Yelpers Look For ROI on Purchases

Consumers want the most bang for their buck. They are becoming more empowered and reaching out to secondary sources to find information on organizations before they conduct business with them. Popular sites like Yelp are putting all consumer feedback into one place for other consumers to investigate. Yelp can help bring new customers to a small business but on the other side, drive potential customers away.

People are leaving reviews about your company whether you own your page or not but it is better to own it and be active with your page in order to listen and interact with your consumers. It’s ridiculously easy to set up. Make sure to keep track of your reviews and respond. When someone leaves a positive review, a simple “Thank You!” or ‘Can’t wait for you to visit again!’ is a great, simple response.

Unfortunately there may be the occasional not-so-nice comments. If the complaint is legitimate, apologize and try to remedy the problem. After you solved the problem, invite them back to leave a review on what you did. If it is not fixable, a refund or an offer for a future visit always helps. If the negative feedback is not legitimate, do NOT offer them an explanation or argue, simply apologize.  The non-legitimate posts are usually transparent to your audience.  No matter how negative the review, other people like to see that you took the time to respond in a professional matter. It shows your potential customers that you value their opinions and are willing to go the extra mile to better serve them.

 

If you have great reviews, promote, promote, promote! Use them as testimonials on your website, blog or Facebook. It is also a good idea to ask for reviews from your clients. You could have a sign in your storefront with a Yelp testimonial and then a call for action to visit Yelp and share their personal experience. Never be too pushy, as this will come off as desperate and not genuine.

With Yelp being named one of the most popular apps for smartphones, it is the consumers’ deepest source of information right before they want to buy something for lunch, get a manicure, buy a new piece of furniture, etc. So it is important that you have the correct address, hours and phone numbers to ensure consumers who are looking for you can easily find you—even more of a reason to own your Yelp business page.

Smart Shopping with Smartphones

People eat, sleep, work and play with smartphones readily in hand. Most people are gaming, texting or using Facebook. There is a new phenomenon striking smartphone users and it is called smart shopping. A third of shoppers are using smartphones in stores while they shop to scan merchandise, read reviews, ask friends for recommendations and then share with you, the business, what they’ve found. If they are not satisfied with your response, they will locate a business that has better prices or service.

This trend in mobile shopping and price comparisons means consumers are willing to forego an instant purchase in the store if they can save money ordering a product via the Internet — giving online retailers a serious advantage. Or, they will insist that physical stores match or beat the prices of online competitors. Consumers are entering brick-and-mortar locations to review and try out the product but then buying it from their mobile devices.

What are your options as a brick-and-mortar retailer? The first step is embracing mobile technology instead of this natural impulse to push it away. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile browsers so you can be competing in the race of gaining mobile shoppers. If you cannot match or beat your online competitors prices, you need to approach the situation in a different way.

Offering private label or bundled package deals is a way to offer consumers something they cannot buy somewhere else. Having a reward program is a great way to make your customers want to shop with you because they get ‘points’ or occasional freebies. Also, make sure your employees are well rehearsed and ready to answer savvy, knowledgeable customers. This adds a superior customer experience not available via mobile shopping. Don’t we all love that comforting and personal attention from sales associates?

Play on the natural strengths brick-and-mortar stores have. You have the advantage of instant gratification for consumers, rather than having to wait days or even weeks to receive a product and face robust shipping fees. Consumers’ purchase decisions are not finalized when they arrive at the store, so in-store advertising and promotions can help drive more conversions and sales.

Make sure you have a captivating marketing and advertising plan to keep customers in-house!

 

Business Blogging 101

Blogs are underrated and their reach is underestimated. Most businesses think blogging is not for them. They are wrong.  It is great for educating clients and differentiating your biz from the competition, but also it is putting a human face on your brand.  I have laid out 6 simple tips that will help the success of your blog.

Tip 1: Relevant Content.
There are a million things to talk about—but keep it related to your industry. For instance, talk about your products. Customers love comparison-shopping and they want to know how your products compare to others. You can also talk about solutions to consumer’s problems. I love Mod Cloth’s Blog because not only do they offer me fashion ideas, but solutions on how to wash and stitch certain fabrics. This comes off honest and friendly.

Tip 2: Participate in the communities where your audience already gathers by commenting on blogs and forums. People read comments and if you have brought up something that grabs their attention, as well as leaving a link to your own blog, they will most likely click it.

Tip 3: Syndicate Your Blog’s Content with an RSS Feed.
This allows people to ‘subscribe’ to your blog. 90% of people who read one of your blogs won’t come back. This is not because they don’t find it interesting and relevant but because they just forget. Having them subscribe will let them know you added new content and ensure their revisit.

Tip 4: Have fun with it.
Professional, structured writing is NOT the way to go for blogging. A light tone is best to help add the fun. Don’t forget to squeeze some humor into a post to keep people interested.

Tip 5: Tag!
Tagging is what helps index your blog post by search engines. Without tags, search engines may overlook your posts and they will end up at the bottom of the pile. By adding appropriate tags, people who are searching for similar information can find your blog a lot easier and faster.

Tip 6: Don’t Forget Images.
Not only will images help break up the writing and make your blog attractive, they also have great SEO value. Adding a description to the images will allow search engines, such as Google, to catalog your blog posts. Having images can increase the visits to your blog by up to 10x.

Taking these fundamental tips into account, it is never too late to start your own blog. Honest, relevant, clever writing is what people fancy. Provide this and you will have a solid following.

 

Moving Mobile: Will Facebook last?

Social advertising is Facebook’s backbone. It is a free social networking site with 900 million active users. Facebook’s target-specific ads are pure genius. They are the business idea the made Facebook so successful; however it could be the downfall of this social networking site as we move into a mobile dominated era.

There have been three generations in the internet world:

  • Web 1.0 (1994-2001) which includes Yahoo!, Google, Amazon, etc.
  • Web 2.0 (2002-2009) which includes Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter
  • Mobile (2010-present) which includes Instagram.

Mobile-generation companies view smartphones as the primary platform for their application and don’t even think of launching a website.  This is a lot easier said than done. Instagram, a company that is entirely just mobile, does not make any revenue. Facebook faces limitations in what they can offer on mobile versus what they can offer though a PC.  Phones are small, and there is not room for advertisements without intruding on users. How can Facebook make revenue through mobile devices? There are no answers just yet.

Tapping into the mobile world has more benefits than even seen at face value. Those who have internet access through a smartphone or tablet tend to have more Facebook friends and use the social network more often than those with a PC. If Facebook can find a way to really tap into this mobile advertising, they can potentially reach a lot more people with their advertisements.

This shift to monetize the mobile world is going to be tough, but a company like Facebook should be able to solve this puzzle eventually.

 

Destination Marketing

Spring is well under way and summer vacations will be here before you know it. The economy seems to be steadily improving and we are all a bit more comfortable spending again. We ready to venture out, but how far are we really willing to travel?

Costs for international flights have skyrocketed this year, due to many factors. It is becoming increasingly more expensive to travel abroad, while domestic flights haven’t been impacted as dramatically. Most experts agree that Americans are going to vacation closer to home this year, and take 3-5 shorter ‘leisure’ trips (long weekends) instead of traditional one- or two-week vacations. According to TripAdvisor, the top three types of trips that will be popular this year are beach trips, cultural trips (museums & historic sites), and road trips. Being lucky enough to live in the Hudson Valley, we can reach all these destinations by car in just a few hours!

 

 

Destination marketing is quite simple. Discover what makes your area unique, promote the unusual attractions, and make it easy for travelers to visit by providing easy access to great food, clean lodging, and several travel options. The more your destination has to offer, the more likely visitors will feel connected to the area and want to return. All advertising should encourage vacationers to stay longer and visit often.

Where are people looking to find local getaways? Most people are looking online these days, but traditional media is still an important factor in driving online traffic, so please don’t dismiss good old print ads, radio, and t.v.

Your website should include a calendar of events, videos, newsletters, online booking forms, downloadable maps, downloadable coupons or special offers, etc. People want fast and simple. If your tourism website can connect hotel stay, restaurant reservation, attraction tickets, and everything else people need on a vacation, people will feel more relaxed once they get there.

In addition to your website there is social media, which is a must — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs … and let’s not forget Mobile Apps! Forty four percent of travelers plan on using their smart phones, tablets, and Internet connected devices as a travel resource during trips this year, so make sure you are up to speed on marketing through these new technologies.

Will the Summer Sun make your Sales Shine or Fade Away?

Many business owners say their sales dwindle in the summer months. Summer depicts a season of no worries and slowing down, but this does not mean your sales have to slow down too.  There are countless marketing techniques that can be used to make your business BOOM during the summer months.

There are a lot of unusual and just plain ridiculous holidays out there. As a business, you should find one related to your industry and start celebrating. I was recently walking past a Rack Room Shoes and there was a big sale on flip-flops because it was National Flip Flop Day.  There were big holiday signs outside, party streamers inside, and even free cake for the holiday! Integrating your products with summer elements is a creative and funny way to grab any passer-by’s attention.

Everyone is outside and active during the summer. This is great potential for capturing people’s eyes with sidewalk sales. Set up tables and displays outside. You can even use the sidewalk to unload excess inventory at discounted prices or display your best products outside — encouraging customers to visit the inside of the store. Another great thing about being outside is summer festivals, street markets, and parades. Research upcoming fairs and festivals and see if you can reserve a spot to set up a table. You can sell products here, and also engage with customers and other local businesses.

During the hot summer days, free food and cold drinks are the perfect way to draw in customers. You can host a BBQ cookout for loyal patrons and also invite new potential patrons. Here you can connect with customers through casual conversation and show that you appreciate them. Handing out some freebies, like re-usable water bottles, is a nifty promotional tool as well. Customers will love things like that to bring to the beach. This will keep brand exposure strong.

Before the summer months begin, make sure you have a tailored marketing plan to incorporate themes from the season to help catch the attention of the public. Summertime promotions and advertising are fantastic opportunities for your brand to be fun. It is everyone’s vacation time, just make sure your marketing and advertising doesn’t take that vacation as well!

Facebook Paid Promotions Have Arrived

About a month ago, a leak came from New Zealand revealing that Facebook users were offered a chance to promote their status update for about $1.42 (American dollars). This paid promotion feature gave status updates some increased visibility on other users’ newsfeed. Right now this option isn’t available to everyone, but will be soon. It is estimating to cost between $5 to reach a certain percentage of your fans up to $100 dollars to reach ALL of your fans.

 

These paid updates will appear at the top of users’ newsfeed and be marked as ‘sponsored.’ Highlighted posts will stay visible for longer and appear to more friends and subscribers. For personal Facebook users, they should not be worried about spam- these paid promotion updates will only show up for fan pages that the user already ‘Liked.’ Hopefully, Facebook keeps its users in mind as it expands its paid placement features because this feature could backfire and drive users to other social networking platforms .

For business Facebook pages this has immense potential. It has become too easy for regular status updates to fall out of view to users. Only 5-10% of fans actually see a certain status update. With a paid status you can increase that number to 100%. The average user has over 200 friends that update their own personal status weekly and sometimes daily making it extremely difficult for your business’ status to be seen through that clutter. In that respect, giving some posts priority in exchange for a small fee makes sense.

There is a lot of controversy around these paid statuses. On Facebook, what’s supposed to matter is how interesting your posts are, not how deep your wallet is. Once we actually see these paid statuses in play, we will not know how users will feel about them. Just keep in mind that you must promote value to your fans, not just self-promotion.