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Include Videos in Your Online Marketing Campaigns

Francesca
November 30, 2015

If you spend any time on social media then you’ve probably noticed the increased amount of videos that are being shared, viewed, talked about, etc. It seems like all of the sudden video is taking over social media and we’re hearing some pretty serious statistics about its future, especially for businesses. By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. The play button is being called “the most compelling call-to-action on the web,” according to Andrew Angus.

For some compelling statistics on the state of video marketing, check out this infographic by HighQ.

While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by what might seem like another thing to add to our to-do list, making videos can be fun! You can easily shoot a video from any smart phone and upload it to social media within seconds. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Make it about the story, not the sale

While a majority of the videos you create may be intended to boost sales, that doesn’t need to be obvious to your consumers. There are several ways to build a story around your product without focusing on the sale. Some examples include:

  • Customer testimonials
    *These can range from quick 15 second videos to longer, more in-depth, 3-5 minute videos
  • Product demonstrations
  • DIY/How-to videos
  • Q&A with sales reps in-store

2. Short & Sweet

The best advice we can give to you about filming a video is that in most cases, the shorter the better. Try to keep videos shorter to truly capture a consumers attention and keep it throughout the span of the video. There has been an entire social media site, Vine, built around 6 second videos; not every video needs to be in-depth to prove it’s worth. Shooting a quick 5-7 second video that announces your new arrival of Christmas trees by showing the trees will be more engaging than a text post letting customers know about your new inventory. So why not give this a try?

3. Add a personal touch

This might be the easiest videos you can record and it’s one that might mean the most. Take a video of your team saying “thank you” to all of your customers, especially after a busy season. A “thank you” video would be great to post right after the holidays, thanking your customers for another successful holiday season; once again, setting yourself apart from the big box stores.

You can also film quick videos at events to post during or after the event. This can help to encourage additional attendees for future events and can also serve as as an opportunity to thank everyone for coming.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by videos, but the truth is, there is no right or wrong way to talk to your customers. You don’t need to invest in a lot of equipment and try to shoot a professional video every time you post, you really just need a smart phone to get started. A word of advice, don’t take yourself to seriously! Have fun with this new venture – and, as always, if you’re looking for ideas just ask your Marketing Specialist!

Preparing for the Holiday Season on Social Media

Francesca
September 30, 2015

This year has just completely flown by! It seems crazy to think the holidays are just about upon us, but ready or not, here they come! As you begin to prep your stores for the holiday season, it’s also important to prepare your social media pages as well.

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Social media plays a huge part in the holiday shopping season, in fact in the 2014 holiday shopping season 67% of shoppers purchased a gift they found on social media. When preparing for the holidays on social media, find a theme that matches your store and determine how to create content around that theme. This content may include photos, videos and posts to allow you to interact with customers on social media.

Use social media to showcase new products coming in to the store, upcoming sales and promotions, in-store displays and to show off products (come on, we should all be doing this!).

Here are a few action ideas to kick start the planning process:

  1. Store photos

Easily add a holiday theme to your social media channels by sharing photos of the store decorated for the holidays. This could be as simple as taking photos of holidays lights hung in the store or as creative as building a holiday tree with store items as ornaments.

  1. Gift ideas

This is valuable content that you can share with customers in a fun way! Often times, the hardest part of holiday shopping is just getting started coming up with ideas. This can be especially true when buying gifts for the opposite sex, which may require you to go to stores that you may not be familiar with. Let’s make this as easy for customers as possible!

Work with your Marketing Specialist to develop a blog for the website of a shopping list for “him” or “her”. Put the same products that you mention on the blog post together in the store and take pictures. Easily share this content on social media for an attention grabber and drive traffic back to the website with a link. Providing valuable information like this helps you as a business make your customers’ job easier during this crazy, hectic time.

  1. Get creative

Turn your Facebook page into a countdown to the holiday season. With the 25 days leading up to Christmas Day, you can post funny memes, quotes, exclusive coupons, staff photos, etc.! It’s a fun and easy way to build excitement.

Looking for other ideas? Reach out to your Marketing Specialist – they would be happy to help!

Getting Creative on Social Media

Francesca
July 31, 2015

In a world where everyone and their mother, no really, is on social media, it can be tough to stand out. The space for your business to appear on a Facebook newsfeed is quickly being taken up by baby pictures, #TBT posts, cat pictures, and more. Instead of folding under pressure, let’s get creative and give people a reason to keep coming back.

1. Encourage check-ins

As Facebook continues to build Places pages, it’s important to encourage customers to check in. A check-in by your customers creates brand visibility to all of their friends on Facebook and is tied in with Facebook search.

I recently did a search for “pet stores visited by my friends” because, as a consumer, I want to see where my friends are shopping and if others had enjoyed their experiences there as well.

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Businesses can offer incentives for customers to check in – and it doesn’t have to be an offer that’s going to break the bank! Something as simple as $2 off or a free appetizer is a great incentive!

2. Use Customer Content as Advertising

One of the benefits of social media is the content can be so engaging. Photos are beautiful and we’ve started to see videos pop up more and more. If customers are sharing photos that are connected to your business, share it! This is a great way to get a customer review on your Facebook page and it’s free advertising for your business.

This is an example of a very powerful product promotion post that cost this dealer absolutely no money! A customer sent them a before and after photo from a recent project using a lawn edger. As a consumer, if I had an upcoming summer project this post would certainly inspire me to rent from this store!

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The same idea goes for customers who post photos or videos straight to your page or tag your business in them. Share all of this free content from your customers to increase engagement and give your customers a moment to shine on your page!

3. Give Customers a Reason to Keep Engaging
Something that we love here at NMR is Trivia Tuesday. It’s tried and true and it’s a great way to build engagement on your page on a weekly basis. During the month of July, we had a dealer attach a little incentive to it to really amp up the involvement. Powell Feed gave away a $25 gift card to one lucky winner – all the customer had to do was comment on a Trivia Tuesday post during the month to be entered to win! This increased their engagement like crazy, we typically get between 5-7 comments per week, but during this promotion we had 53 comments in the first week!

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There was a time when simply being on social media was enough to generate buzz about your business. However, given the fact that several social media sites have high numbers of users, a competitive presence is necessary. In the end it comes down to connecting with your customers on social media in a creative, fun and highly engaging manner.

 

 

Understanding Google Local Listings

Francesca
June 30, 2015

Google has been making updates to its search result listings to better serve local searches for years. In doing so, Google has introduced a “pack” local result. This is typically a listing of three businesses, although there are also 5 packs and 7 packs, which helps to provide the most relevant results for a searcher.

If you haven’t seen a pack result yet, here is an example:

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Pack listings are extremely valuable real estate because they carry so much information and tend to show up at the top of search engine results. A pack listing includes your business name, address, phone number, and a link to your Google + page which has a link to your website, reviews, photos, etc.

Pack listings appear typically near the top of the search engine result page. On the screenshot posted above, there are Google paid ads at the top, one organic listing (Yelp), the pack results, and then organic results below. Pack listings do stand out from the rest of the listing on a results page because of their dual screen layout with the business address listing showing on the right.

Reviews Matter
One of the few differentiating factors that appear on the pack listing is the appearance, and number, of star ratings. Research shows that five customer reviews generates the star rating, whether they are positive or negative. Encouraging reviews from customers is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition that appears in the pack local results.

Reviews from customers will help your pack listing stand out from the competition and it will help your ranking on search engines. Reviews from customers play a role in overall ranking factors and pack results.

Looking for tips on how to collect review? Click here for ideas to get started.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them
As mentioned above, other organic listings that do appear on search engine result pages are a variety of business listing sites such as Yelp, YellowPages, Angie’s List, etc. If you do a search for a service that you provide in your area and one of these listings is showing up above your website then take action! You know the old saying, if you can’t beat them, join them? Well that’s exactly what you should be doing. Claiming these pages gives you the ability to edit your listing information to make it more accurate and add your website address to the listing. This will help your website appear in more places, which will help with your ranking on search engines.

Introduce Your Staff on the Web

Francesca
April 30, 2015

As a small business, each person that you bring on to join your team has a real opportunity to make an impact on your business. Over time, each employee will begin to find their strengths and build relationships with your customers. Having good employees can make your job as a business owner much easier. Quite simply, the best business strategy in the world doesn’t mean anything without the right people to execute it. That’s why it’s important to make your staff as approachable as possible and really give your current and potential customer a chance to get to know them!

People like to do business with companies that they feel they “know,” and there’s no better way for them to get to know you than by introducing them to your employees. Including a staff section on your website is a great way to create an opportunity for people to get to know your team.

Include a photo
When you’re introducing your staff on your website, include a photo so customers can easily put a face to a name! This doesn’t have to be a professional shot photo – give your employees a chance to show their true personality and submit a photo or take a selfie.

Contact Information is Important
If you have several locations, be sure to include where each employee works. You may also want to consider putting contact information for managers of each store so that customers feel management is accessible to them for any comments, reviews, or questions.

Encourage Accomplishments
If your employees have certificates or training in an area that pertains to your business – be sure to include that information on their staff page! This is a great accomplishment that would also benefit your business and should definitely be shared with customers. Highlighting your employees’ accomplishments is a great way to boost likability and show customers that your employees are serious about their job!

Passion Goes a Long Way
Some employees really seem to shine when talking about certain products or departments within your business. This would also be great information to include on a staff page. For example, “If you’re looking for a new Deck, stop in and see Bob! Bob has worked with hundreds of customers to help them design their dream deck. Come on in and meet with Bob and see how he can turn your outdoor dreams into a reality!” really gives this employee a lot of recognition about his interest in designing deck and builds credibility to customers.

Adding Testimonials to Your Website

Francesca
March 31, 2015

Including testimonials on your website answers questions for both current and potential customers. When a visitor comes to your website, testimonials provide an opportunity for them to learn why they should do business with you, without having to go look for the answer themselves. For current customers, it may speak to your continued service in a particular area, but for potential customers it created a credible sales pitch for you.

Adding testimonials is probably one of the easiest ways to improve your website, and an opportunity to generate more sales opportunities for you.  Testimonials build trust by allowing customers to speak for you, perhaps they will speak to a particular product you sell or to a positive service experience they’ve had with you – they tell your story for you in an unbiased way. But that’s not all. There can also be an SEO benefit to having testimonials on your site. Your service area extends outside of the area in which you currently do business, which means your customers do to. If customers send you a testimonial from a nearby town, there is an opportunity to help you rank for that town by including their location in the testimonial on your site.

It can be tough to feel comfortable asking for testimonials, but there is no need to be. Sometimes, testimonials can even come up organically. It’s important to recognize the opportunity and use it to your advantage. The easiest way to ask for a testimonial, is to follow up with a customer after the service/sale has been completed. In most instances you will have their email address, sending something as simple as, “We’d love to hear about your experience with us!” is a good way to get the ball rolling. This also may come up naturally during conversation with a satisfied customer, asking them to jot down their positive experience is also a great way to collect testimonials for your website.

Don’t miss out on a great way to add valuable content to your website!

New Egypt Agway Incentives Employees to Get Involved in Social Media

Francesca
March 31, 2015

As a business owner, you already wear so many hats – and Jamey Bohonyi, owner of New Egypt Agway is no exception. Jamey knew that taking in-store photos was important for social media, but struggled to find the extra time to take pictures to send to his Marketing Specialist, Leeann. Understanding this, Leeann went to work brainstorming ideas to get Jamey’s staff involved with this process.

Jamey, a current customer of NMR, already receives industry related and engaging posts through the social media posts that we take care of for him, but he wanted to take this one step further. Jamey knew it was important for his staff to get involved, so he decided to create an incentive for them to do so! Members of Jamey’s staff are encouraged to send local/store related ideas and photos to Leeann on a regular basis. Leeann, having a marketing background and being an expert on social media, receives the content from employees and chooses which content is appropriate to post to the page and adds a marketing spin to each! For example, if an employee sends Leeann a picture of some chicks, Leeann may include a link to their special offers page on their website with a deal on a chick related item. Leeann is able to schedule posts that she receives from employees at times that she knows works well based on when users are online and to make sure she’s keeping a regular flow of content coming to the page.

Jamey confesses he relies on Leeann to “draw customers in.” He goes to say, “my employees are great with knowing what customers are looking for and what products to recommend, but I wouldn’t have time to review everything before it gets posted. I trust Leeann to give all of the content that comes her way a marketing spin to help grow my business.”

At the end of each month, Leeann tallies up how many employees sent “approved” content (not all posts that are sent are used) and sends the final numbers to Jamey. Jamey then gives $30 to the highest participator, $20 to the second highest participator, and $10 to the third highest participator. This works great for several reasons, but most importantly, it’s a great way for employees to feel like they are a part of New Egypt’s marketing campaign, it creates a good mix of industry related and store related content, and allows Jamey to be confident that all posts that are going through are professional, timely, and reviewed by a marketing professional.

Not all incentives need to include a dollar amount, but incentivizing your employees to work with your Marketing Specialist is a great way to add store related content to your website and social media pages!

Top 5 Ways to Stay On Top Of Your Online Marketing in 2015

Francesca
January 30, 2015

It seems like we say the same thing every year, but where did 2014 go!? 2015 is officially underway and it’s going to be a great year. This year, more than ever, we need to make it a priority to update your website each month.

It’s easier than ever for consumers to find information online. We’ve seen a huge shift from desktop activity to mobile activity over the year. Consumers are searching not just to find anything, but to find the right thing. Search engines, like Google, have tried to make this as easy for consumers as possible – even going as far as providing extra content that the consumer may have been searching for without even realizing it. You make think having a website isn’t important or you’re too busy to update your site this month, but the truth is if you don’t have a website that search engines care about then it’s pretty much like you’re invisible online. It would be like having boards over your windows with no sign out front as customers drive by – they would just keep driving.

Sure it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the tasks that you have going on, but even spending as little as 15-20 minutes per month on your website can go a long way. Adding fresh content is key for two reasons: 1. It helps your website be found more in search engines and 2. Your customers want to see fresh, new content each time they come back.

We’ve certainly talked about Google preferring frequent website updates before, but it’s important enough to cover again. Search engines, like Google, rank websites that are frequently updated higher than those that are not because they consider it to be a fresh source of information for searchers. Here’s a super simple example, if you subscribed to a monthly magazine and each month you received the exact same magazine in the mail with all of the same content you’d probably cancel it pretty quickly. Similarly, if searchers are finding your website with the same content again and again then they will stop going to it. Understanding that, search engines rank websites with fresh content higher to consistently provide new, quality content to its users.

Consumers are smarter than ever, let’s be real, they have small computers in their pockets. They can find anything they want online and with that their expectations have grown. Searchers expect new content each time they visit your site, and by providing them with this you’re actually giving them a reason to return!

Of course we understand how overwhelming this may sound, but you have the help of a Marketing Specialist to guide you through this whole process. Here are 5 ways that you can stay on top of your online marketing this year:

1. Take some time and plan your website updates out for a whole year in advance
This will make it seem much more manageable when new, exciting things are going on to contact your Marketing Specialist! You already have a bulk of the work off your plate.

2. Track your analytics
Spend some time with your Marketing Specialist to see what worked for you last year for each month of updates that you are working on. If you had a lot of activity around “pet dental products” in February or “decking options” in April, they you may want to focus on adding what’s new in your store relating to those topics this year.

3. Schedule it out
Create a time once a month where you and your Marketing Specialist take as much time as you need to work on all of your website updates at once. This can be as easy and walking around your store and reading off SKUs or getting some good ideas for coupons. Having this time set monthly will be an easy way to rely on knowing that your website will be updated each month.

4. Use seasonal purchases as a guide
Create a seasonal chart based around your business and use this as a guide for website updates for years to come! For example, if in the spring your customers are ready to head outdoors to work on DIY projects then build your content around that. Make it as easy for your customers to find you – and rely on you – as possible.

5. Check out your competition
As a business owner, you are probably already checking out what your competition is up to. If something that they are doing sparks your interest, do it bigger and better than they do!

7 Easy Ways to Collect Email Addresses

Francesca
November 26, 2014

With the holidays quickly approaching (seriously where did 2014 go!?) it’s a great time to build your email list with all of the traffic that will be coming in and out of your store! Here are 7 ways to collect email addresses in your store to build your email list for 2015!

  1. Keep a pad of paper next to the cash register. Ask someone for their email address and in return, give them a bite size Snickers bar. We like to call this “simple as a snickers” – it’s an oldie, but a goodie!
  2. If you send invoices to customers, include a call to action inside the envelope to encourage them to sign up for your email list. This could be as simple as a link to sign-up on the printed invoice or a separate piece of paper with specific instruction of how to sign up and what they’ll get for signing up (exclusive offers, event info, etc.)
  3. Collect business cards in a fish bowl near the register. Just have a small sign next to the bowl letting customers know what they’ll receive discounts and special offers by putting their business card in the bowl.
  4. Place a kiosk at the register for a seamless way to collect email addresses. A kiosk is a tablet that has been synced with your MailChimp or Constant Contact email accounts. Once a customer signs up it automatically syncs with your account, so you don’t have to import any email addresses manually. Kiosks look professional and they are a great conversational piece!
  5. If you are having an event in your store during the holidays, take advantage of this amazing opportunity to rapidly build your email list. You can walk around with a pad of paper or collect business cards in a bowl. If you have a kiosk (mentioned above), you can unplug it from the counter stand and bring this around the store! It’s an easy way for customers to fill out their information directly.
  6. Include a link to your email sign-up in your email signature. It’s an easy way to consistently remind customers about your email list.
  7. Incentivize your employees to build your email list! Reward employees for building your email list with cash or gift cards to local stores/eateries.

Happy gathering!

Include Your Team in Your Marketing Efforts – Online and Offline

Francesca
October 31, 2014

As a small business you have one MAJOR advantage – your team! You can work together to provide an amazing customer service experience with your customers. Better yet, because members of your team are so dedicated, they are probably “experts” in certain areas and your customers rely on their expertise when making buying decisions!

Think of your store dynamic, do you assign certain staff members to specific locations in the store because of their passion and expertise? For example, if you have an associate who loves to garden, it’s a hobby and they are constantly buying books to learn as much as possible, it’s safe to assume you would have them work in the garden section of your store to help your customers as much as possible! You probably even get great word of mouth marketing by your customers who share their experience in your store with someone who was so knowledgeable and helpful! This concept helps to drive business to your store, so let’s use the same concept online and reach even more customers!

Talk about your team online, mention their strengths and what specific types of things customers should come in and ask them questions about! But don’t stop there! Once you’ve had a chance to introduce your team on social, keep the theme going by having your employees talk about specific products. For example, as we are officially into fall and heading into winter, have a team member who loves gardening recommend a product in a photo or video and talk about the highlights of the product and how it will help your customer by purchasing this item. You can continue this theme into any section of your store. If you haven’t tried posting videos on your page yet, give them a try this month! Videos are a great way to engage with customers.

Having conversations with your team members about what’s happening online is equally as important as talking about them online. You could set up some really great marketing efforts online, but if you don’t talk to your team about what’s going on they won’t be able to carry the messaging through! By now we know it’s important to update your website every month, but let’s take this one step further by printing a copy of your coupons and specials each month so that your staff can talk about them with customers. Staff members can train your customers to visit the website prior to shopping by saying something as simple as “I see you’re buying this item today, we have a coupon online for this! I’ll give it to you today, but be sure to check out our website before you come in next time!”

If you have new members joining your team, be sure to take some time to sit down with them and go through your website. Having a team who understands the values and benefits of what customers can find on your website will only help your traffic grow in the store and online!

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