Wait, you’re not on Google+? Why not? Do you have any idea what you are missing out on?
Google+ accounts for businesses are like money in your pocket. That sounds crazy, but think about all of the people that you’re not showing content to when you’re not on G+.
Google is the largest search engine company in the world, even with Microsoft’s Bing in the ring. By joining G+, you’re helping your company be found on the network and in relevant searches.
At one time the only thing that mattered to a web page was SEO.
While SEO is still very relevant, using social media has increased the possibility of a post or article going viral. G+ is essential in showing up high on search results as Google feeds its own sites to the search engine of itself first.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use good SEO tactics on your website. What you should do is up your presence on G+ by publishing links to your Google+ account to your site or articles.
There are plugins for WordPress based sites that will publish your links to G+ automatically, along with Facebook and Twitter. You must also install a G+ button on your site so that readers can share your work.
When you use G, your profile and everything you post become available to the world.
Google has a huge array of products from maps to browsers. The content you share on G+ will show up in all of these products. Some people have referred to G+ as Google 2.0, though no one is ever quite sure what Google is going to do next with the network.
G+ has quite a few tools that can help you grow your customer base.
Marketing on G+ is easier than it looks. Adding people to ‘Circles’ allows people to find you or decide to follow you back. You can use your contacts from years old emails and invite those people to add you back.
Hangouts are a video service, like a video conference that you can invite your contacts to. People can also join if they see you have a hangout running. Think of Hangouts as podcasts with video and increased exposure built right in.
As mentioned, G+ results show up in Google search, but do you know why?
When you are signed into your Google account the search engine searches results relevant to you; your location, your previous searches, and your social networking circles or ‘pluses’. Google calls this Share +Your World. This layering helps you be found by your contacts when they are searching for something that is relevant to your product or service.
You simply must be on G+ if you are running a business if you want to reach the world in a clean, simple way not offered by other social networks.
About the Author: Tina Samuels writes on budgeting tools, social media, small business, and mobile payments.
Meeting sales goals is heavily dependent on the customer experience your team provides. Since the experience begins with the skills and level of service offered by your reps, why are most customer service strategies focused on the customer? A big revenue opportunity is in doing your part to make sure teams on the front lines feel empowered and satisfied.
In this Q&A with Software Advice’s Holly Regan, we discuss some recent tips she developed for empowering customer service reps, inspired by Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson. While some might think energy and resources are best spent on the satisfaction of the customer, you’ll see how organizations notorious for excellent customer service (like Virgin) lift up staff to meet overall company goals.
interlinkONE: One of Richard Branson’s strategies for empowering customer support staff is encouraging them to collaborate for the best solution, rather than getting management involved. What are some ways to foster this collaboration?
Holly: According to Branson, praising employees for collaboration is the best motivator. Any time your customer support team members work together to provide better service, make sure you commend them for their actions. Consider offering a tangible reward for times they really go above and beyond. Branson personally praises Virgin employees on a regular basis and recognizes them company-wide when they provide exceptional service. Senior leaders should also lead by example where collaboration is concerned. They should consistently get out on the floor and work side by side with the rest of the team. This will give them a better understanding of what they should be encouraging team members to do to help each other.
interlinkONE: What is your advice for other organizations looking to operate within a “judgment playing field,” where staff are asked to make their own decisions?
Holly: It starts and ends with smart hiring. When you only hire staff who share your company values and fit with your culture, you know you can trust them to make decisions that benefit both the company and the customer. Of course, even the best employees will make mistakes from time to time, so you’ll have to make sure you clearly define the boundaries of the “judgment playing field” for all new hires–in other words, outline which practices, behavior and language are acceptable and which are “out of bounds.” By establishing clear guidelines that all members of your staff agree to uphold, you give employees the freedom to make their own customer service decisions, while ensuring that even a poor decision won’t have a catastrophic effect on your business.
interlinkONE: In what ways can you encourage your customer service reps to “bring their personalities to work”?
Holly: Customers prefer having genuine interactions with employees; they don’t want their reps to be robots. So don’t require them to follow a script, which by definition will make service interactions seem forced and ingenuine. Allow your reps to engage customers personally, like they would with a friend. If you’ve hired quality employees who have been thoroughly vetted, you’ll know you can trust them to keep customer service interactions friendly, yet professional. And if you have clearly established what sort of language and behavior is and isn’t allowed within the “judgment playing field,” you won’t have to worry about employees crossing the line. Managers can demonstrate this behavior in their own interactions with customers, too, to give reps an idea of how they can let their personality shine while retaining respectful boundaries.
interlinkONE: Here at interlinkONE we use our own customer communications software ilinkONE V8 to manage customer contacts and communications on one central, web-based platform. Do you think it’s important for software providers to practice what they preach in their customer service department?
Holly: Yes; if software providers offer a product that they believe enhances the customer communication experience, like ilinkONE V8, then there’s no reason they shouldn’t use that product for themselves. Agents will be able to provide better customer service when they have personal experience with the product they’re supporting, and can understand firsthand how it benefits the customer.
interlinkONE: Why might reps who have a sense of overall company mission deliver a better customer experience than those who do not?
Holly: Reps who have a sense of the overall mission have a broader view of what exactly it is the company is trying to achieve. This not only clearly delineates employee goals, it also provides them with a greater sense of purpose. In order to be passionate about the company, employees must first know what it stands for. Then, they can internalize the mission and use their own judgment to deliver on it when serving customers. Knowing how each of their customer service interactions contributes to the bigger picture empowers reps to make these interactions the best they can be.
Take a glance at the world of digital marketing and you might assume that email marketing has taken a back seat. After all, the current digital landscape is driven by social media, content marketing, and other innovative ideas like video and text message marketing.
Where does this leave email marketing? And how does this impact your average small- or medium-sized business?
Follow along and look at its importance…
The Current State of Email Marketing
Just in case you were wondering, email marketing is alive and well.
Here are just a few mind blowing email statistics:
• 77% of consumers prefer email for permission-based marketing communications
• 7 out of 10 used a coupon in an email in the previous week
• 82% of consumers open email from companies
The intangibles are also in email marketing’s favor, if we compare email to something like social media. KISSmetrics argues that email is more social, more transactional, and more personal than social media. It’s tough to argue with those types of points.
When you consider the versatility of email, you have to hand it to this “ancient” digital marketing medium.
After all, newsletters, in-depth updates, and a wide variety of messages are possible with email – while social media would take a skilled marketer to pull it off as easily, if possible. And then, of course, with most social media networks – it’s in the past in the blink of an eye.
Many think that email marketing is the most valuable type of marketing platform.
Think about it – would you rather have an email contact or a social media follower? Most would choose the former.
Is the Manager Still Relevant?
The most relevant point here is that email marketing is still relevant, powerful, and worth any company’s time – no matter how large or small it may be.
As for the manager, it depends.
Since email and social media marketing campaigns can and should be linked together at times, perhaps the digital marketing manager or director could oversee both – as well as other forms of online marketing. It’s important to at least co-ordinate the two, and combining the two can form a powerful tandem.
That is an important take-home point for businesses.
Email, social media, text messaging, video, content, and more – these forms of marketing can and should co-ordinate and combine with each other accordingly. It’s the solution for brand identity, hitting the mark with special deals and messaging initiatives, and much more. It all has to fit together.
You can take or leave the email manager.
What you should buy into is the realization that email marketing is alive and well. Invest in it with your resources to get what you can out of it – your competitors certainly will do so!
About the Author: Brian Neese is an author that specializes in content marketing, social media, and SEO. He writes about technology, financial software, marketing, and much more.
While Facebook receives more visits and logins than any other site in the world daily, this doesn’t always mean conversion for businesses.
The problem with reaching these visitors is cost – is it cost effective to use Facebook promotions for your page? How many people do you want to reach? Should you just close down the fan page and move on to other venues?
Free Setups and Other Myths
Sure, it is free for anyone to set up a Facebook fan page. Anyone can potentially reach thousands of visitors per day at no cost.
But if you really want to get your likes and views up you’ll have to pay. Sometimes you’ll pay more than you expect with dismal results. The advertising on Facebook comes off as low cost.
However what you don’t know is that to reach a good number of people you’ll need to spend a large amount – not once, but every single day. You can set up your advertising to promote posts or the page.
You may even choose to do both, but in the end you may pay far more than other avenues such as Adsense or even Twitter based advertising sites such as Sponsored Tweets.
These ads on Facebook are only guaranteed to show your ad to members, not generate likes. Any likes you receive might not generate more visitors to your page or website.
People often ‘hide’ the posts from pages they ‘like’ in order to keep their newsfeed clear. If people aren’t seeing your posts, you’ve just spent a lot of money on, well, nothing.
People are on Facebook to socialize in most cases.
They want to stay in touch with their families and friends. Quite a few want to follow their favorite companies and more want to join in on contests or giveaways.
If you can’t afford to hold events often that will bring interest, you may lose views. Fun, interesting content is what drives fans to stay in contact. Those companies without the time or know-how to create such content should focus on their product instead of Facebook.
Fan pages shouldn’t be a time-suck. A low amount of interaction from fans means that they’re not really interested in what you have to say or that you’re not devoting enough time to engaging them.
For people that have a business focused on providing a service or product, your time may be better spent working instead of socializing.
Deciding to close your fan page can be hard. While it is nice to be able to interact with customers, when there isn’t enough feedback or ‘likes’, Facebook is a waste of valuable time better spent on your business.
Everyone in one form or another wants to reach their customers – that is understandable. Not every new thing is a perfect fit.
AstraZeneca took down its “Take on Depression” page in 2011 because of Facebook’s new ruling to not allow public page wall comments to be blocked. They were afraid of customers using the page to post negative reactions to their drugs and scaring off potential customers. This fear created their closed account.
Only you can determine if Facebook could help or hinder your company.
About the Author: Tina Samuels writes on social media, small business, marketing, and personal reputation.
Traffic to a small business website is the most important aspect of owning a website.
The amount of traffic you receive lets you know how many people are visiting, what they are reading or viewing, and how long they are staying. There are many ways to measure traffic, not all are equal.
Google is the big player in almost everything website related. From measuring traffic to monitoring advertising, Google has it down pat. People around the world use Google Analytics to keep track of how well their website is doing.
To use this service you must create a Google account. This is accomplished by creating a Gmail account, once this step has been taken it is a matter of visiting their Analytics site. Your account information is imported. To this you add the URL of your website and a small code is generated that you or your web designer insert into your website code. Once Google has registered this entry, your site will be monitored.
Google Analytics reports on Pacific Time.
Free Traffic Monitors
Many free traffic monitors exist. Much like Google, you must enter a snippet of code into your website’s HTML. Most of the time the free traffic monitors only calculate the number of visitors to your site. None are quite as in depth as Google. Some are available as WordPress plugins – be wary of plugins, some can corrupt your website’s code. Only install those that are direct from WordPress. Read reviews on their performance.
Some free traffic monitors are only free for a limited time or they have features that must be paid for. Free software from a no-name company is usually sub-par.
Importance of Traffic
Traffic is important because without traffic you have no audience. If people are not visiting your site, it is a waste of time and money. To bring in more traffic, consider a marketing strategy. This can involves advertising or adding more, relevant content to your site. Content is one of the best ways to bring in more traffic. People that are in search of information pertaining to your service or product will flock to well written, relevant content.
Some companies improve traffic to their site by adding forums. These forums can be a boon if well maintained. Forums should include a customer service area, FAQs, and information about your product. Many people enjoy a ‘free forum’ area where they can interact with other customers, but unless your forum is well moderated this can backfire. Paid moderators can keep an eye on you forum to delete spam and offensive posts.
Never underestimate the power of good customer relations in building traffic.
By keeping your customer support emails, phone numbers, or live chat active, you can ensure high traffic.
A user friendly site will encourage people to stay on site longer than if the information visitors seek is hidden. Always keep important information prominent and avoid clutter.
About the Author: Tina Samuels writes on physician reviews, small business, and social media.