Top 7 Must-Have Digital Marketing Tools For Businesses

Top 7 Must-Have Digital Marketing Tools For Businesses

The internet has had a significant impact on how businesses operate even greater than the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries and it means that if a business wants to succeed today, then it must have a website or at least some form of online presence that allows them to market themselves.

Just as tasks in the offline world are made easier with the use of tools, the same applies online. There is a multitude of software and tools available to business owners and such is their quantity and diversity that it would take 1,000s of articles to explain each one of them, which we are not going to do here.

However, what we can do is point out 7 key areas of digital marketing that play a key role in a business’s online success, and highlight one of the top tools or software that assist in its implementation.

Social Media Management – Sprout Social

With the influence, social media has on so many people’s thoughts and decisions it is imperative that businesses have a presence on at least one social media platform where they know their audience is. To help manage their social media activities Sprout Social proves an array of tools allowing for post scheduling, responding to messages and analytics.

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Social search from Google – what does it mean for search results

Social search from Google - what does it mean for search results

Google has recently announced a new social search feature which is launching on google.com initially, which allows for users to use a ‘+1’ button to show whether a search result or ad in Google was helpful. These search results will appear in your search results page with the ‘+1’s visible, clearly indicating to others that these are the most effective (or most liked) results and ads.

Linking these ‘+1’s to your network such as your Gmail contacts, will allow you to see whether anyone you know in your network has found the search result or ad useful. This might lead to improved quality of traffic to sites, and provide more insight into the effectiveness of adword campaigns on Google.

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5 Principles of Social Media Copywriting

5 Principles of Social Media Copywriting

Anytime a new medium comes along, we bring along the baggage of an old medium. Case in point, social media. When I peruse the Facebook pages of the world largest brands, I’m struck by how inappropriate the copywriting usually is. In many cases, it seems as if someone in the PR department received the unfortunate assignment of running the company Facebook.

More than any other channel, social media deserves its own unique set of copywriting principles. Below are what I consider to be the 5 most important guidelines when writing copy for social media. Most of these recommendations are geared towards Facebook, but they can be applied to other platforms as well.

1. Keep it Short & Shareable
Short copy always wins. Bite size content is significantly more likely to be consumed or shared, regardless of the platform. Here’s my strategy: First, write your status update using as few words as possible, but without losing its impact. When you’re finished, review the copy and eliminate another 20%. If you’re like me, you’ll find that you regularly use unnecessary filler words that can be easily eliminated. Better yet, get used to writing within Twitter’s 140 character limit, regardless of whether you’re using Twitter.

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3 Timeless Social Media Tips

3 Timeless Social Media Tips

There’s a part of me that hates change. I despise the fact that much of what I learned 3 years ago about social media is now irrelevant. Are there any principles from today that will still stand years from now, regardless of what the new hot network is? I’d like to suggest at least three.

1. Focus on the Feed, Not the Profile
This is a classic mistake I’ve witnessed on countless platforms. The brands that spend the most time pimping out their profile pages, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, tend to have the worst engagement of all. I’m going out on a limb to predict that the new Facebook timeline and upcoming Twitter brand pages will not change this. Yes, milestones, and pinned posts, and cover photos are cool for branding, but if your content sucks, no one will ever see them. People will still primarily interact with your business through the newsfeed.

Your content is what makes fans care, not a pretty profile page. Content isn’t just king, he’s a ruthless dictator that jealously demands your allegiance.

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25 Killer eCommerce Link Building Tips

25 Killer eCommerce Link Building Tips

Of all websites, e-commerce stores have arguably the hardest time attracting links. The typical etailer’s site lacks substantitive content, and as a result draws few natural links. To make things worse, link requests are often ignored due to the purely commercial nature of an e-store. Link building for e-commerce takes extra patience and creativity. Below are 25 tips I’ve found helpful while building links for online retailers.

7 Tactics for Creating Link-Worthy Content
The reason etailers have such a hard time attracting links is that they make so little effort to create content worthy of them. If you have a blog, you understand this well. Your blog naturally receives links in response to posting valuable content. Bloggers rarely go around begging for webmasters to link to them. Links just come naturally. With this in mind, let me throw out some ideas for creating trully link-worthy ecommerce content.

#1 – Create a Coupon Code Page: This tip can be gold. People naturally share and link to deals, especially when they think they’ve found something exclusive. Consider creating a page that features all your current coupons and deals. (another benefit of this strategy is that customers will find this page higher on the search results when they search for [your brand]+coupon instead of unapproved coupons on deal-type sites.)

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10 Tips for Mastering Google Remarketing Ads

10 Tips for Mastering Google Remarketing Ads

Remarketing is a popular topic in the web marketing world lately. And it’s no wonder why. Who better to show ads to than your previous site visitors? Personally, I’ve found the ROI on remarketing ads to be incredible, second only to email marketing. If you haven’t yet tried it, what are you waiting for?

For those unfamiliar with Google remarketing, here’s how it works. A visitor lands on your website. Google’s ad network writes a cookie in that person’s browser, identifying them as having previously visited your website. When this same person is visiting another website in the ubiquitous Google display network, your ad appears, “remarketing” them back to your site. The power of this concept is self evident. It’s far more effective to show ads to people who’ve previously shown interest in your products, versus the person whose never heard of you.

With that background in mind, let’s look at some tips for mastering this powerful tool.

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4 Shocking Truths about your eCommerce Site

4 Shocking Truths about your eCommerce Site

#1 – Barely anyone sees your homepage
Far too many online businesses worship at the alter of the homepage. While certainly important, homepages today carry far less importance than in years past. When I review the analytics on most of the sites I work with, the vast majority of visitors never see the homepage. (When you have a moment, take a look at not only how many of your visitors never see the homepage, but also what percentage of overall pageviews your homepage represents, you’ll probably be shocked at how low it is.) This is due to a myriad of reasons, one of which is that people simply search for specific content, and Google does a pretty decent job of landing you on the specific page you’re looking for. There’s just no reason to pass through an overly generic destination like a homepage.

I believe one of the biggest sins in web design is promoting mission-critical products and promotions only on the homepage. I typically see sites where an email signup or free shipping promotion is highlighted only on the homepage. This is a tragedy, because there’s very little leverage in the homepage, compared with other, more frequently viewed pages. The time you spend redesigning and testing is much better spent on your product, category, or shopping cart pages.

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6 Secrets to Fantastic Facebook Ad Campaigns

6 Secrets to Fantastic Facebook Ad Campaigns

“Facebook ads don’t work!”

I’ve heard this over and over. And to be honest, this was my experience up to a few months ago. But then I really got serious about Facebook ads. Keep reading and I’ll share some of the secrets that have helped me obtain up to 600% ROI on some of my campaigns.

#1 – Ignore everything you know about Adwords:

For those of us who come from a search marketing background, ignore everything you know about traditional pay per click. With Adwords, it’s not uncommon to create an ad and leave it on autopilot for years, all while returning excellent results. Not so with Facebook. Once your target demographic has seen your ad over and over, the click through rate will fall, and your cost per click will rise, therefore destroying your ROI. To be successful with Facebook ads, be prepared for a successful ad to have a lifecycle of as little as one week. Then move on to the next big idea.

#2 – Stand out or Stand Down

It’s extremely critical that your ad image be striking. I’ve spoken with many companies whose first Facebook ad consist of nothing but their brand logo. For most business, this is a horrible strategy. In fact, my most successful ads completely ignore the company that’s advertising and instead focus intently on one particlar product that people are passionate about. Pay close attention to the Facebook ads on your own profile. Which ones grab your attention and why?

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Putting A/B Tests to the Test: 4 Pitfalls of Testing

Website testing can be one of the most fruitful website optimization tactics in your arsenal. But, it can also be a huge waste of time. Below are 4 pitfalls I’ve found myself in at one time or another.

1. Testing “Everything”

A common axiom in website optimization is to “test everything.” The problem with this advice is it ignores the reality we all find ourselves in, that we have limited time and resources. If you have the choice to test between testing your checkout process or a different coloured add-to-cart button, which do you think will legitimately provide long term value to your visitors?

Quite frankly, not everything is worth testing. Yes, you might inch out a slight improvement to your add-to-cart rate with a flashy new button, but how will that translate to profit and lifetime customer value? My advice is to skip the gimmicks and test stuff that matters.

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4 Reasons your Product Pages Don’t Convert

4 Reasons your Product Pages Don’t Convert

I believe online stores focus too much on technology, too much on traffic generation, and even too much on site conversion optimization, and forget that it’s still all about the product. Everything else is just a tool. Below I’ll share what I believe to be the 4 biggest mistakes made on the product pages of today’s online retailers.

1) Too much imagination is required

All too many product pages require their customer’s to have a good imagination. For example, product images convey the product alone with a white background. Not exactly awe-inspiring. Online shopping can be devoid of context when product images aren’t show in use. Lifestyle and contextual images help create mental ownership by giving specific examples of use.

Yes, it’s a lot of work to get this type of photography on your site. But as I recently shared my experience in lifestyle images, it can be earth-shatteringly effective.

Don’t require your customer to have a good imagination. Paint a picture for them. How will it look in context, in their hands, in use?

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Creating Remarkable Touchpoints

Creating Remarkable Touchpoints

We spend a lot of time on obvious customer touchpoints such as our website, products, call-centre, and marketing creative. But what about these not-so obvious ones?

Packing lists/invoices – Most packing slips are cold and formal. What if the person who picked and packed the order took an extra 10 seconds to write “thank you [customer name]” and sign their name with a red marker?

Email notifications – Most shipping and order confirmation emails look like the digital equivalent of vomit. What if you added pictures of your staff and answered common questions regarding shipping and returns? What if you made it send from an actual person, instead of “donotreply@company.com”?

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10 Secrets of a Winning Facebook Fan Page

10 Secrets of a Winning Facebook Fan Page

The rapid popularity of Facebook fan pages isn’t surprising considering the failure of many websites’ to accommodate conversations with customers. As a result of the inflexibility of many corporate sites, some brands have even begun pushing their Facebook pages over their own website.

But now that everyone’s on the Facebook fan page bandwagon, how can you ensure your page stands apart from the fluff? Here’s 10 must-do’s for your Facebook fan page.

#1 – Give People a Reason to Fan You

People won’t fan you just because you have a page. (who doesn’t by now?!) Smart businesses tell fans exactly what they’ll get. Walgreens does a nice job of this with a teaser landing page. Give your visitors a preview of what your updates look like. Will they get discounts, exclusive news or content? Be specific so you set expectations appropriately.

#2 – Offer Fans Exclusives

If you’re using your page to regurgitate news and content from other company channels, think again. Your fans will see through this sham. Make it a priority to break news or offer exclusive promotions only to your Facebookers. They’ll show their appreciation by eagerly staying tuned to future updates.

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5 Anti-Resolutions for Marketing Success in 2010

5 Anti-Resolutions for Marketing Success in 2010

The not to-do list is often as important as the to-do list. As you begin planning your web strategy for 2010, consider making these new year’s anti-resolutions:

1. Stop relying on discounts: Pretend that for the next year your business had to survive selling only full price products or services. Would you survive? What does your answer say about the health of your brand? Kevin Hillstrom reminds us that “discounts and promotions are taxes placed on brands for being unremarkable”. What truly sets your business apart? Why would a customer choose you over a competitor? If you’ve been overly reliant on deals during last year’s economic debacle, ask yourself when enough is enough. The sooner you start weaning customers off discounts, the sooner you’ll begin cultivating healthy, long-term business.

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What Offline Can Teach Online

What Offline Can Teach Online

In the early days, online retail built itself upon the foundation of convenience and value. It was easier to buy online, and many times cheaper. With the astonishing growth of e-commerce, and the unique combination of an always on store with relatively low overhead, some online store owners would assume they’ve got a leg up on their offline counterparts.

On the contrary, I would argue we can learn much from the offline world. After all, with hundreds of years of experience, traditional retailers are in many ways much more polished than their online counterparts. Here’s 7 pointers we can take from the brick and mortar world.

Merchandising Matters: Countless hours of research have been performed on product merchandising. Grocery stores make a killing off selling prime locations on their shelves. I believe we are just starting to learn how to effectively merchandise online. How much thought have you given to how your products are ordered on your category pages? What about the way you order your categories in your nav? It kills me every time I see products or categories ordered alphabetically. Should accessories really be listed first if you’re known for your jeans? Probably not.

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6 Lessons from 1600% Growth

6 Lessons from 1600% Growth

For the last several years, I’ve had the privilege of personally helping the directors of an e-commerce site acts as a portal to an online clothing store. In the last 3 1/2 years, we’ve been fortunate to experience a 1600% increase in sales.

I’ve recently been reflecting on lessons I’ve learned through this exciting but tumultuous experience. What follows is a list of 6 lessons I’ve learned, often the hard way. I hope these lessons are helpful to your business as well.

Lesson #1: Serve your Customers Offensively

All businesses give lip service to good customer service, and yet few are known for the truly remarkable kind. I believe this is due to a defensive rather than an offensive approach to customer care. Too much emphasis is placed on serving customers who initiate contact with the company rather than the company initiating contact with them. Would you be considered a good friend if you never called? Probably not. Your customers aren’t impressed that you answer the phone with a friendly voice, that’s an expectation. Do the unexpected. Call or email them first. Actually listen and respond to all feedback. Publicity recognize them. You can’t win in sports if you’re always on the defence. Neither will you win the hearts of your customers if you never go on the offense.

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