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6 posts from February 2017

February 23, 2017

Definitive SMS Marketing Guide for Restaurants and Clubs

The restaurant and club business is notoriously competitive. You have to find ways to stand out from the crowd and get people to choose you over other restaurants or clubs in the area. There are a few ways you can do this simply by what you offer, such as the type of food, price, or atmosphere.

Although you concentrate on creating a unique experience for your clientele, marketing remains a chief way to draw people into your business. This is because it:

 

  • Tells people who you are
  • Engages with customers
  • Builds your brand identity
  • Enhances your reputation

 

As part of a multi-channel marketing strategy, you need to have a strong mobile marketing campaign. One way to do this is to incorporate SMS marketing. People text more and more, and they are ready and willing to hear from their favorite businesses via text. When you start your texting campaign, be sure to add a few key elements.

Offers


The right offer gets people to bring their friends to your restaurant.

One of the most popular text types that restaurants and clubs use is offers and deals -- and for good reason! People love getting discounts, so it is a strong motivation. When it comes time to decide upon where to eat or which club to visit, people can easily be persuaded to go to the one that saves them the most money.

There are plenty of different types of offers or deals you can send via text to motivate people to come to your restaurant:

 

  • Free appetizer or desserts
  • Free drinks
  • BOGO for entrees, appetizer, drinks, etc.
  • No cover charge
  • Discount on total bill
  • Dollar amount off

 

These are just a few ideas of the wide range of offers that you can send to your customers. One of the best types of offers to send to your texting customers, however, are last-minute deals. This is because text messages are typically opened within just a few minutes of receipt. You can send targeted messages to your customers for a particular meal or event.

For example, around two hours before the lunch rush, send your subscribers a text with a discount on the lunch menu good for that day only. Then, as people are trying to decide where to go to lunch, they will see your text and choose you!

When you create your offers, there are a few key concepts to keep in mind.

 

  • Send something that is valuable to your customers, and relevant to their wants and needs. Offer a good deal for your customers that doesn't cost your business an arm and a leg.
  • Include motivating language and a strong call to action so that you see a high conversion rate.

 

Keywords

Another important component of any strong SMS marketing campaign is having the right keywords in place. Keywords are a central component of your overall marketing strategy. They are the words that your customers text to you to join your campaign, ask a question, participate in a contest or poll, or otherwise interact with your program.

When you choose a keyword, you want it to be unique and relevant to your company while also being easy for customers to remember and use. As a business in the restaurant, bar and club business, you have a plethora of words from which to choose. You can go with something that matches your food choice or an event at your establishment. Some examples include:

  • Pizza
  • Italian
  • French
  • Cuisine
  • Tacos
  • Party
  • Dance
  • Salsa

Each of these words is fairly common and easy for your customers to remember. Do not try to make them more unique by adding special characters or symbols, as this complicates everything. You want something that people can text without fearing they will get it wrong. If they do mess up, then you may lose a potential subscriber.

Your keyword plays a key role in your marketing efforts, so you want it to be something that complements your ads while also standing out. The same rules apply when you use a keyword in your texting, digital and/or social content.

CTAs


The right CTA gets people to join your campaign and visit your place.

Another major component of your SMS marketing campaign is your call to action. Texts make excellent calls to action on other marketing media, but they also require a strong CTA on each message. When you develop your CTAs, always make sure that they:

  • Motivate
  • Use active language
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Connect emotionally with your customers
  • Are clear and concise

As a restaurant or club, most of your calls to action should include some version of visiting your business. You might also choose to include a link to your website or social media profile to increase engagement with your other digital properties.

Even though many of your CTAs will involve getting people to dine at your restaurant, do not become complacent so as to always use the same one or two CTAs. Create a template and then play with the wording to create a unique CTA with every advertisement and/or message.

For example, instead of always saying "Redeem this offer at our restaurant," you could say:

 

  • Enjoy a free appetizer on us when you show this coupon.
  • Visit our restaurant to get your free drink
  • Show this coupon to get free entry.

There are plenty of ways to get creative with your CTAs without losing their efficacy or appeal.

Content

Before you go too far down the line into creating your SMS marketing program, you first need to gain permission to do so from your clients. You can do this by promoting your campaign, including a texting CTA on all your marketing collateral, and get people to opt in with a strong keyword.

Once you have subscribers for your texting campaign, it is time to focus on building your content. Strong content needs three main things:

    • Purpose
    • Value
    • Relevancy


Texting is a disruptive medium, which means that each time you send a message to your subscribers, recipients are distracted from whatever else they were doing. Therefore, what they receive needs to be worth that momentary moment of distraction.

So, how do you know what your customers find valuable? Ask them directly. Market research also will inform you of many of the key elements of a strong marketing campaign. Trial and error and A/B testing also works well.

Messages need to be relevant to your customers. Personalized content goes a long way towards creating something that is relevant to each of your customers. It is easy to create groups out of your subscriber base and send targeted messages based on demographics and or other similar data.

Finally, you need to have a purpose behind each and every message you send. This is a specific purpose - not just to get more business, although that is your ultimate goal. It should provide some value to your customers:

  • Save money
  • Reward loyalty
  • Provide exclusive access
  • Remind about events
  • Updates on goods and/or services

There are plenty of purposes that your messages can have. By focusing on one objective per message, you create a more concise message that fits within the necessary 160 characters.

Audience


Know who to target with your messages.

Although your keyword, CTA, and content will ultimately play the most important features of your marketing strategy, it is key to know who your audience is. In fact, you might spend weeks before launching your campaign discovering just who your target audience or audiences are. To determine your audience, perform a few key actions:

  • Conduct market research
  • Build personas
  • Review your current customer data
  • Integrate your marketing platforms
  • Run surveys and polls
  • Research the competition
  • Think like a customer

There are many other ways to find out what type of customer you plan to target with your message. As previously stated, you can have several different groups that you will target.

As a restaurant, you might ultimately want to target all demographics. However, each texting campaign you run needs to be targeted to more specific demographics for greatest efficacy. In order to do this, you need to have an idea of the audience you plan to reach.

Before you run your SMS marketing campaign, take the time to build a strong foundation. This works by spending time devising the right type of offers, keywords, calls to action, content, and audience for the particular campaign.

Although this can be said for any texting campaign, it is even more important as a restaurant or club that you do this. It gives you the chance to determine what sets you apart from the competition and to build your brand identity. Then, you can focus your marketing campaign to engage with and attract customers to your business and reach your goals that go far beyond simply sending out discounts via text.

Ready to start your texting program to grow your restaurant or club? Try ClubTexting for free.

February 20, 2017

Quentin Aisbett of OnQ Marketing About How to Use Mass SMS Texting to Improve Your Business


Quentin Aisbett is the Chief Strategist at OnQ Marketing. Recently, we had a chance to sit down with Quentin to hear his thoughts on the state of the SMS landscape and how best to leverage this technique for marketing purposes.

How does OnQ help its customers with their marketing needs?

First, we identify the client's questions and business objectives and dig down to understand their key customer personas. With this information, we identify the most efficient strategy to reach the objectives.

As a generalist agency with a focus on strategy first, we don't apply one consistent tactic and hope for the best. We look at every option available to us and the client, and then weigh costs vs effectiveness.

In every instance, our approach has a large focus on the customer's experience. We believe that for the business to reach its objective, the client must first achieve theirs.

What is the current state of SMS text messaging and marketing in Australia? What kinds of companies or organizations are using it?

The state of SMS marketing in Australia is - to put it bluntly - a state of confusion. Most brands and businesses are aware of the opportunity but super-cautious of the pitfalls if they don't execute it right. So for many, the risk is too much, so they ignore it.

In my experience, the businesses using SMS often include the health industry who use SMS as appointment reminders.

When it comes to SMS marketing, what is the most underutilized aspect or tactic?

It sounds obvious, but far too often I see SMS campaigns that are too complicated for the medium. So the most underutilized tactic is to assess how user-friendly the process will be before sending.

This might change the way you run the campaign, but if you waste consumers' time with a process that they don't understand, you will pay by seeing little engagement and higher opt-outs.

Could you give us an example or two of an innovative SMS marketing campaign that was carried out which achieved exceptional results?

We once used SMS as a vehicle to drive leads while our client was speaking to a small business audience. We produced a PDF checklist that was an extension to what the client was speaking about on that day. The audience was provided with the SMS number and a code word to send. Moments later, they were prompted for their email address, and then they received the PDF. This brought the audience into the client's conversion funnel with little effort.

On another occasion, we developed an SMS voting campaign where we asked cafe customers on a main street to vote for their favorite cafe. It was a simple "SMS the specific code word to the number" campaign. Each cafe had their own unique code, and both the weekly tallies and the final tally were promoted via Facebook. The campaign drove significant engagement on the main street Facebook page as well as on participating cafe pages.

What guidelines would you suggest for people utilizing SMS messaging in terms of frequency and length of messages?

An SMS message is just 160 characters, so you need to be short and concise. It's great to utilize all 160 but if you can say what you need to say in 130, then do that.

There are some other tips I would recommend:

i) Make sure you make it clear who you are and how you have their number. It is likely they have forgotten how they opted in, so remind them. Don't use a big chunk of your characters on it; find a way to do it in 2-3 words.
ii) Show value. Yes, your hesitations around SMS messaging are real because you know how you feel when you get a promotional message. But this all boils down to whether the message promotes value. So make sure you have it and are communicating it as well as you can.
iii) Knowing that 90% of SMS are opened in the first three minutes, don't send them too early before an event. For example, if you have an in-store sale Friday, don't send them a message on Wednesday. Do it Friday morning.
iv) Make sure you have a clear call to action. This is where you are likely to reach your aim. Ask them to call, click on a link, or send their email address.
v) Don't hide the opt-out. Be clear on how they can opt-out.

A short 160 characters sounded easy at first, didn't it?

If the goal is to obtain feedback from people, how might you use SMS messaging to achieve it? Is it as simple as texting a question to everybody on your messaging list?

It can be, but would it be effective? I don't think so. Again, 160 characters is our limit, so if your recipient wants to give you more feedback, they can't. This feedback may well be valuable.

So keep the message short and sharp, and ask them to complete an online survey by following the link. Make sure you provide some incentive. As with any decision, they will weigh the value against spending a few minutes to help your business.

How can you tell if an SMS messaging or marketing campaign is improving conversion rates or accomplishing other objectives?

As with any digital tactic or campaign, you should first identify your objectives before you have finalized your tactics. It is also imperative to include a consumer action that will help you identify whether the objective has been reached.

For example, objectives such as driving email subscriptions, online retail purchases, or bookings can be attributed without too many issues. If your objective is to increase in-store foot traffic, then you need to put in place another step in the customer journey to measure your objective.

If you are sticking with SMS, then subscribe and churn rates will likely be your objective and these will be simple to measure. But if you have a business with multiple locations, use different code words so you can identify the location and more accurately measure your performance.

With all of the other digital marketing options available, will SMS marketing soon vanish or drop in popularity? [Or is it here to stay?]

I see SMS in a similar vein to email. Many "experts" have spoken of their impending death, but yet they remain viable marketing options. The Adobe Blog cites that 90% of SMS messages are read within three minutes. Compare this to average email open rates of 20% to 30% and the dwindling organic reach of Facebook. A terrific opportunity exists!

But will marketing budgets adjust to meet the opportunity? It's really hard to judge. It will take some global brands or potentially a startup to lead the way.

Still not sold on the power of SMS messaging? Try ClubTexting for free today to see if it works for you.

February 16, 2017

Debbie O'Connor of mumstheboss.co.uk on Digital Marketing for Small Business Owners

Debbie O'Connor runs Mum's the Boss, a virtual assistant and digital marketing service that specializes in helping home-based businesses get online. She blogs at www.mumstheboss.co.uk.

We recently asked Debbie for her advice on blogging and digital marketing. Here's what she shared:

Can you tell us about the mission behind Mum's the Boss? What inspired you to start your business?

In 2010, I was working from home, running two MLM businesses in the evenings and weekends. My youngest son started school full time and I realized I had some time in the daytime to do something more.

One of my online contacts, Alli Price, was emigrating back to her native Australia so she sold her U.K. business, Motivating Mum to me and I bought Mum's the Boss in 2012 to add to the mix.

I realized that as an accountant in business, and later as a work-at-home mum, I had a lot of experience to share with home business owners, and as I started blogging I taught myself to do social media from the ground up and loved every bit of it. Before long, people were asking me to help them with digital marketing and so I have moved in that direction in the last year or so.

How has digital marketing evolved since you started your business? What are the biggest changes you've observed?

When I started out blogging you could just about write anything, stuff it with keywords and people would find it and read it. I also made quite a bit of money from publishing sponsored posts on my blog, which were essentially link building for the companies that advertised with me, and not necessarily quality pieces of journalism.

I'm pleased to say that Google have tightened their act up over the past few years. Nowadays you do have to think a lot more carefully about what you write and how you promote it. I don't accept link building type sponsored posts any more - instead I am making money by actively helping people to understand blogging and digital marketing.

The amount of material that is available online is growing every week, so companies have to try a little bit harder now to stand out and be noticed above all the noise.

What are some of the challenges you find home-based business owners face in marketing their businesses?

I think many small business owners are seduced by the idea that you can just put anything on the net, and people will read it and come and buy from you without you having to do much else. When my clients come to me they are often disillusioned that their websites have failed to attract customers to whatever it is that they do, despite their efforts on social media.

The biggest mistake I come across is people just posting up pictures of their products or services with text that basically says "buy me," and making no attempt to inform, educate or build trust with their readers before they try to sell. Digital marketing is quite a complicated process - it takes a bit of time to nurture your followers and turn them into fans, but the effort is well worth while.

It always makes me happy when I am able to improve viewers and customers to a small business website. I put a little bit of SEO effort into the content on a client's website and make the site a bit more attractive to viewers. I give people a bit of training as to what to post, how often and how best to promote it on social media, and then the viewers start to come, and they can hopefully be converted into customers.

Where should home-based business owners start when creating an online marketing strategy? What are the dos and don'ts?

If you are just starting out in business, I would say first of all invest as much as you can into your website. The sort of website which just has six static pages and looks like it was designed in five minutes is unlikely to get much traffic, no matter what you do. As a minimum you should buy a domain name and have somebody set up a self-hosted Wordpress site for you, using an up-to-date theme. This doesn't have to be too expensive, but I recommend people to spend as much as they can afford in this area.

Once you have the website in place you can put in place a strategy of blogging regularly - or at least updating your site with fresh and original content, bearing in mind the keywords that people might be searching for if they want to buy what you are selling.

Then the third strand is promoting your content on social media, choosing the channels where your target market are likely to hang out and which are best for promoting your type of product, and experimenting with different types of posts until you find a mix that people respond to.

What are your favorite digital tools for helping home-based business owners spread the word about their businesses? What have you found to be most useful?

The tools I would not be without in my business are the social media scheduling tools. I use Buffer (which comes in a free version which would suit a small business) and I also use Meet Edgar (a bit more expensive), which builds up a database of your best social media posts and sends them round again at regular intervals. Those two together save me so much time.

For email marketing I use Mail Chimp, which has many tools to help you capture email addresses and nurture your leads until they are ready to buy - that also comes with a free version for small email lists.

And finally I wouldn't be without Evernote, which helps me capture information when I am out and about, whether that be leads, contact details, or just ideas that occur to me when I am not at my desk. It is not a marketing tool as such, but it helps me be the most efficient in my business, and helps me to keep on top of everything.

What are the most cost-effective marketing methods you've found for cash-strapped business owners?

It really depends on what your products are. I have seen some businesses that can generate sufficient sales just from a Facebook page. Other types of business benefit more when the business owner goes out to face-to-face networking groups and makes contact with people. It really depends on your product and the target market of people you are trying to sell to.

At the end of the day it boils down to correctly identifying your target market, finding out where they go when they are looking for infomration, and then meeting them there, whether that is online, in person or in a magazine.

The other cheapest and best strategy is giving your existing customers the means and maybe a small incentive for recommending you to their friends. Word-of-mouth marketing is always the easiest, and a satisfied customer can be a walking billboard for your business at very low cost to you.

What's one piece of advice you'd share with business owners who are intimidated by digital marketing? How can they overcome their fears?

To be honest I find digital marketing a lot less scary than let's say door-to-door sales, which used to be the way many people did business not so long ago. If you compare the two then surely it would be more scary to have to speak to each potential cold lead in person than it is to put stuff out on social media. We are much luckier in the digital age.

If you hate the idea of digital marketing or you just feel nervous about it, then help is always at hand. There are so many people out there now that can help you get set up with digital marketing, either giving you advice to help you do it in the best way for your business, or for a very small outlay, taking it off your hands, so that you can concentrate on the thing that made you start a business in the first place.

Spread the word about your organization. Try ClubTexting for free.

February 14, 2017

The Case for Personalization in SMS Marketing Campaigns

Personalization is key to a successful SMS marketing campaign. Although people might open and read your message, it does not always guarantee they will take action. Creating a more personal approach leads to a higher engagement rate, better conversion rates and an overall better ROI. There are two main ways to make your messages more personal: Targeted Marketing and Personal Addressing.

  • Targeted Marketing. Create messages that relate directly to the interests of your customers
  • Personalization. Address recipients by name to increase response rates


Determining Your Target Audience


The first step to take is to know who your audience is.

In order to successfully carry out a more personalized marketing campaign, there are a few key things you need to know. To gather this information, you must first perform some marketing research.

You want to discover your customers' interests and preferences. Additionally, it is beneficial to know their buying habits, demographics, psychosocial data, preferences and more. These can be found by reviewing a few key items:

  • Data across all marketing channels
  • Market research
  • Research on your competitors
  • Surveys and polls
  • Fillable forms at opt-im

You might not always have all this information for your SMS marketing subscribers. However, you can still divide them into different groups by creating different keywords for different subgroups to use when they opt in. This at least gives you an idea of where they saw your promotional ad, which provides some information as to their interests and other information.

It is possible to create very specific groups and target them with particular messages, or you can simply decide to just target based on larger groups, such as gender or location.

Customers Demand Personalized Marketing

More and more, customers are demanding a more personalized marketing approach. Although they might respond to generalized marketing messages on certain mediums, when it comes to more personal ones such as mobile and social media, they expect it to relate to them. This is creating a more personalized marketing in which businesses create well-crafted, relevant messages that are directed at a particular individual or group. This utilizes not just behavior patterns and demographics but also at what point in the sales funnel they are located.

Part of the point of personalized marketing is to develop relationships and engage with the customers. This helps not just to convert someone for one sale but also to hang on to them so that they eventually become loyal customers. An important component of this type of marketing is interactive content.

How SMS Marketing Fits In


People rarely go anywhere without their cell phone.

Text messages are an intimate channel for communicating with customers. Although they are willing to receive texts from brands, they reserve it for their favorite ones. They also have a special relationship with their cell phone. Most people carry their phone with them at all times and would rather give up items such as caffeine and chocolate rather than their phones. This provides an atmosphere perfect for a more personalized and targeted campaign.

Texting is also an easy way to interact with customers and engage them. It is a two-way communication medium that can be used to send offers and deals but also to run contests, take polls, send out surveys and engage in customer service operations. This makes it a prime channel for personalized marketing.

If you simply send out generic messages to your customers, you leave it open to quick opt-outs. Your goal needs to be providing something of value. Customers want to feel special. What better way than sending them a message that makes them feel as though they are the only ones who got it.

How to Personalize

The first step in a personalized message is to create content that is relevant to the customer. This is where dividing your list into groups based on your research comes into play. Customers can also go into more than one group. However, you want to be sure that when you send out messages targeting one or more groups that you still do not oversaturate the individual customer with several messages.

Develop an easy system for cross-channel integration. Most people use their cell phones to interact in many different ways. If you have a smartphone user, it is likely they also check their email, go on social media and surf the internet with their phone. Therefore, you can create a system with your SMS marketing program that makes it easy to interact between channels. This can simply be through making a call to action lead to another channel. This also makes it easier to create a database of customers with additional information from which you can draw to develop your targeted messages.


Your marketing team can work together for a comprehensive database.

The final component of a personalized message is the easiest. Simply leave room in your message to include their name. Your texting platform might include a way where you can automatically populate the message with the person's name. Of course, this requires that you have this information, which you can get through a form they fill out when they opt-in. However, if you do not have sufficient names of your subscribers for it to make sense to do this, there are still ways to greet your subscriber at the beginning of the text in a way that feels more genuine and person.

Personalization is an essential component of any effective SMS marketing program [[placeholder]]. By taking some time at the beginning to determine how you plan to develop targeted messages, you will have a foundation for a program that has the potential to bring you much bigger returns.

Contact us to learn more about developing an effective texting campaign that reaches audiences.

February 07, 2017

Alice Elliott of Fairy Blog Mother on Creating a Successful Blog



Alice Elliott, founder of Fairy Blog Mother, is an award-winning blogging teacher who has helped thousands of beginning bloggers for over a decade.

We recently asked for Alice's advice on launching and marketing a successful blog. Here's what she shared:

Can you tell us about your background and interest in blogging? What inspired you to start Fairy Blog Mother?

Many years ago I proudly finished designing my first website, and someone suggested I should promote it via a blog. When I started to investigate blogging, I found out that my mother already had a blog! So not to be outdone, I started using WordPress, and realized it was a wonderful way to create a website as well.

But when I started telling my friends about this, I was met with glazed stares. I realized that blogging was something that needed to be explained in an easy to understand way using ordinary, everyday language. Thus the Fairy Blog MotherĀ® was born, specializing in explaining to totally non-technical, would-be bloggers the basic concepts of blogging using highly visual, step-by-step methods.

Since then, many blogging teachers use a similar method, but none of them show absolutely every tiny step, or never assume any technological knowledge beforehand. Focusing on the minutiae of teaching technical stuff to real beginners is something my past students have been very grateful for, and many have gone on to create fantastic blogs!

How has the world of blogging evolved since you started blogging?

WordPress and other blogging platforms have tried to focus on simplicity. Other blogging platforms such as Medium, Pulse, Tumblr etc. have all managed this to an extent. But as many bloggers start to learn about what else a blog can do (SEO, promotion, engagement, etc.) they soon realize the limits these simplistic platforms can offer.

WordPress.com has been transformed to make it "more simple," but actually I don't think this has totally succeeded. Certainly, the new function is easier to use via hand held devices, and that is vital in today's fast-moving world. But this means certain elements are superseded and others take on a higher priority.

And another huge area about blogging that really concerns me is the decline in commenting on blogs. This finds it difficult to compete with social media's real-time responses, even with the lack of moderation for spam and trolls.

Commenting techniques have evolved into quick-fire, bitty conversations with little substance or proper discussion. So commenting on blogs, which requires quality writing with structure and purposeful meaning or motive, has fallen out of favor due to the higher popularity status social networking can conveniently supply to readers.

What does it take to succeed as a blogger today? What are best practices for creating, maintaining and growing interest in a blog?

If you want to succeed as a blogger, you really need to think how you are going to stand out above the crowd. There are literally hundreds of thousands of blogs, some good and many bad, so you will need a niche that resonates with your readers and that you have a continuous passion to keep on writing for.

Embrace technology to make it easier for your readers to read what you write. Every blog should be adapted for the small screen by now, and how you construct your posts should benefit the time-poor reader, those that scan for information and be visually compelling for easier reading.

Images and other media are vital to not only maintain the interest factor of your blog, but to get your message out in different capacities to capture a more varied audience. Good pictures are more sharable, can say more than words, and attract attention. Video, podcasts, slideshares and infographics are just some examples of other ways of communicating with your readers.

Every post should have a purpose, and therefore a call to action. However, this doesn't mean your blog should be a selling machine. Conversing and engaging with your readers is your main function, as you write purely for their benefit. Without readers your blog doesn't exist, so always write what they want and expect to read if you want to keep your readers sweet.

I mentioned above conversing with your readers. Your writing style needs to be like a conversation, with short, concise sentences. Similarly the paragraphs need to be short, to give the blog more white space to make it easier to read. And focus on using the kind of words your readers would use, so they can relate more to what you have written.

How should bloggers approach designing their sites?

Every blog needs to be responsive, so it can be read easily from a small screen. Therefore the sidebar is slowly becoming more defunct, as its contents are confined to the bottom of the screen (and need to be scrolled down to see it).

Modern design incorporates important elements within the main content of the blog and its posts. Sign up forms for email capture are now presented as triggers within the text. Other call to actions or items that need to noticed like testimonials are now big, bold and colorful.

Short sentences and paragraphs are easier to read on responsive blogs. Social sharing buttons need to be more prominent to encourage engagement. Commenting facilities should be easy to use without logging in procedures and not hidden by other digital marketing functions.

And simplicity will help your reader find what they want. A clear navigation system that guides the reader to their purpose for visiting your blog, and there is a trend to avoid cluttered and over-elaborate designs that diverts the attention of the reader away from your posts.

What are the most common mistakes or oversights you see bloggers making when attempting to grow their sites?

    • Not understanding their ideal reader. You can't write or converse properly with your readers if you don't know who they are. The sole purpose of your blog is to write for them, to form a relationship with them, to gain their loyalty, and eventually to get them to respond to your call to actions.

 

    • Not having a method of capturing emails. This is usually done with offering an incentive, which needs to be relevant and worthy. These warm leads need to be communicated with via a newsletter, offering them exclusive information that other readers don't get, to eventually persuade them further down your marketing funnel.

 

    • Not having social sharing buttons. How are your readers going to share your posts with their friends on social media if they like what they read? This is the ultimate sign of appreciation before moving onto comments and discussions, which enables you to get to know your readers better and gain their loyalty.

 

    • No consistency in publishing. Remember, it's not just your readers you have to constantly supply with new content to read, but the search engines as well. If you schedule to publish at prescribed times, both your readers and the search engine spiders will be eagerly waiting for your next installment.

 

    • Not promoting enough. The old adage "built it and they will come" is outdated, so you need to go out there and spread the word, make yourself visible, comment on other blogs, guest blog like fury in high-ranking, relevant blogs, converse on social media with influential people, and link your posts combined with introductions all over the web.



What are the dos and don'ts for marketing a blog?

Blogging is all about getting your posts read. Otherwise what is the point of blogging? Therefore you need to understand your readers, have a meaningful purpose or objective, develop an excellent writing style and post consistently.

Once this is established, you need to promote your content. But this isn't about getting out there and pushing your posts under everybody's noses. The best way of getting attention is by engaging first. Get yourself noticed for the right reasons. Spread your knowledge and show appreciation by extensive commenting (both on blogs and social media).

You need to increase your reputation and gain credibility by showcasing your expertise. This isn't only in your posts, but on other blogs as well. Set up a vibrant guest blogging regime to get yourself read by much wider audiences, and make sure your biography is tip top to encourage people to visit your blog to find out more about you.

And make sure you have plenty of quality posts on your blog for your existing and new readers to read. Learn how to write properly in the correct blogging style, and be prolific in the different styles of generating content. Make sure everything you produce is relevant, valuable and worthy.

How do you think marketing rules for blogging could be applied to text messaging marketing?

Text messaging marketing definitely needs to be permission based if it is going to succeed. It is not going to work if you constantly push it at people who aren't interested or don't use their phones enough for this particular kind of marketing.

This is the same for promoting your blog. Make sure you target the right kind of audience first and get to know them properly. Are the devices they use properly equipped to cope with receiving updates from your blog? Are they interested in the subject you blog about? How often could they cope with receiving updates before they get annoyed and unsubscribe?

Value and relevance are key areas here if both blogging and text messaging marketing are going to succeed in attracting their audience's attention and maintaining their interest over a reasonable period of time.

And a cautious approach to push marketing should be applied. Blogging isn't about selling, but about forming relationships, both on and off the blog. Text messaging marketing is about promoting a product or service via special offers or time-scarcity vouchers close to the point of retail or within a specific time frame.

How can SMS be incorporated into a blog's marketing strategy?

You need the right kind of audience, those who are wedded to their phones, and those who are willing to opt in to receive texts on a regular basis.

I'm quite happy to receive a text when someone has just published a new post, as part of the RSS feed system. If I have time I will read it there and then. But usually I would prefer to have it delivered by email so I can focus on it at my leisure at a later time.

However, text notifications are not conducive to gaining comments, particularly on the blog. This is so especially during the summer. People are out and about, and sometimes may have been interrupted by the text. They haven't time to read the post properly or have the inclination to leave a good comment on whatever social system of their choice.

Also, the keyboard on the phone is not designed for extensive commenting replies, but more for quick responses on social media including emojies, gifs, etc. If your audience is inclined like this, make it easier for them to help promote your blog post in this way.

What trends or innovations in blogging are you following right now? Why do they interest or excite you?

I'm intrigued by the redesign of responsive blog themes for hand held devices. We need to be able to promote what our blogs are about successfully within a small screen. This doesn't mean cramming everything into a small space, but whatever shows up needs to communicate your message correctly and succinctly and encourage your readers to want to find out more.

It is essential that blogging should become applicable for those on the move. In a sense this inhibits the complexities of blogging because this makes it more difficult to apply. But the process of taking out your tablet and quickly writing a post there and then is a concept that the modern blogger needs to get used to, and quickly.

Blogging will become a much more social animal in the 21st century. It needs to be a forerunner of engaging on social media. It should act as a resource archive for more extensive information that is hinted about in your conversations elsewhere: social media, other blogging platforms or whatever. In other words, driving new readers back to your blog to increase your traffic stats.

I would ignore the rumors going around that blogging is dying. It isn't. There will always be a need to write and express yourself online, to promote yourself or your business, or just to have somewhere to dump your ideas. But what really is dying is commenting on blogs, and for me that is a very sad indeed.

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February 03, 2017

Bonnie Harris of Wax Marketing on Integrated Marketing Communications



Bonnie Harris is the founder of Wax Marketing, an integrated marketing communications firm.

We recently asked Bonnie for her insight on integrated marketing for small business owners. Here's what she had to say:

Can you talk about your background in marketing? How has marketing communications evolved since you started your career?

I have worked in marketing, management and sales for the past 25 years. For the past 15 years I have been the President of Wax Marketing, an integrated marketing communications firm that works with mid-sized companies. My work has been focused heavily on the technology, finance and social services industry sectors.

Marketing communications has evolved dramatically over the past two decades, and the past 10 years in particular. The number of marketing channels has exploded, causing a massive shift in the way consumers and businesses create, curate and share information. In addition marketing and technology continue to merge, creating more and more opportunity to uncover and influence the customer behavior directly. We no longer need to rely on demographics to predict that behavior.

What is integrated marketing communications?

Integrated marketing communications is often confused with multichannel marketing, but they are not the same. Integrated marketing communications involves a planned, consistent use of different promotional methods that reinforce each other. The idea that the strategies and tactics within IMC "boost" each other's results is key to understanding its power.

How should brands approach their integrated marketing communications strategy today?

Brands should define their audiences as narrowly as possible, and craft strategies to reach those audiences. Keep in mind that the customer experience is growing more and more self-directed. Brands need to focus on influencing their customers or buyers from one stage of the buying cycle to the next; not merely selling to them.

What are the most common challenges or frustrations your clients face in marketing communications? How do you help them overcome these challenges?

The most common challenge for my clients, being smaller in size, is budget. They simply don't have the massive advertising budgets of the larger brands they may be competing with. This is where IMC is so powerful. Large company organizations are often much too siloed in nature to effectively use integration. Mid-sized companies can often adopt an integrated mindset much more easily. And the results of truly integrated campaigns are typically 100 to 200 percent greater than traditional campaigns, no matter the ad budget. That helps close the gap in terms of mindshare and performance against larger companies.

What should brands be doing today to prepare for the future of how they handle marketing communications?

The best thing they can do is eliminate the silos between marketing, sales, communications and technology. To do that, they need to also eliminate siloed goals among organizations. Adopting a project methodology like Agile for marketing can also be very helpful.

What role should SMS play in marketing strategies today?

SMS is another messaging channel that should be considered if the brand's target audience is a user of that channel.

What best practices would you recommend your clients follow with their SMS strategy? What are the dos and don'ts?

Once again, SMS is another messaging channel. It's important to consider it not just because "everyone says you should" but because your target audience uses it as a way to gather, curate or share information. If you're targeting non-digital natives it may be less important, for example. There are many "do's and don'ts" but the main thing is to make sure you're using SMS because it's an important tool for your customers.

What trends or headlines are you following in the world of digital marketing today? Why do they interest you?

I'm following marketing automation most closely. I think that there are far too many martech tools out there today, and there needs to be some consolidation in order to gain effectiveness within this space. I'm also following virtual reality trends, as I feel this is a huge gamechanger for marketing. I also watch neuromarketing techniques, a quieter sector that's getting better and better at influencing behavior.

What brands do you believe have done an especially outstanding job with their integrated communications strategy? What can we learn from them?

Amazon is a powerhouse, and I've written about them many times on my own blog. They use email marketing as the foundation for an amazingly coordinated marketing engine that is among the most integrated I've seen. The Red Cross has some excellent integration going on, particularly between their communications and development programs. I also like to follow some of the eCommerce smaller companies working in B2B, like Insite Software. Those companies are really integrating field sales into some cool marketing programs that incorporate Account Based Marketing, again to reinforce other promotional methods. You can't forget about sales. It always belongs in the integrated marketing mix if there is a direct sales component to the business!

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