Email marketing is a crucial component of any comprehensive digital marketing plan. When implemented correctly, a strategic email marketing initiative can expand your sales conversation to a broader audience while building loyalty with your existing client base. The trick is knowing how and when to communicate with your contacts so your email marketing efforts work in your favor, garnering more leads and opening more lines of communication between you and your target market.
The first and most important step in creating any marketing campaign for small business, especially an email marketing campaign that delivers real results, you have to know what you want to accomplish. If you are just beginning to leverage email marketing, it is best to start with a primary objective and build from there. Trying to do too much with a limited number of contacts runs the risk of abusing your list and turning off prospects before you even have a chance to win them over. With the right email marketing tools in place, you can build a comprehensive email marketing strategy capable of achieving a variety of objectives, but he first step is defining your initial goal:
- Do you want to inform and educate your audience?
- Do you want to renew relationships with existing clients?
- Do you want to introduce your offerings or enhance your brand and reputation?
As your business grows, so should your email marketing contact lists. Whatever CRM application you leverage, make the most of it by keeping your contact information up to date. Most any CRM application has an export tool that allows you to nurture your leads and pull lists organized by contact information.
Contact details like name, email address, title, company, market type, and zip code are specifications you can use within your email marketing to better personalize and segment your lists. These lists can then be uploaded to email service applications Manager to send a single email to just a handful of contacts or a personalized email offer to a large portion of your database.
Email can be an effective tool in a marketing campaign when used in collaboration with a strong social media, mobile, and CRM strategy that enhances the social sharing, mobile capabilities, and customer interactions of an integrated digital communication system. Small businesses must begin to take advantage of the rise of the social enterprise to build better customer-brand relationships, educate customers and prospects, and build social customer service.
Embracing social media involves a massive change in a small business and this is not easy. Social media is not about adapting some technology and using it to market the same way with shiny new toys. Social media is a paradigm shift in the way consumers interact with businesses and this requires a much deeper and substantial change in the culture of the business. Social
media is an entirely new way of relating to consumers and prospect while increasing business.
Now most small businesses don’t have the resources to build a social media command center in order to listen to what customers and prospects are saying on social networks, but there are a number of ways even the smallest of companies can leverage social and mobile technologies to create opportunities to more meaningfully connect with customers. But in many ways the technology is not the main determining factor of how successful companies will be utilizing social media to build better relationships with customers. No, tools are very user friendly and free to use, but the real issue is the culture of the business itself.
Customers have changed in a number of ways in a relatively short period of time. Mobile devices, social networks, and ubiquitous broadband access has empowered them to communicate with thousands of people in the blink of an eye. They can create and share information with a few clicks. So technology has changed our behavior, our activities and our expectations in basically all aspects of life – including our role as customers. And customers expect a lot more from people they do business with in this new socially engaged world.
Those business that opt for a strategic approach to leveraging social media must take a more holistic view of how it can impact business, internal collaboration, and relationships with their customers. These business must have a cultural transformation that embraces technology and social media as the new way of doing business in the Web2.0 connected world of the 21st Century. Let’s take a quick look at some of the functions a strategic social media plan has for the small business.
Your Business: Is anyone talking about your business? If so, what are they saying? If people are not talking about your business online what does that say about your brand awareness? If they are, you’ll want to know if it’s positive, negative , or neutral, as all of those things will frame your approach implementing a social media strategy.
Your Industry: Unveil the general industry conversations for your organization. It’s not
about you, but how you fit into the larger profile of your industry on the social web.
Your Competitors: The social web has opened up a wealth of competitive data. For your
known competition, see if they have an established presence in social media. Observe
the campaigns and promotions they’re doing and how the audience is responding. Having
your competitors beating you to the starting line can be a powerful motivator to get started
yourself, or show your colleagues why now is the time to start listening and putting together a plan.
Competitor Intelligence: Are people are talking online about your competition. Who they are hiring, who has recently left and where the competition is missing the boat – which presents all sorts of opportunities for you. Social can pinpoint emerging crises or buzz that you might want to be aware of for your own purposes.
Business Takeaway: the same unfiltered, fast-moving and open information that’s out there about your competitors, is out there about your business. the days when your company controlled its brand are over. The Internet has shifted the balance of power to the consumer. You can’t prevent anyone from talking about your brand publicly, but your business can choose to join the conversation.
In a few short years, social media has become a ubiquitous mainstay in the lives of billions of consumers worldwide. Popular platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, have rapidly grown to hundreds of millions of users, and the adoption of social media platforms has no end in sight. This social media “revolution” has changed the traditional, small business monologue into a two-way dialogue with customers and prospects.
This dialogue has transformed the way businesses interact with customers and prospects forever. Social media provides a much richer and deeper relationship between small local businesses and their customers,prospects, and the networks where they share your message. This is the beauty of social media its ability virally spread messages to people who have developed trust based relationships with each other. Social media provides these benefits to small local businesses:
- Social media allow small local businesses to learn more about their target market easier and much more affordably .
- Social media levels the playing field for business of all sizes in every industry
- Provides more personalized and cost effective communication compared to traditional channels
- Social media emphasizes great content and this allows local business to provide helpful information to attract customers and prospects and promote your business a thought leaders.
- Social media allows local business to harness the importance and relevance of the “now” making real time interaction possible.
- Social media provides a platform with enormous viral reach and the ability to measure in a much deeper manner than traditional channels.
What this means for small local businesses is the time to embrace social media channels to reach customers and prospects is now. And while social media marketing and communications is no small task to undertake, there are six objectives every company should consider to have at the core of their social activity. These include:
1. Building Brand Awareness
2. Making Customer Service Personal with Social Media
3. Adding Events to Social Media Programs
4. Adding Social Media to Product Introductions
5. Embracing Social Media to Build Your Sales Pipeline
6. Activating Your Community to Take Action
The next five blog post will focus on each of these six business objectives and provide a tactical overview of the business case for your social media initiatives. In other words, the following post will be used to provoke deeper thought of the value of social media as a cost effective business tool for small local businesses.
Google+ is more than another social media network like Facebook or Twitter, it is a functional platform that allows small businesses to connect with customers and prospects. Google+ provides a social platform for small local business and customers to connect and engage in new and deeper ways. I will in this post talk a little about some of the features that are accelerating Google+ to a marketing force to be reckoned with for small businesses.
Google circles amplify the Importance of targeting in the marketing process. Circles is a key Google+ feature, which allows for better targeting. You likely have several buyer personas and know that each of them needs different pieces of your marketing content. Circles enables you to do exactly such segmentation by sending updates to select groups of followers. Such content targeting results in high click-through rates and an engaged social following.
Segmentation plays a crucial role not only in social media communication, but also across various marketing initiatives. Segmentation is a sophisticated marketing tactic that yields scalable results. Consider nurturing different target groups based on their conversion event on your website or where they are in the sales cycle. Google+ Circles provides this level of functionally inside the social sharing platform.
Perhaps the best argument for getting started on Google+ as a small business is its integration into search results. Google+ status updates and content people have endorsed with +1 appear in the organic search engine results on Google.com. So whether you simply have a +1 button on your blog or you’re actively publishing content to your Google+ business page, your content has a much greater chance of dominating search results than it did before your participation in Google+. To learn more about how you can use Google+ for business. Add the Google +1 button to your website and blog so that people can easily share your content with their friends, and help your pages rank better. You’ll also benefit from increased traffic.
Google has transformed Google Places, which was a listing service for millions of local businesses, into an active social platform where customers have the ability to rate many categories using an in-depth rating system called Zagat.The integration of Google Places into
its social business platform Google+ provides many opportunities for small businesses to engage their customers and prospect in the social realm.
Why is this an enormous event in the Web 2.0 ecosystem? Google was the leading listing company of local businesses in the world, and is the leading search engine in the world, by integrating these two industry leading assets into Google+, this allows local businesses to increase their search capabilities, target and segment their marketing campaigns using Circles, connect and engage customers as social businesses with a very powerful rating system for friends and associates. This integration demands that small businesses that have a local focus implement a Google + strategy moving forward.
A Range Of Changes Implemented
Here’s a brief overview of what’s new and what’s changing:
Static Places now give way to more dynamic Google+ Local pages. Google’s star ratings are also being replaced by the Zagat 30-point rating scale (for user reviews as well).
- The substitution of the new Google+ Local pages (as mentioned) for Google Places pages
- The appearance of a “Local” tab within Google+
- The integration and free availability of Zagat reviews (its entire archive across categories)
- The integration of Google+ Local pages across Google properties (search, Maps, mobile)
- Integration of a circles filter to find reviews/recommendations from friends/family/colleagues
Social media is the new kid on the block, but in a very short period of time social media has ingrained itself into the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Social media has swelled like the wave of a tsunami over the lives of consumers, so what is the big deal about social media for businesses?
Social media has become a ubiquitous mainstay in the lives of consumers. Popular platforms have rapidly grown to hundreds of millions of users, and the adoption of social media platforms has no end in sight. This social media “revolution” has transformed the traditional advertising monologue into a two-way dialogue where customers and prospects and have impacted the business world like nothing since television. Social media marketing differs from traditional marketing in many ways, but the goals are the same - to connect and engage with prospects and turn them into customers.
Social Media goes about its duty in a much different manner than the traditional marketing techniques. Word of mouth has always been the most powerful form of advertising for brands, because consumers are much more likely to believe the word of a friend or associate than the hard charging campaign of the marketing machines that were created over the years to influence the masses to purchase good and services.
What this means for businesses is, it is the time to embrace social media channels to reach customers and prospects is now. And while social media marketing and communications is no small task to undertake there are some core issues that social media lends itself to for the promotions of brands.
The first and most important issue to examine is the the incredible reach of social media. This reach is the number one reason social media is such an attractive target for marketing investment for small businesses as well as large corporate entities. Customers and prospects, that enter the social media sales funnel offers access to millions of people with an unclassified relationship to the brand. This funnel includes every social media user across all social media platforms which have staggering breadth and reach.
- REACH - Building branding awareness is centered around reaching more people. One of the strengths of social media is the wide reach, and employing the use of these social media channels has the potential to tremendously increase the reach of your brand.
- TRAFFIC GENERATION - Developing and implementing a social media strategy has the demonstrated ability to drive multi-channel traffic to your website, the hub of your online marketing campaign. These strategies can also drive business to your brick and mortar business.
- NEW AUDIENCES - Social media provides an unparalleled platform to grow your audience and enhance these relationship in a way never before possible in human history. Consumers and brands have the ability to interact in one-on-one relationships, and these newly connected and engaged consumers have the ability to share your content with their friends and associates to grow your audience exponentially.
- EXPERTISE - Social media provides an excellent platform to demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership by allowing you to share, educate, and provide relevant information to your prospects and clients, while building a public profile with helpful information that highlights your expertise in your industry whileincreasing your social searchability.
This is a short overview of the power of social media when implemented with a sound strategy. It is imperative to understand social media is not the end all magic bullet that will draw customers to your business, but it is as very strong multi-channel online marketing strategy that provides an almost unlimited ability measure its effectiveness in real time. Please feel free to post any questions or comments. If you found this post helpful and informative please share it with your network.
Google Places claims the largest number of registered business locations in the World and that is a world class clam. Here are some of the stats for Google Places these numbers are staggering:
- With 8 million Places signups Google has the largest direct relation with SMBS of any local service
- This amounts to 16% of all business locations worldwide
- The growth during 2010 was ~2 million,
- Business were claiming their listing at a rate of 167,000 per month
- Google added 2 million more businesses in 2011
- The growth rate in March 2011 was 250,000 new claimants per month
I think Google will integrate Google Plus deeper into its services Places, Gmail, YouTube, search, etc., and they will have more than enough shared information to create a “social layer” for users’ entire online experience. In fact, Google Plus results are already changing users’ search results based on new social search results.
I think the inevitable integration of Google’s Plus and Places products, which has been very obvious since day one of Google+, is finally upon us. We’ve seen several signals from Google in the last couple of months that this integration may be coming sooner rather than later:
Google completed a major back-end infrastructure update this Spring, presumably in preparation for the near-real-time activity that a Google + business page provides to businesses. Google is now focused heavily on increasing business adoption of Google Plus in addition to Places. Google’s new search plus your world has increased the value of social search for users of Google + and with the largest share of small and medium sized businesses in the world being registered through Google Places the integration of Places and Plus would take the business of local search for businesses to another level.
This will provide Google with the ability to associate your business Places page with your Google+ business page, so Google Search will to be able to associate your website with your Place Page, which indicate to Google that all three are related. The Google Search will strongly index your providing a highly tangible benefit derived from associating Plus accounts with Places, namely getting Places managed by a trusted Google account to surface when searching Place information within Plus. It sure looks like we’re getting much closer to the day where Places and Plus become tightly integrated, both in terms of backend infrastructure and what the searcher sees in his Universal Search-Plus-Your-World results.
From the business owner’s perspective streamlining two products into one means one fewer digital marketing products to think about, and this is an advancement in the true sense of the word. And although Google’s track record around Places prior to last year hardly inspires confidence, the flurry of activity we’ve seen from them since April 2011 makes me think they’re going to nail this integration.
Digital Communications has the ability to track the data related to a digital communications campaign, this is analytics, at a depth and breath never before seen in human history. This data can provide organizations with astonishing insight into their communication campaigns. Most small businesses and organizations are ill prepared to effectively handle and analyse this wealth of data. This data has tremendous value, but comes with a cost. There’s so much information that can be gathered and so many possible combinations of data to analyze and reports to track that many are overwhelmed trying to make sense of it. This blessing of tremendous data can be a curse if not properly handled and used to drive the communications strategy.