6 Steps to Build Your Brand Name Using Social Media Marketing

From selling products, to providing a service, to running an online magazine or information site, reaching any kind of success online is dependent on people knowing and respecting who you are. That’s where your brand comes in.

The likelihood of closing a sale or creating a consumer rests in your brand’s authority – and there’s no better way to build that name than through social media marketing. In fact according to the Pew Research Center 52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites, so the potential for generating traffic to your business cannot be overlooked.

If you want to build your brand using social media, here are 6 important steps:

The Right Platforms with the Right Name

One of the key elements of branding is consistency, so if your website is called Widgets R US, but your Twitter handle is Widget Man people are going to be confused by your brand. Furthermore certain social media platforms are more fitting for certain businesses than others. Pinterest for example is great for online stores because you can share photos of products with a direct link back to the product page. You should however always maintain a Facebook and Twitter account because these are by far the most used social media platforms.

Social Media Marketing

Define Your Brand

What’s good about social media is it forces you to describe your business in only a few characters on your profile pages. But don’t waste these lines with something generic. This may be the first thing a future customer will learn about your business, so you need to be able to define your whole brand in an striking and clear manner.

Formulate a Strategy or Hire a Professional

Nobody should go in to a new marketing campaign blind. It is important to know your goals, formulate a strategy to reach them, and have a mechanism for measuring success. Hiring a professional internet marketing company to handle your social media presence is a wise way to ensure you’re doing it right. But there are still some basic principals that everyone should understand.

Interesting and Shareable Content

Social media marketing is not just about linking to your products or making press releases, posts need to be interesting enough that your followers will want to engage and share them with others. This will increase your brand image and exposure. Of course this is easier said than done, but a link to the “Top 10 Cleaning Tips for Busy People” will draw more of a response than a link to your vacuum cleaner sales page. You need to find the right balance between hard-selling and community engagement.

Promote Your Accounts

Even though you’re using social media to market your business you should also use your business to market your social media accounts. With every sale, email, offline letter, or interaction, you should make note of your profile names or links. This marketing loop will keep your brand in customers’ minds.

Leadership

If you want brand authority, you should demonstrate authority and leadership in your posts, and if you’re in the right niche you should be an expert anyway. For example if your market is hiking equipment, you should be able to post in an informed and critical manner regarding the latest hiking news, and be ready to offer detailed answers to people’s questions about hiking and hiking products. If your competitors (or worse your customers) are more knowledgeable than you, they’re not going to want to spend money at your store.

5 Best Ways to Attract Customers to Your Business

Any business owner knows that the more people you get to visit your store or browse your website, the more likely you are to make sales. However attracting customers to begin with can be a difficult task.

Despite the changes in marketing over the past 10 years, especially with the increasing use of the internet, there is still one core business principal that remains… the service:

The Service

No amount of marketing is going to pay off in the long run if your service or product is simply not that good. Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful tools at your disposal, and the only way to get people talking positively about your business is to make sure your current customers have the best possible experience.

Attract Customers

In the online realm this involves promptly answering email or social media queries, following up to see if the customer is still satisfied, offering continued support and perhaps even coupons and discounts for being loyal. The rest is just common sense… meet deadlines, dispatch products quickly, have a simple returns or refund policy etc.

Here are 4 other methods to attract customers to your business in 2016.

Less Hard Sell

In 2016 the one thing the public can’t stand is being sold something. So where does this leave small businesses? The truth is people still want to buy products and use services, they just want to be reassured that a real person is behind the business and are being honest. This means you should cut down on your sales-speak and engage your customers/potential customers like a community. This is especially true on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The difference between somebody buying from you or the competition may come down to whether they like your personality in a post.

Be Active Online

Some people think that signing up to all of the big social media platforms and making a few posts is enough to attract customers. However to attract customers consistently you need to post regularly, keep your site updated, and share information not even directly related to your business but that your customers will find interesting. One of the reasons many people get lazy with their online presence is because they already have day to day commitments in other areas of the business. A good way to get over this hurdle is to hire a professional internet marketing company to handle all of your accounts.

Search Engine Optimization

Whether your business is online-only or you have a site that serves as a marketing tool itself, the only way it will take off is if people can find it. One of the primary drivers of online traffic is search engines, so it is important to optimize your site for relevant keywords so it will show up high in search results. It also needs to have quality content that real people would want to read and will find valuable.

Special Offers

One method that has been attracting customers since the dawn of business is the special offer. Call it a psychological trick or a thank you, but temporarily knocking down your prices, offering an extra gift, or running a rewards program, is always a good way to get people to take notice. In the age of social media you can also think outside the box.

How about the following idea?

“Tweet an image of yourself inside our store and get 10% off your purchase”

The customer gets a discount and promotes your business at the same time. What other unique promotional methods can you think of?

How Do You Get the Maximum Return on Your Advertising Budget

Every business needs to allocate a budget for advertising, no matter how small its operations. If people don’t know about it, how will it ever be successful?

However throwing all of your budget at the first form of advertising that comes along is a quick way to waste money. A successful advertising campaign is one that is able to make a measurable return on the investment. In other words the amount you spend on the campaign is made back through the sales it generates.

Getting the maximum return on your advertising budget is not a perfected science, but there are a number of ways to ensure you’re on the right track.

Gather Data

If you’re going to measure and analyse your return you have to have some data to work with. For example if you took out a traditional print ad in a newspaper or magazine you should be made aware of the publication’s circulation (amount of readers). If you include a unique coupon or some other offer with your ad, you will be able to directly measure the number of responses and therefore track the revenue generated.

Megaphones

This process is much easier with online advertising because you can track the referrer of every visit to your site, whether that be from Google search, a link from another site, or an online advertisement.

Target Your Audience

An advertising budget is wasted if you aren’t targeting the people that will most likely want your product or use your service. Before the internet this was often a difficult task. The closest option to true targeting was to take out ads in a trade journal or cross promote with a related business. Sometimes it was just luck, target locally and hope somebody takes an interest.

With platforms like Google AdWords targeting your audience couldn’t be easier. Your ad is shown alongside Google search results only when somebody searches for the keywords you designate. This means if you’re selling Custom T-Shirts you can make sure that only people searching for “Buy Custom T-Shirts” see your ad. This makes it more likely that they’ll click through and you’ll make a sale, and your budget is not wasted.

Test and Refine

If you’ve targeted your audience and gathered the data, it’s now time to analyze the results and see where you can improve. Using AdWords as an example, testing several different keywords and keeping the ones that convert the best is a great way to get the maximum return on your budget. To do this efficiently you’ll also need to track conversions, which means monitoring whether a user sent via an ad actually makes a purchase.

Variety

Using one source of advertising even if it works will only take you so far. It’s important to use a combination of offline and online methods, that latter which might include Search Engine Optimization, social media, as well as advertising platforms like Google AdWords or Facebook Ads.

Hire a Professional

Using some of your advertising budget to hire a professional internet marketing company to handle your online advertising will ensure that your campaigns run smoothly and all of the technical details are taken care of. You will know your general target audience, what you want to promote, and some keyword ideas, but they’ll have the experience to put it all in to action and refine your campaigns for continual success.

Doing Social Media Marketing the Right Way

At this stage every business knows that they need to have a social media presence, but simply opening up accounts on all the major platforms is not going to result in instant success. In order to reap the benefits of social media for marketing it has to done the right way.

Here are 5 things all business owners should know in order to use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to market their brand effectively:

Regular Activity

You can’t just open a few accounts and expect the traffic to your website to skyrocket. Social media success is all about actively engaging your current and future customers. While there’s no hard rule about how often you should make new social media posts, you should never leave your followers wondering where you are. If you’re not active on social media they’ll either think your business is also no longer active, or that you don’t care about them. Posting regularly lets your followers know you mean business and will directly increase your chances of making a sale. Activity is also the way to build more followers. Everybody starts at zero and if you barely post it’s going to stay at zero.

Social Media Marketing

Maintain Brand Identity

One of the key elements of building a successful brand is consistency. You don’t see Coca Cola use one logo for Twitter, another Facebook, and then another on their product labels. Everything about them is instantly recognizable. No matter how small your business you need to follow a similar approach. Your profile pictures and avatars, and you overall message should be consistent across all of your social media accounts.

Always Engage with Users

If you don’t interact with your fans/followers you’re not doing social media marketing the right way. One of the core reasons to use such platforms is to build a relationship and start a dialogue. That means promptly answering their questions and being friendly when they respond to posts. The fact that they want to interact shows that they’re interested in your business, so shutting the door in their face by not responding is the worst thing you can do. This is especially important when it comes to customer service questions, and could mean the difference between making a sale and losing a customer to the competition.

Not all Social Media is the Same

A common mistake made by those new to social media is to copy the exact same post across every single different platform. While this may work in some instances, each service has their own way of doing things. For example Instagram is all about images, the captions are secondary. Whereas Twitter is more about what you write. You may write the same things on Twitter and Facebook, but sometimes hash tags just don’t suit a Facebook status update and can even turn users off who can see that you’re using a tool. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of each platform and use them to your advantage.

Act Like a Real Human

Some of the most successful business driven social media accounts are the ones that replace the corporate spiel with friendly human dialogue. In 2015 consumers are tired of suits and ties, jargon, and company’s trying to hard sell. Sure let them know about new offers, your latest products, and other business information, but in-between you also need to by witty, entertaining, and up to speed with popular culture. There’s no reason why you can’t chime in on a popular sports game or the latest celebrity controversy. If you can wrap your business information in to something entertaining then you can’t fail.

Facts about Brands that’ll Make Your Hair Stand on End

It’s all good having a killer product or awesome service, but without a brand to back it up you can only go so far. But what is a brand?

A brand is the unique name and image that you cultivate around your business. You’re not a store that sells shoes, you’re “Skyrocket Shoes” providing “the best priced shoes in the whole universe.”

Ok, maybe your brand won’t be so cheesy but it’s important to differentiate yourself from other similar businesses, even if the only real difference is your brand name, logo and tagline. Over the years customers will grow to trust your brand and if you’ve marketed it successfully, the brand should become instantly recognizable. There are hundreds of cola drinks, but everybody knows Coca Cola right? Part of that is its taste, but a huge factor is their success in branding.

In 2015 one of the most important factors in building your brand is the internet. If you don’t Brandshave a professional and easy to use website, a strong and active social media presence, and aren’t making use of targeted online advertising, your brand awareness will be much less than the competition.

An experienced internet marketing company can handle your online brand for you so you can focus on other areas of your business. They will optimize your site for search engines so your brand is more prominent in the search results, engage existing and potential customers on social media to build awareness and loyalty for your brand, and manage advertising campaigns like Google AdWords to bring you direct traffic and sales.

If you want to achieve your business goals, here are some facts about brands that speak for themselves:

Without a Brand Customers Won’t Return

No matter what type of business you run, without consistent branding you are not going to be memorable to customers. This ranges from literally sticking your brand logo on your products, to engaging customers online. Without a brand they’ll forget who you are and won’t return, and they certainly won’t be telling their friends about you.

Social Media Works

According to the Altimer Group the average large brand has 178 social media accounts! This might not be feasible for you, but as long as you have a presence on platforms like Facebook and Twitter you’re on the right track. Social media allows you to interact and build a relationship with customers. Over time this could grow in to a thriving community. Not everything you post should be about your products or services, but everything you post will help improve your brand image and awareness.

Brands are Built by Happy Customers

A positive brand image is created by customers after they’ve had a positive experience. This means your customer service and products has to be top notch. According to a 2011 Customer Experience Improvement study, 89% of Consumers go to a competitor after a poor customer experience. So treat them right, engage their queries on social media, and they will promote your business for you (Don’t forget to use their testimonials on your site).

Call in the Experts

The majority of business and website owners that attempt to build their brand online and do their own internet marketing will never put 100% effort it. This is why it’s important to hire an internet marketing company who have the expertise and cutting edge tools to do it for you. This is their job, and they can put 100% in while your effort is focused on the other core aspects of your business.

Why You Need more than Good Content for Internet Marketing

The core of any website and online business is good content. You have to have pages that people genuinely want to view and that search engines see as high quality. There are no tricks, you can’t fool people in to thinking you have good content. If they don’t like it they won’t come. If you fall at this first hurdle you are not going to get any hits or sales.

What constitutes good content will vary from site to site, but it needs to be informative, truthful, engaging, and detailed enough for its purpose. If you were selling shoes for example nobody is going to get any value from a generic article about shoes, or a blank sales page. But if you had a detailed analysis of what makes a good running shoe, examining the different brands and features, why some are better than others, and you backed up your claims with citations – real people and Google are going to be glad they found the page.

However in today’s online world, simply having good content is not going to make your website a success. You need to know how to optimize the content and market it effectively. This is where a professional internet marketing company can help.

They will have all of the technical knowledge required to get your content visible to search Internet Marketing Specialistengines, to effectively market it to your audience via social media, and to manage ad campaigns so that your budget is never wasted.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

You may have the single greatest article on the internet but unless Google is aware, it’s not going to matter. An expert will know how to fine tune your content for targetable keywords, how to code the page with technical elements like headings and image tags, and various other methods so it has the best possible chance at ranking high in Google search and bringing you more traffic.

Social Media Marketing

Likewise you may have a great product or page that’s worth promoting, but simply pasting a link on social media is not going to entice people to click it. There are certain methods and techniques to make content stand out. You also need to engage with followers and build trust, instead of going directly for the hard sell. This takes time and skill regardless of how good the content is.

PPC Campaigns

Online ad campaigns can be very effective (like AdWords), especially when you have good quality content on the landing page. But you need to understand the technical side of these platforms, which are often overwhelming for beginners. You need to know how to target users, how to build a good Quality Score, and how to interpret the data and alter the campaigns accordingly every day. This can only be achieved through experience.

Conclusion

High quality unique content is fundamental in building your brand and achieving your goals. However hiring a professional internet marketing company ensures that you’re making the most out of that content, by utilizing their years of technical online experience.

How Google’s New Mobile-friendly Search Results will Impact Your Website

Google rolled out its new mobile-friendly algorithm on April 21st, 2015, with the aim of improving the web for mobile users. To that end, sites that are compliant with their new mobile friendly best practises have been given a boost in the search results over websites that are not very accessible on mobile devices.

For example a page coded for a large screen may end up being outranked by a site that is easily viewable on the screen of an iPhone.

To fully understand how this may impact your business Web Marketing Army answers your questions:

1) Are mobile rankings separate from desktop rankings?

Yes, the default search results shown toGoogle Mobile-friendly Update users of mobile devices are different from those shown to desktop users. This means the changes to the algorithm will only impact your site’s position in the search results of the mobile version. If somebody searches your keyword on their PC, your site will still be in the same position. If your site is already optimized for mobile devices it may have jumped up the mobile search rankings already.

2) Does this impact each page individually or my entire website?

Each individual page is taken in to account, meaning if one page from your site is optimized well for mobile devices it will rank well in mobile search, but if another page isn’t it will rank better on desktop search.

3) How can I tell if my pages are optimized for mobile?

It is now easy to see whether your site’s pages are considered mobile-friendly by accessing the “Mobile-Friendly Test” from your Google Webmaster Tools account. You can run this test page by page or view an overall Mobile Usability report for your entire website. This is dependent on the last time the site was indexed. The report will list the number of pages with errors and what they are. For example, the font size being too small, or the use of flash content which mobile browsers can’t read. If you go through this list and make changes accordingly, your site should become more mobile-friendly in Google’s eyes.

4. If I have yet to make mobile-friendly changes to my site how long does it take for them to be recognized once I do?

Unlike standard Google search updates mobile-friendly rankings are determined every time your page is crawled and indexed. Meaning if you make changes to your pages to make them more mobile-friendly today and Google crawls them tomorrow, it will recognize those pages right away. If Google tends to crawl your site slowly you can speed the process up in Webmaster Tools by using the “Fetch as Google” and “Submit to Index” features, for each URL you have updated. To do this in bulk you can simply resubmit your sitemap, which might already be setup automatically anyway.

5. How quickly are the new mobile search results finalized? When will I notice changes in traffic following April 21st?

April 21st is the initial roll out date, but the mobile search rankings will not be finalized for another week or so as Google continues to crawl the web and find mobile friendly pages. You won’t notice significant traffic changes until Google crawls your site and other sites in your niche.

Conclusion

Since mobile devices are now a very common method for browsing the internet it is important for you to follow Google’s guidelines and make your site more mobile-friendly. Failure to do so may cause you to lose traffic and sales.

Don’t Hold Back on Your Social Media Marketing

Social Media has grown to be an integral part of the internet. In fact according to the Pew Research Center, 71% of American adults are active on Facebook. This is similar across the world. Furthermore data suggests that in terms of traffic, social media is now neck and neck with traditional search engines in the amount of people they send to websites. In other words somebody is just as likely to click a link on their Facebook wall, as they are to go on Google and search for something.

If you own a website or online business this data cannot be ignored. There should be no holding back on your social media marketing strategy. Now’s the time to get the ball rolling.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits and advantages of using social media to market your business online.

More Exposure

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that connecting with people via social media will give you business more exposure. This brand recognition is invaluable in the internet age, and allows you to reach potential customers who may have never stumbled on to your business through other channels. Even if they don’t engage right away, seeing your presence multiple times and on multiple social media platforms keeps you in the back of their mind.

Build Loyalty

This also applies to existing customers. If they regularly see your social media presence and have had a good experience with you in the past, you’re going to build a trusted relationship.

Direct Sales

Whenever you link to your site on social media (even if it’s not a direct link to a product or service) you increase the odds of making a sale, by getting the user through the door. Of course not every engagement is going to lead to a sale, but it could build a relationship that will result in a sale at a later date.

Relationship Building

Social Media Marketing

Social media is not just about building brand loyalty in a passive sense. While people simply observing your links and posts gives you more exposure, it is also important to interact directly with these users. Allowing them to Tweet and message you directly, or running interactive offers and competitions, or simply asking their opinions, all helps build a close relationship. They will view you as genuine and accessible, which in turn builds loyalty and trust in your brand.

More Efficient than Traditional Methods

Traditional marketing methods like newspaper adverts or handing out flyers, can be long and tedious methods, that do not always convert. A Tweet or Facebook post however can be done in a matter of seconds, and has the potential to be shared to thousands of people at no direct cost. Traditional methods can be very expensive.

Customer Insights

Because you can track the success of social media campaigns, by measuring things like comments or re-tweets, as well as the number of hits coming through to your site, you can learn all sorts of valuable insights in to your customers. This will give you a better understanding of what they respond to and what doesn’t work.

Conclusion

While social media certainly shouldn’t be your sole marketing method, it makes up a huge chunk of online activity and is a great way to reach your customers. Hiring a professional internet marketing company to manage your social media accounts, will not only ensure you’re making the right kind of postings, but will also free up time so you can focus on other aspects of your business.

Email Marketing Myths in Sri Lanka

If you want to reach potential customers or build business relationships with important people, one option is to use email marketing. However unless this is done in an ethical and targeted manner, the results may be completely ineffectual.

In Sri Lanka sending out unsolicited emails in bulk has traditionally been a common marketing method. The marketer would gather a list of addresses, or worse purchase a whole database, and then blast out poorly worded proposals and offers.

While this method is still used today, there are a number of reasons why it’s inefficient and smart businesses have moved on to other strategies.

It Can be a Scam

You should never blindly trust somebody claiming to have a database of email addresses, including company CEOs and interested customers. These lists are often outdated and the recipients have moved on or even closed their email accounts. In some cases the list may be totally made up, or the addresses just gathered at random. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Do not waste your marketing budget on lists of thousands of email addresses you’ve never checked yourself.

Untargeted

Unless you build your own list of email addresses, how do you know any of the recipients are Email Marketingremotely interested in your services or products? The fact that these are sold to many different people, over and over again, suggests they are completely random and not based on any specific demographics. One of the key principals of marketing is targeting your audience, why send something to somebody who is unlikely to respond?

Little Interest

In recent years various tests have been done on these kinds of email lists and it’s been proven that they simply don’t work. Tracking the incoming hits reveals that a blast of hundreds of thousands of these email addresses, results in less than 0.01% responses. We’re talking only a few dozen hits! It’s simply not worth it.

It’s Spam

Part of the lack of interest will be down to the poor quality of the lists, but there’s also the fact that email providers are now smart enough to recognize spam and will send your message straight to the spam folder. The recipient may therefore never even know you sent them an email in the first place. Even if it does get through they may simply send it to the spam folder themselves. Ask yourself, how many unsolicited emails do you actually respond to? If the answer is “not many” or “none,” why would this method work for you? If anything it will give your brand a negative image.

How to Do Proper Email Marketing in Sri Lanka

If you want to forge relationships with other business owners in Sri Lanka, you have to do it in a professional manner. Seek out the person directly and send one single email, or send them a regular letter, or give them a phone call.

If you want to market your products or services to potential customers, email marketing needs to be targeted and “opt in.” This would involve using your website or social media presence to prompt people to sign up to your “newsletter” or something similar. This means they are genuinely interested in what you have to offer, and because they opted in, your emails will generally not go to their spam folder.

A professional internet marketing company will be able to implement effective email marketing as part of their wider strategy, which may also include social media management, search engine optimization, and advertising campaigns. They will have the expertise and required tools to bring real results!

How Paid Search Can Keep You out of Trouble

As a business with a website your primary goal is getting as much genuine traffic as possible that converts in to sales. By genuine we mean real people who have shown an interest in what you have to offer. It’s surprising how many new website owners fall for the trap of buying traffic, without even knowing the source. These cheap packages are usually fake bot generated hits, or worthless hits from expired domains.

One of the most lucrative sources of real traffic is from search engines. This can fall under paid search or organic search. Paid search is particularly beneficial if you need traffic and sales right away.

What is Organic Search?

Organic search has traditionally been the core driver of traffic on the internet. The likes of Google crawl the web, indexing pages and ranking them for search terms, based on the content and a range of other factors.

In order to have success with organic search your site needs to have been established for several months and contain a moderate amount of content. Gradually searchers will stumble on to a page when Google believes it to be one of the most relevant pages for search terms.

While generally this is an automatic process when you launch a website, to rank highly for competitive search terms it is important to implement a search engine optimization strategy, which can be accomplished by hiring a professional internet marketing company.

What is Paid Search?

Google and other search engines also offer premium ad positions alongside regular search results that advertisers bid on.

Paid Search

Perhaps the best thing about this is that it’s always there as a backup in case you run in to trouble with organic search or other methods of generating traffic. Once a campaign is up and running the hits will be instant, so there’s no waiting around to see the payoff.

You can also target specific geographical locations, which is especially beneficial if you only serve a local area.

Though there are certain quality guidelines, paid search is not driven by the content of your pages, but rather how much you are willing to spend. This means you can be on the first page of results straight away (though paid results are distinguishable for organic results).

For example if you had a website selling health foods, you might bid on the search term “Acai Berries” Depending on your budget your ad will then be featured in a number of prominent spots on the first page, alongside regular search results for that term.

Data suggests that paid search ads are clicked more frequently when the search term displays “high commercial intent” meaning the searcher is ready to buy a product and has searched a term like “Buy Acai Berry”

If you’ve only just launched a website you may decide to use paid search to get an initial flow of traffic while your content is still being indexed and ranked. This is also practical if you don’t actually have much content at all.

Also if after several months or even years you’re not getting the organic search rankings you’d hoped for, you might turn to paid search to gain that extra exposure.

In normal circumstances paid search should only be one factor in your overall strategy. A professional internet marketing company will help you balance paid search, with SEO, social media management, and other forms of paid advertising. However if you are having trouble generating traffic, paid search brings immediate results.