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Benefits of LinkedIn Sponsored Updates for Small Businesses

Tue, 08/06/2013 - 11:39

Social media’s most professional site is joining the native advertising bandwagon. LinkedIn is rolling out sponsored updates as a way for users to reach an audience beyond their followers. The sponsored updates appear in members’ news feeds much like Facebook’s sponsored posts.

Misty Faucheux, who owns her own online marketing company, says her clients are already asking about the potential of LinkedIn’s new advertising platform.

“My clients are certainly curious,” Faucheux said, who has handled content creation and marketing for top companies like Century Link and Earth Fare. She expects small businesses to reap the rewards of this new feature, too.

LinkedIn’s sponsored updates are easy to use, according to Faucheux. Even people without advertising experience can create a successful sponsored ad.

“Literally anyone can do this,” she said. “You don’t need a design team or an ad agency, you can create a well-worded update that directs viewers to things like new products, upcoming webinars or recently-written white papers.”

LinkedIn members can select the group of people they want to see their sponsored update.

“Small businesses can really zero in on specific groups,” Faucheux says. “Your audience already exists, now with just a few clicks your message will end up on their homepage.”

Since the sponsored updates look just like normal updates, Faucheux says more people are apt to click on them.

“They’re not intrusive like a giant banner,” she says. “Viewers aren’t turned off by these updates, they’re tasteful, and so they’ll get more clicks.”

With 225 million members on LinkedIn, there’s huge potential for marketing success. If the Facebook news feed ads are any indication, this could be a potential boom for businesses looking to gain more followers, says Faucheux.

“The Facebook news feed ads have been providing nearly 50 [times] the clicks than right-hand side ads,” she says. “That can add up fast.”

If you’re looking to give LinkedIn’s updates a try, here’s how to get started:

1. Create a campaign

For starters, you’ll need an advertising account and a LinkedIn company page. Once you sign in, you can hit “Sponsor an update” from your company page. LinkedIn will also offer a list of your recent updates that could be sponsored.

To get the most out of your update, Faucheux says business owners should take some time to write a quality message.

“Remember to follow good content etiquette when creating a post,” Faucheux suggests. “Don’t put spam out there. Create a catchy title and make sure the linked content is of high caliber.”

2. Target your sponsored update

Once you’ve clicked “Sponsor an update,” click “Next” to select who will see your update. You can get as specific as you want. Choose a location, an industry, specific job titles and seniority levels.

“For most advertisers finding the right audience can be tough, but with a few clicks you can introduce a select group of people to your business, brand or product,” says Faucheux.

3. Set a budget

After targeting your message, you’ll need to decide how much money to invest. You can select between cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM). According to LinkedIn’s website, cost-per-impression is ideal for brand-oriented campaigns, while cost-per-click is ideal for performance-based campaigns. You’ll also need to set your budget and the duration of your campaign.

“To start, keep your budget modest and sponsor a few different kinds of updates to see which one has the best response for your business,” Faucheux said. “Don’t be afraid to try something new here, we’re all learning about this platform so there aren’t any right or wrong answers.”

Want more info on LinkedIn for your business? Grab our free guide, 5 Ways to Take Advantage of LinkedIn and Help Your Business Grow

This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.


© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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How to Go Out on a Vine for Social Media

Tue, 08/06/2013 - 06:00

Add Twitter’s Vine app to the growing list of social media marketing tools that businesses large and small are using to grow their brands. This app allows users to create six-second looping videos to share on social media. And it sure is popular—in April, Vine Creative Director and Co-founder Rus Yusupov tweeted that it had become the most popular app in the iTunes store, and after the video sharing platform became available on Android, MediaBistro reported that Vine had even surpassed Instagram by garnering 2.86 million shares (to Instagram’s 2.17 million.)

But its rising popularity doesn’t necessarily make Vine the best solution for everyone. For starters, businesses that don’t already have a full-fledged website, as well as an active social media presence, may want to work on developing those first, says Stephanie Schwab, CEO and founder of the digital and social media marketing firm Crackerjack Marketing. (Find her posts here.)

“You could have a Vine account on its own, but because the Vine network is still fairly small, I think putting your Vines out on Twitter is probably the best way to get them seen,” Schwab explains.

Posting Vines, as the short videos are known, on Facebook is also an option, but where Vine is likely to fail is as a replacement for these more-established social media networks. If you don’t have the basics in place first, Vine on its own will most likely be ineffective for your social media marketing needs.

The good news is that almost any business can find a way to use Vine, but those that are great at storytelling are the most likely to be successful. Communicating via video works best for brands that have already identified how their story connects with customers. And as always with video or images, visually appealing products or story lines win the day: the challenge is to fit a story into six seconds, say marketing experts, so some creativity is required.

That means moving beyond shooting quickie videos on your iPhone and thinking about who is watching and why. Schwab adds that talking for six seconds isn’t necessarily the best way to use up the entire length of a Vine. “There’s a lot of cool stop-motion, where people take a second or two of film or footage, stop and go somewhere else or do something else. You can put together great little stories that way.”

Schwab is quick to point out that Vine isn’t a one-way channel but can be used to solicit content from your audience, as well. For example, you can encourage your customers to shoot and upload Vines with a hashtag you create for a specific topic or experience. General Electric did that with the hashtag #6secondscience (check out some of the submissions here) and Tropicana did so with the cute #Valenvine hashtag.

All of these efforts share one thing in common, though: they go beyond simply pushing content out to thinking through the creative and participatory aspects of the medium. Like Twitter and Facebook, Vine works best for businesses when they generate real engagement, not just impressions or pageviews. And just like any social media marketing tool, it’s possible to get caught up in metrics and forget about the bottom line: your bottom line. The social media analytics business Simply Measured has a free reporting tool that can show you which Vines are being shared the most, and how the platform compares to other social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube.

However, “measurement is really dependent on the metrics that you can get outside of social,” Schwab points out. “It’s nice to know how many people are following you on Vine or how many likes or comments your Vine got, but it’s not a question of just amassing followers or figuring out who’s liked your Vines. What’s really important is what it’s doing for the rest of your business. For example, are you getting traffic from Vine to your website? Are you getting people coming into your business and saying they saw a Vine? Is that engendering additional loyalty from your customers?” (Home improvement chain Lowe’s series of home improvement tips generated offline loyalty, the whole point.)

Aside from listening closely to customers, Schwab recommends finding ways to directly track Vines back to sales, such as by offering a discount code only through Vine. It can even be used for generating buzz for products: Taco Bell announced their Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos on Vine, and Columbia Records used Vine to show off track titles on Big Time Rush’s new album prior to its release.

Get 4 tips for creating Vine videos here.

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at 

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Google Says Links in Press Releases Should Be Nofollow

Mon, 08/05/2013 - 13:43

Google recently and quietly announced, (by updating their link schemes), that links contained within a press release for your business should be “nofollow” links. (For more info on what a nofollow is check out this info from Google). Otherwise, your links could be considered a violation of Google’s guidelines, which could negatively impact your site’s ranking. Google’s reasoning: A press release is similar to an advertisement or advertorial for your company.

In an article on Search Engine Roundtable, Barry Schwartz offers advice for press releases, “Press releases are still a great way to promote your services and products. In fact, the links you get indirectly from a press release, i.e. those people who find your press release and then write a story on their own and link to you, do not have to be nofollowed. But the links within press releases should be nofollowed.”

Schwartz interviewed John Mueller from Google and asked why Google decide to make this sudden change. According to Mueller, “SEOs were using these more and more in a way to promote their site [artificially in the Google search results] and Google needed to clarify their stance on them.” Schwartz offered up this final piece of advice as you go forward with press releases for your business, “If you are doing press releases, make sure not to stuff keyword rich anchor text links in those releases. Try to have all links nofollowed but especially any keyword rich anchor text. Do the press releases because the press reads them and they will hopefully pick up on your offering and write about it on their site with links to you that are followed naturally and without pay.”

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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3 Simple Mistakes You Might be Making with Email Design

Mon, 08/05/2013 - 06:00

There’s an art to creating an email that your customers will want to open and read. With the ever increasing number of businesses using email marketing, it’s important that your email stands out. And while there are lots of great tips on best email practices, sometimes it’s the little design mistakes that can send your email straight to “unsubscribe prison.” Here are 3 key mistakes to avoid when designing your next email.

1. Hard to read font size, style or color

You want your customers to be able to read your email with ease. Though this seems obvious, it’s important to take into account that many customers are now reading emails on smart phones or tablets; increasing your font size is a good idea, however, you don’t want to get too big. Size 14 for body text tends to be a good rule. Also, keep your fonts simple, consistent and web-safe – not just within a single email, but also in all your follow-up emails. If you choose to use various fonts, stick to two max – one for headlines, the other for the body of your email. And, avoid script-like fonts, as they’re usually harder to read. The goal is for your marketing communications to be recognizable. With font color, avoid color on top of color; keep it simple and dark, such as black or dark grey against a white background. Lighter colors make for tough reading. Save your brighter, richer colors for your call-to-action buttons. Also avoid text on top of a patterned background

2. Complex or confusing images

Compelling imagery is an important aspect to grabbing your readers’ attention, but you don’t want to use an image that’s going to overpower your content or potentially distract or offend your customers. Keep your images simple, relevant and fun. It’s best to use basic, clear images that everyone will immediately associate with your message, and then move on to the content. Avoid images that could be puzzling or confusing. You don’t want your customers to stop and wonder why the image is there or what it means. Also, consider your audience when you’re choosing an image. If the image is referencing something specific, take a minute to make sure the majority of your audience will understand the reference. You’d hate to use an image that unintentionally alienates a potential customer.

3. Inconsistent messaging or templates

You want your emails to have a consistent look, style and voice. If you continually change the tone of voice or personality you use in your messages, the template structure, contact information location, etc. you also run a high risk of confusing customers and possibly having them unsubscribe. Without consistency, loyal customers may receive an email, glance at it, then unsubscribe from your mailing list without realizing it’s one of your emails, simply because it looked, at first glance, nothing like the last several emails they’d received. Certain things should remain the same from email to email. Your contact information should always be easy to find and in the same place. Your color schemes and template design can change somewhat (always make sure to test), but don’t make the change too drastic. Keep recognizable elements in each email and always stick to your company branding, your readers will know it right away. The main things that should change include subject line, headline, body copy and images. The rest should stay fairly the same. Own your style, make it yours and stay consistent.

Keeping these common mistakes in mind the next time you draft a marketing email will help decrease unsubscribes, and increase loyal customers who engage with your content. Oftentimes it’s the simpler emails that get read and the consistent styles that retain readers.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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What’s New Weekly: Starbuck’s WiFi Goes Google and SmugMug [Video]

Sat, 08/03/2013 - 06:00

We’re back with another episode of “What’s New Weekly.” In this episode, we highlight Google’s plans to take over AT&T’s WiFi at Starbucks, plus we share a photo service called SmugMug.

As always, look for a new episode every week.


© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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The DNA of a Small Business Owner [Infographic]

Fri, 08/02/2013 - 06:00

Most small business owners eat, breathe and live everything about their business on a day-to-day basis. But, does the motivation for being a small business owner come from a deeper place? Maybe even your DNA? Our parent company, Deluxe Corporation recently conducted an interesting study of 1,000 businesses to determine if what it takes to be a small business owner is truly “in your blood.” The results are eye-opening. Check them out in this informative infographic and share your thoughts in the comments below.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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100 Free Search Engine Optimization Tools for Your Biz

Thu, 08/01/2013 - 06:15

We’re big fans of helpful search engine optimization related content and the crew over at Moz (as seen in our recent recap of MozCon). When we laid eyes on their latest post about the Best 100 Free SEO Tools & Resources for Every Challenge, we knew we had to share with you, our VR Marketing Blog readers, pronto!

From tools for content, email, as well as infographics and more, this list has your needs covered from A-Z. So here are 100 Free SEO Tools for Every Challenge from Moz. Simply click the image and you’ll be taken to the tools.

Grab our free Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization for more helpful SEO info and sink your teeth into this tasty infographic.

Got any tools to add to their hyper-extensive list? Share in the comments below!

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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The Advantages of Segmenting Your Email Lists

Thu, 08/01/2013 - 06:00

It’s true. Every time you send an email you risk losing customers. No matter how perfect your email, there will always be a small number of causalities (aka “unsubscribes”). As reported by MarketingProfs, the average unsubscribe rate is 0.25%. That may sound negligible, but if you have an email marketing list with 2,000 subscribers, that’s 6 potential customers lost!

Luckily, there are ways to minimize your loss, and one of the best ways to keep unsubscribes at a minimum is to use list segmentation. By targeting specific groups within your list, you can greatly improve the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.

Why Segment?

Increase sales & engagement
You probably wouldn’t sell San Francisco Giants T-shirts to your customers living in St. Louis (go Cards!). If you know your customers in one region have a preference for some products or services over others, you can target those groups with special offers for the things they most likely want. You may want to offer a special on air conditioners, for example, to a geographic area where temperatures are high on average. If you have a winery, send special emails to your Chardonnay lovers about your white wines. Or if you offer services, create a series of tips or how-tos for people currently using one of the services so they can get more out of it.

You can also segment your lists based on ‘engaged’ users who open and/or click your emails often. These users interact with your emails frequently and will give you an excellent understanding as to what content they desire or like the most via opens and clicks.

Reward customers
Segmenting is a fantastic way to say, “Hey, thanks!” By offering special discounts to your repeat customers, you’re able to show appreciation and sell at the same time. You can also observe their buying behavior and offer them more of the products or services they buy the most, while reducing the number of emails they receive about items they’ve shown no interest in.

Avoid being seen as spam
When you email too frequently, your emails run the risk of being marked as spam by recipients. This can be avoided if you’ve managed their expectations at the time of sign up by letting them know how often they’ll receive email from you. When you segment, however, you also send fewer emails to the same list and curb some of this risk.

Tips for Better List Segmentation
  • Collect enough information to segment
    When your subscribers sign up for your email list, capture the information you’ll need to successfully segment your list. For example, if you want to segment by geographic area you’ll want to collect your recipients’ zip codes. If you want to target them by a preference, you’ll want to ask more specific questions. In our winery example, you’d want to know if recipients prefer red or white wines. Adding a question or two to your opt-in form will make segmenting your list much easier down the line. If you find that you haven’t been collecting the right info, you can always ask your readers to update their preferences.
  • Review purchase history
    You may have a monthly newsletter that goes to everyone and then more targeted emails that advertise specific products or services. Use segmentation to create lists of  people in your database based on past activities such as purchase history or those who clicked a buy link in your email. Offering special promotions to your customers that you know already buy from you can lead to increased sales and help maintain a loyal following. Or, try creating segments based on where your customers are in the buying cycle. Have they just signed up for your service, but not made a purchase? Are they still in the “free trial” stage? Send emails to these specific audiences to either get them to use your service, help them through any other process they may need, or to eventually make a purchase.
  • Use your email reporting tools
    You may not have a lot of geographic information on your customers – but that’s okay! If you’re using VerticalResponse or a similar ESP, you can use the information you already have in your email reporting. Use your reporting to see who clicked certain links in your emails. For example, if you had a sale on candles in your last email, you could send a new, targeted email with a special offer for candles to the people who clicked that link.

Of course, you can do much more than that!  Segmenting your email marketing lists is a lot easier than you may think. If you’re a VerticalResponse user and you want to know how to use our segmenting tools to create targeted mailing lists, read our text tutorial and/or watch our video, “Create Targeted Lists Using Segments.

Segmenting your email marketing lists can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, but every little effort helps in keeping your customers satisfied and your lists growing. Even if you run a small business, you can benefit from segmenting. We’d love to hear you segment your lists.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Facebook Introduces Embedded Posts

Wed, 07/31/2013 - 11:53

Have you ever wanted to post a Facebook status update, picture, video or conversation in its entirety to a blog post or a website? Facebook, the social media giant, just announced they’re now rolling out embeddable posts.

Embedding a Facebook post works similarly to Twitter or YouTube in which you have the option to click “Embed post” from a menu and an embed code will be provided. This code can be copy and pasted into your website or blog post’s HTML. Facebook posts must be set to “public” and your Facebook profile or page must be enabled in order for the embed codes to be provided.

Dave Capra, Software Engineer at Facebook also noted on their website that “When embedded, posts can include pictures, videos, has tags and other content. People can also like and share the post directly from the embed.”

Embedding posts is a popular method amongst journalists, news organizations and bloggers, allowing them to share content in a timely and dynamic manner. Currently, CNN, Huffington Post, Bleacher Report, PEOPLE and Mashable all have embedding rights with “broader availability coming soon.”

Facebook shared this example from the official British Monarchy Facebook page. “You can click the #RoyalBabyBoy hash tag directly from the embedded post to discover similar content on Facebook,” says Capra:



Do you plan to use embedded posts? Share your thoughts in the comments.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Cover Your Business on Twitter Like a Journalist

Wed, 07/31/2013 - 06:00

A report recently released by Twitter analyzed thousands of tweets over a six-month period, highlighting the tips and tactics that generated the most engagement and growth among news publishers and journalists. You may not think of yourself as Woodward and Bernstein, or your business as The New York Times, but social media has leveled the playing field in many respects and you certainly use many of the same strategies the media employs as part of your social media marketing efforts.

Marketing consultant Tara Swiger, author of Market Yourself:  A Marketing System For Smart and Creative Businesses, helped us break it down for the small business marketer.

Tweet your beat

The Twitter report, called “Twitter Best Practices for Journalists and Newsrooms,” (free to download) encourages journalists to gain more followers and increase engagement by frequently tweeting about the topics, industries or people they cover professionally; for example, by live tweeting events or breaking news. Few small businesses have a reason to tweet “This just in” every few minutes, but owners can follow the advice about sticking to subjects they’re experts in and that people are passionate about, and live tweeting relevant events can be useful, too.

“There [isn't] a lot of up-to-the minute news that buyers need to know about products they buy, but if you hold some kind of event or attend an event that your customer base is into, or may wish they were at, then live tweeting from that event about topics they care about makes a lot of sense,” Swiger says.  The key is to really understand your followers, what they’re interested in, and to base your tweeting strategy off of that.

Use hashtags

Media professionals use hashtags very effectively when responding to current events that people are engaged in. While business owners may use hashtags to comment on the news from time to time, plugging into a hashtag used regularly in your industry can be more effective.

“If you can get your customers to use the hashtag, that’s brilliant,” Swiger said. For example, some brands have customers use specific hashtags to provide testimonials or share their experiences with a product. In addition, your Twitter followers may be interested in finding followers of their own who share similar interests.

 Share URLs—and not just your own

Re-tweeting other users and sharing links to articles you’re reading (especially ones outside of your own blog) increases engagement for journalists, and it makes sense that it would do the same for small businesses.

“The Twitter community at large wants to see you as a human being, so if all you ever do is link to your own stuff, you’re hurting your brand,” Swiger says. Linking to others not only strengthens your business because you’re providing useful and relevant information to your followers, but also establishes you as an active and engaged member of your specific niche.

“If your goal is to build a community around a subject matter that people are passionate about, and if you are in an industry people are very excited about, you want to show that you are on top of it and that you are involved, and that you are an active member of the community along with your shoppers,” Swiger explains.

Cite your sources

Mixing in @mentions along with re-tweets grows followers for journalists, according to Twitter, and the same can also be said for businesses. Why? People you mention are more likely to engage in a conversation with you and to include a mention of you in their feeds. They may even re-tweet your posts, which gets your Twitter profile picture up in front of their followers.

Some Twitter users have plugins on their websites and you may show up on the bottom of the posts they wrote to which you are responding, so it helps create a presence for your Twitter account on other people’s websites. In addition, “it also connects you with that person in your reader’s mind, so you’re not just a brand, but a person,” says Swiger.

How are you using Twitter for your business?

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at 

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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How Your Biz Can Break Through Facebook Clutter

Tue, 07/30/2013 - 06:00

With big changes come big challenges. Facebook has had a busy first half of 2013, releasing a long-anticipated graph search feature and undergoing a major facelift with posts on the right side of users’ timelines and music, photos and recent activity appearing on the left. Add to that new emoticons and “stickers,” the recently released feature allowing users to respond to photographs with images of their own, and to top it off, they recently announced they’ll simplify their advertising offerings in coming months.

Users and advertisers may like the sleek look and cool new features but the changes and the new layout, in particular, present some sticky challenges for businesses with a smaller reach on the social network, says digital marketer Mana Ionescu, founder and president of Chicago-based digital marketing company Lightspan Digital. Increased clutter and competition for eyeballs and engagement make it harder to get your message heard.

“The hardest thing for businesses right now is that there’s so much ad competition and so much noise on any user’s wall that it’s getting harder and harder to break through that clutter and stand out as a business page,” Ionescu said. Business pages—where you post updates and respond to customer questions—now compete for fans’ attention with friends’ posts and a wide array of ads, both in-stream and in the sidebar, as well as “promoted” posts and pages that take up prime real estate, showing up on the top third of a user’s page.

“Mathematically speaking, if we look at a Facebook user’s wall, there are only so many inches of space, kind of like in a newspaper. There’s only so much room for content to show,” says Ionescu. And the combination of posts from friends and family mingled with promoted posts means that organic content from business pages is getting viewed much less frequently since it’s typically relegated to the bottom of the page where fewer Facebook users bother to look.

“All businesses are struggling with this now on Facebook,” searching for ways to make their content organically visible, Ionescu said.

Thankfully, there are two relatively easy solutions.

The first won’t cost a penny but is more challenging: getting more likes, both on your business page and for individual posts, and more participation in the form of comments. Ionescu recommends asking employees, co-workers, family members and friends to ‘like’ and comment on posts, which will push them up higher on your customers’ walls and makes you more visible. (Sharing great content doesn’t hurt either, as it naturally stirs up conversation and makes people more likely to share the post, whether they were asked to or not.)

The second solution is to simply budget a modest amount for ads and promoted posts. Because the top third of a user’s news stream is taken up by ads, running ads will allow small business owners to show up in that section of the page.

Promoted Page Likes, a service that launched on May 13th, allows businesses to place ads with links encouraging people to hit ‘like.’ The ads show up on the right sidebar, or directly in customers’ news feeds, often pointing out which of their friends ‘liked’ a specific business, providing a social aspect to the ad and making it very easy for readers to hit the ‘like’ themselves. The image, banner or logo you set for your business’ Facebook page shows up on the stream, and you can determine whether or not the ad should be shown in a specific geographic location. In addition, it’s easy to set a daily budget and track the impact your ad has.

By closely monitoring analytics for a variety of clients, Lightspan Digital has found that the cost-per-like using these ads is lower (as low as 10 cents) than “sponsored stories,” which will increase views for a specific post for a $6.99 fee.

It may be tempting to try to carve out a large ad budget, but if you’re not regularly changing your ads—or if you have a limited reach—your potential fans may grow tired of seeing the same ads time and time again. And at present Facebook does not allow advertisers to select how often each ad is shown to each Facebook member. However, the Facebook ad center makes it clear what kind of reach to expect, depending on how you select your targets, so setting a budget smartly (as opposed to sinking a lot of money into a small audience) is doable.

“Most small businesses don’t spend that much money because they don’t need to,” Ionescu says. “Even a small budget of $100 or $150 a month over the course of the year can make a huge difference.”

After a year, when your business has higher engagement (more fans, likes and comments) and shows up regularly in your audience’s feed organically, you can reassess your advertising budget. But if you’re starting out or trying to reach that critical mass, it’s important to give yourself a chance to rise above the noise.

This post was contributed by guest author Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at 

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Get Your Content to Stand Out from the Crowd

Mon, 07/29/2013 - 06:00

We’re smack-dab in the golden age of content marketing. Everywhere you look, there’s a webinar/podcast/blog post telling you to jump on the bandwagon and produce engaging, relevant content and your business will boom.

Well, it’s not quite that simple. In this race to produce content, my team and I sometimes find ourselves asking: Are we all creating the same stuff? And if so, how do you make yours engaging and unique, and get it found?

Be Engaging

It goes without saying that any and all content that you’re creating should be done with a single person in mind: your customer. If your goals are to create three blog posts a week, two guides per month and an e-book for the quarter, you may want to zoom out and think about the “why” behind all that effort. Do you really need to do so much? You might be better off creating a few really relevant pieces of content that your prospects and customers will love and share. This way, you get more bang out of your content marketing efforts. It’s not about how much you produce; it’s about how much your customers engage with it, share it and get it seen by more and more people.

Be Unique

So, how do you do that with all the content out there? Be unique. Easier said than done, you say? Not necessarily.

Take our content team at VerticalResponse. They write about three times a week for our blog and also create guides, infographics and a bunch of other stuff. But they try to approach things from the angle of our customers. What are things our customers care about and struggle with, and how can we create content that answers those questions or meets those needs? How can we do it in a new and different way that hasn’t been done a gazillion times by every other marketing service in our space?

The team created a copywriting “cheat sheet” infographic to help folks learn how to effectively communicate across lots of different channels. The layout was eye-catching and it got shared all over the place, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest. So, think about how you can take something and communicate it in a way that is uniquely positioned for your customer base.

Another example: A customer of ours, Sally Waters, owner of Birdy Botanicals, creates all-natural skincare products. She’s got a fun blog and recently did a post about Bike to Work Day. She really honed in on her female demographic by titling her article, “Bike to Work Without Becoming a Hot Mess: Tips on How to Stay Cute on Your Two-Wheeled Commute.” Even though lots of people were already writing about Bike to Work Day, she positioned her content perfectly and keyed in on obstacles that her customers would face–how not to become a hot mess while riding a bike to work!

Get Found

With all the effort you put into creating unique content that engages your readers, you need to make sure your content gets found. And if you’re producing good, relevant information, then you’ll make it easy for search engines to index you. But, you can also syndicate your content on sites that have high authority to really turn up the volume. We’ve been syndicating our content to sites like Business2Community and AllTop that get tons of readers. They give us source credit and a link so folks know it’s ours. We also guest blog for sites like the one you’re reading, as well as sites that have a similar customer base to ours. These efforts help establish our thought leadership and get us in front of new and diverse audiences that may never have heard of us. It gets us found.

So, how can you use your content to engage, be unique and get found? I’d love to hear what you’re doing with your content in the comments.

This article by VerticalResponse CEO and founder Janine Popick originally appeared on

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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What’s New Weekly: Tile and Update to Twitter Lead Generation Cards [Video]

Fri, 07/26/2013 - 10:19

We’re back with another episode of “What’s New Weekly.” In this episode, we highlight a cool new product called Tile and provide an update on a new feature to Twitter Lead Generation Cards.

As always, look for a new episode every week.


© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Show Some Love – Inspiring Customer Appreciation Ideas

Fri, 07/26/2013 - 08:32

Did you know that acquiring a new customer is more costly than retaining an existing one? According to this infographic, “The Value of an Existing Customer,” by Flowtown, it’s “6-7 times more costly.” What does this mean? You should keep your current customers happy! Obtaining new customers is always a goal, but not only are loyal customers keeping your business thriving, they’re also costing you less dough. So how do you show your customers some love? We’ve compiled some of our favorite customer appreciation gifts, ideas or loyalty programs from various companies to inspire you:

Car Dealerships
I’ve recently been looking into buying a new car and several car dealerships benefit programs are top notch. For example, various programs include free scheduled maintenance, free car washes for life, free breakfast, and even free use of their gym. Dealerships want to keep you and your vehicle happy. By offering perks like these, they keep you coming back, continue to build upon your relationship, and hope that when/if it’s time for your next vehicle, they’ll be at the top of your list.

Old Navy
There are several rewards for being a credit card holder for the Gap, Inc. retailer brand, Old Navy. You get $5 rewards card for every $100 you spend, as well as an extra 15% off on Tuesdays when you use your credit card. Who doesn’t love a discount? Plus, they’ll probably make you shop a little more! Old Navy also frequently sends emails with exclusive offers like “Stuff and Save,” in which you save a certain percentage off everything you can stuff inside a specific bag you receive in the store – Pretty fun!

Portico Restaurant
Portico is a chain restaurant spot (my favorite lunch spot because they have a delicious salad buffet priced by weight) in the Financial District of San Francisco – often frequented by busy lunch-seekers. They have a “Diner’s Club” card in which you get $6 off your next purchase after 8 visits. One of our favorite customer appreciation ideas from Portico, however, (and the most fun to attempt) is one in which, if you pile up your salad  and hit a pound on the scale exactly, your meal is free! I’ve done this twice already, plus I’ve filled up one Diner’s Club card and have started on my second.

Many businesses use this same model of getting stamps each time you buy something to earn something free or a % off. Apps have even been created to keep track of all these loyalty cards with a popular one being Key Ring.

Maker’s Mark 
Maker’s Mark, the small-batch bourbon whisky company, has a extensive and popular ambassador program “reserved for the truly passionate.” The program includes getting “your name in Maker’s Mark history” (wowsa), plus, your name on a Maker’s Mark barrel, an opportunity to purchase a bottle of Maker’s Mark from your batch, updates on the aging of your bourbon, advance notice of rare, special-release bottles, and opportunities to purchase Ambassadors-only Maker’s Mark merchandise amongst other things. They also send some cool swag (like a Maker’s Mark bottle sweater) to members during the holidays.

Jill Bastian, VerticalResponse Training and Education Manager shared an excellent reward she got from Tillamook cheese. As a customer, Jill received a Klout Perk from Tillamook including a t-shirt, canvas bag, glass canning jar for making yogurt parfaits, granola and nuts, and coupons. “So awesome! I eat their cheese, but the Klout Perk made me try their yogurt too.” Tillamook made Jill one happy camper and now she shares her story with friends! A little positive WOM (word of mouth) advertising never hurt anyone.

Domain Chandon
At “Club Chandon,” like many other wineries, you get perks for being part of their club. The club does cost an additional fee, but it includes exclusive deals, 20%-30% off wine and food, a members only area at the winery, a winery tour and a glass of bubbly during every winery visit, plus other perks. They also have complimentary glasses of bubbly for being locals. This is a deal because it rewards locals for visiting the winery and bringing their visiting friends.

Picky Bars
VerticalResponse SEO Specialist, Chipper Nicodemus is a huge fan of Picky Bars (gluten and dairy free energy bars made for endurance) and their Picky Club stating it’s “the swank, exclusive, uber-hard-core, member’s only club —scientifically designed for the biggest Picky Fan Addicts!” Their club perks include opportunities to sample new flavors, members-only discounts, free random stuff (t-shirts, handwritten thank you notes, etc.), and “Whatever else we think of!” They make being part of their club a fun and cool experience.

Hopefully these examples have gotten your own customer appreciation creative ideas flowing. By researching other business’s customer loyalty programs, you can easily discover what will work best for your own biz.

Do you have a customer appreciation or loyalty program at your own business? How do you show your customers some love? Belong to any programs that you’re a fan of? Share away!

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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VerticalResponse Acquired by Deluxe Corporation

Thu, 07/25/2013 - 08:32

We’ve got great news here at VerticalResponse! We announced today that we’ve been acquired by a wonderful company … Deluxe Corporation.

Why did we do it?

I’ve always told our employees, our loyal investors (12 years loyal!) and even our customers that one day we’ll find the right match with a company that values us for our ability to:

  1. Be experts at what we do with our talented team
  2. Acquire and retain small businesses worldwide
  3. Be profitable for many years while still being able to invest back into the company to grow

In my opinion, if we found a company that would value us for all of these things, want to acquire us and pay us what we’re worth, then all our shareholders would benefit. After all that’s where my responsibility lies. (Did I mention it’s 100x harder to take money from your family and friends than from VCs or a bank?)

Over the course of 12 years we’ve had many conversations, and I mean many. Companies big and small, public and private, too many to even think about. And every time we walked away from a conversation it was because the company didn’t value us for our abilities and wouldn’t have given our shareholders what they deserve.

But this one was different. It was great, it was time and it was perfect.

But Janine, they PRINT CHECKS!?

Yep they do, and they do a killer job at that. But they do a ton of other things just as well that you might not even know about, including:

  • A web hosting business
  • Business email so you can have
  • A logo design business for folks just getting started.
  • Pay-per-click and search engine optimization services through award-winning Orange Soda – another company they acquired that’s got a pretty cool name.
  • A web-to-print service, PSPrint, that’s also located in the Bay Area, but serves a national customer base.

But what’s missing for any small business in this list? You got it. Email marketing and social media. That’s where we come in.

I must say it’s with mixed emotions that we sell right now. We’re on the cusp of a brand new product (coming soon!) and we’re geared for greatness all on our own.

So I had to weigh it all, taking care of customers, employees and shareholders. And with a great brand like Deluxe and millions of small business that trust them with services that help their companies grow, it feels like the right thing, at the right time and the right way to take care of everyone.

The Next Chapter 

Deluxe also shares a vision we’ve had here at VerticalResponse for a long time: To be the best destination for small business marketing. This gets them even further to completing a pretty cool picture.

What’s going to change? A lot, but for the better. Soon you’ll see a new version of our email marketing and social media product roll out, and it’ll be faster and better than ever! You’ll see features flying out the door quicker then you did before (cheers to our product and engineering teams) and you’ll see a whole new look that we’ve been working on before this deal was in motion.

What’s more, over time you’ll see other services offered by Deluxe through our new product so it’s even more seamless to do all your marketing from one central place.

To my very much-loved VR employees, this is going to be pretty fun. Now we’ve got 4 million customers that might just need our services. Are you ready? I am!

So did we get acquired by a company that prints checks? Nope. We got acquired by a company that wants small businesses to save time, money and ultimately Work Happy. We can get behind that.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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How to Start an Awesome LinkedIn Group

Wed, 07/24/2013 - 06:00

Have aspirations to be a thought leader in your industry? The more credibility you’ve got, the more awareness you’ll build for your service or products! One excellent way to establish credibility organically is to launch a LinkedIn Group. This powerful B2B networking tool on the “social network for professionals” has spawned over 1.5 million groups running the gamut from a few members to thousands. Starting your own gives you an opportunity to shape the conversation and membership: networking amongst like-minded professionals, asking customers to share feedback and experiences, even collaboration and intelligence-sharing among suppliers and competitors.

Duke Long, a commercial real estate agent in Indianapolis, has been engaging colleagues nationwide with a LinkedIn group focused on social networking. He offers step-by-step tips for creating and managing a topical discussion group on LinkedIn:

Choose the audience that’s right for you

To start, choose an audience that is sufficiently broad (say, greater than 200). Select a topic that’ll draw in that audience and promote active conversation. In 2009, Long started a group called Social Media Commercial Real Estate when few in his field understood the power of social networking in the real estate world. The group grew to 2,400 members and spawned other related groups, which Duke also manages. Social Media Commercial Real Estate is small by LinkedIn standards. But as a group manager, you’ll discover that’s a good thing.

 LinkedIn walks you through the steps

The LinkedIn Help Center will take you through the steps to create your group, including picking a name, setting up rules for members and roles for managers. As the final step, you must choose whether you want to create an open group or a members-only group. An open group is just that, open to all. Open group discussions will show up in search engine results and non-members will be able to read them, but must join in order to post messages. A members-only group can be helpful for when you want a very specific audience, say, subscribers to your consulting business or professionals who have achieved a specific certification.

Build engagement

You can invite people to your group in several ways (via the LinkedIn network and via email) as well as pre-approving members. Advertise your LinkedIn group on your blog, website, email newsletter and other social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. Invite industry experts to engage in the conversation. Become a media outlet by publicizing what matters most to your professional community.

Be a conversation starter

In the beginning, you’ll initiate most of the conversations (and if you choose to moderate all discussions you’ll have to monitor the goings-on). Ask questions and be clear about the rules. In time, regular members will understand the parameters of the community and become active contributors. Post one to four times a day to keep the group fresh. It might be an article, something trending on Mashable or a link to your blog. To ease the workload, invite a trusted member to join you as a co-administrator.

Monitoring: Check in and check up

As a group manager, make a habit of checking in a few times a day. That may take only five or ten minutes. You’ll want to connect with comments and interact with members. Behind the scenes, you’ll review pending submissions and replies before publishing.  Monitor for spammers advertising jobs and services. Block anyone from the group who repeatedly demonstrates they’re not there to be part of your focused business conversation. Keep the forum clean and your group will stay cool. Monitoring will slow your growth, but you’ll have quality content and membership, which are the keys to creating a long-lived and successful networking group.

Soft-market yourself

Remember, outright self-promotion is the quickest way to turn off members. Listen, learn, collaborate and meet some fascinating people wherever you travel. The best way to soft-market yourself through a LinkedIn group is by creating original content that engages your specific audience. Use the forum to become influential in your field. Don’t make a show of being an administrator. Have an opinion. Stick out, be different, have an attitude.

For more LinkedIn tips grab our 5 Ways to Take Advantage of LinkedIn guide.

Have you used LinkedIn Groups as as part of your marketing tactics? Share your successes and challenges in the comments.

This post was contributed by guest author Ellen Braunstein. Braunstein is a freelance writer and media communications specialist based in Chicago.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Gain More Credibility with a Customer Case Study

Mon, 07/22/2013 - 06:00

You know that your company is awesome at what it does, but just because you say it doesn’t automatically mean everyone will believe you right away. When it comes to successful marketing, you need to both shout from the rooftops and also have people on the street do some of the shouting for you – people who aren’t on your payroll and simply love what your business has done for them. Having their support is crucial to gain credibility.

There are lots of ways to do this, from encouraging customers to post on review sites like Yelp, to instituting refer-a-friend programs where they’re incentivized to bring in a new client for you.

Another option, or in addition to the tactics I just mentioned, is to develop testimonials and case studies featuring your best customers. This is less dependent on your customers to do most of the work, and the results can support not just your marketing goals but also your sales and business development teams, too.

But what goes into writing a convincing case study? Have no fear; you don’t need a journalism degree to find your perfect “source” and write a good story. Here are some tips:

1. Identify your “source.”

Every business, including yours, should have a handful of customers (at least!) who are just pleased-as-peaches about how they’ve benefited from working with you. If you don’t know them personally, ask your sales team or on-the-ground reps. Put together a document or spreadsheet listing all your advocates. Then start calling or emailing. Tell them you want to conduct a quick interview for a customer success story. Share what they will get out of it, like a prominent feature or quote on your website, in your email marketing campaigns, on social media and/or in any advertising you do. Chances are, if they love your company, they won’t mind giving up 15 minutes of their time to help you out – especially if they get some exposure out of it, too.

2. Ask the right questions.

The goal of a case study is to show potential customers how you’ve helped other clients in real life. At its most basic, a case study presents a problem and a solution. A typical case study format includes the following sections:

  • Background – Where are they located? How many employees and/or customers do they have? How long have they been around? How did they get started?
  • Problem – What challenges or struggles were they facing before they found you? What were they hoping to solve?
  • Discovery – How did they find you? Why did they choose you?
  • Solution – How did you solve their problem? What did they learn from the process?

3. Highlight concrete examples.

Try to get detailed specifics from your customers about how you helped them. If you’re a florist, a good one might be situations where you had to adapt quickly to unforeseen circumstances – your client was a bride, for example, and you had to change outdoor décor into indoor arrangements at the last minute due to inclement weather. If you’re a non-profit, a good example could be how a fundraiser you organized helped advance a cause or pay for something in the community that was otherwise financially out of reach. The more specific and more colorful the examples, the better.

4. Gather images.

Once you’ve written your case study, don’t forget the visuals. You wouldn’t want to read a long article in a newspaper, magazine or online that’s just block after block of text, right? Same idea here. Images can be your customer’s logo, a photo of the founders, or an action shot of the customer doing what they do.

5. Kick your heels up and shout!

You’ve written the case study, now what? Consider creating a special section or page on your website that features your customers’ stories. (Check out VR’s email marketing case study page as an example.) Post it to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social media networks you’re active on. Include it in your next email newsletter. Share it with your employees so they can see what a difference they make. And don’t forget to let the featured customer know when the case study is published, so they can share with their peeps, too. The more you can get others talking about how great you are, the more believable the message. Also inform your sales team, so they can direct potential customers to your case studies. Testimonials are a valuable sales tool especially if you’ve got one in the same industry as a prospect you’re trying to close.

Case studies provide a different, fresh perspective on your company: the point of view of your customers. They should be an essential tool in your collection of marketing tactics.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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You Had Me at Hello – 5 Types of Subject Lines to Engage Your Audience

Mon, 07/22/2013 - 06:00

In the movie Jerry Maguire, Jerry expressed his love in a long-winded speech to Dorothy and her reply was the simple phrase: “You had me at hello.” Your subject line can do the very same thing for your email marketing and leave your readers swooning.

Your readers’ inboxes are a crowded place these days and with all that competition, you’ve got to up your ante to stand out. If you’re sending email on a regular basis to subscribers that have opted-in and want to hear from you, you’re off to a good start. But you’ve got to hook ‘em with attention getting subject lines, so you can reel them into the content of your email. Here are five subject line types and real-life examples to guide you on your way to success.

1. Humor: Use a little humor, something a bit cheeky or nostalgic in your subject lines to engage your readers. Take for example this subject line from retailer Tory Burch that plays on the name of a popular band, Jane’s Addiction: “Jeans Addiction: Our New Denim Collection.” 

2. Call to Action: This type of subject line has a clear, “do this” message. Our example comes from MZ Wallace with their simple, “Vote to Win.” In just three words they tell you exactly what they want you to do. It also piques your curiosity getting you to open the message to read all about what you could win.

3. Personalization: Placing a reader’s name or other information about him or her in the subject line can be either open-inducing or, it could get you a quick click into the trash bin depending how you use it. In this example, social media network, LinkedIn treads lightly by including my first name to make me feel “special,” indicating this information is just for me, “Top News for Kim: Google Latitude to be retired August 9.”

4. Exclusivity/Offer: With the recent changes at Gmail, promotional emails now get filtered into a special tab in a user’s inbox, but otherwise your promotional emails need to stand out. Try out different subject lines that state free shipping, a percentage off, a dollar amount off or other offer language to see what resonates most with your subscribers the most. Our example is from Piperlime, a division of retail giant, Gap Inc. Piperlime entices their subscribers with bargain basement language of, “Extra 25% ALL SALE. New styles just added.” They even went for all caps in the “all sale” language. If you do this, do so sparingly as it’s the online equivalent of screaming and that’s never pleasant.

5. How-to: By providing helpful and useful content to your subscribers, you provide them a great service and benefit. That’s what makes how-to content so compelling. Birdy Botanicals, a natural skin care company based in San Francisco, nails it with their subject line for eating right tips, “A Key to Great Skin – Easy Tips for Adding Superfoods to Your Diet.”

Get more subject line tips in our free Savvy Subject Line Writing for Success guide.

Do you have your reader’s at “hello”? How will you use these subject line ideas to keep them hooked on your content?

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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MozCon 2013: The Recap of all Recaps

Fri, 07/19/2013 - 06:00

What is MozCon? Glad you asked. MozCon is an SEO conference put on by the folks over at Moz (formerly SEOmoz). They rightfully hype MozCon saying, “for three days, we bring you amazing, future-thinking content from industry leaders, deep diving into SEO, social media, marketing analytics, content strategy, data science, and so much more. You’re sure to come back home with a universe’s worth of actionable knowledge to start implementing.” This year’s conference (held July 8-10th in Seattle, Washington) was brimming with takeaways, all of which we’ve recapped for you (including copies of each presentation) in one action-packed post:

Do like Moz does:
1. TAGFEE for the win! TAGFEE is the code or “core values” of Moz and stands for: Transparent, authentic, generous, fun, empathetic and exception. The company’s financials, products, mistakes and more are all wide out in the open for everyone to see; no dodging or zigzagging around the truth, it’s all out there. Not all companies can afford to do that, but there are some great things this code offers that would be great to implement into your own team.

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2. Use IFTTT to dominate everything – It’s a “service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: if this then that.” Make it do the hard work for you and pipe Twitter, Google Alerts and more right into Evernote, email and even texts. These productivity hacks are both eye opening and mind blowing. I was able to share some great ones with our team and start using IFTTT more myself.

3. Have a company mascot like a robot or some sort of monkey.

Day 1 Line up Highlights:

International SEO and the Future of Your ROI: by Aleyda Solis | Slideshare
I learned that making the move to international markets is something that SEOs and UX can make or break for your company.

Simplifying Complexity: Three Ideas For Higher ROI: by Avinash Kaushik | No slides
Google’s Kaushik was a (good) crazy, cursing madman who did nothing but inspire and drop truth bombs. Some of his great takeaways include: focus on all stages of the customer relationship, not just the final purchase and hypothesize, test, be less wrong.

Wordless Wednesdays: How to Swaggerjack the Power of Visual Memes: by Lena West | Download Slides
A picture is worth a thousand words and West brought that point home. People love memes, images and inspirational quotes, so give the people what they want. Use tools like Pinterest and Instagram to take full advantage of your images.

Rapid Fire Link Building Tips for Your Content: by Ross Hudgens | Slideshare
Ross Hudgens dominated this session with awesome takeaways that’ll help build good links for your business and site. Try locating old content with the Outdated Content Finder tool and update it, then ask for the link.

Hot Off the Press: 2013 Ranking Factors: by Matt Peters | Slideshare
Data hounds really dug this presentation. Matt Peters and the Moz team surveyed SEOs and others to see what they thought anking factors were and how they’ve changed over the year. Some really cool and useful information in this session. Hint: Social signals are getting bigger!

Strings to Things: Entities and SEO: by Matthew BrownSlideshare
Matt Brown is the SCHEMA wizard! He preached to add schema (i.e. “html tags that webmasters can use to markup their pages in ways recognized by major search  providers”) and open graph code on your sites, as these are huge opportunities right now. Try using the schema “sameAs” tag that links to the wiki page (or some other trusted data source) to take advantage of the knowledge graph.

The Mobile Content Mandate:  by Karen McGraneDownload Slides | More mobile info from Karen
Karen McGrane gave a simple but obvious argument as to how much mobile matters. She showcased examples and stats about the digital divide which helped drive her points home.

Building a Better Business with Digital Marketing: by Mackenzie Fogelson | Slideshare
Mackenzie Fogelson was another inspiring speaker and she stressed putting your businesses focus on building a community which in turn, will build your business.

The 7 Heavenly Habits of Inspired Inbound Marketers: by Dharmesh ShahDownload Slides
Dharmesh Shah was down-to-earth and gave great tips such as using LinkedIn to post your articles. He did do so (here), and it got him more than 80,000 views. He also suggested becoming an early adopter on social platforms because it’ll give you exposure that you may never get otherwise.

Day 1 Summary:
Rand Fishkin, CEO & Founder of Moz gave a good tip I should’ve followed: Pace yourself, take a break and breathe when need be. I jumped in to MozCon head first and by 3 pm on day 1, my brain was straight up melting and nearly outta service. I took it easy, and being a big baseball fan, had to check out SafeCo Field – home of the Seattle Mariners. The weather was amazing, the roof was open which made it the perfect setting for a night game and taking in the cool sights of the ballpark. The Ms won, I scarfed some pizza and headed back to my hotel for a much needed night’s sleep.

Day 2 Line up Highlights:

Building a Winning Video Marketing Strategy: by Phil NottinghamSlideshare
Phil Nottingham killed it at Moz. When you open your session with a Whiteboard Friday parody that has the audience and Rand Fishkin lol-ing, you’re off to a great start. Nottingham had great takeaways and recommendations for some low cost professional looking video equipment. One great takeaway he gave was to host your awesome videos on your site first (vs. on YouTube), recommending Wistia and then said to post your video elsewhere.

The Next Generation of Mozscape: by Phil SmithDownload Slides
If you love the Mozscape API, you would’ve dug Smith’s session. The massive scope of Mozscape is impressive, which now has over 9 million links! Moz is getting faster and faster with these crawls, pumping one out a week. They’re aiming to get faster and produce at almost a daily rate. Here’s some Moz link building survey data.

How-to Moz Lingo: Cross-Team Communication When Crisis Hits: by Carin Overturf | Download Slides
Sometimes the “s” hits the fan and Carin Overturf gave great tips on how to take control of a crisis. Here are the 6 methods to recover from a crisis within your business as quickly and painlessly as possible:
1. Accept that everyone makes mistakes
2. Have a dedicated email distribution
3. Clearly define what constitutes an emergency and make sure everyone on the crisis team is aware of it
4. Clear and concise email is crucial – put your 2-3 sentence conclusion first
5. Set realistic expectations internally and externally
6. Take the time to follow up with a postmortem – let everybody know what happens and what you’re going to do to prevent it from happening again

Empower Your Customers to Become Your Evangelists: by Aaron Wheeler | Slideshare
Aaron Wheeler rocks at making customers do the hard work for him. He recommends making an emotional connection with users/readers/customers so they’ll be more tied in with you and your products/services. A quick tip: Add a link to your customer service emails that makes it easy to tweet and share.

Engineer Your Life: Agile for Work and Play: by Miranda RenschPrezi Slides
Engineering can scare some people away, but Rensch did a great job! She loves Agile (because it helps you remember your big picture goals. She also suggesting that having a personal mission statement can help propel you and your team forward. Here are some useful links that Miranda suggested: workplayagile and agiletrelloboard

Let’s Play for Keeps: Building Customer Loyalty: by Joanna Lord | Download Slides
Every company wants a loyal customer and Lord shared excellent tips to building loyalty. She suggests being transparent with your customers, asking for your customers feedback, listening to it, and taking action based on it. A point I loved was to take the online relationship offline, which will help you get personal with the people keeping you in business.

Ecommerce SEO: Cutting Edge Tactics That Scale: by Adam Audette  | Download Slides
Audette wasn’t the only one to stress this point, but it does bear repeating: Don’t chase the algorithms, chase people and stand behind your work!

Building Your Business: Relationship and Other Critical “Soft” Skills: by Brittan BrightSlideshare
Bright dominates soft skills as she knows how to read and feel people. She always experiments with different forms of communication because email doesn’t always work for everyone and sometimes face-to-face interactions are the best.

Win Through Optimization and Testing:  by Kyle Rush | Download Slides | Related post from The Moz Blog
Rush helped the Obama Campaign raise a gazillion dollars in the President’s re-election campaign and he shared his tips for success with MozCon including: Test constantly! His team tested everything, gathered all the data and tested some more. Check out his Moz blog post for a detailed explanation.

How Gender and Cultural Differences in Web Psychology Affect the Customer Experience: by Nathalie Nahai | Slideshare
Nahai delivered an interesting session and her key tip was to know who you’re targeting and to communicate with them persuasively to provide the best customer experience.

Breaking up with Your Keyword-Based KPIs: Presented by Annie CushingSlideshare
Annie Cushing suggested looking at the landing page report to see which landing pages are getting traffic from the same keyword, then optimize your site to minimize the number of pages for each keyword. The tools she uses are SEMRush or Keyword Spy.

End-to-End Local Optimization: by David Mihm | Download Slides
Local SEO is heating up these days and Mihm from GetListed was on point with his session. His top tips were to create a unique page for every store location so Google can recognize them and use Followerwonk and Yelp Elite to get prolific reviews for your biz.

Next Level Local Tactics: Making Your SEO Stand Out: by Dana DiTomaso | Slideshare
DiTomaso had some super sweet local tips to help you stand out, so check out her Slideshare. One of her most powerful tips: Become a part of your customer’s life and they’ll stick with you like family.

Cater to Your Audience via UX: by Allison Urban | Slideshare
Urban provided excellent tips for a great user experience, aka UX. Her main tip: Make things as easy as possible to understand and use by humanizing your site and making your product delightful to the target audience.  She showed some great examples of adding little surprises in your UX to make your customer feel at home, and last but not least, say “thank you!”

Living in the Future of User Behavior: by Will Critchlow | Slideshare
Critchlow’s point, that everyone else doesn’t seem to want to accept, is that citations, authorship, authoritative links are going to be around for a long time. So get on that Google Authorship guys! He also said the more attention you get, the more links you’ll get.

Day 3 Line up Highlights:

I knew with Pete Meyers, Wil Reynolds and Rand Fishkin speaking, I was going to have to bring my listening A game. I also needed to hit a few more coffee joints, so I doubled up on espresso and Mighty-O donuts. I arrived at the final day of MozCon jittery, but eager to fill my brain with more Moz awesomeness.

Beyond 10 Blue Links: The Future of Ranking: by Pete Meyers | Slideshare
Meyers’ presentation was one of the most in-depth, detailed and honestly overwhelming analysis of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). “If you are in a space where Google wants to play, you better watch out and not in a good way,” Meyers warned.

Using Metrics to Build Social Media Engagement: by Carrie GouldinDownload SlidesDetailed blog post at Moz.
Yet another monkey mascot brand makes an appearance at MozCon with ThinkGeek’s, Gouldin. Her most powerful takeaways were based on four things:

  • Branding strength
  • Customer Loyalty
  • Customer evangelism & recruitment
  • Customer feedback

The Search for Company Culture and Why It Matters: by Sarah Bird | Download Slides
Sarah Bird from Moz said not to be fake with your “culture” at your company. She says, “be authentic, if you’re not true to yourself and others, you can’t fake it.” I loved to hear things like, “don’t be afraid of fun” and great point she made was saying that everyone needs to be on board because one rotten apple can ruin the whole barrel.

Why the Internet Hates Us and Can #RCS Change That Perception?: by Wil Reynolds | Slideshare | Diigo
Reynolds coined “real company sh%$” at 2012 MozCon and I’m fully on board after his energizing session at MozCon. Some of his many inspiring points included: Don’t keep doing the same old thing you’ve always done, and focus on innovation, not just volume. His pro tips: Keep tabs on your competitors by subscribing to their newsletters, by using a combo of IFTTT and Evernote. We’ve shared his Diigo account he plugged in the links above.

Building Your Community From the Ground Up:  by Jen Lopez | Slideshare
Be passionate about something – nothing will excel like the things you’re passionate about. Lopez suggests engaging with your community not just online but off-line and off-site as well. When building out your community start small then grow as you are able and tell your story, which will help people see your personality and connect to you.

10 Link Removal Pro-Tips That Will Change Your Life: by Sha Menz | Download Slides
Need to remove toxic back links from your site? Menz provided 10 great tips to help you do just that.

  1. Create a separate inbox at the target domain, then turn the spam filters off
  2. Identify directory sites you want to remove links and serve them a 404 status via. htaccess
  3. Get to know sites that don’t accept email and go right to the submission form
  4. ArticalSnatch directories
  5. WordPress hosted blogs have a default email address
  6. Write your link removal request as you would write an email to a potential new customer’
  7. Canadians can be contacted through the register
  8. For the UK check WhoIs
  9. Lodge a spam report to have egregious spam removed
  10. Asking for favors? Send cupcakes, etc.

How to Be a One-Person Link Building Army: by Mike Arnesen | Slideshare
Arnesen had productivity hacks that he uses to be a link building master, and stressed leveraging tools, processes and relationships to build links effectively. He also uses IFTTT and Page2Rss to find out when competition is getting a new link, along with Google Alerts, FreshWebExplorer and HARO to be a one person link building army.

Throw Out Best Practices, Double Email Conversion: by A. LitsaDownload Slides | Also a Vimeo of the preso
Lista used a responsive template for her mobile emails to double her email conversions. She also stressed that email marketing still works (we love hearing that)! She also recommend finding the channels on your site that get more mobile traffic and target them with mobile-optimized emails.

Anatomy of a Viral Hit: Reach Millions, Cultivate Relationships, and Generate Links: by Kelsey LibertSlideshare
No doubt that Libert has worked on some massive viral projects. She recommended that in order to create viral success, you have to create emotionally compelling content. She said her company doesn’t really take on the type of clients who aren’t willing to take chances with big, emotional campaigns.

The Secret Ingredients of Better Marketing:  by Rand Fishkin | Slide Download
Rand Fishkin closed out the 2013 MozCon with a powerful session. He nailed home the point of “Let your influence define your role, not the other way around!” He, as well as others, stressed to stop optimizing for SERPs and be authentic in your marketing.

Day 3 Summary:

What a great way to end MozCon. Rand was nice enough to be around for most of the third day and I was able to get a picture with him.

If you want even more scoop on MozCon, here are some other nice recaps:

Tools: These tools were mentioned by (at least) one of the speakers during MozCon and in my recap. These are mostly used for productivity for link building and daily tasks.

Well MozCon, Moz and Seattle, it was grand, see ya next year! If you were at MozCon, wanted to go or will be there next year we’d love to hear from you in the comments!

© 2013, Chipper Nicodemus. All rights reserved.

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A Guide to Facebook Insights

Thu, 07/18/2013 - 08:15

Over a billion served, and we’re not talking burgers here. Facebook has evolved from being a place to chat with pals to a powerful business tool. Keep in touch with your customers or even sell your latest product, all from the familiar pages of Facebook. But lots of companies, especially smaller ones, struggle with how to define success when it comes to Facebook. Does this sound like you?

If so, listen up! One of the most important tools you need to start using is Facebook Insights, the platform’s free built-in analytics package. Insights has been around since 2009 and originally only collected basic demographic information of a page’s fans during the sign-up process. Over the years it has evolved into a more robust measurement tool that most pros find vital to their Facebook marketing success.

Here are some of the key things you can learn with Facebook Insights.

How Well are Your Posts Doing?

The “Overview” section shows you how each individual piece of content is resonating with your audience, as well as how you’re doing over time.

You can view how many people saw the post (“reach”); clicked on the
 post (“engaged readers”); liked, commented on or shared the post (people “talking about this”); and what percent of the people who saw the post also liked, commented on or shared it (“virality”).

This information can quickly and easily tell you what type of content is engaging your existing audience and flowing over to new potential “likers” of your Facebook Page.

You’re also able to review all your post types together or use the pull-down menu to dig deeper into specific types of content. In other words, you can view per-post analytics only for posts with photos, links, videos, questions or offers. This really comes in handy when you are trying to determine what type of content your community craves most.

Who Likes You?

Insights allow you to get demographic and location information about the “likers” of your business’s Facebook Page. You can get valuable details like gender, age, country/city of origin and the language they speak.

You can also see a breakdown of what sources your new likes are coming from, as well as how many people unlike your Page. These stats can help you deliver targeted content to meet the needs of your audience.

Who Are You Reaching?

While the “Likes” section provides demographic data of all your “likers,” the “Reach” section offers demographic information on the folks who saw your content – which Facebook defines as people you’ve “reached” – during the last seven days.
Note that the percentages may not add up to 100 exactly, because some people do not disclose whether they’re male or female or where they’re from on their Facebook profiles.

This section also provides details 
on how you reached these people: organically on their news feed (“organic”); by way of a sponsored or advertised post that you paid to do (“paid”); or through the action of a friend (“viral”).

In the “Visits to Your Page” section you can see how many times your Page was viewed on each day for the last month. If you have tabs on your Page, it also shows your most-viewed tabs for the last month.
“External Referrers” is a great way to see where people are coming from, in terms of other websites, in the last month.

Who’s Talking About Your Page?

Insights also provide demographic information on the people who’ve liked, commented on or shared one of your posts – which Facebook calls people “Talking About This.” You can set it to show data from a specific time period.

In addition to knowing their gender, age, where they live and what language they speak, you can see how many unique people engaged with your content within your defined time period. The “Viral Reach” chart shows how many unique people saw your post(s) because a friend engaged with your content.

Export Data to Spreadsheet

To go even deeper with the analysis of your Page and content, Facebook provides a handy feature that allows an admin to export Page level data or post level data for a selected date range.

When it comes to your Page level data, some of the data points that you should pay close attention to include: People Talking About This, Page Engaged Users, Total Reach, Organic Reach, Viral Reach, Total Impressions, Organic Impressions, Viral Impressions, Negative Feedback from Users and Page Consumptions.

When you export your post level data, you’re able to get to a granular level that is just not possible when viewing the top-level content analytics. You can really hone in on the Total Reach, Organic Reach and Viral Reach as well as the Total Impressions, Organic Impressions and Viral Impressions of all your posts. You’re also able to see the lifetime count of likes, comments and shares of each post.

As with all things Facebook, Insights is getting an update, with easier to read analytics and a new People Engaged tab for more specifics on your Page visitors. The new update is currently in beta, but when it becomes more widely available we’ll get the scoop and fill you in on everything you need to know.

Once you’re ready to move beyond the number of Likes on your Facebook page, try exploring Insights. You may be surprised at what you find about your visitors and how it can help you make your Facebook Page be the best it can be.

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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