Views

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Do Video Views Matter? CMOs Weigh In On The Video Marketing Metrics That Count

What’s a video view worth these days? YouTube says 30-seconds, but Facebook counts a video view at the three-second mark.

Just last month, the Media Rating Council and IAB both defined a video ad as viewable as long as 50 percent of an ad’s pixels are visible for a minimum of two-seconds.

But, do any of these metrics matter if a video fails to achieve true engagement with the viewer?

“Our consumers are increasingly viewing videos across their screen of choice, so we’re always looking for effective ways to engage with them during that experience,” says Taco Bell’s VP of media and sponsorships Juliet Corsinita.

According to Corsinita, the industry is still in the early days in the scope of media available to brands, and the guidelines for video measurement standards are continuing to evolve.

To get a true “view” of the marketing metrics that matter, we asked four top brands how they measure the success of their video efforts. AARP, Tough Mudder, Wix.com and Porch.com have all achieved substantial results with their video marketing efforts – today they share the insights that helped them get there.

Tammy Gordon, VP of AARP Studios

“Historically, AARP was very YouTube-centric, but we have recently shifted additional focus to Facebook video because baby boomer and Gen X audiences are heavy Facebook users – especially on mobile,” says AARP’s Tammy Gordon, “Facebook video is a great match for AARP because it allows us to publish frequent, lightweight, short-form stories that deliver value across our areas of interest.”

Gordon says YouTube remains an important part of AARP’s video strategy, but the company sees the platform as more of a search engine versus a social network.

“If someone is specifically searching for a topic, they will be more patient when viewing YouTube videos, resulting in consistently higher watch times compared to Facebook,” said Gordon. When asked about video view metrics, Gordon said her team is more interested view-duration, tracking the percentage watched in relation to the full length of a video.

“This allows us to identify where viewers are dropping off, and use those insights to inform the development of future videos,” said Gordon. In addition to view duration, AARP tracks video shares and reach.

We closely monitor comments to better understand our community’s reaction to the topics we’re covering.

“Beyond quantitative metrics, we closely monitor comments to better understand our community’s reaction to the topics we’re covering.”

Gordon notes a recent short video AARP produced on the topic of hearing loss.

“While the 250,000+ views were awesome,” said Gordon, “The more insightful metric was the 150+ comments from people who personally experienced hearing loss or shared stories about how hearing loss has impacted relationships with their family.”

Jerome Hiquet, Tough Mudder CMO

Tough Mudder CMO Jerome Hiquet says YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are the most valuable channels for Tough Mudder’s video marketing efforts. His team has found followers on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are more engaged, and more likely to share on their own channels or tag friends.

“We also use Twitter to push out some of our video content, such as ones we share on YouTube,” said Hiquet, “Which is great to increase reach and engagement.”

He said his team has recently started using SnapChat as well.

Hiquet reports 30 percent of their viewers engage with Tough Mudder’s Facebook videos for around 30-seconds, with many videos earning even longer viewing duration periods on the social network.

“Our YouTube engagement rates show that viewers engage for about 50-60% of the video’s length,” said Hiquet, “It’s important for us to push out content that’s engaging from beginning to end; we create content that reflects this goal, and we often see viewers stay engaged until the very last second.”

When asked about video metrics, Hiquet says video views alone should not be the main KPI to gauge video marketing efforts.

Video views alone should not be the main KPI to gauge video marketing efforts.

“Ultimately, your conversion and click-through-rates are very telling in terms of how your videos are performing,” said Hiquet, “We don’t want consumers to view a video and close their screens; we want them to spend time engaging with our websites and social channels, sharing our videos within their network, and, then, ultimately, purchasing tickets to participate in an upcoming event.”

Hiquet says his brand tracks different metrics based on a video’s objective.

“Our awareness measurement framework is driven by a Brand Lift Survey and/or Search Lift Survey,” said Hiquet, “For engagement, few metrics are more valuable for us than total views and completion rates. It’s important to use view and completion rates to optimize your content strategy to gauge what is and is not working.”

In addition to total views and completion rates, Hiquet also notes the importance of using CTAs to measure a video’s performance.

“Whether that CTA is signing up to receive e-newsletters, tagging a friend in a video, registering for a Tough Mudder, or sharing on social, a CTA is a good indicator of how well your video is performing and whether you’re hitting the engagement rates and KPIs you’re aiming for.”

Hiquet notes how consumption rates have shifted dramatically in recent years, with consumers spending less time on branded content than they did five years ago.

“People also tend to view content on mobile more than desktop,” says Hiquet, “So it’s important that your video content is created with a mobile consumer in mind.”

Hiquet says his brand posts videos approximately six to eight times per month so as not to inundate followers with too much content. This year, the brand’s “Finish Strong” video series generated more than 1.3 million aggregate views.

“Baby Mudder was a huge hit in terms of reach and engagement,” said Hiquet. The video – created as an April Fool’s joke for the brand – earned more than a million views on Facebook, with over 15,000 likes and more than 40,000 views on YouTube.

“We even had people asking how to register their babies for this,” said Hiquet.

Omer Shai, Wix.com CMO

This year, Wix.com took its video marketing efforts to a whole new level with its first-ever appearance as a Super Bowl advertiser. In addition to the brand’s Super Bowl ad, Wix.com released a series of teaser video ads on YouTube more than a month out from game night.

CMO Omer Shai says his brand focuses its video marketing efforts on YouTube and Facebook, and that recorded views are not the only KPI Wix.com uses to evaluate the performance of its video campaigns.

“We look into all available metrics, from views, percent retention, clicks to the engagement metrics – like comments and shares – but, we developed additional KPIs that are based on our data,” said Shai.

Shai said his team has created an evaluation model for its video marketing efforts that utilizes additional data sets on top of the metrics provided by social networks.

Joanna Lord, Porch.com VP of Marketing

Home improvement site Porch.com says most of its videos live on YouTube, but the brand also leverages Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to distribute video content.

“At Porch we believe whole-heartedly in the future of content being interactive, and video is key to our strategy,” said Porch.com vice president of marketing Joanna Lord, “We have an in house videography team to demonstrate this commitment. Currently we push out a range of videos – from culture, to content marketing, to educational, to testimonials and case studies.”

Porch.com is also developing branded Vine videos.

“We have a great deal planned as we continue to expand our micro content strategy,” said Lord, “Video marketing is just gearing up and we’re excited to try new platforms as they open.”

She says Porch.com is constantly tweaking and testing its strategy. According to Lord, video is really about brand awareness, engagement and links for Porch.com.

Video is really about brand awareness, engagement and links.

“We believe in building community and viewership both on and off Porch.com, so it’s most important to us to understand how viewers bounce back and forth between platforms and how their engagement changes based on platform layout.”

Porch.com relies on cross-promotional activity with brand partners and syndication distribution for much of its video marketing strategy.

“When we see a big publisher pick up our videos and share them, linking back to Porch, we weight that heavily,” said Lord, “We also want our viewers to love our videos. We pay attention to whether they complete, re-watch, or share our videos. Did we deliver something they really enjoyed?”

Porch is another brand that pays close attention to what viewers are saying about its videos.

“I do believe, in addition to the more typical video marketing metrics, it’s important to pay attention to true reactions,” said Lord, “How does your audience feel about your videos? We pay attention to what content topics really drive peak responses of delight. We take that into account when planning our next quarter’s video content.”

One Porch.com video that generated a lot of buzz with nearly 400,000 views was its “4 Ways to Clean with WD-40.”

Lord said Good Housekeeping picked it up, helping the video earn hundreds of shares, “Our goal with video is to leave our audience thinking that was great, I gotta share this.

Curious how YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vine measure a video view? Check-out our rundown at: What’s A Video View? On Facebook, Only 3 Seconds Vs. 30 At YouTube.

Need More Views On Your Videos?

Contact us today for a measurable YouTube strategy for your business guaranteed to get you more exposure.  Call (310) 734-8902 to email info@mortgagegeek.technology.

 

7 Steps to Build Your Client List

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Making a new friend is much easier than making a new client. If you need a friend, just walk up to any stranger, offer to buy them a coffee and go from there, no strings attached. That would work on me. Just saying.

Business relationships, on the other hand, are full of strings, and a friendly approach isn’t enough. After all, this isn’t just friendship. It’s business, and there’s a lot on the line.

How do you convince someone to trust you with their money, and potentially the future of their own company? There’s no clear-cut path to building your customer base, but there are some universal tips you can use to expand your client list. To start, here are seven steps to help you find more clients:

1. Establish your client base

It sounds counterintuitive to narrow your focus when you want to broaden your client base, but finding your niche is key to expanding your business. Before you can diversify your services, you first need to do one service really well.

This holds true for pleasing clients, as well. Figure out what demographic needs your service or product the most, and target that demographic. Start by creating marketing personas, so you know the types of clients you’ll likely be working with, and cater your business and marketing efforts to them.

It’s important to start small, home in on your target audience and build a strong reputation among initial clients.

2. Ask for feedback

Speaking of reputation, ask for feedback from previous clients to figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Clients will appreciate this follow-up as a means of touching base, and their feedback will help you identify any problem areas, as well as your company’s greatest strengths.

As part of the feedback process, ask clients if they are comfortable giving a testimonial that you can then feature on your website to humanize your brand. Eighty-eight percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so let your past clients encourage potential buyers to join your client list.

3. Share your knowledge

No one likes giving things away for free. After all the time and money you spent creating your product or service, you know how much it’s worth, and it can sting to just give it away.

Even though it doesn’t sound appealing at first, offering free trials or access to specific resources is a great way to get clients in the door and can give you major payoffs in the long run.

If your clients work with UI designers, for instance, offer them insights on how to interview UI designers or information on what great UI portfolios look like. This gives potential clients a taste of your company’s expertise, and it will show them that if they pay more, they’ll gain access to much more high-quality information that they maybe didn’t even know they needed.

This applies to any field: Give customers a little, and if it’s good, they’ll be coming back for more. Not only will sharing your knowledge encourage clients to look at your services, but it also establishes your business as an expert within your industry.

4. Reward loyalty

While your intuition might lead you to believe that your focus should be on finding new leads in order to increase the size of your client list, don’t let that distract you from keeping your current clients happy. Sixty-six percent of customers begin using a competitor’s business because of poor service from the original business.

Don’t fall into apathy once you begin receiving your clients’ paychecks; after all, they can always stop coming. Instead, reward clients and encourage repeat business by offering perks such as discounts, special deals, early access to new products or whatever else it may be to remind your clients that you care about them and want them to stay with your business.

5. Treat clients like people, not business

Every business likes to think they do this. Of course, clients are people and should be treated as such, but it’s not always so clear-cut.

It can be hard to be patient with clients when you are trying to make ends meet and focus on your own success. However, you should always remember to be honest and personable.

The childhood adage of “treat others the way you want to be treated” holds true for business relationships, too. Respect your clients, and they will respect you, and hopefully pay for your product to boot.

6. Email your clients

Email is a great tool for marketing and has been for a long time. Email’s ROI is higher than that of any other digital channel, so use an email list to build your client list.

Capitalize on a client’s potential interest by sending them a welcome email immediately after they sign up to remind them of your company and what you offer. However, also remember that your emails must be permission-based and have an unsubscribe link, or they will immediately go to spam (not to mention issues of legality).

Finally, don’t forget to make your emails mobile-friendly, as 53 percent of emails are opened on mobile devices.

7. Give them access to your network

If you help your clients, they will help you. One way to do this is by sharing a client’s product with them and vouching for it. If you want to avoid appearing too salesy, you can offer opportunities like hosting guest blog posts or articles that offer clients the chance to share some of their expertise with your network on relevant topics.

This can help your brand, as well, by giving you more content that allows you to use the 80-20 rule of social media: 80 percent of what you post should be about things other than yourself.

Sharing industry-relevant information with your network helps your network stay in the loop while making your clients look good. Not to mention, this strategy also gives clients the chance to share the content you’ve posted on your sites to their own audiences, increasing your brand’s reach.

Building your client list is crucial for your business to grow, so start using these tips to expand your network. With more clients comes more revenue, giving you a broader reach and ability to direct your business where you want it to go.

 

Why I Stopped Getting My News From Facebook

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Your favorite news aggregator might be making you more thick-headed, entrenched in your own beliefs and ready to argue with anyone who offers an opposing viewpoint.

That’s because all those nifty news aggregating apps are trying to serve up articles that match your interests. And often times, that means getting a steady diet of pieces that align with your own opinions.

Research on the subject indicates we’re naturally drawn to that which we agree with. The problem is we end up automating our own opinions, only seeking out that which reinforces our own belief systems. With a fractured media landscape divided into publications that are sympathetic to a particular point of view, it’s an easy trap to fall into.

Try it by clicking an article on Facebook. You’ll see several more along the same lines, or an offer to like pages that align with the slant of the article. Like an article about Donald Trump (perish the thought) and you’ll be smacked in the face with a giant right wing.

Along with Facebook, other news-friendly apps are dominating how we get such content. Apple is jumping into the aggregation game with its own news app in iOS 9. Spotter recently launched on iPhone, with a focus on business and technology news. Wildcard is another elegant reader that bundles topics together. Nuzzelis a favorite as it taps into your existing network of contacts to hunt down news.

By comparison, in the pre-social media days you would go to your favorite news site and glance at the variety of stories on the page. You would by happenstance encounter a variety of topics and viewpoints that didn’t mirror your own, and perhaps one of them would be worth a read.

view points, ideas

Go back even further to the time before the Internet. When newspapers dominated the day, you’d be exposed to different viewpoints as you flipped through the various sections. This was especially the case with the editorial pages, which featured opinion articles from across the political spectrum.

Aggregation, instead, is prone to producing what some computer scientists call the Filter Bubble. This means that people tend to gravitate towards content and ideas they agree with.

That’s why your Facebook feed is filled with articles about topics that you’re most interested in.

And the more you click on the same type of topics, Facebook is only too happy to keep serving up similar types of suggestions.

So instead of broadening your horizons, instead you might be narrowing your viewpoint and reinforcing your own beliefs. This isn’t that much of a cause for alarm when it comes to getting the latest smartphone rumors, but it certainly can impact how you vote or view larger social issues. And we know how bad Twitter and the comments section can be when it comes to narrow-minded trolls who yell at one another. We don’t need to further fuel the flames.

Another name for this phenomenon is reinforcement theory. Just like with the Filter Bubble, the underlying assumption is that people don’t like to be wrong and are uncomfortable when their beliefs are challenged. So they’re unlikely to go in search of viewpoints that disagree with them.

stubborn, not listening, hard headed

So what’s the solution?

Cornell researchers conducted an experiment where they isolated a group of Twitter users through hashtags on a common topic and location. They found that when prompted with articles with opposite views, they actually would click on them. It indicates that even those who speak openly about controversial issues (the subject researched was abortion) are open to differing views.

So what can you do to make sure you’re not just rehashing the same opinion piece over and over?

Just being aware of this phenomenon is the first step. After you’ve read the tenth article in a row that mocks a politician’s viewpoint (it’s easy to find) you may want to make a go at seeking out another view on the matter. If nothing else, be aware that the more you customize your news offerings, the more likely they’ll just be a reflection of your deeply held opinions.

Check out what you’ve subscribed to on social networks or in your favorite aggregation app.

Would all the opinions slant one direction? Or do you just happen to follow news about one particular company, say in Cupertino?

Take a risk and branch out a bit. Until the algorithms start doing it for you (and who knows,they might one day) it’s up to you to make sure you don’t turn into the object of your derision: the person with the other opinion.

 

10 Tips to Get More Useful Feedback and Better Reviews

reviews

Collecting useful feedback from your customers should be a continuous part of your business process.  Positive or negative, feedback in the form of reviews and comments from real customers give your vital insight into what is working and what is not.

dissatisfied-customers-useful-feedback-and-better-reviews

Getting useful feedback and better reviews is not easy.  It can be downright difficult to get customers to dedicate time to a few questions when dealing with even the best products and providing stellar customer service. So…

How Do You Get More Useful Feedback and Better Reviews from Your Customers?

You know the truth of the matter is people are more inclined to tell about and take action (like leaving a review) a bad experience.  It makes sense when we go through the trouble of buying something to expect our money’s worth.  That includes a product performing as promised and people who are abundantly happy to ease us through the buyer’s journey.  When a business provides that they are simply doing what was expected.  When they fail to meet those baseline expectations, the chances are much higher that the whole world is going to hear about it.

It’s not the end of everything to get negative feedback.  It is actually helpful in pinpointing where you can make improvements.  But we also want to encourage and collect positive and “blah” feedback so the business knows what they can do more of to delight the customers and if their customer service expectations match their customers’.  Here are 10 things you can do to get more useful reviews and better feedback:

1. Be Active on Social Networks and Respond to Customers

With its rapid-fire nature, social media can seem like way too much to add to your overflowing list of things to monitor and act on.  That said, if your customer base is on social media then you need to be as well. Do you NEED a social customer care plan or social media marketing budget?  Probably not, but you should be monitoring mentions of your business on social networks and responding to customers and prospects who are trying to communicate with you online. You’ll get to see the real (and unsolicited) feedback of customers and build deeper connections with consumers who use social media.

2. Monitor Customer Reviews on Relevant Review Sites

On this blog we could (and DO) talk a lot about the importance of generating positive customer reviews and I invite you to scroll through the Reputation Loop blog to learn all about growing your business with a five-star online reputation.  Right now I want to impress upon you how vital it is you encourage customer reviews and make it as easy as possible for customers to give them.  Automating the entire customer review process – from soliciting the review to getting them posted and monitored on the websites where they matter the most – with a low-cost service like Reputation Loops makes the customer review process incredibly easy.  Packed with features, with an email address you can contact customers, get immediate feedback after purchase, personal contact and handle negative feedback, and send happy to customers to post their five-star ratings online.  As a bonus, you get constant monitoring of your online presence and listings so you are seeing the feedback that lets you know what people are saying about your business.

3. Ask “Why?” When Customers Abandon Their Landing Page

With personalized behavioral popups you can select different popups to show on your website depending on how the visitor is clicking around.  One of the most impactful uses is to have an exit popup that ask the site visitor for a little feedback on why they are leaving your website.  Keep it simple with a one-question fill in the blank or multiple-choice selection.  And why not through in a special offer or a one-time discount to keep clicking around while you are popping up.  You’ll increase conversions with the special offer and get feedback on how you can lower your bounce rate and cart abandonment.

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4. Provide Live Chat Support

To a customer, 10 seconds online is like 10 days in real life.  If you have a new customers or prospects visiting your website don’t expect that they will happily spend the time to pick up the phone and ask a question.  Even more farfetched is that they are invested enough in your business to happily send an email that could take hours or days to get a response to.  Give them real-time customer service with live chat support.  Chances are you aren’t State Farm insurance and won’t need 24/7 support, but during your business hours prospects and customers should be able to easily reach a person who can answer a question or two and ease them towards the sale.

5. Make On-Site Feedback Easy with One-Click Email or a Feedback Page

Have a feedback email or webpage dedicated to making it almost too easy for customer and site visitors.  Make this option highly visible on your website so customers who are comfortable on email know just where to go to ask a question or give feedback on their experience.  There are simple website plugins and services like Freedback and Iron Spider you can use to put feedback forms directly on your desired website pages.

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6. Use Feedback to Track Customer Service Performance

Gathering customer feedback enables you to track not only customer satisfaction, but the performance of your customer facing employees. A Harris Interactive survey found that 86% of clients quit doing business with a company after a bad customer experience.  When choosing what information, you want to get when from your customers, don’t ignore the importance of the customer’s interactions with your staff.  Useful feedback and better reviews will give you insight on more than just your product and your website.

7. Make Customer Surveys Part of Your Confirmation Page and Emailed Receipts

There are a lot of ways to optimize the confirmation page you customers see after a conversion or the email they receive after making a purchase or opt-in.  Business often use this real estate to encourage social sharing, upsells, and referrals.  All smart ways to drive more conversions, but you are missing an opportunity to get immediate feedback on the customer experience right at the time of purchase.  There is a really good reason to find out why this particular person made their purchase and the right time is when they are still in the buyer’s cycle.

8. Prominently Display Review, Ratings, and Testimonials on All Pages

Build customer confidence and encourage feedback by displaying the feedback you already have on your website in the form of reviews and testimonials.  There are plugins and software like Reputation Loops reputation management software you can use to create attractive displays of your best feedback on your heavy traffic pages in just a few clicks.  Automated software and widgets keep your website reviews fresh and show customers the importance you place on their feedback.

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9. Proactively Call Your Customers

When you want the truth, you go to the source.  A phone call to your customer is a surprisingly effective way to show your dedication to the customer experience while getting firsthand (and more thorough) feedback.  Answering a few questions over the phone is easier than typing a response.  In addition, you will have the benefit of hearing and noting the customer’s tone as another gauge of their satisfaction with your business.

10. Humanize Your Customers Journey

People like to do business with people they can trust.  When your website and customer service are mechanical and impersonal, customers have a hard time making the connections that encourage loyalty and repeat business.  When you add the human touch to every stage of the buyer’s cycle customers feel more confident about interacting with a real person.  Make sure your brand has a personality that lets customers know that there is a person who cares about their experience and wants to hear their feedback.

 

10 Pro Reputation Management Tips for Local Small Businesses

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Reputation Management may sound like a big business process that your small business doesn’t have to worry about but that just isn’t’ true. In your industry there may be larger businesses greater selection, lower prices, and big ad budgets, but your small business can dominate your local market with proper reputation management.

Managing your online reviews and ratings is vital to the health and growth of your small business.

Word-of-mouth has gone from in person conversations to worldwide broadcast as consumers have begun to rely on internet research to make their purchasing decisions. You can spend big bucks on developing your marketing message and buying advertising but thrifty internet-savvy buyers trust customer reviews much more than any ad copy you can produce.

92 Percent Consumers Read Online Reviews

When you know how to manage your online reputation and your prepared to handle any negative interactions before they influence future customers you can greatly benefit from buyer’s market that is heavily reliant on online reviews and ratings. And you don’t need to be a professional marketer or webmaster to create and sustain and winning reputation. You just need to know how to create a strong foundation for your online presence, and how to build a five-star reputation by gathering, monitoring, and promoting your customer reviews.

Tips for Pro-Level Reputation Management for Local Small Businesses

1. Provide a Great Product and Stellar Customer Service

Customer reviews generally cover only two things: Product Quality/Performance and Customer Service. We’ll assume you have a great product or service that customers would want to buy if they knew about it. (If not go back to square one and get that as good as it can profitably be.) So let’s focus on customer service because that is something you should be continuously improving upon.

Knowing the customer experience is necessary to providing great customer service. Get personalized feedback from your customers and from your employees. Learn industry best practices and implement changes where improvements are needed. Make it easy for the customer to get to know you as the business owner to build trust. And this is probably the most important – Hire and Retain Employees Who Care.

2. Have a Search Engine Optimized, Customer Friendly and Mobile Ready Website

Your website is the beacon that brings in new customers. Everyone (save about 9% of Americans) uses their mobile device at some point to look for information on local businesses so it is a must that you have a responsive website that modifies its appearance to look good on any device. Plus, Google said if your website isn’t mobile friendly they aren’t ranking it in internet search results which makes your business basically non-existent online.

Local Search Stats Reputation LoopUser experience is also important, but often neglected. This is a big mistake because if your website isn’t fast loading, easy to navigate, and even easier to read people will not stay on your website long enough to do get the information they were looking for. Especially not when they have hundreds of other websites one click away that provide exactly the same service or product. Design your website around the customer experience and you’ll see an increase in both new customers and customer retention.

3. Create and Manage Your Search Engine Business Profiles

Not only do customers use search engines to find new products and providers, they also trust the ratings and reviews that are displayed in search results to help them pick the best match for their search. Your business should claim and fill out completely your business profiles on Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. This not only helps you rank higher in their respective search results, it gives search engines users a high-profile location to leave reviews for your business. Plus, it enables your business appear on maps and local listings that are highlighted on search results pages.

4. Manage Your Online Business Listings

Your online business listings make your business visible online to both search engines like Google and customers searching online for your address and phone number. When your business does not have a strong online presence search engines are pulling your information from these online business listings to verify you are a legitimate business and to provide accurate location and contact information to their search engine users.

You’ll need to create and accurately fill in your business listings on trusted online directories. There are hundreds of these directories and you can do this manually. But a better way to ensure that these important listings are accurate, consistent and where they need to be is to automate the process with low cost services that automate the management of your business listings like Reputation Loop’s Listings Management service.

5. Claim and Optimize All Relevant Social Media and Review Site Profiles

Building a healthy social media presence on the social networks your customers use is a powerful and effective marketing tactic that any small business can benefit from. But if you don’t have the time and know-how, or just aren’t ready to start, you still need to participate on a basic level. At a minimum protect your future social media efforts and your online reputation by claiming your business and personal names on social media sites. Use a photo or your logo, write a brief one or two sentence description and fully register your business on the major sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Then consider what social networks impact your industry, and register on those as well.benefits of social media marketing

The same way social media sites help small businesses be found online, review and local sites show up high in search engine rankings, providing more exposure for your business. Claim your profiles on these high traffic sites like Google My Business, Yelp, and Angie’s List. Provide your locations, photos, business hours, description of your services, payment options and categories to provide all your information to potential customers and build citations for your business.

6. Manage Personal Reputations Tied to Your Business

You and your employees represent your business offline and online. Behavior and commentary not suitable at work, may seem less harmful online but in fact the opposite is true. Once an unflattering photo is posted or an offensive comment is made it lives forever on the internet and can cast a shadow on your business. Avoid ethical dilemmas, negative associations, and embarrassment by having a written and signed social media and online policy for all employees. Keep it simple by clearly defining to do’s and don’ts, and the consequences of not following the guidelines. Also be sure to include instructions on the use of disclaimers, copyright laws, as well as the importance of maintaining privacy of others and the disclosure of confidential information.

7. Actively Gather Feedback and Promote Your Best Reviews

To manage your online reputation, you need to know what customers think about your business before they post reviews online. You do this by proactively seeking feedback from customers. When you know what your customers have to say about your business you are able to resolve issues quickly and encourage happy customers to post their good reviews on the business profiles that matter to you most.

positive_reviews_local_shoppers_online_statsGetting feedback from your customers can be done in a variety of ways. You can use comment cards, emails, or even links on your website sending customers to your Yelp or Google profiles. Develop a system that lets your customers know that you want their feedback and gives them an incredibly easy way to provide it. With a reputation management system like Reputation Loop you can set up an almost hands-free system that contacts your customers via email soon after purchase to get their feedback. Positive feedback is routed to the most impactful review sites for posting and less than stellar feedback is routed back to the business for special handling to resolve issues.

8. Have a Plan for Handling Negative Feedback and Reviews

Negative reviews and comments that show up online should be addressed immediately. If you feel they highlight actual problems with your business, take the time to respond both publicly on the review and privately with the customer through email to make it right. This allows you not only to lessen the impact of that review, but also provides the opportunity to correct an issue or satisfy a dissatisfied customer. Fast and thoughtful customer-centered responses to less-than-positive reviews show future customers that you care about their experience and value their feedback as a way to improve your business.

9. Create Positive Online Links with Consistent Blogging

Maintaining a blog that reflects your business brand and standards helps to establish a positive online reputation and builds up your web presence. This supports your legitimacy as a respected business, and helps to establish your expertise in your community and your industry.  Consistently blogging high-quality, relevant content is important to building your online presence, but note that proper search engine optimization is key.  Blogs are easy to set up, become more powerful for you the longer and more you use it, and they rank well in Google – all at little to no costs.

126 percent more leads with blogBeyond providing links for content marketing that help customers find your website when they are searching the internet for solutions to their problems and places to spend their money, effective blogging ensures that content, images and web pages you control occupy the valuable space of the first pages of search results when people search your business by name.

10. Know What is Online So You Can Optimize Your Online Reputation

To create an effective reputation management plan you need to research and monitor your own online reputation.  Use the Local Score grader below to search the most important business listings and customer review sites so you know where your business online presence is shining bright and where you can implement a plan for improvements today.

Reputation Management for Local Small Businesses

Most small business owners and managers have their hands full just trying to get or remain profitable. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, right? But neglecting your online reputation could be devastating to the health of your business. When you think about the role the internet plays in the purchases you make for your own business and yourself, you have to see how influential stellar online reputation is to consumers. Proactive online reputation management is not a luxury, and when effectively executed it could be the key to reaching the next stage for your business.

Conclusion: In order to maintain relevancy in local search, businesses need to focus on appearing in local pack results.

Go to http://MyFeed.online and take control of how your business performs under these new rules.  Or you can search your business using our free scan tool to see your current performance.

ScanTool

 

The Engagement Crisis In Content Marketing And Social Media: Why It’s Happening And How To Fix It

Even as social channels are proliferating, engagement is dropping. Columnist Blaise Lucey discusses the reasons for the problem and what marketers should do in response.

If you’ve noticed a drop in social engagement, web referrals, blog traffic and shares, you’re not alone. Buffer lost nearly half of all social referrals to the brand blog from 2014 to 2015. Facebook referrals to the top 30 major publishers dropped by 32 percent from January to October 2015, according to SimpleReach data published by Digiday. Early in 2015, Forrester discovered that user engagement on brand social content continued to fall.

The worst part? Companies are creating more stuff than ever. They’re investing in social, they believe in content, but they’re seeing less ROI (return on investment) from more effort.

We’re in the midst of an engagement crisis, because the number of channels is growing, but marketers are doing the same thing as before. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

So what’s happening? And what’s the solution?

Output Versus ROI

In 2015, according to Forrester research, top brands posted:

  • 18.3x per week on Twitter.
  • 6.5x per week on Facebook.
  • 4.9x per week on Instagram.

This represents a minor increase in the number of posts for Twitter and Facebook and more than a 50-percent increase in posts on Instagram over the prior year.

forresterAt first glance, this seems like it paid off. From 2014 to 2015, top brands doubled their Facebook fans, reaching an average of 18.1 million per brand. Average Instagram followers in 2015 reached one million, five times higher than 2014. Twitter followers also doubled.

But when Forrester dug deeper, the engagement just wasn’t there. When the firm measured user interactions as a percentage of a brand’s followers and fans, it turned out that engagement on Instagram dropped by almost half.

Twitter engagement fell, and, while Facebook engagement rose, Forrester attributed that to paid ads.

Content marketing isn’t faring any better. TrackMaven research showed that content marketing output in 2015 rose by 35 percent and engagement dropped by 17 percent. Those are findings from an analysis of 50 million content marketing pieces posted on blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

And in “2016 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends,” the reported effectiveness of content for B2B organizations dropped from 38 percent to 30 percent.

There are two obvious culprits here: Organic social reach is falling, because social networks want brands to pay for visibility. And, of course, content saturation.

Every marketer has gotten the memo that content can make you money. And now, faced with dropping engagement across the board, companies think the solution is… even more content.

The biggest weakness in digital marketing today is not the failure to adapt to a changing landscape; it’s the failure to realize that the landscape is never going to stop changing.

The Same Old Innovation

Four years ago, marketers scoured the internet for advice on how to Facebook and what to tweet. Today, social media is no longer a cure-all.

You have to pay for it. It’s just another tactic, alongside display ads, email marketing and everything else.

That doesn’t stop the hype cycles. Twitter growth is flat, but marketers still worry about it like it’s the same powerhouse as before.

Companies still measure by metrics like followers and “Likes,” when it’s obvious those don’t actually mean anything for the bottom line.

The only thing that changes faster than technology is mass popularity. Instagram has a bigger active user base than Twitter. Snapchat is catching up.

The blog home page and the website aren’t destinations anymore; people are coming in from individual blog posts. People are watching videos and GIFs and using messaging apps instead of email.

All of this is happening, but most marketers are so heads-down that they haven’t taken the time to look up and see what’s happening. They’re still sharpening their blades on the cutting-edge tactics of 2012.

“Mobile” and “social” aren’t channels anymore. They’re behaviors.

Seeking Permanence In Community

It’s 2016. There’s no such thing as “the Big Three” when it comes to social networks.

There are no linear paths for customers, and there is no defined set of channels you can connect with them. Today, there are dozens. In another five years, there will be hundreds ranging across wearables, the Internet of Things and virtual reality devices.

These channels will always be used by some, but never all of your customers.

The trend is not “Facebook” or “Snapchat” or “blogging” — it’s relationship-building and community-building.

So how can you adapt? By actively pulling in your community, not passively waiting for them to engage.

At Bitly, my employer, we’ve been doing that by ramping up our co-marketing initiatives with HubSpot, AdRoll, Buffer and others. We’ve started actively talking to our customers and featuring them in blog posts, social content and e-books.

We’ve also tapped into our influencer network. And this doesn’t have to be a Kardashian-level effort.

At Bitly, we recently interviewed 20 social media influencers about what they thought was going to happen in 2016. By featuring them on our blog, we helped promote their personal brands, and they helped promote the blog post.

At the rate of change today, there’s no way marketing teams will ever grow fast enough to scale for all of the different channels available to our audiences. That’s why we need to stop for a second and look around.

People aren’t tweeting the same way. They’re not using Facebook the same way. They’re constantly flipping through apps for 30-second blips.

Every moment is a moment to connect with them. But you’ll need help from other businesses, other influencers and other people to do it.

Prioritize Local Search With Power Listings

yellow-pages-directory-local-ss-19201-800x535

Undertaking local listing management can be a daunting task. We all understand the importance of standard local listing management: update your local listing profile on a variety of websites to ensure visibility in the world of local search. Simple enough.  But the tools to do it have gotten way better.

The challenge arises when determining where to focus your local listing management efforts. Claiming profiles and taking ownership over ones that were previously managed by someone else can be a lengthy process (sometimes taking months), and it is important to understand which local business listing sites to focus on when initiating a local listing management strategy.

I determine which local search websites are worth pursuing profiles on through two specific means:

First, I consolidate top local business listing sites (for my specific industry) by Domain Authority. Those sites that have a high Domain Authority take precedent when claiming and creating profiles because, in conjunction with my local listing optimization strategy, I can also strengthen my inbound link profile.

The second method involves exploring searcher behavior in Google Analytics, then utilizing this data to seek out opportunities to increase local online presence based on referral traffic sources.

Method 1: Local Business Listing Site Domain Authority

Moz defines Domain Authority as a metric “that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines.” It is measured on a 100-point scale.

We can use the Domain Authority of specific local business listing sites to determine which of these sites should capture user attention — or, put another way, which sites are more likely to rank higher in search results, allowing a searcher to click through and find Business XYZ through barnacle SEOmethods.

The chart below shows the Domain Authority associated with popular local business listing sites, as measured by Moz’s free Open Site Explorer tool, which helps marketers research “behind the scenes” of a link. I use this tool to determine if garnering a local profile on the site is worth exploring.

Local Business Listing Site Domain AuthorityLocal-Search-Site-To-Domain-Authority

Based on this information, I would prioritize building my local listing in Google My Business and Yelp before I would explore opportunities with Superpages and Best Of The Web.

Of course, the above is a high-level overview of sites that all have relatively high Domain Authority, and honestly, I would likely prioritize all or most of these sites.

However, if you are working within a specific niche (e.g., healthcare) that has a variety of industry-specific local business listing sites that your customers use to find you (e.g., ZocDoc, Healthgrades), the Domain Authority method can help you determine which sites are worth investing your time in to build a local profile.

Method 2: Local Search Behavior In Google Analytics

Data pulled from Google Analytics can provide deep insights into determining where to focus local listing management efforts, as well as if there is potential to further meet your business goals through advertising on local business listing sites.

In conjunction with the Domain Authority method, I’ve always used Google Analytics to help me determine where to begin my local listing management implementation, and it’s important to keep in mind that priorities will be different depending on your business’s target market and the websites your customer base utilizes for local search.

Navigate in Google Analytics to Acquisition, then All Traffic, then Referrals.

Referral PathReferral-in-Google-Analytics

In this display, you can see where the majority of your traffic is finding you. This can show if there are any local opportunities you can capitalize on to achieve your business’s goals — whether it be brand awareness, conversion optimization or streamlining local search for a better user experience.

For example, I can deduce that the business is “review-driven” if I find that the majority of referrals are coming from Yelp and Angie’s List. In this case, the next move would likely be advertising on Yelp, or perhaps launching a review-generating campaign in an effort to boost the business’s organic listing on local review sites.

Conversely, if you find that most of your referral traffic is coming from sites like BBB.org, you may want to pursue local business listing sites that have strong credibility for your specific industry. Once you’ve compiled a list of sites that fit this description, cross-check them through the Open Site Explorer to further determine if advertising there is worth your time and money.

Track Your Efforts

Monitoring the local profiles you’ve created is a critical aspect of understanding their value and determining where to hone your efforts.

Many local sites, such as Google My Business, provide deep insights to allow you to determine your local listing’s performance. Yelp provides a dashboard telling you about searcher behavior on your page. Local, industry-specific business sites will often offer similar data (sometimes even free of charge) to those who build an online local profile.

You can then use this information, gathered over time, to seek out additional opportunities. These opportunities could range from advertising on specific local business listing sites, if those sites garner strong referral traffic, to creating a retargeting campaign for those who clicked from specific local sites and then bounced from your site.

We can all agree that the importance of local search should not be understated, regardless of the options that you choose to explore when executing a local listing optimization strategy. Still, these two techniques are sure to jump-start your strategy or give you some ideas as to where to begin.

Publish Everywhere and on Every Device

Power Listings is a new tool that partners with the most established and popular search engines, maps, apps and directories across the globe. Leverage our direct connections to the publishers in our powerful Global Listings Network to get found — no matter the language, country, currency, or address format.




See our full Global Listings Network >


Our award-winning technology gives you the control over your presence and helps you get found.



Listings Match

Real-Time Updates

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Reporting


  • Listing Visitor Reporting: See how often a listing appears in local search results, the views its detail page receives, and the number of times customers click on a featured message — which helps you tie revenue back to your locations’ digital presence.
  • Review Monitoring: Monitor and search customer reviews by location across every PowerListings site that supports them, including Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Citysearch, in real time. Get custom notifications for new reviews, search reviews by location, and analyze how customer feedback varies over time and across locations.
  • Duplicate Suppression: Duplicate records of your business information appear across the search ecosystem — and they cost you time, money, and SEO benefits. Our patent pending technology finds and suppresses duplicate listings so consumers never see incorrect or incomplete address or contact information. Since search engines value consistency, Duplicate Suppression offers huge SEO benefits.

 

Trying to Improve Your Social Media Following? 3 Reasons You Should Be Watching Your Competitors

Improving Your Social Media Following By Monitoring Your Competition

Social media is an imperative tool for any small business that wants to grow its consumer base and website traffic. Unsatisfied customers can use social media to destroy a brand and satisfied customers can make it viral, giving it a reach that would have otherwise been impossible.

Anybody who wants to increase their followers can learn from an extremely unexpected source: their competitors. Watching how competing brands manage their social media accounts can provide beneficial information for a variety of reasons.

Always Match Content Output Of Competitive Brands

How active should a company’s social media account be? How many tweets or posts are too many for a follower to handle? One way to find out is by watching a competitive brand and seeing how active it is on social media.

This tactic is an effective way of making sure a social media presence does not drag behind close competitors while using those competitors as a way of testing how much output followers are willing to tolerate.

Monitoring Competitors’ Social Media Mentions Provides Valuable Consumer Insight

Most businesses are set up to monitor their own social media mentions, but few take the next logical step of monitoring mentions of their competitors. By tracking what people are saying about the competition, a business can gain insight into how potential consumers or clients are reacting to new advertising strategies.

This also provides an opportunity to generate leads from unsatisfied customers by communicating with them directly and offering an alternative.

Learn From How They Handle Customer Service Complaints

Social media has become an amazing tool for customers to voice their frustration with a product or business and get really fast results when they do so. Customer service is one of the single most important aspects of social media, and ineffective assistance can bury a brand.

Any small business with no social media customer service experience can do well by monitoring how similar companies handle grievances and learn from what works and what doesn’t.

Social media presences are public representations of businesses and need to be used in a professional manner. Keeping a close eye on how competitive social media accounts handle success and failure can keep a small business from falling behind. It’s also a great way of seeing new advertising techniques and whether or not they are effective before incorporating them into your own marketing strategy.

NEW Facebook Instant Articles For All Publishers

facebook-newsfeed2-

Facebook’s Instant Articles will be rolled out to all publishers starting April 12.

In just a few months, everyone can become a Facebook publisher. The company announced that on April 12, any publisher can host content directly on the social network.

The popular program, which was launched nine months ago, gives publishers the ability to create interactive articles directly on Facebook, offering a rich media experience with fast load times. The idea at launch was to give Facebook users the ability to consume content seamlessly, ensuring that publishers still monetized from the experience. The program was initially supported with nine partners, including The New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, BBC News, National Geographic and NBC.

On April 12, that list of publishers, which has since grown into the hundreds, will expand further to anyone who chooses to opt in. In its announcement, Facebook acknowledges the rationale behind the rollout: “Slow loading times on the mobile web created a problematic experience for people reading news on their phones.”

Regardless of publisher size (and possibly more problematic for smaller publishers without the server and network resources larger publishers have), Facebook is aware that the user experience is diminished when a user tries to consume content off-site, only to have the page load slowly. By offering Instant Articles to everyone, Facebook solves a pain point affecting all users. Instant Articles also benefits the publisher with direct-sold ads that enable them to keep 100 percent of their revenue, in addition to giving them the opportunity to view Facebook or third-party analytics on article performance. Plus, Facebook enables publishers to further monetize their content using the Facebook Audience Network.

Does that mean Facebook will become more of a publishing platform for all, and will publishers migrate more to Facebook for a better user experience for their readers? Time will tell. Those utilizing this technology, however, are likely spending more time on Facebook, and therefore, Facebook wins with additional ad revenue.

There are certainly concerns voiced by publishers that this could make them a little too dependent on Facebook for traffic, but only publishers can make that assessment on their own to see if it’s worth the investment.

More information about Instant Articles can be found here.

 

 

Making The Most Of Social Media, Even When It’s Not Driving Sales

Are your social channels failing to drum up big sales? You’re not alone. Here are some tips to help you maximize your return on social media.

social-media-networks

Despite much of the hype around social media “Buy” buttons and shoppable links, social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest continue to drive only a small portion of online retail sales.

In fact, according to the Custora E-commerce Pulse Holidata Report (Disclosure: Custora is my employer), less than two percent of e-commerce sales this past holiday season were attributed to social media.

While many other marketing channels saw significant year-over-year growth, the percentage of orders from social media actually decreased from last year.

The bottom line is that when it comes to driving sales, marketers have yet to unlock the formula to produce real results from social. While the jury may still be out on whether social media will live up to its hype, the following are some best practices for marketers looking to optimize their return on social media.

Take Advantage Of Advanced Facebook Ads Functionality

Facebook’s advertising solution provides a number of features beyond the automated distribution of ads, and it’s in marketers’ best interest to learn and implement some of the more advanced functionalities Facebook has to offer.

Facebook’s Custom Audiences allows marketers to match their house lists against Facebook data to yield more targeted, relevant marketing messages to consumers.

Take your Custom Audience Ads to the next level usingFacebook’s Audience Insights. This often-overlooked feature lets you drill down to specific segments and personas of your custom audience.

For example, if your ad creative features a new line of women’s yoga pants, you may want to target customers who have bought your athletic wear, then drill down to women who have listed yoga as an interest on Facebook. This feature allows marketers to effectively segment their customers to provide hyper-relevant content and move one step closer to achieving a one-to-one marketing reality.

Another useful Facebook Ads functionality enables marketers toA/B test their messaging and creative. As with all A/B testing, the results of Facebook A/B tests enable you to continue to iterate, improve and optimize your marketing.

For example, an e-commerce retailer might use a Facebook ad with a call to action to click through to its spring catalog. By testing a few different versions of copy, the marketing team can better understand which messaging resonates best with their customers.

Perhaps there are certain segments that prefer one version over the other. Through continued testing, you can continue to optimize the message for each segment of customers to provide powerfully relevant messages.

Enable Your Customers And Fans To Tell Your Story

Anecdotally, we’ve heard many e-commerce brands report significant social revenue coming from Pinterest. However, upon closer inspection, we’ve found that this revenue is generally being driven from fan-generated content, not branded pins.

For example, a customer pins a picture of himself sporting an outfit from a brand’s new line, and someone else feels inspired to buy that pair of pants immediately. It can be likened to digital word of mouth — consumers trust other consumers more than they trust brands.

The lesson here for marketers: Rather than spending time pinning (or posting or tweeting or snapping) yourself, put those resources toward making it as easy and fun as possible for your fans to do so. The impact of a tweet from your customers is much more likely to drive sales.

With this in mind, consider running a Pinterest or Instagram contest encouraging fans to post, or highlighting social mentions from fans on your website.

Don’t Forget About More “Traditional” Marketing Methods

Social is certainly one of the sexier online marketing channels today, but given the lack of results we’ve seen from it thus far, it’s important that CMOs don’t discount the value of more traditional marketing methods.

Email continues to be a major player in e-commerce sales. According to Custora’s E-commerce Pulse Holidata Report, email drove 20 percent of all online orders during the 2015 holiday season.

Email’s influence was even more pronounced over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, when it took over as the primary channel driving online sales, accounting for more than 23 percent of orders.

Smart marketers should look to leverage social channels like Twitter for capturing email addresses — not just as channels for driving direct sales. Getting into people’s inboxes can be more valuable than driving a one-time social purchase, as it sets up a foundation for continued interaction with a customer.

Final Thoughts

According to a 2015 Global Web Index report, the average person has five social media accounts and spends around one hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day. So although social hasn’t yet lived up to its promise to drive e-commerce sales, it’s no surprise that it has become a staple of the modern marketer’s toolbox.

It’s clear that marketers can no longer write social media off as a fad, but they should try to make the most of their marketing dollars spent there by targeting the right people, optimizing their messages and enabling their fans to speak for themselves.

 

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