Facebook introduced Graph Search, a new way to explore Facebook. Given Facebook’s reach and content — 1 billion users, 240 billion photos and 1 trillion connections — there’s a lot to search. Graph Search is a way for Facebook users to find photos, places, recommendations, people, interests and events that are relevant to their lives.
With Facebook Graph Search, you can use Facebook to find information qualified just for you. Think of it as the ultimate search, combining location-based review sites, such as Instagram, with photo sharing services, such as Flickr, and engines, such as Google. There is no limit to how you can combine keywords to return relevant data.
Graph Search is too new to indicate its impact on businesses, but its scope means you have to consider Graph Search as part of your integrated marketing strategy. Given that Graph Search combines personal recommendations culled from Facebook users with traditional search-engine marketing, your business will benefit from earning as many likes, check ins, ratings and recommendations as possible to push it higher in results.
Here are three ways to get ahead of the Graph Search curve by focusing on the relevancy of your Facebook Page:
Check Page Information. Start with the basics and make sure you classified your business properly and have posted up-to-date information, such as physical address, telephone number and hours of operation. You’ll want this information to appear accurately when your business appears in Graph Search results.
Promote Your Business to Target Audiences. Consider ways to cross-promote your Facebook marketing with other integrated marketing initiatives. If you run a retail shop, post signs and encourage your customers to check in. Earmark some dollars from your online advertising budget to buy Facebook ads that target customer demographics, such as people who share hobbies similar to your products or services.
Give Your Audience Reasons to Connect. Your Facebook community will grow if you give your audience content that encourages engagement. This means setting an integrated marketing strategy that includes consistent Facebook posts, with valuable content that encourages sharing. Although you can post sales messages from time to time, rely on other creative messages, such as contests or polls.
By some estimates, more than 20% of all searches are for local businesses. If you want your brick-and-mortar enterprise to attract more nearby patrons, local SEO (search engine optimization) is a must-have marketing tactic, says the pithy “Definitive Guide to Local SEO” post over at Search Engine Journal.com.
Local Means Trusted
Six in ten users trust local search results and consider them relevant. So appearing atop the list means you’re more likely to be chosen. Summarized below are some of the article’s top local SEO tips, which perfectly complement our previous Location-Based Services post:
Tip #1: Create a Google + Local Listing—But only after first reviewing Google’s quality guidelines to understand their requirements. Giving Google precisely the information it wants, in the format it most prefers, is the best (and only) way to fully leverage this powerful marketing channel.
Tip #2: Learn how to use Reviews—Positive reviews (and lots of ‘em) tell Google and customers that your business is reputable, popular and worthy of appearing higher in the search results. Ask for reviews regularly and make it easy to submit them. Include your Google + Local profile links (and request) in emails, direct mail and in-store signage. Cautionary note: deliver on every brand promise at every customer touch point or reviews could backfire and keep customers away.
Also, take time to learn about local search citations so you’re conversant when you and your marketing team or provider decide to take the local SEO plunge. Biggest takeaway: Google gladly gives citation search-love, but only if you use their preferred format consistently across the web.
Tip #3: Get your on-site SEO in order—All the same elements apply for local SEO as national SEO, says the SEJ article, with some extra considerations like: putting your company’s name, address and phone number on every page of your site (in the same format as your Google + Local listing), preferably in the footer; also include your city and state names in Title Tags, Meta descriptions and where they fit naturally into your content.
Criticism can be difficult to take, especially from a customer. But for any business to survive, negative comments must be addressed, and promptly, no matter how they’re received.
Word of mouth used to spread to only a handful of people—usually the customer’s friends and family. Now, customers can broadcast their experiences to the world via social media, amplifying the reach of your company’s service, good or bad. This can also lead to additional publicity when social media messages go viral.
A strategy for handling public complaints should be part of any integrated marketing program, especially given the growing number of new media channels for customers to air their grievances. The fact is, negative reviews can be seen as valuable opportunities to convert unhappy customers into enthusiastic brand evangelists.
Here are eight principles to keep in mind in order when dealing with bad online reviews.
1. Don’t Delete or Fake
Deleting negative comments only infuriates the disgruntled, causing them to redouble their efforts and vitriol. By the same token, don’t try to write your own positive reviews. Review websites can find out when someone is writing multiple positive reviews for one business. Eventually you’ll get found out. That would be negative.
2. Respond Promptly
Your customers are living at Internet speed, always plugged in and connected. The longer it takes to respond to a negative (or potentially false) representation of your business, the more time it has to spread. Then the proverbial genie is out of the bottle.
3. Show You Care
When you get a negative comment or review, don’t ignore it. Reply respectfully and sincerely. But rather than emailing privately, use the same forum in which the negative remark was received to post your response publicly. Show other readers and prospective customers that you are listening and acting accordingly.
4. Take Serious Complaints Offline
Once you’ve responded publicly to let everyone know you’re addressing the situation, take the details offline. After apologizing, ask the customer to email you so you can resolve the matter. This helps to protect the privacy and dignity of both sides and reach a more positive outcome.
5. Monitor the Conversation
You don’t have to subscribe to every blog or forum to see what people are saying about your company online. Sign up for Google Alerts. It’s a free service that notifies you with an email alert every time your name or any other key phrase you specify is used on the Web. People pay big money for focus groups to get the kind of consumer opinion that’s now available free online.
6. Make It Right
Acknowledge the mistakes. Apologize—even if it’s not your fault. Then make it up to the customer somehow. This is the opportunity, the chance to exceed expectations with a huge potential return on investment. Do whatever it takes to turn that frown upside down.
7. Bury the Bad
If you don’t have a website, LinkedIn profile, or any social media presence, then any negative reviews have a higher likelihood of rising to the top of search results. By consistently generating your own positive online content through blog posts, press releases, videos, and social networks, it’s possible to bury the negative results further down in the listings.
8. Watch for Trends
One bad review could be a fluke or an off night for someone. Or it could be an early warning sign of an operational problem. Investigate the incident carefully. Ask open-ended questions of your customer to learn more than they may have been willing to write in a public forum.
You may have a physical address, but is your business really on the map?
For old-school, brick-and-mortar businesses, it used to be that a quality sign, a Yellow Pages listing, and a targeted direct mail campaign was all it took to bring in traffic. Nowadays you need a well-planned integrated marketing program that includes a presence on a variety of location based services to ensure your business is found.
Here’s an overview of the five most popular location-based sites and apps that will help you get discovered by customers, all at no charge.
Five Ways to Get Your Business on The Map
Ensure your customers can find you when they’re in the vicinity. Fill out your free listings completely (with photos as appropriate), and take advantage of tools that allow you to offer customer incentives to grow your business.
What’s your favorite location based service? Share it and tell us how you’ve discovered new places.
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Whether you use direct mail, email or both, testing and refinement can help to improve the effectiveness of your marketing. Most direct marketing managers are compulsive about testing, and for good reason: Testing yields customer insights that can help you boost response rates and increase profits.
Generally speaking, there are three direct mail testing and refinement processes:
Be sure to test only one of the following elements at a time to ensure measurable results:
Response mechanism. Some customers prefer to call, some prefer to reply via the mail, some prefer to reply online. Test what works best with your audience.
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To effectively optimize your website to help it get found by search engines, it helps to understand how search engines work. Search engines send automated programs, called robots, that “crawl” the web, reading each page on your website. As the robot reads your site, it “indexes” each one with a ranking score.
Have you ever read a website where you couldn’t figure out what business the company was in? Just imagine: if people have a hard time understanding what you or your site is about, it will be even more difficult for search engine robots, which interpret text in a very literal way. Keywords help these robots understand what your site is all about.
Keyword choice is crucial in the development and maintenance of your website. When selecting keywords, think like your prospects and customers. What words do they use when describing you company or your products?
To define your keywords, start by understanding the goal of your site. Once you decide your goal, you will need to choose the handful of keywords that best describe it. Google offers a free keyword tool to help you find out which terms are most popular in your category.
Keywords in Titles and URLs
Page titles and URLs also affect search engine rankings. Use your chosen keywords in page titles and URLs for individual pages whenever possible.
But beware: If you use keywords too often, the search engine robot may suspect you of “keyword stuffing” to manipulate rankings. You can’t just use the same word over and over to trick the robot and rise to the first page of Google overnight. Search engines eventually catch on to such “black hat” tactics and punish sites by removing them from search results. Your website content should be written for people, not robots.
A good rule of thumb: Keywords should be used throughout a content page at a density of between 3 and 5 percent.
Short vs. Long-Tail Keywords
You’ll need to balance choosing keywords that are popular versus those with less competition. The more general the keyword, the more it will be used in searches. However, that also means greater competition among other websites for the same keyword. More specific keywords or phrases (long-tail keywords) will be less popular in searches, so there will also be less competition for them, which means it will be easier to rank higher for more specific terms. For example: “candles” is a short keyword, “vanilla-scented dripless candles” is a long-tail keyword.
At the end of the day, the more effective your keyword strategy, the higher your rankings will be with the search engines.
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Email marketing continues to be one of today’s most economical and cost-effective marketing tactics. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reports that the ROI on email marketing remains far above that of search or other marketing channels.
But before readers dive into any email message, they must deem it time-worthy, typically with a cursory (and highly critical) glance at the email subject line.
The subject line has one job and one job only: to get your email opened. If it fails, your cleverly crafted content is off to the glue factory. If it works, you’re in the run for the roses, perhaps on the fast track to higher open rates, more sales and increased retention.
Use these tips get out of the gate quickly and increase your odds of finishing strong:
Regardless of campaign size or complexity, email subject lines have the same job: to convince readers they need the information contained therein. Use the tips above (and others posted here) to make your emails the favorite to win customer attention, not the long shot.
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Better Search Marketing
Launching a search marketing campaign without first preparing your site is like inviting guests for dinner and serving them empty plates. Follow these three easy steps before information-hungry visitors come to your site:
Brand scan. Starting with the Home page, scrutinize your site closely, paying extra attention to the details. Is it obvious what you do—and for whom? Does your value proposition sing? Are branding elements, such as logo, fonts, color palette and page layout/template consistent throughout?
Mind your meta. A search engine’s main purpose is to return the most user-relevant results possible. One way engines determine relevance is by checking web page titles and description tags.
Collaborate and cogitate. The allure of search marketing is how quickly it can produce results. PPC and SEO aren’t magic bullets but rather two of many integrated tactics that combine to support your overall sales and marketing effort.
Visit this blog regularly for bite-sized tidbits of actionable search marketing advice.
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