SMB Marketing Tips

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June 06, 2014

Mobile Marketing Tactics: Beware of Peak Keyword

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In the world of desktop and mobile marketing, few issues are as hotly debated as the ‘right’ number of keywords to put on a page. As content marketing has grown in popularity, and companies increase their investment in generating original material to expand their web presence, the importance of getting keyword volume and placement right has grown with it.

For desktop campaigns, there is no ‘right’ number. It varies according to a variety of factors, such as industry, search volumes, brand objectives – what works for one company will be completely inappropriate for another. Generally speaking, one main keyword and up to five variations will allow room for creating compelling content that isn’t stuffed full of terms, whilst targeting those all important SERPS.

Let’s say you run a footwear business, and your keyword research suggests you need a bunch of brand pages and some category pages covering things like sportswear, running shoes, hiking boots, dress shoes, light-weight etc. The first three of those keywords could easily be targeted within one category page relating to sport and fitness. It makes sense to target them on the same page, along with variations on each one, so you could easily end up having 25 keywords on the page without it looking weird. For highly competitive terms, you don’t want to spread them too thinly, so you’re better off dedicating individual pages to them.

As a rule of thumb, one or two keywords per page facilitates more natural-sounding content and a more relevant user experience – but you will have to create a much higher volume of content if you want to target multiple keywords. A good strategy in the long-run, but not necessarily in the budget range of a small company’s marketing purse. If you are planning to create at least a couple of pages per week, you might want to generate pages based on individual keywords, which over time will let you cover many longtail keywords.

Your mobile marketing campaign will have a different relationship to keywords. In the world of text marketing, keywords are associated with short codes, those five or six digit numbers used by businesses to communicate with customers. Clearly, with SMS messaging, the number of keywords to use is less of an issue (to find out more about short codes, click here).

Of course, your mobile marketing strategy also needs to take into account browser search terms pertinent to that channel, but ultimately users will end up viewing the same content as they would on a desktop browser. Which brings us full circle to the question, how many keywords should you target on a single page? Answer: it depends. 

June 05, 2014

Increase Sales with Mobile Marketing: Four Key Objectives

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When growing a business from the ground up, the main emphasis is on continuous sales growth. Luckily for the modern entrepreneur, mobile marketing has made it easier and more affordable for startups to reach more potential customers. And with an open-and-read rate of more than 95% (within the first few minutes of receipt) SMS messaging is the king of all mobile marketing tactics.

One only need look back a few years to appreciate the monumental growth of mobile marketing as a key driver of leads and sales. Unsurprisingly, the key player here is the smartphone, as it allows both text messaging and data-rich content to be shared on a large scale. In 2010, there were around 60 million smartphones in the United States; by next year, that figure is expected to have trebled and by 2017, analysts forecast some 207 million smartphones will be in circulation. 

In the face of such compelling evidence, can you afford to ignore such a vast untapped marketplace? Probably not. The question is, how do you go about increasing revenues via mobile marketing? What’s the first step, and how do you build on early successes? To help, we’ve compiled a checklist of four key objectives you should achieve in order to make the most of mobile marketing:

Be Ready

Oft-ignored by hungry entrepreneurs eager to grow their fledgling business, market readiness is absolutely essential to the launch of your brand. You might have the most attractive website in your industry, but is it mobile responsive? If not, you risk turning people off before they’ve even had a chance to browse. Remember, more and more people are turning to mobile devices in order to shop, so don’t miss out. 

Have Clear Aims

What are the objectives of your mobile marketing campaign? Why are you doing it? Have you chosen a mobile marketing strategy that befits your company? The more thoroughly you plan, the easier and more fruitful things will be when you take action. 

Integrate

These days, no marketing strategy is an island. You must integrate every strand of your campaign so it benefits the others. ‘Joined up’ marketing means complementing an SMS messaging campaign with a social media strategy, which in turn links to your main website. Offer discounts for people who sign up to your facebook page, and promise bargains for those who opt in to your SMS contact list. The more balls in the air, the more likely you are to score.

Offer Value

It seems obvious, but many entrepreneurs get caught up in the free-content whirlwind of creating a compelling online brand before discovering that there is very little real-world value to their service. Yes, offer freebies – but make sure it’s always something of real value to the consumer. This is how your build brand loyalty. Countless studies have demonstrated that mobile subscribers respond best to time-limited special offers and exclusives. Equally, don’t overwhelm your contacts with daily offers; as a rule of thumb, set a maximum limit of two messages per month. If nobody opts out, and it jives with your results, you can increase the frequency.

June 03, 2014

Mobile Marketing Tips for Brick and Mortar Retailers

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As smartphone adoption approaches maximum market penetration, the concept of ‘mobility’ – and how best to reach consumers on the move - is now the number one concern of most businesses. A few short years ago, traditional brick and mortar retailers viewed mobile as an interesting, but minor, strand of their marketing mix. Now, it’s the lifeblood that fuels their wider marketing strategy. 

According to one recent study, local businesses should be the true beneficiaries of this mass migration to mobile. The research found 79% of smartphone owners and 81% of tablet owners used their device to find information on local businesses. Of those searches, some 80% resulted in a sale, and a staggering 75% of searches ultimately led the customer to head to the store. Not only that, but 50% of searchers were dissatisfied with what they could get via mobile (mostly due to poorly designed websites).

There is clearly a huge portion of shoppers who use mobile devices to browse goods before heading to a brick and mortar outlet to buy. Whether it’s because they don’t fully trust online transactions, or they just prefer dealing face to face with a person, this is a significant market. The question is, how can you best use mobile marketing tactics to tell people about your products or services, and attract them to visit your store? Read our top mobile marketing campaign tips to find out…

Tap-and-Collect Services

A winning marriage of online convenience and real-world customer service, tap-and-collect capabilities have been used to great effect by large retail stores who can’t change their business model, but can adapt to a changing consumer environment. It works like this: consumers browse the retailers’ website, put an item on hold, and head down to the store to pick it up and pay. According to eMarketer report, tap-and-collect is the second most important factor in any transaction (behind only the reassurance that items will be delivered on time).

Store Locator

The importance of a mobile-optimized store locator can’t be stressed enough. Some 70% of smartphone shoppers use store locaters to plan their day out, so you need to be sure your store is visible. Keep the links on the homepage, and if your site isn’t mobile optimized, make sure the link is big enough to click on a smartphone without zooming in.

Click to Call

Click to Call and Click to Map remove vital steps between you and the consumer. The easier you make it for them to get in touch, the less likely they are to look elsewhere. Remember, much of your target audience will be on the move as they look at your website – make it too fiddly to use and you’ll turn them off.

Competitive Conquestion

Location based advertising is expected to keep right on booming. A BIA/Kelsey report indicates that mobile ad revenue from location-based campaigns will reach 52% in 2018 (up from 40% last year). Part of that growth will be predicated on ‘competitive conquesting’, an aggressive marketing strategy that targets consumers who are in close proximity to rival firms. Geo-fencing technology is already being used widely by large retailers, and mobile marketing campaigns that used location-based methods saw an average 8% rise in CTRs compared with those that did not. For competitive conquesting, it’s closer to 12%.

In-store pick up and geo-targeting are both being welcomed with open arms by large sections of the consumer public. If you run retail premises and are concerned about the inexorable rise of online shopping, don’t be. Just update your strategy to include mobile marketing tactics, stay abreast of the latest statistics on shopping habits, and remember that although smartphones and remote purchasing are here to stay, they are not mutually exclusive with a successful brick and mortar set up, and when done right, will actually boost your foot traffic.

May 29, 2014

SEO Strategies to Avoid

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Three letters represent the primary focus of any mobile marketing campaign, and have done for around a decade now. SEO. It’s come a long way since then, adapting to an increasingly complex array of strictures and barriers imposed by search engines in order to prevent people gaming the system, but the objective is the same: improve visibility for relevant industry keywords.

The fast pace of change in SEO best practices means that well-intentioned tips published a year ago may actually harm your rankings today. This is not a dilettantes game. To do it right, you need to stay on top of the latest effective strategies and, even more importantly, those tactics that have fallen afoul of Bot Logic. Smart mobile marketing tactics – or ‘white hat’ techniques – will be rewarded for creativity in the shape of increased clicks, impressions and conversions. The ‘black hat’ SEOs that still haunt our online world are fighting a losing battle. When was the last time you saw a link farm on page one for a popular keyword? I’m guessing some time around the turn of the decade.

Trouble is, the misinformed or naïve SEO strategist will be punished as fully as the cynical black hatter. Even if you adopt a mobile marketing strategy in good faith, if Google frowns upon it, you’re done for. It could set your business back months. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of ‘must-avoid’ SEO tactics so you know what not to do…

 

Reciprocal Links

There is much confusion surrounding the value of reciprocal links. Of course, links from friends, family and business associates are a natural part of entrepreneurship. This is where the ‘link as vote’ analogy is helpful. Think of your business as an election campaign. You can and should reach out to potential ‘voters’ and ask them to support your campaign for success. But if you receive an unsolicited email from someone you’ve never heard of, and they request a link exchange, accepting it would be like associating your ‘candidate’ with the wrong sort of voter. In most cases, such emails will come from sites weighed down by links already, and the greater the link:valuable content is, the lower the value of each additional link becomes. Chances are, if they’ve contacted you (usually via automated software) they stand to benefit from your link much more than you from theirs. Don’t be tempted by offers of dodgy links. Bide your time, and grow your backlinks in a more organic way, and Google will love you forever. 

Peak Keyword

Back in Web 1.0, you could happily stuff a page with keywords, safe in the knowledge that this unsophisticated metric was given credence by search engines. Those days are gone. Now, when Google bots crawl a page crammed with keywords, they will consign that page to the bottom of the results.

Link Overload

Placing relevant links in your article is a key part of creating useful content – but overdo it with extraneous links and you will be stung by the search engines.

Comments

Just as link building needs to be done slowly and with great care, commenting on others’ blogs as a way of boosting your online profile can be a positive organic approach. But as with all good SEO practices, you need a rich mixture of tactics to get real results. Even if you’re only leaving comments of value, blog commenting for the sole purpose of building links is nothing less than spam.

May 28, 2014

Mobile Tech Saving Small Businesses Billions

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A compelling survey commissioned by AT & T claims small and medium sized businesses in the US have saved $67.5 billion a year by adopting mobile marketing tactics like SMS messaging and mobile coupons. Smartphone targeting has almost achieved full market penetration, with 94% of small businesses using them, up from 85% last year. Smartphones are saving companies 1.24 billion hours and $32.3 billion annually, according to the report.

Other mobile devices are having a similar impact on commerce. Tablets purportedly save $19.6 billion, and a staggering 754.2 million hours annually. Mobile apps have given back close to 600 man hours to small businesses, and saved them $15.6 billion per year.

Clearly, these figures spell fantastic news for budget-conscious startups. Entrepreneurs can now pump that surplus time and cash back into their business to increase productivity and improve customer engagement. Cost-cutting measures are welcomed by any business, of whatever size – but it’s the time saving possibilities that are relished most by survey respondents: 9 out of 10 small businesses who use mobile applications said the principal benefit was reducing man hours, and most of those estimate annual savings of up to $6000. 

Cathy Martine, AT & T’s president of enterprise business solutions said in an accompanying statement:

"In the current economy, mobile technologies are critical to enabling small businesses to save tremendous amounts of time and money by helping them do more with less. As a result, we're seeing more and more small business owners and employees turning to mobile technologies to not only keep them connected but to put them ahead of the curve." 

As a mobile marketing strategy, well-designed apps put brand recognition and awareness firmly in the hands of business owners, allowing them to offer a proprietary tool capable of boosting ROIs without absorbing the long-term costs usually associated with traditional marketing campaigns. The use of mobile apps has increased by 65% in the last two years alone. Some 77% are using multiple apps, and a significant 5% uses 20 or more apps, with GPS and mapping programs comprising the lion’s share.

One of the most striking benefits of mobile apps is the ‘open all hours’ appeal. According to the survey, the average number of days on which business is conducted via smartphone exceeds the average number of days the company is open for business. While small and medium sized businesses are open for an average of 5.7 days per week, close to half of all respondents with smartphones are making deals seven days a week.

The lessons are clear: if you are a small business and you still don’t have a mobile marketing strategy, now is the time to join the party. The results are proven to be fast and affordable, so get with mobile marketing now, and you will feel the benefit before the year is out. 

May 23, 2014

5 Mobile Marketing Don’ts

 

More and more small businesses are catching on to the manifold benefits of mobile marketing, and 84% of companies that adopt a mobile marketing strategy report an upsurge in sales.

With so many new players in the game, rookie mistakes are inevitable. If you want to avoid some of the more common errors made by mobile marketing newbies, read our top five fails so you know what not to do…

Blocking Mobile Traffic

This is surprisingly common. There’s some kind of screwy logic at play: businesses think that just because they don’t have a mobile version of their site, they should block mobile traffic altogether. Bad idea. Something is better than nothing, and smartphone users are getting increasingly nimble at navigating non-mobile sites on their devices, so don’t cut yourself off from a potentially huge audience.

Failing to Optimize for Mobile Search

That said, you really should be working towards having a fully optimized mobile version of your site, searchable on a mobile phone. Remember, people search very differently on a portable device than they do on a desktop. You can’t simply transfer the keywords you target on desktop browsers to mobile. People tend to search for brands and precise names and locations on mobile, because they’re on the move and have a specific destination in mind. Their searches are also more likely to be location-based. The addendum ‘near me’ is a common prompt in mobile browsers – use it to your advantage. Bear in mind too that long tail key terms like your industry + town/city are much cheaper and easier to rank for, so you’re shooting yourself in the foot if you fail to target them in favor of the big keywords.

Omitting Contact Information

It’s surprising how many people fail to put their address on the homepage. It needs to be easy to spot, and attached to an embedded Google maps link to help them find your store. Similarly, your phone number should be prominently featured and a clickable link. The fewer steps it takes consumers to contact you, the more likely they are to do so.

User Unfriendly Apps

Everyone’s chasing the glitzy prize of their very own app. Problem is, the market is now glutted with sup-par apps that don’t really help anyone. Contrary to our earlier assertion that ‘something is better than nothing’, ill-thought-through apps don’t count. An app download is a much bigger ask of consumers than a quick visit to your website. Unless you’re part of a major organization with the clout and budget to build a good app that works across multiple devices, skip it.

QR Codes

No. They seem attractive because they’re free, but they’ve been ruined by poor execution on the part of many, many businesses. Consumer faith in QR codes has plummeted, and they are now little more than odd relics of the late noughties cluttering up billboards and lampposts around the world. Unless you’ve got some compelling new twist on the concept, leave the QR codes in the past where they belong.

 

 

May 21, 2014

Using SMS Messaging to Field Complaints

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Dealing with dissatisfied customers is probably the most important part of customer service. After all, theses are people whose business you have already won and upon whom you are basing future projections. Your growth depends on them. You have to get it right.

Until very recently, virtually all customer complaints – in whatever industry – were lodged via phone or mail. These days, many companies have live online agents to help you deal with problems, and the phone complaint lives on, but according to Pew Research, 31% of consumers prefer texting over talking. Another survey found that 75% of consumers would rather text with customer support agent than use social media. But why is SMS messaging so popular with consumers?

A text conversation neatly sidesteps the late 20th century bugbear of negotiating multiple menus and directives to enter personal data when trying to connect with the right person. Web sessions only last for a finite amount of time before timing out – then the whole process has to start again. With SMS, agents can switch seamlessly to a live call if necessary. Moreover, texting is seen as a more intimate method of communication, as it’s associated with conversations between friends and families. 

Text messaging also allows for a trail of communication with clear dates, times and numbers – useful when trying to resolve a particularly complicated dispute.

It’s not just commercial ventures that are latching on to the possibilities of a text-led user service. Local councils and community groups are fielding all sorts of enquiries from members of the public who prefer to communicate this way. In Charlotte, Michigan, local authorities have even opened a text service for citizens to report problems in the region.

So if you’re yet to join the text revolution, consider how much time and resources you could save by making SMS messaging your customers’ first port of call for service needs.

May 20, 2014

SMS Messaging: How Not To Spam

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Whether you’re running a major corporation or a start up, SMS messaging and other mobile marketing tactics should form a major part of your overall marketing strategy. The overwhelming popularity of cell phones – and the high open and read rates associated with texting – means mobile marketing is the most efficient way to reach large numbers of people. It just happens to be one of the most affordable types of consumer engagement, leveling the playing field for smaller businesses to compete with the big fish.

Trouble is, all these positive attributes means it’s tempting to overdo your mobile marketing strategy. Sure, you want to offer your contacts something of value, and send them personalized messages with coupons and special offers attached, but you don’t want to be a pocket-sized irritant, vibrating your way into the daily lives of loyal customers. Without realizing it, your texts can go from being welcome notifications to spammy intrusions. So you need to plan your mobile marketing campaign carefully and thoughtfully.

It happens all too often. Even well-established brands have made the fatal mistake of overdoing their ad campaigns. Once the annoyance you provoke reaches a tipping point, people will simply opt out of your list – and you’ll probably lose them for good. The effectiveness of your campaign depends wholly on the way your customers view the messages you send. Even if the message is sent in good faith, as soon as it’s labeled as spam in the mind of the reader, it’s game over for your relationship.

There are a number of ways to protect your company from being associated with the dreaded term. First and foremost, your messages must be relevant and succinct. That’s a given. Take the time (and resources) to craft a snappy message and your ROI will increase. After that, avoid the following spam pitfalls and you won’t go far wrong:

  • Buying lists of numbers. It’s not only bad business, it’s illegal. Remember, every customer must explicitly opt in to your list before you can send messages to their phone.
  • Sending pointless information. You might think that transmitting news about your latest company social event is a good way to impress clients with your corporate culture, but this information is of no use to them. Every text you send takes time out of their lives, so you’d better be offering them something of value.
  • Texting too often. Bombarding customers with messages - even useful ones – will eventually annoy them. Don’t let your SMS campaign become part of the white noise that customers filter out, or you might as well not bother launching a campaign in the first place.

Do it right, and text is an invaluable strand to any mobile marketing strategy. Do it wrong, and you’ll cause more harm than good.

 

May 16, 2014

Keeping Your Reputation in Check

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Reputation management is a key part of any comprehensive marketing campaign. Where more traditional marketing techniques actively promote your business, reputation management attempts to stem any negative feedback or outright calumny that may haunt your online presence.

When you think about how easy it is to go online and spread false or ill-founded information about an individual or a business, it becomes obvious why reputation marketing is so invaluable. To wit, an example:

Joe Pubblico runs a small chain of Italian restaurants. They are well regarded throughout the local area, and even attract visitors from far-off places. The food is fantastic, and the ad campaign is well executed. Their mobile marketing strategy includes regular discounts (and discounts for regulars!) and they let people know about special offers via SMS messaging.

For a mid-priced franchise, Pubblico’s is about as good as it gets. The notices on Yelp, GrubHub and other culinary user review sites are all excellent. Trouble is, Joe has a personal falling out with an old friend. It’s nothing to do with business, and the restaurants continue the same high level of service their customers have gotten used to. But Joe’s ex-friend holds a grudge, and has a lot of time on his hands. Using different names, he leaves multiple bad reviews on the aforementioned sites in which he claims Joe’s outlets offer poor service, worse food, and have a problem with pests.

After years of building his business, investing money in SMS messaging and online mobile marketing campaigns, Joe is threatened with ruin by these defamatory claims. While it may be time consuming and ultimately pointless to pursue the removal of anonymous reviews, one thing Joe can do is generate his own good publicity online. If executed in the right way, a reputation marketing campaign will serve to push down the negative reviews and leave only the fair reviews.

SMS messaging can play a part in this reputation restoration. After all, Joe has a long, loyal list of contacts whom he can reach out to, either to ask for online support, or simply to warn them of the defamation that’s going on regarding his business.

However Joe does it, the bottom line is this: great reviews convert new customers, bad reviews put them off. Studies have shown that more than 70% of potential customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. For small business owners, developing a five star reputation through SMS messaging and other forms of mobile marketing is the hardest thing they need to do - but keeping that reputation doesn’t necessarily come easy.

 

May 07, 2014

5 Ways the Recruitment Industry Uses SMS Texting

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As professionals in the recruitment industry know, the best employment candidates are often extremely busy, as they are frequently sought after by numerous employers and headhunters who are in direct competition with one another. Being able to successfully compete for a candidate's time and attention can mean the difference between matching companies with the right applicants and having a deal fall through. Luckily, more and more recruiters are learning that SMS text message marketing is a highly effective way to communicate quickly and efficiently with candidates. SMS texting is also an invaluable tool for communicating with B2B clients and internal administrative staff.

Here are 5 ways the recruitment industry is finding SMS to be an invaluable tool:

1. Costs

SMS messaging saves recruiters a fortune because SMS texts cost just a fraction of what phone calls do. With automation and mass texting, SMS also saves money by keeping time and productivity at an ultra-efficient level.


2. Communication
SMS is an efficient and simple means of communicating with clients, candidates, and staff. With a single text, communicate with all employees or candidates, and control just how often to reach out to specific contact groups while avoiding unnecessary repetition.

3.Relationships
Job application follow-up clearly improves applicant and client relations, and there’s no easier or more intimate way of communicating than SMS. While consultant communication with clients and candidates has traditionally been done face-to-face, or at least voice-to-voice, a shortage of time and other resources can limit the capacity for such interaction. However, we live in an age when clients and candidates may even prefer SMS texts, as they are less intrusive than phone calls or in-person meetings. Plus, integrated SMS allows recruiters to effortlessly merge personal data into messages to tailor them for specific recipients, making personalized communication easy and fostering better relationships with candidates, clients, and staff members.

4. Productivity

Integrating SMS into recruitment workflow saves administrative overhead costs by improving productivity. Instead of spending the time it takes to make numerous phone calls or send messages from mobile devices, staff resources can instead be spent in more productive ways. It is simple to upload a list of applicants from existing databases and then send automated mass messages. These messages can always be customized later if desired.

5. Attendance
By making SMS reminders part of standard procedure, candidate no-shows and staffing problems can be dramatically reduced. As a result, brand reputation is better protected, and applicant reliability increases.Integrated SMS text messaging also allows important job assignment details from existing software systems to be easily incorporated into customized, detailed messages. Therefore, with SMS text messaging, there's no need to worry about whether staff, clients, and candidates know exactly where to report, when to report, and how to prepare.

For those in the recruitment industry, keeping track of the many different players and moving parts that are involved in a typical hiring opportunity may require a vast amount of work. Thanks to SMS text messaging, however, a quick, effective, and cost-saving way of coordinating logistics and staying in touch is always within reach.