The 10 Best Practices For Handling Negative Reviews

10 best practices for negative reviews

Someone hates you!

This is probably what you think when a customer leaves a negative review for your business.

Unhappy customers who leave you a bad review usually don’t hate you – they just want their complaints to be heard, addressed, and validated. Now, sometimes there are people who just plain don’t like you. It’s bound to happen.

Either way, you need to respond to all reviews, especially negative ones.

Nearly 90% of customers read online reviews for local businesses-and the majority trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Your online reviews are your reputation on the web, and your reputation makes or breaks your business.

So how do you respond to a bad review of your business? How do you protect your reputation online? How do you keep customers coming to you, and not your competition? What do you need to do to turn a bad review into a selling point for your business, and FAST?

Many of these questions and others like them are answered in the graphic below, but all of them are answered in our FREE complete guide to handling negative reviews.

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10 Best Negative Reviews Handling Practices

Want to put these 10 best practices into motion?

Our free complete guide to handling bad online reviews contains examples of what to do (and what NOT to do) when responding to reviews, from local businesses as well as Fortune 500 companies, and explains the “what” and “why” behind each best practice.

It will also give you exclusive insider information on the best tools for enhancing your reputation, responding to negative reviews, and bolstering your social media presence-all while saving you time.

Get started on protecting your business online today!

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Google Hangouts On Air with Robyn Mather

Social Business Strategist Robyn Mather knows a thing or two about finding your voice online. From formulating Social Media strategies and communication calendars to facilitating Brand Breakthrough VIP days for clients, Robyn helps individuals and organizations “market” like they “mean it”.

 

Ever the forward thinker, her greatest endeavour to date is a relatively new one in the social sphere. Leveraging the power of Google Hangouts On Air to interview specialists and experts in the entrepreneurship field, Robyn launched Grace & Grit TV. Grace & Grit welcomes women of all competencies to share their business growth strategies and expertise, and even chat about overcoming fears, what and who influenced them and the importance of celebrating success.

 

Robyn has not only recognized the direction that content curation has been gradually shifting towards: video communication, but she has also encouraged business owners and service providers alike with some best practices on integrating Google Hangouts On Air into their engagement strategies.

 

We caught up with Robyn to talk Google Hangouts on Air, brand visibility, content building and best practices!

 

In your own words, please explain how Google Hangouts on Air works.

 

Google hangouts is a free video call service from Google  that allows you to privately  “hangout” with up to 9 other people from anywhere in the world. (Think Skype but with the power and technical infrastructure of Google). Hangout video calls also work right inside of your Gmail, making it super simple to make voice and video calls from your computer.  All you need to get started is a computer, decent internet connection, webcam, mic and a google+ account.

 

Google Hangouts on Air (HOA) launched in 2012 and allows you to create live streaming broadcasts in real time,  for all the world to see either via a Google+ page/profile, your YouTube channel, via a Facebook app or on your website where you embed the Hangout. The video is automatically recorded, can be made public or private, and is immediately saved  on your YouTube channel. It is indexed within minutes on Google search, providing incredible SEO benefits to your content and business. This technology is truly a game changer as Google has literally outfitted every small business with the power of a TV show truck right inside their computer. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. And, it’s FREE!

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How do you use Google Hangouts on Air for your business?

 

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Currently, I’m leveraging  this high impact tool to raise my brand’s visibility, be seen as an authority in my space and provide valuable, engaging content that grows my community. Here are a few ways that I’m accomplishing this:

 

1.Grow my thought leader platform –  I created a web TV show called Grace & Grit TV, a 30 minute interview format show where I have conversations with women entrepreneurs and ask them to share business building knowledge and expertise. This is a great format to connect with other influencers and experts and allows me to provide insightful content for my community. Promotion can take place before for live audience participation and also post show. I find post show promotion extremely beneficial to the building of a content library that lives on my YouTube channel and website. Guests of the show also see the brand-building value the recorded show provides them to share it with their communities.. This is true co-created content that has some serious brand longevity when done right.

 

2. Private coaching and mastermind calls – I’m able to add tremendous value to existing clients by utilizing HOAs as part of client service delivery. I’m able to record our calls and have them available within minutes for replays. This makes the process seamless for me and increases my ability to provide great customer service. Now imagine what it would be like to participate in a mastermind with other business owners from all over the world. I hosted such a call and met people from Sweden, Hawaii, Australia and across the U.S.  It is so powerful to bring the world into your office!

 

3. Build relationships with influencers in my industry – Never before has it been so easy to get on the radar of industry experts in your chosen field. I show up weekly to other HOA shows and interviews and add value to the conversation with questions and comments, building new relationships with influencers and thought leaders in my industry. This is fertile ground for me to vet guests for my web show and to find opportunities to be a guest on other shows. The Google+ landscape is extremely supportive and I have found that everyone you encounter is eager to help you. True engagement and community exists in Google+ but you need to show up and participate to see the magic happen!

 

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What makes this tool unique to the world of online marketing services?

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It’s free. It’s Google and all the SEO authority that comes with that is baked in. All public HOAs are indexed by Google search. That should be enough of a reason to start using them in your business as it’s only getting harder to rise above the noise and get your brand’s message seen and heard. But, in my mind,  there is a greater benefit to using hangouts on air. I feel the most important aspect of building a business is creating trust with your ideal audience. Without trust, there is no exchange of services or dollars and your business will not grow. Live hangouts are a shortcut to building this trust as it provides a platform for verbal and nonverbal communications. Your words are now matched to your body language and facial expressions. Why is this important? Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication. He found that 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements (tone, style, inflection), and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc). Being genuine cannot be faked when someone listens to you with their eyes! Real engagement and conversation happens because the alternative is a sales pitch and HOA’s are not the right platform for pitching. People buy from people, not a corporate brand. We need to connect first as people. Live hangouts are one of the fastest paths I know for creating trust in the online business world and therefore, are a fantastic tool to build real connections and drive authentic engagement.

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What are some best practices you’ve come to know about Hangouts On Air?

 

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Most important thing I can share is practice makes perfect. Watch other shows and be a guest as often as possible as this will build your “on-air muscle”.  This is still new technology and it’s always changing. Things will, and do go wrong. Learning how to handle it, and your nerves, takes a bit of grace and grit. (And plenty of patience!)

Here is a quick rundown of a few pro tips to ensure a smooth show, whether you’re a guest or hosting your own:

  • Have your computer plugged in directly to the internet, if possible (wireless often does not work well).
  • Test the camera and microphone on your computer to make sure they work prior to joining the hangout. .
  • Wear ear buds or headphones. This will reduce sound feedback in the session.

  • Find a quiet, well lit place to hangout. Have more light facing you and less behind you.

  • Unplug any nearby phones and turn your cell phone ringer off.

  • Clear your desk of distractions and grab some water, if desired.

  • Close all other non-essential programs and restart your computer to start with a clean slate. Hangouts require plenty of memory and bandwidth.

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 Anything else to add about your experience with Google Hangouts On Air?

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Well, I’ll get a little personal here as I bet there are other entrepreneurs who can relate to what I’m about to say. For years I struggled with building a blog as writing insightful articles is not one of my preferred communication delivery channels. I knew my viewpoint and opinions were worthy of sharing but I got stifled as writing did not come as natural to me as speaking.  And while video blogging or vlogging was an option, I found myself slacking due to all the editing and uploading that came with the territory. So instead, over the past 2 years, I grew my in-person speaking platform and found that my zone of communication genius is definitely verbal! I come alive in this medium. A weight was lifted off of me when I came to this realization. I had plenty to say just needed to do it in a way that worked for me. The Google hangout on air technology has made it so simple to create video content, record it and upload it, that I now have no excuses to rock out my video blog with insightful interviews and marketing how-tos!

Interested? Visit http://bit.ly/HangoutToolkit to join the Grace&Grit community and download your “Google Hangout Toolkit”, a free guide to help you skyrocket your brand’s visibility with the power of google hangouts.

 

Robyn Mather is a social business strategist, professional speaker and host of Grace&Grit TV, a web show featuring conversations with female entrepreneurs that inspire, challenge and elevate you to play “full out” in life and business. RMather_lowresweb.jpg

 

Known as a modern day marketing muse, Robyn infuses her clients with rock-steady confidence and brings clarity, power and soul to the building of their online authority platforms. She is a sought after speaker who is known for her dynamic delivery of marketing smarts and her keen ability to connect the dots between big picture strategy and the “get it done” steps that often elude her clients and audience members.

 

Connect with Robyn on her website http://www.robynmather.com or on your favorite social platform

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YouTube

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Facebook

LinkedIn

#BestPractices: Instagram & Your Business

Clearly, Instagram’s growing popularity has #NoFilter. According to Digitaltrends.com, “Facebook showed -3-percent growth in active users, the behemoth social network’s photo-sharing sister service [Instagram] gained 23 percent in active users” in 2013. Because the free photo sharing mobile application has become one of the most popular in history, businesses are hopping on the ‘Gram wagon in droves.

So how can organizations or companies publish content on Instagram without airing on the side of spam? Let’s look at who’s doing it right and how they’re pulling it off.

1. The Barbarian Group: An interactive marketing firm specializing in primarily web-based campaigns. Obviously, back end development and IT processes don’t make for the most glamorous of pictures. So instead, The Barbarian Group stacks their Instagram profile with “around the office” team photos, including panel discussions, events, decorations, parties and group meals or outings. The firm also uses the hashtag #tbgformalfriday to capture clothing choices and office happenings on their (once) weekly ‘dress up’ day.

The takeaway: If you don’t provide a tangible product or visually enticing service, capture your office culture.

2. Sabertooth Bakery: A specialty bake shop with vegan treats and a mouthwatering Instagram feed. Because the bakery primarily, well, bakes, their products, the visuals are enough to lure followers alone. Although their Instagram content is repetitive (there’s only so many ways to photograph a perfect donut), Sabertooth consistently uses hashtags and mentions of local businesses or events where their goods will be featured. This allows for fans to glean their location and yields excellent cross promotion. Still, our suggestion is to break the inertia even further.

The Takeaway: Even if your product is pretty, there’s always room to mix it up. Filling your Instagram with merchandise photos only can make for a less than ‘Likeable’ profile. Try alternating between different subjects (one day a muffin, the next a happy customer with their birthday cake, the next an adorable dog that got into the frosting, etc.)

3. Harpoon Brewery: A Massachusetts-based craft beer company and proof positive that Instagram is about more than a pretty filter. To name a few, Harpoon’s tactics for consumer interaction include using caption contests, announcing raffle opportunities, publicizing event information, addings links to the blog or website, listing popular recipes and prompting photo responses ALL alongside a beautiful, ‘regrammable’ image.

The takeaway: Engage. Using this application solely to broadcast your images or publicize your brand only harnesses half the power of Instagram. For every call, open up the door to response. Harpoon did it, and nearly 10.5k followers hopped aboard.

4. Whole Foods Market: Now a mammoth chain of grocery stores, Whole Foods is an organization closely associated with specialty foods, natural and organic options, consistently high prices (and a picturesque Instagram profile).

The key Whole Foods customer is health conscious, fiscally middle to upper class, young and active. This is information one can absolutely derive solely by their social media content. Beautiful photos of food, nature, exercise and community events are paired with healthy recipes, holiday reminders/specials, active lifestyle information, store opening announcements and questions posed to their 201.5K followers.

The Takeaway: Know your demographic and entertain them/cater to them endlessly. Remember that an entire lifestyle is often affiliated with certain products, services, or companies and speak to your recognition of customer values, hobbies and interests through your Instagram lense.

 

5. Organic Avenue: Marketed as the ONLY “organic, plant-based, grab and go brand in the US”, Organic Avenue provides juices, cleanses, salads, soups, entrees and snacks for the busy and health conscious New Yorker. They’re also the reigning queens and kings of stellar Instagram-ography. With happy customers, shots of wheatgrass and more NYC beauty than can be seen on Sex and the City, Organic Avenue strikes a perfect balance of product plugging and location loving.

The Takeaway: Location, Location, Location! Make where you work work for you.

Reminder: Plan and publicize specific hashtags before events. Use signage and/or electronic communications to remind your guests to tag you!

Got any other Instagram best practices to add? Tell us in the comments!

Blogging for Beginners

Blogging for Beginners Icon

Image via http://michaelnewnham.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/istock_000015991944medium.jpg

Lately, the content creators at Boston Image Works have been receiving a lot of questions regarding best practices for beginning bloggers. Although we certainly don’t know everything ourselves, and our blog is considerably industry-specific for entrepreneurs looking to grow their online presence, we’ve come to know a few very important things about regularly posting and keeping readers engaged.

 We suggest…

1.) Keep it topical, and don’t reach too far back. If something revolutionary is happening in your biz, or your industry, begin gathering your thoughts and expert insights immediately. Remember that there is a tremendous amount of competition online, and while vying for your readers attention, you have to be willing to offer them something timely and fresh. So, unless you can add new or novelty information to a previously reported phenomenon, consider covering something more recent.

2.) Cover events. And take photos while you’re doing it! As an avid blog reader myself, I’ve come to really value highlight, recap and “takeaway” posts. The bottom line is, you were privy to a speaker/information/a happening that I was not, so I want to hear about it!

3.) Humanize your organization. Even if your organization is just you, readers want to know what type of work culture you uphold. This means highlighting a charity of choice around the holiday season, or updating your audience to what’s happening “around the office”.

Blog posts about philanthropy, mission driven work, fundraising endeavours or even a “new years resolution” post means great PR, and even greater Karma.

4.) Make it pretty. Like it or not, we are a visual society to the core. If you can add high quality images, infographics or homemade diagrams to the mix, your blog is simply going to be more attractive. Remember to give credit where it is due, cite your images and keep those watermarks!

5.) Rehash and reuse your existing content. (Case studies, anyone?) There are plenty of ways to utilize and integrate past projects without becoming a one-trick pony. Try reaching into your archives and spotlighting previous work you have done for a client; everyone loves to know how the sausage is made and laying out your process can prove your experience in the field.

 

And since we don’t have all the answers (yet)… we decided to compile some other tips and tricks from established industry titans across the web.

  • KISSMetrics founder Neil Patel recommends taking leaps: “Don’t try to plan everything out to the very last detail. I’m a big believer in just getting it out there: create a minimal viable product or website, launch it, and get feedback.” via Incomediary.com

  • “Pursuing your passions makes you more interesting, and interesting people are enchanting.” -Blogger and Entrepeneur Guy Kawasaki suggests writing about what you know and love.

 

 

Need more inspiration? We recommend checking out Technorati’s Top 100 Blogs for examples of professional, well-established and well-written platforms.

Have something to add? Let us know in the comments!

 

E-Credibility & You

In the seemingly endless content stream that exists online today, standing out as a credible authority in your field has become crucial for consumer interaction. Whether it be through cross-promotional tools, creating meaningful content, sharing insights through social or simply aggregating news in your field, establishing online trust today means showing off your expertise.

Below are tools to help you garner “e-credibility” and build your online reputation.

1. HARO (Help A Reporter Out)

HARO’s usefulness is two-fold. Reporters (many from large electronic and print publications) utilize the site as a call for information. Simply put, the reporters publish questions. These include a time frame, an intended use statement and a call for qualified expert opinions or inputs. For the user, HARO truly epitomizes “Free publicity”, as it allows anyone with a wealth of industry-related knowledge to respond to these queries, and to be quoted in the ensuing articles. After signing up and identifying your fields of skill and aptitude, HARO will deliver three emails a day to your inbox, rife with questions and PR opportunities.

Why it’s great: Cross promotion is hugely important when building your “e-credibility”. Being cited in an industry-related FOX news article can mean excellent publicity, visibility, and possibly a bump in site traffic (if your personal web page is linked). And the best part- it’s free!

 

2. Paper.li

Paper.li, a “content curation service”, allows anyone to become a publisher. By finding and collecting relevant posts and information from across the web, Paper.li allows you to create niche news blasts and market your own content as a customizable and easily distributable aggregator.

Why it’s great: Creating and collecting valuable materials for others in your field is essentially providing a service for them. If you run a small health food shop and would like to inform your regular customers about movements in the all natural or organic food realms, using Paper.li can allow for easy publishing of helpful information and serves as a brand values reinforcer. What else? It’s free!

3. Click to Tweet

Not all ideas are gems. Collect and share the ones that are.

Click to Tweet allows content creators to choose sharable insights, highlights, important quotes or “sound bites” from their posts and include a corresponding link for Twitter publishing. Essentially, an individual hyperlink will be created to allow readers a quick and easy opportunity to publish your pre-determined clippings. Your company or personal Twitter handle will be mentioned, as well as a link to the content source.

Why it’s great: Not only will your content be distributed to the ‘followers’ list of your consumers, but your name and site will be attached. Certain moments lend themselves to sharing, re-tweeting and publishing …and wouldn’t ya know, it’s free!

Building your online credibility can be as easy as regularly committing a few hours a week (or just minutes a day) to utilizing these free tools and expanding your reach, growing the reputation of your person or your brand and becoming an authority in your field!

How Do I Optimize My Website?

Girl that is lost in a maze

If you’re not getting found online, you might be asking, “How do I optimize my website?”

I’m asked this question a lot and it’s not as hard to address as you might think. Take a breath and relax, let’s work through this together in simple terms.

1. Has your website been indexed by Google?

If your site has not been indexed by Google it won’t be returned in any search engine results pages (SERPs), and that means no Google traffic for you. Check by going to Google and typing in the search box: site:Yourdomain.com. For instance, to check how many pages Google has indexed from my website, I would type: site:bostonimageworks.com. At the top of the SERP, I see 26 pages on bostonimageworks.com have been indexed.

Google site search screenshot

If you find your site has not been indexed, submit it to Google here. You should then setup Google Webmaster Tools to see if Google has sent you a message regarding any problems they’ve found with your site and follow the directions to correct any problems.

2. Have you submitted your website address and business information to key business directory websites?

Have you submitted your info to websites such as yp.com, Yelp, Superpages, Merchant Circle, etc.? Go to GetListed.org and type in your business name and zip code. If GetListed returns a score lower than 30% then you definitely have some work to do. Here is a good list of directories to start with.  Be sure to write your NAP citations (Name, Address, Phone) the exact same way for each directory you submit to. Google wants to see consistency amongst lots of citations (with reviews too) in order to bump up your ranking in Google Places results.

You can also pay to have this done. A service like Yext is automated and spreads your citations across their parter network quickly. It’s not cheap though at about $500 per year. For industry specific citation opportunities a service like the Whitespark local citation finder is very useful. It has a modest monthly charge, but is worthwhile. Of course, most local SEO agencies also offer this service and do it manually. This is the best method, but it takes some time and should be done by someone knowledgable with local SEO practices.

3. Don’t forget Google+ and Facebook

Be sure to setup a Facebook page for your business. Facebook is still a primary social media outlet and worth some attention. Just one Facebook page for your business is sufficient even if you have multiple locations. For Google+ though, you should take the time to setup a separate page for each physical location you have to maximize your Google Places search results. While you’re at it, ask 10 customers to review your business on Google+ (after 5 you start to get a star rating), and add some pictures (video too if you can) to your Google+ pages. This will enhance the way your business is listed on Google Places results. See the enhanced results in the graphic below.

Google places search results sample image

4. Improve your on-page SEO.

A good basic place to start is by adding unique page titles and meta descriptions to each of your pages. Yes, they should be unique, after all each of the pages on your site are different, correct? The page title is the single most important element as it communicates to Google an initial signal of what your page is about. Use one or two keywords and phrases with the physical city and state location. If you owned a fitness gym in Plymouth, Massachusetts, for example, you might write something like this for your homepage title:

Fitness | Gym | Plymouth MA

Notice I used pipes “|” to separate the keywords instead of “and” or “or,” or any other special character. The only other acceptable character is the hyphen. You don’t want Google to think that you want searchers to write “Fitness and Gym” Plymouth MA in order for your site to be returned in the SERPs. It’s best practices to keep your title to 70 characters or less. If it’s longer Google will truncate or grab other text off the page to display.

Put the most important keywords first, followed by the physical location. For local businesses, include your brand last. Alternatively, if your brand is well known, you may want to write that first, followed by the keywords. Learn more about writing title tags here.

What does title and meta description text look like?

If you can spare the time or money, it’d be worth your while to research the keywords your prospective customers are typing into Google before you decide which keywords would generate the most traffic to your site. Learn more about keyword research here.

The Meta Description is really a piece of sales copywriting. It’s not displayed on your website, only in the SERPs. The more well written it is from a marketing perspective the more clicks it will generate. Spend some time writing it, just as a journalist spends time writing the headline for an article. If you use WordPress, install a plugin to help manage your SEO such as All in One SEO Pack. or Yoast.

Good luck and let me know how you do!

-Walter

Inbox Power: Email Marketing for Businesses

email marketing graphic

How to Sell Through Email [Infographic]

Brought to you by GetResponse Email Marketing

 

In Business Marketing 101 it’s made clear, to capture the attention of your potential customers, you must determine where your target audience hangs out. Do they take to the Twittersphere all day? Are RSS feeds their go-to? It behooves you to know.

Regardless of their eclectic media consumption habits, patterns and inclinations, you can probably assume one thing to be true: They’re checking Email. Students are checking for college acceptance letters and/or university news blasts. New job applicants and hopefuls are standing by with baited breathe. New dad’s and mom’s are opening newsletters regarding daycare openings and executives are wading through proverbial piles of electronic employee correspondences.

It’s quite clear that even in the time of multi-channel communications, social network overload and website traffic, email marketing still has it’s place. Non-profit organizations to consumer package good creators to agencies and everything in between can benefit from sending company updates, newsletters, event notifications, sales/promotion alerts, etc.

Keeping your customers engaged, then, can be as simple as occupying the all-powerful inbox.

 

So how do you get people to sign up?

  • Include an easy to use (preferably one-step) sign-up box on your main webpage.

    • Remember to incentivize by letting the user know what they’ll get from providing their information (ie “Sign up HERE for updates, discount codes and event notifications!”)

  • Keep a sign-up sheet at events, demonstrations, or festivals.

    • Although it’s ethical implications have been long debated, the age old “trade-off” (a free t-shirt/tote bag/coupon for an email sign up) can always be implemented at live events.

 

…Now what?

Unless you are super savvy with code, or can create beautifully templated email updates on your own, (good for you, by the way!) you might want to choose and utilize one of many noted Email Marketing Services, such as:

Benchmark Email

AWeber

MailChimp

Campaigner

Active Campaign

 

OK, How about getting them to OPEN that email?

  • Create a kick ass headline… or get caught by the ‘Junk’ filter.

    • If you sound even mildly spammy, you’ll probably get an immediately negative reaction.

    • READ: How to Write Headlines That Work via CoppyBlogger.com

    • Keep in mind that getting attention is often as simple as expressing immediate value, (“50% off everything NOW”) but can sometimes require extremely unique and intriguing copy. Personally, my favorite email headline came from the campaign offices of Barack Obama, and it simply said ‘Hey’. Regardless of political affiliation, If the President of the United States is saying ‘hey’, you’re all ears.

  • Provide an offer they can’t refuse.

    • After recently signing up for the Taza Chocolate newsletter, I was immediately sent a discount code to be used on their online store. You’re looking at an instantly converted customer. As a startup company or a business in it’s infancy, this can be hugely beneficial in getting people to try your product.

    • If your organization offers services, and you simply can’t deliver a coupon, never fear. Sometimes getting that immediate “open” can come from extrinsically valuable content on it’s own. The Geena Davis Institute of Gender Equality in Media sends regular ‘Smart Briefs’, including information about female roles in the entertainment industry, emerging trends and studies regarding gender relations.

  • Personalize:

    • Make the opener feel like they’re the only one being spoken to. Many newsletter or email campaign programs allow users to auto-fill the recipients name based on contacts you either enter manually or upload from a document.

 

Delivering Valuable Goods:

  • Stick to a regular schedule, but don’t overload those reciever inboxes!

  • Link back!

    • Including active links to other content you’ve created helps establish credibility, and keeps the reader engaged. People heed the words of thought leaders and experts, so remember to self-cite and promote!

  • Remember that everyone loves a pretty page.

    • Add color, images and links.

    • Test the mobile efficiency of your email and send Test Emails to internal staff members or trusted friends. Ask for honest feedback and make changes where appropriate

  • Segment:

    • If your audience demographic is comprised of different customer types, based on demographics, psychographics, favored events or activities, location, etc., you might be wise to segment your audience and send only relevant updates or information to certain audiences. If you own a photography studio and want to keep your clients up to date, you might want to send high school seniors Yearbook Portraiture newsletters in the Spring (with pricing and scheduling information), and parents an annual “Christmas Card Photo” reminder. Further, Non Profit organizations often send separate email communications to Board Member, Donors, service beneficiaries, and volunteers.

    • Services like MailChimp allow for easy segmentation and make sending individualized email campaigns easy.

  • Remember your call to action!

    • Are the receivers supposed to check your site? Redeem a discount code? Or, perhaps it’s their turn to join the conversation on Twitter. Remember to leave them with a call to action.

Remember that today’s consumers are constantly being sent promotional goods, spam or junk mail and pleas for purchases. Adding valuable content to their inbox and providing something special, (something they would not ordinarily get if they weren’t on your mailing list) can keep your business out of the ‘deleted’ bin and on top of your audience’s mind.

 

What questions are your prospects asking that you did not hear? Behold the power of keyword research.

Lots of customers with questions

There is a scientific approach to finding out exactly what your prospective customers want to know, because they are actually trying to get their questions answered every second of every day – millions of them. So what are they asking and where can you get this valuable information? From Google of course.

Google compiles all of this data and makes it accessible and searchable for free. Of course, they hope you will use it to determine how to advertise with them. But there’s no rule about using their data for other purposes. You can find this data using the Google Keyword Planner tool. Plenty has been written on that, so I won’t go into detail on how to use it, but rather what you can do with the data.

Let’s look at sample search result from the tool: The number of people searching for the term “Posture corrector,” here in the United States, is 6,600 per month on average. Advertisers that target that keyword pay an average of $.94 per click, and the adverting competitiveness is listed as “High.” So what can you do with this information and the same data from lots (hundreds, even thousands) of other search terms?

Here’s a Brief list of potential uses of keyword research information:


  1. To scientifically determine what content or information people want to find on your website.
  2. To stop guessing about what blog entry you should write next.
  3. To find keywords related to your industry that you could rank for quickly.
  4. To estimate how much web traffic you could potentially gain in the near future.
  5. To optimize the amount of traffic you can get in the near future, whether building a new website, or redesigning an existing one.
  6. To determine how competitive a particular keyword or phrase is.
  7. To see what keywords your competitors are ranking for.
  8. To determine what people type most often when searching for information you provide.


You can probably guess the benefits that can be derived from this information. You’ll be able to update the content on your website to reflect what people are looking for, create the content that will attract the most visitors to your site in the least amount of time, etc, etc. The bottom line is this information can put more money in your pocket.

Ok. Here’s some sample information from one of our client’s research reports:

keyword research graphic

Note:All of the information below can be found for free on the web. We happen to use several pieces of software to gather and analyze the data because it saves lots of time. But that’s not necessary if you have the time to spare. Lots of valuable information can be assembled for free from sites like: SEMrush.com, MOZ.com, Wordtracker.com, Wordstream.com, Ubersuggest.org, Whitespark.com, and many others.

The data in the above graphic includes the keywords, the estimated cost per click for Google Adwords (CPC), how many searches are conducted each month on average in the United States, how heavy the advertiser competition is, and the Keyword Competitiveness score (KC).

The three most important pieces of information here are the keyword, local search volume and KC score. The number of people searching for “Posture corrector” in the US averages 6600 per month as I mentioned previously. With a KC score of 27, this keyword is not particularly competitive. Our client could rank in the top 20 on Google for “Posture corrector,” most likely within a couple of months and the top ten within a few months, if they continue to add valuable, helpful content to their site regularly. We look for KC scores of 35 or below for a quick metric on the ability to rank in Google’s top ten for that keyword in less than six months.

The KC is a function that is calculated from Google’s page authority, page rank and domain authority, and how many authoritative links there are, for each of the top ten competitors for each keyword. You could calculate your own modified KC score or get a general feel for the keywords competitiveness by looking at the SERP page in Google. Look at the following for a cursory analysis:

  1. Is the exact keyword used in the title and meta description of the pages returned?
  2. Are the pages returned all high authority pages like Wikipedia, Amazon, Yahoo, WebMD and Ebay, or are there some newer, small sites in the top ten?

If the exact keyword phrase is used in the title and description in all of the top results, and they are all high authority pages that have been around a long time, then chances are not good to rank for that keyword and you should move onto another. But the converse is also true. If there are some newer, non-authority pages in the results without the exact keyword in the title and description, then things are looking positive.

What are some practical things you could do with this information?

If our client had information on their site about posture, they might want to add a page to that section containing information about posture correctors. They could do that as a blog post as well. A potential title for a blog post might be “Posture Corrector: Our Expert Recommendations.” If they decided to go with this title and add a page or post, they would want to complete a couple of tasks for search engine optimization (SEO).

  1. Make sure “Posture corrector,” appears in the page title. The closer to the beginning the better.
  2. Make sure “Posture corrector,” appears in the meta description tag for the page. This is the text that Google displays under each link in the search engine results pages (SERPs). See the graphic below.
  3. Make sure “Posture corrector,” appears in the opening headline of the page or post. This would be the <H1> tag in the HTML.
  4. You would also want the page to be a good piece of content, well thought out and helpful.
  5. Structure the URL for the page in a SEO friendly manner. Such as: www.longpondpt.com/posture-corrector-recommendations.

search results page graphic about page title and meta page description

Long Pond Physical Therapy, our client, provides outpatient physical therapy treatment for patients with all sorts of physical ailments including post surgical rehab, plantar fasciitis relief, and  help with back and shoulder pain.


We generated some seed keywords to start with after looking at their website and speaking with them about the services they offer including:


Shoulder pain, foot pain, physical therapy, foot orthotics, ACL therapy, plantar fasciitis and a couple others.

We then extracted more keywords from the Google Keyword Planner based on the ones we typed in and the search volume for each. After our analysis was complete, we had a list of 157 keywords they could rank for easily. If they go ahead and create content around the keywords they’ll earn a healthy portion of more than 600,000 searches every month.

Learn more about the benefits of content marketing here.

Hopefully now, you’ll never have to guess what your prospects are looking for and how they’re looking for it. Good luck!

Tricks & Tools: Winning The #SocialMedia Game

Building and tracking your social media audience has become increasingly pertinent for businesses and organizations. Enough literature has been written on the subject to fill volumes. But all things considered, best practices and gigantic upticks in engagement have proven that a loyal digital fan base comes down to only a few key ingredients.

What we know works:

  • 1. Contests and Promotions

Shortstack

http://www.shortstack.com/facebook-app-features/

Many social networking/media sites have very strict guidelines regarding proprietary contests, giveaways, sweepstakes and promotions. ShortStack, however, allows users to create promotion pages with easily manageable entry settings, integrate with Mailchimp and other customer relation platforms, ‘Refer A Friend’ incentives, Vote to Win contests, and even Photo/Video/Essay contests! ShortStack can also be used to build Facebook applications and widgets for your company Timeline!

  • 2. Viral & Sharable Content

Visual.ly

http://create.visual.ly

Nothing is more ‘Re-Tweet’ or ‘Share’ worthy than a fantastic infographic. Visual.ly offers templates to create your own work of Data Visualization art. [Check out this promotional piece for Causes.com… made on Visual.ly!]

  • 3. Capitalizing on #Trending topics

Trends Map

http://trendsmap.com

TrendsMap allows you to scan trending topics, conversations and buzzwords from all over the world in real time! Join in on popular discussions for higher visibility and user-interaction.

 

  • 4. An Impressive Audience Size

Followerwonk

https://followerwonk.com

FollowerWonk taps into your business’ Twitter profile to grow, track, and analyze your ‘Followers’ list. Services include: identifying new and target audiences using Twitter bios, comparing user clout and influence, and tracking your own or a competitor’s overall losses/gains.

Engagor

https://engagor.com

Ever wish you could aggregate your company’s digital public perception and manage your reputation online? Engangor allows users to track relevant information/trending conversations across hundreds of channels, to manage their social media pages, and to interact with consumers.

  • 5. Digital Cross-Promotions with other Businesses

Alignable

https://www.alignable.com

Alignable, the “Local Business Social Network” makes connecting and collaborating with your neighborhood shops and organizations fruitful and simple. Cross-promoting, collaborative events, and public-forum style discussions enable small businesses in your area to team up.

Get Google-able With ‘Places’ and Search Scores!

If we can’t find your pizza shop on our Smart Phones, or plan the walk from our apartment to your place of business via map applications, you might as well not exist.

Because this is true, and we all know it is, businesses of all sizes (especially those non-chain/small brick and mortar shops) should have a Google Places for Business page.

Naturally, Google has made the process quite effortless.

Start by clicking HERE.

1. Simply login to your Google + Business account. And if you haven’t already, create one for free.

2. Agree to all terms and conditions

3. Fill out your companies basic information like:

Address

Phone Number

Category

4. Verify your business address.

This step must be done by mail, and although you can delay the process and continue

to work on your page, it is necessary to ‘Verify’ your Google Places account eventually.

5. Now that you’ve built the bones, add the meat!

Google will bring you to a landing page/control panel where you can add a description,

your AdWords, photos, price ranges (if applicable), and business hours. Restaurants

can even add menu links.

6. Behold the beauty.

When you’ve finalized and verified your account, Google your company and make

sure all information is accurate.


             There. Ain’t she a beauty?

 

Remember that anyone with a Google + profile can leave a review of your business and add a ‘star’ ranking. Only after 5 reviews are posted on Google will your star ranking appear, so encourage your customers to leave their feedback. Try to get about 10 solid Google reviews before you think about asking users to post reviews elsewhere. Remember that word of mouth is a huge PR indicator and effector, so keep your ear to the pulse and regularly check what people are saying!

To see how your business is listed on the web and to check out your visibility, go to getlisted.org and input your company information. A Listing Score percentage will be calculated for you, and a ‘Missing Listings’ section will denote those listing “providers” in which your company did not show up. Use these as opportunities to expand your reach, and to aid pre-existing or future customers in finding you and becoming life long fans.