Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

5 Tips for Handling Social Media Complaints

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Social media provides your business with a flexible way to get in touch with your customers and build a loyal relationship. But what happens when it provides customers with a public means to complain about your business? Follow these five steps to navigate complaints as painlessly as possible:

  1. Monitor your social media channels. If a complaint isn’t acknowledged and resolved quickly, your customer is likely to get more aggravated. Watch your social media channels so you are ready to step in when a problem arises.
  2. Mind your language. No matter how fraught the situation, be sure to remain polite, professional and courteous at all times. Remember to speak directly to your customer in humane language – corporate-speak and stock phrases can sound impersonal and dismissive.
  3. Apologize. Your customer is upset and they want to know that you are taking their concerns seriously. Start by apologizing for any distress or inconvenience caused. By taking responsibility, you’re showing that your business cares about its customers’ concerns.
  4. Acknowledge publicly, address privately. A public apology is a vital first step and shows the willingness to take responsibility. In order to hash out the details of resolving the problem, offer to get in touch by email, direct message or telephone, for a fuller discussion.
  5. Make it right. Analyze the issue, acknowledge your customer’s distress, and work out how you can make it right with them. Willingness to fix mistakes can actually boost your reputation, showing your customer service skills in a positive light.

Complaints are a part of business life, but having them aired publicly is a nerve-wracking experience. By having a plan in place for dealing with complaints and keeping a cool head, you can diffuse the situation and even turn complaints into a positive outcome for your business.

Do you have any experience with negativity on your social media platforms? How did you overcome the problem? I’d love to get a good chat started in the comments below!

Blogito Ergo Sum

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

This week, Margie Dana’s Print Tip explains “why a printer’s blog is the first thing I look for.” She says:

A blog lets you share interesting insights about your company as well as establish your true colors. It’s not about equipment or how old your firm is. It’s about business-related information and opinions. It’s (hopefully) fun and educational.

In my opinion, a blog is the cornerstone of a company’s inbound marketing efforts. It’s effective. It’s versatile. And it’s easier to do than you think.

She adds:

A good blog is to your ideal audience what the yellow brick road was to Dorothy and company: the path leading to your own little Oz, or website.

And, well, a blog post can also send flying monkeys aloft, but hopefully that doesn’t happen too often.

Blogging can be considered the original social medium. Admittedly, I have mixed feelings about blogging. It can be fun; I have used it as a way to experiment with different kinds of writing, not always successfully, and it’s great to research a topic that interests me and share odd facts and information. But often, when I have deadlines galore, blogging becomes a chore. (Those writing experiments did not include poetry. The rhyme here was accidental.) It’s not just the labor of sitting down and composing x number of words with y frequency, but also picking a topic that lends itself to extended verbiage, and carefully considering phrasing. After all, a hastily written line or ill-chosen word can act as flame-bait.

I think Margie is right that printers of all kinds—and in fact all kinds of businesses—can benefit from having a company blog,

Now, the first response is often, “Who has time for it? I have a business to run.” And that’s a fair point. If someone like me, who is a professional writer—or, at the very least, a delivery system for words—gets blogged down generating posts, how can someone who is not inclined to writing take advantage of blogging?

Here are some strategies for managing one’s blogging efforts:

1. Get help.

One solution could very well be to outsource it. There are many professional (or semi-professional) writers out there in the industry who could use a few extra bucks. They know the industry and with a little guidance, can craft compelling copy (that could even be alliterative) for your company. Alternatively, company employees—such as those in sales and/or marketing—can be tasked with blogging. You can even divvy up the blogging among several individuals—and a mix of in-house and freelance sources not only helps spread out the workload, but also adds different voices and perspectives.

2. Develop a schedule.

Professional publications, be they print or online, typically operate according to an editorial calendar, drawn up 12 (or sometimes six) months in advance, that identifies what topics will be covered in which issue or on what date. This is predominantly a tool for the ad sales department, but is also a vital organizing tool and roadmap for editorial, knowing that, in June, there will be a feature on, say, textile printing. It’s far more effective than just winging it from month-to-month or week-to-week, especially since features take longer than straight news to compile and write. (This obviously does not apply to news, which is hard to identify in advance, NDAs notwithstanding.) Adopting a loose editorial calendar for blogging can help manage the process. If you are going to post, say, three times a week, you can start with a rough calendar like:

  • Mondays: Customer success stories
  • Wednesdays: File preparation tips
  • Fridays: Industry trends

With that basic roadmap, you can fine-tune it further and plug in specifics:

  • First Monday of the month: Vehicle wrap project for Joe’s Garage
  • Second Monday: Interior signage project for Alice’s Restaurant
  • Third Monday: Outdoor signage project for the Hotel California
  • First Wednesday: Choosing the proper color space; RGB vs. CMYK
  • Second Wednesday: Working with fonts
  • Third Wednesday: Know your substrates
  • First Friday: New announcements at Graph Expo/SGIA/other tradeshow
  • Second Friday: New developments in textile printing
  • Third Friday: What are LED-UV printers?

You get the idea. Naturally, things can change, such as if you wake up at 2 a.m. with a great idea for a blog post (it can happen), or you read something (like Margie Dana’s Print Tips) that stimulates a post idea.

3. Dedicate time to blogging.

Building blogging time into a daily schedule—rather than “when I get around to it”—is also good way of remaining consistent and disciplined. Maybe devote one hour a day, or three half-hour blocks of time a week—or whatever works—and use that period to blog without interruption. (Tip: Write, edit, refine, and polish in Word or OpenOffice before pasting into your blogging software like WordPress.) It’s also possible, using WordPress or any of the major blogging platforms, to schedule posts to run days or even weeks in advance. So you can devote one hour on, say, Monday to blogging, do an entire week or fortnight’s worth of posts in one go, and then schedule them to appear over the course of the next week or two. It is always a good idea to have a stash of posts ready to go, otherwise you are, as they say, in danger of laying down the tracks as the train is coming.

4. Read and link to others.

Social media is just that: social. Just like in offline social settings, where we dislike it when conversations are too one-sided, so, too, in blogging and other social media efforts we should let other people get a word in. In the case of blogging, this involves linking to other stories, blog posts, Web sites, or anything else that you think your readers/customers would find helpful or interesting. So if you see a compelling Digital Nirvana post, or a story on WhatTheyThink, or maybe even elsewhere, that can be good blog fodder. It can be shared without much comment (“Saw this on WTT…”) or if something in the story/post specifically caught your attention, say something about it (“That Dan Marx interview on chasing bottlenecks was right on the money. Here is what our experience has been…”).

5. Be positive

A fair portion of the blogosphere—although not necessarily in our industry—is a lot of griping and complaining. Now, criticism is good, and one of the advantages of blogging is that it can foster dialogues, trialogues, and even googologues, but it reflects badly on your business if it’s perceived as overly negative (“that %$#$^* Romano post at Digital Nirvana was a waste of pixels. Who lets him blog anyway? They should fire him…out of a cannon”). It may very well be true, but constructive criticism adds value to the dialogue and is a better reflection of your business. I like to adopt, as we say in Toastmasters, the “sandwich” approach to evaluation and criticism: start and end with a positive comment (the bread), with the middle comprising the actual criticism (the meat). Some people prefer the Atkins approach to criticism and skip the bread.

Anyway, blogging doesn’t have to be an overwhelming, onerous task. As with anything, if you can have fun with it, the enjoyment you take from sharing knowledge and information will be contagious—and is maybe the best PR your company can get.

Utilizing Multi-Channel Marketing, the Right Way

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

What is Multi-Channel?

Multi-channel marketing is the use of many different channels, such as direct mail, print, digital, and social media platforms, to spread one consistent, comprehensive, and effective marketing campaign. As a marketing or print service provider, it is important to promote the solutions that enhance the life of your brand as well as your printing services throughout a variety of channels.

If your business is still around in 2014, chances are you have realized that multi-channel marketing is not the secret formula to success, but rather a necessary component to the continual transformation of your print-centric business. In fact, you’re probably reading this and thinking, well… duh! So the real question now has become, what is the secret to successfully establishing a printer’s role as a marketing service provider (MSP) in this rapidly changing industry?

The Success in the Solutions

When thinking about marketing your business and the services you provide, remember that with Internet at every professional’s fingertips, finding a service they need is as easy as the click of a mouse or touch of a finger. That’s why your marketing message needs to reach prospects on a variety of channels while promoting what your services can do for each individual prospect. Knowing your target audience means knowing what they need, even if they do not. Make your marketing customer-centric. Try to stay away from promoting what your service is, and focus on what it does for your customers. Keep in mind that in order to sell solutions in a multi-channel market, developing a plan and strategy is paramount.

Planning for Multi-Channel

So we’ve established the need for marketing your solutions as well as your customers’ solutions on multiple channels. The roadblock now is managing the time and effort that this kind of inbound approach requires. A lot of MSPs that I work with or consult for are not struggling to wrap their heads around what must be done, but rather how to possibly accomplish such layered campaigns, without running their marketing into the ground.

The most important component, and I cannot stress this enough, is developing a multi-channel strategy that incorporates both marketing and sales. Have your teams work together to establish the bottom line of your multi-channel efforts, define:

  • Who you want to reach; the target audience you want to stay in front of.
  • What you want to say; what makes your company the best choice? Why are you different from your competitors?
  • When will your multi-channel efforts be most effective?
  • Where will your multi-channel efforts be most effective?
  • Why are the tactics you have chosen the best path for success?
  • How can you establish an execution strategy to market not only your brand and solutions, but also your customers’?

Once you have answered these questions, map out your marketing campaigns with visual charts and calendars. Keep in mind that multi-channel marketing is not a sprint, but rather a carefully executed relay race between sales and marketing, which requires orchestrated and practiced handoffs, that when done right will drive your prospects down the funnel.

Fortunately for MSPs struggling to handle the volume of multi-channel marketing and communications, several technological advances in customer communications management have emerged.

Objects in the Mirror

If you drive a car, even if you don’t, chances are you know the classic warning, “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.” These words, which we see daily, are a prevalent theme in the problems that printers and MSPs are presently facing. The classic predicament of knowing that something was coming, but not realizing it would approach so quickly, has left many businesses stuck in the dust of the industry leaders racing by.

My advice to you is to dedicate your time to developing a plan that will accomplish maintaining the standard of multi-channel marketing, which has pushed your top competitors to the head of the pack. Once you’ve mapped out your goals, tactics and execution strategy, stay tuned to my blog for insight and advice on the tools and best practices your business can implement to achieve positive recognition and grow your business in this multi-channel era.

To learn more about multi-channel marketing strategies, see my previous post, The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing!

Keeping Twitter Interesting

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Customers, prospects, and experts in the print industry are having a business-boosting conversation. Do you want to join in? Of course you do, and that’s why you need to be on Twitter. But with millions of tweets being sent daily, how do you make sure yours stand out? Follow these top four tips to create compelling content in 140 characters or less.

  1. Develop a Strong Brand Presence. Your Twitter account is a representation of you and your business, so make sure it’s a good one. Customize your background by incorporating your logo and using your brand colors. Choose your profile picture carefully. If you use your logo, make sure it looks good at a small size. Or, if you’re representing a smaller business, you could opt for a clear full-face picture to make your account more personal.
  2. Keep Content Interesting and Varied. Twitter is a conversation, so be a good conversationalist. Instead of constant self-promotion, offer useful and interesting content – share some news, participate in trending topics, join in on popular hashtags, link to a free resource such as an eBook, add a video or picture. Focus on tweets that your customers will enjoy seeing – this will not only keep them interested, but give them a good reason to retweet your content, too. Compose your tweets carefully. Believe it or not, it is possible to waffle in 140 characters, so be sure to keep your tweets to the point.
  3. Encourage Engagement. At the risk of being obvious, if you want your followers to engage with you, encourage them to engage with you. Reach out to your followers by replying to or retweeting their posts. And don’t forget your call to action – whether that is “retweet this,” “let us know,” “drop us a line,” or any other way of encouraging your audience to take the action you want them to take. Use hashtags to start specific conversations. You could also try using Twitter to run a contest. You could use something simple such as “retweet to enter a prize draw,” but why not craft something that actively encourages engagement, such as asking entrants to answer a question, hunt for an answer on your site, or create something and tweet it to you. It will not only encourage interaction with your current audience, but it will also increase your overall exposure through sharing and engagement.
  4. Be Mindful of Twitter Etiquette. Just like in any conversation, good manners are a must when using Twitter. When you write a tweet, use good spelling and grammar. If someone mentions you in a particularly positive manner, consider using Twitter’s favorite function to acknowledge it. And never spam your followers with constant self-promotion or repetitive tweets. Treat Twitter like you would any other customer facing communication – reply to questions and comments, resolve conflicts, and rise above drama and negativity. If you would like some additional tips on how to handle complaints and negativity on your social channels, check out my article, Taming the Beast of Social Media Complaints.

Twitter is a rich and varied platform which fosters conversation. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it, and you’ll be a sparkling conversation starter.

Writing Better Blog Posts for the Printing Industry

Friday, March 7th, 2014

In terms of pure volume, I probably write more blog posts these days than anything else. New case studies and white papers may go up on printers’ websites every quarter or so, but blog content needs to be added on a continual basis. The challenge is, everybody needs blog content, but most companies are drawing from the same well.

We see the same blog topics over and over. What is personalized printing? What’s happening with postal rates? How to integrate social media into your marketing. How can you make your blog posts stand out? Why should someone come to your blog as opposed to someone else’s?

As much as you can, share your own expertise and experience.  There are hundreds of places for your clients to get general industry information. They don’t need to come to your blog to do it. What they should get from your blog is insight from your company in how to implement what they read about elsewhere and the unique and creative things your company is doing to capitalize on the trends.

For example, you can assume that your clients know what personalized printing is. So what particularly interesting campaign did you develop recently? You don’t have to divulge details. Genericize it. Did you recently solve a customer problem? How did you do it?

One of my favorite blog posts recently involved interviewing the printer’s designers. I wanted to know what mistakes in designing for 1:1 printing they regularly saw from their clients and how to avoid them. This was hypothetical, “same thing applies to everybody” post. It was real nuts and bolts, based on the designer’s daily experiences. That is information this printer’s clients aren’t going to get anywhere else.

I wrote a post on wide-format printing using a similar approach. How is designing a file for wide-format printing different from commercial printing? What do you have to do differently? For this post, I talked to one of the production staff.  The result was a “top three mistakes” list, but not a general one. It’s one based on the production person’s experience at his company, with its clients, in its unique market space.

To create blog posts like this, you need to plan and schedule time with the right staff members to get the information. Perhaps rotate departments so that you are drawing information from a different department each week. Week 1: design team. Week 2: production team. Week 3: sales and business development teams. Week 4: customer service team. By rotating topics, you keep the information fresh.

It all adds up to new, fresh information that is genuinely useful to your customers and gives them a reason to keep coming back.

The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Building a successful multi-channel marketing campaign is a bit like making a cake. For the recipe to be a success, you need to add all of the right ingredients.

In order to help you do so, let’s take a look at some quick dos and don’ts for executing multi-channel campaigns that will keep your clients and their customers happy.

Learn how you can execute a successful multi-channel marketing campaign by downloading, “The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing,” free for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/DoDontMMC! Do you have any additional tips for executing successful multi-channel marketing campaigns? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

Can Social Media and Direct Mail Merge Seamlessly?

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

“Social media isn’t a fad, and I think we can all accept that,” said moderator Barbara Pellow, Group Director of InfoTrends, in January’s webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America.

This we know: social media isn’t a new trend. It has an established yet evolving role within the marketing sector. So the question becomes, how does the print industry integrate social media into traditional marketing pieces, like direct mail, to offer optimal customer outreach?

Renée Hall, VP of Business Development at Dukky, and John Ortiz, Director of Operations and Sales at Your Preferred Printer, give an overview and case-study examples of successful, seamless integrations. The speakers touch on strategies and software tools for merging social media with direct mail, which ultimately bolster a client’s network and increase bottom line sales.

Let’s consider the facts. When 1000+ enterprises were surveyed in 2013, social networks were cited as the number one area in which media usage will increase. In addition, 47% of printed marketing materials were linked to a digital channel in order to reach broader audiences and boost response rates.

Now, how are these social networks leveraged?

In order to answer this question, printers must first start by defining their business altogether. Hall finds that most printers have either transitioned to become full marketing agencies with in-house printing capabilities, or they now characterize themselves as a ‘printer+’. As a printer+, the business presents itself as a traditional printer, but integrates online, digital components to complement mail pieces. “Embrace new technology, keep and expand your services, provide tools for measurement and analytics, and leverage what already exists” are just some of Hall’s suggestions for success.

After updating the business approach, printers must next consider the new role of direct mail. It’s no longer a one-way, exposure-oriented form of communication; rather, it’s an entry point to cultivate a conversation and gather information. Take Hall’s Chick-Fil-A example: 5,000 mailers were sent out to gather demographic information of potential customers and to inform them of the branch’s opening. The postcards featured free food promotions that required online validation. Once online, customers were prompted to take a short, information-gathering survey. Once completed, they were able to receive the promotion and “share” the offer within their social network. On opening day, 14,000 customers walked through the branch’s doors. 20% of which accredited the decision to the direct mailer and it’s online component ‘call-to-action’.

Sounds like one successful way to get customers engaged, mobilized and excited. For more examples of seamless integrations and for the complete list of tips, check out the recorded webinar here:


 

 

3 Steps to Online Marketing Success

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

It’s no secret that the internet has taken off. So my question to you now is, how developed are your online marketing tactics?

With almost 100 million people using the Internet in the United States alone, I hope your answer is very.

Yes, I know there are so many options and offers floating around out there. They are all intended to help you and your business drive traffic to your website and generate leads through inbound tactics, but the question is, what is right for you?

How can you draw customers to your services?

Learn how you can succeed with online marketing in 3 easy steps by downloading “Online Marketing: Tools You Need to Succeed,” free for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/OnlineMkt! Do you have any additional tips for success with online marketing? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

Interested in Learning about NFC Tags?

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Happy New Year to all! Now is a time to make resolutions and innovate. For those of us in the print industry, one of our resolutions likely involves making traditional print more interactive.

In this Printing Impressions webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America, moderator Lisa Cross talks about where Near Field Communication (NFC) tags fit in accomplishing this goal. If you’re like me and you’ve wondered what NFC Tags are – this is the place to learn. This webinar defines NFC technologies, shows how they are creatively implemented, and provides statistics from recent studies of their success.

Let’s jump to the content. Lisa introduces Matthew Bright, the Chair of NFC Forum’s Retail Special Interest Group and the Technical Marketing Director of Kovio, who focuses on the importance of NFC technology and provides examples of its use. To complement Matthew’s expertise, Nate Mullikin and Jill Krueger from Corporate Graphics International tell their company story and provide interesting examples of print interactive products and solutions.

To set the scene, Lisa highlights how technologies have emerged to combine traditional print and digital media to maximize the communication experience; a combination referred to as ‘tradigital’. Like most of us know, the key challenge in navigating the tradigital space is reaching an audience that now has control over the media they consume. In an Infotrends study, Lisa points out that 47% of printed marketing materials were linked to online and digital channels. Specifically, mobile use is the fastest growing channel within spending distribution. Therefore, a market for NFC solutions exists to cut through the communication clutter and to make strategic connections throughout campaigns.

Building off of Lisa’s introduction, Matthew describes how NFC is a ‘magical technology’ for interactive print. There are three main cases of NFC use, but the focus of this presentation surrounds the ‘touch to learn more’ concept. The ‘tags’–or stickers—connect printed material to multimedia content uploaded onto the cloud. The stickers can be adhered to posters, mailings, and even embedded into product packaging. For example, with a NFC sticker on a wine bottle, the consumer can then touch his or her phone to the tag, which links to tasting tips and optimal meal pairings on an online interface. It takes a view from print to digital in mere seconds.

Nate and Jill add to the discussion by citing how Taylor Company has adopted the use of NFC technologies in the solutions they provide their clients. From networking with customized business cards to the creation of interactive digital booklets & registries, NFC technologies offer an enhanced gameification of brand, product, and services.

This blog really just touches the surface of NFC technology. Take a deeper dive and be sure to check out the webinar here:


 

Improve Your Marketing for 2014

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Happy holidays Digital Nirvana readers!

To help get you started and to welcome the New Year, I have a special gift for you all below.

As 2014 is rapidly approaching, all companies are getting ready to start fresh with a new plan for the New Year. Is improving your company’s marketing efforts a major part of your new strategy? It better be! This year, it’s your opportunity to make new connections and strengthen old ones, all while increasing marketing efforts and filling the sales funnel.

I’d like to share our special eBook, 12 Marketing Tips for the New Year, to get you on a path to marketing success for 2014!

On behalf of everyone here at interlinkONE and Grow Socially, I’d like to wish you all a happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!

[P.S. I'd love to hear your feedback as well as any other marketing tips you might have for 2014 in the comments below! Also, feel free to share this holiday special with others here: http://ilnk.me/NewYears, it's free!]

Tapping into the New Cross Media

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

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 http://ilnk.me/NewCrossM; 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

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

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 GoToMeeting.com, 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!

10 Trends to Define Marketing for 2014 – 10 Experts Weigh in

Monday, November 4th, 2013

As we approach 2014, and all of the marketing challenges that come with it, SourceLink is rolling out our “Ten Trends to Define Marketing” series again, with a twist. This year, we sat down with ten industry experts and asked them what trends they anticipate in 2014 and the years to come. We will be rolling out these articles over the next six weeks – Here are the experts that we sat down with, and a brief synopsis of what they had to say:

1. Ginger Conlon, Editor-in-Chief, Direct Marketing News – “The Virtuous Cycle of Customer Centricity” – Oct 29

Into 2014, consumers will wield the power to dictate how they are marketing to, and marketers are tasked with creating content that is driven by consumer preference. Understanding customer behaviors and preferences will lead to sophisticated micro-marketing campaigns, and marketers will then be tasked with modeling content creation and communications strategies based on how content is being utilized.

2. Judith Hemmel, Vice President of Customer Intelligence, SourceLink -  “Moving From Creepy to Credible” – Oct 31

An overarching theme through several of the interviews is was the extreme importance of mobile marketing. Consumers now have the ultimate choice of whether to engage with a brand, cultivating an environment of permission. This phenomenon will further strengthen the move from push to pull marketing, and messaging must move from “Creepy to Credible.”

3. Skip Henk, President and CEO, Xplor International – “Sitting on the Sidelines or Taking the Leap of Faith” – Nov 5

Human behavior is the true game changer in 2014, and there is tremendous value in how customers allocate their time to take in new information.  Augmented Reality, a still-emerging technology, very well could lead to a print revival. Marketers will fall into two categories in embracing these new technologies, those taking the leap and those sitting on the sidelines waiting for more proof; which Skip sees as the “winners and the losers” in the fight for customer attention.

4. Bryan Yeager, Financial Services and Mobile Payments Analyst for eMarketer–“Social Media and Mobile Craft a Path to Purchase” – Nov 7

Mobile penetration reached a tipping point in 2013, and looking into 2014, past trends converge because of the smartphone and its ability to enhance the customer experience. Marketers using social media up until now have merely been laying the groundwork for the real opportunities for engagement and conversion. Wearable technologies bring flashy new avenues to truly connect with customers.

5. Roehl Sanchez, VP and Chief Creative Officer, BIMM Direct & Digital - “Data Drives The Creative Process, and the Modular Builder Emerges” - Nov 12

Data begins to drive creative decisions, and creative decisions facilitate the use of data. We are entering age of real time marketing, and the definition of marketing and advertising “Creative” is shifting, especially when it comes to mobile design. Marketers must familiarize themselves withmicrocampaigns and start thinking mobile first. The creative professional must start to be a “modular builder,” and embrace a shift toward strong creative rooted as much in functionality as in design.

6. Rich Brown, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, SourceLink –SOLOMO and the Evolution of Location Based Engagement” – Nov 14

Social plus location plus mobile (SOLOMO) will a gamechanger in 2014, as marketers truly perfect geofencing technologies and make actionable use out of location data using offer-based engines. Data use concerns and privacy legislation gain lots of attention in 2014, and marketing organizations rally to support the responsible use of data. Marketers start to effectively link return on investment between offline transactions and social engagement.

7. John Foley, CEO Grow Socially and CMO InterlinkOne– “The Amazing Powers of Personalization” – Nov 19

2014 will see BIG advancements in mobile technology, which will allow for in-store personalization and other amazing interactions. A surprising amount of companies are still behind the content and social engagement curve in 2013, and will evolve into more social businesses in 2014, with more content being distributed than ever. Personalization sees a surge in the depth and relevancy, paralleling advancements in marketing automation.

8. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs – “Organizing your Company Around Content and the Emergence of Short-form Media” - Nov 21

Marketers have been making content creation a priority, but next year will see a need to allocate resources to dedicated personnel. Next year’s trend will be a wider adoption and need to understand short-form content. Social media engagement leads to emotional connection and a better brand experience. Print remains a crucial part of marketing spend, and continues to claim significant portion of marketing budget.

9. Cindy Randazzo, Vice President Strategy and Insight, SourceLink – “A World Where IT and Marketing make each other Stronger” and  “Multisource Attribution in an Omnichannel world” – Nov 26 and Dec 3

Cindy had so much to say that we will be covering her thoughts over two articles.  First, 2014 brings the realization that IT and Marketing cannot be siloed, as their strengths will make each other stronger and will account for the weaknesses in the other, as the “right and left brain” come together. Big Data becomes relevant for all industries, as it is mined for interests, and used for multiple forms of variable advertising. Consumers start to ask the question “How is it possible that you don’t know who I am?”

10. David Burstein, Fast Company contributor and author, “Fast Future: How Millennials are Shaping our World.” – “The Marketer’s Role to the Millennial” – Dec 5

Companies must make consistent strides towards social responsibility and innovation as core tenets to developing as an organization. “Millennials” (those born in the second baby boom years of 1980 to the early 2000s) have become the most messaged-to generation ever, and marketers embrace emerging technologies and develop new means to stand out. Deep customization stands as central to the communications experience between marketers and Millennials.

To read the entire series, keep checking back to the SourceLink blog here.

Can Automated Marketing Work for Your Business?

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

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.

Intelligence

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

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

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!