Archive for the Business Category

Socialize Me! In Stages, Though, Please

Posted in Social Media on February 15, 2012 by wolfwomyn

The journey to complete socialization (the connected kind, not the 1984 kind) takes time, and it’s okay to do it in steps.

Sometimes it helps your advancement in the social direction when you can clearly see where you’ve been—and how that affects where you could be headed.

That’s why Chris Carfi of Ant’s Eye View has put together the Social Engagement Journey, which takes you through five social stages—from basic broadcast to fully engaged.

Let’s go through ’em together:

Traditional. This is about one-way communication driven by command-and-control businesses. Still here? Get movin’! This model won’t be sustainable for long.

Experimental. There’s some social dabbling, but it’s disconnected from overall business operations. This stage is characterized by fractured tools, silo’d efforts (the “social media intern” in the marketing department ring a bell?). Well, it’s a start, anyway.

Operational. Social engagement becomes more embedded in everyday ops, including business training, channel alignment, and campaign integration. Things are starting to take shape!

Measureable. Real business results are beginning to flower as a result of your social efforts, and employees, brimming with new confidence, are beginning to more fully harness their online relationships.

Fully engaged. Social engagement and customer experience is part of your organization’s DNA. It’s integrated with all you do, and customer feedback and usability are built into the heart of all projects at the planning stage. You’re seeing both increased revenue and customer loyalty!

Don’t worry: You don’t have to leap from phase 1 to 5 right away. It’s okay to take baby steps—as long as you have a clear idea of where you’re headed and why. For more tips and details, dip into Chris’s Social Business 2012 presentation.

The Po!nt: Slow and steady can win the social race. Take a few steps in the right direction, and keep moving forward.

Source: Marketing Profs; Social Media

Take A Break and Your Employees also.

Posted in Business on February 1, 2012 by wolfwomyn

One of the things that is so prevalent in todays society is stress related illnesses and breakdowns.  This is especially happening in people own small businesses.  I read an article the other day about our pets and what we are learning from them.  You don’t see many stressed out cats and dogs.  So they started doing some research.

What they have found is that cats and dogs spend some time just sitting and looking out the window.  This, they have found, has a stress reducing effect on the eyes and the rest of the body.  So they are bringing this learning into the work environment.

The technique that they have found they are referring to as the 20/20/20.   Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds (0r more) to look at something more than 20 feet away.  And if you can gaze out the window the more the better.  This gives you a minute of a break, gets your eyes off of the glaring computer screen, and significantly lowers the stress level. This is especially important for those of us who spend the day on the computer, but also applies to those of use who are in stress filled jobs.

So take a few minutes every day, and have your employees do the same, to reduce that stress.  And you might actually enjoy looking out the window and see what is happening in the world outside.

Have a great day.

How a Typo Can Hurt Your Business

Posted in Business, Websites on January 17, 2012 by wolfwomyn

“Have you noticed spelling errors on the websites of major, legitimate retailers and/or service providers?” asks Julia Rubiner in the Editorial Emergency newsletter. “The answer is almost certainly ‘no.'” Large corporations set a high bar for the rest of us: A single error looks sloppy and unprofessional to visitors, who are used to polished online copy. But the ramifications can be worse than making a bad impression.

Typos on your homepage, landing pages and product pages aren’t just embarrassing; they might actually hurt your business. Rubiner points to a BBC News article that provides anecdotal—but startling—evidence of a misspelled word’s negative impact on income: After a spelling error was corrected at tightsplease.co.uk, the online retailer’s revenue per visitor doubled.

“I like to think this is attributable to widespread disdain for spelling errors,” she notes, “but it’s not; it’s attributable to shoppers wary of fraud.” According to Rubiner, many people associate typos with phishers and con artists. “[I]t positively screams ‘fly-by-night operation,'” she explains.

In an ironic twist, customers who notice misspelled words might suspect your website is merely pretending to be your website. Or—if they’re unfamiliar with your brand—they might worry that you’re not even a real company. That’s when they’ll decide to withhold their personal information and credit-card numbers. And a valuable click-through becomes a lost sale.

The Po!nt: Clean it up. Any copy destined for your website or your email campaigns should be spell-checked and then printed out for a hard-copy proofread. “Your bottom line will thank you,” Rubiner concludes.

Source:Get to the Source/Email marketing &
Editorial Emergency.

How to Be a Successful Anti-Engager

Posted in Social Media on December 13, 2011 by wolfwomyn

Dan Zarella’s “Science of Social Media” Webinar inspired a recent post by Facundo Villaveiran at Channelship’s Video Blog about the known “truths” of “winning” at social media—and the realities that may or may not match them. Below are a few of Zarella’s insights about how some anti-engagement tactics might actually get the engaging results you seek.

These aren’t silver bullets, but they may merit experimenting with your strategy to see if Zarella’s results stand up.

Don’t just comment; share content. In an experiment, Zarella discovered that engaging in comments at your Facebook page doesn’t draw more views—but sharing lots of interesting links in your comments does. (By all means engage in conversations; just don’t rely exclusively on that to draw traffic.)

Use “information voids” to your advantage. Researching unanswered, seemingly abandoned, questions, and producing content around them can do wonders for traffic. Track Twitter’s trending topics or Google Zeitgeist. Seek mysteries and address them head-on.

Publish on Fridays and weekends. People get less email during down times, streams are less cluttered—more visibility for you! (Don’t abuse this window, but it can come in handy when you have something great on the pipeline.)

Don’t mistake social “proof” for impact. Zarella A/B-tested two blog posts with different “tweet buttons”—one fixed to zero tweets and the other showing 776 (the number of times that content was allegedly “tweeted” or shared). The post that had the least social proof, as opposed to the most, was shared the most. “When it comes to sharing, nobody wants to be the 777th person breaking the news,” Villaveiran says.

The Po!nt: Don’t limit your prospects for engagement. Try a range of social tactics, and track your results to learn what works best. Your discoveries will be invaluable—not just for your company, but for your reputation as you share and leverage your ever-growing social savvy.

What Your Email Campaign Can Learn From Direct Mail

Posted in Small Business, Social Media on December 6, 2011 by wolfwomyn

“Though direct mail certainly isn’t as popular or as effective as it once was, email marketers can apply many of the theories used for direct mail campaigns to increase the value of their email marketing campaigns,” writes Ryan Morgan in an article at MarketingProfs.

For one thing, a direct mail piece and an email both need to make a strong first impression. That’s because a recipient sifts through her email in the same way she sorts direct mail: making arbitrary, snap judgments about what she’ll read and what goes in the trash.

A plain white envelope with an unfamiliar return address won’t intrigue her—and neither will its generic email equivalent. So give her a subject line that piques her interest, a “from” address she trusts and an appealing, eye-catching mix of text and graphics, Morgan advises.

Beyond that, he offers this direct-mail-inspired advice:

Give your subscribers something of value. This might be monetary (a discount), informational (a how-to guide) or an opportunity not available to everyone. “I want to be an insider, and I want to feel special,” Morgan explains.
Be considerate of their frequency preferences. This is where you can learn something from direct mailers who may not get it right for each recipient’s preference. Morgan wryly notes that “you could probably build a small home out of ‘20% off’ coupon postcards from Bed Bath & Beyond.” But email marketers have an advantage in the frequency debate: They can simply ask subscribers how often they’d like to receive messages.

The Po!nt: Email is direct-to-consumer, too. Although direct mail might not be a part of your marketing mix, understanding its principles could help you improve your email campaigns.

Source: Get to the Point / MarketingProfs.

Profits, not Traffic

Posted in Business, Small Business, Websites on November 29, 2011 by wolfwomyn

One mistake that many new webmasters and online entrepreneurs make is to focus on generating website traffic.

This is the logic they follow: build a website, work until it is getting a huge amount of traffic, figure out how to monetize that
traffic.

While this might actually work if you get lucky, it is definitely not the best route to follow. There are plenty of cases of websites
and Web 2.0 companies that went bankrupt despite having millions of monthly unique visitors. How so? Simple: they couldn’t monetize the service efficiently, and sustaining the servers and the staff was consuming far too much money.

Traffic is certainly vital on the Internet, but it should be seen as a means to an end, and not the end itself. Just think about it:
would you rather have a website that receives 10 million unique visitors monthly and that makes $5,000 in profits, or a website
that receives only 20,000 unique visitors monthly but makes $50,000 in profits?

As soon as you start working on the idea for a new website or company, you need to figure out where the profits are going to come from. Here are some of the questions that you might wanna ask yourself: Who is going to gain value from my service or product? Who is going to pay for it? How is he going to pay? Will my costs be lower than my revenues?

This principle should also affect the type of website and business model you end up choosing. For instance, do you know why experienced online entrepreneurs prefer to sell their own products or to work with affiliate marketing instead of building advertising-based websites? Because the first two models need a lot less traffic to  make decent money.

The takeaway message is: you are ultimately aiming for profits, not traffic.

Source:
Daniel Scocco
Daily Bog Tips

The Four-Step Plan for Word-of-Mouth Lead Generation

Posted in Business, Small Business on November 17, 2011 by wolfwomyn

“Here’s the big news,” writes Andy Sernovitz in the book Social BOOM! “It’s not social MEDIA. It’s SOCIAL media. It’s about real people and the conversations they have.” In other words, a presence at online networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn isn’t enough. To generate word-of-mouth leads, you’ll also need excellent social skills—and here’s how to go on the charm offensive:

Be interesting. Do you tell friends about dull companies, products or advertisements? Do you arrange introductions for people who bore you silly? Of course not. According to Sernovitz, there’s a good way to gauge your word-of-mouth potential. Simply ask: Would anyone tell a friend about this?

Make it easy. Word-of-mouth relies on a simple message—a single, memorable line that people are likely to repeat when describing your product or service. “Anything longer than a sentence is too much,” he says. “It’ll get forgotten or mangled.”

Make people happy. Customers who love your company will enthusiastically share their experiences with friends. “You will get more word of mouth from making people happy than anything else you could possibly do,” he notes.

Earn trust and respect. No one will risk her own reputation by recommending a company with a reputation for iffy business practices. But when you’re known for treating customers, partners and employees with great care, referrals become a no-brainer.

The Po!nt: Like it or not, word-of-mouth marketing is a popularity contest. And you’ll win when you get people can’t resist you, your product or service and your integrity.

Source: Get to the Point-Business to Business &
Social BOOM!

The Secret to Shorter, More Effective Messaging

Posted in Business, Social Media on November 15, 2011 by wolfwomyn

Observing that the typical short (<25 word) marketing message produces almost nothing of value, Adele Revella has set herself to correcting this grave error.

According to Revella, the typical business product is a multi-tasker with a long list of features and benefits, meaning we have to get its key merits out effectively without overwhelming readers. But there are other priorities that distract from brevity:

  • Explaining all the new features
  • Differentiating the product from the competition (and tossing shout-outs to other products from the same suite)
  • Using good SEO terms
  • Satisfying internal template requirements

That being said, nothing on the above list takes the user into account. And that is the type of thinking that turns a potentially punchy message into a tedious summary.

How to make a small message a big seller? Turn it active and “social”-conscious. Consider the difference between these two messages:

  • Our solutions have been tailored to fit your industry business processes, your customer strategies, and your success criteria.
  • Listen to free Internet radio, find new music based on old and current favorites.
  • The first is an anonymous vendor. The second message comes from Pandora Radio. Which one speaks to you?

So, how do you find your very own short-and-sweet text? Walk down your user’s service path: Visit a site, click on one of your ads, consider what it says, see where it takes you. Now ask yourself: What message are you getting? Is it effective? How can it be pared down and sharpened?

Describe your product the way that user would in a comment section, and build from there.

The Point: Walk a mile in their clicks and comments. The best path to effective sales messaging is the user’s path.

Source: Get to the Point: Social Media

The Pareto Principle Can Save Your Business

Posted in Blogs on November 1, 2011 by wolfwomyn

The Pareto principle, which is also called the 80-20 rule, states that for many events and things in life, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

For example, an Italian economist once observed that 80% of land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people. His name was Vilfredo Pareto, and that is where the principle got its name from.

Another famous example: Microsoft once found that by eliminating 20% of the largest bugs in its operating system 80% of the crashes  would stop.

Another one: most businesses find that 80% of their revenues come from just 20% of the customers.

So how can the Pareto principle save your business? Well, it is  clear: by identifying and focusing your work on the 20% of the tasks that will generate 80% of the results you’ll become much more  efficient and profitable.

Here is one practical example that you probably can relate to. Suppose you have a blog and that you are trying to make it popular (e.g., to increase its traffic). There are many things you could  do to achieve that, including:

-write quality content
-promote that content
-use social media (e.g., Twitter and Facebook)
-use social bookmarking sites (e.g., Digg and Reddit)
-tweak your design
-track your stats
-chat with readers
-create Youtube videos
-article marketing
-submit your blog to directories
-search engine optimization

That is a lot of things right? And many bloggers actually do all of them. But what does the Pareto principle tell us about this? It’s simple: 20% of these activities are going to produce 80% of the  traffic gain.

In fact I place these activities right on top for that reason. They are: writing quality content and promoting that content. If you do  these two things you’ll get new readers, new subscribers, backlinks  from other sites, your search rankings will increase, and  ultimately your traffic will increase.

Sure, the other activities can help, but 80% of the results will come from writing quality content and promoting it.

Guess where you should spend most of your time?

And remember that the Pareto principle works on almost any  situation, so apply it for your own business or website, and focus on the 20% of things that will bring you 80% of the results.

Source: Daniel Scocco

Tool To Check Your Search Rankings

Posted in Blogs, Websites on October 25, 2011 by wolfwomyn

Searching on Google for your keywords is indeed the simplest way to check your rankings, but it is not an effective one, because the search results you get on Google might not be the same that other people are getting.

Let’s suppose that you have a blog about celebrities, and that the main keyword you are targeting is “photos of celebrities.”

You could go to Google and search for “photos of celebrities”, and then check the position where your blog will appear. The problem is that the rankings you’ll see there are influenced by factors like your IP address, the language of your computer, your past search history and so on. This is part of an innovation Google introduced a while ago called “Personalized Search.”

For example, your blog might appear in the 5th position when you search for “photos of celebrities”, but this is so because you often click on your own website, so Google is artificially increasing the rankings of your blog when you search for it.

For all other people, however, your blog might be appearing in the 20th or 30th position.

So how do you find your real search rankings? There is a tool called Scroogle that you can use for this purpose. Here is the link: http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/scraper.htm

It is basically a Google scraper that will get the search results from Google with an anonymous IP address, without storing cookies, without storing search-term records and so on.

When you run a search query on Scroogle, therefore, Google won’t have any past data about it, so the results will be the ones seen by the average Internet user.

You can make Scroogle show 100 results at a time, and after that you’ll just need to find where your website is positioned.

Nice trick eh?

Source: Daniel Scocco