Not Your Entire Digital Strategy

Why Only Having a Facebook Page Is Not Enough To Market Your Small Business

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If you’re a small business looking to establish a digital presence, Facebook is a great and easy way to do so – it takes all of five minutes to get started, and the uniform look of Facebook pages means that you do not have to worry about Web design.

However, it is not nearly enough in today’s hyper-competitive market. As business owners, your time and resource are tremendously stretched, and so in this article we will show you how you can keep your digital marketing bases covered with what is effective for your business.

Don’t get us wrong, having a page on Facebook is good for several reasons

With it’s 1.5 billion users, odds are the people you want to reach are on Facebook – many of whom search for local businesses on the platform, especially on mobile. The contact information and operating hours sections are standardized, so potential customers don’t have to hunt for it – they can even hit the link to call the business. Even better, if any of their friends already like the page, this is also proudly displayed as a form of social proof.

However, this shouldn’t be your entire digital strategy

In the past, when your customers engaged with your Facebook content, there would be a good chance for the story to appear on the News Feed of their friends but over the two years, organic reach has beensteadily declining, even amongst your own fan base. This means that you now reach less than 5% of your fanbase with each post.

Small business owners also have trouble quantifying the returns on their Facebook investment – an April 2015 study by Manta found that 59% of surveyed small businesses did not see a Facebook ROI, and 17% of those who did earned less than $1,000.

There is also another important consideration – search. Anecdotally, Google seems to prioritize Facebook pages lower than official sites and local listings. 33% of search traffic going to the top organic link, and 65% to 75% typically clicking through to the top 5 links, you would want to maximize exposure to your owned channels, especially ensuring you have the top link to capture all the interest when people search for your brand. This would be a tall order for a single Facebook page.

Having an official Website in addition to a Facebook page

A recent eMarketer study found that SMB owners felt that corporate Websites were their most effective marketing method, six percentage points higher than the next most effective method – social media. These days, creating a Website does not have to be an expensive or time intensive process – tools like our Website Builder make it as easy as dragging images and entering text into a template while maintaining their branding and look. This allows you to create several pages quickly to include things like a product/service gallery, maps, customer testimonials, a blog and even an eCommerce page without the need for a Web designer.

Having your own Website and domain name also gives you a custom email address – adding professionalism and a sense of legitimacy when you reach out to your clients reach from your own email address rather than a free service like Gmail or Outlook.

The curious case of Google+ (and other services you should consider)

Now that we covered what many would consider the absolute minimum requirements for a robust online presence – there are some platforms you should consider seeing if they are right for your business.

Google+ might no longer enjoy the widespread usage like Facebook or Twitter, but it still has an important advantage – it increases the likelihood your brand info will appear in the Google ‘Knowledge Panel’ when people search your brand terms. The Knowledge Panel is the box that appears on the right side of the results page when you search for something on Google – prime digital real estate! It is thus worthwhile to invest a small amount of time in creating a page on Google+.

Local and interest specific channels may also add significant value to your digital marketing. Sites like Yelpand OpenTable might be helpful if you’re a restaurant or cafe or Dribbble and Behance if you’re a design service provider. As for the channels such as Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, they may be more time intensive and so the benefits need to be carefully weighed against the on-going resource you have to put into each channel.

Taking everything into consideration

Facebook might have been (and still is) an excellent channel for marketing your business online, but increasingly it is no longer sufficient if you are not intending to invest money in reaching your audience. While there are many other channels you can and should, a corporate Website is one of the first steps you should take in order to build more credibility and authority with your potential customers, driving better returns on your marketing dollar.

Customer Service via Social Media

Digital & marketing solutions that help grow your business.

Adding customer service best practices into your social media strategy is essential.

No matter how prominently you display your customer service email address or phone number, customers are still likely to ask questions, share success stories, or file complaints on your social media channels.

[source: Forbes] Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ or Pinterest, consumers are interacting more and more frequently with brands via social media. Even if your marketing team and your customer service team don’t currently overlap, incorporating customer service best practices into your social media strategy is essential. Here are a few tips for offering exceptional customer service via social media:

Be fast. Social media moves at rapid-fire pace and functions 24/7. Establish standards for how quickly social media inquiries should be answered. Have a company-wide policy of responding to all social media inquiries and customer service emails within two hours during normal business hours.

Be thoughtful. If a customer has a question or expresses a concern via social media, a caring, thoughtful response goes a long way in establishing that your brand has both character and personality. Dry, boilerplate responses read as such. They can obstruct an opportunity to build a real connection with the customer.

Always respond to problems. Customers appreciate being acknowledged by brands. No matter how big or small the issue is, it’s essential to recognize the person and the problem, and to let them know that you’re listening and you care. You can always move the conversation on to email or private messages if necessary — just don’t ignore an unhappy customer. The interaction also lets other customers know that you’re able and willing to fix problems, and sends a message that they can trust the integrity of your product and service.

Send customers to where you want them to be. If it’s an issue that can’t be solved in 140 characters, give customers a direct email address, and be sure that they are responded to as quickly as they would be on social media. If it’s a press inquiry, direct them immediately to the person who manages public relations.

Share success stories. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. If you have happy customers, share their stories. If a customer shares a gorgeous product photo or has a great comment about your service, let potential customers know.

Cultivate brand advocates. If you find that there are people who are constantly interacting with you on social media and always have something great to say, move the relationship beyond social media. Rewarding brand fans with a feature on your company blog, a “thank you” promotion code, or just a note expressing your gratitude for their support goes a long way in building relationships. Happy customers are the best advocates your brand can have.

Double-check spelling and grammar. You don’t have a lot of room for error on social media posts: most limit you to a sentence or two, along with an image. People will judge your brand and the competence of your customer service professionals in those few characters, so make sure they perceive you as quick and capable.

Be proactive in sharing product and company updates. Do you have a product that’s back in stock after a backorder? Introduced a new person to the team? Are you switching warehouses, or performing inventory counts that will result in a shipping delay? Let your customers know ahead of time, and be prepared to respond with answers to frequently asked questions.

Go beyond the product. Be a resource for your customers beyond just the products you sell. Become a resource and place of inspiration for our customers — even after they’ve made a purchase.

Although social media often falls into the “marketing” bucket, it’s also a key means of providing excellent customer service. When executed well, customer service offered through social media can help turn brand fans into buyers and establish an ongoing relationship that leads to additional sales and unbeatable word of mouth exposure.

Holiday Social Media Marketing

Social solutions for the holiday season.

The holidays are a special time of year, highlighted by family, food, and fighting…

retailers and brands fighting for consumer attention during the busiest shopping time of the year.

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the biggest opportunity brands and retailers have each year, but it’s also incredibly competitive, so it’s crucial to reach and communicate with your customer audience in the correct way.

One way to do so is through social media. The holiday season is filled with social posts about gifts bought, deals found, and complaints of poor customer service. Now like never before, brands and retailers have the ability to connect directly with their customers and create a more personal shopping experience.

Here are a few tips for how brands can get savvy with their social media marketing during this year’s holiday madness.

Web solutions for the holiday season.

Drive that local cheer.

The holidays experience in New York is different than in San Francisco. Your messaging should reflect that. Leverage geo-targeting tools to know from where your customer is. Then you can create content they can relate to and messaging that resonates with a personalized brand experience.

All I want for Christmas is user-generated content.

How do you connect with audiences when they are already inundated with advertisements? You make them the hero. Businesses that can actively leverage user-generated content are the ones that will drive deeper connections with fans. Most people today are programmed to ignore ads. Showcasing authentic photos of your audience drives your intended message while encouraging a deeper, emotional interest from new and loyal fans alike. Relate to them with real people, in real moments, using your product and services.

Your featured fans get credit and interaction, audiences find trust in real people using your product or service, and your brand will better understand what motivates your audience. Everyone is jolly.

Deck the social walls.

The best way to harness a viral lift is to showcase your interactive experience. Remember, the more observable you make a campaign, the easier it is for your fans to imitate.

Create a social hub with aggregated content from multiple social channels on your website or microsite to capture audiences online. Your consumers can then share with their social community when you feature them, extending your reach. But don’t forget about in the store. Providing social displays, with easy calls to action at physical locations, are a simple, yet effective way to generate engagement.

Digital solutions for the holiday season.

Multiple chimneys equal multiple presents.

Facebook is still expected to be the channel of choice for holiday social spend, as 92 percent of marketers are planning extensive campaign efforts for this one platform. But 73 percent of marketing professionals think Instagram is going to be the breakout platform for this year’s holidays.

Don’t silo yourself to one social-media platform. Instead, create content on the appropriate channels for your audience, each with native content focused exclusively to that channel. Your Facebook posts, Instagrams and Tweets should drive the same idea, but the content should be customized to resonate best with each channel’s unique community.

Think of your various social media channels as your own little elves, and put them to work for you this holiday season. Utilize these tips and you’ll win the holiday retail battle while leaving your customers filled with joy.


Web Design Trends for 2015

This a good time to look at what the possible trends could be for 2015.

This year has produced some great website designs that have made heads turn and ‘wowed’ people.

[source: SmartArts] Looking ahead is never a bad idea, especially for those businesses considering a web re-design to launch the new year in style.
Responsive design here to stay

People who aren’t designing for a mobile audience are in essence working against themselves. The number of people using mobile devices to access the web is increasing monthly, and mobile will soon be the most common way to visit websites, especially in the B2C market.

Having a website that can be easily viewed on a phone or a tablet, along with traditional desktops, is a must. This is especially true for businesses that rely heavily on mobile technologies to make their service or product more accessible to customers. Consumers want products or services to be accessible at all times of the day and on the go.

Responsive designs will continue to evolve and adapt as new technology is released in the coming year or years, such as smart watches, smart TVs, smart house devices, etc.

Flat design will still be around in 2015

Over the past year people have had mixed feelings on the Windows 8 design, but one thing is for certain – it did set the foundation of what the design world today refers to as ‘flat’ design. In case you haven’t heard of it, flat design is simple and elegant with clean lines and elements that appear smooth and minimalistic on screen, with the use of vibrant colours to help bring life to the website. A major advantage of flat design is the website is very quick to load.

Typography is king

Are people still using Times New Roman? If you ask any graphic designer working on print they will tell you that having the right font is key to any design project, as not picking the right font can make the whole design look wrong.

With the emphasis on content to gain better search results, using rich typography is the new medium of style and sophistication that can be more easily added to websites.

Before people would stick to using Times New Roman or Arial for both print and web as it would be the cheapest option. High quality fonts for the web are now available at a reasonable price or even free if you use Google fonts. Most print fonts are available for web use, which is good for business owners as they can launch a marketing campaign for print and online with matching fonts and show brand consistency.

The bigger the images the better

Using pictures has always been a fantastic way to express ideas online, as you can see from the great success of Pinterest and Instagram. An excellent way to use powerful big imagery is to use text overlay as a way to quickly market ideas to users.

When considering responsive users, a picture is easier to digest than squinting at text. For mobile users a great powerful image is worth a thousand words – but do keep in mind that content is as important, if not more important, than images for both informative and SEO reasons.

More scrolling

‘Scrolling sites’ or parallax sites as they are known can be very pleasing aesthetically. Traditionally, sites with multiple pages are nice to work with because you have more SEO power, but while it is more difficult to optimise a parallax site for search, it can be done.

Referring back to my first point about the importance of mobile, it is far more user friendly on a smartphone or tablet to scroll than have to click around and wait for pages to load. More businesses who will be targeting mainly mobile users will be picking up the single page scroll to allow easier interaction.

A mix of everything – Infographics

Infographics truly are eye candy when it comes to design. The best thing about infographics is that they allow marketers to display effectively a whole lot of information in one space, using a combination of imagery, rich typography, bold colour schemes, brand and a touch of personality.

The primary goal of infographics is as simple as it sounds – to provide potential customers with a user-friendly interactive interface that is designed to keep them hooked for longer. But it does take some science, along with design, to be able to construct a compelling infographic.

As you can see, a lot of the trends are based on the needs of the ever-growing mobile web user market. Consumers will always want to experience something that is functional and fast, while also being visually pleasing.

Companies who don’t consider the mobile web user market are only holding their product back from reaching out to the mass market. Not considering mobile will affect the number of people who ultimately use your service or would have maybe considered using it.

For those thinking about re-designing their company website in the near future, consider our web design trends for 2015 as a good blueprint for success, and for being ahead of the competition.