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    What's New on Social Media Sites? Recent Changes You Should Know

    Last updated 1 year ago

    The past few months have brought some interesting and important changes to the world of social media and online marketing. We’re taking a look at the most important updates to the top social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest and how they can impact the way you market your business on those sites.

    Facebook Hashtags

    Taking a page out of the Twitter and Instagram playbooks, Facebook announced earlier this month that it will now support hashtag functionality. Users can add a hashtag to a word or phrase, and the word will become clickable. Then, when a Facebook user clicks on that word or phrase, a news feed will pop up that pulls up public posts that have been tagged with the same word or phrase. This makes it easy for users to discover other similar content or for a group of people to follow the conversation on Facebook around a specific hashtag term, such as a sporting event, campaign, public event, concert, TV program, or promotion. As a business, you will be able to use Facebook hashtags for a variety of purposes, such as promoting your products or services, integrating them into your Facebook campaigns, and more.  Remember not to use too many hashtags, and only use those that are relevant to the post or to your business.

    Twitter Analytics

    Twitter is currently conducting a staged rollout of a native analytics dashboard for a select group of users. If you’re a selected user, this dashboard is accessible by logging into your account on Twitter’s advertising page. From this dashboard, you can see how many times your tweets were retweeted, received replies, or were favorited. You can also see a graph of your mentions, follows, and unfollows. You can also sort your tweets by “Best, Good, or All” and even download the list into a CSV file for offline analysis. If you’re unable able to access Twitter Analytics today, Twitter will eventually make this feature available to all users. You can use these native analytics to learn more about how your tweets, campaigns, and twitter strategies are performing.

    Google Plus Dashboard for Business Pages

    Google is rolling out its Google+ Dashboard to all users. This dashboard gives SMBs a way to update company information, including website URLs, store hours, and phone numbers from a single location. This information is then distributed to Google Maps and Google+ pages. Page owners can also use this area to assign page managers, share photos and videos, and start hangouts (video chat) with fans and customers. The dashboard also provides a way to monitor your Google+ page, see “at-a-glance” information about your AdWords Express account, generate special offers through Google Offers, and get insights about your business, such as top searches, sources of driving direction requests, and performance of your posts on Google+.

    LinkedIn: Rich Media   

    LinkedIn is rolling out its rich media feature to users over the course of the next few weeks. What is rich media? It’s images, videos, documents, and presentations – the visual and written content that gives more depth to a LinkedIn profile than words alone. With rich media, LinkedIn members can post pictures, videos, and other content to their individual profiles. Rich media can help the SMB owner reach their personal LinkedIn network through helpful content that promotes their business and industry and engages audience interest. For example, a professional portrait photographer could post work samples to her profile and then promote that post out to her LinkedIn network.

    Pinterest: Rich Pins

    Pinterest recently added a new feature called rich pins, which include more information than a standard Pinterest pin. There are three types of rich pins: recipe, product, and movie pins. Recipe pins include ingredients, cooking times, and serving information. Product pins include real-time pricing, location, and availability information. Movie pins include ratings, cast members, and reviews. SMBs whose products or services fall within these categories are now well positioned to create pins with more information, which can lead to more shares and discoverability by other users on the site.

    Instagram Video

    Video continues to be a popular way to reach consumers and add depth to your marketing content. Now, Instagram has added videos to its photo-sharing platform. SMBs who use Instagram can record videos that are up to 15 seconds in length. Thirteen video filters are also available. Plus, after recording a video, you can select a frame from a video to use as the video cover image. When considering adding video to your marketing plan, think about the kinds of video you can create within the 15-second limit, such as part of an event, an introduction of a new product, or a quick tour of your store. Take advantage of Instagram’s and Facebook’s hashtag support to tag your videos with relevant content. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, you can choose to post your “Instavideos” to your Facebook page as well.

    Google Maps Update

    The next generation of Google Maps was announced at the Google I/O convention in San Francisco in May and the launch of its app for Android was announced July 10. Although still in phased rollout, Google Maps’ refresh will offer some promising features small businesses will appreciate once the full rollout occurs. For example, information cards will provide helpful information like a company’s business hours, business ratings, and Zagat reviews. And your customers will enjoy road re-routing directions to your business in the event of slow traffic or car accidents near your location.

    Do you plan to use any of these new features in your social media and online marketing? Let us know in the comments section!


    Amy Neeley helps small- and medium-size businesses navigate the world of online marketing with information and insights featured on the ReachLocal blog. Connect with her on Twitter.



    Infographic: The Consumer Buying Journey

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Have you ever considered what the typical buying journey looks like for your target consumers? Understanding this journey can be a critical piece of information you need to develop the best marketing strategy for your business.

    To begin, you need to know elements that define your target consumers, such as their target location, age range, income level, and areas of interest.

    Once you identify your target audience, it’s time to think about the steps they might take when buying from a business like yours. What types of advertising do they see? Where do they go to research your types of products and services? How do they contact you? And after buying from you, how do they communicate and review their experience (whether good or bad)? With these details, you can determine which marketing tactics will help reach consumers at each of these phases in their decision-making process. 

    This infographic illustrates a sample buying journey for a plumber. It follows the consumer’s purchasing decision through each stage of the buying funnel: Discover, Contact, Choose, and Review/Repeat. 

    Are you effectively reaching consumers at each phase of the buying funnel? To learn how to apply the consumer buying journey framework to your business, download the ebook How Consumers Buy Today: Harnessing the Buying Journey to Get More Customers.

    3 Steps To Building A 5-Star Online Reputation [Infographic]

    Last updated 1 year ago

    When a consumer searches for your business online, do they see positive reviews with 4- to 5-star ratings or several complaints from unsatisfied customers? If they see the latter, you might be losing potential customers because of your online reputation.

    Luckily, there are steps you can take to help improve your business’ reputation online. Just keep in mind that building a positive reputation takes time and effort, especially if you have negative reviews working against you. Start by following the steps in this infographic, and you will be on your way to building a better online reputation. 

    Want to learn more about how to monitor, manage, and build a positive reputation online? Download our ebook, “Navigating Your Online Reputation.” 

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    Get More Opens: 15 Email Subject Line Formulas that Work

    Last updated 1 year ago

    One of the most important parts of any marketing email is often the part that most people spend the least amount of time crafting – the subject line. But this short amount of copy is the first hurdle that stands between you and your recipient. So, in order to make your email marketing program more effective, it’s important to craft the right subject line. No matter the content of your email, keep your subject lines short (50 characters or fewer) and be specific, always telling the reader what they will get by opening your email.

    Try these 15 email subject line formulas to get your email opened. 

    Ask Readers to Take Action

    To get a target consumer or customer to take action, it’s important to include action verbs in your subject line. Similar to a call to action on your website or advertising, your subject line should create a sense of urgency and provide a benefit to the reader. For instance, a subject line like “Get a Sneak Peek of Our Summer Menu Items” is more actionable than simply “River Grill Summer Menu Items.” This formula can work well for timely news such as upcoming events, product launches, or special promotions.

    1) Meet the Chef of [Business Name] on [Date/Time]

    2) Try Out [Product/Service] at [Discount]

    3) Refer a Friend and Get [Special Offer

    Create an Announcement or Invitation

    If you want your potential or current clients to feel like you care about them, send them an email invitation or special announcement. Whether you’re holding an event or announcing a new product, service, or store location, using words like “Invitation” or “Announcement” can grab your readers’ attention. Try these formulas for creating excitement with your audience.

    4) You’re Invited to [Company Name] Annual [Event Name]

    5) Announcing [Company Name] Brand New [Product/Service]

    6) [Company Name] Invites You to a [Product/Service] Open House

    Localize Your Content

    Consumers want to know about what’s going on in their neighborhood. So, let them know you’re in their area by including the location in your subject line. If you’re located in or serve more than one location, segment your emails based on city or ZIP code to ensure the right audience gets your emails. For example, if you have a new apartment complex in a specific neighborhood in Dallas, you can send an email just to prospects in that area inviting them to take a tour. 

    7) Join Us for the Grand Opening of Our [Location] Store

    8) Check Out [Company Name]’s Newest Store in [Location]

    9) [Location] Residents: Get [Discount] When You Book [Service]

    Provide Helpful Content

    It’s important not to just send sales-related emails to your prospects and customers. You should also be sending them useful content, such as helpful tips in your industry or best practices for using your product or service. For instance, if you’re a home remodeling business, you could send an email with tips for choosing a paint color.

    10) Your Guide to [Industry-Related Topic]

    11) How To Get the Most Out of [Product/Service]

    12) 5 Tips to Extend the Life of Your [Product/Service]

    Send a Company Newsletter

    One way to get the open from your audience is by sending regular emails with all of your company news, events, and helpful information. If you opt to send a newsletter, use the same subject line formula every time so your readers will become familiar with the cadence and content of your emails. This enables you to build a relationship with clients and prospects, which can impact the likelihood they will open your sales and marketing emails. An analysis conducted by MailChimp showed that emails that contained the company name were more frequently opened than those that didn’t. 

    13) [Company Name] Newsletter - [Date]

    14) Pulse on [Company Name]

    15) [Company Name] Newsflash

    What subject line formulas have worked well for your business? Let us know in the comments!

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    17 Expensive Marketing Mistakes that Cost You Customers

    Last updated 1 year ago

    Investing in online marketing is critical for businesses that want to grow their customer base – and ultimately their business. But, simply spending on online marketing doesn’t guarantee you results. You have to make sure that not only is your marketing itself effective, but also that you’re not making some of these (unfortunately common) expensive mistakes that can cost you customers.

    Are you making any of these expensive online marketing mistakes?

    1. Not tracking your online marketing.

    Tracking enables you to know which of your marketing tactics are working – and which ones aren’t. Continuing to invest your marketing budget into tactics that don’t work means you probably aren’t reaching the right consumers in the first place. It’s important to track these tactics so you can reach consumers who are actually in your target so you can convert more of them into customers. 

    2. Driving website visitors to fill out a Web form no one checks.

    Do you know where all your website contact forms are going? And if so, how frequently are you checking them? If you’re not sure, or not regularly reviewing leads you get from your website, you are probably investing in an important website feature you’re not taking advantage of – and missing out on converting a lot of potential customers.

    3. Paying for a website that’s not optimized.

    Simply having a website doesn’t mean it’s helping drive customers to your business. Investing in a website that’s not optimized for search engines and conversions could be costing you twofold. First, it’s likely you’re not even being found when your target consumers are searching for your products or services. And second, those that do find your website can’t contact you if your site doesn’t have easy to find contact information like your phone number or email address.

    4. Not targeting your advertising to the right people.

    Online advertising has powerful targeting capabilities – but targeting your ads to the wrong people – such as those outside of your geographic area, target age range, or income level ­– or worse, not targeting your ads at all – is both wasted effort and expense. 

    5. Paying for search ads that don’t use the right keywords.

    Search advertising is pay-per-performance, so you might be paying for clicks on keywords that aren’t really working to drive leads from your website. Not all keywords are created equal, so make sure the ones you are bidding on and using in your text ads help your ads show up when people search for your products and services, so they’re more likely to click your ad and convert.

    6. Not bidding on your business name in search ads.

    Regardless of whether you “own” your business name in organic search, it’s important to bid on your business name in paid search ads as well. Chances are, your competitors are bidding on your name, and their paid ads might trump your organic ranking on the search engine results page, which could cost you customers. 

    7. Using misleading advertising, promotions, or pricing.

    Consumers are savvy, and one sure way to turn them off is by using misleading pricing, promotions, or advertising. Sure, you might get more clicks on a “too-good-to-be-true” offer, but misleading advertising might cost you customers – and your reputation, too. 

    8Not marketing locally.

    As a local business, it’s important to make sure your online marketing targets local consumers. Not only is this more cost-effective, but it also cuts down on you filtering though leads that aren’t from your target area.

    9. Not following up with prospects who call you.

    After all the effort to drive qualified prospects to contact your business through your marketing and business website, this is one of the most costly marketing mistakes. It’s critical to have a system in place that helps (and reminds) you to follow up with people who contact your business. Whether they leave a message or just aren’t ready to buy, not following up with these leads can have a serious impact on your business.

    10. Not tracking your marketing through to conversions.

    Simply tracking clicks, visits, and number of followers doesn’t tell you much about how effective your online marketing actually is at getting you customers. If you’re not tracking your marketing all the way through to conversions like calls, or emails, you may be investing in marketing that isn’t really working.

    11. Not monitoring and managing your reputation.

    Is your online reputation costing you customers? If you haven’t checked to see if your online reputation is positive or negative, you could be losing many potential customers due to bad reviews, comments, or other content that’s critical of your business. Do a quick search for your business name to see what shows up – then take steps to improve your reputation.

    12. Not claiming and optimizing your Google+ Local page.

    Claiming your local listings is an important task for any local business. Google+ Local is even more critical, because your listing there is tied directly to your Google Maps listing, which is one of the top ways that consumers search for local businesses on the go via their mobile devices. If your Google+ Local page is bare-bones or contains incorrect information or negative content about you, chances are it will turn prospects away from contacting you. 

    13. Not checking your phone number on marketing and directories. 

    Is your phone number correct on all of your marketing as well as the directories your business is listed in? An outdated – or just plain incorrect – phone number is virtually guaranteed to cost you customers. So make sure to audit (and call to double check)!) your phone number everywhere it appears – whether on a billboard, print ad, or online source. 

    14. Poor phone call handling.

    Is answering the phone effectively a part of your marketing strategy? It should be. Since a majority of local businesses make sales or set appointments via the phone, poor call handling techniques – including rudeness, not providing the right or enough information, or not answering at all – is a huge source of churn for many prospects – who may then find a competitor who has better phone skills. 

    15. Not shopping your competitors.

    How are your competitors marketing their businesses online? What offers and specials do they run? What do their websites look like? How are their online reviews? Not shopping your competitors means you may be out of the loop on what appeals to your target consumers. 

    16. Not using negative feedback to improve your business.

    Nobody wants to see negative things about their business online. But when you do, do you actually take action on the feedback to improve your business? If not, chances are that other customers are experiencing similar issues, meaning once- loyal customers could be turning elsewhere.

    17. Waiting too long to contact a lead.

    How quickly do you call back a potential customer when they contact you? If your answer is weeks, days, or even hours, it could be costing you. Research shows that the more quickly you contact a lead, the more likely you are to close a deal. And common sense says that the first business to contact a consumer is more likely to win their business.

    It’s important to make sure that your marketing investment really works – and that you’re not losing valuable contacts and leads due to poor marketing or business practices. Which of these marketing mistakes might be costing you prospects, sales, and even customers?

    Share your thoughts in a comment!

    About the Author

    Tiffany Monhollon shares practical tips and insights about reaching consumers across the Web as blogger and senior content marketing manager at ReachLocal. Follow her on Twitter and Google+

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