Many companies and marketers have stated that one of their biggest goals is to increase their mailing lists. These days, most of them are trying to engage their customers, and interact with them. Quality lists have overtaken over lists built based on quantity.
So what important steps must companies take in order to get a larger number of mailing addresses from their customers that are real and not just made up at the moment?
The first and most important thing for companies and marketers are their websites. The design of the website can genuinely attack or appall customers in the very beginning. User friendly sites, where customers can easily browse and look through pages are highly recommended. The Opt-In option must be easily detectable and easy to fill in. Most companies tend to focus on the social networks and forget to optimize the opt-in feature. Remember, this option will also provide you with emails from potential or existing customers. The Opt-In form should be placed as many times as possible on your website – at the top, at the bottom, on the right and on the left side of the page, always visible to the user. When creating the forms, try and make them simple. Nobody wants to fill in long and boring forms that make people feel like they are being interrogated. Make it simple and precise!
Other ways of collecting emails is through direct contact with your customers. Set up collecting points at your stores. Ask customers to provide you with their email and mobile phones and in return, offer them some benefits. The best way for them to give you their emails and phone numbers is to write them. Touchpads are the most efficient option for this. Ask customers to type in the information. In that way you avoid any misspellings or illegible handwriting. Ask permissions before you start sending SMS and emails to the customers.
And last but not least, don’t forget the social pages. Your website must enable users to register through their social accounts; otherwise many will not bother registering at all. Your site must be equipped with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ social sign-in options. The chances that the customers will find you through the social pages are big, so use the potentials these social pages have to offer you and benefit from them.
Being a blogger may like a pretty lush job on the surface. They get to voice an opinions whenever they feel like it. It’s essentially the ultimate form of venting. There is a catch. As a blogger, we need to make our content useful. It’s not just about writing something, but rather writing something people want to read. Beyond great topics, we need to make the articles useful. So how do we do that?
When you are a blogger, it doesn’t really matter that you write 5, 8, 10 blogs in the day if there isn’t anyone to read and share them with the rest of the world. And if you are a newbie, the trick is to get yourself involved and connected to other bloggers and have them share your work. This interaction benefits both you as an author and the blogger. You get a little endorsed promotion, and the blogger that shared your post has a chance at reaching a wider audience. It’s white hat at it’s best.
However, guest blogging is not always an option. Popular blog owners have established themselves so just any regular article won’t do. Providing readers with good content can be easily achieved with a few easy tricks:
Stick to one subject and one conclusion
It’s easy to get carried away writing an article. Thanks to the modern entertainment age, most people have short attention spans. The best articles are the ones that are short and sweet.
Mention other bloggers
Connecting yourself with others is a good way to spread the fame. Popular bloggers are also a great source to reference to. A good reference can giving your post more legitimacy.
Create a relationship with other bloggers to send and receive guest posts
This is a “give and take” relationship. This interaction benefits everyone so take the time to tweet, facebook, and meet other bloggers in the community.
Aim for a magnificent future not a minute of fame
It is not a disaster if the guest post you place on a website does not reach its peak in an instance. Write the post as best as you can and make sure it contains all keywords you’re trying to reach. Beyond that, be available for feedback or comments and do your best to reach the new audience.
Your readers are important!!!
Whenever you write a post, you’re goal is to get people to interact. Any publicity is good publicity. Let your readers know you care about their opinion and reply to as many comments as you can. Use some of their comments and ideas. It will only increase your audience.
Make your guest posts simple and easy to read
Most of the readers are newbies. They find posts on Google when they search for something they don’t know – a term, an answer to a question or they just click some links that appear on their screens. That is how new readers are created. When writing a guest post make sure it’s clear and precise and easy for a beginner to understand.
So to all you writers-to-be out there, keep it simple! Respect your audience and they will always respect you. Always ask for help and remember that mutual respect amongst bloggers is what will make you rise high up the steps of the world of blogs.
Building a targeted social media follower base is no easy task. However, there are certain ways to speed things up and get a quick ROI for your time spent. It’s really hard to see the value when you’re starting out, especially when trying to get upper management to put good money and manpower towards the cause. It’s one of the toughest areas we have with our clients as they hate waiting for results, and really they should only be using an outside company to send them in the right direction.
What we want in the end are real people hitting that “follow” button so you have a real target audience that’s truly interested in your brand. The one other aspect that’s extremely important in my mind is the fact that you get to build a level of trust with consumers. If they can see you interacting with other customers, sharing new media and seeing others engaged with your brand, you’ll see an uptick in sales…without a doubt! The cream on top comes with the value in spreading content once you have a large following. If you have a truly creative content team, they’re going to have a lot more success spreading the right media because customers will actually want to share your content.
#Protip – Using a profile picture of a good looking bloke or lady from your company is going to get more follows thanks to good old “sex appeal”.
What I’m going to go over today will help get a big boost to your follower base that should be decently targeted to your brand. We will also identify your key social influencers which will be really important down the road. The world of business becomes a lot easier when you have the right connections, so make sure you know who the key players are. These relationships can lead to getting links, making new social friends, and getting help sharing your content. Just make sure you play nice and be social!
Let’s Talk About Pinterest
This site is perhaps the most fun to work on as of late, and while it’s not for business, it is a social network not to be slept on. Pinterest has a large female following (with the guys finally catching on) and while the referral traffic might be on par with StumbleUpon (aka not that sticky), this social network has other uses. You do get links on your profile, but the best marketing aspect yet? You pins can rank easily for long tail keywords and thus become a major traffic driver in and of themselves. This of course will only last as long as Google inflates their rankings like they are now, so definitely take advantage of this (and for any other social media site of the moment).
Pinterest follows will mainly come from you having good content, just like any other marketing angle you usually would be working. If you’re selling a product that’s the same across other websites and it’s already pinned, it’s time to take some custom photos for the occasion. Pinterest will send you insane amounts of traffic if done right, but don’t expect to magically go viral anymore, even with amazing content. Nevertheless, having the right audience already in place will make your life so much easier!
First up, get your staff (or yourself if flying solo) to populate your account, make sure you have your links set up, and create a dozen of your own pin boards. Fill the default ones up first and work on those amazing pictures for your custom pin boards before heading off to make friends.
Play Nice With Others…
Spend a few hours hunting down similar users by hand based on what you like and see. That’s always a great way to make sure you have future pins you’ll actually be interested in re-pinning on a bi-weekly basis. Not only that, but hopefully they’ll be something your followers will be interested in as well; chances are good that you’ll earn some like-minded followers back. By now, I’m sure you’re thinking “I’ve already done this with Twitter”… Sadly, it won’t be the last time you feel that sensation either, as I’m sure the next big social media site is just about to pounce.
Trending & Influencers
Once you’ve worked on the above task, it’s time to start utilizing the mashup sites that provide a wealth of useful information. In came Repinly and let me tell you, this is the most handy Pinterest marketing resource you’re going to see, hands down.
Here you can easily find the top influencers and pins in your vertical. Since using this site, we’ve managed to help build clients’ Pinterest follower levels over the 100k mark. You can also keep your eye out for pin boards that allow other contributors which opens you up to a world of power sharing.
There are a couple of other Pinterest mashups worth mentioning, and although I hate to favor one over the other, Repinly has really outdone themselves. You can also check out:
Pinauthority.com – tracks statistics for Pinterest users including pin stats and follower gains/losses.
PinPuff.com – This is kind of like Klout, but for just Pinterest… I don’t think I could have summed it up any better.
Don’t Skip Out On TheFancy.com
This is my personal favorite social site of the “pin kind”. TheFancy.com has been growing rapidly, although it’s not quite near the traffic levels of its arch-nemesis. We also run a luxury blog and luxury marketing company which is in the upstart stages, and that’s more so what this site is geared towards. The cooler and more fancy it is, the better luck you’ll have spreading it on this site. The bonus as well is that you can directly partner with TheFancy and they can send you sales/leads for your products. I’ve also found that the site’s posts also rank quite well in the long tail and can be another addition to that specific strategy. Here’s a shot of my profile:
To me, the overall experience of this site is way better than its competitors and I spend way too much time on it. I’ve also found the traffic is a lot more sticky and productive that Pinterest (which usually has a time on site of less than 10 seconds). There are no stats and trending tools for TheFancy, but you can use Topsy to see some hot items which I find is great for my link bait writing. Gaining followers here requires a lot of hard work and while I’ve had my items front page featured a lot, I’m still not that influential.
Instagram Is Too Useful To Ignore
Instagram is quite fun, and bringing it into the work place can be a positive work task if done correctly. It can be used to showcase your products, your team and even score some natural links in the process. Creating content is good, and that’s what it’s all about these days! Gaining target followers here is the same as in any other place: follow, like/comment and hopefully get followed back. As I’m sure you’re aware, #hashtags play a key role with Instagram as well, so don’t forget to utilize them.
Instagram is a great marketing tool because:
You can showcase behind-the-scenes at your company on the fly.
You can use it to feed content to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
You can repurpose the pictures into galleries or use them on your company blog.
You can push Instagram followers to subscribe to your other social media accounts.
You can take part in trending topics with your own content.
Since viewing anything on Instagram from the web is a complete pain in the arse, in came Statigram which makes life easier and prettier. You can get stats, view pictures and comment on images as well – all from their beautiful interface, which I think is what Instagram should have been like from the get-go. Take advantage of the search feature and go hit up your favorite #hashtag to find users to follow and discover who your influencers are.
If you’re looking for another way to attract more followers and showcase your content in a purrdy way, then don’t miss out on using Pinstagram. It’s a breeze to use on your mobile phone or tablet and the whole interface is just so well done. Another perk of the 10-second sign up process is of course a link that will add a natural site/brand named link to your profile.
Google+ IS Worth The Effort
I’m finding that the Google+ effort by most webmasters, especially myself (shamefully), and even clients these days, is still quite minimal. I’ve been reading and researching what’s working well for other mass-followed individuals across a few verticals, and have come up with the following tactics to try out to see how well it builds an audience. Some of it is just obvious and I cannot believe how we’ve been sleeping on it all this time. If you have any tips I missed, leave them in the comments below and I’ll include it in here with a reference back to you!
Another reason I think the new social media network on the block is worth the effort is simply because of its integration. We spend so much time marketing to all of the other “Google streams” and now that they’re all flowing into the same lake, we have no choice. I definitely see it as an opportunity to take hold of as many followers as you can while the getting is good. I think it will play a crucial part in allowing any sort of top 10 ranking in whatever is left of the Google first page results in the coming years. Rand Fishkin has already covered this and several more reasons to get in on it sooner rather than later.
Badges & Reaching Out
This is the easiest part as there are many Google+ buttons you can get and try out on your audience, and while we use Sharebar for our social shares, I think it’s time we tried something else. We’re just not getting the desired amount of G+ shares on our content, so we’ll see what we can do for the last half of the year. You can find different badges for free all over the web (just use Google…), plus you could and should experiment with your own creative options to get that follow.
I would also highly recommend letting your social followers elsewhere know that you’re now on Google+, and/or share your brand/company community url there. This also means sending out a newsletter as well… Not many people remember to do this and that’s a big mistake. Newsletter followers are usually a high valued follower and syncing them up is going to be very well worth it. Remember that the Google “tentacles” reach out everywhere and that also means into the Gmail inbox location!
I’ve also seen the majority of shares on our end come from my blogging author bio both on our site and especially when I guest blog. Besides that, you should list it on other social media site bios(when you have the room) such as:
About Us Pages
This is where things get the most interesting in my opinion. Video conferencing is a very handy tool and it will most likely outpace audio only communication in the coming years. While texting is still widely popular, I think in the business world in particular the trend of video conferencing will be quite well received. This is the area I myself and the Linkbuildr team will be focusing on the most because there are a couple of unique uses for this free service.
Use 1) Google+ Hangout Air
Google has been testing Hangout Air quite a bit over the past year, and it is basically live streaming to your audience for whatever reason you may have. There are already tens of thousands of celebrities, sports teams, brands and leaders making good use of it. You can instantly save it to Youtube for marketing purposes later, or just go live to your audience. Right now you can broadcast up to 10 people, which is great for collaboration or for interacting with many people from a client’s company.
Use 2) Handle Customer Service
We’re a small team and a small company, so keeping costs down is always a plus! I know Geoff couldn’t agree with me more there as I give him and our accountant enough headaches as is. With Google+ Direct Connect, you can connect your website/brand to everything properly so Google can index your content accordingly. This can work great for communicating with clients on-the-fly, and will be a serious threat to Skype and other services like it.
I can take a video call from a client and pull in Geoff, Simon or Curtis at any time to consult on something they’re working on specifically. We’re also going to test this out with our month end reports and let each person report to the client what’s going on in their work. Most of our communication is through email still, so it will be interesting to see how this works in improving how we get to know our clients and improve the working environment.
Don’t forget about Google+ Local
For anyone servicing a specific location, Google+ Local is an absolute must so I really shouldn’t be listing it here in this post. As I’m sure you’re aware, the local listings are placed highly on local search results and thus give you quite the advantage. This makes up for the majority of all local leads within Google, so make sure you’re open to reviews and providing customers something to look at.
You can feed in Youtube videos, product/company images, and your Zagat rating and actual testimonials from other Google+ users here which will greatly improve your ranking amongst all others. This is extremely helpful in showcasing that you’re an active and legit brand, something a lot more companies need to work on. I want to feel as if I can trust a website I’m buying from and will often peek at your social media activities to see who’s behind the code. I highly recommend reading David Mihm’s crowd sourced mega article on ranking factors for local SEO, as it goes into great detail on just about everything you’ll need to know.
Youtube & Vimeo
I won’t – nor do I need to – go into great detail on why and how you should be using video in your marketing efforts. I will, however, quickly cover why I think these two are the only video sites worth putting a lot of effort into in the immediate future. It’s no secret that videos from these two sites can rank extremely high up in the SERPs if done correctly, and it all comes down to great content and your user base.
Vimeo is a place for high quality content, so sticking to that idea, I definitely recommend only using it for a certain type of video. I would certainly not recommend putting up boring product commercials or anything not edited well by a professional. Don’t get discouraged though; even though it’s more of a place for video art, you can by all means utilize it as a sales driving force. To give you an idea, just take a look at how GoPro has used it to sell their product and launch viral video content.
Kick ass content that lets the product do the selling without having to shove any tom foolery in a customers face. After seeing just one of their videos, you’ll want one.
Youtube is great for all video, including artsy high end HD productions. I tend to recommend that clients heavily upload product reviews, funny videos, and pretty much anything else here. Youtube videos rank well, and if you can make your video authoritative enough, you will dominate the search results. A well ranked video comes from a number of areas such as view count, ratings, comments, and social share data, so having a well built social following can make a fast and significant impact to those rankings. I picked the random Google search query “San Jose mortgage broker” off the top of my head and sure enough, I got two video listings right at the top!
That’s why I love utilizing video, although we mainly do it for clients and not enough for ourselves. Just make sure you’re producing useful content, as it will lead to real social follows and that’s what you’re going after here. Video also lets your customers peer into your brand a little more intimately, which in turn leads to more brand trust.
I’ve been a HUGE fan of Rick Steves for over 10 years now and it’s finally dawned on me that I love the man for more than his amazing Books, DVD collection and podcasts: Rick Steves has built an empire doing what he LOVES and, in terms of building a brand, he’s done just about everything absolutely right. Rick may be the dorkiest travel man in the business yet he can teach us all a lesson in personal branding at its finest. His digital and broadcast empire has been done so well that it provoked me to write this post to showcase how things should be done. While Rick Steves is the brand name, he is powered by an amazing team that includes family and friends who dearly respect the man.
Do I secretly hope Rick will read this one day and consider hiring me to work with him? Yes. Am I sounding like the world’s biggest ass kisser at the moment? Yes. Either way, we’ll look at how Rick managed to transition seamlessly from Books and DVD’s to eventually taking over the web and building a brand that (I think) will be passed on for a very long time to come. Instead of regurgitating link building and social media marketing tips, I’ll be breaking down how the Rick Steves empire was built for the consumer in mind and why they NEVER have to worry about building links or tricking people into following them on Facebook/Twitter.
While you may not have heard of Rick Steves, he and his brand is “famous” within the travel industry. I’ve picked Rick to demonstrate what you should be doing here in 2012 and beyond. Over the years, so many brands have been duped or lead astray with lousy link building, boring social media efforts and no real long term branding strategy in play. I’m going to walk you through what it looks like when you put your love, effort and customers first and how that results in marketing gold. First up, for those who still don’t know who Rick is, check out this blooper clip from his show.
The main point I’m trying to get across is that doing amazing things and being active in your community/vertical will create the only truly natural link portfolio. The Rick Steves empire consists of a real world business first, and then the digital age takes over and his entire company adapts extremely well. Rick also does lectures and PBS specials, which, of course, lead to links and citations and, as you can see from the numbers below, it has done his company well!
That looks quite impressive; I’d hate to be his competition!
While not every company is going to be able to score this kind of a natural link profile easily, this should get your mind turning. Rick somehow manages to make the time to write for various authoritative sources and the rest of his links are seriously au-naturale! You won’t find Rick article marketing, socially bookmarking his content, spamming forums or blog commenting. I won’t completely break down Rick’s link profile as you can easily check it for yourself. I’d just like to showcase some of the goods and how being a leader in your vertical will draw in the links so well you’ll never have to build links.
Looking at the top links for Rick you’ll see he writes for The Huffington Post, NY Times Travel and USA Today Travel. This is one of the huge benefits of being a leader in your niche as you’ll be asked to write for the most authoritative resource available. First and foremost, he has grown his brand on his books and his television & radio shows have really propelled Rick to “celeb” status.
What does having those media advantages bring in regards to links? Well, to name just a few natural citations his organization has, the board of NORML, being on PBS, Wikipedia, Salon.com and way, way more. His website is truly a shining example of doing things right and I doubt the man even knows what link building is…
Another aspect besides TV and Radio I’d like to mention is something a lot of brands don’t do that they should: mobile and tablet apps. If you’re a major player in your vertical, or are trying to be, you should have something for the mobile crowd, or at least be in the process of getting something done. If not, you should give yourself a smack in the face and wake up to 2012; get in the game before it’s too late.
Ricks’ team has been on top of things and they have amazing audio guides for locations all over Europe. My friends who recently traveled the world used these and loved them while in Greece. You can nab the audio guides and apps for both the iPhone and the Android. This has lead to tons and tons of links both from the markets, app sites, travel news, travel blogs and press releases. This is another great example of creating amazing content that deserves links that are natural.
Social Media That’s Truly Social
By now you should know that having a Twitter and Facebook account is NOT partaking in social media. We have too many potential and current clients hooked on just seeing their follower numbers rise. Rarely do we have a client that is truly engaging with their customers, so hopefully Rick’s example empowers your efforts.
The post you see to the left is from the time I’m writing this article. Within 8 hours of being live, it has 700 likes and 35 comments. Can you imagine how many more eyes saw this in their timeline? This folks, is REAL engagement and a brilliant example of giving your social followers something they love. Not to bring up links in the social media portion, but imagine having those 200 radio stations all linking to your website. This is a clear indication that people absolutely love your brand and if you’re still getting 4-10 likes on your shares, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
I think the main problem for companies engaging in social media is that the beginning stages are quite slow and boring. The old saying that “all good things come to those who wait” couldn’t apply better here. It takes a while to build an audience, so hold in tight for the first few months and just do all you can to engage and entertain. Your amazing content is the key to success so make sure you actually have exciting things going on. Another important aspect is the design to match your branding across the usual suspects (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube). A visually appealing brand makes customers feel at home, comfortable buying and overall you just look damn good (3 piece suit anyone?). Just take a look at the Rick Steves Youtube Channel:
Rick truly loves connecting with his fans whether it be in real life or via the digital tubes called the internet. I always wondered how the man made time to do everything he does and I figured he didn’t do a lot of his social activities like blogging. I’m sure fans also wondered and here’s a great example of how Rick covered this and how it shows to connect to your followers. He made use of the Facebook Notes section of his business page to convey his message.
Some people have emailed us assuming that I don’t actually write these blog entries or read the responses. As my staff can assure you, I jealously guard my responsibility to personally write everything that we put on this page. Except for the rare guest blogger, I write every word you see. (I do have an editor proof my writing. The thinking among my staff: If you saw how poorly I spelled, you might think less of my guidebooks.) And I eagerly look forward to reading your responses. I rarely respond back, because that would suck me into an entire new arena — and I need to draw a few boundaries. (While my staff does make announcements for me on Twitter, I have little interest in tweeting.) One reason I enjoy this blog is that I can be unguarded, candid, and even reckless from a marketing point of view…and just call it fun. I feel like my traveling blog friends are a kind of special inner circle, and it’s refreshing to be able to call it like I see it. I hope you enjoy being part of it all.
This is what social media is all about folks! Engaging, discussing and educating your online friends will set your brand to be the leader in your vertical. The entire “stew” of what Rick’s brand has cooking has lead his website and videos to some of the hardest ranking positions in the entire travel industry. The whole point I’m trying to get across is that doing all the right things does lead to great rankings, boat loads of social followers and a reputation that puts forth trust within the consumers mind. If you can do all these you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank for a very long time to come. Your brand doesn’t build links to make money so do what it does, give your customers what they want and the links will come naturally.
For some reason the topic of Marijuana is so demonized so most brands will stay far from it. Being from British Columbia, the plant is engrained in our culture and is no different from having a couple beers with your friends…except less harmful. Yesterday was 4/20 (April 20th) and of course is famous for being international weed day all over the world. My hat always goes off to the brands ready and willing to be daring with their marketing and one simple tweet has done just that for Taco Bell. Whoever is behind the social marketing at Taco Bell needs a raise because they’re doing a spot on job. The rest of you should take note and see how it’s done right.
So a trending topic today today was how pof.com (Plenty of Fish) removed a free featured and has taken into their paid member only section. I wanted to mention it because there are businesses thinking about doing something like this right now, and there will be more in the future. So what happens to a brand when they try and take something which they offered for free, separated them from their competitors and was most likely a key ingredient to their success? While they say the move is to help cover the costs of removing banner advertisements, it seems a good chunk of their users would rather have the ads back.
Since this literally just happened over the weekend we’ll be able to see how this all plays out for the Vancouver based company. There is potential for a large enough sway from their users to get the feature back and settle for an ad based revenue stream. Either way they swing it I think it’ll at least do a great job of getting them in the news which means links and social buzz galore. The POF forum has been lit up with non stop threads complaining about their decision to remove the viewed me feature. As you can see from the picture below, their support staff will be quite busy fielding complaints from there, social media, emails and their support phone number.
It’s the little details that can set your business apart and while we’re not obsessed about our business cards like a scene out of American Psycho, we were overly stoked about these. Our in house graphical ninja Lindsay Anne put her design talents to work and came up with this new design. We’ll be expanding it into the rest of our material soon enough and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. Our clients who have used her talents before are always overly impressed and she does more than just logos. She tackles everything from labels, magazines(in which we build for clients for tablets) as well she’s a published woman….she’s going places and we’re thrilled to have access to her talent. Her designs and branding ideas have helped some of our clients attract links to levels they didn’t even think possible.
I have no idea if this is fake but it was a hot discussion on Reddit this past week. I for one hope it’s real as it would be one helluva PR stunt. A lot of brands are not against pulling off a stunt like this although they’re quite family oriented so I can see how this may be a photoshop. Despite that factor, this image has been the talk of the town and it has inadvertently brought a lot of eyes back on The Olive Garden.
Find out the results of a year of high volume content marketing on guests blogs taught us money still talks. Read the results!
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Negative SEO Attack?
Check out the anatomy of a "negative SEO" attack on our own site in our latest post. There's too much worry about these attacks happening, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Come read what I think and just what to do if anything like this happens to your brand.