GUEST BLOGGER: 5 Ways to Increase Social Media Engagement

Brands of all shapes and sizes are hung up on making waves in social media.

In such an overcrowded landscape, piercing through the noise and reaching your audience is a daunting task. Well, be that as it may, there are surefire strategies to make it happen. Instead of bombarding people with intrusive marketing and sale pitches, you need to foster meaningful relationships.

Furthermore, it is necessary to invest a great deal of time and effort in getting to know your audience, working out a marketing strategy, and implementing campaigns. But, do not fret. All your blood, sweat, and tears will be a drop in the bucket compared to amazing benefits that wait down the road.

Uncover your unique persona

To drive traffic and conversions, you need to flesh out a unique social media persona. It should be the genuine reflection of who you are (your brand) and what you stand for (your values and mission). Brands like Dollar Shave Club have proven that throwing fun and humor in the mix pays off big time.

The trick is to avoid sounding too promotional. People want to feel something and connect to your story. The best way to influence them is to evoke emotions and provide entertaining, educational and useful pieces of content. Just try to be unique rather than emulating more successful brands. Standing out is the most reliable tactic you can employ.

Embrace a consumer-centric interaction

Social media is the place of constant interaction between brands and customers. It is a far cry from traditional platforms for self-promotion. Alas, one common mistake businesses make is not listening to their audiences. You should know better. Conduct a thorough research to figure out people’s wants, needs, and online habits. Show that you care about what they think.

Take part in conversations on a regular basis and ask users what they would like to see in the future. Comments and reviews can provide you with invaluable insights for fine-tuning your social media strategy. You can also direct followers to your review pages and engage them in instant messaging. In any event, soak in as much feedback as you humanly can.

Host contests

People adore getting free stuff. You can take advantage of this fact and sponsor various giveaways. For instance, you can ask your followers to share and like your social media posts, comment and tag their friends or you can encourage them to submit their own pictures and videos in order to qualify for rewards. These tactics tend to increase the volume of social signals and engagement rates (and you can also end up with a lot of awesome user-generated content).

Moreover, an online contest does not only have to be a strategy for increasing social media engagement but it can also serve as an incentive for your customers to spend money. A great way to achieve this is to launch a loyalty program. For example, research done by ICLP shows that 41% of Hong Kong shoppers would spend more on brands with a loyalty program. So, something like a branded prepaid card in Hong Kong could be a perfect gift for your contest – it generates buzz on social media and also helps you boost sales.

Harness the power of the visual  

Visual content is a social media super-weapon you have to incorporate in your strategy. Studies have shown that posts with quality, non-generic images and videos attract way more likes and shares than plain text. Many brands have managed to increase engagement with assets like behind-the-scenes photos and lighthearted videos.

Of course, there are also image-heavy networks like Pinterest and Instagram, where visuals are basically the name of the game. They provide filters and tools for visual enhancement as well. So, step up content production.  It is time to craft killer posts, master the art of visual storytelling, and enthrall the audience.

Add relevant hashtags

Hashtags are essential tools for improving reach and amplifying the impact of your efforts. They enable you to make the most of keywords and keeping close tabs on the flow of discussion. What is more, hashtags can be used to center conversations on certain trending topics, effectively connecting with everyone who uses the same hashtags.

Try not to go overboard, though. Over-stuffing posts with hashtags can achieve the opposite effect and actually put people off. To tap into new audiences and delight existing customers, take lessons from the best of the best. Coca-Cola, for example, has worked wonders with the #ShareACoke on Instagram and other major networks. That is how you nail the campaign and flatten the competition.

Shape up or ship out

Social media can be a real game-changer. It generates buzz around your business and propels the whole organization towards set objectives. But, rest assured that arresting and retaining attention does not come easy. You first have to come up with a rock-solid game plan and do your homework. Capture consumer data and feedback to refine your approach.

The goal is to make sure your messages and content strike a chord with an audience of a particular social network. Following these steps, you should be able to witness the avalanche of shares and likes coming your way. Just bear in mind that social media engagement is an ongoing process that never really comes to a halt.

So, whatever you do, just do not rest on the laurels or take loyalty for granted.

Elaine Bennett
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GUEST BLOGGER: 5 Methods to Power-up your Business through Behavioral Marketing By Kimberly Maceda

Imagine that you’re walking on the men’s section of a department store looking for a new suit to buy. Then, one attendant suddenly offers you a baby diaper on sale. How likely are you to grab that offer, very unlikely, right? You’ll most probably even be bewildered by the offer.

The situation above is comparative to digital ads that are not targeted correctly. But with behavioral marketing using  email marketing automation software, you won’t be giving content which is out of place. Instead, you will be providing product suggestions, promotions, and contents that are appropriately based on the users’ behavior. As an example, with the situation above, a proper offer will be ‘tips on choosing a great fitting suit’ or a coupon code.

Behavioral marketing gathers information using surfing and searches data, IPs and cookies. This collection of data is used to create an exhaustive user profile, and then the marketing content is could be perfectly tailored.

If done right, behavior-targeting could boost email open rates by 56.68%, and it will ultimately lead to a boost in your sales. Amazon, for example, uses behavior data for their recommendation algorithm; which drives 35% of their revenue.

Here Are a Few Behavioral Marketing Strategies You Must Implement

  1. Use transaction history to recommend products

As mentioned above, recommendation drives a lot of profit for the biggest e-commerce companies today by using upselling and cross-selling techniques.

Cross-selling is offering products that complement the original item. For example, you can cross-sell a tripod to a customer who bought a camera or socks for a user that ordered shoes. By showing what the consumer needs at the right time, you increase your chance to get higher revenue.

On the other hand, upselling is providing a better version of the item your client is currently interested in. Upsell examples can include a version upgrade, customization, and an extended service period.

Both upselling and cross-selling are great for increasing your profit. But you don’t have to choose between the two. Always use them simultaneously. Using behavioral data, your upsells and cross-sells will can be on point.

  1. Monitor your visitor’s action using URL tracking

URL tracking is one way to assess and recalibrate your marketing techniques. If you know what visitors are exactly clicking on before making a sale, you can allocate your resources effectively. It also allows you to remove unnecessary links on your website.

Using this technique, you can arrange marketing campaigns to boost referrals. A unique link is spread across different platforms on the web; ads, social forums, blogs, emails, or socials media. The links are then tracked to see the quality and quantity of traffic from all sources.

Every time a visitor clicks on the link, he or she will be redirected to your destination page. Data about the source and location are then collected.

  1. Use online behavior to provide personalized content

The competition for a viewer’s attention can be won through personalization. But you can’t possibly personalize if you do not know your audience. Aside from transaction history as mentioned in number one, there are other online behaviors you can monitor. For your email subscribers, you can track what content they are opening, when, and for how long.

Though conversion is the end goal of marketing, it isn’t all about sales. You need to establish trust and build relationships. To do this, you must provide valuable content in different forms. The content will resonate most with your users if you personalize them using online behavior data.

  1. Implement retargeting to increase sales

Statistically, only 2% of users convert at their first visit. So are you going to let those 98% slip through your fingers? Fortunately, you don’t have to. You can use retargeting also known as remarketing to reach out to the viewers who have expressed interest in your product but they might not be ready yet.

This technique is a cookie-based technology which places a pixel on your site. Each time someone visits your website, the pixel leaves an unnamed browser cookie. When the user leaves your site, the retargeting provider will serve ads related to the content or product you have been browsing. Retargeting works effectively and efficiently because you will only spend on viewers who have already exhibited interest in your brand.

  1. Send offers guided by demographic data

Demographic data is basic but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Demographic data is a crucial indicator of someone’s behavior, needs, and interests. This includes gender, location, age, ethnicity, and marital status.

With demographic targeting, you can reach a specific group with shared characteristics. It prevents wasted impressions. For example, if you have an e-commerce shop with assorted products, you will show products according to gender stereotypes and social conventions (man’s or woman’s wear). In today’s PC era, it might seem inappropriate but it does boost sales.

Conclusion

Behavioral marketing is a sophisticated way to market your business online. You can leverage behavioral marketing by using transaction history, URL tracking, providing personalized content, retargeting, and sending offers based on demographic data.

Stop wasting your marketing resources with generic ads and content. You have all the tools you need like email marketing automation software and other behavioral marketing tools to drive your business to the next level.  

 

Author Bio:

Kimberly Maceda is a Content Writer for ActiveTrail. She writes for some top online marketing sites and blogging advice on email marketing and marketing automation. Activetrail is a leading provider of professional-grade email marketing and automation software for growing businesses.

 

GUEST BLOG: How to Develop Your Personal Brand

Making the choice to start your own business will likely be the best decision of your life. The freedom and flexibility of working on your own, combined with the earning potential and sense of self-satisfaction, make entrepreneurship very attractive to many people.

But things are a little easier said than done. Competition is fierce, especially online. Every minute of every day, people are exposed to countless emails, advertisements and social media posts. It’s easy to get lost in the crowd. Your best defense is your brand.

Your brand is your identity, and a strong one will help you stand out. It also facilitates a connection between you and your customers that can improve loyalty and engagement. And it makes your company more valuable, which will become relevant if you ever decide to sell your business. Developing a brand, though, requires a focused, dedicated approach. Here’s how you can build yours.

Highlight What Makes You Unique

The first step is to determine what kind of brand you want to be. And one of the keys to a strong brand is authenticity. If you try to be something you are not, your customers will see right through you. This can have a really negative effect on the image of you and your company. You’ll come off as phony or insincere, which will really damage people’s perceptions of you.

So, to begin building your brand, start focusing on what you do that’s unique to you. What makes your company different or special? If you’re not sure, then you likely haven’t thought about it hard enough. Everyone is unique. It’s just a matter of figuring out how and highlighting it.

To help give you some ideas, research your competition. Successful businesses in your field will likely have already done this exercise, so it should be easy to figure out what they consider to be their competitive edge. Go through each one and figure out what makes you different from them. And after you’ve done this, you should be able to devise a list of the different things that separate you from your completion.

Know Your Audience

Whether their conscious of it or not, people expect things from the companies with which they do business. It’s important you be sensitive to these expectations so that you can develop a brand strategy that will resonate with your target audience.

There’s no one way to do this, though. The best strategy is to conduct surveys and focus groups about your target audience. But these can be costly, and if you’re not careful about how you design your studies, then they can produce unreliable results.

Ideal Customer exercises and Customer Journey maps are useful ways of understanding what your audience is looking for in the brands with which they engage. These activities involve you creating fictitious audience members and thinking through how they live their lives to determine their values, beliefs, pain points and expectations. Here’s a great resource for helping you do this exercise effectively.

Another option is to simply test things out. Try out some branding messages and see what happens to engagement. If you’re not getting the response you want, then try something new. While this will take a little longer, it will help you hone your messaging to meet audience expectations, enhancing its effectiveness.

Concise Communication

Once you determine the essence of your brand—that which makes you unique—it’s time to start crafting your messaging. The key here is to be as clear as possible. The more words you have to use to describe your brand, the harder it will be for people to understand you, and this will hurt your chances at making a connection with them.

Think about some of the world’s most successful brands. For example, Nike, which uses the slogan, “Just Do It.” They have been using these words to describe their brand for as long as any of us can remember, and they’re perfect because they quickly and clearly communicate Nike’s brand identity. When we hear these words, we think of perseverance, drive and dedication, as well as hard work. And this is exactly how Nike wants us to perceive the company.

You won’t be able to catch-up with Nike right away—they spend other-worldly amounts of money on branding—but you can certainly mimic their approach. Work to determine a slogan or description that captures the essence of your brand, using as few words as possible. Images are also helpful, and make sure the colors you use on your site and other communications also reflect your brand identity. Remember, the slogan alone isn’t going to establish your brand, but confusing your audience can have disastrous effects.

Be Consistent

As you start to market your brand, consistency will be key. You can never know for sure when or where someone will come into contact with your brand. As such, ensure every piece of content you create accurately reflects the brand you want to promote.

And this goes for social media, too. You can’t be posting about things that are completely irrelevant to your brand, even if they’re attracting shares and likes. The exposure is enticing, but you’ll be sending mixed messages about your brand identity, making it harder to build the so-desired connection with your target audience.

Consider drawing up some brand guidelines to help you stay on message across your different platforms. These will outline the types of content you will publish, and they will also help you stay consistent with how you present your messages, something that is also very important for effective brand management. This will also be helpful should you decide to outsource some of your content creation.

Start Building Your Brand Today

A strong brand will give your company a significant competitive edge. It’ll work like a magnet that draws your target market towards you, and it’s also something people can connect to, which will help develop loyalty to your brand. Follow the steps outlined here so that you can start building a strong personal brand today.

 

About the Author: Jock is a busy entrepreneur and the founder of Digital Exits, an online brokerage service. He enjoys sharing his thoughts on entrepreneurship and business and offering advice to others. Find Jock on Twitter here or connect with him on LinkedIn.