How Criticism Can Save Your Small Business

How Criticism Can Save Your Small Business

Mistakes are critical to business growth. We learn the most when we’re faced with trickier problems and customer complaints that force us to get creative. Whether you’re a booming tech leader like Facebook or a local mom-and-pop, your team should always have an ear to the ground, accepting and encouraging feedback from happy and unhappy customers alike.

Below, we share just how customer criticism can transform and save your business.

You Hear Your Customers’ Wants First-hand

Maybe you talk to your customers all the time or, as is often the case, just when they’re dissatisfied. While these “negative” conversations can be daunting, they’re far more valuable for than the pleasant ones. Unhappy customers put growth opportunity on a serving platter. They tell you about their issue and often hint (or state outright) the outcome they would have preferred, whether it’s a product improvement, a service offering, better communication, or all of the above.

The more you hear this kind of feedback, the clearer your business’ holes become and the closer you are to plugging them. Just remember that many customers never complain. In fact, 96% of them don’t. The majority simply leave. So you have to ask for feedback and work toward building better customers who want to give it, otherwise you won’t hear the good, the bad, and the ugly until it’s too late.

You See Your Business in a New Light

You go to work every day and stare at a computer screen, run around helping customers, or checking off an endless and ever-growing to-do list. You start to form a routine. After some time, it’s easy to grow so close to the work that you put distance between yourself and your customers. You must make mental edits to your approach, especially if you want to grow business with customer service.

Criticism forces you to take a hard look at outdated and ineffective practices that may be causing trouble in your customer relationships. It gives you a chance to revamp the go-to techniques you use on a daily basis. Maybe your business hours are problematic for customers with full-time jobs, or you’re not offering a service in high demand. Your customers’ feedback can help point out the obvious but overlooked problems that need to be rectified.

Just Listening Boosts Customer Retention

Criticism isn’t always fun to hear, but it just might help you save a customer from leaving. When someone raises a complaint, start by empathizing. Let them know that you understand where they’re coming from and you’ll take the initiative to help. Wait for them to finish, then try repeating back what they just said so they know you’re listening.

That word is key: listen. Remind yourself that you need to listen, not just hear. Take notes if you want to, and attempt to come up with a solution right then and there or give them a clear, reasonable time that you’ll get back to them. If you offer a solution upfront, your customer is less likely to cut ties. And even if you can’t solve the problem right away, once your customer voices their issue they’ll be more invested in that future solution.

Feedback Can Ignite Action

Criticism can give you that little push you need to make a change. When your employees are constantly hearing similar feedback, that’s when you know it’s time to take action. Meet with your team and determine where the majority of complaints or problems arise and come up with a strategy to fix the issue. Making these feedback sessions a top priority adds credibility in the eyes of your customers and your employees.

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That employee bit is key. If you run a business with customer-facing employees, they need to be following your lead and soliciting feedback regularly. Instill an attitude of proactive customer service company-wide and you’ll see a much bigger impact. Your team will begin paying more attention to customers’ needs as well as what’s best for the company.

Conclusion

If companies like Apple and Microsoft disregarded their customers’ feedback, they never would have made it to the top echelons of tech. Their products and services have adapted to changing consumer preferences and needs thanks to constant analysis and action. Though their consumer studies budget probably dwarfs a mid-sized company’s annual revenue, smaller operations can take small measures to start listening that open up a realm of possibilities for growth. Don’t forget that you are where you are because of your loyal customers, so take their criticism as a thank you to your business.

Geofencing As A Marketing Strategy – Learn From 8 Businesses Who Are Profiting From Geofencing

Geofencing As A Marketing Strategy – Learn From 8 Businesses Who Are Profiting From Geofencing

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Have you gotten into your car after work when an instant traffic report for your commute home suddenly pops up on your phone?  If this is not a phenomenon you’ve experienced yet, look for useful insights like these and many others to start showing up on your mobile device out of the blue.

It’s called geofencing, and studies show that this locally optimized approach to reaching customers boasts double the click through rate of normal mobile advertising. If you are a small business owner, you need to get on board with this marketing marvel right away.  It’s an easy and affordable solution to engage your customers and grow your bottom line.

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(Screenshot credit: Search Engine Land)

Why You Should Adopt a Geofencing Marketing Approach

First of all, with any new and emerging technology, you need to see the evidence to support the hype. Data drives decisions, and in this case, the numbers speak volumes.

  • 60% of consumers look for local information on their mobile devices.
  • 40% of consumers look for information while on the go.
  • 70% of consumers are willing to share their location with you for something in return.
  • Secondary Action Rates–meaning people visit a store or take some other additional action after seeing an ad–are more than 2x as likely to occur with location-based marketing.
  • Home and trade services rank among the industries that receive the highest secondary action rates.

How Can This Location Data Help Me?

How can you use this exciting and versatile technology in your business? There are many ways you can use geofencing to help increase customer interactions, employee productivity, accountability, and profits, as well as keep your property and assets safe.

The first step is to develop a mobile app that supports this technology.  From there, the possibilities are endless.  Just look at what ground-breaking steps are being made within businesses who have begun to use geofencing.

North Face Uses Geofencing to Boost Sales with Creative Alerts

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North Face is one of the big guns when it comes to outdoor apparel. One of the reasons the brand is so successful is because it’s not afraid to experiment with new technology.  

The company recently experimented with geofencing as a means to lure customers to their stores by using push notifications about the weather. Their weather-based geofenced alerts have been quite successful. The company boasts a 79% increase in store visits from customers who receive the alerts, and 65% of those customers make purchases.

There’s a lot you can learn from the marketing team over at the North Face—even if your business is on a much smaller scale.  First of all, studies suggest that when a user isn’t surfing the web on his or her phone, he or she is likely to spend 86% of smartphone time using apps.

Pay attention to how the big guys are playing the mobile game—there’s a lot to learn, and in a digital world, your small business can compete.  More importantly, don’t ignore a powerful resource because you don’t understand it—learn what’s new, and learn how to apply it to your business.

BMW Uses Geofencing to Offer Quality Customer Service

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BMW has also employed geofencing into their mobile business plan—in a rather different manner than most. Where most companies are using geofencing as a tool for garnering consumer attention with flashy promotions, BMW’s use is a little more pragmatic.

BMW incorporates geofencing in their BMW Trackstar and BMW Trackstar Advance services. After the activation of this service, your car’s position is pinpointed every 20 seconds. If the car is moved without the use of its keys, and the car moves out of a designated geofence, it will notify BMW who will then reach out to the car’s owner.

Again, as a small business owner, you can learn a lot from BMW with regard to the customer service potentials of a geofence. You may not have the theft of an expensive car to worry about in your business, but you do have customers who need product protection, communication, and reliability.  With about 90% of customers expecting some sort of self-service customer support, investing in the right solution will place your brand in your customers’ good graces.

Walgreens Uses Geofencing as a Means of Customer Retention

Attracting customers is one thing but retaining them is another story entirely. Studies suggest that 83% of millennials connect with brands that appeal to their digital needs, and of that 83%, 62% become brand loyal customers.

Walgreens is using mobile marketing as a way to build trust and eventually promote brand loyalty in its customers through geofencing. Whenever a customer pulls into a fenced location a notification allows the user to open the app without having to look for it. After that, customers can scroll through their account details or view promotional offers.

Clearly the data shows that loyalty programs are a must for today’s consumers.  Your business can mirror Walgreen’s direction when you add a geofence to your mobile app.

This specific approach to mobile marketing gives the user an experience of exactly “what they want when they want it” which is a hard feat to achieve in marketing. Service without interruption promotes customer loyalty.

Uber Uses Geofencing for Proactivity

Following the lead of tech-giants around the world, Uber has also delved into using geofences. Uber uses geofences at Los Angeles International airport so that when users arrive at the airport they are notified about the number of cars available to meet their needs. This allows geofences to serve as a means of providing proactive customer services.

If you are in the travel niche, you can learn a lot from Uber’s proactive approach to catering to potential consumers.  But, even if you are not in the travel businesses, thinking about ways to let your customers know you have what they need when they need it most is a great way to use the geofencing capabilities of your business’ mobile app.

It’s important to note that 82% of businesses see quality information as the most important component of a customer’s experience. That means that your competitors are looking for ways to provide clients with the information they need.  You need to stay competitive, and a lesson from Uber’s proactive geofences can certainly put you ahead of your competitors.

Honeywell’s Geofencing Approach to Going Green

Honeywell’s Lyric is a smart thermostat that uses geofencing to detect the presence of people in the room. It turns the heat on and off depending upon the presence of people in an area so that power can be saved.

People want to make the world a better place.  There’s no better way to bring your brand into the limelight than aligning it with a noble cause that does just that—especially since 95% of students say they are less likely to ignore ads or promotions that show a brand’s relationship with a good cause.

If you can set up a geofence to bolster your cause, your business is certain to reap the marketing benefits—and so will your cause.

American Eagle’s Geofencing Marketing Endeavors

American Eagle set its sights on foot traffic to boost sales at its outlet stores. The clothing giant sent customers who entered geofenced outlet mall parking lot notifications and promotions. The incentives led customers into the door of American Eagle vs. its competitors. The result was a threefold increase in purchases.

As a business owner, you can learn from American Eagle’s success in sending push notifications. If you own a brick in mortar store, an incentive when people are in the vicinity is certain to remind them of something they need or want–let them know you have it when they are close. If American Eagle’s  efforts show you anything, it is that paired with the right location, technology can minimize marketing legwork while maximizing customers’ responses—thus making marketing campaigns that much more effective.  

Simply put, use the data to track your users’ behaviors.  Then, build the right type of geofenced marketing campaign, and let your app do the work for you. The data shows it works.

Taco Bell Reaches the Right Crowd with Its Geofence

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Taco Bell’s app is a crucial tool in their geofencing marketing plan. Its mobile ordering feature entices users to download it.  With the app in place, hungry customers can order from their phones and then simply go pick up their food—no wait.

After consumers have downloaded the app, the restaurant utilizes geofencing as a way of targeting people under 30 years old with push notifications whenever they are in the vicinity of a Taco Bell.  A quick reminder that they can order food from their phone and pick it up two miles down the road was a great way to appeal to the “Want it Now” generation.

Taco Bell recognized its consumer base, used the right tools to communicate with it, and showed an  increase in their annual sales of 6%.

Marketing to the right crowd is business 101.  With the right tools, your small business can send notifications to your customers without breaking the bank.  All you need is a mobile app with geofencing capabilities.

History Channel

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In order to keep up with the times, the History Channel has also begun to utilize geofencing in its Foursquare Campaign.  This ground breaking idea gives history buffs something they yearn for—historical facts.  In order to connect with its viewers, the History Channel setup geofences, so when any user checks into a particular historical location on Foursquare – say the White House of the Eiffel Tower –  he or she gets historical facts about the place.  The campaign generated a surprising 400 million check-ins.

Again the brainiacs at the History Channel can teach you a lot more than history.  As a business owner, you can copy their thinking and use geofences to provide strong competition to similar nearby businesses and attract their consumer base. You can setup your fences so that users going towards your competitors are notified about your businesses promotions so that you can lure customers away from the competition.

Conclusions

It is safe to say that geofencing is powerful and affordable way to reach consumers.  As an SMB, your growing business can easily learn to keep up with the big brand competition. Simply paying attention to how their marketing gurus are adopting geofencing into their mobile marketing plans can give you great insights to what your business is capable of achieving.

Any affordable option is worth exploring, and when you build an app equipped with geofencing capabilities, you are setting yourself up to stay current and competitive.

 

Reputation Management: Why Reviews Are King

Reputation management. You might be imagining a celebrity who needs to do damage control after sharing something inappropriate during an interview with TMZ. In reality, reputation management is crucial for any business, big or small. Even a company who doesn’t have a dedicated Reputation Manager is – or should be – engaging in reputation maintenance and amelioration on a daily basis.

So, what does reputation management for companies look like? In a nutshell, it means influencing and controlling a company’s reputation (shocker, right?). However, with the growth of the internet and social media, the notion of reputation management has transformed into online reputation management. The latter makes search results a core part of a company’s reputation, meaning you control what shows up when someone looks you up online.

An important piece of the online reputation management puzzle is online reviews. Online reviews are crucial to any business that wants to keep control of their online reputation. According to The Online Department, “Online reviews have created a new form of marketing and communication that bridges the gap between simple word-of-mouth and a viral form of feedback that can move virtual mountains for a business.” The importance of online reviews for businesses is truly mind boggling.

Why are reviews so important?

When it comes to word of mouth, online reviews have taken the spotlight. They are now the ultimate “word of mouth endorsement.” The stats speak for themselves:

Before we get into the importance of positive reviews, we should discuss why it is at all important to have reviews. In other words, what are the consequences of having no reviews? You might think that no reviews is better than bad reviews, but this is not always the case. Without reviews, people doing research on your company are lacking the evidence that you are a real brand that they can trust. Without a number of online reviews to your name, you are missing out on new business.

Imagine this: You own a restaurant. Someone is visiting the area and looking for a place to eat. They use their smartphone to determine which restaurants are available to them. The search results show yours and one other establishment on the same street. Your restaurant does not have a single review on Yelp, Google, Facebook or any other platform. The other restaurant has several 4 or 5 star reviews. In that moment, it does not matter that your restaurant has tastier food or better service, the customer will pick your competitor. Without reviews, your business lacks credibility and looks questionable. Prospective customers will wonder why there aren’t any reviews, thinking “Is this business not popular? Does no one know about it? Is it a bad restaurant?” Every time a potential customer comes across your business online – and 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business – you might be losing them to the competition.

While it’s important to have reviews in general, the impact positive reviews have on your business is astounding. Here’s the impact online reviews can have:

  1. Increase Sales

This is what it comes down to: online reviews will lead to increased profit. Reviews give customers the information that they need to make the decision to purchase a product or service from a business. Today’s consumer is highly informed, conducting their own in depth research before buying anything. Reviews are an important part of this research and can be the tipping point in decisions where there is little-perceived product differentiation. Again, imagine you are picking between two hair salons. If both salons offer the same services, fall around the same price point, and are in the same area, the reviews will be the tiebreaker. A consumer will almost always pick the establishment with better reviews as this is the differentiating factor between the two.

According to Dimensional Research, 90% of respondents who read online reviews are influenced by the reviews in their buying decision. Even more noteworthy is that for every $1 of online revenue influenced by reviews, that impact is multiplied offline by 4x or 5x.

  1. Strengthen Customer Loyalty

Reviews go hand-in-hand with loyalty. Customers who take the time to leave a positive review for a business are far more likely to feel a certain loyalty to that business. There is a much higher chance that they will keep coming back. Think about the good reviews you have written on Yelp, as a customer. You probably frequent those places a lot more often than the ones you didn’t review. The act of leaving an online review establishes a relationship with the business, allowing customers to feel like they have a voice. Consumers want to be able to provide feedback in a meaningful way and know that their voices are heard by both the business and their peers. These reviews will then drive new prospects to your business, making it a tool for both customer acquisition and customer retention.

  1. Improve SEO & Ranking

Online reviews work towards improving your website’s ranking on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Yelp and so on. The more that is written about your business online, the more important a search engine considers you to be. Besides moving up in ranking, you will also be featured in a wider array of keywords. With reviews coming in, your business website will have a steady influx of SEO keywords that help your business strengthen its online presence. These new keywords will help to bring up your website in search results when customers are looking for the type of product or service you sell. According to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results. Online reviews are as critical to your local SEO strategy as link building citations and on-site optimization.

  1. Spark Brand Advocacy

If you’ve started collecting reviews, you will soon realize that they are worth a great deal in terms of marketing. Reviews can offer your business benefits that a simple marketing campaign just can’t, they keep working long after the review has been posted. It fosters continual brand awareness, with your customers taking the role of brand advocates. And it’s safe to say that if your customers left a positive public review, they might also be recommending your business offline to their network. Treat these customers well and recognize their efforts, as they are your personal brand influencers.

  1. Better Serve Your Customers

Reviews can tell you where you are excelling and where you might need to improve. By being open to this feedback, your business will be able to better serve customers and adapt accordingly. This will create an even more positive experience, giving customers a sense that their voice is heard and taken seriously. In fact, 78 percent of consumers say that seeing management respond to online reviews makes them believe that the business cares more about them. It’s important to take all reviews into account. Some companies make the mistake of glorifying positive reviews while brushing off negative ones. Both, however, hold equal value and should be handled accordingly. More specifically, ReviewTrackers found that 52 percent of customers expect to hear back from brands within 7 days of writing an online review, particularly one that’s negative or critical.

How can you manage your brand’s reputation through reviews?

With AmobiApps’s newest product release small businesses are able to harness the power of positive reviews. Your branded mobile app will become even more powerful, being a consistent source of online reviews. So, how exactly does this reputation add-on work? With our mobile reviews campaign, app users will be prompted to review your business on the most popular online review sites, including Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor. We ensure only the reviews with positive ratings get published, while you can directly handle the negative feedback as a business owner.

The customization component is what really sets our reputation management system apart. You can set up triggers to send review requests when the app users are experiencing a positive interaction with your brand. For instance, users may receive a prompt right after they redeem a reward or after they have enjoyed their meal. Based on a user’s actions within the app, you can determine when they are most likely to leave a positive review about your business.

Most companies send out emails asking for reviews days or even weeks after the customer’s purchase. By doing this, they are forcing customers to do the hard work of remembering the details of their last interaction with the brand, long after it has happened. According to Groove HQ, “we already know that customer loyalty is built on making your customers’ lives easier, and that principle extends to asking for reviews, too.” So, the best time to ask for a review is when the value that you’ve delivered to the customer is at the top of their mind. This makes it easy for them to recall what happened and write an honest review. The Reviews Campaign, then, allows you to send out review requests at the right time depending on your business.

Once you have set up your campaigns, sit back and watch the results come in. You can track metrics that matter, like total requests sent, total reviews received, and level of satisfaction. And if you have a franchise or multiple locations, you can set up and track performance for each location separately. Each Reviews Campaign will be tailored to reach the right people at the right time. As 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review, this reputation management model will directly drive new business.

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Unraveling the Myth: An App Isn’t Just an App

Unraveling the Myth: An App Isn’t Just an App

What comes to mind when you hear the word “app”? Do you think of a game? Something you can’t live without? Or simply a cool gadget on your phone?

Small business owners often shut down when they hear the word “app” being pitched. They, understandably, think there is no money or time to invest in an app ⎼ especially if they don’t even have any other online presence set up yet. Small businesses might see apps as just a gimmicky addition to their marketing portfolio.

But here’s the thing: an app might actually be the one thing that can help the business significantly grow. Why? Because an app is not just a mobile application; an app is a complete mobile marketing solution. If it is executed correctly, a small business will see a significant increase in revenue and customer engagement. Ultimately, this tool won’t be an extra expense, it will save the business a lot of money. How? An app, or mobile solution, can rethink a small business’ social presence, local presence, and mobile presence, as well as turn its best customers into marketers.

Busting The Myth

We have labeled it “ReThink”. More specifically, the Rethink Strategy redefines the way you think about customer experience, customer loyalty, customer advocacy and company ranking. This strategy will also allow small business owners to understand the benefits of a mobile solution.

Rethink Experience:

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The first step of the Rethink Strategy is to analyse which experiences would be better facilitated through a mobile solution. In other words, how can the customer experience be improved at a particular business?

Traditionally, companies have emphasized “touchpoints”, referring to the critical moments when customers interact with a brand during their purchasing process. However, a shift is taking place as successful companies focus on the customer journey in its entirety. According to Harvard Business Review’s research, “organizations able to skillfully manage the entire experience reap enormous rewards: enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction”. A mobile solution allows any business to move away from mere touch points and start addressing this customer journey as a whole.

For instance, a local restaurant might implement mobile food ordering. Customers now have the option to place an order with the tap of a button through an app. This translates into not having to wait in line, not having to make a phone call, and not needing to go through the hassle of paying at the establishment. As a result, the patrons are provided with a more pleasurable and convenient experience at the restaurant. So, instead of merely improving the “sales touchpoint” at the cash register, the small business is able to improve the entire encounter starting with the purchase process.

Rethink Loyalty:

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An improved customer experience, then, builds loyalty. The better the experience at the establishment, the more likely people are to return. And the way a small business deals with loyalty can also be rethought with a mobile solution.

Every business, whether a mom-and-pop shop or a global company, relies on loyal customers for success. Loyal customers account for 20% of a company’s customers. While that might not seem impressive at first glance, that 20% drives 80% of a business’s total revenue and 72% of total visits to the establishment. This data clearly shows that it is more profitable for businesses to go after customer retention than customer acquisition – however, many do the exact opposite. In fact, it costs 500% more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones.

The best way to drive customer retention? A loyalty program. What’s more, 87% of shoppers say they want loyalty programs and 68% of millennials say they won’t be loyal to a brand if it doesn’t have a good loyalty program. Besides the high demand for it, loyalty programs can be extremely beneficial to the company’s bottom line. Loyalty programs increase overall revenue by 5-10%, with loyal members spending more money and buying more frequently than non-members. A mobile solution, then, allows a small business to focus on what is most important and beneficial to their growth.

For example, a salon can implement a mobile stamp card, rewarding customers with a free haircut when it’s complete. For the customer, this means no longer losing a physical punch card and carrying around 20 different rewards cards. Customers now feel that every purchase they make amounts to something bigger. This, again, contributes to a positive customer journey. As a result, rethinking (or implementing) the mobile loyalty strategy can increase repeat business.

Rethink Advocacy:

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Now that a loyal following has been built, a small business should empower their customers to spread the word. Through an app, customers can easily be prompted to share their opinion on social media, produce online reviews or send a referral.

We all know that people love to talk about things they love (and hate). So if they are a loyal and happy customer, it is important to make it as easy as possible for them to share their thoughts with others. Think of traditional word-of-mouth, as a happy customers tells two people about their experience, and those two people each tell another two people. According to Entrepreneur, word-of-mouth is triggered when a customer experiences something far beyond what was expected. A mobile solution can help in doing so – by rethinking experience (as was mentioned above). In addition, Nielsen states that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising – 10 times more effective to be exact. Word-Of-Mouth Marketing, then, is the most powerful form of advertising a small business can have, as each happy customer can steer dozens of new ones their way.

A gym might send out a push notification to its members, for example, asking them to rate the establishment. Members who frequently go to that gym will be encouraged to leave a positive review or share on social media. Now potential customers will come across these reviews when researching gyms online, making a strong case for the small business.

Rethink Reach:

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This stronger online presence will lead to the final stage of the ReThink Strategy, namely Reach. More reviews allow you to rank higher on directory websites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zomato, making sure local businesses are found.

Reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings, so small business should make acquiring them a priority. Businesses who want to appear in Google’s local 3-pack need to have a high volume of good reviews. A better online ranking will increase exposure and bring in new customers who, in turn, can become advocates for the business.

Imagine you are in the mood for an acai bowl (we love those here in San Diego), but you don’t know where to get one. You’ll most likely conduct an online search, perhaps by typing in “acai bowl in San Diego”. What will pop up are Google’s 3 local listings, showing the most popular places to get this snack. Below that will probably be the yelp list for “best acai bowls in San Diego”. You will most likely eat an acai bowl at one of these places, not going beyond those search results. A mobile solution will help a small business rank for these desirable positions by acquiring an abundance of reviews.

ReThink Results

This brings the Rethink Strategy full circle, with new customers coming through (online) word-of-mouth marketing and embarking on the ReThink journey themselves. Not only does each stage of the mobile model improve the experience, it ultimately grows the entire business:

  • A 1-star increase on Yelp has been proven to translate to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
  • A 5% increase in customer retention will increase profitability by 25%.
  • Adopting a mobile solution can save a business an average cost of $5,000  annually.


Conclusion

So, we definitely busted that myth! An app is not just an app. An app can be a mobile solution that redefines the entire customer journey and brings about significant growth. A mobile solution has real tangible results, often making them an integral part of the business. The data suggests small businesses are building apps to increase sales (55%), improve customer experience (50%) and to become competitors in a specific market (50%). According to recent studies, nearly half of small businesses are expected to adopt a mobile app by 2017. The features that an app can have (e.g. mobile food ordering, reservations, loyalty programs) are more than add-ons, each of these are benefits of a complete mobile solution that can help a company save or make money. It’s time for local owners to welcome a mobile solution into their small business.

How has an app transformed your small businesses or the local businesses in your area? Share your experiences in the comments!

 

Unraveling the Myth: An App Isn’t Just an App

Increase App Downloads

Increase App Downloads

The marketing challenge of the future: how to get people to download your app. You might be facing these struggles with your company’s app too. There are many strategies to increase app downloads, including pre-launch marketing, active blogging and gaining endorsement. While these are great long-term projects, you can start small.

Facebook has a new button! You can now add a “Use App” button to your Facebook business page, and link it directly to your app. Your Facebook visitors will be just one click away from downloading and using your app!

This button, and its purpose, is what marketers define as the Call to Action (CTA). In the online sense, a call to action is a region of the screen that drives the visitor to click-through to engage further with a brand. In a broader sense, virtually any type of content can (and should) include a call to action. CTAs have proven to be effective in telling your users what actions to take. So how persuasive are CTAs? We’ll let the stats do the talking:

This post is not about just any call to action, it’s about getting people to download your app.

And here’s how you do it:

1. Log on to your Facebook business page

2. Click on Add a Button

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3. Select Use our App from the Choose a Button drop-down menu  

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4. Enter your app URL in the website field

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5. Click Save Changes, and admire your new button!

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That’s it, piece of cake. Now any visitor who comes to your Facebook page will see the call to action “Use App”. You are literally telling your customers what their next step is, with regards to your brand. Once they click on that button, they’ll be taken directly to your app. So don’t miss out on this easy (and free) way to connect with your customers and market your app!

 

P.S. This button is not only for adding an app to your Facebook page. If you want your “button” to say and do something else (i.e. contain a different CTA), simply pick another option from the drop-down menu.

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How to Avoid Mobile App Marketing Mistakes

How to Avoid Mobile App Marketing Mistakes

On your marks… get set… wait. Jumping the gun on mobile app marketing and launching is costly. Launching your app from the start line before you’re limbered up, well-trained and ready to go is a sure-fire way of ensuring your app never makes it to the podium. If you’re looking for your app to be a successful one you need to consider all the common pitfalls and ensure that you don’t fall foul of them. The reputation dent that a poor app can cause is not worth it: Mistakes cost.

Mobile apps are a rapidly growing and changing market. What worked six months ago is potentially out of date now. Amobi Apps have done the homework for you. We’ve got your training schedule in top shape so that you can avoid the common mobile app marketing mistakes, and race to the finish line knowing that success is waiting. Apps are now our favorite tools of consumerism. Whether your app is aimed at increasing shopping functionality, communications, socialization or decision-making: Getting your marketing strategy right matters.

Be a Social Media Buddy – Make Friends and Use Them

You know your business better than anyone, and hopefully you know your consumer base too. You know if you’re being viewed by a raft of geeks who love their stats or the cool kids who want to know what’s in. Your Social Media voice needs to adopt a persona to match in order to effectively market your mobile app to the right clientele.

Hopefully you’ve already got a working and productive Social Media presence that you can utilize. If not, get one going and get the word out. Social Media is going to spread info about your app so it makes sense that you’re in control of it. By utilizing your own Social Media network to promote the app in advance of its launch you can entice those who already love your brand and your business to be ready and waiting in the wings ready to hit download as soon as they can.

We all love a bargain. You can use Social Media to offer incentives. That way, when you’re ready to launch, you’ve already got a customer-base ready to jump on the bandwagon. Incentives can be anything from extra lives in games, coupons for money off, or reduced in-app purchases.

Importantly, social media is going to come into play with reviews. Social proof matters where apps are concerned. Link positive reviews back to your Social Media and you set up a wonderful perpetual cycle of app love.

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Hop from Social Media to Microsite

A microsite is a web page or group of webpages that is set up with an express and specified purpose separate from your main website. An ideal mobile app marketing strategy is to promote your upcoming app using a microsite. This enables you to give more info in a user-friendly way whilst targeting the right audience. By linking this across from your Social Media campaign you achieve a holistic approach that sells.

The microsite will increase your app’s visibility in a simple, benefits-driven, way. You may include such things as a video showing the app in use, or screenshots showing the app’s functionality. Importantly, there should be a link ready and waiting to be clicked for download.

Manage Expectations – Be a Salesperson with Integrity

Seriously. It is possible to do both, and it’s in your interests. If you make wild claims about what your app can do and don’t deliver on that promise you’re going to lose out, and lose out fast. App users aren’t known for giving app manufacturers second-chances. You’ve got one shot at getting this right. So…manage expectations.

Be truthful about your app’s capabilities whilst identifying its Unique Selling Point. Highlight the benefits of your app but don’t make unrealistic claims. You will be found out, and it won’t be pretty when a flood of poor reviews is tumbling down on you. Therefore, we strongly recommend including images and screenshots of your app in your marketing. Whet the appetite and let users have an insight in to what they will get.

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And don’t treat your app as a mini-desktop. A mobile website is not an app. An app is an app, use it as such and market it according to its genuine capabilities.

Get on board with a new acronym: ASO

The chances are you have a vague idea about spiders crawling the web and that Search-Engine Optimization matters. But the new kid on the block is App Store Optimization (ASO). It matters for you and your mobile app marketing approach because the vast majority of new apps are found simply by browsing an app store. You need to be up there in the top search results to maximize return on your investment.

Just because things are never simple, ASO varies from platform to platform. At the end of the day you not only need to ensure your app itself is adapted to each different platform (for example iOS or Android), but you need to ensure you’re tailored to the specific ASO of the different platforms. This involves a delicate mixture of keywords, driving and encouraging reviews, and straightforward popularity.

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Downloads are Great, But Retention is Better

Don’t just aim for downloads. Although downloads are a key and driving part of the app’s success, for real long term benefit your mobile app marketing strategy needs to be geared towards retention: keeping the users you’ve got, and importantly, getting them hooked into using your app. The marketing strategy therefore needs to address the lifetime value of an app by accurate interpretation and utilization of Analytics Data to ensure the app is of ongoing value. You need to use engagement mechanisms such as push notifications, subscriptions and in-app purchases to continue to make a difference to your bottom-line beyond download.

Go for Gold – Hone Your Mobile App Marketing

By addressing each of the above issues in your mobile app marketing strategy, before the fire of the gun, you can be sure that you’ll gain your place on the podium for app success. Apps can be invaluable for driving business success and growth, but they can also flop pretty easily, so don’t let that be your one. At Amobi Apps we’re the experts so you don’t have to be. Avoiding app marketing pitfalls is second nature to us. We’re here to make your app the app to have in the most hassle-free way.

What is a push notification?

What is a push notification?

What is a push notification and how is it different from a text message? Texts and push notifications are so similar that it can be tempting to lump them together and treat them the same way. They both arrive on a user’s mobile device, they both have to fit within tight character limits, but they both have average open rates that are over 90%.

So, why would anyone argue that push notifications are better?

Well, one consideration is cost. Many users do not have unlimited texting plans and will wind up getting charged for each text message you send. This can irritate users and lead them to look at your message negatively. Or, they may opt-out of future messages altogether, which is bad for business.

The same is true on the business end as well. The cost to send out a massive amount of texts is relevant for many businesses, especially small ones, depending upon what service and platform are used to blast out messages. Push notifications, in contrast, are unlimited and totally free when you build and manage your app using Amobi Apps!

 

The opt-in / opt-out dynamic also favors push notifications, when it comes to user attitude. Users have total control over which apps send them notifications, and may even specify which types of notifications they want from each app. Text messages, on the other hand, often come unsolicited. In fact, due to the sale of phone number lists between companies, some users may receive spammy texts from time to time and view SMS as a lower-quality messaging channel.

Push notifications also increase engagement with your app and improve user retention rates. Thus, not only can they help drive activity on the topic of your message, they also help increase the returns you see from your app. Push notifications serve double duty and offer a number of benefits at once.

With Bizness Apps, we also enable you to send custom messages to your customers that entice them to come back into your business. For example, you can send a beautifully designed push notification message in seconds offering people 10% off their dinner within the next hour if things are slow during certain business hours.

This not only helps bring in new customers, but can help attract loyal customers back into your establishment. The return on investment here is absolutely staggering for a small business.

Conclusion

So what is a push notification? When a user gets a push notification, it’s a message from a company they know and want to hear from. And from a business standpoint, the cost couldn’t be lower. Considering their effectiveness and ability to address a number of goals at once, we find push notifications to be just as good as, if not better than, text messages. (Of course, there’s no reason not to employ both in your marketing strategy, but if you can use only one, we know which one we prefer.)

How to Craft Push Notifications Correctly

How to Craft Push Notifications Correctly

We have reached the point of critical mass on mobile. People are increasingly spending less time on other channels and more time on their smartphone or other mobile devices.

As we know already, time spent is money spent. In fact, mobile e-commerce experienced a 47% growth rate last year, which means it is more important than ever to examine the success of your app and how it can be improved.

 

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The goal of every mobile app is to become part of a user’s daily routine. Consumers can have hundreds of apps on their phone, but their activity on most is little to nonexistent. They only use a small fraction, roughly 20 or so, of those apps on a daily basis. You want your app to be in that select 20. How do you get there? The answer is push notifications.

Push notifications are more effective than email when it comes to keeping your business top of mind with potential customers. They are more user-centric, create a fluent journey back to your brand’s app and, most importantly, they are more engaging.

The Four Stages of App User Behavior

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Before you begin thinking about how to craft the perfect push notifications, you need to understand how consumers use and interact with an app. Again, your goal is for your app to be part of each user’s typical routine. Thus, it is important to know which users have already made your app part of that practice, which users need to be re-engaged, and which users are using your app for the first time. In other words, you need to know which of the following 4 stages each individual is at and how you can push them towards becoming a more engaged user.

Newbie – These are new users. They are seeing, testing and using your app for the first time. In the next few hours, days, or maybe just the next few minutes, these ‘newbies’ are going to decide if your app is worth their while. Ultimately, they will choose to uninstall the app and fall into the passerby stage or become an engaged or sometimes-dormant user. Your mission is to push them towards becoming an engaged user rather than uninstalling the app.

Passerby – These are the 23% consumers that used your app a few times, but ultimately moved on. Once they have uninstalled, your ability to send them push notifications is diminished. However, the passerby users still represent some value. First, they hold a wealth of information about what your app didn’t do for them. Secondly, your passersby users are a good way to measure the churn rate of your app and its overall success.

engagedEngaged – These are the people that consider your app one of their favorites. They use it often, most likely daily. They are the single most important group and need to be targeted appropriately to maintain this high level of engagement. Accomplishing this stimulated engagement through push notifications takes quite a bit of creativity.

Dormant – Dormant users are individuals who were once engaged, but have slacked off. Perhaps, they don’t have as much time, got busy with other apps, or maybe just forgot about your app. Whatever the case may be, these users have to be reinvigorated to start using the app once again.

Leveraging Data to Craft Customer-Centric Push Notifications

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Your push notifications need to be customer-centric. The type of message you send a dormant user isn’t going to be the same as the one you send to an engaged user. In order to understand your users better and know where along the app behavior spectrum each user is, you need app engagement data.

Data is the best way to get a complete view of each individual app user. Sadly, research shows that 95% of the data within a business goes untapped.  After all, every user is different; they interact differently, have different preferences and so on.

The more you know about your users, the more personalized you can make your push notifications.  Without personalization, 94% of consumers simply delete what you send.

When it comes to enhancing the customer experience, especially in the mobile environment, these are some useful data points you should tap into:

-Timing
   -Location
   -Behavior
   -Preference
   -Device
location dataLocation – The most useful application of location-based data is knowing when your customers are physically near your store and offering them a push notification with user-specific deals, info or savings. Keep in mind that nearly half of mobile users opt-in to push notifications that are location based because they find them useful.  So make sure you are giving them the information they need.

Airlines have had success offering push notifications to notify travelers of gate changes or delays. Or if a consumer is traveling, you can notify them of store locations near them which they may not be familiar with.

Timing – In the past, companies would send out all of their marketing messages at a certain time of day. The consensus was that most users were active at 9AM, which made it the most attractive time to send these blanket messages. But, most isn’t all and the success of these blanket messages is in a sharp decline. Consumers want to be interacted with on their time, not yours. Knowing when each user is active on the app or browsing their phone is crucial to timing your notifications.

Behavior – As mentioned before, knowing what stage of behavior each user is at is important. You don’t want to push ‘buy now’ notifications on a newbie customer because it will feel like spam. Instead, you should send notifications that inform newbies about different features of the app, which they may not be aware of. This allows you to demonstrate all of the ways your app is useful to this new user and, hopefully, encourage them to stick around. Behaviors also include how an individual uses your app. They may not need or want to use every feature; they may only use it for a single purpose. Thus, you may want to cater notifications specific for those behaviors.

Preferences – Nothing says personalization like catering the mobile experience to your user’s preferences. The Harvard Business Review claims consumers are 40% more likely to buy from businesses who send personalized messages. Customers want the information, products, playlists, images etc. that they personally find most interesting.

For example, if your app delivers sports news, your push notifications should only pertain to a user’s favorite teams. You don’t want to over saturate them with news about teams they aren’t even interested in. The same goes for push notifications about new products or savings.

devices-1Device – This can be an easily overlooked area, but it is very important when you consider the numerous different devices and touchpoints that consumers are using. Most of us, whether we are aware of it or not, have a routine schedule of when we use each of our devices.

We may use our smartphone when we first wake up, but then switch to a tablet device later in the morning, before alternating between an office laptop and our phones again. Push notifications can feel spammy or annoying when a user receives the same notification on each device. When you want to send a notification, you want to send it to the one device that the user is likely using at that moment.

Plan, Experiment, Test and Retest

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modifyThe push notifications you send users should enhance the customer experience, not harm it. Every user should be glad they got the notification when they did; it should be valuable to them in some way.

Again, the “spray and pray,” blanket messages are no longer a valid strategy. In fact, they can be dangerous and damaging to the customer experience. The numbers show that people will actually delete your app if they are sent between 6-10 useless messages.

Perfecting and crafting the best push notifications takes some practice. There should be a considerable amount of planning involved. Before sending a message, ask yourself three questions:

What is the goal of this message? (reduce churn, increase mobile purchases, improve cart fulfillment, onboarding, etc.)
Does it achieve that goal?
Does it do so in a way that the user will find interesting and engaging?
You can’t assume that by simply asking these questions, your push notifications will become effective in achieving their objectives. You actually have to measure their success using viable metrics.

Click through rate
Secondary action rate
Engagement rate
Sharing metrics
Lead growth
Number of sales
Sales growth rate
Re-engagement
Push notifications have to achieve a lot, with only a limited amount of real estate. Thus, even the slightest change in wordage or timing can make a big difference. To counteract this, you may want to test various messages at the same time to determine how each specific message performs relative to others.

For example, 1800-Flowers tested two similar messages alongside one another. The first message offered a 15% discount to come back and shop again. The other, worded almost identically, didn’t offer the 15% coupon. Surprisingly, the message without the savings deal was more successful at engaging consumers to come back and shop again. Remember, even a failed experiment or a bad push notification can be valuable, from a data standpoint.

Conclusion

Mobile is this generation’s gold rush and push notifications are the path to the west. Those that are willing to utilize data collection tools to craft more well-timed, user-centric notifications while experimenting with new and creative ways to reach these mobile users will quickly find themselves striking gold with mobile.

Businesses, Social Media Is for More Than Just Marketing

Businesses, Social Media Is for More Than Just Marketing

Snapping photos on the beach and sharing regular status updates has become the norm for communication. Whether it’s announcing your newborn baby or venting over daily frustrations, nearly every social media platform allows you to share your (digitally altered) life seamlessly.

In the business world, social media has become a go-to for brand development and customer care. It’s an easy way to stay in touch with customers and creatively market your products or services. 63% of millennials report staying up to date on brands through social media, and 46% of millennials use social media when making online purchases. Businesses are beginning to digest these statistics and leverage social media’s role in their customers’ lives. Now, 78% of companies report that they have teams dedicated solely to social media.

Though social media fits neatly into an effective marketing campaign, it can be used for much, much more than that.

 

Customer Service

While traditional support channels hide the customer behind the interaction, leaving you with just an email or phone number, social media support is a real glimpse into your customers’ lives. It can serve as a fantastic customer service tool that adds transparency and humanity your customers appreciate. Questions are often answered for all to see, leaving little room for poor, half-baked responses.

It’s also highly efficient. Tons of businesses use Twitter as a support and customer communication tool. You can educate thousands of followers with one tweet and cut down on emails, calls, and chats. This is especially useful during service outages, product releases, or anytime you expect high demand.

These channels generate valuable feedback too. Facebook and Google+ reviews offer valuable customer happiness insights and add a level of trust for prospective customers researching your business. Positive peer reviews are also more likely to land you a sale than self-marketing, so these rating features go a long way.

 

Customer Engagement

When you’re present on someone’s feed, you’re more likely to influence their next plan or purchase. Offer rewards through social media. Create contests and incentives for people to “check in” at your location, or offer coupons in exchange for page likes and shares. At the very least, you’ll gain some screen time on their social feed and catch someone’s eye. And ideally, you’ll encourage repeat business that evolves into a loyal customer base.

Increased engagement means increased customer retention. The more you can get your followers chiming in or clicking through—whether that’s with exclusive deals, helpful content, or genuine and thoughtful messaging—the better your chances of keeping them around. Try spurring discussion on your page or around a specific post by inviting your followers into the conversation. The topic doesn’t have to be your business or services, but something relevant to your industry that builds an association with your brand.

 

Product Development

User commentary can shed real light on companies’ strengths and shortcomings. Listen to what people say and incorporate the best feedback into your business/product roadmap. Customers will appreciate their impact and likely offer more constructive criticism down the road. Plus, what better way to improve your products and generate new ideas that your target audience really wants?

The life of a product or service can also be extended by resurfacing older content. For example, if you publish a blog post about a new product, plug last month’s release too. When you re-share “old” news along with fresh content, you can revive interest and catch the eye of users who missed it the first time around (likely a lot of them, since our feeds are so oversaturated these days). And since we’re on the topic, don’t forget the role social media plays in product marketing.

 

E-Commerce

Welcome to the age of online ordering. It’s more convenient and cost-effective than traveling to the store or making a phone call, especially now that the majority of online retailers have free and fast shipping options. As of 2015, 69% of adults shop online monthly and 33% weekly. If you only sell products at your location, you’re limiting your reach considerably. Online and mobile ordering removed the geographical constraints that limit your market.

So how can you leverage social media for online sales? First off, shareability. When you sell online, you can offer discounts to buyers who share a product or service with friends over social media. Groupon is a great example of this: if you get X amount of friends to buy the same deal as you, your purchase is free. Secondly, social media can be used as an independent online shop.Facebook pages can serve as online shops. Pinterest is a prime online commerce tool. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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Human Resources

Businesses are no longer only limited to ads and word-of-mouth to find the best employees—top talent can be recruited through social media. Sites like LinkedIn let them share job openings site-wide and conduct better candidate screening. The social element adds a whole new layer to the traditional interview process. You may “connect” with a potential candidate before you ever interview them, gaining access to their network, interests, endorsed skills, and more. This modern transparency is a far cry from old school hiring.

It’s a whole new world for job-seekers too. You can apply for positions right through LinkedIn and even see how many applications have already been submitted, or check out a company’s Glassdoor reviews for a glimpse into their culture. My college newspaper has a Facebook group for its alumni staff; members are constantly sharing openings at their companies and encouraging others to apply. And on any site, users can easily share listings with friends and family who may be interested.

 

Networking

While making connections used to mean circling up at a conference and trading business cards, these days you can gain as much—if not more—networking value from social media. It’s never been easier to engage with other professionals and make highly personal connections that flourish and last. You can also tell a lot from a person’s profile and the content they regularly publish.

LinkedIn is obvious for this purpose, but Twitter is an incredible networking tool as well. Much like walking up to a circle of strangers and introducing yourself, you can start conversations or join active discussions by tweeting at other users. Twitter lacks the “friends-only” vibe of Facebook—its users typically welcome followers they don’t know personally, and the most active often interact daily with people they’ve never met face-to-face.

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Conclusion

It’s easy to see what the future might hold with social media. Be your own time machine—stay up on the latest industry trends and anticipate advances to get a head start. Research what customers are saying about competing brands and let that inform your strategy. Better to learn from another company’s mistakes than make them, and better to celebrate their successes as teaching moments too. If used to its full potential, social media can drive success creatively and at little cost to businesses. So log in!

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Social Media Don’ts for Small Business

Social Media Don’ts for Small Business

A strong social network can become an asset for any business. Social media offers every business the opportunity to strengthen relationships with their target audience, creating loyal customers and even brand advocates. Exploiting this potential is no easy feat, but can be done if the medium is used well.

Unfortunately, many companies are still not getting the best out of their social media accounts. Yet social media is big business: 74% of all internet users use social networking sites, and for younger adults it’s even more. That’s a huge readjustment of the traditional marketing paradigm.

The fact is, if you want to reach your audience, social media is the place to start. But avoiding the many pitfalls can prove difficult.

Don’t Create Accounts Just Because

Everybody’s doing it, and they’re telling you that your business should be too. It may be great for other businesses, but you just aren’t sure how it can help your company.

If you aren’t clear on the benefits of social media, then the chances are you aren’t going to use it properly, and it could be damaging to your business. Yet, no presence on social media is a poor choice as well. Even if you aren’t on Facebook or Instagram, your audience is, and they’re likely having a conversation about you—without your input.

Take the time to understand social media and what it can do for you, and invest the time and budget needed to do it well.

Don’t Ignore Social Norms

It’s difficult to get the tone right on social media. Each social network has different systems, rules, and social norms. What is acceptable on one network may be a social faux pas on another.

Unless you’re confident on each one, it’s only natural that you will make mistakes. But getting your tone right is a must. Common expectations of corporate behavior include:

  • Take the time to respond to messages left by customers; social media is about engagement and conversation should be a two way street.
  • Don’t talk about yourself continuously, or spam your followers’ feeds with sales messages.
  • Don’t be needy. Asking for retweets and likes for your content is frowned upon. If the content and messages you are sharing are truly interesting and insightful, shares, likes, and retweets will take care of themselves.

Don’t be afraid to be imperfect (in fact humanizing your brand is a good thing on social media) but be aware you are expected to follow the unwritten rules of social networking behavior.

Don’t be Present on Every Social Network

Spreading yourself too thinly across every social network is a common mistake. You want to be everywhere so you can maximize the opportunity, but cast the net too wide and it will be difficult to network effectively across all channels.

Building a strong network on 1 or 2 social media platforms is much better than having a weak and patchy presence on them all. It’s more difficult for a business to regularly update many social media accounts. Even if you manage to maintain a regular presence, the quality of your content will probably suffer. Being on too many social networks will undermine your brand values, not reinforce them.

Each social network has its own strengths, and they are popular with different audiences. Choose one or two that are best for you. Research them to find out where your audience hangs out and think carefully about what you want to achieve on social media. If you are a creative, youth oriented brand, Instagram or Snapchat may be a great social network for you to engage your audience. Conversely, if you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn may the best choice.

Don’t Favor Quantity Over Quality

Your social media presence should be about brand awareness and customer engagement, and these goals should be at the heart of your business strategy on social media.

Too many businesses use social media as a broadcasting channel or sales channel. But social media isn’t just a free advertising channel – it has the potential to build a relationship with your target market and improve customer loyalty. But first you have to get your content right.

In order to build your network you must consider your customer’s needs and have a content strategy in place. An unfocused approach that prioritizes quantity of content over quality isn’t going to be successful. If it doesn’t provide value to your audience, they aren’t going to engage with you.

Don’t Ignore Comments

Building a conversation with your customers is the holy grail of social media. But many businesses invest most of their time building awareness and growing their network, rather than having a conversation.

Comments from customers are the beginning of a dialogue with them, the moment at which they give you permission to interact with them. Yet research has found 9 out of 10 social media comments sent to brands are ignored.  The same research found people expect a response within 4 hours, and the average is 10 hours.

Take the example of British Airways. In 2013 a customer promoted a tweet to complain about the customer service, the company’s Twitter account was only monitored during office hours so there was a delay in their response, which gave the tweet plenty of time to circulate around the Internet.

It’s ironic that so much energy is spent building a social network to strengthen customer relationships and the opportunity to do so is ignored when it presents itself. Balance building your social presence with strengthening your network and always respond to your customers promptly.

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Don’t Remove Negative Comments

We all want to show ourselves in the best light possible, but sweeping negativity under the carpet is simply going to infuriate dissatisfied customers even more. No organization is perfect, but show you are prepared to learn from your mistakes by facing them head on.

People are increasingly expecting a response to their complaints through social media. They won’t call you, they won’t write (not even an email), they will however take to social media to inform you, and everyone in your network. It’s a particularly public form of complaint, and you need to be ready or it could prove costly. United Airlines paid a heavy price for poor complaint management in 2008 when a disgruntled passenger took to YouTube after getting no satisfaction from their complaints procedure.

When this happens, be professional and don’t be defensive. The old adage (some might say cliché) about a complaint being an opportunity is certainly true on social media. You can’t stop people from complaining about you, but you can demonstrate a willingness to learn from any mistakes. Not just to customer with the issue, but to all your customers in your social network.

Don’t be Complacent About Security

All a disgruntled employee needs is your login and password, and they have access to your entire social network, including customers, partners, and your target audience. The potential to damage your reputation and lose business is incalculable.

In 2013, an employee of British retailer HMV hijacked the company’s Twitter account. Senior management was helpless as it didn’t know its own password.  

To avoid this situation happening to you, put in place a system that secures your social media accounts and reduces the potential for reputational damage.

  • Set up limited permissions for selected staff to update your social media. Managing your social media accounts shouldn’t be left to a low-level employee.
  • Make sure publishing rights are only given to a select number of people who have responsibility for overseeing the suitability of the content (though many people in the organization should be encouraged to draft content).
  • Train your staff about social media.

Complacency can lead to public embarrassment; put in place security measures to protect the integrity of your brand.

Don’t Rely on Automating Updates

It’s understandable businesses are inclined to reduce the burden of updating their social media accounts by automating them. But automation tools should be used with caution; they can never be a substitute for true engagement with customers.

Businesses should take care to ensure customer engagement isn’t forgotten in the rush to reduce workload.  Without customer engagement you are reducing your social networks to a promotional tool, or a cheap advertising channel, and you won’t get any value out if it.  Your customers can’t have a conversation with an automation tool.

Don’t Treat it as a Marketing Function Alone

It’s often the case that businesses fall into the trap of ‘silo thinking’, and social media is no exception. In organizations that still treat social media as a promotional tool, it’s often left in the control of the marketing function.

In recognition of its increasing importance as a means of managing the customer relationships, many organizations are now taking a decentralized approach to reflect customer expectations. Your social network is now a sales channel, a promotional channel, a customer service channel, and a market research channel. To get the best out of it, and to meet your customers’ expectations, move it out of the marketing department and make it an integral part of your customer relationships.

Conclusion

The place of social media in business strategy has evolved, and it has moved from just a marketing device to a tool that’s of strategic importance to your company and its brand. Many companies haven’t embraced its full potential.

Organizations need to remember customers are using social media as a place to discuss and complain about brands whether the company is engaging with them or not.

 

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