them just in case you change your mind. The top networks for bloggers are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine.

9. Communities

Start researching which communities you want to join and become an active participant in (Facebook groups, Google+ communities, LinkedIn groups, Twitter tweet chats, niche specific forums, etc…)

You should consider the following:

  • Don’t join more than a few communities at a time. Almost all communities work the same way. You have to put time and add value to the community before you can expect anything in return. Spend the time showing your new community that you’re there for the right reasons.

10. Connect With Like-Minded Bloggers & Influencers

Most bloggers are always looking to expand their networks. Start reading and connecting with the best mid and high tier bloggers in your niche. If you do this correctly that once you start publishing great content on your blog some of these already established bloggers may start linking to you.

You should consider the following:

  • Find ways that make sense in your content to link to their content. Most bloggers will take notice and be thankful.

11. Reach Out To Your Current Network

You’ll want to start sending out teasers to your current network letting them know that you’ll be launching your blog soon so that once you do launch they’ll all be ready to help you promote it.

 Blog Structure

12.  Plugins

You’re definitely going to want to do some research on getting the plugins that work best for your blog. Make a list of all the plugins you find. Now take that list and create two lists from that one; plugins you need and plugins you think are cool. Start with the ones you need then go from there. Look at this 2014 Plugin list that Jeff Bullas created to help you get started.

You should consider the following:

  • Make sure you’re backing up your website database. You can use a plugin but if you’re not familiar with this you may want to hire a professional.
  • Use security plugins to keep unwanted guests from wreaking havoc on your site. It’s much easier for them to get in than you think. Plugins: WordFence Security, Login Lockdown, and BulletProof Security (again, if you’re unfamiliar with these plugins and how to set them up you may want to consider hiring a professional. Paul Cooley helped us at SteamFeed.

13. Buy a Theme

I know there are a ton of pretty good free themes out there but if you’re serious about getting a professional looking blog I highly encourage you look into buying a fully functional theme that fits your brand’s personality and needs. You can find some great themes for under a $100. I personally enjoy StudioPress.

14. Get a Logo

If you can create a logo, awesome. However, be real about it. If your logo looks unprofessional then people will look at you and your brand the same way.

Do you want to take that chance?

For a few hundred dollars you can find someone to create a professional logo that you’ll use most likely use for years.

You should consider the following:

  • Make sure you get images that you can use for your social media accounts as well.

15. Set Up Your Mailing List

Don’t wait to start collecting and nurturing your email list. These are people who are basically saying “I like you enough to give you my email. Now show me some value.” Start building these relationships from day one.

You should consider the following:

Check out this video about Email List Building on Social Triggers by Derek Halpern

16. Set Up Your Google Analytics

You need to keep track of your data if you want your blog to grow. There are plenty of plugins and guides out there to help you get the most out of your analytics. How else are going to decipher which cat memes are performing the best for you?

17. Mobile Friendly

More and more people are browsing the internet using smartphones and tablets. You absolutely need to make sure your blog is optimized for mobile. To do that your theme needs to be either mobile responsive or you need a mobile plugin that can change the theme according to how someone is viewing your site.

18. Mission Statement

It’s important to have a clear direction for your blog right from the beginning. This isn’t set in stone and your blog will mostly likely evolve and change over time. However, having a mission statement gets you moving in the right direction. In the early days you’ll come across decisions that need to made (monetization, links, guest blogging, voice, etc…) and having a mission statement will give you something concrete to refer to.

You should consider the following:

  • Keep your it short and to the point.
  • Use your missions statement as a guide to help you make decisions.

Resources you should check out:

19. RSS Feed

We just recently parted ways with Feedburner for SteamFeed because we wanted to have more control and not rely on a 3rd party. Regardless of what you use make sure your feed is up and running.

You should consider the following:

  • Consider the pros and cons of displaying your full blog post or just a preview in your feed.
  • There are a number of uses for your feed (email feed, social sharing, blog directories, etc..).

Resources you should check out:

20. Contact

You need to make it easy for your readers to get in touch with you. It can be a contact page, an email icon button, or just your phone number in the footer, but make sure you give them something.

Resources you should check out:

21. Navigation Bar

Come up with a list of the most important topics you’ll be covering on your blog. Not only will this help you organize your blog’s direction and focus your keywords it will also give you your navigation bar if you use one.

22. Create an About Me Page

One of the first things I do after I find a new blog is I check out their about me page. This is your space to get creative and give your readers some insight into you and what you stand for.

rosssimmonds2

 

23. Coming Soon

Create a coming soon page. There are plenty of plugins you can use to accomplish this. Make sure you have an email capture on this page so you can  email everyone on launch day that your blog is now live.

Marketing

24. Tell the World

It’s vital that you start to build momentum for your blog heading into launch day. Start tweeting, posting on Facebook, creating graphics for Pinterest, etc… to let the world know what’s coming.

You should consider the following:

  • There is a fine line between marketing and spamming. Be aware of how you’re being perceived.

Tell the world you're here...

25. Video Teaser

Create a short high-quality video of yourself explaining what your new blog will be all about then upload it to your YouTube channel then push it out to your network as best as you can.

26. Twitter Chats

Find relevant Twitter chats, then join them so you can become the featured guest / co-host. Use your expertise to provide value then use the platform to promote your blog.

Resources you should check out:

27. Get Creative

This one is a bit open-ended. The bottom-line is you’re going to have to get creative and market yourself and/or your blog in order to get any traction. Marketing and quality content are equally the two most important things about any blog.

Resources you should check out:

Personal

28. Get Organized

Get your life organized before you take on a blog. If you have a set time when you’re going to blog, market, tweet, edit, chat, etc… you’ll be more consistent. If you’re sporadic and start flaking on your blog your readers will move on.

You should consider the following:

  • If you plan on blogging full-time make sure you have a steady income from some other means because it’s extremely rare to make a living wage off of blogging in the first year. I suggest you keep your job and blog at night, in the early morning hours, and on weekends, until you have a large enough audience and strong business plan where you can make that leap.
  • If you have a spouse/partner/wife/husband then talk to them about your plans to start a blog. Make sure they understand the undertaking you’re about to embark on. In an ideal world they’ll be supportive of your cause. It will definitely make it easier.

29. Goals

Create real and attainable goals for your blog. Keep it simple and measurable (for example don’t just say I want a lot of people to read my blog, instead say I want 100 people to read my blog within the first month).

You should consider the following:

  • Some goals that may be helpful to you: Emails you’ve collected, visitors to your blog, conversions for a product/service you’re selling, leads you’ve created, etc…

Bringing it all together…

Blogging can be very meaningful to you and your business if done the right way. Put yourself in the best possible situation to be successful with your blog by being properly prepared.


Author information

DJ Thistle
D.J. Thistle is a co-founder of SteamFeed, a blog that focuses on the latest trends in social media, technology, and marketing. His passion in technology is only rivaled by his desire to connect with others through social media. He has been a featured speaker multiple times on how to get started in social media at various wine industry events. He has spent the last 9 years teaching in public and private schools in Massachusetts and California. He is happily married and enjoys every moment of raising his beautiful daughter.

The post 29 Musts You Need To Do Before Launching Your Blog appeared first on SteamFeed.

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How To Create a Successful Social Media Giving Campaign for December http://www.steamfeed.com/create-successful-social-media-giving-campaign-december/ http://www.steamfeed.com/create-successful-social-media-giving-campaign-december/#respond Mon, 08 Dec 2014 15:00:19 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26848 Would Your Charity Like To Receive More Monetary Donations? As I put my thoughts down on paper today, it is #GivingTuesday. It’s the day after Cyber Monday and falls in right behind Small Business Saturday and Black Friday! What a crazy, busy holiday weekend we’ve just had.  And don’t forget, all of a sudden we’re […]

Author information

Dorien Morin-van Dam

Dorien is the face behind the orange glasses and is founder of More In Media, a social media consultancy. She consults with clients in the non-profit sector, retail and service industries, as well as PR and community associations. Besides social media consulting and management, she enjoys teaching, speaking, blogging, networking and running marathons. Proud to be Dutch by birth and American by choice, Dorien makes her home in Myrtle Beach, SC with her husband, 4 kids and 3 labradors.

The post How To Create a Successful Social Media Giving Campaign for December appeared first on SteamFeed.


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Would Your Charity Like To Receive More Monetary Donations?

As I put my thoughts down on paper today, it is #GivingTuesday. It’s the day after Cyber Monday and falls in right behind Small Business Saturday and Black Friday! What a crazy, busy holiday weekend we’ve just had.  And don’t forget, all of a sudden we’re in December, preparing for the next holiday and the end of the year! And no, this post is not going to be about #GivingTuesday.

What I will address and what you will learn about in the article are the following

  • Reasons why people donate more money in December than any other month.
  • Actionable ideas to implement in your giving campaign this month.
  • 3  Free resources for learning how to run your own successful giving campaign.

If your non-profit organization participated in #GivingTuesday, good for you! Now is the time to build upon that extra traffic and boost you received, to finish the year strong. If your charity did not participate in #GivingTuesday, it’s not too late to ‘capitalize’, for lack of a better word, on the giving season. Why now? Let’s look at these staggering stats.

Charitable Online Giving Stats for the month of December

(as taken from the Online Giving Study)

  • 30% of annual giving occurs in the month of December.
  • 10% of annual giving occurs on the last 3 days of the year.
  • Online giving (by dollars) on December 31 is concentrated between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m.

And here are two more statistic to sink your teeth in

  • Branded giving pages account for 54% of online giving.
  • Branded giving pages raise six times more in contributions than generic giving pages.

digitalgivingindex_2013_full

Digital Giving Index infographic courtesy of Network for Good

Why Do People Give More Money in December Than at Any Other Time?

There are three main reasons for December giving.

  1. Contributions are tax deductible in the year they are made. December being the last month, and last opportunity to give in 2014, people figure out their total giving and if they do not have enough deductible gifts, will often do so in this last month of the year. Meaning, donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2014 count for 2014. This is true even if the credit card bill isn’t paid until 2015. Also, checks count for 2014 as long as they are mailed in 2014.
  2. Heightened sense of awareness of charitable organization and the needy during the holidays. As people are shopping and pampering their loved ones, they are acutely aware of what they have, and what others do not. Charitable organizations, and increased media coverage during this time, have done a great job of bringing poverty and hunger to the foreground during this season of giving. No one wants to see the poor go hungry, or know of a child left without gifts under a tree. A sense of unity, a spirit of giving and a long tradition of helping those less fortunate make the holiday season a great time to ‘feel good and do good’.
  3. People Like to Receive Recognition for Being Charitable. Charities tap into this knowledge by offering holiday cards, gifts, and special mentions on programs and websites to those who feel that it’s important to express their moral values to other people.

Several additional reasons someone might be more apt to give during the holiday season include last minute gift giving options and ease of giving, especially for those who live far away (no shipping cost) and those hard-to-buy-for people (instant success).

Lastly, don’t forget to tap into last years’ donor database because almost 80 percent of all gifts are labeled as “100 percent loyal,” meaning most people give to the same familiar brands year after year. Giving, during the holiday season, seems to be a bit of a habit.

Actionable Ideas To Help You With Your Social Media Giving Campaign this December.

So how does knowing the ‘why’ of holiday giving help your non-profits’ holiday campaign? The ‘why’ provides you with invaluable marketing insights. The why will help you choose the right words to use, the right platforms to promote your campaign on and the right images to share. Here are some ideas to use in your giving campaign this month.

  1. Start with a plan, and create a timeline.
  2. Market to the ‘why’ of your target audience! Create marketing materials to reflect this. For example, use the appropriate CTA. “Help A Child in Need This Holiday Season” or “Give the Gift That Keeps on Giving to that Hard-To-Buy-For Relative” or “Looking for a Last-Minute Tax Deduction for 2014? We’d Love to be the Recipient!”
  3. Create a branded giving page on your website and then promote the link on all your social media platforms.
  4. Make sure the payment process in place makes it easy to donate.
  5. Consider offering something tangible to the donor, or offer to send a token of appreciation to an honorary recipient.
  6. Compliment your giving campaign with Facebook ads or sponsored stories.
  7. Ask your brand advocates if they are willing to help you spread the word this month by sharing and promoting on social media.
  8. Create specific daily goals and analyze where most traffic is coming from and which traffic is converting. Adjust your strategy accordingly – you only have a short period of time to get this right!
  9. Don’t forget to share campaign updates throughout the giving season and show your audience what their dollars are doing already, and why additional money is still needed.

3 Resources for Executing your Own Successful Social Media Giving Campaigns

I understand many non-profits have limited, or no marketing budgets and many other NPOs find it scary to invest money into these campaigns without assurance of some sort of ROI. I get that. Therefore I searched and found some great, free, resources for you to use for your NPO with excellent tips to get you started. I am excited to share these with you! No excuses; get started today!

Giving Day Playbook.
10 Best Practice for Planning Successful Crowd Funding or Giving Day Campaigns
The Top 4 Non-Profit Social Media Campaigns of 2013 – And What You Can Learn

How and Why Do You Give?

I would love to know if you give for any other reason than the ones mentioned in this article. The more we know and dive into the ‘how’, ‘why’ and ‘when’ of giving, the easier it will be for those who run these charities, and the giving campaigns, to reach the right people at the right time!


Author information

Dorien Morin-van Dam
Dorien is the face behind the orange glasses and is founder of More In Media, a social media consultancy. She consults with clients in the non-profit sector, retail and service industries, as well as PR and community associations. Besides social media consulting and management, she enjoys teaching, speaking, blogging, networking and running marathons. Proud to be Dutch by birth and American by choice, Dorien makes her home in Myrtle Beach, SC with her husband, 4 kids and 3 labradors.

The post How To Create a Successful Social Media Giving Campaign for December appeared first on SteamFeed.

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How To Finance Your Startup If You Have Bad Credit http://www.steamfeed.com/finance-startup-bad-credit/ http://www.steamfeed.com/finance-startup-bad-credit/#respond Mon, 08 Dec 2014 12:25:58 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26866 Most of us have read about entrepreneurs who launch startups using venture capital or angel funding. They get all the press, but they are in the minority. In reality, most businesses are launched using the assets and credit of the founders. But what if the founders have bad credit and have no assets? Does this […]

Author information

Marco Terry

Marco Terry
Managing Director at Commercial Capital LLC

Marco Terry is the managing director and founder of Commercial Capital LLC and Commercial Capital LLC (Canada). He provides invoice financing to small and midsize companies that need working capital. For more information, please call (877) 300 3258.

The post How To Finance Your Startup If You Have Bad Credit appeared first on SteamFeed.


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business loan application deniedMost of us have read about entrepreneurs who launch startups using venture capital or angel funding. They get all the press, but they are in the minority. In reality, most businesses are launched using the assets and credit of the founders.

But what if the founders have bad credit and have no assets? Does this leave them out of the running? Unfortunately, there is little reliable information about how to finance a business if you have bad credit. And most information that is out there does not offer you a strategy. In this article, you will learn:

  • Two big mistakes to avoid
  • How to evaluate your credit situation
  • The right strategy for approaching lenders
  • Financing sources that fund owners with bad credit

How to kill your chances of getting funding

Let me start by telling you about two mistakes that kill your chances of getting funding if your credit is bad. Almost everyone who has bad credit has made these mistakes. These approaches just don’t work, so I want to get them out of the way.

Mistake #1: Thinking that the bank will finance you solely on your business plan

One of the biggest myths out there is that financial institutions finance people with good business plans – even if their credit is bad. They don’t. This is simply not true.

Banks and lending institutions lend against assets and credit. They finance people who have assets, credit, and good business plans. And, even then, getting funding is very difficult. Getting funding without assets or credit is nearly impossible. You will be laughed out of the bank – literally – if you try this approach.

Mistake #2: Thinking that incorporating will eliminate your credit problems

Another common defense against bad credit is to incorporate. Basically, the entrepreneur asks the lender to finance the corporation – which, of course, has a clean slate. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Unless the newly formed company can provide financial statements and assets to back the request, it will be denied. Even if you can provide proper financial statements, the bank will ask for a personal guarantee from the owner. Institutions will still examine the owner’s assets and credit to make the final decision.

Why does your credit matter, anyway?

The process of getting funded can be very frustrating for entrepreneurs with little credit. But the process gets easier if you understand why credit is so important – and how to approach lenders.

Your credit is important because it’s a measure of how you will manage your company. As you know, companies don’t manage themselves; rather, owners manage their companies. And owners often manage their companies much like they manage their personal lives. This last point is very important.

Entrepreneurs who don’t honor personal debts are also unlikely to honor corporate debts. It sounds harsh, but it’s not an unreasonable assumption.

A better way to deal with bad or no credit

Actually, there is a way to improve your chances of getting funded if your credit is bad. This method also works if you are young and simply have no credit history.

The process has three steps. Bear in mind that following this process does not guarantee that you will get funded. It just improves your chances.

Step #1: Why is your credit bad?

Start with an honest self-assessment and determine why you have bad credit. This step is important because you will have to talk about this matter – extensively.

People have bad credit for a number of reasons. In some cases, bad credit can be the result of explainable circumstances. For example, people who have long, adversarial divorces or expensive illnesses often end up with bad credit. They were not necessarily mismanaging their finances; rather, they were exposed to bad circumstances.

Other people get into credit problems because they live in expensive areas and don’t have sufficient income. They compensate by getting into debt. Ultimately, this approach fails and their credit is affected. In this case, bad credit does not always indicate mismanagement. However, it will be difficult to explain to banks.

Then there are people who experience credit problems because they mismanage their finances – plain and simple. They buy things that they don’t need at prices that they can’t afford. They often look well, drive luxury cars, have nice houses, or take expensive vacations. But the real story is different. They overextend themselves and their credit suffers.

Lastly, there is the person who simply has no credit. Most young entrepreneurs fall into this category. They have not had enough time to build a credit history. Unfortunately, many lenders treat these entrepreneurs no differently than they would treat someone with bad credit.

Step #2: Position your opportunity correctly

The next step is to learn how to position your situation correctly. Don’t try to hide your bad credit. Don’t side-step it. Everybody tries that approach and fails. Instead, be open and upfront about it. Nobody does that, and the lending officer will appreciate the honesty.

You must find a way to position your credit event in a better light – even if your credit problems were caused by financial mismanagement. Above all, don’t complain or play the victim. This approach always fails. Instead, describe events matter-of-factly and with minimal emotion.

If your bad credit is the result of a divorce or serious illness, say so directly. In the case of serious illness, let the lender know that medical bills piled up. Explain how you tried to negotiate a payment plan with the hospital or clinic but ultimately failed. Show them how you made an effort to pay. You get the gist.

Even if your bad credit stems from the wrong financial choices, say so directly. Explain how you made mistakes, paid dearly, and learned your lesson.

Before approaching lenders, practice how you will present this information. Make sure that you can deliver the facts professionally and unemotionally.

I have financed companies owned by individuals who admitted that they had made wrong choices – choices that led to serious financial problems. Owning up to the issues and showing how you are past them goes a long way in earning the respect of a lending officer.

Step #3: Consider realistic options

The last step is to consider realistic options. Don’t expect this strategy to work at a bank. It won’t. Unfortunately, bad credit does limit your financial options. This does not mean that you have no choices; rather, your choices are simply limited.

Select a funding option that works for you and use that option to build your company. It may not be perfect. However, as long as it is “good enough,” you are making progress. Once your finances improve, use that progress as a stepping stone to get better funding.

The following options can be used by individuals who have limited credit or bad credit.

a) Microloans

Microloans are conventional term loans that are provided through the Small Business Administration. They are great for small businesses and you should look into them.

The loans are for small amounts, often under $50,000. They are provided for the purpose of starting a business to individuals with limited or bad credit. These loans are often bundled with business consulting and classes to help you manage your business better.

Microloans are provided through intermediaries – here is a list. Note that these programs vary by state.

b) Factor your accounts receivable

Companies that sell to commercial entities often have to provide net-30 to net-60 day sale terms. However, few startups can afford to wait that long for payment. Often, the company needs the money sooner to pay salaries, buy supplies, or pay expenses.

You can improve your cash flow by factoring your invoices. Factoring allows you to finance slow-paying invoices. It provides you with immediate funding and allows you to extend terms to clients.

One important feature of factoring is that factors fund your invoices based on the credit strength of your client. You can learn more about factoring by reading this and this.

c) Finance you purchase orders

Purchase order financing can help you if your startup sells finished goods to large corporate clients. It covers the direct cost of your suppliers. This solution allows you to fulfill the transaction and book the revenue. The primary advantage of this program is that you can use it to handle very large orders.

Note that PO financing can be used only if you are selling finished goods. It cannot be used if you are selling services or directly manufacturing a product. You can learn more by reading this and this.

d) Lease your equipment

If your startup needs equipment, consider leasing it instead of buying it. The transaction is relatively simple. You work with a finance company who purchases the item and then leases it back to your company. Your company uses the equipment and pays for it through a lease. Many leases have a purchase option at the end of the term. Often, the company structures the lease so that the purchase price is minimal. You can find some sources here.

e) Friends and family investors

Many entrepreneurs try to finance their businesses using investments from friends and family. This source of funding can be dangerous. If things go wrong, it could cost you the relationship. But there are situations in which it can work.

It’s best to seek funding from only those friends and family members who are interested in working in your startup, have contacts, and have money to invest. Learn how to ask correctly. Keep in mind that this guidance only minimizes the chance of problems – it does not eliminate it.

Image credit: Loan Application Denied Stamp Shows Credit Rejected © Stuart Miles – Fotolia


Author information

Marco Terry
Marco Terry
Managing Director at Commercial Capital LLC
Marco Terry is the managing director and founder of Commercial Capital LLC and Commercial Capital LLC (Canada). He provides invoice financing to small and midsize companies that need working capital. For more information, please call (877) 300 3258.

The post How To Finance Your Startup If You Have Bad Credit appeared first on SteamFeed.

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Powerful Insights For Developing Your Personal Brand (Part 1) http://www.steamfeed.com/powerful-insights-developing-personal-brand-part-1/ http://www.steamfeed.com/powerful-insights-developing-personal-brand-part-1/#respond Mon, 08 Dec 2014 10:28:55 +0000 http://www.steamfeed.com/?p=26873 I gather you’re interested in personal branding. I see several posts on the topic here on SteamFeed have been popular favorites. I’m with you. In fact, earlier this year, my friend and collaborator Seth Price of Placester, contributed a post featuring an infographic, The Complete A to Z Guide to Personal Branding, a project I […]

Author information

Barry Feldman

Barry Feldman operates Feldman Creative and provides clients content marketing strategies that rock and creative that rolls. Barry has recently been named a Top 40 Digital Strategist by Online Marketing Institute and one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. Visit Feldman Creative and his blog, The Point.

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I gather you’re interested in personal branding. I see several posts on the topic here on SteamFeed have been popular favorites. I’m with you.

In fact, earlier this year, my friend and collaborator Seth Price of Placester, contributed a post featuring an infographic, The Complete A to Z Guide to Personal Branding, a project I authored and collaborated with his company to develop. If you missed it, please check it out.

Personal branding is vital to the growth of your career and business interests and given the explosive use of social media, all kinds of new challenges and opportunities await you.

Copy (1) of Personal Branding

The benefits of creating and perpetually developing your personal brand include:

  • Attracting a steady stream of clients.
  • Forging rewarding new partnerships.
  • Capitalizing on leadership opportunities.
  • Earning great mindshare.
  • Building a strong association with a market niche.
  • Winning greater credibility.
  • Garnering recognition and prestige.
  • Elevating your perceived value.

Good stuff, eh?

Now let’s do a deeper dive on personal branding

I must say, I’m so glad I conceived the A to Z list. It became my most viewed and shared piece of content in 2014, or maybe ever. I now present the material at conferences and get interviewed about it often. In fact, it’ll be the focus of a webinar hosted by LeadSquared on December 12, so feel free to reserve your spot.

My friend and Google+ master, Martin Shervington, discovered the infographic and invited me to speak to each of the 26 tips in a Google+ Hangout On Air. It took us about 60 minutes to cover all the material and answer questions, so Martin wisely cut the video into three shorter segments. Here’s the first segment, covering the topic at large and delving into A, B, C, D, and E. Enjoy.

The first video segment covers:

A is for Authenticity

Playwright Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Wise words. You see, the niche you work in may be specific, but it’s not unique. You are. Do you know what makes you fascinating?
Do you play to your strengths?

You need to build your brand on your values, point of view, knowledge, and the unique characteristics that make you. This is what will separate you from the crowd.

B is for Blog

Your identity is tied to your blog. It’s the window people look through to see what you know and discover what you think. Make your blog a knowledge bank. Connect with readers and grow a community. Don’t have a blog? It’s time to start.

C is for Content

You need to create content beyond your blog because people have different media preferences.

Identify where your target market spends time online and meet them there. Take advantage of social media, visual media, podcasting, and video to continuously expand your digital footprint. And don’t forget to cross-promote your content. Create links back to your blog.

D is for Define Your Audience

As the CEO of your brand, you need to know your audience as well as possible. Who are they? Do you aim to appeal to multiple segments?

Dig deep to gather a strong grasp of your audience both demographically and psychographically. What are their concerns? Pain points? Desires? Aim for their hearts.

E is for Email List

Email is your money media. Everyone in the professional world uses email. Email marketing affords you a private and personal way to create a dialogue
with your audience, partners, influencers, etc.

Learn how to get subscribers, master email marketing, and strive to build a quality list. Develop valuable offers to entice people to join your list. Create obvious call to actions on your website and blog. Develop a consistent habit of staying top-of-mind with email.

Stay tuned for parts two and three of this blog and video series.


Author information

Barry Feldman
Barry Feldman operates Feldman Creative and provides clients content marketing strategies that rock and creative that rolls. Barry has recently been named a Top 40 Digital Strategist by Online Marketing Institute and one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. Visit Feldman Creative and his blog, The Point.

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