I’m going to be starting a computer repair service. However, I’m not sure how to write articles to generate leads for an audience. How can I find appropriate materials (what kind of news would legitimize my business, that my customers will be looking for) and still market to a local customer base.
Jay’s Answer: Don’t passively write articles and hope that will generate leads for you. You need to pick up the phone and/or walk up to local office front desks. By the time someone needs you, they need to contact someone they trust – not simply a name that’s anonymous. Join a local business networking group. Offer a free or discounted network security check-up. Offer to help repair a local non-profit’s or church’s computers for free or low-cost to generate some PR. Build up a 5-star Yelp following. Are you a certified repair person? If so, make sure you prospects know that you can be trusted. What can you offer your prospects that others can’t/won’t? Weekend repairs? After-hours repairs? Guaranteed repairs? Free equipment swaps to ensure no downtime?
We are a small, minority promotional items company. In addition to promotional products, we also sell custom embroidered & screen printed corporate apparel. Any suggestions for contents that I can use to promote our promotional items on social media?
Jay’s Answer: Give away products to causes you celebrate, and invite people to nominate good causes.
I am in the process of helping out to build an e-platform. Can you help with ideas on where to find a good book or interesting information on e-platforms (such as trip advisor, or the food recipes website, etc.)? I would like to have more inputs on what works, what doesn’t, how information should be provided, importance of picture or not, if people should be able to give an advice, etc… Basically, what are the best practices and key principles to build a successful platforms.
Jay’s Answer: The best practices are those that connect with your target audience. So, it all must start from their needs, perspective, and your competition advantage. From there, there’s a lot of learning from your visitors on what they like and don’t (using analytics to help give you data). Ultimately, it’s about the curated conversations you’re able to conduct with interest visitors. As a clue, ignore the technology initially and focus on the experience you’d like to have with someone visiting your storefront. What image do you project? How are they greeted? What do you ask? How do you encourage them to return. Once you understand the human needs, then translate to a technology platform that supports that quality of interaction.
(Photo by Esther Vargas)
If you’ve worked hard to get your website ranked well in Google (or if you’re just starting out, and trying to get your website ranked highly), don’t forget to create a video for your business (even if your business isn’t highly visual or you are camera shy). While Google is the #1 search engine, the #2 search engine is YouTube! The following are some basic tips I suggest to my clients:
- Title. Treat your video’s title like you treat your home page’s title. You want a title that will entice someone to click on it and also support your website’s SEO (search engine optimization). Make sure that you use proper keywords in the title.
- Description. Like the title, you want the description to be a balance between human-enticing text and appropriate industry buzzwords. Your description should support your title and promise to the viewer (why should they watch it)? Be sure to include in your description a link to your website – since that will help your search engine ranking (a good “backlink”).
- Keywords. YouTube allows you to also describe your video using additional keywords. If you’re not sure what to use, start by looking at your competitor’s video keywords.
- Audio. If you can, use a microphone to reduce background noise. We forget that a poor looking video with good audio is watchable. A beautiful video with poor audio isn’t.
- Video. Unless you’ve hired a professional who knows better, use a tripod to ensure your video isn’t shaky.
If you’re marketing something high-end or with a high-aesthetic, hire a video professional to ensure that your video quality is consistent with your branding promise. Otherwise, your first video doesn’t have to be perfect. The goal is to showcases the experience a prospective client is likely to have with you.
No one will know how many times you goofed up in recording your video. Don’t be too hard on yourself on how you look or sound. Simply having a video is likely to set you apart from your competition.
(Photo by Nahid V)
If you’re like many business owners, your mailing list isn’t well-segmented. That means that you can’t simply send a email blast to just women, or just people that have purchased from you in the last 3 months, or just people who live in a 10 mile radius of your store. But you have a new offer that you want to ensure the “right people” see. What can you do?
You make sure that the offer contains the magic words: “…For you, or for someone-you-know-who-is-the-right-person…“.
The key is that the reader of your message is likely to immediately make a judgement about your offer. If you’re selling a product to women, and the reader is a man, they’ll likely stop reading as soon as they figure out the message is not for them. Therefore, make the message apply to them as well (“For you…or for the woman that you love/know…”). That will help to frame the message as as “beneficial gift” for someone they know, which may elevate their own status.
Ideally, segment your list so you can market directly to your target market with images, language, and an offer that resonates for them. But until then, try to be logically and emotionally inclusive.
What’s the best way to refresh our Web site content to draw search-engine traffic? How often should we post new white papers, new blog entries, new uploads, and the like? Is it true frequent updates attract the engines and increase our rankings?
Jay’s Answer: The first step is having the search engines find your new content. If you have a traditional website, then you’ll have to wait (passively) until the next time the search engines crawl your site. The higher the page rank of your site, the more frequently your site gets crawled. Google’s Webmaster Tools for example, lets you see your crawler statistics. If you have a blog, when you update your content it generally pings the search engines (using a tool such as: http://pingomatic.com/ ) to tell them proactively that there’s new content. By pinging the search engines you increase the speed for people to find your new content. You can also post a message/link on other’s blogs telling them about your new content (creating a ping to the search engines), Twitter about it, use Social Bookmarks (such as: http://delicious.com/), etc. (all to increase the visibility of your information). If you have something truly notable, distribute a press release touting it (the press release itself can be SEO-optimized).
The content that you post should be well-crafted to achieve two goals: improve your search ranking (for the keywords you’re targeting) and achieve your business goals (get more clients, get more inquiries, get more traffic, etc.). Make sure that you don’t focus too much on the keywords and miss out on the human element: compelling copy that will cause prospects to take action NOW.
As for how often you should post content: it depends on newsworthiness of your content. If you have something that answers a problem that’s a “current problem of the day”, then by all means get your content into the discussion. Otherwise, release information that’s “quality” as you create it. You want your content all to be well-focused on your target audience without any distractions. You want to teach your prospects that you value their time.
How can you promote equality and diversity when communicating with your customers via social media?
Jay’s Answer: For a moment, ignore the tool (social media). Focus on the message itself. How can you promote equality and diversity in all your conversations (not just externally)(and not just “talk the talk” but also “walk the walk”)? And then from the perspective of your customer, why should they care about this message from you? Once you deeply understand the answers to these two questions, then you have the seeds for sowing in all your communication, and for instilling it in your social media channel(s) as well.
I heard that a new regulation might come up in Singapore about online marketing, companies will need to go from an opt in to an opt out default settings in their website. Have you heard about this new regulation? Do you think that would be a bad news for a lot of companies and their online marketing?
Jay’s Answer: It means that those that choose not to opt out are likely to be better prospective customers. It also means that you need to provide a great reason for people to not opt out.
Would love to help to figure out how to model life time value for mobile ad revenue for an app user.
Jay’s Answer: For your case, it’s likely that your ad revenue is simply: retention time (in days) x ad views/day. To compute ad views/day, you’ll need to gather some statistics of actual use/engagement.
(Photo by Esparta Palma)
How can you get people to actually read your newsletters?
Step 1: Get past spam filters. With people ever-inundated with emails, it’s harder and harder to get your email to someone’s inbox. There are two hurdles: your content and your IP address. To ensure your newsletter’s content doesn’t look like spam, use some free online tools to validate your email’s content before sending (such as Spam Assassin, Is Not Spam, and Mail Tester). Spam filters also regularly identify certain IP addresses (the computer that’s sending the emails) as being likely spammers (with “low deliverability”). Many newsletter marketing services – often the free ones – suffer from IP address problems, because your wonderful newsletter may be sent from the same IP address as a spammer is using. To spam filters, you’re just like them. For additional fees, you can get a dedicated IP address to avoid any spam filter confusion.
Step 2: A great subject line. Since you want someone to read the email, you need a subject that’s not spammy and clearly of interest to your audience. A recent trick that improves open rates is to start your subject line with “Re:” to give the sense that your reader has already engaged in a dialogue with your company.
Step 3: Short and sweet. The goal of the newsletter itself is to get them to continue reading to the end. And that requires a deeper understanding of who your audience is and what they’re looking for from you. It should be something quickly read (easily digested) and leave them wanting more. A long newsletter often scares off people. A short email can be quickly scanned immediately. Great newsletters are beautiful to look at as well.
Step 4: Make the newsletter a gift. Don’t confuse a newsletter with a direct sales ad. It’s much more subtle than that – it’s about showing the reader that you understand their needs, so when they have a problem like you’re focusing on – they’ll contact you (or refer a friend to you). You build strength by connecting your newsletters to your website or video library – to keep them “in your world”.
A single newsletter is unlikely to suddenly make your reader sit up and take notice of your offering. Your goal is to get your name into their long-term memory, and that takes repetition and quality. Respect flows both ways.