Engagement Marketing

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Unlike traditional approaches to marketing where you specifically target prospects with direct response offers, engagement marketing allows your audience and potential customers to interact with you and shape how they would like to communicate with you.

Engagement marketing begins when an interested person takes an action to begin an interaction with you.

Engagement means someone is interested in listening to you, and you must engage that person in order to achieve your business objective while fulfilling their interest. As a commercial entity you will implement engagement marketing to drive your interested audience toward one of the following two key business objectives:

Cultivate the individual as an advocate of your thought leadership and market image. Advocates will recommend your products and services enthusiastically to their network of friends and business colleagues.
Encourage a dialogue with the individual to help them to make a purchase decision. An engaged customer is likely to become a loyal repeat customer.

Here are easy tips on engagement marketing to attract customers:

  • Develop an engagement strategy – To be successful you must prepare a clear plan and approach for your engagement marketing. Your plan will have to include how you will reach out to your listeners and how you will be able to respond and interact with your engaged participants.
  • Integrate with your marketing mix – All aspects of your marketing communications mix should include a ‘call to action’ for engagement from simply requesting comments or postings at your blogs or forums to encouraging reviews on your products and services.
  • Focus on content and relationship – Focus on relevant and interesting content as the key to engaging with your audience. Understand that building genuine relationships with content that is important to the individual is the best way to achieving the two key business objectives for engagement marketing.
  • Promote subscriptions – Use permission based techniques to encourage subscriptions with optimized web forms, RSS registrations, refer to a friend and social network sharing.
  • Invite listeners to interact with your Blog – Establish a culture and enthusiasm for engagement by encouraging your listeners to contribute with comments, suggestions and even as guest writers to broaden the points of view and resources available to your connected community.
  • Conduct surveys and polls – Run frequent surveys to give opportunities to initiate engagement while learning from and about your listening community. Use a surveys or web polls to start the dialogue that is relevant to the individual.
  • Engage with social networking – If you have not heard of Face Book, MySpace or Twitter that are behind the social networking phenomena, you must not waste anymore time, go straight to these sites and understand how these sites that are capturing literally mil¬lions of people who are actively engaging on these sites every day. These sites work because social networking communities need to share and want to know what their circle of friends and relatives are up to. Find out how you can leverage the engagement and sharing of your content using these social networks.

Remember, once you have an interested community engaging with you, make sure you keep the lines of communication going, learn and adjust your strategy to ensure your engagement marketing will delivery bottom-line results to your business by increasing your customer base and repeat sales from your engaged customers.

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.

Technology has connected our world.

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The rapid development of business and personal technology has revolutionized our world within the space of a handful of generations.

One of the greatest benefits of this revolution has been the progress made toward an actual global community.

[source: Techi] As our digital world increases in speed and accuracy, people from various nations and cultures have the opportunity to share common experiences almost instantaneously.

1. Conquering Language Barriers

Technology has the ability to unite different cultures through various means. The key variable to this equation is communication. Rising technologies, like NTT Docomo’s Hanashite Hon’yaku, VRI translations, Google Translate, or Microsoft’s work with deep neural networks, are forever altering the way that translation and interpretation from one language to another are accomplished. Nearly instantaneous interpreting is breaking down the barrier of language. Smart devices greatly aid these new language-based technologies in delivering consistent and convenient service. This advancement in technology is only the beginning. The true magnitude of how it will change our daily communication between nations and cultures has yet to be measured.

2. Transforming Global Commerce

Business entities have historically sought ways to leverage each other’s products, services, and technologies to satisfy a local market need. With our emerging global economy, the whole world can be a potential market. Online retailers have utilized personal shopping carts, customer preferences, and focused marketing campaigns to appeal to local audiences, while also allowing customers to choose from products and services offered worldwide. Customers can more thoroughly research their potential purchases to find the best fit for their needs. Retailers can gather information about potential customers to pinpoint interests and trends.

Bank transactions, investment opportunities, and retail sales from only 20 years ago would be nearly unrecognizable in today’s digitally-driven economic world. The sheer speed of technology-based communication and product/service delivery has propelled international and domestic trade possibilities. Of course, with varying national economies being so closely knit, the rise or fall of financial institutions can have an astonishing impact on the occasionally precarious balance between global and local commerce.

3. Methods of Conducting Business

The world’s boardrooms and conference centers have also been greatly impacted by forward-thinking communication tools. Whether a business is centered in a small town in the middle of America or a rushing metropolis like Tokyo, it can possess the same capabilities to conduct business with partners around the globe. Skype, email, and presentation tools like GoToMeeting can make instant communication and organized meetings possible. Skype is the world’s telephone; it’s the access point where everyone can be connected. While many companies still depend on face-to-face meetings, the rising costs of travel may soon make the digital conference or meeting the standard for business. The convenience and savings that are possible with the aid of advanced technology are convincing, at the very least.

4. Establishing Personal Connections

The very nature of personal connection has been revolutionized by social interfaces like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. In many ways, this aspect of technology may have influenced personal communication and business opportunities more in the past decade than any other advancement. Through this networked technology, new modes of language, marketing, and instant global awareness have been achieved. The daily lives and interactions of people have been transformed by the seemingly simple idea of delivering a message electronically.

The role technology has played in the global landscape cannot be overstated. The result of these increasingly convenient, quick, and affordable advances is a more united world. People of various nations, languages, and cultures have the element of technology as a binding force. Past debates, centered on technology’s effects, focused on how these advances could lead to more isolation across the board. On the contrary, the 21st century promises a much more aware and connected world than many people could have ever imagined.

Destructive Impact

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The good, the bad and the ugly of the digital revolution’s destructive impact on jobs

Your great-grandchildren will benefit from today’s upheaval, but many alive today will suffer.

[source: Washington Post] Today we straddle two remarkably different worlds. On one side sits hotels, taxi cabs, newspapers and the dog-eared atlas stuffed in your glove box. On the other side reside Airbnb, Uber, Twitter and Google Maps.

Businesses that ride the tidal wave that is the digital revolution are steadily wiping out those that don’t. This is a dominant theme of our lifetimes, as new jobs are being created and others are being eliminated at a pace humanity hasn’t seen before.

The changes have struck up a whirlwind of conversation about whether technology is a good thing, and what we should do about these changes.

I spoke with two authors of recent books on the subject, Jerry Kaplan (Humans Need Not Apply) and Geoff Colvin (Humans Are Underrated.) They caught my attention because of how thoughtfully they present both the positives and negatives of the seismic changes we’re undergoing.

The good

Countless jobs were eliminated in the past as we transitioned through economic revolutions. And in the long run humanity was better off for it. Most Americans once worked on farms. But even as those jobs disappeared, we found new ones. And the economy and our quality of life kept growing.

“I don’t think of Benjamin Franklin as living in the time of abject poverty,” Kaplan told me. “But the truth is, everyone was poor. The facts are just staggering about how long people lived, what happened, when they stopped working. Food cost more than 50 percent of your income back then. Today it’s less than 10 percent.”

Just as the agrarian and industrial revolutions made us more efficient and created more value, it follows that the digital revolution will do the same.

Colvin believes as the digital revolution wipes out jobs, new jobs will place a premium on our most human traits. These should be more satisfying than being a cog on an assembly line.

“For a long period, really dating to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, our jobs became doing machine-like work, that the machines of the age couldn’t do it. The most obvious example being in factories and assembly-line jobs,” Colvin told me. “We are finally achieving an era in which the machines actually can do the machine-like work. They leave us to do the in-person, face-to-face work.”

Colvin notes the current success of the conference business, which exists despite the ability to recreate it with online video chats.

“The human interactions holds tremendous value for us. We hunger for it and it can’t be duplicated,” Colvin said. “Each experience is unique. A competitor can’t put on a conference that’s precisely the same because it’s a human experience, it’ll be unique. All of these things give it value and that’s only going to increase.

Women are well-positioned to thrive in a digital economy.

“The skills of human interaction are ones that women, to some extent, are hard-wired to do better than men,” Colvin said. “Culture and socialization also contribute to the effect. But when you put it all together this is going to be an important fundamental change. And women are going to be advantaged in the coming economy.”

The bad

Yes, we’ve been through revolutions before, but never one this fast. Computing power doubles every two years. This makes it harder for us to plan out our careers, and identify the skills that can’t be automated. Because these changes are happening so fast, the number of workers whose skills suddenly become worthless will be larger than in past transitions.

Men will especially feel the brunt of the changes.

“Men, again on average, do extremely well with systems, rules, analyzing systems,” Colvin said. “That has in general served them extremely well for hundreds of years as the economy has developed. But those kinds of jobs are exactly the jobs that tech is now displacing.”

The ugly

If self-driving cars and automated drone delivery become a reality, what happens to every delivery driver, truck driver and cab driver? Swaths of the population won’t be able to be retrained with skills needed in the new economy. Inequality will rise.

“One way or another it’s going to be kind of brutal,” Kaplan said. “When you start talking about 30 percent of the U.S. population being on the edge of losing their jobs, it’s not going to be a pleasant life and you’re going to get this enormous disparity between the haves and the have nots.”

Digital Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

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If you’re a startup with a tight budget, digital marketing offers you more than traditional marketing routes.

Simon Burckhardt, UK managing director at Vonage, shares practical tips to make a big online impact with limited budget.

“A few things have been learned from our small and home business customers about online marketing on a shoestring. The biggest challenge for startups is how to attract new customers with limited time and resources, but the good news is that you don’t need to be a marketing guru or have a big budget to get your new business off to a flying start.” — Simon Burckhardt

Know your customers

Ask yourself what you know about your target customers, where they live, what their lifestyles are and their interests. Tools like Alexa help you discover where they visit on the Web and social networks, while free data from Google Trends will help you discover what they’re searching for.

Get blogging

Blogging is a free and powerful way to get your business noticed and scores highly in SEO (search engine optimization) terms by pushing your site up search rankings. Plus, you don’t need to be a star writer to get started:

  • Do research on social media, search engines or question and answer Websites like Yahoo Answers to see what your customers are looking for
  • Tools like BuzzSumo can help you generate blog ideas that are popular and current
  • Check other industry blogs to find hot topics; can you give a fresh insight?
  • Give your opinion on industry news or data from surveys and polls

Build an audience by contributing to other popular blogs and Websites. Guest blogging will generate inbound links to your Website, build brand awareness, help associate your business with the prestige of popular blogs and drive leads, Website traffic and social media buzz.

Be social: start and join conversations

A study by the Internet Advertising Bureau found that almost 80% of consumers would buy more often because of a brand’s presence on social media. On networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can interact directly with target customers, but remember that social is about people. Your prospects want engaging conversations, not product promotions. It’s about listening too, so you can join a conversation about your industry or brand at the right moment.

Build your email marketing list

Email is a direct way to stay in touch with prospective customers and convert qualified leads into sales. To build your email marketing list, you must first win people’s trust and consent to be contacted. Offering a free download of an eBook, podcast or information sheet “in exchange for an email address,” is the best way to start an opt-in email list and make sure your emails aren’t rejected as spam. Email is also a perfect way to share news about your latest products, services and promotions.

Images speak louder than words

According to Internet marketers HubSpot, Facebook posts with photos get 53% more likes than text-only posts. You can create lots of great content without reaching for the dictionary.

Create infographics that go viral

An eye-catching infographic has a much better chance of going viral than text content, which means a potential marketing bonanza for you. You don’t have to be a design wizard either. If you’ve got a good idea, services like Piktochart offer easy design templates for free or little cost.

Make YouTube videos to boost search rankings

Did you know that YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google? YouTube videos get automatic priority in Google search listings and these days it’s easy to create low-cost but high-quality video. Do you know if your customers search for “how-to guides” on YouTube? If so, making a tutorial video will give you quick wins in traffic and visibility and it’ll be popular on your social media channels.

Use SEO to get ahead of competitors

Getting your business as high as possible up the search listings will boost your search engine traffic, which means free marketing and potential sales. If you convince search engines that your Website is the most relevant site for your targeted keywords, you’ll get a consistent flood of traffic. Investing in paid search will help drive increase traffic to your site which can result in an increase of organic visitors via SEO. You can do basic SEO yourself for free, but search engines are growing increasingly sophisticated, so consider the benefits of paying an SEO specialist.