Didn’t your daddy tell you that nothing in life is ever really free? That is certainly never more true than with regards to marketing. There is always; I say again always, a cost to be paid, whether it’s dollars and cents or your precious time.

So when you are tempted to offer something for free, make sure to count the cost in each and every way you need to, so as to make sure your free content, bonus gift or other promotional label you chose to give is affordable. It’s time for you to take a critical look at the costs you’ll incur along the road to a freebie.

So what “free” promotions are we talking about?

The most obvious places we see free work its way into our businesses is with the act of gathering email addresses. Offering a freebie is often standard operating procedure, and won’t be changing any time soon. In most cases we are offered a free ebook, report, video series, e-course, webinar or email series in exchange for our email address and other contact data.

What you must understand is there are costs associated with the creation of these freebies. Let’s look at a few of the actual hard costs you’ll be forced to deal with in the creation of your freebies.

  • Actually writing or otherwise creating the content - There is someone who is responsible for getting this done, and you’ll very likely need to pay them. There could also be ancillary costs that go along with this, like software or hardware to help produce your content.
  • Designing the marketing funnel pages - You can do this with software programs, but someone has to know how to do it, and that will take time, money and talent. Then there are web designers, and that can cost a bundle.
  • Marketing hard costs - You’ll need an email autoresponder company, webinar charges, and a way to deliver your freebie, whether it’s downloaded from your site or hosted elsewhere. Someone will need to set that up. Shipping and hard costs for physical products have to be considered too.
  • Advertising - You may well want to advertise for the greatest response possible, and indeed this costs time and money.

Using a freebie, or freemium content as people are referring to them these days, continues to be a very good way to build a list or audience for your products and services. We just thought you should know you’ll need to count the cost of “free” when producing your freebie.

 

How to Avoid Making These 7 LinkedIn Mistakes

On November 25, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

LinkedIn has quickly become a social media giant among professional and business people. The days of it being merely a place to dump your resume are long past, as LinkedIn now drives four times as many visitors to your home page as Facebook and Twitter combined. Not just that, newer initiatives on the site such as the ability to post content and the new ad platform bode well for the future prospects of the platform as it pertains to business.

But all of that matters not a whit if you’re committing of these 7 mistakes. Check it out and see where you can make some improvements and have LinkedIn begin working well for you and your business.

7 Ways you can really blow it with LinkedIn

  1. Poor or inappropriate picture - Make sure that any photo you use is something that would serve you well in a business setting. Posting that fun picture from the cruise in Puerto Vallarta (that you don’t remember) may send the wrong message.
  2. Blowing the headline - This is your opportunity to tell the LinkedIn world what you do, in 120 characters or less. Don’t be vanilla and only list “Doctor”. Make your headline attention grabbing, truthful and inviting, all at the same time.
  3. Not Using the Summary Section - With 2000 characters to work with, this is your chance to tell your story in a way that invites connection. Make this a min-pitch of your services and talents, and make the reader want to know all there is they can find out about you.
  4. Not completing your profile - This says quite a bit about your business in general, that you wouldn’t take the necessary time to complete your profile. This is easy to rectify, so do it!
  5. Not including key links - You need to be sure to include links to your websites, social media, IM and any other ways you’d want to be contacted with. Don’t make them have to go anywhere else to find out how to get hold of you quickly and easily.
  6. Sending spam - LinkedIn is not a place to spam contacts with promotional offers and sales material. Everybody knows what spam looks like. Don’t do it.
  7. Not coming around - If you update your account once in a blue moon, people will view you as someone not serious about this platform, and consequently, of little interest to them. Don’t be that guy! Update frequently.
 

Want to write better headlines? Use these 7 tips!

On November 20, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

It has more than likely come to your attention that headlines really matter. We use them in most phases of our business these days, whether they are in the form of an ad, a blog post, a video, even an infographic. Your headline is arguably the most important part of your content, as it very often determines whether anyone proceeds any further. This is certainly true when it comes to email, and advertising. Understanding how to craft a winning headline is a task that you simply must excel at for your business.

7 tips you can use to write better headlines

  1. Use numbers and lists - People love to get useful posts and emails listing worthwhile and useful information they want. Moreover if this list is a numbered list, you’ll be blown away at how much better attention you’ll receive.
  2. Feel their pain - Being able to empathize you’re your reader sets you in a position of authority, your reader will be more likely to trust you, and therefore be receptive to any remedies for their problems you might have.
  3. Be a bit controversial - Be bold. State your opinions, push the edge of the envelope. Once you got their attention, you can show how brilliant you are, until then, be daring.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions - These questions are frequently the same ones they are asking, and you can be the one to deliver an answer.
  5. Mind the 55 character limit - Two practical reasons for this: 55 characters will safely show in the Google search results and also your email subject line. Wouldn’t it be sad if your headline got cut off?
  6. Test! - You’ll never know how well your headlines do unless you test them. This serves a very useful purpose, as a single percent increase can sometimes mean significant dollars and otherwise good results.
  7. Deliver value - First and foremost indicate in your headlines the amount of value they can receive. Don’t over-promise, but don’t be shy about extolling what you have to offer!

Remember that the objective of your headlines is always to get the reader to the next step, whether that be reading the post, opening an email or clicking on your ad!

 

See What to Do and What Not to Do On Facebook

On November 18, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Facebook is a tremendous platform for business, despite what you may have heard. While many would have it remain the world’s largest kitten and baby photo repository, it has definite uses for business, and smart marketers are making very substantial gains by using Facebook.

There are however, some ways to be smart about this. We’ve found several do’s and don’ts you want to keep front of mind when marketing on Facebook, lest you find yourself running afoul of the largest social media giant on earth.

Let’s take a hard look at a few of the things to do and not to do when using Facebook for business purposes.

Be sure to…

  • Respond quickly - Don’t leave people hanging for days. Try to respond within an hour if at all possible.
  • Make shorter posts - Research is showing that posts of less than 80 characters get 66% more engagement.
  • Grow your page naturally - The best way to grow your business page is by having great word of mouse. Asking your readers to share, perhaps running a Like campaign to a targeted group.
  • Be sure to ask questions - A surefire way to greater engagement.
  • Post interesting content - The best way to get your links shared is to come up with killer content that people can’t wait to share.
  • Post often but not excessively - Once a week is too little, and more than ten times is probably too much. Test and find the sweet spot.
  • Use Facebook ads - Strategically using Facebook ads is often a great way to reach followers and a potential new audience with content and offers.
  • Share - Be sure and share your best around all your channels.
  • Engage with Fans - Responding and talking to your fans is a great way to build your brand.

Be sure not to…

  • Constantly sell - If all you do is pitch your audience, they will eventually move on.
  • Ignore people - Don’t answer people and you’ll never see them again.
  • Post lengthy tomes - Shorter work s better here. What you can do is tease your longer content and link out to it.
  • Buy likes - A fake audience is worse than no audience. We’ve all seen Facebook Pages with thousands of fans and zero interaction.
  • Post irrelevant content - Don’t treat this as your personal Facebook page: this is for your business so ensure that it stays relevant.
 

Google Hangouts were made to take advantage of the best of both video and social media, by creating a platform where you and your audience can interact and educate. Unlike most traditional webinar platforms it offers the advantage of being near immediate, very interactive, widely accessible and even better free.

Not only that, they’re free of charge. This makes it easy to choose to adopt Hangouts at least in part for your business, but the question remains, how? What ways are there to best incorporate this platform into my marketing mix quickly and easily?

If you haven’t already thought about using Google Hangouts for your business, below are 3 reasons why you need to.

3 Great Reasons to Incorporate Google Hangouts into your Business

Another choice for webinars - Using webinars in your small business might be cost-prohibitive, especially if you are using a state of the art platform like GoToWebinar, which can run you over $500 if you’ve got a decent sized audience. Hangouts, on the other hand, are free to run and most of the heavy lifting is done for you, including the recording and rendering of the video. This can make it very easy to use Hangouts for webinars on the fly, customer service tutorials plus more.

Give a glimpse into your business - Hangouts are an easy way to show off your latest products, introduce new services, and generally give a look inside your business. Using hangouts for instruction and customer service are fantastic ways to increase your brand authority and give customers top-notch service. This is especially valid if you use social media together with Hangouts to widen your reach.

Customer engagement and service - The best feature of Google Hangouts as it applies to a small business is the ability to connect with your audience in a very personal hands-on fashion that will lend itself greatly to your efforts to brand yourself in your market as a leader. Moreover, using a Hangout as a customer service tool, such as holding a tutorial on how to best use one of your products, goes a long way toward establishing good will and social proof for your business.

 

See How Google Pigeon is Working Over Local Search

On November 11, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Local search had been spared much volatility since the Hummingbird update last fall, but that’s all changed now with the arrival of the Pigeon update.

Aimed at improving local search results and tying local results more closely to standard web ranking signals, Pigeon is still being weighted as to its effects on local sites. Some of the more obvious changes are noted below, but generally speaking, first impressions seem to be indicating that large brands and sites that are not true local sites are not faring as well.

Let’s have a quick look at what the first impressions of this Pigeon are, and how it is affecting local search results.

3 Ways Pigeon is affecting local search

  • This is a win for the brand directories - If you happen to be a large brand directory such as Yelp, TripAdvisor or Yellowpages.com, you are enjoying the ride. These sites are seeing as much as a 10 percent rise in traffic and rankings, many times appearing multiple times for a local search query.
  • A far smaller Google Map presence - The area covered in a Google Map listing for local has shrunk considerably, giving fewer businesses a shot at being included, and thus creating more room for more directory results. It also makes it harder for businesses located in the suburbs to find their way in there as well.
  • Down with the 7 pack - The 7-pack of local results has disappeared for most search terms, only around for the most popular queries. Instead they’ve been replaced with a 3-pack of results or sometimes none at all. This results in a traffic loss for sites no longer in the 7-pack of around 16 percent a month! That ought to get your attention.

The Pigeon update still has a lot of shaking out to do, and there could be more adjustments to come, as there always are with this kind of algorithm shift. The best thing local site owners can do at this point is make sure they are well-optimized in the local directory results, as that may be all you get for a while.

 

It’s tough enough making sure you are fitting enough time into your day to make your social media efforts happen. It’s a real tragedy if all of that effort is wasted!

So after all the hassle to make sure that you’re posting regularly to your particular mix of social media channels, whatever that is for your business, you discover that these posts are not producing what you hope, namely clicks to whatever it is you want to send them to, you’re ready to pull out your hair and chuck the whole social media campaign into the trash can.

So now what, should you junk it all? Absolutely not, instead use the following 3 tips to goose your social media audience into clicking on your links and heading where you want them to go!

3 Tips for more clicks from your social media posts

Ask for the click and share - First and foremost, the easiest way to get more clicks from your social media posts is to simply just ask for them. Carefully compose your calls to action so that there’s no question what you want and need them to do. This goes for sharing, also. Subconsciously, if you make the suggestions they will be far more likely to act upon it.

Include imagery - We are a visual lot, loving our videos and pictures. Be sure you feature compelling images and videos in your posts for the best results possible. Oftentimes, even the promise of a video will do the trick, by having a static video image that clicks through to your video, wherever it is you want that to be.

Make it a no brainer - What’s in it for me? You need to make the decision to click a real no-brainer. Offer such value or need to learn information on the other side that your readers literally can’t help but click your links. If you are offering a bribe, make it a great one, valuable and in context with your ultimate goals. Don’t be afraid to stir the pot, either. Controversy sells, and in this case, you want to sell that click. Be truthful and watch your click through rates soar.

 

Check Out These 10 Email Marketing Best Practices

On November 4, 2014, in Business Technology, by Staff Contributor

Keeping up with all of the trends in marketing could be a full-time task, and it’s the same with email marketing. Over the last several years changes have made an already effective technique even more so. Nevertheless like all business models, there are some best practices you’ll want to follow for the greatest results possible. Let’s detail some of those for you here and now.

Here are what we consider ten best practices for email marketing right now

  1. Use short, attention grabbing subject lines - Avoid spam words, and make sure you are being bold without straying into untruth. Tell them what to expect.
  2. Mobile optimized emails - If you’re not mobilizing for mobile now, you’re missing out, as some 67 percent of all emails are now opened by way of a mobile device.
  3. Personalize the “From” line - Using an impersonal return address such as info@soandsocompany.com will more than likely get trashed.
  4. Use a call to action - Several, if possible. And make certain at least one of them is above the fold.
  5. Keep body of email short - Brevity is the clear winner these days, when everyone is pressed for time. Use short, clear paragraphs and text.
  6. Include videos and pictures - Visual content is very popular these days, and there is a lot of evidence that it converts far better than mere text.
  7. Benefits over features - No one wants to know the specific features of your gizmo or service; they want to know how it will make their life easier, and how fast!
  8. Don’t send too little or too much - This is one you need to test, as all audiences are a bit different, but rest assured that once a month is too little, and a dozen times a week is excessive.
  9. Encourage and enable social sharing - Using social sharing effectively doubles your click through rate. Any more questions?
  10. Deliver valuable content - The best thing you can do to get better results from your email marketing is to consistently deliver awesome content. Doing so will brand you a star in your niche, and word will get around.