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Top 4 Tips to Connect with Your Audience on Social Media

If you are only focusing on business in your social media posts, you’re doing it wrong. The reason it’s called social media is to socialize. If you are at a dinner party, you wouldn’t talk only about work, you share funny stories, jokes, and personal experiences. You might talk to someone about how you know the host, about the food that is being served, or learn something about the people you are talking to. Social media content is not much different than this.

Here are 4 ways to make better connections with your audience on social media:

1)  Cultivate Relationships

Instead of giving a hard sell to your followers all the time, it is essential to create goodwill with them.  Posting things that people can relate to or find humorous is a good way to cultivate these relationships. This creates a sense of personality and makes your online presence appear less robotic.  For example, Miller Lite posted this funny internet meme on their Facebook page.  It’s culturally relevant, funny, and mostly likely would appeal to their target demographic.

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2)  Integrate Relevant Events

Find ways to integrate relevant events into your brand posts. For example, Tide used The Dress Debate to tie in their product to this wildly popular controversy. It’s current, lighthearted, and easy to relate to, which also helps cultivate relationships with your followers. This post ended up having almost 2000 shares, 16,800 likes and almost 800 comments. I’d say they nailed it.

Tide Facebook Image

3)  Create Calls-To-Action

Creating a call-to-action allows your followers to interact with your brand, for example liking a post or sharing a photo. This in turn will enhance your business goals of either purchase or lead generation. Pampers campaign of #PampersFirsts encourages their followers to post photos of their baby’s firsts, from the first time they smiled or had solid food or spoke their first word.

Pampers Tweets

4)  Curated Content

Social Media Examiner proposes that sharing curated content that is relevant to your product or brand will also create goodwill. It shows that the business is not all about them all the time.

Chobani’s Pinterest account is an excellent example of this. Kierra Stein says, “A yogurt brand associated with health living, Chobani caters to its audience with tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They use their Pinterest account to share recipes, workouts, inspirational quotes, ideas for setting up your kitchen and more; and most of these are repins or pins from other sites.”

Chobani Pinterest

 

 

The business side of your work is important, but so is cultivating relationships within your online presence. Applying these tips to your social media posts will give your content the best online personality.

3 Myths About Inbound Marketing

All businesses use their own jargon when discussing internal projects, and it can sometimes be a little confusing. Marketing is definitely not an exception to this rule, and inbound marketing is one of those often confused terms.

Inbound marketing is the creation of quality content that attracts people toward your business or product. “By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic.”  Even with this defined, there are still many people confused about what it means and there are many misconceptions surrounding inbound marketing.  Here are 3 common myths that surround inbound marketing:

Myth 1:  Inbound marketing is a fancy way of saying SEO.

SEO is actually a fundamental part of inbound marketing, but it’s just one part of it. Inbound marketing brings traffic, that traffic turns into leads, which eventually and hopefully, turns into sales.

Inbound-Marketing Graphic

Myth 2:  One person can handle doing all the inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing needs all hands on deck. It really shouldn’t be one person’s responsibility, there are many skill sets needed. It’s SEO, social media, content writing, design, development, strategy, project management, data analysis, business thinking, and audio/video production.

Myth 3:  Inbound marketing is formula driven.

Inbound marketing isn’t a to do list of things to check off:  writing blog posts, tweeting, publishing white papers and Facebook posts, and done! While these things are important, they don’t necessarily need to be done each day or week. Personalizing the content to your audience is the key to successful inbound marketing.

HubSpot agrees that “it’s a commitment to focusing on your customer/client, not you. It’s a focus on creating a business that matters. It’s a decision to be a human business that shows personality.”

At the end of the day, creating a big online presence for your business takes more than just a few clicks of the mouse. Inbound is a mindset. Specific strategies should be developed for this online presence.  Learn more about your consumer first and serve them what they want, and in turn it will help you build up your business’s personality.

 

The Importance of Data Accuracy in Marketing

Data accuracy is a fundamental piece of your marketing strategy. If you don’t have the resources to back up your claims, you might as well be quoting internet memes to your audience.  Here’s a perfect example of this…

“The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.” Abraham Lincoln, 1864

Abraham Lincoln Internet Quote

Finding information that you’ve accumulated bit by bit from the internet and not sourcing it makes the material appear flimsy, and let’s face it, it probably is. Give your consumer the facts and reference it in your marketing pieces.

There are several key parts to having a good data source:

1. Keep Current:  Because data changes frequently, like everything else in our world, it is suggested that using data from the past 1-2 years is best. Some larger data sources such as the Department of Labor update their information annually and sometimes monthly. If you aren’t sure your data is current, be open about it. The graphic below has its source listed in the left-hand corner.

Data Set Graphic

2. Use Reliable Sources:  Hubspot’s Ross Crooks recommends, “Verify that the source you choose is relevant, legitimate, and as unbiased as possible.” Sources from government agencies are solid choices when looking for data. Also, ask yourself a few questions, such as, is the source affiliated with a credible organization? When was the web page last updated? And what is the purpose of the organization providing this data? That last question is a big one. Some sources could have a hidden agenda if you are not careful in checking what their purpose is.

3. Be Original:  Finding data on the internet is pretty easy, but tracking down the original source may not be. However, it’s an important step to take. Why? The secondary source may not have given the whole picture of the data or they didn’t use correct methods to gather the data. Analyzing your data sources will only make your information more trustworthy and consistent.

Here is a short list of reputable data resources:

  • Pew Research: Nonpartisan public opinion polling.
  • Google Finance: Real-time stock market data.
  • Census Bureau: Demographics, geographic information, and education for the U.S. population.
  • Topsy: Social Media trends and Tweet history

Remember, including supportive documentation will not only make your content more valid, it will also give your message a higher impact.

How to Use Color Effectively in Marketing

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. There is a reason why this cliche is true, and this theory is true in life as well as in online marketing.

When your visitors land on your website, they will immediately be greeted with color, large headlines and graphics or photographs. All of these components are important and serve their purposes for one reason or another. What we want to go highlight in this post are the colors you choose for your website. Color gives your audience the first impression of your online business brand.

Without getting too far into color theory, we’ll try to keep it simple.  In short, your website’s color palette can affect how people perceive you and your business. Different emotions are tied to different colors, which can create a different user experience.

The Warm Colors

The colors red, orange and yellow are next to each other on the color wheel and are all considered warm colors.  Warm colors typically evoke feelings of happiness, optimism and energy.

Pinterest uses red as the primary color on it’s website. When users land on Pinterest.com, they are likely looking for some creative inspiration, whether it’s to plan their child’s birthday party, the coming week’s dinner menu, or their next home improvement project. The red logo pops stands out against the white background, and is energetic and happy.

Pinterest Log In Screen

The Cool Colors

Cool colors include green, blue and purple. Cool colors are soothing, but they can also express sadness. Purple is known to spark creativity since it’s a mixture of blue (calm) and red (intense).

Tiny Buddha’s logo is a great example of a brand creating a calm and soothing experience. Take notice that the blue is not a dark blue, which is typically used for corporate logos and websites. The lighter blue that Tiny Buddha uses, softens the sense for the user. It conveys good, calm feelings for the simple wisdom it provides.

Tiny Buddha Logo

The Neutral Colors

Black, gray, white, tan, and brown are known as neutrals. These colors are best used as background colors in design and on websites.  In both of the above examples, white and gray are used as secondary colors throughout the website, allowing the bold logo color to stand out. Neutrals provide an “easy on the eye” space for stories, text, and photographs.

Using certain color schemes will set the tone of your website and can even help site visitors navigate your website. Because color is so critical, it is important that the marketer and designer know their target audience and choose those colors in accordance to these findings.  What colors do you use in your marketing and on your website?

 

Pinterest Interests Explained

If one of your marketing goals is to  improve your visibility and engagement on Pinterest, you should be using the Pinterest interests feature. This feature will help you find niche interests that otherwise wouldn’t be showing up in your feed. Interests are just like other boards that you follow, once you find your desired topic, just click to follow.

How does using interests work for your marketing strategy? Social Media Examiner explains that you’ll gain increased visibility by many interest groups by using the right types of keywords in your pin descriptions, which make your pins repinnable.

You’ll also find new people to follow that are relevant to your business. Profile images are shown on an interest page, and by clicking and researching them, you could find potential new clients who follow an interest related to your business.  Engaging with other pinners has now become a no-brainer. By commenting, repinning and liking pins of relevant content you’ll engage with other people you don’t already follow on Pinterest.

Finding the interests option takes a few steps. Previously, it could be found in the drop down menu in the search bar, but has since been removed.  Currently, the only way to find interests is to find someone who is already following them. Start by clicking on any Pinterest account that is pertinent to your business and locate their following number.

Social Media Examiner Screen Shot

 

Click on that number and a new page will appear. If the pinner has interests, the page will load with the boards it follows. If the account does not have any interest boards, the page will be empty. Once you find a user that has interests, click on the topic that is relevant to your business and a new page will populate with hundreds of pins related to the interest board. You’ll also see the number of followers and additional recommended interests.

Pinterest Interests

 

Increase your pinning power and get more visibility and engagment by using this hidden but extremely useful feature.  Will you utilize this feature in your marketing strategy?  If not, would you say that’s because this feature is difficult to find?  We’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section.

 

Learn How to Create Facebook Video Ads

Facebook video ads can create great opportunities for your business. Video ads give the user a quick overview of what you are marketing through visually and audibly.

Creating a Facebook video ad may sound intimidating, but with Facebook’s easy to use Power Editor and Live Advertising Interface, you’ll be creating audio visual content in no time flat!

Social Media Examiner gives a great tutorial of how to create video advertisements with both Live Advertising Interface and Power Editor.

Creating Video Ads With the Live Interface

The live interface is direct and takes almost no time at all to get your campaign up and running.

  1. Log into your advertising manager and click on Create Ad on the top right hand side of the screen. rab-create-ad
  2. Then, select Get Video Views.rab-get-video-views-ad-option
  3. Facebook prompts you to choose which page you want to use to promote the video.
  4. Next, Set Up the Campaign. Place the campaign name and then select your target audience demographics (location, age, gender), interests and behaviors. Finally, pick your bidding strategy and budget.rab-ad-targeting
  5. Once the campaign is set up, upload your video. The format needs to be .MOV files. Upload file up to 1 GB with a resolution of 720p and the aspect ratio of at least 16:9.
  6. After the video has been successfully uploaded, setup the text and the call to action. This is very important step, you only will be able to set up a landing page if you pick one of the eligible calls to action. The CTA will show up while the video is playing, you won’t see it in the preview.rab-call-to-action

Power Editor How-To

The power editor may seem complicated, but it’s the the most efficient option to create variations of your video for testing purposes.

  1. To begin, go into Facebook Ad Manager and click on Power Editor.rab-power-editor
  2. Download your advertising account in Power Editor before you begin the campaign creation procedure.
  3. First, sort your data by campaign, then, create a new one.
  4. Insert the name of the campaign, the ad buying type and objective. To increase traffic, select Video Views as the objective.rab-create-video-view-campaign
  5. Switch to the ad set view within the Campaign tab and make a new ad set for your video ads.  Ad sets are groups of ad that target a specific group of people. Each target group needs its own ad set. Segment your ad sets, compare the results of the campaigns at the target group level.  Setup the targeting method, budgets, placements and the bidding model at the ad set level, as is now required by Facebook.
  6. Switch from the campaign view to the ad set view in the vertical menu. Select the ad set you just made and then click the Ads tab. Now you can create a new ad.
  7. Name your ad and then customize it.  Select the page you will use to promote it, insert the text, upload the video you want to use and select a CTA to insert your landing page URL.  Here’s how to set up the ideal viewer profile for your video ad.rab-select-facebook-page

The advantage to using the Power Editor is that ad can be created and then duplicated quickly so you can run split tests. You can also duplicate ad sets to target other groups.

If you’re new to videos, this is a great way to do some testing.  The set up is user friendly and video ads can take your marketing to the next level!

6 Tips to Simplify Your Writing

Simplified writing is more enjoyable to read, but actually writing in a simple way can be challenging.  Writing simply doesn’t mean “dumbing it down” for your audience, which can inadvertantly come across patronizing. Simple words can be used to discuss complicated topics. Your writing should be easy to understand, otherwise, it could distract the reader from the topic at hand.

In this post we’ll cover some tips that HubSpot blogs  offers on how to clean up your writing to make it clear, concise, and comprehensible.   Articles that contain lots of technical jargon can really jam up the reader. Different audiences require different levels of simplicity. What a doctor considers simple, a lawyer wouldn’t and vice versa.

Here are 6 tips to simplify your writing:

  1. Write like you speak – when you write like you speak by including personal stories or common phrases, your reader becomes immediately engaged. It’s relatable, and people like to relate to each other!  Hubspot provides this screenshot as an example of writing like you speak.Hubspot example
  2. Tell the reader when you change the subject – when you’re telling a story out loud, you typically say when you are bringing on a new topic. The same applies to your writing. The reader could very well be skimming what is written, so it’s a good idea to explain the transition using a header or even a new paragraph.
  3. Use graphics and visuals – Graphics and visuals that accompany your writing can help clear up complicated information. Plus, many people are visual learners and absorb information easier with visuals than words alone.  Here is an example of a few different types of visuals.  form-label-alignment
  4. Short paragraphs – Paragraphs are visible breaks for your brain. Breaking up an article into smaller segments helps the reader to digest what they have just read. Think of it as taking a deep breath before you start speaking again. The recommended maximum number of sentences per paragraph is six.
  5. Get a proofreader – Have another set of eyes look at your work. Ask them to see if there are any areas that could be simplified or rearranged for simplification.
  6. Remove unnecessary words and shorten sentences – If you don’t need to say it, get rid of it!  This will also help to shorten sentences, which makes the content is easier to digest.

At the end of the day, if you are able to convey your message using clear, concise language, you’re probably winning at writing. Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough.” If he can sum up the equation below with e=mc2, then we have no doubt that with some practice, you can simplify a blog post.

einstein-equations

Top Tips on Optimizing Your Web Pages

If you’re in the marketing biz, you’ve heard of optimizing your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization).  Optimizing your website is the same idea, but in a broader sense.  The user is the main focus of website optimization, they should be able to easily find the home page, the purpose of the website, the blog, and the contact information. This sounds basic, but giving the user the information in a more obvious way will yield better results.

SEO Image

Here are a couple of questions you should ask yourself to get to know your users better:

  1. What is the User searching for?  
    How did they get to your website? Did they Google or get your web address from an email? By considering where they are coming from, you can deliver applicable content.  What are they trying to find out? By keeping the webpage simple and clean, the user won’t be inundated with tons of information that they have to trudge through.
  2. What is the end game for the user?
    This is a critical piece of the puzzle and often many pages overlook it. The CTA (call-to-action) is the most critical piece on your web page. Why is this so important?  Neil Patel of Hubspot says, “Because every shred of knowledge demands some response: A web page imparts knowledge, and that knowledge requires a response.  So, what is it that you want the user to do? This your goal for the user, and it must be clearly and starkly defined as you face the big optimization question.”

Here are some tips on optimizing your web pages:

  • Home Page
    Big headlines – keep the most important information front and center.
    Provide continuity – make the information accessible and easy to understand.
    Have the CTA as large and obvious as possible and make the navigation menu as clear as possible.
  • About Page
    Keep the information you know the user needs before the page break, that way they won’t need to scroll. Also include a CTA so a user feels a deeper engagement.
  • Blog
    Keep your blog organized so that the most popular or most recent  blog posts are the most prominent.
    Include CTA subscription to the blog fields, incorporate them into each individual blog post so that the user can’t miss them.
  • Contact Us Page
    Have the contact information, email addresses, phone numbers, mailing address or directions to the building before the fold on the web page.
    Include obvious CTA items on this page as well, “Call us, we’d love to hear from you!” It makes your business more friendly and accessible.

Finally, here is Patel’s Pro Tip, “Look at your most visited pages, figure out why users are there, give them what they want, and ask them for action in return. Regardless of your most-visited pages or even the nature of your website, you can create more engaged users.”

6 Tips to Make Your Twitter Profile Stand Out

Twitter profiles are a great way to show your audience who you are and what you’re about in a creative way. Do you have a catchy yet captivating profile? Here are some tips to create a relevant profile that will get you noticed.

  • Go Against the Grain – Resist the urge to copy current Twitter profile trends. Check out what your followers have written in their profile and then do the opposite. Reading the same wording that everyone uses is not only boring, but it also may not convey the message you want to give to your followers.
  • Recognize Your Audience – Using the word ‘You’ in your profile makes the reader feel involved in your business. It creates personalization, which in turn makes your followers or potential followers feel welcome. It’s similar to saying hello or goodbye.
  • A Single Word – Less it more, a single word in your profile can show your creative edge while still getting your point across. Twitter Example #1
  • Update Often – Most Twitter users know that an occasional refresh of your profile will keep your followers interested. Renew your Twitter profile with relevant things that are happening in your marketing endeavors or your career.
  • Exaggerate, Playfully – Using an amusing sentiment in your profile attracts readers to want to read more of your tweets. Ellen’s whimsical profile includes, “Comedian, Talk-Show host, and ice road trucker. My tweets are real and they are spectacular.”  The obvious fib is fun and inoffensive to her audience, and it shows her spunky personality.Twitter Example #3
  • Keep It Brief and Use Links – Keeping your profile brief but to the point is a good technique to tell your reader who you are, what you are known for, and also an opportunity to link your website. Hashtags are a unique way to make your profile stand out too. SocialMedia Examiner advises you to, “Choose the most important thing you do; state them in a clear, compelling way.” Twitter Example #2

Being a creative writer can take some finesse. But it’s not all about the wit and the one-liners, it’s about gaining more followers that in turn will be more leads for sales or connections. Don’t let your creativity get you in over your head, use it smartly and often.

 

Reorganizing Your Marketing Strategy for 2015

In years past, the thing to do was to get on as many social media platforms as possible. Or write more blog posts, more twitter posts, more status updates on Facebook. While this technique may seem like a good idea, the quality of your work might be suffering and you’re losing traffic and/or potential traffic. This year, think about what you can trim off your marketing strategy in order to make your business more efficient and effective.

Take a look at your current marketing plan and make some honest decisions on what is actually working for your business and what is not. Then cull out the pieces that aren’t getting your analytics to rise.

Ginny Soskey from Hubspot Blogs writes about 6 things that should be cut from your marketing in order for it to be more effective. I’ve highlighted 4 that will make the most of your marketing.

  1. Real-time marketing – this was cute until it wasn’t. Remember the Oreo cookie ad that was tweeted during the 2013 Superbowl when the power went out?  “It was relevant, it was quick, it was witty, and the general public loved it.  So many marketers thought that real-time marketing was the next big thing,” explains Soskey.  Oreo Superbowl TweetA popular pizza company attempted this technique with the #WhyIStayed (a hashtag that supported domestic violence victims), and ended up insulting a large part of their audience. It was downright insensitive and got a lot of kickback.

    Real-time marketing can be effective, if it is used for pure purposes, and not that of viral ones.

  2. Using Social Networks that aren’t working for you – Did you know that the average B2B marketer promotes their content on six social platforms? Your strategy should reflect that of your consumers. Look at your metrics and see where they are coming from. Spend more quality time on the posts written for those social networks. This could be Facebook or even a niche social platform.

    Soskey offers this pro tip: “If your ultimate goal on social is to generate sales, be sure to investigate the entire funnel before cutting a platform. You may find one network doesn’t generate a ton of traffic but does convert that traffic into leads really well, for example. In cases like that, you probably wouldn’t want to cut the platform — instead, cut time from another platform that isn’t driving many bottom-line results.”

  3. Bad Stock Imagery – No one wants to look at a generic piece of stock imagery that barely even relates to your business. Instagram, Canva and other photography solutions should be put into practice. They are relevant, interesting and usually much more creative than the cliche man in a suit on a street with a pigeon sitting close by on a park bench.
  4. Not Optimizing Conversion Paths for Mobile – Making your call-to-action noticeable and user-friendly is key for mobile marketing. A hard to find or click link for a contest or a giveaway is an automatic out for someone who is using their mobile device.

This new year, trim the fat and start looking at your social strategies and make some positive changes in your techniques.