Virtual Assistants-Taking Your Online Marketing to the Next Level

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In this era of the Digital Age, more and more people are turning to the Internet to increase their marketing exposure. The problem? Every day the ways to use online marketing seem to grow exponentially.

In one blog post at Wordstream.com, they offer a guide to the top 99 Online Marketing Tools. You read that right, 99! And, they are only listing the TOP 99.

From Clothing Boutiques to Real Estate Agents, Social Media Marketing has become a necessity to keep up in today’s marketplace. So, as an entrepreneur or small business owner, how do you find the time to run your business, increase your productivity, have a personal life, and keep up with the ever-evolving online marketing field?

The short answer? You don’t. You hire someone to do it for you. Enter the Virtual Assistant (VA).

Who are Virtual Assistants?

Virtual assistants are home-based, skilled professionals, offering businesses, and entrepreneurs support remotely instead of within the traditional office setting. Communication is usually done via email, phone, or even face to face services like Skype. This alleviates the need to provide additional work space at your office or other business location.

Don’t Virtual Assistants Just Provide Basic Admin Support?

Back when remote assistants first came on the scene, the majority of their services focused on administrative tasks that were similar to those of an executive assistant or secretary. They were just done from home. However, with the growing number of VAs available, their offerings now run the gamut, and thanks to the incredible increase in popularity of Social Media Marketing and other Online Marketing, specialists in that area have become easier to find, and are extremely beneficial to have working with you.

In fact, just a few years ago, the University of Florida created the first Bachelor and Masters degree programs to provide accredited education in Social Media Marketing and other schools followed quickly after that.

A Few Things to Consider When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

When you choose to hire a virtual assistant the first thing you’ll want to determine is whether you want them to be an employee or a self-employed contractor. There are pros and cons with each arrangement.

When you hire an employee, even a remote one, you’ll need to provide any benefits your other employees receive, based on their employee status, ie: Full-time, Part-time, or hourly, as well as add them to the regular payroll. A real estate agent in the northern California area reported he has a full-time person who’s only job entails maintaining all Social Media postings for active

If you choose to work with independent contractors or a freelancer you will have none of those responsibilities. But, you will have little control over what hours they work or be able to demand when they can be available.

To be designated as an independent contractor, an individual must be free to determine how the work will be done to completion, free from the client/company’s control. The contractor is responsible for the final product only as far as the terms of their contract requires.

Where Can I find a Virtual Assistant?

Just as the internet provides the opportunity for the concept of a VA to work, it also provides locations, and even platforms to easily find, hire and pay your VA. Here’s a short list of websites that provide freelancers and businesses a way to find each

24/7 Virtual Assistant
Assistant Match
eaHelp
Fancy Hands
Freelancer
FlexJobs
People Per Hour
Red Butler
Time Etc.
Me
Upwork
Virtual Assistant USA
Virtual Staff Finder
Worldwide 101
Ziptask
Zirtual
Hiring a virtual assistant will leave you with more time and energy on your hands to focus on the other aspects of your business.

For more information on finding the best Virtual Assistant for your needs, check out Virtual Assistant Assistant for reviews of the best virtual assistant companies.

For details on how you can get started with your own online business:

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The Online Business Advisor

Increase Your Marketing Exposure with Amazon’s FBA

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Most of us know by now that Amazon is the largest online retailer. People often go directly to Amazon when considering a purchase before searching anywhere else. And, when they do implement a search, Amazon’s extensive marketing and SEO techniques usually bring them to the top of the search results.

So, why not take advantage of their marketing to promote your own products? Amazon has provided a platform for you to do just that.

So, what exactly is Amazon’s “Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)?”

With FBA your products are stored at Amazon’s fulfilment centres. They do the packing, the shipping, and the customer service. PLUS, products sold can be eligible for Amazon Prime’s Free Two-Day Shipping, Free Shipping, and other benefits provided directly by Amazon.

Additionally, many buyers choose products by FBA sellers instead of merchant fulfilled sellers, even when the price is higher, because they know it comes with Amazon’s reliability.

Additionally, you can now automatically market your products across most of North America. When you register for an Amazon.com seller account, you can enable FBA for products you list to be seen on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.mx. This allows you to sell on Amazon’s marketplaces in Canada and Mexico, reaching even more customers.

Referrals-How Amazon’s FBA Increases Your Marketing While They Sell Your Product

I’m sure if you’ve made a purchase on Amazon, you’ve noticed the area at the bottom of each product page headed “recommended purchases.” What you may not have realized, is that they include FBA products in this section as well. This means a buyer on Amazon gets exposure to your product as well as theirs, increasing your exposure. And, Amazon affiliates will also link buyers to your items through blog and social media posts.

What It Will Cost You

You will be charged for storage space and the orders they fulfill. The cost of shipping is included in your fees, with no extra charge for Amazon Prime’s FREE Two-Day Shipping and FREE Shipping on eligible orders. Fees for optional services may apply.

Upload your product to the FBA platform, finalize your listing and then box up your products and ship them to an Amazon distribution centre.

Once your items arrive and are scanned in at the distribution centre, they’re live on Amazon. If items don’t sell within the pre-set time period, you can either pay storage fees or have them returned to you at your expense.

As with any new addition to your business plan, there are pros and cons to weigh before making a final decision.

Pros:

Enormous Customer Base-As one of the largest online retailers, Amazon’s users are looking to shop.
Credibility and Trust-buyers are comfortable going to Amazon.
Excellent Support-Everything from inventory tracking, tax collection, and credit card processing is already set up with Amazon’s platform.

Cons:

Fees-These start at a minimum of one dollar and can go as high as 25% of the product’s price.
You’re a Commodity-On Amazon you’re mostly a commodity. This means there will be other merchants under cutting your prices. Plus, you’re competing directly with Amazon for any products they sell.
No Control Over Branding-Unlike on your own site there are fewer options to promote your own brand.
Lack of Customer Loyalty-Customers are finding your products due to their loyalty to Amazon, not you.
A Note on Keeping Your Own E-Commerce Website.

At this point, you may be thinking that this could replace your own e-commerce site. Many experts recommend keeping your existing site as well. The primary reason being, when you sell on other platforms, you don’t actually own your shop.

They will reserve the right to manage your product listings, and not always in a way that is in your best interests. This could even include preventing you from selling within a certain category if they can make more of a profit selling the similar items in-house.

Over all, Amazon’s FBA platform is an excellent opportunity to increase your market exposure, sales, and distribution without having to increase your own storage and shipping facilities.

For more information or, to get started, visit Fulfillment by Amazon now.

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The Online Business Advisor

How to Market Your Service Based Business

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What is a Sales Promotion?

When selling a product, marketing usually comes fairly easy. Your marketing campaign revolves around the product for sale and how it can be used.

When you own a service-based business, the marketing may require a different approach. Instead of marketing product features, you have to market yourself and your team. The good news is, people are always looking for reliable services, no matter the type. You just need to make sure they find you and not your competitors. Here are some techniques that will help you accomplish this.

Connect with Your Own Community

Established local businesses have their own clientele. And, they may only be able to handle a certain number of clients. So, if you treat these businesses respectfully, they may refer clients to you when they are at their capacity. A good way to connect with your community is to be involved with the local Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce. These associations will connect you with other businesses that welcome assistance from a peer.

Use Social Media and Networking

By now you’ve probably created your business website. Now, you need to consider establishing your presence on Social Media. Starting with each of the following will give you a strong foothold:

Facebook Business Page
Twitter Account
LinkedIn profile
There are a number of other social networks out there you may also find suitable. Once your pages are all set up, stay on top of them. This can be achieved by responding to customer inquiries, posting valuable information, and providing relevant updates.

As you cultivate this audience, you will build a following that will continue to reach more and more people over time.

Offer Incentives

Customers like to take advantage of a good deal. Special promotions are a great way to let them. While a promotion might cut into your profits initially if it brings in new customers the payoff could be worth it. You need to make sure you find a balance between your pricing needs and your customer’s idea of a good deal. You can even utilize your Social Media presence to promote your incentives without extra cost to you.

Empower Your Clients

Often with services, the service providers have so much control over how the service is provided, this can sometimes cause a feeling of detachment for the clients. To prevent this separation, try to make your clients feel involved in the process by underlining their significance in the process and reducing the visible influence of your own position.

Stock Up on Business Cards

Even within the Digital Age, business cards are still a valuable tool, especially if you are an individual or small business. You can network with other local businesses, asking if you can leave a stack of cards in their lobbies. You can also pass them out to other business owners at networking events, social engagements, and class reunions. They can also be passed from customer to customer the way word-of-mouth advertising is accomplished. These days you can even get your first set the same day by taking advantage of in-store printers, like the ones found at Staples and Office Depot.

In the long run, the success of your business will depend on the quality of your services. Here we’ve provided a few easy ways to get your marketing and your service-based business off the ground and increase your ability to communicate what you have to offer to a potential client.

For more ideas on how to market your service business check out this post at the wix.com blog:

5 Ways to Market Your Service Business Like a Stellar Product

You may find that not all marketing techniques will work with every target market, but, with patience you will find what methods will work for you and help you develop an effective strategy.

For details on how you can get started with your own online business:

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Choosing the Most Effective Social Media Posting Times

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It never fails, you received a free eBook and get excited to read about the latest, and best, way to utilized Social Media posting for your business. You hungrily tear through the information and then re-write your marketing plan to implement this new strategy only to receive entirely different information the next day, week, month, and so on.

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to CoSchedule. In their great wisdom, they have put together information from a variety of reports to provide you with the last word in Social Media Post schedules.

We learned in school that there are 4 time zones in the U.S. So, with clients spread from sea to shining sea, what are the best times to post on the various social media platforms?

To decide this, we need to take into consideration where most of these clients are living. According to Census records, 80% of those people living in the United States are found in the Eastern and Central time zones. It would make sense, then, to focus our schedules on time as it is followed in those locations.

Facebook
As the platform that brought social media into the spotlight and taught us a new way to communicate and market ourselves and our businesses, it’s still the first account most new businesses, and 13-year olds, open when getting started in the Social Media universe.

Best Days: Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
Best Times: 9 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm

Notes: Posting at 1 pm gets you the most shares while posting at 3 pm will get you the most clicks.

Twitter
Best Day: Wednesday
Best Times: Noon, 3 pm, 5 pm and 6 pm

Notes: Wednesday about Noon and between 5-6 are the peak moments of an employee’s break times. Also, Twitter users are 181% more likely to be on their account during the commute home. Hopefully, for the rest of us, this refers to carpoolers who are not in the driver’s seat.

LinkedIn
Best Days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Best Times: 7-8am, Noon, and 5-6pm

Notes: Business people are most likely to peruse LinkedIn in the morning, in the same manner many (used to) peruse the paper. Also, even though LinkedIn is geared more for the business market, the best time to post is still before or after work.

Pinterest
Best Days: Weekends (Saturday and Sunday)
Best Times: 2 pm, 9 pm, and 2 am

Notes: The best window for posting is Saturday nights between 8-11pm. The worst time is during business hours.

Instagram
Best Days: Monday and Thursday
Best Times: 2am, 8-9am, 5pm

Notes: Avoid posting between 3 pm and 4 pm. Posting a video at 9 pm can get you 34% more interactions.

Google+
Best Day: Wednesday
Best Time: 9am, 11am, 12-1pm

Notes: 90% of people on Google+ are lurkers, people who are just looking and not wanting or perhaps not ready to engage with the content or a call to action.

Additional Notes for Each Platform
Facebook: Widely used both via mobile and stationary devices, at home and at work.

Twitter: Audience dependent, as Facebook is also. Often set up as an RSS feed and visited during commutes, breaks and other down times.

Pinterest: Used mostly in the evenings after work and on the weekends during a viewer’s free time.

LinkedIn: Designed for the professional world, viewers use it during work hours and in the mornings.

Google+: Targets professionals in a similar manner to LinkedIn

Instagram: Designed for the mobile platform and therefore used at any time.

So, a special thank you goes out to CoSchedule for their tireless efforts to make scheduling social media posts across all platforms as easy as pie. For this and more information on their services, visit them at Coschedule.com.

Monitoring the social media marketing landscape is vital to your success. If you’d like to have access to even more powerful marketing tips, as well as a way to generate conversion-ready Internet marketing prospects each month, click here to learn about my done-for-you system.

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Online Marketing on a Budget

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Marketing is one of the single most important things you need to do to succeed in the business world. The problem? It can use a lot of cash to make it work. For an entrepreneur just getting started, marketing budgets can often be practically non-existent.

Fortunately, the age of the Internet has made it easier to run a full-scale marketing campaign with very little cost up front. Here we’ve put together a list of ways you can utilize online marketing resources, often for free. Yep, FREE!

Online Review Sites

Making sure your business is listed on online review sites is important. Not just for traffic and product sales, but for ensuring your online reputation stays positive. The following sites are some of the most influential review sites out there.

Google My Business Page: Setting up a page here will get your business on Google Search, Maps and Google+, as well as allow customers to review your business. Local business reviews usually receive high rankings in the search results, giving you some great, and free results real estate.

Yelp: Since it’s the biggest online review site, creating a Yelp listing is definitely worth it. It gets you in front of the site’s more than 140 million monthly users and, it’s free.

Yahoo: Yahoo offers local businesses the option to get a basic business listing in its directory. Listings are incorporated with other of their products like reviews, maps, and events. And yes, it’s free.

Social Media Marketing

Industry Groups: Choose two or three groups in your business’ industry on Facebook and LinkedIn. By offering advice and support, you help establish yourself as an expert in your field. You can even take it a step further and create your own groups. Eventually, these outlets will build your reputation and drive sales.

Facebook: If you haven’t already signed up with social media platform, Facebook is probably one of the best places to start. Since its inception, Facebook has been in the fore front of social media advancements and has developed and perfected a number of tools for small businesses.

Twitter: This platform has proven to be a powerful, platform for immediate information. By studying and following people in your industry or expertise, you will quickly learn, some dos and don’ts figure out the best way to use it, then set up your own feed and start to Tweet.

LinkedIn: The fastest growing and most influential professional platform online, LinkedIn has done for Professional Media what Facebook did for Social Media. Set up an account to meet, engage and, connect with other professionals about jobs, careers, and branding

YouTube: Visual marketing, especially in the form of video, is still at the top when it comes marketing. With You Tube, this form is now more accessible. Use it to tell a story, showcase your personality, or demonstrate a product without having to pay for ad time on TV. You can be as casual or formal as you want, as long as you are ready to be on camera.

Monitor Brand Mentions: It’s now easier to keep up with what’s happening. Using a social listening tool like Social Mention to monitor and contribute to conversations happening in your industry will help you stay current on trends without having to spend every hour surfing postings.

Blogging: In addition to your own blog, find other blogs and websites within your industry and create Guest posts. Comment thoughtfully on blogs and then leave your website URL in the appropriate field, just be sure to use your real name or business name, not keyword-rich anchor text. Noticing others will get you noticed as well.

Installing a free social sharing plugin on your blog, like Share Buttons, makes it easy for your readers to share your posts and increase your audience.

Other Ways to Get Yourself Noticed

Hold free webinars on your site: If you’ve researched this prospect before but decided it would be too expensive, consider some of these alternatives. WordPress has a webinar plugin called WebinarIgnition, with a one-time cost of $97 for unlimited webinars with unlimited attendees. Or, you can utilize your Facebook account and do a Facebook Live event.

Join Forums and Answer Questions: These days there are multiple forums out there for just about anything. Take the time to make meaningful contributions to conversions by providing real assistance to those posting the questions. This will get the attention of other readers and make them more inclined find out more about you. You can get started on sites like Quora, where real people are looking for answers to questions. Search the site for relevant questions you can answer intelligently.

HARO (Help A Reporter Out): Sign up and get free PR by responding to relevant media queries. This will turn into free mentions and links in publications like Huffington Post, Forbes more.

eBooks: Anyone can be an author and publish now. Whether it’s about business or, choosing the best wine, you can create an eBook simply and for free. Just input your content into chapters using MS Word. Add some images and links, edit, review and spell check. Then save it as a PDF and you have an eBook. Post it on your website, blog or offer it in exchange for a person’s email address, aiding you in growing your email database.

By now you may be experiencing the feeling that the room is spinning out of control, knowing that there are so many options out there that you can implement.

Not to worry. Look at the list and narrow it down to 2-3 options you are really excited about. Once you have them under your belt, move on to a few more.

As a special treat for you, here is a link to a Forbes article outlining 33 great marketing tools for professionals.

Ready…Set…Go!!!

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Increase Your Traffic with Improved Image Names

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We all know the old cliché, “A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words.” From the oldest cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphs to today’s social media shares, we are consistently finding new ways to use images to communicate, tell stories, and make sales.

When it comes to e-commerce, companies like Amazon owe a large part of their success to imagery. To hold the customer’s attention, most product descriptions need to be short and to the point. This means you want the photos to speak volumes.

Imagine if you will, you’ve gone through the effort to create the right product, buy the ideal domain name, paid for marketing ads, and launched the perfect website. So, why isn’t traffic to your site what you want it to be?

You need to make sure your buyers can find you, or more importantly, your product. One way to do this is through Image Optimization or, Image SEO.

Choose a Descriptive Filename

By now in your journey through online marketing you’ve probably heard the word “Keyword” from a vast number of sources. According to most experts in the SEO field, keywords appear to be the end all be all of SEO. Primary Keywords, secondary Keywords…Google “Keyword” and the list of sources of info will probably go on forever.

With Image SEO the first location to use your primary keyword will be the image filename.

This means if your image is a women’s top in a specific abstract design, the file name shouldn’t be DSC12345.jpg. Instead, you want to rename it:

“ann-monique-womens-top-abstract-v.”

This gives the search engine spiders something to grab onto and take back to their part of the web.

Start a file name with a lowercase letter or a number and remove all spaces. For multiple words, join them with a dash.

Make the Image File as Small as Reasonably Possible

Loading times can be crucial for websites to maintain traffic. The faster the site, the easier to visit it. Images can have a huge impact on this. Standard resolution for a screen image is 72ppi and most web pages won’t need an image to be more than 1000-1200 pixels wide.

To put that into perspective, a typical smart phone camera today will give you an image at 72 ppi but the file will often be over 3000 pixels wide (or more).

When you are using a website builder online, you may have the advantage of the builder site doing some downsizing work for you. If you aren’t sure yours will, or if you expect to have a lot of images to process, getting a program like Adobe Photoshop would be a good investment.

There are also a few online image editors that work quite well and often don’t cost a thing or have a minimal membership fee with added benefits. Two of my favourites are PicMonkey and Pixl.

Alt Text-aka-Alt Tags

When you get to the point you are ready to upload your image, you will often be given an option to add “alt text” or “alt tags.” This is another good place to use keyword placement.

In one of Google’s articles about image publishing guidelines, they include a section on creating great alt text. Google places a high value on alt texts. In the article, they give the following reasons to consider:

Alt Text provides Google with useful information about the subject matter of the image. They use this information to help determine the best image to return for a user’s search.

Many people, like users with visual impairments, may not be able to see images on web pages. Descriptive alt text provides these users with important information.

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/114016?hl=en

To JPEG or PNG?

In most e-commerce catalogue pages, the product is shown in a specific place on the page that doesn’t overlap any other image or text. JPEG images are most commonly used for this. I’m adding this quick highlight in case a need arises for you to remove the background of a photo.

JPEG images include a visible background showing behind any curves or irregular lines. If you’ve taken the trouble to remove the background of the photo of a product but, save it as a JPEG (JPG), you will still be stuck with a background colour when you re-open it.

PNGs allow you to make the background transparent so the image can be used on top of any colour, texture or other text. This can be helpful if you decide to show multiple products in one virtual shot but don’t have the means to retake the photo.

So Now You are Ready

As history shows us, images will continue to be a primary tool of our culture and the world around us. Now you have the right knowledge to take your products to the next step. Taking the time to Incorporate these into your regular marketing routine will assist your product’s ability to be seen in your customer’s searches and get you the traffic you desire.

So, get your images together and make them work even harder for you.

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How to Best Promote Your Sales Promotions

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What is a Sales Promotion?

When done correctly, sales promotions can transform a business. Most of us these days know sales promotions are usually designed to increase sales or, encourage the use of a service. They are also often one type of marketing strategy confused with general advertising. In fact, the two are different. Because, each entices a different part of the buyer’s nature.

Advertising is emotional in nature. It induces consumers to purchase products or services through images, sounds, and experiences. Sales promotions draw on a customer’s logic.

To get the most out of the efforts you put into creating a promotion, it’s important for you to promote your sales promotion. I know, that’s a lot of use of the base word promote, it’s confusing, but accurate.

Promote your promoting

This concept is often where many small businesses and entrepreneurs come up short and, usually happened in one of two ways.

The first way is that many businesses simply don’t let their customers and potential customers know there is promotion opportunity going on.

When it comes to small business marketing, the first thought is advertising, but this can add expense. Here are some optimal ways you can get the word out, without breaking the bank.

Highlight the promotion on your website home page.
Create a web page specifically about the promotion.
Post the info on your Social Media Pages and Blogs.
Where permitted, include it in guest posts on other pages and blogs.
Sent email notifications sent out to your approved email contacts.
These steps will go a long way in getting the information out there.

The second way many businesses aren’t successful with their promotions is that they, get the word out but, put out the wrong information.

Your first instinct will probably be to make your message about your offer, and that is a good place to start. But, your message should also be about your customer. More specifically, how they will benefit from the offer you’ve taken so much time to plan and execute.

Let’s say an accounting firm decides to run a discount promotion on all services they provide, for a specific period of time. To promote this, they start sending emails and posting on Facebook that for a limited time, clients can come in and receive a discount for any service they need. Most people will see the post or email, make a quick mental note about it, and then move on with their day.

The communication aspect was successful, but the desired conversion wasn’t. What you need to do next is persuade your client that this will make his or her life easier.

Persuasion begins with building a link into your customer’s head. Start by thinking about your service promotion from your customer’s viewpoint. Then make a list of the things that may be on your customer’s mind. Some examples could be, whether or not their job is currently stable, whether they should buy a new car or even, where they are planning their next vacation.

No matter what they have in their heads, there is a good chance they are not thinking about seeing an accountant. It’s your job to put the idea in their head and then, attach it to the things they are thinking about:

“Want to fly during your next vacation instead of drive? Let us help you find your maximum deductions and use your larger tax refund to start a vacation fund!”

Next, go on to explain the benefits of having a professional go over their taxes instead of doing them at home.

Last, include an effective call to action: “Call now for your appointment!”

Now that you know how to promote your promotion, take a look at this article on ThriveHive.com for examples of what kind of promotions you can consider offering.

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Generate More Traffic Via Social Media Influencing

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Word-of-mouth, 20-50% of all purchasing decisions are made from it. Customers are more likely to respond to endorsements from a person they respect than to advertisements. In the world of digital relationships, word of mouth extends beyond friends and family, and into the realm of influencer marketing.

Twitter has shown that:

49% of buyers will seek advice from social media influencers.
20% of users said that Tweets from an influencer motivated them to share their own product endorsements.
40% of users claimed they made a purchase as a direct result of an influencer’s Tweet.
Who Is a Social Media Influencer?

A Social Media Influencer is a user of social media who can show a level of authority in a specific industry. They have access to large audiences through their knowledge and scope of impact.

So, what is Social Media Influencer Marketing?

Influencer Marketing is the practice of creating relationships with people who can then build additional relationships for you in return. Whether the audience is small or large, an influencer can touch consumers via social networks and blogs, in ways traditional branding may not be able to reach.

Influencer Marketing Strategy Components

Celebrity endorsements were the original form of influencer marketing. We’ve all see T.V. commercials where a well-known person takes 30 seconds to tell you how great a product is.

Now, with online media, regular people have become online “celebrities” with highly engaging social media followings. A survey last year found that YouTube creators took eight of the ten top spots in a survey of influencers, outranking traditional celebrities.

Increase Your Traffic by Becoming a Social Media Influencer

Social Media Influencing has become very popular with blog enthusiasts to make passive income through affiliate marketing and utilizing these Influencers have become standard practice among many of the top companies selling on the market today.

But why stop there? Why not generate even more leads and traffic to your Brand by becoming one of the Influencers yourself. There are a number of recommended actions out there to become a social media influencer. Here we’ve gleaned together some steps to help you to get started.

Choose 2-4 social media channels you’ll use to cover your subject, taking into consideration what you excel at. Are you good at writing engaging posts on Facebook and Twitter, or are you better at photography or creating and editing your own videos? The type of content you want to publish should showcase your best skills. If you’ve decided to be a platform-specific influencer, clearly, you’ll want to use that as your primary social network then utilize the others for greater exposure.

Create a strategy for your content. What are your information preferences? Try to imagine why people will be enthusiastic to follow you, then plan accordingly. Try to plan for at least 3 months in advance, prepare the strategy, and then start posting.

The purpose of your content is to attract people. To accomplish this, you must be publishing consistently. You know what message you want to convey so stick to it, but also make sure you are keeping a lookout for new info.

Promote yourself by guiding your audience to your content. Share it everywhere it might seem interesting to other followers. Build your community by going to forums, fan pages, and inviting new people to engage with them as well.

Contact other people and brands in your industry. Chat, comment on other posts, exchange likes and ideas. One of the fastest ways to gain status is to contribute your unique content to other blogs and publications. Guest postings can improve your merit among peers and increase traffic to your own blog. Show that you notice other people and you’ll start to be noticed too.

Over time your efforts will start to pay off. You’ll begin to cultivate an audience that will listen to and follow you. The more people that join your audience, the more seriously your views will be taken and the level of influence you create over others will increase.

Publish on LinkedIn. People generally believe LinkedIn posts are from the most influential leaders in a particular subject. So, in addition to your own blog, create posts using LinkedIn’s publishing platform. You can accomplish this most easily by cutting and pasting your previously published blog posts and add a headline with keywords and an image to draw the eye. Consequently, when people in your network also see your articles on LinkedIn, they will start to view you as an authority too.

Finally, keep your content and sources organized for easy access. This way if someone asks a question about a particular post, you can easily answer the question or elaborate. This will also assist you in giving the appearance of having a good knowledge base of your subject. There is no reason to hold anything back. Sharing your expertise is how you can truly be a good influencer.

So, make sure you interact and build meaningful relationships with your audience as well as your peers. This way you can present yourself to brands as having a strong following in your subject.

For additional info on becoming a Social Media Influencer, check out this post at Marketingland.com

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Expanding Your Marketing with Pinterest

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Why Pinterest?

Visual marketing has always been a popular tool for businesses. With the introduction of the camera phone, photos have become even more common both in business and recreation and, for many, sharing has become almost as second nature as breathing.

Is Pinterest Part of Your Marketing Strategy?

Up to this point, you may not have thought about Pinterest as a viable marketing outlet, however, every business has a story to tell. Visual marketing will help you tell your story.

Since its launch in 2010, Pinterest has grown to over 70 million users and 25 Billion pins. 500,000 of their users are business accounts. Pinterest’s audience is active and already very engaged. Taking advantage of this would be a good way to expand your marketing and drive more traffic and sales to your business.

Here we’ll look at how some national brands have utilized this particular type of social media to increase their product’s appeal to more buyers.

Don’t Just Show Your Products, Show the Lifestyle They Can Create

Currently, the most popular pins on the site are fashion, food, and home decor. Enter Lowe’s, a brand that has worked to customize its activity to appeal to Pinterest’s audience. Lowe’s Pinterest subjects include everything from inspiration for a new room design to gift ideas that link neatly to their online store.

The result is a digital arena of ideas and 3.5 million followers.

Bring Pinterest to You

Since there are still people who like the process of actually going to a store, finding an outfit, and trying it on, Nordstrom has advanced its marketing process to include Pinterest as an in-store promotional tool. The store highlights its most popular pins by showcasing on site in their store locations.

And, Nordstrom isn’t the only company integrating this new type of marketing approach. Target and others are also transitioning their in-store promotions.

Highlighting the most-pinned items in your store will encourage people to buy. Whether you sell exclusively online with eCommerce or have a brick-and-mortar location, you can highlight your most pinned products to draw more attention to them.

Humanize Your Business

Try forgoing the glossy marketing you may have been using up to now. Straightforward, down-to-earth images can be just as engaging. Just look at Ben and Jerry’s marketing to see how well it can work.

Ben & Jerry’s Pinterest boards include the History of the Company, and The People Behind the Pints. By telling their story through pictures, they’ve provided fans with an invitation to look at their brand’s wider mission.

Your staff, stores, customers, and hometown are all worth celebrating. Showing the human side of your brand builds a more personal relationship with your customers.

Work to Inspire Your Audience

Most people would probably think GE would be the last company they would see on a Pinterest board. It would be hard to show the visual side of a manufacturing brand, so GE when another direction and chose to share the inspiration that drives them to innovate. They found a way to draw-in their followers by making the most of their stunning pictures.

Their boards highlight specific ways their products can be used, with titles like FABULOUS Kitchens, Brilliance in Motion, Gifts for Geeks, and Under the Microscope. GE has created an exciting, original profile that appeals just as much to style-conscious follows as it does to techies.

If you don’t think you have a Pinterest-friendly brand, try to think outside the box. Attract your followers through the images that inspire you and your brand’s innovation.

Pinterest is a great visual social platform that is increasingly becoming a powerful source of customers online for store owners.

Visual storytelling is the most popular way to reach your fans right now. Even if you don’t feel like you have the allure that most Pinterest users like remember, it is all about cultivating a body of images that can be used to inspire your followers.

For more ideas on how to make Pinterest the next stage of your marketing campaign, check out ArticulateMarketing.com.

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What Smartwatches Mean for Email Marketing Campaigns

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Both Apple and Samsung have created their own version of a smartwatch that link to a user’s respective smartphone. Users can send text messages, use a variety of smartwatch-enabled apps, and check their email.

While smartphones have brought users conveniences like Google at their fingertips, interactive messaging features, and social media apps on the go, smartwatches are on their way to doing the same thing. No need to pull out your phone when you can check your messages the same way you check the time.

Since their introduction to the market, Apple has sold over 13 million of their Apple watches. As these watches begin to penetrate mobile technology, let’s take a closer look at how that will impact email marketing campaigns.

Smaller interface means a shorter subject line

Email marketers should prioritize short, concise subject lines to make their content quick to read and easy to digest. Research on unique subject lines revealed that three-word subject lines have the highest engagement, but seven-word subject lines are most common.

Word choice is extremely important given you only get a few. When drafting a subject line, stay away from these trigger words that ranked low on engagement rate:

Free, help, reminder—triggers spam filters and users often associate these emails with bombarding, repetitive messages
Tired internet slang such as bae, fleek, ftw—rank low on open rates because they are mistaken for text messages
FWD: and RE: lead to a sense of deceptive familiarity and are reminiscent of chain emails – too long!
Links, hashtags, and graphics could be in trouble

Subject lines accompanied by long URLs and hashtags have less than 10% engagement. URLs and hashtags also take up valuable space in an already small screen.

Email marketers should focus on a strong call-to-action in the email body. Just as the subject line, call-to-action statements should be clear, concise, and to the point.

Without optimizing your emails, images and gifs will either not load or not appear to be the right size on a smartwatch screen. Unless you’ve tested your images and are certain they will function correctly, it’s best to forgo them.

The Apple Watch doesn’t automatically download images when it is opened, so email marketers need to prepare alternative ways to engage with their readers. Include the graphics, but switch to HTML if you haven’t already to take advantage of the tag for email images.

Clean, easy to read emails

As with certain images and graphics, there are email templates that will cause issues for smartwatch users. Most email templates are designed for desktops and laptops with HTML widths of about 600 pixels.

Email templates are often too wide for most smartphones, so it goes without saying how this would taint the viewing experience on a smartphone. These inconsistencies could also prevent horizontal scrolling.

Email marketers should consider that confined space that smartwatches have and adapt their email template to a single column format or plain text. This format is easy-to-read and doesn’t require horizontal scrolling.

Think about the face of a smartwatch and the size of your index finger. If buttons and hyperlinks are too small, there’s a possibility that you could open the wrong thing. It’s not long before a user will close an email in frustration and forget what they were going to click on entirely.

With a strong call-to-action, email marketers should consider designing action buttons that are easily accessible. Buttons should be large, visible, and easy to tap on a smartwatch screen.

Email campaigns will take a little more thinking to reach smartwatch users correctly and effectively. Now that you know how smartwatches will affect your marketing display and open rates, keeping the user experience in mind is crucial.

Your customers read your emails on a variety of devices. Click here for my done-for-you system to learn more strategies about creating a successful email marketing campaign, regardless of the device.

For details on how you can get started with your own online business:

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