small business marketing

In the Know - June 01-12

I am currently in the process of moving so I have been delayed putting together this week's In the it is more like the last few weeks In the Know.

As a result I found 6 great articles that I found very useful for small business owners.

  • Build Social Relationships With Influencer Marketing
  • 10 Ways to Create Great Inbound Content for Your Association
  • 16 Key On-Page SEO Factors That Search Engines & Users Love
  • How Twitter's Recent Changes Affect Customer Service
  • 4 Simple Steps for Creating a Social Editorial Calendar

Build Social Relationships With Influencer Marketing

June 4, 2016 by Verónica Jarski

10 Ways to Create Great Inbound Content for Your Association

June 7, 2016 by Joe Fuld


1) Know Your Goal

The goal of inbound marketing is to get more people to join or engage with your organization. Your content is an extension of your organization’s overall growth and engagement strategy. Set milestones for your content that ladder up to this growth – number of views, clicks, downloads, new contacts, and members that originated from any given piece of content.   

2) Find Engaging Topics

Your organization has a wealth of experience and value. Use that knowledge to proactively answer questions that people have about organizations and members. This tactic is called “you ask, we answer.” There are so many questions folks have about who you are and what you do that people are search for answers on the web. Think about questions your members might type into goo

3) Care About Keywords

A keyword is simply a word or phrase that people search for online. With over two trillion searches being done this year, ignoring the phrases people search for around your issue can be a huge missed opportunity. You need to do basic research on the keywords people are looking for and the language your ideal constituent uses. Working those words into your content will help your inbound marketing efforts.

4) Get Everyone to Create Content 

Most organizations have a lot of people creating a lot of different content across many different departments. There are likely people in membership, policy, communications and beyond who are writing about your organization in compelling ways. You should have one person in charge of overall content, so all of the great work that your team is doing isn’t lost or duplicated. That way, everyone else can focus on planning, curating and editing content. Check out our post on why everyone should create content here.

5) Social Is Not Enough

We love social media. It’s an easy way to share content and it can increase traffic. But it’s important to think beyond a single tweet. You need good content to get customers to click, and more content on your site to keep them there. 

6) Conversions Matter More Than Traffic

You can have an impressive amount of people visiting your site, but if those browsers are not taking any action to indicate they’re interested or signing up to join your association, it is a waste of a lot of effort. Your goal as an organization is for people to take action. So, your content and website needs to be focused around that. One way to encourage conversions is to think about calls-to-action that matter to you—Donate, get involved, sign up—and then work backward to create content and workflows that drive users toward those actions.

7) Think Quantity and Quality

“How often should we post?” This is a harder question to answer than you might think. There is an ongoing argument around content marketing about quantity vs. quality. Should I have one great 2,000-word post or four 500-word posts? 

Our short answer is you need both quantity and quality. Consistency matters a ton. If you can consistently publish once or twice a week and do a big content offering once a quarter, do that. If you can do more than that great, but don’t start a blog and then stop six months later. Check out HubSpot’s experiment on blog post frequency here.

8) Consider Both Reactive and Evergreen Content

Sometimes, it makes sense for you to create a piece of content that is timely, or reacts to a specific current events. Other times, you should focus on writing something that is just as relevant today as it will be six months from now. A mix of both is important, because it drives different types of people. Some people are looking to solve problems, while others are looking to be entertained or informed on a current issue. Your content should answer all of these questions.

9) Have A Content Mix

Think beyond writing. Video, audio and infographics all have their place mix up the type of content. The goal of trying different approaches (like quizzes, games and paywalls) is to reach and engage folks.

10) Plan Out Your Content 

It’s important to have a calendar. Since inbound marketing is a cross-department effort, you need to have the content be coordinated across departments. Use a content program like Teamup or the HubSpot content calendar to keep track of posts.

Bonus Tips:

Hold A Blog-A-Thon

Wouldn’t it be great to create three times as many blog posts in a single sitting? Get your team around a white board and write 100 questions people would ask about your association. Then write out the answers, and you just created great content, fast.

Create A Video Booth at Events

Have trouble getting video content?  A quiet room and a green screen are a way to capture good member video easily and quickly.

Use A Whiteboard Program  

Whiteboard videos are easy to make and don’t take much time to create. Using a program like VideoScribe, you can take your best written content and turn it into video.


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16 Key On-Page SEO Factors That Search Engines & Users Love

June 09, 2016 by Irfan Ahmad

How Twitter's Recent Changes Affect Customer Service

June 10, 2016 by Dan Gingiss

As Jay Baer reports in his new book, Hug Your Haters, customer expectations for customer service in social media are rising quickly. The study he conducted with Edison Research concluded that only 40% of social media complaints are addressed, even though the same study revealed that responding to complaints increases customer advocacy, while not responding decreases it by more than two-fold. Brands are also still to slow to respond on social, with customer expectations hovering around 1 hour - and dropping - and brand response times (for brands that actually do respond) landing at nearly 5 hours, on average.

Twitter’s changes will likely increase demand for customer service on the platform as other users see people in their feed asking questions to brands. This is part of an intentional strategy, as Jeff Lesser outlined in this Focus on Customer Service podcast episode. By trying to establish itself as the best online source for customer service – both for customers and brands – Twitter can address the slow user growth that has plagued its stock.

But customer service on Twitter doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are some keys to success:

  1. Answer all questions, comments, complaints, and compliments tweeted directly at your brand handle
  2. Monitor mentions of your brand that don’t use your handle for additional engagement opportunities
  3. Respond quickly – less than an hour is becoming table stakes; less than 15 minutes is best-in-class
  4. Show empathy to customers experiencing problems with your product or service
  5. Personalize the experience by using the customer’s name and signing your response with the agent’s first name


-Read More at:

4 Simple Steps for Creating a Social Editorial Calendar

June 11, 2016 by Michael Patterson


1. Figure out which networks to post to

  • Look to past success - One way to find out which social networks you should spend time on is to look at which networks you’ve already been finding success on. It’s likely that you have a general idea of which sites are effective for your brand, but it can be much more effective to use an analytics tool. Try using a tool like Google Analytics to see which networks are currently driving traffic to your site.
  • Check your demographics - If you've got an idea of who your perfect social media customer is - including age, gender and location - you can look to this infographic on social media demographics to find out exactly which social media websites they’re most likely to frequent.

2. Choose a posting frequency

  • Twitter - Three to six times per day. With 500 million tweets sent on Twitter every day, there’s a chance that your tweets could get lost in the shuffle, which is why you should send messages to the network multiple times every single day. There’s much more acceptance when it comes to posting frequently to Twitter, so why not take full advantage of it?
  • Facebook - Two to three times per day. Facebook has an average of 1.09 billion daily active users, which makes it an incredibly enticing network for marketers to post their content to frequently. However, you also need to consider engagement - Facebook's News Feed algorithm rewards constant engagement, so if you post all day and annoy your fans, your engagement levels will drop, which will also, subsequently, impact your reach.
  • Instagram - One to two times per day. The burgeoning image sharing network has an average of 80 million photos posted every day, and you should make sure that at least one of those is coming from your brand. As the network continues to grow, users are looking for top brands to follow, so getting your content out there early is key.
  • Google+ - One to two times per day. Google+ is a wild card when it comes to posting frequency, but it’s safer to err on the side of posting more often than less. As you can see in the picture taken below, when people search for your brand terms on Google, they often see your most recent Google+ posts. So it’s better to always have a fresh post appear to show that you’re always creating great new content.
  • LinkedIn - One to two times per day. LinkedIn poses a very unique opportunity for companies in the business-to-business space. The nature of LinkedIn draws in an audience that's much more business oriented while visiting, so they may be more inclined to buy a B2B product. Companies in that space should take advantage of this and post more frequently.

3. Find and create fantastic content

  • Use Feedly - Feedly's a content-aggregation site that helps you find some of the best content for sharing with your audience. Simply subscribe to your favorite blogs and publications and Feedly will pull all of the newest articles from those sources into your own content stream. You can then go on to manually share those articles with your followers, or you can set Feedly up to directly share these articles to your social profiles using a platform like Sprout Social.
  • Write a blog - No matter your situation, you have a unique perspective on your industry. Spend some time writing for your company blog - not only will a blog post give you something to share on social, but it'll also expand your personal portfolio. If your company doesn’t have a dedicated blog, you can always turn to a content hosting site like Medium.
  • Create a video - Video is quickly becoming one of the most popular content mediums in the marketing industry. Take advantage of current video trend by creating your own to share with your fans. You don’t need to be Steven Spielberg; even a lower-budget video can resonate well with your audience - "Chewbacca Mom" is the most viewed Facebook Live video of all time, and that was filmed on a smart phone in a car park.
  • Create an image - If you don’t think a video would make for a good social post, then consider an image. This can be something that you take yourself, something that you design completely from scratch or a hybrid of the two. If you’re having trouble, check out this article with 36 free tools to help create unique social media images.

4. Schedule content to fill your calendar

Once you know which networks to post to, how often to post to those networks and exactly what you want to post, all you have to do is start to schedule those messages.


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In the Know - May 15-22

This week we look back at the following articles:

  • The A/B Testing Checklist You'll Want to Bookmark
  • Brand Personification: The Ultimate Way to Get to Know Your Brand
  • 5 Steps to Improve Your Customer Service Using Twitter
  • 7 Helpful Resources Every Email Marketer Should Bookmark
  • The Most Important Mobile E-Commerce Features

The A/B Testing Checklist You'll Want to Bookmark

May 17, 2016 by Lindsay Kolowich

When marketers like us create landing pages, write email copy, or design call-to-action buttons, it can be tempting to use our intuition to predict what will make people click and convert.

But basing marketing decisions off of a "feeling" can be pretty detrimental to results. Rather than relying on guesses or assumptions to make these decisions, you're much better off running conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests.

One of the easier (and most common) types of CRO tests is called an A/B test. An A/B test simply tests one variable in a piece of marketing content against another, like a green call-to-action button versus a red one, to see which performs better. 

So, what does it take to run an A/B test, exactly? Keep reading to learn what an A/B test is in a little more detail, followed by a full checklist for what marketers should do before, during, and after these tests. You'll want to bookmark this for your next one.

How A/B Tests Work

To run an A/B test, you need to create two different versions of one piece of content with changes to a single variable. Then, you'll show these two versions to two similarly sized audiences, and analyze which one performed better.

For example, let's say you want to see if moving a certain call-to-action button to the top of your homepage instead of keeping it in the sidebar will improve its conversion rate.

To A/B test this change, you'd create another, alternative web page that reflected that CTA placement change. The existing design -- or the "control" -- is Version A. Version B is the "challenger."

Checklist for Running an A/B Test

Before the A/B Test

1) Pick one variable to test.

2) Choose your goal.

3) Set up your "control" and your "challenger."

Set up your unaltered version of whatever you're testing as your "control." 

From there, build a variation, or a "challenger" -- the website, landing page, or email you’ll test against your control. 

4) Split your sample groups equally and randomly.

5) Determine your sample size (if applicable).

6) Decide how significant your results need to be.

7) Make sure you're only running one test at a time on any campaign.

During the A/B Test

8) Use an A/B testing tool.

 Google Analytics' Experiments, which lets you A/B test up to 10 full versions of a single web page and compare their performance using a random sample of users.

9) Test both variations simultaneously.

10) Run the test long enough to get substantial results.

11) Ask for feedback from real users.

After the A/B Test

12) Focus on your goal metric.

Again, although you'll be measuring multiple metrics, keep your focus on that primary goal metric when you do your analysis.

13) Measure the significance of your results using a tool like HubSpot's A/B testing calculator.

14) Take action based on your results.

15) Plan your next test.

You can even try conducting an A/B test on another feature of the same web page or email you just did a test on. For example, if you just tested a headline on a landing page, why not do a new test on body copy? Or color scheme? Or images? Always keep an eye out for opportunities to increase conversion rates and leads.

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Brand Personification: The Ultimate Way to Get to Know Your Brand

May 18, 2016 by Coralyn Loomis

brand personification

What if your company were a person—someone you can sit down with, take out to lunch, and let babysit your kids?

Would you like them as you would a best friend, or would you screen their calls?

Often we think of our brands as a foreign identity, a corporate brick-and-mortar presence, without recognizing that its external reputation is like that of a person's.

People by nature humanize things. From "I CAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER?" to creepy mops with faces, we give personality to things that likely have none, because doing so makes them relatable.

But when attempting to define, understand, and promote our brands, we often have an orthodox, impersonal way of doing things. We define our brands through the colors we use, our value proposition statements, and target market. Yet, in the end, we market to humans—and humans, by nature, do not care about what you are... they care about who you are.


By building our brands from the inside out, we can connect with our values, goals, and customers even more. A brand (as many of us know) is more than just a mission statement. It's an overall reputation.

- Read more:

5 Steps to Improve Your Customer Service Using Twitter

May 18, 2016 by Beth Gladstone

improve customer service using twitter

1: Create Internal and External Policies

Create two policies: one to clarify what’s expected from internal staff, and the other to address customer expectations and how to ensure their concerns are being heard.

#2: Assign Role Responsibility

Whose job is it to manage your customer service online? If the responsibility lies with just one person, it’s fairly easy. However, if there are multiple customer service advocates for your brand, or the number changes on weekends and holidays, then you need a structure for areas of responsibility.

#3: Create a Flowchart for Inbound Attention

A PR crisis is the last thing you want on Twitter. At the same time, though, you shouldn’t be afraid to converse and interact with your customers and followers. Many Twitter users with large followings cite conversing and interacting with their followers as a way to grow and gain attention.

Inbound attention can be great for exposure and opportunity, but only when handled right. This means you need to set the tone for how you want your inbound attention to be handled and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

#4: Set Up Response Templates

Just like email customer service, your Twitter responses may be repetitive. To save minutes (and possibly hours) over time, collect the most commonly needed information, answers, or associated feedback to quickly batch your customer service responses.

You can create this template within a Google spreadsheet or similar tool. This gives your team fast access to responses that can be copied and pasted into Twitter or your social media monitoring tool.

#5: Reach Out to Customers and Prospects Alike

Part of great customer service is making your customers feel great! Use Twitter to publicly support your customers and make them feel special.

Make a Twitter list of customers who are on Twitter. If you need help finding their handles, you can use a tool such as Clearbit to help track them down. Next, scan through the list to find questions, articles, or conversations that you can join with your audience. Where you can, share your customers’ articles or services to show you’re as loyal to them as they are to you.


Providing great customer service on Twitter (or any other social media channel) isn’t always easy, but it remains essential for your brand arsenal when it comes to keeping your customers and clients happy. Being successful means creating a clear internal and external policy for your company, providing clear guidance to customers, and using the channel as a way to monitor and respond to inbound attention. All within 140 characters, of course!

With the right strategy in place, your Twitter feed can become a powerful means of gaining new customers and impressing existing ones.

- Read More at:

7 Helpful Resources Every Email Marketer Should Bookmark

May 19, 2016 by Erik Devaney

Email Marketing Resources


1) HTML Email Gallery

Here's another great resource for finding email inspiration. But in contrast to the Really Good Emails website, which showcases emails of all kinds, the HTML Email Gallery exclusively showcases examples of design-heavy, HTML emails. It's a great site to bookmark if you're looking to take the design of your emails up a notch.


2) Touchstone Subject Line Analyzer

Touchstone Subject Line Analyzer tool will show you projected open rates, click rates, and other helpful stats based on Touchstone's database. It's like taking your subject line for a test drive before making the decision to use it.

The tool also lets you upload your own email data, so you can see how your actual subscribers are responding to your subject lines. While using Touchstone's full database for analyzing subject lines is great for identifying trends, using your own data can give you insight into what's working (and what's not working) with your specific audience.


3) IsValid

After running an email experiment (e.g., testing which subject line receives more opens) and collecting all the data, there's one question that email marketers are often left with: "Are my findings statistically significant?"

With the free IsValid web tool, you don't need to be a statistician in order to answer that question. Just enter the sample size and conversions/metrics from your original data set, then do the same for your experimental data set, and voilà: IsValid will automatically analyze the results and show you the degree of statistical significance. No math required.


4) The HubSpot'S Email Marketing Topic Page

This post you're reading right now ... we've got a ton more like it. In fact, we have a whole subset of our blog dedicated to email marketing content. 


5) The Best of Email's Inspiration Gallery

As its name implies, The Best of Email is a website dedicated to highlighting top-notch emails that you can use as inspiration for your own email marketing campaigns. From examples of 'welcome' emails to killer email newsletter designs, The Best of Email has something for everyone. 


6) SendForensics Email Deliverability Test

Want to make sure your emails will reach their intended destinations? SendForensics has got you covered with their free Email Deliverability Test.

After you sign up for an account, SendForensics will provide you with an email address that you can add to your contacts list and use for testing. When you send an email to that address, the Email Deliverability Test will provide you with a deliverability percentage (see screenshot below for example).


7) HubSpot Research

Hubspot's research site -- HubSpot Research -- offers a ton of data across all facets of marketing. But if you go to the site's chart-building tool, and filter the data by the "Email" category, you'll be able to get your hands on our latest email marketing insights.


From exploring email open rates by company size, to checking out clickthrough rates by annual revenue, there's a lot of great email marketing data available. And best of all, we're always updating HubSpot Research with fresh findings.

- Read More at:

The Most Important Mobile E-Commerce Features

May 20, 2016 by Ayaz Nanji

Consumers who use their smartphones to shop say the most important feature of a mobile e-commerce offering is the ability to allow shoppers to easily see product photos, according to a recent report from Nielsen.

The report was based on data from a survey of 3,734 adults age 18 and older in the United States who have used their smartphone or tablet for mobile shopping, paying, or banking in the past 30 days.

Some 62% of respondents say being able to see product photos is an important feature when using their smartphone to shop.

Less than half, 48%, say having a mobile-friendly site is important.

Other highly-desired e-commerce features are clear product descriptions (44%), product reviews (44%), and pricing (44%).

Mobile E-Commerce Features

In the Know - May 8-14

This week's In the Know we will look at:

  • Turning Your Most Loyal Customers into Steadfast Brand Advocates
  • Instagram’s Analytics Tools are Coming – Here’s How They'll Work
  • How to Upgrade Your B2B Marketing Strategy with AdWords
  • Small Business Owners' Favorite Digital Tools and Platforms
  • 7 Steps You Need to Take Before Paying for Social Media Ads

brand ambassadors

Turning Your Most Loyal Customers into Steadfast Brand Advocates 

May 15, 2016 by Martin Jones

Turning a young startup into a thriving business is no easy task, and it requires a long process of building up brand recognition.

In the beginning, no one will have heard of your company, and no one will care - so how do you get the consuming public to notice your brand and consider spending their money? 

Eventually, if your products and services are good enough, you should find people who are fiercely loyal to your company, so much so that they’re willing to tell their friends and spread awareness for you.

How can you capitalize on their appreciation? How can you take these strong relationships and get the maximum effect from them? That’s an important goal. Once you establish a customer base, you want to grow it exponentially.

Here’s how.

The Value of Relationships in Nurturing Brand Advocates

Customer advocates increase your marketing clout without breaking the bank. Entrepreneurial adviser William Mougayar notes in “7 Marketing Trends for Tech Startups in 2014” that we tend to spend a lot of money on advertising and sponsorships, but advocacy can be a lot more effective. It just takes time and the willingness to nurture your customer relationships. “Your advocates are probably the easiest group of people to establish a relationship with, because they are totally committed to your product,” Mougayar points out. “You just need to lightly orchestrate their actions in areas like referrals, case studies, reviews, and allow them to communicate their expertise to their peers.The Value of Relationships in Nurturing Brand Advocates.


That’s a matter of responding positively to people’s reviews and encouraging additional communication.

You want feedback to be a continuous loop, not just a one-time thing. Once people engage the first time, you want to make them feel welcome so they keep coming back. Eventually, these people will turn into ambassadors for your brand.


You might soon reach the point where consumers are willing to share their email addresses with you and continue the dialogue that way. Young recommends email campaigns as a powerful tool for engaging customers. She points to data from the “2015 State of Marketing” report, which showed that 72% of email marketers rate email loyalty campaigns as “effective” or “very effective.” Therefore, it’s important to nurture relationships via email.

“Include valuable, newsworthy, or money-saving content in your email campaigns to encourage subscribers to forward to their friends and family,” Young advises.


Whenever customers recommend your company, you want to call attention to it. If the word is positive about your business, you want to spread it.

Social media can help you make the most of customer testimonials and other positive feedback. In “How To Put Testimonials To Work For Your Business,” marketing expert Allie Naughton advises sharing all new testimonials via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and your other social networks.

If you’re really lucky, a snowball effect will ensue - people will see all the positive comments, and they’ll feel compelled to share their own success stories.

“Remember, no one tells your story better than your customers,” says Naughton. “People want to hear what it’s really like working with you, and your existing customers can describe the experience better than anyone else - even you.”


  • Commit to nurturing customer relationships as part of your marketing strategy.
  • Respond to reviews in a diplomatic way, encouraging customers to continue their conversation with you. Engage customers who reach out on social media.
  • Use email campaigns to provide value to customers (in the form of relevant content, notification about sales, coupons, and the like) and invite their feedback.
  • Make sure to amplify any positive responses you receive. Post testimonials and other feedback on your website and social media channels.

- See more at:

Instagram’s Analytics Tools are Coming – Here’s How They'll Work

May 14, 2016 Andrew Hutchinson

Earlier this month, Instagram management tool (formerly Latergramme) provided a first look at the new Instagram brand profiles which are currently being tested among a select group of users. The new brand profiles include a prominent 'Contact' button, which allows you to directly e-mail the business or get directions to their store, a business categorization field, which'll help users find your brand, and improved location listings. - 

instagram contact button

And this week, also got their hands on some images of the new brand analytics options for Instagram. Included within the new business profiles, Instagram’s analytics options provide a range of new insights and tools to help businesses make better use of their Instagram profiles and gain more understanding of what’s resonating with their followers. Here’s how they work.

First off, Instagram’s analytics tools will be accessible from the front page of your brand profile – in the top bar of the screen, there’ll be a new analytics button to the right.

Once clicked, you’ll be taken to a new screen of analytics tools – Instagram’s adopted the Facebook term ‘Insights’ for the new option.

[One] of these tools is a listing of information about where your followers are located, geographically, and at what times they’re most commonly active on the app.

Instagram Insights

And [main] element is post analytics, with data on how many impressions each of your posts has garnered, which you can list by either the past week or the past month. 

Instagram Impressions

The main difference here is Instagram is showing you how many people saw your post, as opposed to how many people ‘Liked’ it, which provides additional context as to how your audience is responding to your content, and which of your posts are generating the best response.

- See more at:

How to Upgrade Your B2B Marketing Strategy with AdWords

May 13, 2016 by Callie Hinman

B2B Marketing AdWords

Neatly Organize Your Keywords and Ad Groups

One of the most critical elements of your SEM campaigns is the organization of your keywords. Here are the best practices to create ad groups:

  • Group keywords with similar themes: For example, put all “software” keywords in one ad group, separate from “solutions” or “platform” keywords
  • Divide informational keywords and transactional keywords: For example, “what is customer relationship management” versus “buy crm software”, or “do i need crm” versus “customer relationship management solutions”

Structuring your ad groups like this allows you to tailor both your ad copy and your landing page to best fit the keywords, and makes it easier to detect performance patterns and execute appropriate bid and status adjustments.

By grouping keywords by theme, if a prospect searches “crm platform” and is served two ads—one with the headline “Top CRM Software” and one with the headline “Top CRM Platform”—that prospect is more likely to click on the latter. Relevancy is key in every part of SEM campaigns.

Enhance Your Ads with Extensions

AdWords offers many ways to beef up your search ads with extensions, and you should use as many as possible. Here’s why:

  • Your ads will take up more of that precious real estate in search results, pushing your competitors farther down the page
  • Searchers can learn more about your company without clicking your ad
  • You can provide links to additional landing pages
  • Google rewards those who use ad extensions with higher quality scores, which means lower cost per click and, in turn, a lower cost per conversion

With ad extensions, marketers can not only include more information about the company (using callout extensions and structured snippets), but they can also include four more links in addition to the main landing page. This means you can offer five different conversion opportunities with one ad.

Use the Proper Landing Pages

B2B SEM campaigns traditionally use two types of landing pages: direct-response and content downloads. Both are equally important in paid search marketing.

Many marketers make the critical mistake of not taking advantage of content. They assume the best practice is to cut to the chase and simply tell searchers, “Let’s talk,” regardless of where the searcher is in the buyer’s journey. However, the actual best practice is to use paid search together with content marketing to start the lead nurturing process.

BONUS TIP: Feel free to have multiple conversion opportunities on your PPC landing pages. For instance, include a link to a gated PDF download of an industry report or eBook on a Contact Us page (example below). If a prospective customer arrives on the landing page but doesn’t want to chat right then, they can download the content instead, and you still capture their email address. Win-win!

- See more at:

Small Business Owners' Favorite Digital Tools and Platforms

May 12, 2016 by Ayaz Nanji

Which software programs and digital platforms do small business owners recommend most to their peers?

To find out, Alignable polled 7,500 small business owners in 1Q16 about how likely they are to recommend popular digital brands. Each product/service was then assigned an NPS score.

The businesses surveyed are all based in North America and employ fewer than 50 people.

WordPress, Mailchimp, Authorize, Google, Square, and PayPal are the most recommended digital brands by small businesses owners, the survey found

Other key findings from the report:

  • Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter all are trending positively with small business owners.
  • Wave's free back office software is gaining popularity with small businesses.
  • Yelp continues to be viewed very negatively by small business owners.


Check out this infographic to see how popular brands fared in 1Q16 compared with 4Q15 results:

7 Steps You Need to Take Before Paying for Social Media Ads

May 12, 2016 by Aaron Agius

1. Establish Who You’re Going to Be Targeting

You can’t create a social media ad, target it to “everyone”, and expect to see results. The best performing social media ads are those that are targeted at a very specific audience. 

2. Decide How Much You Want to Spend

Advertising should not be an impulse buy. Instead you should be deciding how much you want (and can afford) to spend ahead of time. Failing to do so could result in:

  1. Overspending
  2. Underspending, or
  3. Spending too much too soon

Determine your budget before you begin using paid social ads and you will be able to distribute your budget fairly throughout the month.

3. Decide What You Want to Achieve

Your goals will determine the type of ad you’re going to create - especially on Facebook, where advertisers are spoilt for choice.

If you want increase your following you’ll probably want to promote your page, or potentially, boost a post. If you’re looking to promote a piece of content, you could boost a post, but you could also choose to “send people to your website”.

This is a decision you need to make prior to each new ad you create. 

4. Optimize Your Conversion Funnels

When a visitor lands on your site via a paid social ad, where should they go and what do you want them to do next?

In order to maximize the value of the visitors you get via paid social ads, it’s important that a clear path to conversion is laid out for them once they land on your site.

Failure to complete this step risks wasting an otherwise qualified and targeted lead (a lead that you’ve probably paid good money for).

5. Decide How You’re Going to Track Results

We don’t all share the same goals when it comes to social media marketing. 

Some of us might be looking to grow our followers. 

Some might want to build their email list. 

Some might be trying to increase sales on their website. 

It’s important that before you begin paying for social media ads you determine what you’re aiming to achieve and how you plan to track your results.

6. Use Free Social Media to Test Your Ads

Before you begin paying for social media ads it makes sense to use standard (i.e. free) social posts to test subject matter, images, and copy.

Will your sample size of responses be very small?


But that doesn’t mean the number of likes, shares, and comments these posts receive won’t teach you a few valuable lessons that can help you make more informed decisions when it comes to creating paid ads.

7. Draft Multiple Ads

The best marketers are always testing - testing landing pages, emails, contact forms, and much more. Social media ads are no different. While it’s a great idea to monitor the responses your free social media posts get, the information you’ll gather is only useful up to a point.

To ensure you’re getting the very best results from your ads, you should be split testing them. To do that, you need to be drafting multiple ads. 

You might want to change the images, your copy, or the ad type you use. That’s up to you. Whatever you choose to test, your goal is to establish which variation of that ad performs best for you.

Paid social media advertising is effective and great value for money, but like with most things in life, it pays to be prepared. If you want to maximize the ROI of your paid ads (and why wouldn’t you?) completing the above seven steps will serve you well.

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In the Know - April 17-23

I have decided to start a weekly content curated post called "In the Know." Each week I will put together some of the best articles I have found and put them in one place so that you can spend your time doing more important things than searching for what's being talked about each week in digital marketing and social media.

This week we will look at the following articles:

  • How Facebook's News Feed Works - As Explained by Facebook

  • 21 Video Marketing Ideas for Small-Business Budgets

  • 5 Reasons Why Users Unsubscribe to Email Newsletters

  • Organic SEO v Local SEO: What's the Difference?

How Facebook’s News Feed Works
– As Explained by Facebook

April 23, 2016 by Andrew Hutchinson

Facebook’s recent F8 conference was a huge event, with a heap of information on new products, projects and the future ambitions of Zuckerberg's ever-expanding social behemoth.

But there was one session of particular interest that many might not have noticed, one that looked at a crucial element of the Facebook infrastructure which is particularly relevant for for all brands and users. In a session entitled “News Feed: Getting Your Content to the Right People”, Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s VP of Product for News Feed, went through exactly how Facebook's infamous News Feed works, providing an overview which included a heap of helpful insights to help people better understand the driving force that decides what users see on the platform.

Here are the key details of the session, outlining...


In the final segment of Mosseri’s presentation, he discusses how publishers can maximize attention and traction within the Facebook News Feed. Mosseri highlights four key measures to consider.

    Mosseri notes that publishers should seek to write compelling headlines – "Not 'clickbaity' headlines, but headlines that give people a real sense of the content that’s behind that click.” Mosseri says Facebok know that users enjoy this type of content and the News Feed team do what they can to ensure such posts perform well within the system.
    Posting too much promotional content can cause your audience to get less interested in your posts over time, which can lead to reduced reach.
    Mosseri says that this is the most important thing – “if I could leave you with one thing, it would be to experiment and try things.” The key point that Mosseri emphasizes here is that what works for one publisher won’t necessarily work for another – you need to experiment and test different methods to determine what resonates most with your audience, whether that’s long-form content, short-form, video, image posts. The only way to know for sure what’s of most interest to your audience and what they want from you is to try things and see what generates the best response.
    Your publisher tools, like Facebook Insights, are your key guide point as to how your content is performing and your audience response. It’s crucial that you spend time analyzing the data and comparing what works in order to understand what you should be posting and what your audience wants to see. Audience Insights is another tool that can be hugely beneficial in assessing what’s of most relevance to your target market.

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21 Video Marketing Ideas for Small-Business Budgets

April 23, 2016 by Barry Feldman  

5 Reasons Why Users Unsubscribe to Email Newsletters

April 14th, 2016 By Chris London

Email is arguably one of the most effective platforms on which to promote a product, service and/or brand. According to an Experian study, email is 20x more cost-effective than traditional forms of advertising. That alone should be reason enough to make email part of your business’s overall marketing strategy. But email marketing only works if recipients follow your newsletter.

Unrecognizable From Address

If the recipient doesn’t recognize who you are, there’s a good chance that they will unsubscribe to your newsletter. Far too many emails today now contain viruses and other malicious software or code, making recipients hesitant to open messages from unknown senders. To prevent this from happening, use a clear “from address” that reflects your business or brand.

Emails are Too Long

Don’t make the mistake of creating long, drawn-out emails. Studies have shown that recipients are less likely to read long emails, which may subsequently cause them to unsubscribe. So, what’s the best length for a marketing email? If you asked ten different digital marketing experts, you would probably get ten different answers. However, maintaining a word count of no more than 750 seems to work well for most messages.

Emails aren’t Personalized

Personalizing your marketing emails can prove invaluable in creating a stronger connection with the recipient and ultimately increasing your chance of scoring a sale or conversion. Assuming you know the recipient’s name, you can use “tokens” to automatically include his or her name in your emails. Personalized emails have been shown to generate six times more transactions than generic emails, according to a study cited by MarketingLand.

Irrelevant Content

You have to think of your target audience and what they are expecting to read when creating your marketing emails. If you send irrelevant content that doesn’t pertain to their likes or interest, some recipients may click the unsubscribe button, never to be seen or heard from again.

Recipients Didn’t Sign Up for Your Newsletter

One of the most common reasons why users unsubscribe to newsletters is because they never signed up for them in the first place. Some business owners may purchase lists of email addresses instead of collecting the addresses by hand. Unfortunately, you really don’t know how these addresses were collected. They could have been collected using automated software, in which case the recipient didn’t sign up for them. The bottom line is that you should avoid paying for email lists and instead build your own list.

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Organic SEO v Local SEO: What's the Difference?

April 18, 2016 By Isabella Andersen

Who should rank in local vs. organic search?

Brick and mortar businesses with a physical office in a specific location will want to rank high in a local search. The searcher is likely looking for a place to go for a specific product or service, so local businesses need to show up in local searches for their industry.

On the other hand, if you want your business to show up for certain search terms but not for a specific location, you want to try to rank higher in organic search. 

For example, if you sell kitchen supplies online but your business has no physical location and doesn’t serve a specific area, you want to show up in organic searches. Targeting a specific location would mean losing potential customers in this case. 

Can/should local businesses rank high in organic search?

If you have a business with one or more physical locations as well as an online store, you want to be found locally as well as organically. You might also want to be found both locally and organically if your local business has a blog.

That’s where organic SEO comes into play. Search engine optimization is the process of trying to make sure search engines know which searches your business or website is relevant for. 

To rank higher in search results, both organically and locally, your business has to be relevant to a specific search. And to show search engines your business is the right answer for a particular query, you have to state the obvious.

Local SEO

It’s important for your business to show up in relevant local searches because 50 percent of searchers visit businesses within 24 hours of a local search.

Naturally, optimizing a business for local search has more to do with location than with other factors. Search engines need to know exactly where your business is located so that when someone searches for a location, the search engine can find the businesses that are located there. 

To state the obvious for local search, you want to make sure your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) is consistent across local listing directories as well as your website. That is the bare minimum you’ll need for local SEO, though. For more information on being found online, check out this post about why your business isn’t being found online

Organic SEO

This has less to do with location and more to do with whether or not your website is relevant for certain searches. That’s why “pizza” and “pizza recipe” are in bold in the “pizza recipe” Google search. I search for pizza recipes, and the search engine wants to give me pizza recipes.

When optimizing a website for organic search, the intention is to get the website to show up for certain searches. This could be a short term (pizza recipe) or a question spoken into voice search on a smartphone. (What’s the best pizza crust recipe?)

To state the obvious for organic SEO, you need to use specific keywords in headings and paragraphs (Don’t stuff the paragraphs full of keywords, but if you post a pizza crust recipe, you might want to use the words “pizza crust” a couple of times.)

How do they affect each other?

There are also certain SEO practices that help both local and organic search rankings. For instance, when claiming your business page on local listing directories like Google, Bing, Yelp and TripAdvisor, you are also adding a link back to your website.

These local listing citations (your business’s name, address and phone number) help local SEO by telling search engines where you’re located. They create links back to your website, which counts as a link building strategy that helps your organic SEO efforts, since search engines take the number of backlinks into account when they rank websites in search results.  

And on-site local SEO (such as writing a locally focused blog post or updating a page by adding your business’s address) can also help your organic SEO. Search engines like fresh content, so while local SEO helps send out signals of local relevance, it can also help boost your organic SEO efforts.

When they’re done correctly, both local and organic SEO efforts will help improve your website rankings, but when done incorrectly, both can have a hugely detrimental effect on your digital marketing efforts.

Remember that even though SEO is optimization for search engines, it is what helps consumers find your business. While you want to make sure search engines know what your business and your website are about, it's important to think of those potential customers who are searching for your business. Don't just optimize so that Google knows what you do. Make sure searchers can find all the information they'll need about your business, such as exact location, hours, services or products, etc.

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Stages of a Buying Process in a Digital World

steps on buying process

For any business that sells a product it is important to know that there are stages in a buying process. Of course this is not new news. However, many small businesses struggle with these stages when converting them to a digital marketing platform.

Today, I would like to walk through 6 stages and give a brief idea of how you can utilize each stage in your own digital marketing campaign.

It is important that before you begin thinking through these stages of the buying process, that you understand your target audience, otherwise anything you do to market online will be like throwing darts blindfolded.



To create awareness for your product start by optimizing your website for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Add titles, descriptions, and meta tags where ever appropriate. Also don’t forget to use alt tags on any image on your website. This allows your images to help when your site is being indexed by search engines.

Then buy PPC (Pay Per Click) ads through Google for long-tailed search terms so they can capture the consumers who already know what they are looking for. This can also be done with Facebook and Twitter Ads if your company has a good presence on those social media platforms. 

Lastly, consider partnering with group-buying websites like Groupon or Living Social. Awareness can be spread locally to those customers that never knew the company existed. 

This would be a great start to spread awareness that would continue through satisfied customers on social media and review sites. Of course, not all of these methods may work for your product, but it might help you think of another way that you had not considered.



Once a consumer is aware of their need for a product, they begin to develop focused reasoning for why they need it. This is where building their confidence in your brand is important. One effective strategy is by creating a company blog that writes about topics related to your products while sharing tips on social media.

This would help them become a resource where customers can come for advice and insight. “The beauty of this is that as they find you and like what you’re putting out there, they’ll share it and the effect snowballs” (Payton, 2012).



After a consumer is aware of their need, they begin to research companies that can satisfy that need. Product reviews are important to have since many people look to these first, but differentiation is most important for any business that wants to be successful. 

Here you must find what your unique differentiator is as a company. Once you find this…you must exploit it. Find other bloggers that review similar products that have high followers. Then send them a personal email and offer publicity for their blog in return for a review. Also, send them your product for free to use (if that’s possible).

Go to and find a forum where people would be interested in a product like yours. Basically, look for online communities where your product would draw interest and get involved in those communities. Answer questions and ask for help. This will make you more personable and less a troll that everyone ignores because they think you are just there to advertise.

By doing this and utilizing your own company blog and social media regularly will help generate trust and positive reinforcement to your brand. Overtime these reviews and buzz will populate the first page of Google searches when people are trying to research other companies selling similar products. The more (positive) talk they see of your product, the more likely they will consider you.



The next stage in the buying process is evaluating the product or service and making a selection, which is where demonstrating value and emotional connections are most important. Providing valuable “content and information that enables and empowers your customers to do their jobs better is the ultimate way to thank them for their business, and support their success in ways that will serve volumes to your advocacy marketing” (Batista, 2013). 

This is also where having a blog that shares advice, tips, and insights is helpful not only in differentiation but in maintaining a customer community that builds brand loyalty. You can also demonstrate value by sharing personal stories via social media to humanize your company in a positive light, which in return helps your customer get to know you a little better which is a form of relationship building (Batista, 2013).

A rewards program would also show value to your customer because it creates excitement to get free stuff and return customers. Remember if a customer has narrowed their decision down to you and one or two others, they will look to see who will give them more value over time. The details matter most in this stage.



When shopping in a real store, it’s easy for people to put something in their shopping cart thinking they needed something at the time, but after walking around for awhile they talk themselves out of it. This is why it is extremely important to guide the customer through a very simple shopping and secure buying process (The buying process, 2002).

There are still people out there that are not comfortable buying things online, and they need to feel like they can trust you and your site. Having different payment options like Apple Pay, Paypal, and Google Wallet will help ease some people’s discomfort, but having the “s” after “http” also helps because that indicates it is a secure website.

Ultimately, the idea is to make people feel good about buying from you by giving them peace of mind that nothing bad will happen all while making the buying process as simple and easy as possible.



In the last stage of the buying process it is important to look at the Model of Intention, Adoption, and Continuance which is a consumer behavior framework that shows the importance of continuing your relationship with your customer (Cheung, Zhu, Kwong, Chan, & Limayem, 2003). The idea is that the customer will be loyal to you and return to buy more while being an Advocate for your brand to others (Hawley, 2011). 

When a customer is excited about the experience they had with your company, they will want to share it which is a from of viral marketing. A great way to stay in touch is by getting customers to opt-in to your emails so that they can stay up to date with your latest products and services. You may not be able to control what a customer says or does, but you can at least help guide them to what you want them to do.



The ideas and examples talked about in the different steps would be a great starting point for any company. They would need to be reevaluated the following year to see what works and what doesn’t and adjust accordingly. Every company is different and nothing I say will work for everyone, but the stages are the same and are an excellent guide to build from. I would recommend every company to have a brainstorm session over each stage of the buying process and see how you can improve on what you are currently doing. Remember that no matter how good your company is doing, it can always be doing better.




Batista, A. (2013, July 10). 5 ways to demonstrate value to your customers. Retrieved from


Cheung C. M., Zhu, L., Kwong, T., Chan, G. W., & Limayem, M. (2003). Online consumer behavior: A review and agenda for future research. Retrieved from$FILE/16Cheung.pdf


Hawley, M. (2011, March 07). Research Methods for Understanding Consumer Decisions in a Social World. Retrieved from


Payton, S. (2012, January 20). How to create customer confidence for your new business. Retrieved from


The buying process leads to a decision to buy. (2002). Retrieved from