9 tips for writing a killer email subject line

emailThe subject line of an email actually wields a surprising amount of power. Indeed 35% of recipients open emails based on subject lines alone.  A strong subject header can mean the difference between an email being opened or passed over for something more appealing.

So, as a small businesses owner how do you make your communications stand out in the sea of emails your audience receives every day?

 144.8 billion emails are sent every day

At some time or another most of us have been guilty of hastily cobbling together an email header at the very last moment with little thought. However we should really be thinking of our subject lines as an enticing headline that supports the content of our email. Much like a newspaper article, a press release or blog post, time should be spent crafting the most effective headline as possible. Afterall what’s the point of having an email packed with cracking content if it doesn’t even get opened?

Of course different approaches will appeal to different audiences, but there are some universal tips you can implement to help you create more effective subject lines, thus improving your email open rates.

9 Top tips for effective email subject lines

1. Be clear.  If ever in doubt about what your email subject line should be, chose clarity. The majority of your recipients will want to know upfront about what they can expect to find when they open your email.

“Don’t sell what’s inside, tell what’s inside” Mail chimp

 

So be clear about your content. Most importantly, be honest about your content. You won’t win customers by trying to entice them in with false promises, in fact they more likely to bypass your email next time.

2. Keep it short. The general rule of thumb is to keep your email subject line as short as you can. Try to aim for under 10 words. Remember 40% of emails are opened on mobiles devices first so if you make it too long your meaning won’t come across in the 4-7 words that average mobile screen can fit.

If you are struggling to get the number of words down, keep to the point, get rid of any unnecessary filler words and put your strongest words at the beginning. Get into the practice of editing down. For example instead of ‘Enter our free prize draw to win £500 to spend on stunning jewellery from our latest collection’ (17 words) you could edit it down to ‘Win £500 of jewellery from our new collection’ (8 words). Same message just shorter with the keywords right upfront.

5 tips to improve online video content3. Try numbers . Using numbers in your email headers can be a great way of getting noticed. For example here are some ones in my inbox that grabbed my attention and got opened:

  • 5 ways to sprinkle on the sparkle (Boden)
  • 23 ways to blow your valentines socks off (notonthehighstreet.com)
  • 7 golden rules for content marketing (Econsultancy)

I’m not sure of the psychology behind it, but studies seem to agree that odd numbers and random specific numbers seem to get higher open rates, so it’s definately worth giving numbers a whirl.

4. Mix up your content. Your header is only as good as the content inside. So if you find yourself stuck in a pattern of sending the same type of emails over and over again, your subject lines are probably going to reflect this. So reboot your content and surprise your audience by sending out a variety of different email communications such as competitions, newsletters, special offers, blog posts, sneak previews, quizzes, surveys and so on. It follows that if your content is varied and interesting, your email headlines are more likely to be too.

adding humour to email5. Introduce some humour. This can be a tricky one to get right but if you manage it can work wonders. A bit of humour can be a sure-fire way to grab attention and get your email to stand to from the crowd. A good example is Groupon’s much applauded subject line:

“Best of Groupon: The Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)” 

Puns or plays on word can also work well – holidays and seasonal promotions can lend them selves quite well to this. Here are a few of seasonal examples from notonthehighstreet.com who do creative email headlines really well.

  • They do say ‘drink and be merry’… fill your festive boots
  • It’s the best thing since Christmas…Easter we so glad to see you 
  • Pretend like you had this planned for ages…valentines day sorted

Being clever can be great but remember don’t try to be so clever  that no one can work out what your on about. If you do want to try writing some email headers with a bit of humour checkout this blog from Vertical Response – it’s got lots of examples of amusing subject lines alongside some great tips.

6. Offer a benefit . Including a clear benefit to you reader in your subject header can help increase your open rates. When you are crafting your subject line focus on the benefits rather than the features. Using strong benefit words can work well as they imply a promise of what is inside, for example

  • Increase
  • Discover
  • Learn
  • Win
  • Earn
  • Save

7. Urgency and Exclusivity. Subject lines that create a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate. Here is a great example of an email I received recently from Banana Republic that covers both these elements. The subject line was: Our 40% online private sale ends today.

email urgency and exclusivity

And yes it did work as I did take advantage of the offer.

8. Don’t be mistaken for SPAM. The last thing you want is for your email to look like possible spam .

69% of email recipients report email as spam based only on the subject line.

People tend to steer clear of subject headers that look a bit ‘spammy’. So don’t be temped to oversell and be careful if you’re using overtly sales words like FREE in your headlines.  Definitely avoid using ALL CAPS as it shouts of spam.

9. Test and monitor. Most email service  providers will have ‘insight’ tools that will enable you to monitor your email performance. Simple A/B testing of your subject headers is a great way to find out what works best for your particular audience, helping you craft stronger performing headlines.

Finally, before you press SEND…

Before your send your email merrily on its way, double-check your subject line to ensure there are no typos and it can’t be misconstrued to cause any offence. If in doubt it’s always a good idea to ask yourself the following question: If you received this email would you open it, ignore it or assume it’s SPAM?

We’d love to hear some of your tips for creating powerful email subject lines, so please do leave a comment. 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to create a successful brand for your small business or ecommerce start-up

branding for small businessesMany small businesses have been up and running a good while before their thoughts turn to brand building. Even then branding ends up slipping to the bottom of the to-do list. Of course, with the 101 things small business owners are faced with on an every day basis this is understandable. Yet it is important not to underestimate the importance of good branding.

In order to be successful long-term, branding needs to be at the heart of your business. Working on creating a proper brand presence early on can pay dividends in the long run. Why? Because the impression you make as a business as critical to your long-term success and this is tied intrinsically into branding.

What is a brand?

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”. Jeff Bezos, Founder Amazon

Your  brand is essentially the set of ideas your business stands for in people’s minds. Recognisable visually such as through a logo, your brand is also shaped by your actions as a business.  A successful brand will help differentiate you from your competitors, build loyalty, increase traffic, create brand advocates and help connect people emotionally to your business.

For example I have being buying Converse All Star for well over 20 years. Not solely because of the trainers themselves but because over years I have connected emotionally to the brand through a sense of belonging becoming a loyal returning customer in the process.

brand loyalty

 

Defining your brand

Branding itself is a massive area indeed, large companies have  dedicated people such as brand managers and brand directors working on their brand full-time. As a small business owners we obviously don’t have that luxury, yet with a bit of time and effort we are quite capable of building a successful brand for our business ourselves. Before you embark on building your brand presence you need first to spend some time thinking about the fundamentals of your brand.  Considering the following questions will help you get you off to a solid start.

  • What is your purpose as a business?
  • What are your businesses core values?
  • Who is your target audience and what are their needs?
  • What do your customers think when they think of your business?
  • What differentiates your business from that of your competitors?
  • And most importantly, what is it you want your customers to think when your business comes to mind.

7 essential tips small business can use to build their brand

The great news is you don’t need a huge budget in place to build your brand. You will however need to invest some time and thought into establishing a solid brand presence.

excellent customer service1. Offer a positive customer experience.

72% of consumers say customer service is central to brand loyalty.  

 

I mentioned earlier that branding is closely associated with the impression you make as a business. Central to this is offering your customers an all round positive experience from start to finish. Ensuring that your customers experience a seamless journey – from navigating your website, browsing products, using your shopping cart, making a payment, shipping and delivery to exemplary customer service – is essential if your want to building a positive impression and healthy reputation.

2. Use content to build your brand

Authentic, relevant, quality content is integral to building your brand. Content that reflects your brand identity and is relevant to the needs of your customers will build brand engagement, brand loyalty and brand trust.

80% of consumers say that the authenticity of content is the most influential factor in their decision to become a follower of a brand.

Focus on providing a variety of engaging, value added, visual and non-visual content for your customers. For example;

  • Blog posts
  • New articles
  • How to Guides
  • Online Tutorials
  • Webinars
  • Infographics
  • Competitions and Quizzes.

3. Create a brand personality

People prefer to do business with other people. For small business owners your brand personality is likely to be you – it is what you do on behalf of your business. Think about the tone you use when you write, how you interact on with people on the phone, what things you post on social media and what visual images you use. Remember what you are submitting is a reflection of your business and your brand values.

Try using your ‘About Us’ page to give customers a feel for the people behind the business. ‘Meet the team’ or ‘behind the scenes’ can give a face to your business and help people build an emotional connection to your brand. Take a look a Stella and Dot or Riverford’s About Us videos.

Use Social media to build brand awareness4. Use Social Media

71% of people say they are more likely to make a purchase from a brand they follow on social media. 

Social media is a great platform to build awareness of your brand. Firstly consider not only the platforms your target market are likely to be using but also which platforms best support your brand image. For example Facebook is probably a safe starting point for most businesses as it is has huge and diverse audience, if you are heavily imaged based then look at Pinterest and Instagram and if you are B2B then you probably want to be on LinkedIn. The point is to give it some thought before you leap in.

The content you post should reflect your brand image and support your brand values. The more valuable it is to your customers the higher the likelihood is that it will be shared.

5. Brand trust

A successful business with a loyal customer base will have worked hard over time to establish brand trust – think John Lewis, FedEx, Apple and Amazon. As a small business and start-up the best way to start developing brand trust is, as we mentioned earlier in the article, through providing a consistently positive customer experience.

When you are starting out it is also a good idea to include various trust signposts that will signal to new customers that your business is trustworthy. For example:

  • Security logos and Trustmarks
  • Customer testimonials
  • Awards or accolades
  • Customer reviews
  • Transparent information on delivery and returns 
  • Exemplary customer service
  • Easy to find contact details and registered address
  • Links to official organisations and associations

6. Visual identity

Building a recognisable visual identity is essential to establishing a  brand. Firstly create a great logo and use it everywhere. Think also about your visually branding in terms of fonts, colours, style and feel. This should be applied to all your marketing materials both online and offline. If you keep these things consistent you will start to establish visual brand recognition.  It is a good idea to create a set of visual brand guidelines and standards – such as how your logo can be used, what font should be used and the Pantone reference for your brand colours.

7. Be consistent.

brand consistencyApparently it takes between 5-7 brand impressions before someone remembers your brand. Therefore staying consistent is absolutely essential if you want to establish your brand in the mind of customers.  Consistency will reinforce your brand identity making your brand recognisable and differentiating you from your competitors. Mixed messages and inconsistent branding will only leave customers confused about your business with no reason to invest in what you have to offer.

 

 

We’d love to hear your own thoughts and experiences on building a brand for your small business, so please do leave a comment.

 

 

5 indispensable pop up shop tips for small online businesses and start-ups

pop up shopContinued growth in ecommerce coupled with changes in the traditional retail environment has meant the last few years have seen a significant development in the pop up shop industry.  With projections for next year indicating that pop-ups will grow nearly 2.5 times faster than the UK’s traditional retail industry there are no signs of a slow down.

The very nature of pop up shops means that as well as being loved by the big brands its format lends itself really well to small online businesses and  start-ups. We take a look at the benefits a pop up store can bring your ecommerce business and provide some helpful tips for getting your pop up off to a flying start.

What is a pop up shop?

pop up shop spaceEssentially a pop up shop is a temporary retail store selling merchandise in a particular space or venue for a limited period of time – typically from 1 day to a few of months. The aim is to attract customers through creating a burst of impact and providing a unique and interesting experience of your brand.  Pop-up shops are incredibly flexible encompassing a wide variety of quirky spaces to suit all budgets – no matter how small. Examples of utilising space could include;

  • Shop shares
  • Vacant retail space
  • Shopping centres
  • Churches
  • Village halls
  • High street stalls
  • Farmers markets
  • Festivals
  • Art Galleries
  • Tents
  • Window displays
  • Garages
  • Even pubs are getting in on the act!

If you are looking to rent some shop space or similar then there are a number of online services available that you can organise this through. Checkout:

Benefits for ecommerce owners

A pop up store is a low risk, cost-effective way to complement your online presence with some exciting offline activity, bringing your small online business a number of benefits. Including;

Flexibility.  Pop-up shops can be adapted to suit your budget. Their temporary nature means you have no long-term commitment and no big overheads. You can simply choose the kind of pop up space your budget allows for the amount of time you need it. This could be anything from renting a vacant retail space for a couple of months to a table at a farmers market for a day.

Drive traffic.  Exposure to a new audience can generate leads that you can capture and drive online to your business website.

Customer engagement. If your business is primarily online then a pop-up shop is an excellent way to physically get yourself in front of potential customers. It gives you the opportunity  to engage in face-to-face conversation with your target market and gain valuable insight and feedback about your business.

Brand awareness. Pop-up stores can help get your brand in front of new customers, building awareness of your brand. Being creative can help generate interest and create a buzz around what you are doing – opening you up to some potential PR opportunities.

New products. Pop-up shops enable to you to test new product ideas out on your potential audience and obtain real-time feedback. If you’re launching a new product then a pop-up store is also a  great way to create some added excitement – complementing online marketing promotions.

Test offline retail. If you are thinking about expanding your business offline into bricks and mortar then pop-ups are a sensible first step and a good way to experiment with the offline environment – before taking the plunge permanently.

5 essential tips for getting started

pop up shop planning1. Planning.

Spending time planning your presence is absolutely essential if you want your pop up shop to be a success. Think about the practical considerations you will need to undertake to ensure a positive experience:

  • Have clear goals and objectives in place.
  • What type of space is available in your budget?
  • How long are you planning to run your pop up store – a few days, a few weeks or a few months?
  • Will you need to hire in additional staff to man your pop up shop?
  • What stock will you need?
  • Do you need there to be a good WiFi connection?
  • What time of year are you planning your pop up – will the weather have an impact?
  • How are you going to take payments?
  • How do you plan to data capture contact details such as email addresses?

2. Location.

Choosing the right location is of paramount importance so make sure you do your research first. Primarily think about where you are likely to find your target market. Choose somewhere with a high footfall, with good public transport links and a location that is easy to find. Do you need somewhere with good WiFi connection (essential if you want to  get visitors to check out your online store or promote real-time posts on social media)?

3. Make an Impact.

The more interesting and unique you can make your pop-up shop the more likely you are to attract an audience. It’s a great chance for you to get creative so spend time thinking about the visual impact you want your pop up shop to have. How will you display your merchandise? What signage will you use? Are you running any promotions or special events? For some great visual inspiration, check out Pinterest – there are plenty of boards dedicated to Pop-Up store displays.

publicise pop up store4. Spread the word.

Give people plenty of advance warning about your pop up shop and stress it’s for a limited time period – people don’t like to feel that they might are missing out on something! Promote your pop up shop on:

  • Your website
  • Your blog
  • Social media platforms
  • Local papers
  • Local notice boards
  • Local social media networks
  • Flyers
  • Press releases

follow up emails5. Follow up 

As an ecommerce business one of your key goals is likely to be driving potential customers to your online store. Therefore think about how you are going to capture prospect data such as email addresses so you are able to follow-up on possible leads. Competitions are a great way to get people to impart with their contact details. Ensure that you display your website address prominently and include it on all your flyers and packaging.

With a bit of thought and planning, pop up stores can be a great offline tactic for small business ecommerce and start-ups, so it’s worth giving it a try!

We’d love to hear your experiences using pop up stores so do please leave a comment.

 

 

How to generate leads with 5 essential in-bound marketing techniques for small online businesses

Small business ecommerce lead generationInbound marketing is essentially about attracting people to your website using techniques such as SEO, content marketing, social media and email. For small businesses and ecommerce start-ups it can be particularly appealing as it doesn’t come with the hefty budget required by more traditional outbound marketing approaches like advertising or direct mail.

Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing.

Small business and start-ups are unlikely to have an established customer base or a ready-to-use database at their fingertips.  In-bound marketing tactics can build awareness, create interest and consequently attract prospects to your website ready for you to nurture into leads and ultimately loyal customers.

Content ImageThe crux of successful inbound marketing is content. It is through the creation of valuable and engaging content that you can draw visitors to your website and showcase all that your business has to offer.

71% of B2B marketers are using content marketing to generate marketing leads

To get the content right for your business it is essential to do some background work first. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are you trying to target – who is your key audience? What sector or industry are they in?
  • What information is going to be of interest to them – what kind of content would they find helpful, useful, entertaining or engaging?
  • Where do they look for information – where are they currently getting their industry knowledge (e.g. competitors, organisations, social networks) and what places could you engage with them?

5 Key inbound marketing tactics

There are all-sorts of inbound-tactics you can use to generate leads and grow your business. In this article we just focusing on a few key in-bound techniques that will get you up and running and help attract visitors to your site. It is important to take a long-term approach to in-bound marketing. The benefits may take some time to come to fruition, but will be well worth the time and effort you put in.

1.SEO

Audiences use search engines to discover information and as a consequence search engines can bring a sizeable percentage of traffic to your website. Optimising your online presence to reflect the keywords and phrases relevant to your business and industry is essential if you want to move up the search engine rankings and be found by your target audience. I don’t for one minute suggest the practice of keyword stuffing, rather use keyword research to find the keywords and phrases that are meaningful to your prospective customers.  It is those keywords and phrases that should form the basis of creating engaging, relevant content for your target audience.

blogging2.Blogging

B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those that don’t. 

Creating original, fresh, relevant blog posts for your site not only supports your SEO efforts, it draws new visitors to your site, helps build your brand personality, is highly sharable and provides added-value content for established customers.

Think too about guest blogging on other relevant industry sites. This opens your business up to a wider audience and creates links back to your site.

3. Visual content

The last few years have seen visual content literally explode in popularity. Introducing more visuals to your site is a great way to entice your target audience to your ecommerce business. We humans are naturally visual learners so it is no surprise that using visual content can have a greater impact that text alone.

  • Use inspiring and interesting photos and images to support your content.
  • Infographics.  People are 30 times more likely to read an infographic than a text-based piece of content. Infographics are a great way to convey ‘drier’ content such as research and statistics in an engaging format. There are a number of online tools such as Easel.ly and Piktochart that make it simple for you to create your own infographics using ready-made templates that won’t cost the earth to produce,
  • Video. People are naturally drawn to other people so videos are a great way to build a brand personality and put a face to your business. Implement an ‘ About Us’ or ‘Meet the Team’ video or try video blogging. You can also use video to help your convey complex information in a digestible format though Video Tutorials or How to Guides. And, interestingly, using videos on landing pages increase conversion by 86%

4. Email Marketing

Email is an essential part of the in-bound marketers’ toolkit. The added benefits for small businesses is that it is cost-effective, easy to measure and offers a healthy ROI. Use email marketing to communicate to your audience on a regular basis such as through a weekly or fortnightly newsletter. Email is a great way to build relationships and keep your business at the forefront of your audience’s mind. Offer links back to the valuable content on your site such as latest industry news, videos or your latest blog post.


Use Social media to build brand awareness5. Social Media

Utilise your social media platforms to drive your prospects to your online content such as your blog, news articles, video tutorials – in fact all the compelling content you have created.

Rather than taking a scatter gun approach to social media, focus your efforts on the key social media platforms where you customers are. For example if you own a craft store you are probably likely to find Facebook or Pinterest relevant.  Whereas B2B’s may generate more leads through platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. Indeed,  44% of B2B marketers have generated leads through LinkedIn.

Converting visitors to prospects

Of course once you have enticed your target audience to your website and sparked their interest with all your compelling content, you need to try to convert them into leads by encouraging them to impart their contact information.

  • Optimise your website to make it simple for people to sign-up. Don’t ask for unnecessary information and ensure any forms they may have to complete are quick and straightforward. In the first case of getting people to sign up to your newsletter, a first name and email address will suffice.
  • Offer incentives. Valuable, desirable content such as white papers, eBooks, special offers and giveaways are a great way to get visitors to pass you their details. Rule of thumb – the more valuable the reward the more information you can gather.

Of course the next part of the journey is turning those leads into paying customers…!

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences using in-bound marketing techniques, so please do leave a comment

 

 

 

How to use online video to improve your content marketing

online video marketingThe last few years have seen online video literally explode onto the scene and its popularity doesn’t look like it is going to wane any time soon. Indeed somewhat mind-bogglingly, researchers predict that by 2019 it would take an individual 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month.

Online video has become an increasingly important component of successful content marketing and as such it is something that all small online businesses should be thinking about incorporating into their online presence.

Interesting video statistics include:

  •  Website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product after watching a video about it.
  • 7 billion videos are watched each and every day on Facebook and YouTube.
  • 4 times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.
  • 56% of consumers believe that if a company has a website, it should have video.
  • Posts with videos attract three times as many inbound links as plain text posts.
  • Globally, consumer internet video traffic will be 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2019.
  • 55% of people watch videos online everyday.

Benefits for small businesses

At a time when we are drowning in online information, video can convey a message in a format that is easily digestible and naturally engaging. As a small business this can help you stand out from the crowd and get your message heard. In addition:

Low production costs. You no longer need a hefty budget or in-depth technical knowledge to produce high-quality videos. Some excellent videos have been put together using just a Smartphone.  Online video creation services such as Animoto, GoAnimate and Stupeflix offer reasonably priced business packages that enable even a complete beginner to quickly and easily put together professional-quality videos with their pictures and video clips.

Helps with SEO. Search engines love fresh relevant and original content as Video. Research has shown that websites with video content are 53 times more likely to rank on page one of Google.

Made for sharing. Videos are more likely to get shared than other content. Indeed, 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others.

Build your brand personality.  Clever use of video can help bring personality to your business.  You can use it to develop an image of how you’d like your business to be perceived.

5 tips to improve online video content5 ways to enhance your online video content

To help improve your content marketing efforts we’ve come up with a few online video ideas to get you started.

1. Showcasing. Use video to showcase your products in real-life scenarios or situations. Your audience will get a better feel for a product which in turn gives them the added reassurance that what they see is what they will receive upon delivery. Many online clothing retailers use video to help reassure customers. For example take a look at how Boden uses video.

2. Demonstrating. Video is a great way to demonstrate how a particular product or service works. ‘How to Guides’ and tutorials can impart complex information in an easily digestible manner. Indeed 4 in 5 consumers say a video showing how a product or service works is important. Here at ShopIntegrator we use online video tutorials to help clients set up their online shops.

3. Personality building. Meet the team’ or ‘about us’ videos, are a great way to build brand personality. Take a look at Stella & Dot’s ‘Our Story’ video. They successfully use video to give their audience a real feel for the people behind the business and its brand values. A short 60 second video about what makes your business unique can be a really powerful sales tool.

4. Customer testimonials. Customer testimonials are a helpful tool in the sales conversion process, they add credibility to your business and offer customer added reassurance about potential purchasing decisions. Whilst text only testimonials are fine, think about capturing some testimonials from your customers on video. Videos are more engaging and visitors will get a better understanding of the kind of business you are from your customer community.

5. Online advertising. Don’t forget about using video in your online advertising. Online display advertising is rapidly on the up with Forrester predicting spending will nearly double by 2019. This rise will be primarily driven by video advertising. Research indicates that consumers are very receptive to video advertising and are 27 times more likely to click-through on online video ads than standard banner advertisements.

share videos on social media
Top tips for successful online videos

And finally, we’ll leave you with a few helpful tips to ensure successful online video content.

  • Try to keep your videos as short and sweet  as possible. Nearly 2/3 of people prefer videos of under 60 seconds so aim to keep them as short and as informative as you can.
  • Always go for quality over quantity. It is better to produce fewer, relevant and well executed videos than churning out lots of unprofessional, immaterial offerings
  • The beauty of video is its shareability.  People like sharing videos so make sure you make it easy for people to do so by including social sharing buttons. Try also including  a clear call to action such as ‘If you enjoyed this video please share it with your friends’.
  • Post and promote your videos content on a variety of platforms. Social media is the perfect environment for video sharing. Indeed, since June 2014 Facebook has averaged more than 1 billion video views every day. And, from January this year iPhone and Android Twitter users can actually capture, edit and share videos of up to 30 seconds duration on Twitter.
  • Use video links in your email communications. Not only are you promoting your videos, your emails are more likely to get opened if they include a video. In fact, customers are nearly 50% more likely to read email newsletters that include links to video.
  • Spend time on your title. Your video title is important. In the same way you would take time to craft a good headline, create a strong, relevant title for your video using appropriate keywords.
  • Always keep you audience in mind. When you are creating your video content, just like any other content marketing, remember your audience. Think about what information will be of interest to them. What would they like to see?
  • Include your URL. Use your video to drive traffic to your site by including your business’ URL in both the video and your video’s description. . Remember people will be viewing your video on a multitude of different screens so make sure it can be viewed equally well no matter the device. In fact, are now on mobile devices
  • Multi-device friendly. Remember people will be viewing your video on a multitude of different screens so make sure it can be viewed equally well no matter the device. In fact, half of all YouTube views are now on mobile devices.

As a small business owner, you really can’t afford not to include video in your content marketing in some shape or form. It is far more accessible now and doesn’t cost the earth to produce professional, high quality video.  Hopefully we’ve given you a bit of inspiration and some helpful tips to get you started.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on using online video content, so please do feel free to leave a comment. 

 

 

How to build a successful Twitter presence for your small online business

twitter for small businessWith 302 million monthly active users, Twitter still has plenty to offer small businesses. It’s a great tool for promoting awareness, driving traffic to your site, generating sales, engaging with customers and building your brand personality. Of course, as with any social media platform, in order to be successful you need to be following best practice and have set yourself clear goals. Otherwise you could be investing valuable time and effort with little to show in return.

What do you want to achieve?

Twitter can successfully work as part of a wider integrated marketing strategy. According to small business research, 60% of respondents have purchased from small and medium businesses because of Twitter.

But to be successful it is important that you define and prioritise your goals.  If you’re busily tweeting away with no clear sense of purpose the benefits are unlikely to match the time and effort you may be putting in.

So think about what your key business objectives are. For example are you looking to:

  • Build followers.
  • Increase engagement amongst target audience.
  • Grow awareness of your brand.
  • Generate sales leads.
  • Drive traffic to your site.

The clearer your are about what it is you want to achieve the more focused you can be in your approach to your Twitter activities.

We’ve put together some easy to implement best practice tips to help you make the most of your Twitter presence.

Getting off to a good start

If you’re not already using Twitter then getting off to a good start is important. Once you’ve signed up you’ll need to create your username (also known as your Twitter handle). For example ours is @shopintegrator. Then you’ll create a profile bio, add a profile pic – these should succinctly reflect your business. Next its time to start looking for the right people to follow – which of course will be dependent upon the industry and business you are in.

Check out Twitter’s own business resource Twitter For Business. You’ll find plenty of useful advice to get you off to a confident start.

Tweeting essentials

  • Include the Twitter ‘Follow Us’ button on your website.
  • Tweet regularly but ensure it is something worth sharing.
  • Keep your brand’s personality and voice consistent in your Tweets.
  • Don’t make it all about you. Share links and retweet anything that will be of interest to your followers.
  • Don’t use up all your 140 characters. You’ll want to leave enough room for people retweet.
  • Use hashtags but don’t go mad. One or two per tweet is probably about right.
  • Recycle your best tweets with some re-wording. Research shows that a repeated tweet can get as much as 86% performance as the original tweet.
  • Promote your Twitter username online and offline

visual contant on TwitterIncrease your visual content

As visual content becomes increasingly important within social media, try to include more images and photos in your Tweets. According to HubSpotTweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets – so it’s definitely one to think about. Remember though, when you are posting images they count as a link and so will automatically use up 22 characters.  Keep your tweets extra concise to allow for re-tweeting.

Videos are also a great way to capture and engage an audience. Since January this year iPhone and Android Twitter users can actually capture, edit and share videos of up to 30 seconds duration on Twitter.

Share interesting and varied content

Twitter isn’t just about relentlessly pushing your own agenda. You need to mix up your content so it is varied and interesting. If you’re stuck here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Eye-catching images and videos.
  • Links to your blog articles.
  • Latest industry news and titbits.
  • Behind the scenes peeks at your business photos.
  • Funny and inspiring quotes.
  • Start conversations by posing questions.
  • Product launches.
  • Industry statistics.
  • Latest trends.
  • Ask advice.
  • Share tips and recommendations.

Social on TwitterBe social

“80% of your Tweets should focus on driving interactions with your followers, such as retweets, replies, and favourites.” Twitter for Business

Central to your Twitter success is building a genuine rapport with your followers. Try using Twitter’s 80/20 ratio. Don’t just bombard your followers with tweets that push your businesses products and services. 80% of your tweets should be sharing links, retweeting and joining conversations.

You are trying to show the person behind  your business so always take a friendly and positive approach to your interactions.

Measure your performance

Don’t just tweet merrily away without taking a step back to analyse your performance. Twitter Analytics is worth spending some time getting familiar with. The Twitter dashboard can give you all sorts of interesting information about how you are doing. For example:

  • At a glance 28 day summary: Tweets sent, profile visit, mentions, new followers, top tweet, top mention and top followers.
  • Tweets: Impressions, engagement, retweets, replies and link clicks.
  • Follower insights. Interests, location, gender and who your followers are following.

Digging a bit deeper into how you are performing and getting to know who is following you will enable you to better focus your Twitter efforts.

Following best practice and implementing even just some of the tips we’ve talked about will help your business get more out of Twitter. We’d love to hear your own thoughts and experiences on Twitter so please do leave a comment.

5 E-Commerce Lessons to Learn From Walt Disney World

A visit to a Disney theme park – any one of them around the world – is one of those long cherished childhood dreams that nearly every kid who know Mickey Mouse has harbored. Why kids, I know a lot of adults who still look forward with bated breath to a trip to the ‘happiest place on earth’.

A big part of the magic of Disney’s theme parks comes from the magic of their movies. Our association of the Disney brand with carefree, childhood hours spent watching the Sunday morning cartoons automatically makes it a place we treasure. Disney movies, however sappy, have a way of resonating with audiences across age barriers. However, that’s only part of the story. The majority of the charm that Disney Parks hold, lies in the masterful marketing strategies that Disney has developed and mastered into a fine art, over the years.

If there’s one brand that I would want to learn marketing from, it’d be Disney. It’s happy, it’s aspirational, it’s addictive and most importantly, profitable. Instead of gushing on and on about Disney and their spectacular marketing, I think it’ll be more interesting to reconfigure my understanding of Disney’s magic to the e-commerce domain. So, here goes!

1. The Devil is in the Details

While designing their e-commerce sites, most entrepreneurs zero in on a template that suits them best and then replicate the template across webpages all across the site. The trouble with this cookie cutter approach is that we often overlook little things that make all the difference between good and great user experience.

Take Disney’s parks for example. The management goes to extraordinary lengths to manage every tiny detail of their sprawling theme parks and resorts. ‘Hidden Mickeys’ that pop up around the theme parks and resorts is something every true Disney fan-boy tries to unearth. There’s even a whole website dedicated to unearthing hidden Mickeys! Chuck Rylant recalls noticing Mickey Mouse ears at the unlikeliest of places all over the Disney Resort he and his family stayed at. From bathroom faucet handles to lamps to the top of the shampoo bottles in their hotel room, everything was shaped like Mickey ears.

Mickey Mouse pancakes at a Disney park resortMickey Mouse pancakes at a Disney park resort

Takeaway: Mickey Mouse is the very heart of Disney and its theme parks. It’s their most identifiable icon and they get the maximum mileage out of it. Do the same with your e-commerce site. Pick an icon or a signature theme that can be used or adapted in different ways across your site. It doesn’t even have to be imagery. Use microcopy that amuses and helps out simultaneously in your web forms or your tool tips to make the experience of navigating your site and completing a purchase a tad easier and a lot more entertaining.

2. Appeal to Your Customer’s Emotional Side

If you had to use pure logic to plan a wedding you probably would not opt to throw a lavish party for hundreds of people you barely know and spend thousands of your hard earned money on one-time things like a fancy suite or a designer wedding dress. But you go ahead and do it because you’re swept away in the emotion of it all.

Ditto with Disney’s theme parks. The average cost of four member family vacation to any of Disney’s theme parks can pay for a small car. But you still go ahead and do it, because Disney convinces you that you’re going to have the best time of your lives on this trip. Disney taps into this wellspring of nostalgia, happiness and voila, you fork over ridiculous amounts of money to go to a theme park. Emotions win over rational thought.

A toddler being swept off her feet by Mickey MouseA toddler being swept off her feet by Mickey Mouse

Takeaway: Your e-commerce site may not have the huge emotional equity that Disney already enjoys with its target audience, but you definitely have the advantage of knowing that tapping into your users’ emotions will get you to their wallets. If your audience is eco-conscious, you’re assured of an emotional connection by offering eco-friendly packaging material for shipping their purchases even at a slight premium. Appeal to the right emotion for the right target audience. When you strike the right emotional chord, your cash register will make some very pretty music!

3. Consistency is Key

How frustrating is it when your sliced bread simply refuses to fit into your toaster’s standard sized slot, right when you’re in a tearing hurry to get to work. After a few vile curses to the bakery that decided to get ‘creative’ with the thickness of their bread, you vow to switch to a brand that makes standard sized bread loaves to save yourself future agony. That’s just a small example of what happens when consistency is thrown to the winds. In spite of all our claims to individuality and uniqueness, consistency in everyday things keeps us grounded and soothes our way through life.

This is an area Disney truly excels at. From the costumes its cast members wear in the theme parks to the way each cast member stays completely in character even when doing something mundane like giving directions to the way the exact same experience gets served to a completely new set of over-excited guests to even the clockwork precision with which long queues form at every ride without fail (!), consistency is a lesson that Disney lives breathes every single moment.

The Mouseketeers circa 1955The Mouseketeers circa 1955

Takeaway: We discussed earlier about how once the design and layout of a site is fixed, very little changes. However simply carrying forward the same look for all your webpages is not enough. A great e-commerce experience extends beyond your website alone. Every moment-of-truth that your brand has with the customer can be made consistent with your overall brand guidelines and personality. From your order confirmation email that carries forward your website’s design aesthetics to packaging material that bears a throwback to your site to a customer care representative who greets users with your signature welcome line to your social media voice that amplifies your brand personality; each step should reflect the same look and feel for that true ‘wow’ factor.

4. Don’t Forget the Human (Mousey?) Touch

One of the most common pictures that any family album from a trip to Disneyland is a picture with Mickey, Minnie or any of the hundreds of cast members dotting the park. There are even special events at many Disney parks where guests can pay to have share a meal with Mickey and gang. While you may have to wait for hours in queue for your favorite ride, most days your request for a quick handshake, hug or even photo-op with a cast member is fulfilled instantly. This simple fact reflects the extent to which Disney emphasizes the human touch in their parks. The frustration of waiting forever for a ride simply evaporates when Snow White plants a big kiss on your toddler’s cheek and poses with her for a once in a lifetime picture.

A guest gets a personal wave from every cast member at closing hoursA guest gets a personal wave from every cast member at closing hours

These personal touches don’t end at the park gates. When you walk into a reservation at Disney’s resorts, the staff doesn’t need an introduction from you. They already know who you are and where you’re coming from. Chances are, you’ll even get a personalized greeting complete with your name as you first walk in the doors. How’s that for human touch? After service like that, you’ll be spoilt for every non-Disney hotel you’ll book for the next decade at least.

Takeaway: Just because your customers can’t see your face but only your website doesn’t stop you from adding human touches to your site. Offer a personalized greeting when a signed in customer arrives on your site to instantly offer an element of surprise and happiness. Show returning customers items similar to what they browsed for last or items complementary to items they bought last. This tells users that you remember them as people and not just as credit card numbers. Another easy way to extend that human touch is to offer live chat support when a user dawdles for too long on a product page or in the middle of the checkout process.

5. Don’t be Shy to Upsell. Disney isn’t

Most e-commerce sites are simply thankful that the customer finally completed their checkout process and finally bought something, instead of simply window shopping. The thought of complicating matters by trying to get the customer to buy a more expensive version of their chosen product or even pushing them into buying accessories and other paraphernalia for the product that they just bought can be rather daunting.

But trust Disney parks to be right on the money when it comes to upsell and cross-sell. Book a trip to a Disney park online and you’ll soon enough start getting emails nudging you to upgrade to better tickets that will help you jump the queue at rides, book a nicer hotel room at the resort attached to the theme park and so on.

Frontierland Stores at Disneyland ParksFrontierland Stores at Disneyland Parks

The price you pay for the entry into Mickey Mouse’s kingdom is just the tip of the iceberg. Once you walk through those gates, there are stores selling little (mostly useless) trinkets and movie merchandise at every step. At the end of every ride, you literally walk through a toy store themed around the ride you just took. How any parent gets out of these without buying something for their nagging kids is a miracle to me.

Takeaway: One of the most under-done, yet most easily doable activity on e-commerce sites is upselling items to a customer who’s already buying a particular item. If Disney’s upsell and cross sell strategies don’t impress you enough, I’m sure e-commerce behemoth Amazon’s attempts will be more up your alley. Not only do they immediately offer a complementary item on the product page itself, they also offer more items similar to the one being viewed on the product page. The thank you page often carries a cross-sell message prompting viewers to buy complementary items and so on. It doesn’t end with the purchase. Even after you buy an item, you’ll get emails from Amazon reminding you of exclusive deals on the products that are similar to what you bought last.

In Conclusion

I began this post by trying to derive insights from Disney’s masterful marketing to apply them to an e-commerce setting. I also resolved that I’d stop gushing like a Disney fan-boy. However, by the end of this post, you’ve probably realized that fan-boys can be recognized from a mile away and I’m definitely guilty as charged. If only I could transpose those Disney marketing smarts to my business and I’d be a happy camper!

Image Source: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)