Become a Member

Monthly Archives: October 2016

Measuring your Social Media Success

Social networks and blogs continue to dominate Americans’ lives according to a recent Nielsen report on social media. Knowing this, your marketing department is on-the-ball and has been keeping up with posting on many of the social media platforms including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Houzz, Snap Chat, and Pinterest. But this takes a lot of time and energy. So, how do you know which platform, or posts are driving the most traffic to your website? And which of those are being converted into leads as a direct result of your social media efforts? Here are a few suggestions on how to measure and analyze the impact of those social media efforts.

  • Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a great way of identifying which social media sites send the most traffic to your website. More importantly, it will help to determine which platform needs more attention. Within a matter of minutes, you can have Google Analytics set up to tell you, among other things, the number of daily visits to your site, the demographics of your users, how they got to your site, how long they stay, and which of your pieces of content are most and least popular.
  • Facebook Insights – This tool provides detailed information on Likes, reach, visits, video and people. One of its really cool features is the Posts tab, which allows you to understand when your audience is most active, displaying info by day and time.
  • Hootsuite – While Hootsuite is primarily a Social Media Management tool, it can also give you great analytics. Since Hootsuite allows companies to track and post all of their social media sites in one convenient dashboard, it makes it easy to also see the data from each and how each compares.
  • Tweriod – Similar to Facebook Insight’s function, Tweriod is a free Twitter tool that helps you get the most out of the platform by letting you know the best time to Tweet. Simply sign up with your business Twitter account and enter the email address to where you want the reports sent to.
  • SocialMention is a simple but effective free tool to track the reach of keywords (or mentions) used in your social media campaigns. You can set email alerts for keywords specific to your social media marketing campaign that you need to track across the entire social media web.

 

 

Best Practices for Email Marketing

Email marketing may not be the shiny new toy that marketing departments are always looking for to engage loyal customers and hook new ones, but it certainly is not dead, as some businesses claim. In fact, by the end of 2016, it’s predicted that there will be 4.6 billion email accounts. That is a huge audience that should not be ignored. Yes, we are all tired of our constantly filled email inboxes, but for many companies email marketing can be a secret weapon that drives most successful marketing campaigns today. With that in mind, we have compiled some of the best practices that should be followed when launching a new email campaign for your use.

 

  • Go Mobile – It is not overstating it to say that everyone uses their mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets to check and respond to emails. If your emails are not using responsive design and, therefore, are not mobile friendly then your business is missing out on a potentially large audience. Kissmetrics estimates that your company can double your click-through-rate just by changing to a responsive design.
  • Be Personable – Your email should open with a personalized greeting to lift your open rates. For example, Marketing Sherpa did a recent study that found that personalization increased open rates by 29.3 percent overall. Transaction rates and revenue per email was also much higher due to personalizing the greeting, subject line and topic.
  • Call to Action – Most marketers would agree that the call to action is the most important part of an email message. Therefore, the call to action should be clear, concise, and given ample visual attention. Therefore, it is best to keep the call to action above the fold.
  • Offer Promotions – Most customers like an incentive to read an email or newsletter. By offering incentives, your business can engage customers and increase revenue. For example, offer an incentive with each email such as, “20% off if you mention this email or print this coupon for extension to our sale.”
  • Branding with your LogoPut your logo in the upper left-hand side of the email. According to Hub Spot, eye tracking studies have found that people instinctively look for logos in the upper left-hand side of emails. Put your logo in the upper left-hand side to ensure it gets the most visibility.

 

 

Key Components of Logo Design

A logo is a memorable, eye-catching symbol of your company’s brand. A great logo is one that hooks your intended consumer within a few seconds of viewing. Sounds simple enough, right? The professionals sure do make it look easy but it is anything but. There are millions of logos out there every day bombarding consumers at every turn. The ability to create one that is iconic is no easy feat.  Here are a few suggestions from the design experts.

  • Keep it Simple – Logos need to be very adaptable to size, so the simpler the design the easier it is to identify no matter what size it is being viewed. We suggest you test your design on all sizes such from as large as billboard size to as small as a business card or ad on Facebook. If it has too many details it may not view well in smaller scales.
  • Make it Memorable – Some of the best logos have the ability to stay with the consumer and almost imprint on the brain. The goal should be to grab the attention of the viewer with a simple design that makes an impression and stays with them.  For example, the Nike symbol or the McDonald’s arches are simple and easy to remember.
  • Versatility – A good logo can be altered and still easily recognized. For example, the logo should have the capability of being viewed in color or black and white – yet still be easily identified as your brand’s logo. Versatile also means that your logo should be identifiable in small and large scales.
  • Timeless – If your logo is trendy, it might be perfectly fine for right now but a few years down the line it may seem dated and out-of-style. Stick with logos that are classic.
  • Color and Font Considerations – Be careful with color and font selection. University of Loyola, Maryland, published research that showed color can increase brand recognition by 80 percent. The underlying reason being there is a strong correlation between emotional responses and color, implying that the selected color will determine how your brand is viewed. In addition, select a font that translates well across different media and sizes.

Keys to Developing a Successful Business Plan

 

Every successful business needs a solid foundation. That foundation usually comes in the form of clearly set and articulated goals to guide the business. A business plan articulates those goals and serves as a compass for most businesses. This living document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route a company intends to take to grow revenues. How, then,  do business leaders create a successful business plan that will guide the company from its fledgling days into years of prosperity? Here are some suggestions and tips from those that have come before you on this journey.

 

  • Before drafting your business plan decide on your goals both short and long term.
  • Put your goals to the S.M.A.R.T. test. ISMART is an acronym that asks if your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. It’s a simple tool used by businesses to go beyond the realm of fuzzy goal-setting into an actionable plan for results. If you have not heard of this method of analysis Google SMART planning and get started.
  • Find a guide that can help you draft your business plan. For example the US Small Business Association has comprised a step-by-step process to write your business plan. Entrepreneur Magazine has written a comprehensive site that helps young business leaders get started in the right path.
  • Consider all the major categories that you will need to cover in your business plan.  Some of the following aspects may need the assistance of experts or professionals who have experience in starting up a small or medium sized business.

 

Executive Summary – A snapshot of your business plan as a whole.

Company Description – A brief description of what you do and how you differentiate your company from others in your field. You may want to include a thorough description of what you sell or what your specific services will be.

Financial Aspects – This section should include how the company will be financed and projections into the future.

Marketing Analysis – Include the research that you have conducted on your field and where your company would fit into to the overall picture.

Business Organization – Discuss how your company will be organized with management and leadership.

 

Business planning should never be done in a vacuum so plan who you want to include in your pre-launch discussions. These choices can help set your company off in the right direction.

Best Business Apps for Business Leaders

Business leaders play many roles such as: problem solvers, financial wizards, customer relations gurus and of course the captain of the ship. With all these roles to play, it is no wonder that business leaders depend heavily on mobile apps to keep them organized, stay on top of budget issues, plan business trips and communicate properly. Here are a few of the top apps that are helping successful business leaders juggle it all.

Financial Apps

  • Expensify – This app provides for easy scanning of receipts, organization of spending and categorizing of reports. You can link your credit or debit card to your Expensify account so that the app will place charges directly on an expense report.
  • PayPal – This convenient platform lets you link your credit, debit and other bank accounts to your PayPal account, making paying people and getting paid quick and painless. PayPal’s standard merchant service plan is free and allows you to accept credit cards and PayPal on your site and in store. The Pro plan costs $30 per month and comes with added features.
  • Square – This great small business app is great for companies that are on-the-go and need to be able to make transactions and payments. Square can attach to a phone or another mobile device to take fast, convenient payments.

Organization

  • Evernote – This is the app for syncing notes across mobile and desktop devices. Evernote’s free version lets users upload up to 60 megabytes of data per month.
  • Trello Trello is an easy-to-use project management app that tracks your team’s workflow. Each card you create on a Trello board represents an assignment or task.
  • Dropbox – Dropbox is the most popular platform on which to store and share files on the cloud. It’s especially useful for companies that need a reliable way to share information with telecommuters.

Communication

  • Mail Chimp – This email marketing tool helps you build and manage your mailing lists, and easily create and send newsletters. You can also build and customize email templates and view performance reports about your emails. This information can help you send your customers more relevant emails.
  • Constant Contact – Constant Contact is an email marketing tool that allows businesses to create content for clients using special features such as: email templates, email editors, contact lists and easy-to-generate reports.