Top Five Marketing Mistakes You Need to Stop Making Now

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Written by guest blogger Corianne Burton, SEO Specialist with N2Q Consulting

“Make the customer number one.” “The customer is always right.” “Customer service is priority numero uno.”

These platitudes may seem tired, but they speak a long-known marketing truth. However, foundational marketing often makes the mistake of simply denying the fact that the customer comes first.

Thinking you know better than your audience, seeing consumers as numbers and not people, and failing to give customers their due attention are seemingly trite mantras from days of old… but they’ll come back to haunt you. If you become tone deaf to these truths, you’ll pay in lost traffic, missed prospects and opportunities, and even your loyal, long-time customers going a new direction. The good news is that you can still take back the success of your marketing campaigns. Just make sure to address these key foundational errors that many marketing firms make.

1. Thinking You Have All the Answers

…Or thinking that you need to have them. Marketing is tricky; it’s an ever-changing field of consumer attraction. While you may have great ideas, keeping current and creative requires humility. You must step back from all the good that you know (or, believe you should know) in order to listen. To learn. To ask questions.

Stop relying on the tried and not-so-true marketing methods. They only maintain the status quo and – as you can tell by our name – this is something we don’t like. To say no to the quo and move into the great beyond, you must listen to experts in the field, ask questions and get creative with marketing efforts that work well for your company and with its goals. If you need help, ask. After all, holding fast to the idea of being a jack-of-all-trades may hurt your endgame.

2. Believing One Size-Fits-All

Furthermore, making assumptions and following stock strategies reaps problems for campaigns and your client relationships. In other words, marketing proposed to “fit everyone” likely fits no one. Failing to listen to your audience or understand the goals of your company lead to lackluster marketing campaigns.

Focus on a segmented, targeted audience rather than a broad one. Taking into account the habits, triggers, interests, goals and hopes of prospects allows you to tailor your marketing to better meet their needs. Plus, matching these details to the goals, products and services of your company helps build relationships. This considerate attention leads to loyal customers.

3. Avoiding the Social Scene

You may desire to remain aloof from the crowd (whether digital or real world), but being antisocial in marketing efforts hurts your business. While social media proves vital to success (for those companies whose customers engage with it), half-hearted efforts produce full failures. Yes, nothing is better than a poorly run campaign.

To take advantage of social media, make sure you’re attending to Facebook or blog comments and questions. Build relationships rather than broadcasting or promoting yourself through these platforms. You’ll be rewarded by knowing more about your audience. The truth is consumers want to know that you see who they are beyond a mere notch in your sales belt.

4. Not Taking Advantage of Analytics

In the activity of a week, assessing the impact of marketing campaigns by “feel” proves difficult. Often this critical assessment gets set aside for lead chasing and advertising. Yet, marketing 101 teaches that tracking and measuring results is crucial for knowing what is working.

Fortunately, a host of analytics offer help in determining your return on investment. Google Analytics, social media analytics such as Facebook insights, and email campaign data give feedback to let you know where adjustments need to be made for greater success. Use the figures and switch up campaigns by concentrating your efforts on what works.

5. Failing to Draft a Strategy

Digital marketing and technology bring a flurry of business boosting options to your door step. It’s exciting! Unfortunately, these opportunities also prove overwhelming, even paralyzing to your marketing efforts. Or, if you eagerly jump in with both feet wherever you can, you run the risk of landing in the wrong place.

Marketing objectives and goals culminating in a strategy are vital. Identify where you want to go and the tactics on how to get there become clearer. Plus, assessing each marketing component to ensure it leads to the same destination proves easier. Your analytics will more accurately measure what you intend to when your direction is set.

The Wrap

Whether you go DIY or hire a creative agency to get your efforts flowing, addressing the details of your marketing campaign proves critical to your success. Your audience does come first. The customer really is numero uno.

Humble yourself to listen to your prospects, customers, industry experts and even your competition to adopt a marketing strategy which tailor fits your company and demographic. Engage with your audience to build loyal relationships. Be sure to use analytics to measure and adjust as needed.

Doing nothing out of fear or everything out of eagerness yields poor marketing results. Money and time are precious commodities poured into these efforts. Use them wisely by developing an intentional marketing campaign that avoids these top marketing mistakes.

To speak with a beyond the status quo marketing firm for help with any marketing efforts that overwhelm or allude you, reach out to N2Q today. We love to see you succeed.

 

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How to Track Social Media in Google Analytics

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As they say, ignorance is bliss.

Unfortunately, this generally doesn’t apply to digital marketing. In fact, ignorance may be as far from bliss as possible, especially if your social media accounts aren’t performing to your standards.

For those with no way to track website performance and metrics, it can be easy to believe that you’re hitting all of your benchmarks, driving new traffic, and harvesting adequate leads. Overlooking weak spots and missing pain points completely is also possible without a good way to objectively evaluate how your social media accounts are functioning.

Luckily, there’s a better way. Google Analytics is a free tool widely used by novice webmasters and seasoned veterans alike. It offers an easy way to evaluate traffic sources and determine the effectiveness of social media campaigns. Providing insight into the many facets of site functionality, Google Analytics can unwrap your website’s performance, uncovering the truth about what your digital marketing is able to accomplish.

Curious? Here’s how you can make the most of your social media stats:

Track Traffic Sources

Many marketers erroneously believe that as long as website traffic stays steady, everything must be fine. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Without a solid understanding of where your customers are coming from and how they’re getting to you, it’s very challenging to get a full picture of consumer web behavior. Google Analytics is extremely valuable in this arena, breaking down traffic from exact point of origin.

Under the category Real Time there is a section called Traffic Sources. From here you will be able to see exactly where traffic to your website is originating, a function that silos results based on individual traffic sources. Many of these sources should be expected; most marketers see many results from Google and direct access, as well as social media sites, blog posts, and more. Take the time to go through your most popular sources, and determine which are social media sites and see how these sites rank overall.

Set Goals with Campaigns

In order to truly hone in on how your social media marketing campaigns are working, Google Analytics lets users set up goals. This feature allows you to narrow your results, tracking specific features regarding how consumers perform once they reach your site.

Under the Admin tab, click Goals, and then select New Goal. In the fields provided, enter the data you wish to track, including pages visited or viewing duration. Choose a name that summarizes what you’d like to accomplish, and select Destination as the type. Then, in the destination field, enter the tail end of the URL you’d like to track. For example, if you’d like to see how many Twitter followers make a purchase, you can set this field to reflect your Thank You page. Users can also add monetary value tracking or incorporate a sequence of pages through the Funnel feature.

View Conversions

For most marketers, conversions are an end goal. Fortunately, Google Analytics makes tracking conversions easy, providing access to one-click insight by going to the Acquisitions menu, selecting All Traffic, and then choosing Channels. From here, users can enable the Social view to see exactly how social media sites break down.

The report generated here will include many valuable stats, including goal conversion rates, goal completions, and goal value, providing a great overview into how your goals are performing for each social site. Users can also utilize the Assisted Conversions report, accessed under the Conversions menu under Multi-Channel Funnels. This report maps which leads were originally, but maybe not specifically, a result of social media marketing. For example, a customer may have found your site through social media, clicked away, and then used Google to find your page again days later in order to make a purchase.

Draw Conclusions

Google Analytics is a great start, but numbers alone can’t tell you how to improve. Instead, you need to learn from what information you have available, using it to develop insights that can be applied to boost your social performance. Devise questions that relate to social behaviors and see how your customers are fitting into the mold. What social media sites have the highest visits? Do Facebook leads have a longer page duration? Is your traffic from Twitter viewing more pages on average?

Formulating these questions can help you get to the root of your social media successes and failures, especially when you are running specific campaigns. For example, if visitors from Twitter are spending more time on your landing page but don’t see a reason to click through, perhaps your marketing materials are misleading.

For marketers at all stages of the game, access to analytics can be the demarcation between growth potential and slowing sales. Google Analytics can provide many of the insights you need to improve performance, putting game-changing resources right at your fingertips.

How to Create a Facebook Page for Your Business

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A Facebook page is a must-have for any small business these days. Your customers and potential customers are as likely to look for you on Facebook as they are to seek out your own web page. Having a presence on Facebook allows you to build relationships with customers in a unique way.

Facebook makes it easy for businesses to get started on the platform. Let’s walk through what’s involved in setting up your own Facebook business page.

Setting Up Your Facebook Page

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When you create a new business page on Facebook, start out by choosing the correct category. You can label yourself as a local business, a company or organization, a product or brand, an artist or public figure, another type of entertainment, or a cause or community organization.

Depending on the choice you make, Facebook asks you for more information. For example, if you say you’re a local business, you then provide information including your hours of operation and parking locations.

You also need to provide your company’s name. If you’re commonly known by more than one name (“Howie’s Bar and Grill” vs. “Howie’s,” for instance), decide how you want to appear on Facebook. It’s possible to change your name once you’ve published your Facebook page, but it’s far from simple to do.

Facebook then walks you through a template to get all the information needed for your page. Be ready with a compelling description of your business and a link to your website. You also need a profile picture, which might be your logo, and a cover photo that exemplifies your business.

Add any admins to the page to help you edit and manage it. Don’t choose admins on a whim, as any admin has full control over the page. You don’t want to add someone who might later decide to lock you out of the page.

You can also add a call-to-action button to your Facebook Page. This button lets your visitors take a simple action just by clicking. You might want to use this button to link to your e-commerce website or to place a phone call to your store.

Facebook makes it easy to handle all these steps through its interface. If you prefer, you can also customize your Facebook page. If you have the tech skills, you can use iframes to build a custom page, or you can opt for a third-party app like Pagemodo.

Publishing Your Page

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Once your page is designed, it’s tempting to publish it right away. Hold off, though! Keep your profile private until your page is truly ready for the grand unveiling.

Now is the time to add content to your page. Use a variety of types of posts as you populate your page. Add text status updates to point out deals and exciting news. Captioned links are helpful to get visitors over to your website or e-commerce page. Many Facebook users are captivated by photo or video content, so start creating and adding visuals to your page. If you’re planning a big sale or a special event at your store, add it as an event to Facebook so users can click to say whether they’re attending.

If you have big announcements to make, pin them to the top of your Facebook page so any visitor sees them first. If you already have a blog tied to your business, use the Networked Blogs app to link your blog to your Facebook page. This app will republish any of your blog posts to your Facebook page, making it easy for your fans and customers to gather in one spot to see what you’re thinking.

Turn on Facebook Messaging so your customers can contact you directly via Facebook. This easy customer service connection lets your customers and potential customers know that you’re listening to them and helps build rapport with your brand.

Once you have enough content on your page to make your business look well-established and to give a casual visitor something appealing to scroll through, you’re ready to publish your page. As soon as you set your page to Public, start inviting people you know on Facebook to Like the page. This drives activity toward your page.

As you move forward with your Facebook business page, you can continue to post intriguing content that attracts more visitors and turns them into customers.

8 Ways Your Small Business Can Take Advantage of Small Business Saturday

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Small Business Saturday has gained plenty of steam the past few years as a great way to promote local “Mom & Pop” shops that don’t benefit from the Black Friday mega-retail crowd and the Cyber Monday e-commerce traffic. The “shop small” and “dine small” day was initially started as an American Express campaign in 2010 and many small businesses have begun to embrace the day with their own marketing campaigns and promotions.

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Here are eight ways your small business can benefit from Small Business Saturday:

Spread the Word

Print Small Business Saturday signs to hang by your point of sale or inside your business’ window. Consider creating postcards to send or pass out to remind customers about Small Business Saturday. Also, be sure to update your website. Small businesses with high quality online stores have a distinct advantage. Make sure your inventory has been updated online and special promotions are prominently displayed. Be sure to cater to the busy shopper by ensuring your website is fast, processes transactions quickly, and is optimized for mobile use.

Use Social Media

Social media can be your greatest promotional asset when used correctly. The Small Business Saturday page on Facebook has more than three million fans, so use it as a resource. Always use the official #SmallBizSat or #ShopSmall hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to highlight special offers or discounts since the topics will be trending.

Email Your Customers

If your business keeps record of your current customers’ email addresses, then send them all an email blast to inform them of any events or promotions you are running for Small Business Saturday. Your most loyal customers can become your greatest marketing advocates since they will help spread the word for you.

Advertise Online

Even though many small businesses have a limited budget to spend on online advertising, you can take advantage of ad credits offered by many advertising platforms. If you already spend money on online advertising, be sure to adjust your messaging for Small Business Saturday. Also, keep track of what you spend so you can calculate your Return on Investment (ROI) to see if the advertising was worth the increase in sales.

Offer Coupons and Discounts

Nothing drives more customers to your store than incentives. After all, incentives are the reason Black Friday has become the behemoth that it is. Take advantage of this by offering coupons or discounts for your products or services. Make sure to include your coupons or discounts in your promotional material leading up to Small Business Saturday.

Expand Your Hours

Extend your shopping day for customers on that Saturday by opening earlier or staying open later to make it even easier for customers to shop at your business location. Be sure to include your one-day-only hours in your promotional materials so your customers know they can fit your business into their busy holiday schedule.

Make it an Event

You can create even more excitement for your local small business by doing something different to draw attention. For example, serve free coffee in the morning, display balloons outside your store, hire a musician to play music in your store, or create a contest for a drawing. You can also partner up with other businesses. Build on each other’s customer base by having multiple businesses in the same line of stores or area actively participating in Small Business Saturday with promotions to increase visibility and attention for all local businesses.

Promote a Cause

Small Business Saturday is the perfect time to give back to the community that has given so much to you. Consider donating a portion of your sales to a local charity of your choice, and display this for your customers to see. You may also consider matching donations from your customers to your chosen charity.

 

How Businesses Can Utilize Twitter Polls

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Businesses are using social media to gain exposure and convert interactions into sales. This can often be challenging, but the tools on social media help to make it easier to figure out how to keep clients and customers engaged. One extremely effective tool is the Twitter poll.

Since Twitter’s inception, the website known for short tidbits of information has been updated in some significant ways. Twitter polls are one of the biggest updates business owners can use to drum up interest in their company.

Here are a few possibilities for how your business can utilize Twitter polls:

Find Out What Clients Want or Need

No matter what type of business you own, your main goal is to meet the clients’ needs and unfortunately, those can change often. The easiest way to keep up with the current needs and wants of potential customers is by simply asking what they need most. This will give you the information you need to tailor your advertising and improve on the programs, services, or products you offer.

For example, a plumbing business might create a Twitter poll asking what plumbing problem seems the most concerning. The options might include a broken hot water heater, a busted pipe, or a clogged toilet. Another example would be if a toy company asked what kinds of toys kids want for an upcoming holiday.

Bring the Human Touch to Your Company

You don’t have to stick to polls that only target your business. You can add humorous polls or polls that are about current events. These polls show potential clients that you care about more than just the services or goods you provide. They add the human touch to your business. However, if you opt to do polls on current events, be careful to avoid topics that might provoke negative reactions.

When you add this human touch to your company, you are also opening your company up to more people. Be sure to add hashtags in the introductory text of the poll so anyone who searches those tags has a better chance of finding your poll.

Let Customers Play a Role in the Company

A Twitter poll can make your customers feel like they are an important part of your business. Consider asking people what they think your upcoming discount of the month should be or gauge their opinion on a certain product.

If the Twitter poll is asking the voters to choose something, make sure you have options you can provide. For example, don’t include a free trip to France as a promotional contest prize if your company isn’t prepared to cover the costs of the trip.

Using Twitter Polls is Easy

It doesn’t take a lot of time to set up a Twitter poll, which makes them a great option for busy business owners. After you choose a question and answers, all you have to do is select how long you want the poll to run, which can range anywhere from a few minutes to seven days. Once the poll goes live, be prepared to interact with respondents if they comment or retweet the poll.

Overall, you should use Twitter polls and other social media avenues as a way to interact on a personal level with the clients and customers your serve.

Blogging Tips for Small Business Owners

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Looking to grow your online presence? Want to boost your website’s ranking in search engine results pages? Creating and maintaining a small business blog takes work, but when done right, it can deliver a great return on investment for your enterprise.

A blog gives you the opportunity to position yourself as a subject matter expert in your particular field; it can also give your audience a chance to get to know your company and develop a personal connection with you, your business, and your brand.

Here are some simple tips you can use right now to establish and grow your small business blog:

Establish a Consistent, Approachable Voice 

A blog provides small business owners a chance to connect with clients, customers, and prospects on a personal level. Use your blog to demonstrate your personality, not just to promote and market your business. Think of your blog as a one-on-one conversation with your audience – aim to establish a consistent, friendly voice that reflects how you actually talk when discussing your products and services.

Stick to a Schedule 

Once you establish a small business blog, make sure to keep your audience engaged by posting new content on a regular basis. Many companies make the mistake of starting a blog and then failing to follow up with fresh content – this can give the unwanted impression that a company has gone out of business, or has lost interest in connecting with their customers.

Provide Value to Your Audience 

Give your readers a reason to read and return to your blog by providing them with real value. This value should be in the form of information —for example, ideas on how they can save money, save time, or improve their lives in some way.

Look for topic inspiration in the questions you’re asked as a small business owner. For example, if you operate an automotive repair shop, chances are you’re often asked for maintenance tips, information about choosing the right tires, or ways to save money on car care. These are all topics you can expand on within your small business blog.

Keep It Brief

Remember that most blog readers are looking for quick, easy-to-read content that they can consume during their down time – that means your audience will likely be reading your blog during their lunch break, while standing in line at the grocery store, or during their daily commute. Aim to write easy-to-read content that can be broken down into short paragraphs and lists, since this type of content is easy to view on mobile devices like smart phones and tablets.

Integrate Your Social Media Links

Promote your small business blog through your social media channels like Facebook and Twitter by posting a new update on your feeds whenever you update your blog. This is a great way to encourage your followers to navigate to your website and read your new content. It also makes it easy for your audience to share your blog on their own social media feeds.

Use Your Spell-Checker

As simple as it sounds, it’s worth saying – always check your blog content for spelling and grammatical errors. Regardless of what industry you’re in, the quality of your blog reflects you and your business, so it’s important to ensure your blog is clear, accurate, and well-crafted.

By creating a consistent, engaging blog that delivers value to your readers, you can harness the power of small-business blogging to position yourself and your company, as a go-to resource within your community.

6 Tips to Drive More Traffic to Your Business’ Blog

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Blogging is a powerful, cost-effective marketing tool that can help you engage with your customers, increase conversions rates, and establish your reputation as a creditable source of information among both your clients and your peers.

Of course, the impact your business blog has on your bottom line is directly linked to both the volume and type of traffic it generates for your website. If your online content isn’t actually reaching your target audience, you’ll be missing out on the wealth of opportunities that blogging offers your business.

Here’s what you can do to drive more traffic to your business’ blog:

Know Your Target Audience

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In order to create blog content that reaches the right audience it’s important to understand exactly who you’re hoping will read your blog. Otherwise you could wind up writing a blog that fails to engage your ‘target market’.

Start by developing a persona – a description of your ‘ideal’ blog reader that covers basics like their age, location, level of education, and income. Consider what your business can offer this person, and think about what problems you, and your company, can help them solve.

This information will help guide the development of your blog content, and increase the odds that your blog will actually reach your target audience.

Blog Frequently

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! all use a semi-secretive algorithm to determine what results users see when they’re looking for online content. While the actual formulas that the search engines use to rank websites are a closely-guarded secret, companies like Google have made it clear that websites with fresh, user-friendly content, like regularly-updated blogs, will be rewarded with higher search engine results rankings.

Share On Social Media

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Sharing your blog posts through social media is a quick and effective way to boost traffic to your website. Publish links to your latest blog on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, and be sure to make it easy for your readers to share posts by integrating social media ‘widgets’ in your content.

Diversify Your Content 

In the early days of business blogging posts were exclusively text-based. Thanks to the development of faster Internet services and computers, bloggers can now integrate both still images and videos into their posts, providing users with an engaging experience that’s both informative and entertaining. Consider diversifying your blog content by adding infographics, photos, Vine loops and tutorial videos to boost your audience and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

Keep It Brief

Internet users’ attention spans are notoriously short – a fact that’s important to keep in mind when developing your blog posts. Aim to create blog content that’s 750 words or less. Otherwise you run the risk of having your readers tune out before they’ve reached the end of the article. Be sure to break the content up into small, scan-able ‘chunks’ that are easier to read than a large ‘blob’ of text, especially if your audience accesses your blog via a mobile device.

Engage Your Audience 

When crafting content for your business’ blog, aim to use a tone that reflects the personality of your organization. If your brand is light and fun, make sure that’s accurately portrayed in your blog posts (while making sure to respect social norms and boundaries).

You should also focus on providing value to your audience – give them a reason to ‘like’, ‘share’ and return to your blog by posting insider information, tutorials, or answers to frequently-asked questions.

Remember that your business’ blog can be a great, low-cost way to promote your enterprise, but only if you’re able to generate and retain traffic to your website.

Simple Ways to Grow Your Email List

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Email lists have been the bread and butter of online business presence for about as long as the internet has been readily accessible. In the past, it was fun and exciting to receive a new email accompanied by the phrase “You’ve got mail!” Users would rush to their inbox to see what new and exciting gift was waiting for them.

Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Email is so common today that getting a real letter in the mail is often more exciting. Because of this development of time, businesses are faced with the problem of not only gaining but maintaining a solid and reliable list of email subscribers who will actually look forward to seeing a business name in their inbox. While it is certainly harder than ever to get someone to open your email, fear not: all it takes is a little creativity and a good set of typing fingers.

Start with Quality Emails and Diversify

There is nothing worse than a full email inbox, littered with the same three business names over and over, running the same promotion and offering nothing of substance. Everyone has that one mistake, the one subscription they filled out and regretted as soon as the third notification popped up. “Why did I do this?” “How do I cancel?”

Don’t be that business.

The goal is for subscribers to want to read your emails. Simply getting a foot in the door, or email in the inbox as it were, isn’t enough. Provide your subscribers with quality, relevant content that keeps them coming back for more and anticipating your weekly email blast.

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Emails should contain more than just excellent subject matter if the goal is growing an email list. They should also encourage sharing amongst friends, and can benefit from links to landing pages encouraging people to subscribe. Try adding these links to the signatures of regular business emails for an extra boost. Email lists can also benefit from diversity and narrow field marketing, such as separate lists for different types of content.

Social Media

Social media continues to prove itself to be a useful tool to the marketing strategies of all businesses, big or small. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube are all excellent sources for getting a business name out there and recognized, and are great devices for building a sustainable email list. Try adding a call to action “Sign Up” or “Subscribe” button to any of these websites your business may be represented on, or consider running promotions that require an email submission.

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The Business Website

Though it may seem obvious, many businesses make it quite difficult to find the required information to sign up for updates and newsletters. Make sure this information is visible and readily accessible, even if it means adding a subscribe button to every single page of the site.

Blogs are also a great way to build email subscriptions. By posting an informative, helpful blog post every now and then on a website, consumers are assured that the business is active and concerned with the needs of its clients. They’ll want to sign up and will look forward to more information whenever you post it.

Partnerships and Promotions

Powerful email lists require more than an online presence. It is necessary to spread the word in the real world as well. This can be done a number of ways, none of which are as easy as simply asking consumers to sign up (though that can still be beneficial). Try partnering up with a sister business (real estate and insurance, food truck with a bar, etc.) and hosting an event together to share customers. This is a great way to find customers who are already interested in a service similar to your own. Use these events to gather emails, create online promotions, or hand out business cards with QR codes on them that link directly to a subscription page online.

Maintain the List

Once your list has been bulked up, it’s important to maintain it. Reset each quarter or year by allowing current subscribers to opt into a new list and delete the old addresses. This may seem counter intuitive, but quality returns are far more important than sheer quantity. Keep the list updated, keep adding new subscribers, and always provide quality content that customers can look forward to.

Essential Marketing Analytics Tools for Small Businesses

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Just about every business out there is beginning to recognize the importance of online marketing. Whether they are building a website, creating social media accounts, or maintaining a viable email list, every business is moving into the digital marketplace. Once they show up, however, many tend to fizzle out. This generally comes from a lack of understanding of the digital world, a poor marketing plan, and no idea how to make improvements or read data. This is where marketing analytics come into play.

What’s the point of having a website or a social media account if no steps are taken to measure its effectiveness? Without knowing who is visiting a business’s page, where they are coming from, or how long they stay, it’s difficult to determine if the time and money being spent is even worth it. Luckily, there are plenty of digital marketing analytics tools available all around the web to help combat the confusing world of marketing data analysis.

Keeping Track of Your Website and Its Effectiveness

Nearly every business with an online presence has its own website at the very least, but just having a website isn’t enough. It is important for every business owner to fully understand the performance of their website. This includes tracking audience engagement, data on demographics, topics and pages that are viewed and used the most, and how people are finding the web site in the first place. Luckily there is an incredible resource through Google called Google Analytics that will track all of this information free of charge.

Once a website’s traffic and engagement is being tracked, it is easy to move into search engine optimization (SEO) analysis. Tracking key word rankings, the number and quality of back links (links from one page to another), and general SEO effectiveness are all types of data that need to be sifted through and analyzed as often as possible. This is where Google steps up again with Google Web Master Tools. Designed to make website and SEO analytics free and easy to use, Web Master Tools is a great resource for any small business on the web.

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Analyzing Your Social Media Presence

Social media is easily the most expansive and complicated form of marketing online, and encompasses so much more than most realize. Including websites, apps, games, shares, and links across multiple platforms and companies, social media has become a wild beast that few have been able to tame. Luckily for the small business owner, companies like Scoop.It, Quintly, Cyfe and a few others have all stepped into the ring with lassos in hand.

Scoop.It and Buffer – Provided free with the option to upgrade, were both designed to measure social media views, visitors, comments, and daily shares across multiple social sites. Scoop.It also provides product guides, case studies, demos, and FAQ’s to its 1.2 million users, and is fully integrated with Google Analytics. Both websites will also help manage social media posts through their useful tools, and help compare average and daily hits on each post.

Followerwonk and Quintly – Created by Moz, Followerwonk is a comprehensive resource for tracking posts on Twitter, while Quincy provides the same service for Facebook. Both provide clean and easy to use interfaces and graphic representation for analyzing posts, likes/ favorites and shares/retweets. Followerwonk also provides its users with popular hashtags and optimal times for tweeting content, and is a statistics based open information application. This means that businesses aren’t limited to their own information, but can research the competition as well. Quintly, on the other hand, limits its users to 3 Facebook pages per free account, with more available with a paid subscription, and is ideal for small businesses.

Cyfe and Addvocate+Trap!t – Both of these websites follow content sharing across multiple social networks, and each one has a unique method for sorting its data. Cyfe leans more towards full internet presence and includes data for websites outside the normal social media channels, while Addvocate+Trap!t (two companies that recently teamed up into one super squad) provides comparative data between channels to help small businesses determine which works best for them. Both are free, easy to use, and incredibly reliable.

Making the Most for the Small Business

Generally speaking, most small businesses do not have the time or money to invest in a large scale digital marketing plan. These services tend to be costly and require a serious commitment to creating an expansive digital presence. Luckily, companies like Google and Buffer have stepped up to help the little guy build his online portfolio and get up to speed with the big players. Using these resources will allow any small business to improve both their website usability and social media effectiveness.

Why Small Businesses Are Turning to Social Media to Get More Sales

Social media marketing concept

For the unpracticed, a comprehensive social media presence can often seem like quite the daunting task. Social buzzwords like “Snapchat,” “Facebook,” “Instagram,” and “Twitter” have become such an integral part of society that most no longer think twice about them anymore. Society’s increasing comfortability with status updates and food photos is leaving many small business feeling like the new guy who just signed up at a gym: access to lots of fancy machines with no idea how to use any of them while everyone else is enthusiastically pumping iron and happily running miles. But that’s okay; sometimes just showing up is a solid step in the right direction.

Just like each machine at the gym, every social media outlet has its place in the arsenal of small business advertising. While the average small business might think that these big tools are reserved for the big business at play, most are discovering that they couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, with a little direction and some insight, it quickly becomes clear that social media is far better suited to the independent small business owner than ever before. The right machine at the right time with the right amount of reps will leave any small business looking leaner and stronger in no time.

The Social Customer Service Machine

With about 830 million daily active American users in December of 2015, Facebook is still the world leader in social networking. With a fully integrated system that now includes everything from instant messaging apps to business pages, Facebook is a one stop social media shop for its more than 40 million active small business page users. Having a strong Facebook presence is about more than just advertising, however, it’s about creating a firm connection between a business and its customers. That one person answering the phone up front isn’t quite enough to field all the questions and customer service concerns folks might have. With a Facebook Page, consumers have direct access to all the information they may need about a business.

Twitter is in the same realm of social service with 81 percent of its users expecting a same day response to business inquiries and complaints. This means that more customers are relying on social media outlets to contact businesses rather than simply picking up their phone and making a call. It’s simpler, easier, and while not often quicker, far more convenient for both businesses and consumers alike.

The truest way to grow and maintain a successful business is by listening to the needs of clientele. This means being actively willing to listen to the concerns of a customer base and responding accordingly. The most proven way to do this is through mass exposure. Just like that one kid in class who always asked the question others were too afraid to raise their hand for, having a designated space for one patron to ask a question publicly is far more effective than a hundred of the same questions asked privately.

Social Media Blog 3.7.16

The Promotion Machine

Promotions are the meat of any small business marketing strategy, and there is no better way to get this meat to the public than through social media. By asking clients to follow a Facebook or Twitter page, or any other social media outlet of choice (Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc.) small businesses create a direct link to their consumers’ pockets (well their cell phones, anyway).

A small family-owned restaurant decides to create a last minute lunch special on a slow day. How do they promote it? Just send out a tweet about 50 percent off soup and salad specials. Have some extra tile left over from a construction job? Post through Facebook about a deal on kitchen tile backsplash. What once took weeks of planning, advertising, and promoting now takes a few key strokes and hitting “send.”

The Full Body Social Media Circuit

Creating a profound social media presence is slightly more complicated than merely creating a Facebook page with a business address on it. It takes dedication, effort, and a willingness to commit time (rather than money) to a proven advertising mechanism. This means broad spectrum exposure. Not all consumers use Facebook (though many do) and some may prefer Instagram to Twitter (which is becoming a common trend). By utilizing all the outlets available and showing up where the potential clients already are, a company vastly increases its chances of exposure.

Going the Distance

Social media, like a new gym membership, takes time and patience. Results won’t come over night, and the equipment may take some getting used to (maybe even a personal trainer). But with persistence and enthusiasm, it will quickly prove to be the best marketing and customer service decision any small business can make.