How to Stress Less About Referrals

How to Stress Less About Referrals written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

How to Stress Less About Referrals - Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Pixabay

You already know the value of a referral in building retention, value and loyalty to your brand. And those referrals help you grow your customer base at a much lower cost than waiting for customers to discover you.

The numbers make the case: Cold calls result in a 3% or less appointment success rate, where having a referral boosts your success to 40% or more. Think of the time and shoe leather you save by working mainly from referrals.

But what’s the best way to get them?

There are two ways: word-of-mouth referrals or marketing automation – having a program in place that can reach out to your customers automatically. Word-of-mouth is highly valuable but can take more time, commitment and effort. Marketing automation can be expensive, but it’s more practical and takes some stress off your sales team. The good news is the two methods are strong co-workers.

How marketing automation fuels word-of-mouth referrals

The tried-and-true value of word-of-mouth referrals is undeniable: In 2014, a Small Business Trends survey showed that 85% of small businesses say their customers learned about them through someone they know. And about 62% of small businesses consider word of mouth the most effective marketing strategy, says a report by InfusionSoft.

And technology has changed the way it works: Social media is the new word-of-mouth marketing. It’s today’s virtual water cooler. Ambassador shares the example of the recent Netflix series Making a Murderer, which at one point drove 8.46 million Twitter impressions and 412 unique tweets per hour, ultimately making it one of the most popular series that the online streaming service has offered to date.

People are interested and influenced by what other people are talking about, with 46% of people turning to social media when planning to make a purchase. That’s where marketing automation comes in.

It can help build the buzz, joining technology with the old-fashioned power of word-of-mouth referrals. And marketers and businesses are catching on: EmailMonday says about 11 times more B2B organizations are using marketing automation than they did in 2011. About 69% use marketing automation for customer acquisition and 50% for customer retention.

The value of marketing automation is undeniable, too. Capterra says 91% of those using marketing automation see the platform as “very important” to their marketing success, and businesses that use the tool see a 451% boost in qualified leads.

Ways to put marketing automation to work

So how does it work? Essentially, marketing automation is software that enhances your marketing plan by making it more target-rich and effective across various channels, such as email. It can generate leads by gleaning data about your prospects’ activities and interests, helping you direct the right content into the right channels, R2Integrated says. That gets people talking about you, and keeps them connected with more meaningful content.

Socedo, which helps clients find leads through analyzing social media data, uses a number of marketing automation tools itself to analyze and improve its own content, optimize success on click-throughs, and improve email communications and social media reach.

Marketing automation software also can determine who your top advocates are. That helps you to stop wasting time with people who aren’t interested in your product or service and instead stay focused on potential buyers and clients. A general email blast to your entire contact list won’t be as effective as targeting the users who you know have an interest.

Additionally, software tools like those offered by Ambassador allow you to build a campaign with custom rewards to encourage referrals – a top way to get your message shared. Among the highly connected millennial generation, 95% say they’d like an incentive, such as discounts or cash rewards, to share a product through email or social media channels.

Don’t forget the follow-up

You also should have a strong plan for following up with prospects. ActiveCampaign says to start with a sort of mission statement – a description of the kind of experience you want your contact to have. Then consider what result specifically you’d like the follow-up to provide, such as greater sales or increased referrals. These and other goals will help direct your automated follow-up plan.

Also, as R2Integrated notes, it’s important to remember that marketing automation shouldn’t run on autopilot. Authentic personal experience (not just “personalized” experience) and engagement will always be the core of making strong connections with your customers, so it requires some creative thinking and strategizing.

The good news is now you have many more tools to make that happen.

Aseem BadshahAseem Badshah, Founder & CEO of Socedo. Socedo helps sales and marketing professionals leverage social media to discover leads and build relationships more effectively.

How to Use Facebook Audience Overlap to Improve Your Facebook Marketing

av-facebook-audience-overlap-560

Want to learn more about the people who make up your Facebook custom audiences? Have you tried Facebook’s Audience Overlap? Using Audience Overlap will let you compare your custom audiences against each other, revealing information that will help you make better decisions on where to focus ad targeting and conversion efforts. In this article you’ll […]

This post How to Use Facebook Audience Overlap to Improve Your Facebook Marketing first appeared on .

– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

You Lost Your Big Client… Now What?

Your newly printed business cards have arrived, you have an invoice template, a colorful accounting spreadsheet in Excel, and company letterhead paper. But most importantly you have a regular income from your first big client. Whoop whoop! Crack open the champagne! After years of procrastinating and dreaming of being your own boss, you finally made the jump from working for someone else to being self-employed—the freedom, independence, flexibility! Then the worst happens, and it all …

The post You Lost Your Big Client… Now What? appeared first on Mirasee.

How to Optimize Your Site for Google\’s Featured Snippets (Quick Answer Boxes)

How to Optimize Your Site for Google\’s Featured Snippets (Quick Answer Boxes) written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

featured-snippetsIn 2014, Google introduced a new way to satisfy a user\’s intent by giving them quick answers right within SERPs in the “featured snippet” position (above the top organic result and below the paid listing) and online businesses and publishers have been trying to adapt to the change since then.

On one hand, featured snippets present a challenge to online publishers by sometimes removing the need to ever click through to their sites. On the other hand, they have given e-commerce sites a new opportunity to rank for informational queries and boost their site visibility.

Ranking in the Quick Answer box does give a huge competitive advantage, so there\’s no way businesses can ignore those.

Here\’s a two-step tutorial on optimizing your content for featured snippets:

1. Find out Which Questions Google Users Are Asking

Google won\’t show quick answers to any queries that sound like a question (with words “how”, “why”, “what”, etc.) but they do for most of them already. The key to getting into the featured snippet position is to understand which questions people are asking in your niche and how to answer them with your content.

Investigate which questions users type into Google\’s search box

SerpStat is a brilliant tool that returns Google Suggest phrases based on your provided term.

The beauty of the tool is that you can use “Only questions” filter to see all various questions people type using your base keyword:

featured-snippet-04

Investigate your current referrals

In most cases, pages that get into the featured snippet are those that already rank high for that query (1-5 top positions), so explore your Webmaster Tools “Search Analytics” section as well as Google Analytics top search referral landing pages reports to identify your site pages with the highest potential to get featured in the quick answer box.

To see your question-related queries in Google Webmaster Tools, go to Search Traffic -> Queries and from there filter “Queries” by various question words you are researching. Below, for instance, I am filtering my queries by “how” (Keep “Position” checked because, as I have already mentioned, the higher the organic position, the better your chances to get featured in the Quick Answer Box):

featured-snippet-03

Apart from those two tools provided by Google, you can also try Brightedge which is the only web analytics solution I am aware of that is tracking whether your site is appearing in “quick answer” boxes and which queries have those:

featured-snippets-01

Ask real people what questions they would ask on your topic

MyBlogU (Disclaimer: This is the site I have founded) is a good place to get the community to help: Simply create a new project, describe your topic and ask the users to submit their questions.

featured-snippet-06

Track questions people ask on Twitter

User-generated content is one of the best sources of “how-to” content inspiration. Oftentimes, the first place people turn for help to is Twitter and Facebook. While I don\’t know a good way to monitor what people are asking on Facebook, Twitter is easy and open.

I use Cyfe to monitor several phrases and related questions people tweet. The beauty of the tool is that it archives all widget results, so I can always go back to find some content inspiration:

featured-snippet-05

The search phrase I was using to retrieve the questions from Twitter was

“how to” apple

2. Add a Section (or Many Sections) on Your Site Answering Related Questions

With Google providing so much opportunity to non-commercial how-to content, many brands have started taking informational search queries much more seriously. Here are just a few more or less creative examples:

HomeDepot is building “Project: How to” section which is very-well-integrated into the e-commerce part of the site:

featured-snippet-07

Sitegeek has added “Q&A” section to each included hosting page answering most popular user-generated questions about the specific service:

featured-snippet-08

Werther\’s Original have expanded product information by including “Nutrition facts” and “Ingredients” sections:

featured-snippet-09

Notice their product pages are now included into the featured snippet:

featured-snippet-10

Here\’s a few content tips to show Google your content is answering a specific question and have better chances to get featured in Google\’s Quick Answer boxes:

  • First state that question explicitly on the page
  • Then answer that question in no more than two sentences
  • Below elaborate on the topic in the article (to avoid Panda filters, your content needs to be profound but to trigger a featured snippet appearance, your content should be very specific, so aim for both)
  • Create a specific, yet in-depth page for each question you are targeting. It\’s better if the actual query (together with the question word) appears in the URL slug

It hasn\’t been confirmed but the educated guess is that the variety of content formats on the page answering the same question helps in ranking in the quick answer box. Consider turning your tutorial into a PDF and annotated video, for example. Here are more ways to re-package your content into:

featured-snippet-11

Apart from your site, your Youtube channel can be a good alternative to rank in the featured snippet box. It\’s been noticed that Youtube how-to videos often appear in the Quick Answer boxes.

To optimize your Youtube videos, you need to:

  • Name your video exactly as the question you are targeting
  • Make sure your video has a voice transcript (Which is where Google seems to be taking the text explanation to feature in the Quick Answer Box)
  • Rank your video high in general Google search results (It would help if you could link to it from your own site. Use this detailed Youtube optimization checklist I have shared here)

Have you seen any success ranking in Google\’s featured snippets? Please share your tips and results!

Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com as well as the founder of MyBlogU.com.

Risk, Opportunity and Possibility with Jason Zook

Jason Zook is no stranger to risk and opportunity, and he’s been on both sides of the bank ledger for it. From selling his last name twice (can you imagine being Jason Headsetsdotcom?), to wearing company t-shirts and talking about their brands for money, what sets Jason apart is his originality. He was the type of kid who got bad grade in school, not because he got the wrong answers. Jason got the RIGHT answers, …

The post Risk, Opportunity and Possibility with Jason Zook appeared first on Mirasee.

How to Handle Customer Complaints Via Social Media

rs-complaints-social-media-560

Are your customers leaving negative comments on social media? Do you need a plan to handle customer complaints? Responding quickly and appropriately to negative social comments can help you increase customer loyalty and retention. In this article you’ll find out how to deal with negative comments on social media. #1: Respond Quickly It’s important to […]

This post How to Handle Customer Complaints Via Social Media first appeared on .

– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

Why creating an eco-system of partner businesses is worth the effort

Why creating an eco-system of partner businesses is worth the effort written by Guest Post read more at Duct Tape Marketing

photo credit: Shaking Hands via photopin (license)

photo credit: Shaking Hands via photopin (license)

Partnership marketing can be really effective for small businesses who want to get in front of new relevant audiences. It involves creating collaborations that are relevant to the customer. This last bit is crucial. Relevance can mean that there’s compatibility between what both businesses sell. Or compatibility in their culture, ethics and beliefs.  

If the collaboration adds value to your customer base, beyond the core product or service you sell, this can really help provide a point of difference. So how do you get rolling with this?

Using email to reach a captive audience

Email marketing is still one of the best ways to get customers to buy. It gets the reader’s undivided attention. The beauty of using email within partnership marketing is in the numbers. It is highly measureable and you know exactly how many people you can reach. This makes setting up fair, reciprocal agreements easier. Also, when you’re stumped for something to tell your email list, having partners to talk about helps with ideas for email content.

The goal is to get your brand in front of a new audience. It needs to be done legally. Don’t think about swapping consumer email lists with partners. It’s about getting each partner to send a message to their own email list in a socially intelligent way that introduces the recipients to other partner’s brand.  

Let’s break down the types of email activity you could execute:

The “look what I found” email:

Perhaps the simplest message to deliver. It involves telling the reader how you’ve recently discovered this fantastic new brand you wanted to share with them. In the same way you might tell a friend about a great new product you’ve discovered. The value in this is in you telling the reader something that they didn’t already know about the partner’s brand. So you need to go beyond simply introducing the partner’s brand and tell a story about why the brand is interesting.

The “competition” email

This communication goes a step further and also offers the chance for the reader to experience the partner’s products/services for free if they enter and win a competition.

Keep the email message focused on a simple, single call to action and in doing so, give your partner the chance to shine. 

The “special offer” email

Similar to the competition this activity involves providing the email reader with a special offer that you have secured, from the partner brand. Like the competition activity before, it’s still important to communicate the value of the partner brand to the reader. Providing an offer alone won’t work nearly as well. Tell the reader why you’ve teamed up with the partner and let them in on the deal.  

The “freebie” email

This is a neat one, and works in two ways. The first way is simply telling the reader to contact your partner with a special code in order to enjoy a freebie. The second way involves telling the reader they will get a freebie supplied by the partner if they order from you within a given time frame.

The “random act of kindness” follow up email

This is almost identical to the second freebie example, except you don’t communicate anything over email initially. For a select group of customers, you automatically give them a freebie supplied by your partner, as a random act of kindness, when a customer orders. Then you follow up with those customers via email and ask what they thought of the freebie, to get the email recipient thinking about the partner brand and encouraging them to go on and buy or subscribe to the partner’s email newsletter.

Putting this into practice

Follow these steps and you’ll be collaborating in no time:

  1. Identify 6 businesses that offer compatible products/services to your business.
  2. Identify 6 businesses that share your business mindset, ethics and culture.
  3. Come up with two or three activities you could do with each business, which would involve emailing both your and their list of subscribers
  4. Plan your partner emails. You might send one every two months in order to blend partner messages into your own brand messages, offers etc.
  5. Be clear on your partner agreement. Fair collaboration doesn’t need to involve paying each other, but it does require being fair. So if you think you’ll be taken for a ride, walk away.
  6. Approach the partners with your ideas and see how many you can get on board!

will-headshot

This post was written by Will Young, CEO and Co-founder of tech start-up rais. rais is a customer intelligence and CRM platform for small retail businesses, who want to better harness their customer data but don’t have the time or resources to do so.