Twitter Dos and Don’ts

While you think social media may give you an instant boost to your business, without a plan of action or strategy, you’ll be shooting in the dark. If you market yourself correctly on social media, and Twitter, you can turn curious ‘googlers’ into loyal clients and customers, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Her are several tips to help make Twitter work for you.

1. Be easy to find! Choose a Twitter handle or name that’s close to your business name, and write up a clear profile that explains exactly what you do and where your clients and customers can find you. Utilize keywords that your customers might search for: your neighborhood, business focus and do link to your full website.

2. Do not shout. Don’t use all caps, people. It’s shouting, and it’s considered impolite. Consider your grammar, spelling, voice and tone as well. Even if you are trying to be casual, sounding professional on Twitter is paramount to your image.

3. Don’t repeat yourself again and again. Don’t tweet out a link to your Facebook page every day; people can find it on their own if you’ve posted links that are visible. Also, don’t tweet the same thing to a ton of people. It’s boring and very annoying.

4. Be timely. Let people know about specials you having coming up (whether it’s a special on a service, a limited-time only discount, or an upcoming event). Also, give a glimpse of what’s to come to garner excitement about what you’re offering. Invite your followers to get to know you!

5. Engage, engage, engage. Be a friendly word of advice, not anonymous. Share interesting article, news and catch up with others in your field! Network and respond. Twitter isn’t just about self-promotion, it’s about starting a conversation and building a relationship. Give your followers a clear picture of what you do, and share your voice in the conversation. Retweet interesting links by others, and aim for about half of your tweets to be non-promotional in nature.

6. Don’t auto-tweet or auto-DM. Think again before you put your account on automatic pilot. Don’t send auto direct messages to new followers. That pushes you farther away from them, and again, it’s just plain annoying.

Tips for online shopping engagement

The Real Reason Your Website Visitors Aren’t Buying

We love this great article from a columnist at the Open Forum. Great words of advice. Read on!
Columnist, American Express OPEN

Are you missing your conversion goals? Here’s the real reason your site visitors aren’t buying. Hint: It has nothing to do with your website design.

We’re all selling something. The challenge remains: How do we get people to buy from us more often and with a contagious fervor that sends more folks just like them our way?

If you’re finding that your on-site conversions aren’t where you’d like them to be, you might be missing the real reason.

It’s not your logo. It’s definitely not your WordPress theme (though I’ve seen some that scream 1992). And it’s not your AdWords targeting.

It’s emotion—and you’re lacking it.

Emotion: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

With over 102,000 online retailers in the U.S. alone, there’s a fair share of competition out there for your customer’s attention. That number doesn’t even factor in sites that sell service-based goods or those where a good conversion is considered something like a subscriber sign-up or other opt-in action.

To rise above the tide of online noise, your on-site experience has to evoke an emotional response. You have to serve up feeling for three squares a day to your audience, or else you’ll get lost in the shuffle.

Why don’t we have a listen to what four experts have to say about using emotions to increase conversions? After all—if you can fix something, you want to fix it. Right?

Get Motivated

Your site visitors landed on your site for a reason. Whatever that reason might be, it’s now your job to keep them there. Keith Hagan of ConversionIQ, a Denver-based tech firm that specializes in helping companies increase online conversions, helps clients understand the “why behind the buy,” or the site visitor’s motivation.

“We then work with our clients to identify the primary motivation of the user and address that upfront, commonly in the homepage headline,” Hagan says. “For example, the most common reason women purchase vanity items like skin care, shapewear and apparel isn’t to ‘look good,’ but to feel confident. Once you talk that up, conversion rates follow.”

Your action item: Have three strangers go to the homepage of your website. Ask them to tell you what the homepage makes them feel and want to do. If the answer is nothing (or not the feelings or actions you’re hoping for), then you have your first emotion-driven action item to tackle. You need to find out and understand how people want to feel when they come to your website. Try polling current customers to get clearer insights on what they really want, then shift your messaging and tie your on-page calls to action to those desired feelings.

Improve a Situation

Still a bit flummoxed by this whole “emotions” thing? Sunny Hunt, CEO of Hunt Interaction, a Salt Lake City-based company that helps companies build better customers, asks her clients to start with improving something.

“Customers are looking to solve a problem, even a problem they didn’t know they had, and problems come with emotional baggage,” Hunt says. “One of the best ways to engage and convert an audience is to answer one simple question: How does buying this product/service make my life better?”

But Hunt doesn’t let her customers stop after answering that one question. Instead, she helps her clients demonstrate how their products and services improve upon their audience’s current situation. That’s where the emotional connection comes in—a brand’s ability to truly deliver on the improvement of their audience’s current situation.

Your action item: Make a list of the ways your products and services make your customers’ lives better. Again, you can even send out a poll to current customers to get answers straight from the source. (Please, don’t guess how you make their lives better—they’ll happily tell you!) Once you have those responses, review your website with one neutral party—someone who can be objective about your brand. Your goal? To find out: a) if your site clearly addresses the idea your products make lives better; and b) if your site demonstrates the “how,” the ways the product improves current situations.

If They Feel It, They Will Come (Back)

Spreadshirt knows all too well how crowded the online customized t-shirt market is, and Adam Lidsky, marketing manager for Spreadshirt, also knows firsthand that if people feel you, they’ll come back—and they’ll bring their friends.

“We spend a lot of time trying to create ‘Spreadshirt moments’ to elicit feelings of belonging. We want our customers to feel comfortable expressing themselves and to connect with the personalized products they create,” Lidsky says. “Involving our customers in these moments removes risk from the buying process and elicits a desire to be included. This leads to higher conversions.”

And the best part? Spreadshirt is realizing that people are coming back not because they can create a t-shirt or mug with their baby’s picture on it. They’re coming back because of how they felt when they saw and held what they created with their baby’s picture on it.

Your action item: Review your brand and answer one question: How are we inviting our customers to share their experiences with our brand? Many brands have regular customer shout-outs on Twitter and Facebook. Others do a great job of interacting with their brand advocates across social media. By establishing an emotional connection with your audience, you’re giving them a reason to interact with and share you. But are you making it easy for them to share you?

Feeling is where it’s at. The next time you find your conversion goals lagging behind your brand aspirations, take an emotional inventory. With all the competition out there for your customers’ attention, don’t you want to be the brand they love, remember, buy from and share? I know it’s scary, but hugging it out is a solid sales strategy.


5 tips for producing video for your site

Every business wants to expand their appeal and customer base. And over and over, marketing gurus preach about creating Facebook pages (and ads) as well as opening a Twitter account. These are all great ideas, and it’s important to create a strong presence in social media. But you also have to stand out from the crowd.

So how do you position yourself differently? One way is to create a video and upload it to your site as well as other social media outlets. But many business owners have never held a video camera, much less produced their own video. Here are some tips for beginners who desire to get started with using video on their own business’s website.

1. Use the right equipment. Once you’ve planned out what type of video you want to make, find the right equipment to shoot it with. If you want an authentic look that has a classic home video appeal, a simple Flip camera should suffice. But if you truly want to upgrade your audience’s viewing experience, you should use a tripod, or hire someone with very steady hands.

2. Pay attention to sound & audio! Of particular importance is background noise. If cars are whizzing by or if you can hear wind blowing into the microphone, the extra background noise will ruin a good video. If your camera has a headphone jack, plug it in and run some sound checks. Make sure your audio is clear.

3. Review what you’ve filmed and make sure your lighting doesn’t overshadow your subject. Don’t shoot with a window in the background, and watch for shadows. Lighting is certainly important, and though it doesn’t have to be perfect, it helps to review what you’ve shot to make sure your video can be seen.

4. Edit, edit, edit. People have short attention spans, so keep it simple, and short. People will often skip from video to video on sites like YouTube until they find something interesting. Rarely will someone watch a 5 minutes plus video all the way through if they don’t know what it’s about. Keep your video short and engage your audience so they understand the point right away.

5. Upload and distribute to social networks. But don’t forget your website! Once you’re happy with your video, export it and upload onto YouTube, Vimeo and other social networks. Tweet the link to all your Twitter followers, post it on your Facebook business page, and email it out to your customers.

Tips for designing your next e-blast

We often get asked, “How can I make sure my e-blast is read by my clients or customers?” Clients want to make sure that in the myriad of emails that litter our inboxes each day, theirs isn’t the one that’s deleted instantaneously. While inboxes these days are a cluttered world, you can take some steps to make sure yours isn’t immediately launched into the proverbial trash bin.

• First, respect your reader and don’t waste their time. Your customers aren’t sitting around waiting for your email to arrive. So when it does, make sure you get to the point – quickly. Tell your clients and customers what you want them to know, right away.

• Always ask permission. Not everyone wants to receive your latest news or product information. So make sure you ask your readers if they’d like to receive your updates. If you show them a sample of what they’ll get along with information about how often they’ll get it, even better.

• Keep your goals in focus. Sit down and come up with an answer to the following: “What is the one thing you want people to do when they get this email?” Designing with a myriad of 5 or more goals is hard, but 1 or 2 are much more attainable. This also helps you measure your success.

• Don’t bury your unsubscribe link! Disclaimers are the prose of lawyers, but we have to abide by them. If people are not interested in your content anymore, there’s no point in continuing to email them. So make unsubscribing easy, and if your readers decide to come back one day, they’ll know exactly how to do so.

• No fancy coding allowed. While CSS and HTML render wonderfully on the Internet, it isn’t so for email clients. So code like it’s 1998, and use inline CSS. You’ll be glad you did.

•  Images aren’t always viewed. Those using Outlook or Gmail will often need to click to show your images. No matter how beautiful and engaging your images are, if they can’t be seen, you won’t convey your message. The solution? Make sure your email  has HTML text as well as plain text, so you don’t alienate anyone.

• Test, test, test. And test again. Make sure you test your email on a variety of clients. Doing so will help you see the potential pitfalls and help you remedy any problems. After all, once you hit send, you can’t take it back!