Author Archives: John Foley

About John Foley

John Foley is the founder of Grow Socially ( which was founded in 2010 to help companies with their online marketing efforts, with a focus on social media. These services include discussing and creating marketing plans, strategies, tactics, and goals that align with each company’s needs. In addition to his role at Grow Socially, Mr. Foley serves a CEO for interlinkONE, an integrated multi-channel marketing web solutions company serving the print and fulfillment industries and marketing departments. As Chief Executive for the company, he is responsible for corporate vision, strategic alliances, and technical leadership. He is widely recognized for his visionary approach in designing internet marketing business applications that meet the changing needs of dynamic print and fulfillment service provider organizations. Mr. Foley holds a B.A. in Business Management and Computer Science from Lesley College. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the Mailing Fulfillment and Services Association (MFSA), National Association of Printing Leadership (NAPL), Printing Industries of America/Graphics Arts Technical Foundation (PIA/GATF), Printing Industries of New England (PINE), Boston Business Marketing Association (BMA), and was recently inducted into NAPL’s Soderstrom Society.

Tapping into the New Cross Media


It’s a loud, busy world out there. With so much information available, getting your voice heard is a challenge for any company. For mailing, print, and fulfillment providers, cross media marketing is really vital right now.

A well thought out cross media campaign is one of the best ways to communicate any message clearly, consistently, and in a way that’s relevant to the hearer. Keeping up with cross media marketing trends is an important component of your ongoing success – and that of your clients.

Are you having trouble connecting with customers?

Learn how you can use cross media marketing to better communicate with customers by downloading “Tapping into the New Cross Media,” FREE for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at; your customers will appreciate your dedication! Do you have any comments or opinions on cross media marketing or customer communication? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

10 Ways to Interact with Your Audience Online


Are you stumped on finding ways to interact with your target audience online? No need to worry any longer. Here are plenty of different ways for you to creatively engage with your audience using social media and your company website.

Encourage Webinar Sign Ups

You can announce webinars in your blog, social media sites, website, or eNewsletter. Webinars are an opportunity to share your expertise with any number of people, and you are able to have them participate, ask you questions, and share their ideas during the webinar as well. Webinar programs, such as, even allow you to record the webinar so you can post it on channels, like your blog, for future reference.

Encourage eNewsletter Sign Ups

eNewsletters are always a great way for your audience to stay up to date with what your business is doing. It also gives companies the opportunity to show a more personable side to their audience. Some ways to humanize your brand with eNewsletters are by integrating YouTube videos of staff members discussing a particular subject, blog posts, and sharing pictures of events the business participated in.

Event and Seminar Invitations

Events and seminars can create an opportunity to see which of your social media channels work the best. If you advertise the event on all channels with a link that directs them to the event’s registration page, create a survey question to see which one of the company pages actually led them to the event. It will give insight of where and how much traffic flow is occurring.

eBook and White Paper Downloads

Sharing information and industry expertise are two big trends in social media and are great ways to promote business to your audience. If you announce to your online audience that these materials are available online, they will be able to learn more about you and will be able to easily pass along information to colleagues. Try to set up a landing page to download the item for free as well. Having them enter their email address and answer two or three survey questions before downloading the content gives you the chance to gain more information.

Create a Contest

You can incorporate this into your eNewsletter, blog, social media sites, events – essentially anything. Have your audience enter the contest by submitting their email address and answering a few survey questions. This information will give you material to see if any of the participants could be possible prospects. You can also create a thank you email to send to all of the participants in order to encourage future interactions with them.

Create a Poll

Polls are a fantastic way to learn more information about who is following you online. They are quick, easy, and efficient for both you and the participant. You can have the poll focus on any type of subject matter. Some subjects could include which services are most beneficial to you, how often you need the service, how you search for similar businesses, etc. Display a poll on your website, eNewsletter, and social sites!

Make a Video

Creating videos is so easy with the help of flip cameras, digital cameras, mobile phones, etc. They only have to be 30 seconds to two minutes long in order for it to send a valuable message to your audience. You have the opportunity to do so much with videos. Some ideas are announcing a contest winner, wishing your audience happy holidays, live footage of events, interviews with colleagues, or company announcements. Let your audience see the personable side of you and give your staff members the chance to participate with your marketing efforts. Integrate the videos on your website, eNewsletter, and your social media sites.

Organize Testimonial Interviews

Having your testimonials in video-form would bring new life to your testimonial page on your website. People would be able to see the clients you have worked with, how they talk about your business, and it would be much easier for them to explain their experience with your business in person. Written text can only capture so much, but videos have the capability to show how happy a customer was with your business. Posting videos is possible on all social media sites and you would be able to monitor how many views and comments each one receives.

Create a Blog

Blogs can be used as your daily eNewsletter. It is easy to keep them updated on a daily or weekly basis and you can blog about almost anything. Integrating videos, announcements, poll results, experiences at events, or subject matter are all fantastic topics to discuss in a blog. Your audience is able to leave comments and share with friends, and you can easily announce news in a quick manner. Promoting new entries across all of your online channels immediately after is possible as well. Don’t be intimidated by the blog, entries can be as short or as long as you want!

Host a Twitter Chat

Twitter chats can be very useful when it comes to attracting an online audience and giving those participants a chance to engage or respond to what you are saying. Twitter makes sharing and interacting easy because of hashtags, retweets, and username handles. You can promote Twitter chats easily and see how people shared information after the chat as well.

What’s your favorite way to interact with your audience online? Let us know below!

Are You Messing Up Your Marketing?


Small business owners tend to believe that marketing is easy. Why, all we need to do is create social media accounts, buy some ad space, and it’s good…right? There are so many articles online about how to market that no one really needs help outside of reading another article, right?

This concept is far from the truth. While there are many great articles online about how to do marketing, those are not suited to every business. Your business might not profit from any of the strategies listed on small business blogs. This is when you might need professional help.

Are you spending too much?

Using the wrong platform?

Learn more, take a quiz to see how well you’ve figured out marketing, and read my bottom line by downloadingAre You Messing Up Your Marketing” It’s FREE for TDN readers!

Don’t miss out on this great resource at I welcome your comments below!

The 11 Tactics Every Business Should Know Before Selling with Social Media


Selling with social media seems like it would be a no brainer. Sales is sales, right? Not quite. Social media is a different animal. And you can’t treat your audience the same, nor can you use all the same tactics you use to get those qualified leads via other channels.

1 – Know how to measure and what to measure…and what those results mean. It’s not about the number of followers or likes. In fact, your follower or fan number, your number of “likes,” should not be an end goal because you need qualified prospects to sell to, not just a horde of followers – so this should not be a metric for social media sales success. You need to determine other ways to measure your social media sales success. Look at the reach of your updates and postings, and inquiries generated.

2 – Learn from your interactions. This isn’t just about engaging your audience. While social media is a great way to connect, it means nothing if you keep doing the same thing and that “thing” isn’t resonating with you audience and generating sales. Pay attention to what’s going on and test, test, and test some more to learn what works and what doesn’t.

3 – Have a content strategy – this is no time to just wing it. You should have an editorial calendar – just as you should with your blog. Mix it up with various media and different pieces of information. Look closely at your content and see what’s missing. Do your blog posts have calls to action? Do your posts that link to your blog have conversion points that create a virtual landing page for the audience? It will take some time to test what clicks with your audience, but taking the time to strategize your content and test what works will help you gain serious traction and make sales via social media easier.

4 – Be consistent with your social media actions. This is important with not only posting content, but also with social media customer support.  You have to show your audience you are present and available, and consistency displays this.

5 – Know your customer. This isn’t the time or the place to try and be all things to all people. You are trying to sell to your ideal customers, not everybody in the social media universe.

6 – Invest in training. Social media is constantly evolving and there are so many social media platforms to choose from. But you want to be where your future customers are and connecting with them in a way to get them to trust you and want to work with you.

7 – Be a good “listener.” Don’t always go for the hard sell. Sometimes conversions take time and a soft touch. Soft leads can and will turn into sales if you nurture them appropriately. Present opportunities to convert your interested social media audience members into email subscribers. As you provide relevant and valuable information to these soft leads, you will gain their trust and you can “listen” (by tracking click-thrus and actions) to their needs and wants.

8 – Use tools that help you integrate your efforts and track them. New tools and services pop up all the time. What you want to look for is something that provides analytics, allows you to see your social feed from different networks (Imagine viewing your Facebook and Twitter feed on a single page), and post across various social networks. Some tools offer additional capabilities, such as team management, which is useful when more than one person is managing your social media content.

9 – Manage your time wisely – it’s easy to get sucked into social media and not actually be “effective.” This is where that content strategy can come in handy. With an editorial calendar and a plan you will ensure that your team knows what to do moving forward. But also work in time for team members to cruise other social networks, check out competitors, engage with the audience and research potential ways to exploit (in a good way) your social networks. It’s important to put an emphasis on time management because it’s easy to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole.

10 – Make sure social customer service is given the attention it needs. You can’t look like a schlub on your social media profiles and expect to have stellar sales. And this goes for prospects and current customers. If prospects reach out to you, then you need to have the people in place to respond, quickly and with expert knowledge. And if current customers are lodging a complaint or bringing an issue to light via social networks, you need to address it. It won’t go away and if you don’t handle it with composure, it will leave a bad taste in your customer’s mouth and any other audience members who witness the debacle. So have a social customer service policy in place and empower your team to address issues that pop up via social networks.

11 – Make it easy for your audience members. Many social networks have ways for you to optimize for conversions. For example, does your Facebook page have a tab that allows your fans to convert within Facebook? Or do they have to click through to your website and then track down your products and services from there? Spoon feed your audience. Your audience likes easy. They don’t like to feel as if they have to jump through hoops to get to the point of sale.


At the end of the day, if you start with a plan, you’ll be extremely successful. Need a push? I’d be happy to work with you and your team. Learn more by visiting I’d love to help you grow!

Don’t know me?

I am the CEO of interlinkONE and Grow Socially. Myself and my team consult with companies on marketing, business transformation, sales techniques, write strategic online marketing plans to get companies on a path to online and social success, and I speak frequently about selling with social media. Just for reading this post, go ahead and download a free white paper on Inbound Marketing at

Now that we’ve gotten to know each other, let’s make sure we’re connected socially! Here are direct links to my social networks; I look forward to connecting with you.


Can Automated Marketing Work for Your Business?


Many marketing departments utilize automated marketing solutions. While automated may make it sound as if you are using computers to take over the marketing department duties, there’s no loss of control with automated marketing, in fact you’ll gain more control than before. There are several different versions of software that will automate the repetitive portions of marketing.

There are many functions available in a marketing software platform. The sales effectiveness of a marketing department can be increased through the chosen functions. High powered software can help with everything from lead generation to lead qualification. Most of the programs are offered from internet based applications, though standalone software does exist. These locally installed programs will need an experienced manager to keep the application running smoothly. Internet based programs typically come with a customer service and tech package.


Quite a few automated programs have a tracking function incorporated. These tracking functions are embedded into social media campaigns, web pages, and marketing emails to reveal the behavior of recipients or interested users. By recording email – whether opened or following embedded links, social media link monitoring, and pages viewed. This activity allows the marketer to determine which products or services are more appealing to the majority of their target audience.

Automation of Marketing

The heart and soul of automated marketing is when the program helps move leads through the marketing funnel. At the top of the funnel are the interested browsers and through emails, then follow up call reminders (to the marketing department) the software helps those browsing parties become sales ready leads at the bottom of the funnel.

Workflow Management

More sophisticated programs help manage the workflow in a marketing department. While the initial information needs to be input by a human, once entered the data can be created automatically. This data can include workflow, marketing calendars, budgeting, asset creating, and triggers for sales marketing campaigns or emails.

Sales or Spam?

Marketing emails are often sent to spam folders. This is due to over-sending, repeated emails, or material that is not relevant to customers. Potential customers can become non-interested parties very quickly if they find too many emails from any business in their inbox. To avoid this, create several different types of messages based on customer activity. Do not allow the emails to go out more than once per week and let customers choose their email preferences.  Remember that having emails marked as spam too often can result in fines or even your website being blacklisted from your webhost or internet service provider.

Can I Afford It?

For some small businesses the price of automated marketing can be prohibitive. Certain software can run over $1,000 a month for use. Companies with a high profit may not have a problem, as automated marketing can help generate more leads. There are many different solutions and some may fall into a small business’ budget range. If there are enough potential leads, the cost may be worth investing in automated marketing.

Looking for more information on how marketing automation can grow your business? Meet MAX.

Marketing on Facebook: Tips and Tricks


Creating a Facebook page is easy. Bringing fans to the page isn’t quite so easy. New marketers to the social arena often find that their page has few likes and little engagement. They’re not quite sure what to do to change this, but by following some solids tips you can get your own page off the ground.

Because, Reasons.

People like pages for a variety of reasons. You must offer a reason for people to like yours. Do you offer advice on a certain topic? Have something new and fun to say? One major way to gather new fans is to run some sort of contest or giveaway. This is popular and can reach thousands of people in a short time. The most common method to utilize a contest or giveaway is to offer to give something away when a certain number of fans has been reached. Want to reach 500 ‘likes’? Offer to giveaway one of your products or even a related product when you reach that goal.

Fans will share with their friends who will like your page and share with their friends as well. This is so successful that even big, well known companies use this strategy to grow their Facebook fanbase.

Showcase Your Fans

Want to really kick things into high gear? Showcase your fans. Post a picture of your newest fan, longest held fan, or fan with the most interaction. Gain their permission and do an update on a specific day per month with these fans. One fan a month is sufficient and will have many people clamoring to get your attention. Everyone likes having their day in the sun!

For even more interaction ask fans to post pictures of themselves (in good taste) wearing or using your products. Host contests for these pictures if possible. You’ll see a surge in your likes.

Keep It Timely and Relevant

People tend to forget about pages that aren’t updated often. If you don’t post updates on your page at least once a day, you’re likely to be buried. Sometimes you’ll end up ‘unliked’ during a fit of purging that many social media users go through. They clean out unused apps, pages, and even friends. To avoid this make sure that you’re visible. While you can’t control who hides your feed, you can use Sponsored Stories from Facebook to have your posts displayed.

Relevant information is just as important as timely posts. If you are in the business of baking it will be strange for you to give plumbing advice. Unless we’re talking about getting a cake out of the toilet, in which case you might be better off out of the baking business. Funny stories are usually well liked when they pertain to the topic or business of your page. Humor oils social media. Pepper your information with jokes or fun pictures when relevant. If your jokes fall flat don’t forget that kittens are always a great safety net. A cute kitten will draw more likes and shares than you think. Silliness aside, people seem to expect fun memes from even the most professional of companies.

Do you have any other tips or tricks to share? Let us know what has worked for you!

Teaching Your Old Direct Mail System New Tricks


Does your business need direct mail marketing in this age of digital advertising? While many people think ‘no’, direct mail still has a place in marketing. It all depends on how you are utilizing this medium. Don’t mass mail plain old letters, that’s not going to bring in customers any more effectively than placing a plain website with just your logo on it into cyberspace. There are some tricks that will get your mail noticed instead of tossed.

Grab Attention

Think about it – when people go through their mail, what do they do? Most people scan the envelopes and decide what they’re keeping before they’ve made a few steps. An eyecatching logo or slogan on the outer envelope can avoid your mail ending up in the trash.

Envelopes should match the type of business you are advertising. Bright, flashy envelopes will not work with a company trying to portray a smart, professional appearance. One way that may entice potential customers to open mail is that the envelope is professional looking.


Postcards are an effective method for reaching an audience right at the mailbox. The postcards are easy to scan for information. A quick message can be conveyed to an audience without forcing them to open an envelope. People are aware of what they’ve received as opposed to blank envelopes that do not give any indication that the material inside is advertising.


While it might sound counter to what you’ve learned about direct mail, sending advertising through snail mail may cost the same or even a little less than digital advertising. The follow through on direct mail can be higher than that of pay per click advertising. Clicks may not result in a sale, while still costing your business up to or well over the amount of postage per direct letter. Even with the addition of printing and envelopes, you may spend far less on direct mail than digital advertising.

PR and Marketing Cost

Another pro in the direct mail corner is that a direct mail campaign does not need a dedicated SEO staff or content to be created more than once. Social marketing online must be updated and monitored every day, blogs must be updated, and to do this you need to have dedicated staff. Email campaigns can be automated, but for the best results a dedicated PR staff member or outside contractor is needed.

Web content can be expensive, though effective. Think of direct mail as another avenue for content. However, this content only needs to be updated if you change your campaign.

Don’t discount direct mail as old fashioned or out of date. Many people still live without internet or use it sparingly. Direct mail can reach these potential customers who are often less jaded toward marketing than the typical internet user. Keep an eye on the responses you receive during such a campaign and you might be surprised at how effective direct mail can be for your business.

Are you getting the most out of your QR codes?


Nowadays, marketing and advertising your business is becoming more technical, literally. Technology is taking over the entire system, therefore making it necessary for you to utilize technology as well. Millions of people are using their smartphones to access websites, read blog posts, and get coupons or special deals for local businesses. By learning how to incorporate QR codes into your marketing method, you can reach more customers.

What Are QR Codes?

QR code stands for Quick Response code. It is a two-dimensional (2D) barcode made up on square pixels, instead of the bars in a traditional barcode. They can be scanned from any device that has a barcode scanner, such as with your smartphone or tablet. QR codes are currently used in social media and mobile marketing, as scanning it offers a number of benefits.

The Benefits of QR Codes

With QR codes, you and your customer are benefiting from the exchange. You are getting more clicks to your website, blog, or social media network. This gives you the opportunity to talk about new products, deals or otherwise important information. It can even help with generating sales leads and having users sign up for your mailing list. Users and customers benefit by getting exclusive discount codes and the first look at new promotions.

Making Everything Mobile-Friendly

To start off, make sure your QR code is mobile friendly. This should seem obvious, but during the testing stage, you will make sure all codes can be scanned by a mobile device. The scanning of the code and where it points to should be applicable with a mobile device, whether it’s linking to a coupon, blog post, social media profile or product page. Keep in mind the size of the screens so it is easy to use with a smartphone or tablet.

Where to Place QR Codes

Next, do some target customer research and find out where your customers are most likely to access the QR codes. The four most popular places to scan a QR code are magazines, product packaging, mail and posters. Start there and find out what magazines, promotional materials or packaging you can place the QR codes on. For example, local pizza places tend to place QR codes on the insert that comes attached to all pizza boxes.

Write Detailed Instructions

When you are advertising the QR code and trying to get people to click on it, describe how to use it and exactly what they will get. Sure a few people will click a barcode if it isn’t labeled, usually out of curiosity, but the conversion rate is extremely low. Instead, write a blurb near the QR code, explaining where it leads or what the benefit is to using it. This increases the amount of scans it gets exponentially.

Multi-Media Campaigns

QR codes are best when used on multiple campaigns. Don’t just include them on magazines or promotional mailing materials, but everywhere you can, so long as there is a purpose for wanting them to interact on their mobile device. Did you know these barcodes can be scanned through the television with a mobile device (so long as you give them plenty of time)? They can and should. Include them in mailing materials, on product packaging, and marketing postcards. By utilizing multiple media channels, you’re increasing the number of scans you get.

QR Code Success Tool Kit

Include a Call-to-Action (CTA)

Even with QR codes, a call-to-action is important. Your CTA is what takes the user or customer from reading about something, and actually doing it. Not only where you are placing the QR codes should there be a short CTA, but on the digital product or site it leads to as well.

Test the QR Codes

Always test your QR codes. Not only when you first develop it, but gradually to be sure it is still working. You’re testing to be sure it works from different devices, including where it leads to. Use more than one mobile device to scan the code, making sure each page works perfectly.

QR codes are a great new piece of technology to include in your marketing plan. They are easy to implement and encourage use by people who often have their phones with them. It is also considered mobile marketing, which continues to grow in popularity due to how many people use their phones or tablets on a daily basis.

Use your Resources

Stay on top of new strategies, design tips, and more. For the latest, check out the QR Code Success Tool Kit at

Looking to create and track your QR codes? Try QReate and Track today!

Avoid These Mobile Marketing Danger Zones


There are many danger zones you need to dodge as you send out your mobile marketing messages. There are so many different moving parts with marketing to an “on the go” audience. And it’s easy to leave out a key element or forget something that can make or break your mobile marketing efforts. Here are five danger zones you need to avoid as you work your mobile marketing plan:

1. Forgetting a call to action

Think this is basic Marketing 101 stuff? Well, it sort of is. But it’s easy to get dazzled by the brilliant message you cooked up and then not have a clear call to action at the end.  Every single marketing message should be reviewed to ensure that the call to action is crystal clear. Is the end user supposed to check in? Post a photo? Answer a poll? Tell the audience what to do, and make it obvious. Because if you don’t, your marketing message was just a wasted effort.

2. Forgetting the legal aspects of mobile marketing

Marketing isn’t all fun, outside of the box thinking. You also have to stay within legal regulations and industry guidelines. Someone on the marketing team should know what you can and cannot get away with. And, just because you can get away with something, doesn’t mean you should do it. So make sure that your message is not misleading or illegal and that your delivery is completely above board. You don’t want to deal with the clean-up from a messy mobile marketing campaign.

3.  Not testing your mobile site or message

Once you have a mobile site in place, you need to test it to ensure that it embodies all that is user-friendly for your mobile device audience. No excuses here…for site testing, you can use for free. It even whips up a report for you that will tell you how well your mobile site works on a mobile device. And don’t forget the marketing messages themselves. Test them out – within your business or a small portion of your demographic. Something you think will be a huge hit may go over like a lead balloon. Testing helps take out some of the guesswork with your mobile marketing.

4. Forgetting the delivery method

You always have to keep in mind that your audience is not on desktops or laptops. They are using a smaller screen and it’s not easy to maneuver around. Don’t require a kazillion click-thru actions or force them to scroll back and forth. They also don’t have a printer (so don’t send a message that requires them to print out a coupon!). Some end users may be limited on the amount of information they can receive, so keep the information and images within limits that don’t overload their bandwidth. Of course, as with any marketing message, keep it relevant, and in this case that relevancy should be to those who are on the go.

5. Not using the capabilities your audience does have at its fingertips

Think of all the functions a smartphone or tablet has. Should your call to action include a request to call? To download an app? What about taking advantage of its camera or video-taking capabilities?

Download the 9 Mobile Marketing Must-Haves


7 Tips to Provide the Best Social Customer Service


Your social media profiles require attention. Attention beyond your marketing team posting links, updates, videos and so on. Social media is all about engagement and interaction. But sometimes that interaction isn’t all light and goodness. You may have disgruntled customers post negative comments. You may have confused prospects post misleading statements. So you need to have your customer service team at the ready to handle issues as they crop up. Here are 7 ways your business can provide the best social customer service possible:

  1. Have a strategy. And make sure everyone on the team knows what that strategy is. There should be specific reasons for why you do things and how you do them. Having a strategy will also help you implement procedures later, as your social customer service actions need to evolve.
  2. Have your procedures in writing. It’s easier for things to fall between the cracks if you don’t have set, written policies and procedures for your team to follow.
  3. Be timely. Social media is very fast paced and you need to keep up with that or you will seriously miss the mark. You need to have eyes on your social media platforms daily (better yet – hourly) in order to see what’s being posted or commented on so that you can respond as soon as possible.
  4. Be openly responsive. If someone posts something on your social media profile page, then address it there. You can always take it somewhere private (direct messaging, email, phone, etc.) as well, but you want to show that you are on top of things, not only to the person who posted, but to others viewing your social media profile. If you take it private without addressing things openly first, then you appear to be unresponsive to the rest of your audience.
  5. Empower your customer service team to respond without having to hold hands with management every step of the way. This is easy with the proper training and having policies and procedures in place. Your customer service team should be trained using hypothetical situations and past issues. An emphasis should be placed on how response time is crucial.
  6. Don’t always engage. Every so often a “troll” may come along just to stir things up. Your customer service team shouldn’t be sucked into the crazy. You can either ignore a troll, or just have a set answer that your customer service team uses. In either case, you don’t want to feed the beast and continue some sort of silly “argument” with someone who is just there to cause trouble.
  7. Don’t be overly apologetic. Is the customer always right? Well, sort of. Yes, you want to make things right with your customers, but you don’t want to come across as a wussy business that can’t defend its own. Your customer service team should take a stand for business policy, procedure and philosophy…they can be solution oriented, offer assistance and appropriate apologies regarding the situation, while making it clear that the business is a straight-shooter.

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