Sam's Corner – Newsletter #5
PART #1: BUSINESS UPDATE
2013 has started off with a bang! Here at Think Big Online we’ve been busily helping our clients prepare for the MOBILE BOOM, adjust to the most recent SEO Changes and embrace Social Media like never before.
It seems like business owners have finally “got it” and in 2013 are taking the steps they need to digitize their business. During this month the Think Big team are heading to the US for some specialized training, training which we are sure will help our clients.
Watch out for my March update which will cover all these training hot points with you! In the mean time enjoy this months newsletter!
PART #2: INDUSTRY NEWS
It’s been another month of big changes across the web with Facebook making some major announcements and the Bing VS Google battle continuing to heat up. This year is going to be an extremely interesting year in search; potentially Google is going to lose some market share to Bing with Facebook’s close alliance with Bing.
With that said though, Bing is still a long way behind the 8 ball and is certainly not threatening Google’s position as the search leader. According to recent reports Google is even experiencing a revenue spike with it’s Adwords product in 2013.
Business owners should keep a keen eye on Facebook over the coming weeks as they continue to roll out more ad changes and network changes which are enhancing the ability for businesses to achieve positive ROI. All indications are that Facebook have finally found the right mix between user experience and advertiser experience.
PART #3: ARE YOU A LAZY MARKETER?
In the early parts of 2013 I sat down with my team to assess what we were doing as a business to follow up our leads, engage our customers and generally provide a complete “marketing experience”.
Now I’m not afraid to admit that in the process we picked up a few gaping holes in our system which we needed to immediately fix. It wasn’t that we’d over looked these areas it was just we hadn’t decided to put the focus on them.
When I sat down and calculated what our lack of focus in this area computed to in terms of sales and profits for Think Big I was shocked. We were leaving a lot of sales on the table.
So over the past few weeks we’ve been implementing a complete overhaul to our Marketing Automation system and the first part of that move was to purchase Infusionsoft.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, we had successfully used Zoho, Aweber and Nanacast within our business, but this “cobbled together suite” was making it harder for us to market successfully.
That’s why we moved and since the move we’ve certainly started to see improvements in our marketing experience. You see, while having the new solution was great, what it really triggered for us was a complete review of what we were doing.
A review at a level that we’d never have conducted if we didn’t change software solutions. It certainly gives credence to the saying “A change is as good as a new start”.
Take some time out this week and have a look at your marketing experience, are you doing everything you can to maximize your business?
Another year behind us. The internet and its technology grew by leaps and bounds in 2012, and 2013 looks to be no exception. The number of social media users is higher than ever, more and more people have access to reliable high-speed internet, and people are demanding more and more from the websites they visit. So how do you stay ahead of the curve? Take a look at our top 3 online predictions for 2013.
Technology had reached the point where users are now relying on and coming to expect cross-platform integration from their websites. This means the website needs to integrate social media (both theirs and their visitors), mobile devices and apps, multimedia experiences, and so much more. It goes further than just being able to easily get from one platform to another.
Try incorporating things like allowing your users to log in with their Facebook or Twitter accounts, making sure you have RSS feeds so they can stay up-to-date, allowing social bookmarking, making your multimedia content less reliant on plug-ins, and using QR codes to integrate with your traditional advertising. The list is literally endless. If you are having problems coming up with ideas, take a look at some of the biggest websites out there and see how they handle such integration.
With the vast majority of internet users now having reliable access to broadband speeds, hosting video content is no longer the barrier it once was. Whether you are advertising on video content yourself, or if you are hosting videos for product information, offers, or just entertainment, the possibilities for taking advantage of video media is endless. In a way, you can think of it as a low-cost alternative to traditional television advertisements. Also, many people are more willing to watch a video for information about a product than they are to read a long article about it. So, it behooves you as a website owner to capitalize on this evolving trend.
Now that HTML5 has (finally!) reached “feature-complete” status, more and more websites will be focusing on taking advantage of this new coding standard by developing new web applications. These applications are a great way for websites to engage visitors and keep them on-page longer, which leads to higher conversions and clicks.
While website owners were understandably reluctant to embrace a standard that was still “in-the-works”, there is no real reason to delay at this point. Especially since the leading web browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari) will be quick in ensuring that their browsers render HTML5 content correctly. Businesses that embrace this potential will definitely have a leg up over their competition.
Taking the time now to get ahead of these trends will leave you, the business owner, well positioned to capitalize on them, while your competition is floundering to catch up. Your visitors will thank you for it, and so will your bottom line!
Many businesses are now using social media as one of their primary marketing tools, and as a great way of interacting with their customers and keeping them happy and excited about the brand. Not to mention, that it’s free advertising (always great for your ROI and bottom line).
The big question is, how do you keep your audience engaged once you have them? We have compiled several great ideas to help you do just that.
One major mistake businesses make is using their social media platform to sell, sell, sell! The thing is, most customers who visit your social media are not coming there to have more advertising pushed at them; they are coming to interact with you. So, interact with them. Address their concerns, respond to their Tweets and posts, and listen to what they have to say. Social media is just as much their platform as it is yours.
Everyone wants to feel like they are a part of something. You can effectively accomplish this by soliciting your audiences input. Make them feel like their opinion matters. One good example would be to run a poll on what your next product flavor should be, and then create it (often this is called a “fan vote”).
Don’t just limit yourself to responding to their complaints. Go the extra mile to ask for their opinion. Not only will it make them feel like they have a voice and that their opinion matters, it might even give you good insight into the directions your business needs to take. People that feel like they have a voice with a company are more likely to stick with that company to see their ideas implemented. This is a great way to increase customer retention and brand loyalty.
Inevitably, you will get people who are only there to spew bile and negativity. Don’t put up with this! It does a disservice to other visitors and tarnishes your image. If a user continues this behavior, then block them! Other visitors are not coming to your social media to read a bunch of hateful rhetoric. Then, let everyone know exactly why you took the post down and be clear that such behavior will not be tolerated.
It is surprising how many businesses extensively plan their advertising campaigns, yet use their social media platforms on the fly. Remember that social media is not only advertising, it is unique in that it is interactive advertising. So, give it the same attention to detail that you would with any of your other advertising endeavors. Don’t forget to collect appropriate data and use it to modify your plan as appropriate. Social media is a valuable marketing tool, but you get out of it exactly what you put into it.
If you have any means of monetising your website, keeping your bounce rate as low as possible is likely one of your highest priorities. This is because the longer visitors spend on your website; the more likely they are to click on ads, make a purchase, download an e-book, or whatever goal it is you want them to take.
So how does a website owner lower their bounce rate? Below are some tried-and-true methods that have stood the test of time.
This is the technical end of lowering your bounce rate. Look for things like slow page load times (anything more than 2 seconds on broadband is unacceptable, less than 1 second is ideal), code that is not standards-compliant (this may cause your page not to display properly on all browsers, alienating visitors), and buggy or slow flash animation. All of these things are off putting to visitors, and will make them look for greener pastures elsewhere.
This can include things such as audio playing upon page load (especially without a way for your visitor to easily shut it off), main navigation and features that are below the fold (the visible part of the screen at standard resolution), Overly long chunks of text (limit your paragraphs’ size to 3 to 5 sentences, like these!), and those annoying pop-up windows (nothing will make your audience flee faster).
This sounds like it should be obvious, but you would be surprised how often websites will start off on one topic, and then waffle or start to go on about other topics. This also applies to showing your audience related relevant content if their expected content is unavailable (this primarily applies to online stores).
Research has shown that the more fields that a website visitor has to fill out, the less likely they are to actually complete the form. To that end, only collect information that you actually need and intend to use! Many people make the mistake of collecting every detail they can about a visitor, on the off chance that it will be relevant later. Don’t fall into this trap!
If your visitors have things to do, they are more likely to stick around and actually do them! Ideas for this are endless, but some of the more common and easy to implement are: Social media integration (especially Facebook and Twitter), comment features for articles (everyone loves to give their two cents), a review area for products (see above comment regarding the two cents), a forum for them to use, a way for them to submit questions, a search function… the possibilities are endless!
Of course, there are many other things that can be done to improve bounce rate, but these are the big ones. Do your best to cover these four things, and you should definitely see your bounce rates take a nose dive!
One of the most difficult things for website owners to accomplish is to determine if the layout of their website is effective, along with their navigation, calls-to-action, and advertising. Luckily, Google Analytics offers a little-known tool to assist with this. It’s called “In-Page Analytics”, and is quite possibly one of the most useful metric tools they offer. Lets’ discuss how to interpret the information it provides.
When you load a page of your website in In-Page Analytics (and you canload any page you want), Google overlays every clickable link on that page with the number of times that link was clicked for the time period you select, and also shows it as a percentage of the toal clicks for that page. This gives you a quick snapshot of exactly what your visitors are clicking on.
This is just a general idea of the many uses of In-Page Analytics. It can be a great way to measure the overall impact of your website, if it is used. There are even means to filter this reporting by various demographics, which allows you to narrow down what parts of your website are working for different parts of your audience. If you get really good with using Google Analytics, you can even links these reports to the goals you set up, which will help show what links are beneficial to your sales funnel and which ones are underperforming. Basically, you get out what you put into it.
So give the In-Page Analytic a try, and you might just be amazed at what you find out about your own website. It’s almost like viewing it from a visitor’s point of view!
Let’s face it. Most e-mail marketing offers are terrible. This is not to say that the product or offer itself is terrible. However, too many times e-mail marketing is poorly designed, poorly thought out, or, at worst, spammy. If you want your customers to pay attention to what you’re trying to tell them, then you have to make the offer compelling! Here’s a series of things you can do to improve your e-mail offers right away.
Make the offer appealing.
Most e-mail offers are bland. They simply present the offer in plain terms, and leave it up to the customer to decide how it’s useful. However, most customers are not going to put this much thought into it on their own. So what can you do? Tell them! This can apply to all facets of your e-mail. Look for common, everyday directions, and inject them with descriptive and compelling language. Why say “Click here for more information” when you can say “Click here to learn how (your offer here) can (whatever benefit you expect them to gain)” This takes the guess work out of their hands, and directs their thought processes down the path you want them to take.
Stay focused on the benefits of your offer. Let the potential customer know exactly what they stand to gain from purchasing your product or service. Make them see that their business or lives will be so much better off with your service than without it. People need to be told, and when they see how enthusiastic you are about your product, they will begin to get enthusiastic about it themselves. After all, enthusiasm is contagious!
Give them a cut-off date. People who are on the fence are likely to be swayed in your direction if they feel that they are about to lose out on a great opportunity (because you explained to them what a great opportunity it is). Even if you don’t take the ability to purchase the product or service away from them, show them how much money they will lose by not taking advantage of your special discount.
On the same token, don’t undercut yourself by offering a special discount every other week, or to the same recipient right in a row. People will then come to expect your service at this price, and the urgency you created will be lost completely.
Remember the television show 24? People were enthralled and on the edge of their seats just because a ticking clock was added to the cut-scenes. This let people know that time was running out, in a very visual and impactful way. You can incorporate this tactic as well. Don’t just create a limited-time offer, send out one e-mail about it, and then forget about it. Create a series of e-mail that tells them exactly how much time is left. This also helps create the sense of urgency that was discussed above.
If you can focus on these four thing, you will see the conversion rates from your e-mail marketing campaigns markedly improve. Just stick with it. Treat your e-mails with the same importance as you would with a print advertisement. It’s your message, after all.
More and more, social media is growing to dominate the Internet landscape. Spearheaded by Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Instagram, users have embraced the call of social media in numbers like never before. Businesses that do not embrace this trend will likely fall behind their competition, and do serious damage to their profits and customer base.
Don’t believe it? Check out these statistics and trends from 2012, and see what we think it means for 2013.
Facebook is everywhere, and for good reason. This social network has more users and market share than any other. In 2012, the number of Monthly active Facebook users topped 850 million, and more than 1 million websites have integrated with Facebook in various ways, from social sharing buttons, to widgets, to linking to their business’s Facebook page. On top of that, growth in non-western counties rose 41% in 2012. A Business2Community study has shown that 80% of social media users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook.
In 2013, it is expected that these growth rates will continue to rise. Facebook has gradually become a fixture of global society, and users have come to expect that businesses will embrace this. The facts bear this out, as 77% of Business to Consumer companies and 43% of Business to Business companies acquired customers from Facebook. Failing to embrace this platform will mean lost customers, plain and simple.
Nowadays, it seems like everybody Tweets. You see them on television shows, radio programs, on websites, and basically everywhere. In 2012, 1 million new accounts were added to Twitter every day, and 32% of all internet users are using Twitter. Companies are using Twitter for marketing more and more as well, as 34% of marketers have claimed to generate leads using Twitter. This is cost-effective for their bottom line, as well, as sending out marketing tweets is free!
Of course, in 2013, these trends show no sign of slowing down. Businesses need to capitalize on these trends, or risk alienating their customers. One of the biggest complaints in 2012 that users had was that 56% of customer tweets to companies are being ignored. Savvy businesses will interact with their customers in 2013, and gain customer trust and loyalty for doing so.
Google has leveraged its brand name and authority to promote their own social network, Google +, and Internet users are responding. This is likely due to the amount of interconnectivity with its other services. There were 625,000 new users on Google + every day in 2012, and this trend is expected to continue. Businesses have also embraced Google +, with 40% of marketers using it, and 67% planning to increase their Google + activities.
With Google’s power in the internet industry, this trend is expected to grow. It is unclear if Google + will grow to overtake Facebook, but it is quickly becoming too large to ignore.
Of course, there are numerous other social networks, both mainstream and niche, that have significant amount of users. However, the time has come where business owners can no longer ignore the big three and expect to remain in business for long. Make 2013 your year to focus on Social Media, and position your company to take advantage of what is no longer a fad, but a growing way of life for nearly a billion people.
After the shake-ups that rocked the online business world in 2012 (Panda and Penguin anyone?), savvy business owners are looking ahead to 2013 with an eye towards taking advantage of the next major developments. What’s the sticking point? No one’s sure just what they’re going to be!
Don’t worry; we’re here to help you out with that. We’ve done the research, polished up our crystal ball, and brewed the tea leaves. So without further ado, here are our predictions for top 3 things internet business owners need to know for 2013.
No, really. They will. Google and their guru Matt Cutts have focused almost completely on shutting down what they deem to be “black hat” SEO practices. This was the reason, of course, for the Panda and Penguin updates. And they’re not done yet.
Savvy business owners will take a long hard look at their website’s SEO portfolio. After all, even solid and established online businesses were hit hard by these updates. Are there questionable backlinks that you paid for years ago and have forgotten about? Get rid of them! If you’re really serious about it, hire a solid SEO firm to evaluate your entire website and bring it up to code. While it may be a significant expense up front, it will cost you less in the long run than losing customers because you were suddenly dropped to page 5 of the search results.
The uptrend of internet users who do their online shopping through their mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) has been continuing for several years, and is expected to achieve parity with desktops and laptops in just a few years.
Savvy business owners should make sure that their website is mobile-friendly, whether that includes adaptive website templates, or redirections to mobile-specific sites. In addition, many businesses are turning to mobile apps as a way to make their services more convenient for their customers, and to subtly deter them from browsing the competition.
A successful “social” website is one that integrates social media for the convenience or engagement of their visitors. This can range from allowing users to login using their Facebook account, to adding Twitter widgets on the page itself, to the ubiquitous social sharing buttons.
Savvy business owners cannot deny the impact of social media on the internet landscape, and move to embrace it within their website. Social media use is growing, and social media integration is not coming to be expected by website visitors. So any business that doesn’t embrace this concept is likely to lose customers in the coming year to those who do.
Now that you’re forewarned, get out there and gird your website for another year of the battle for internet dominance. Embrace these ideas, and watch your profits rise!
Sam's Corner – Newsletter #4
PART #1: Business Update
Welcome to the January edition of the Think Big Online Newsletter, this month's edition has got a few LATE Christmas gifts for our valued readers so make sure you take the time to read it in full.
It's been another great month here at Think Big Online and we're pleased to be seeing such great results within our client base. January is traditionally a month for reflecting, reviewing and strategizing for the year and many of our clients have big plans for the next 12 months.
On a personal note, I hope that all of you had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!
PART #2: Industry News
This month I am going to take a little different view to how I do the industry news, obviously there have been various updates over the last month by Google and Facebook but instead of focusing on those I want to paint the bigger picture for you.
So this month's industry news is going to focus on the bigger news stories that will impact the way you do business in 2013.
Social Media Starts To Show Positive ROI
It's been a tough year for social networks as they struggle to show big brands how they can achieve positive return on investment from campaigns run via platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
In this last few months though tides have started to turn with multiple good news story reports hitting mainstream media about the positive ROI businesses are experiencing from social media.
One of the most important parts of those stories is that the success has been initially achieved via small businesses. Multiple reports have been published about the success that small businesses are seeing from engaging in social media.
This was particularly the case during the pre-Christmas rush with many Facebook based storefronts seeing significant increases in their sales transactions during that period.
This is a good sign for 2013 and shows that social media will be a strong force in 2013.
Mobile Marketing Continues To Grow
Mobile marketing has continued to grow as a major source or traffic to websites and ecommerce transactions for online businesses. This will only continue into 2013 as major internet players continue to focus on a "mobile first" strategy.
Google and Facebook are the most visible in this market, both adopting strategies which put building mobile compliant websites and apps prior to building PC compliant apps and websites.
This focus will start to roll across the web and users will soon expect to see the exact same strategies adopted by businesses. 2013 will be a strong year for mobile marketing and businesses that embrace it.
PART #3: How To Think Iconic
Your brand represents everything that defines who you are, and what you do.So what does your brand stand for?
The upcoming Entrepreneur Brand Accelerator is definitive in helping you answer these important questions.
Attend This Event Live: http://keypersonofinfluence.com.au/aff.html?p=tb&w=kpievent-fof
How to THINK ICONIC
1. Be a symbol for our time.
Iconic brands ride at the forefront of the most influential trends that effect us all.
In the 1800's, Carnegie Steel, Standard Oil, General Electric, Ford and JP Morgan were the big brands of their day, a result of the converging trends that made up the Industrial Revolution.
Today, a very different set of trends are powering the new wave of iconic businesses like Facebook, Google, Apple and Virgin.
What trends are powering your business or idea? What waves are you riding?
Most importantly, how can you communicate that better to the world?
2. Be remarkable.
Iconic brands get talked about in your social world because they're interesting to everyone, not just their customers. While the next Apple product may spark global gossip, there's no reason why you can't be up to something unique and remarkable too.
Very few people realised what Steve Jobs was creating when he started out. It was his attention to detail and remarkable dedication to his vision before his big break that made Apple the icon that it is today.
Could there be anything better than your product or service being at the centre of remarkable conversations?
3. Be part of something beyond just making money.
If you have a vision for your life that's bigger than financial gain, the resources you require to manifest that vision show up faster. Why? Because the people with the resources and guidance you require are excited by the idea of making a difference, not just making money.
What core values drive you forward? What is it about your product, service or idea that resonates with others beyond the ability to make money?
That's what will define your brand, set you apart and inspire others to get involved.
4. Deliver a consistent and irresistible brand experience.
Your 'brand' dictates what you're known for.
It's essential that it consistently reflects excellence in what you do and how you do it.
The Key Person of Influence brand is known for helping people expand their brands and commercialise their value while doing what they love. This has become the client experience we are best known for.
What does the experience you offer your clients say about your business? Does it position you in your industry the way you want it to?
If you have a business or idea that inspires you to give it everything you've got, join us for this years Entrepreneur Brand Accelerator.
Book Now and join some of Australia's most distinguished entrepreneurs and industry leaders for a day that will add some serious horsepower to your business or idea.
Early bird tickets are strictly limited and these events will sell out.
I hope to see you there!
Over the last two weeks the Think Big Online team has been significantly tested as we’ve taken on short turn around projects with high pressure for some significant companies.
It has been a validating process for us as a team and as a manager of our team I am glad to say that we passed it with flying colors. The reason I share this with you is I want to show you the value of helping other businesses and what they can mean to you.
You see, one of the biggest tests that we encountered in the last few weeks was taking the development work of another company and engineering it to work as the previous company failed. As we took on the project we found out just how great the project was, where initially we looked and saw it as a small project this grew significantly as we got into the code.
We did not let this stop us as we were working on a tight deadline and the company that engaged us had to present the working site to investors. So the team dug deep and put in a few 20 hour days and produced a miracle.
It was great to see our team pull this off but I really share this with you as the upside of this work was significant. We were given a chance to showcase our skills to the client and as a result we won a significant ongoing contract to complete work.
Not only that but we also received referrals to other clients and a significant bump in revenue around these referrals as well. So I ask you today as to what challenges you can help other companies solve and WIN their business by proving your self and your business capabilities in the short term.
Just one opportunity delivered on can drive ongoing business for you and your company long term!