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Online Reputation Management Techniques

A customer in your restaurant complains that his meal is undercooked. As the owner, you rush immediately to his table, apologize for the issue, provide a new meal, and comp his entire party’s check.

Problem solved?

Maybe…and maybe not.

In the digital age, our online reputations can make or break a business, and you now have to contend with the fact that the unhappy customer—although you made every effort to appease him—could still feel compelled to start a smear campaign on social media, with a digital tirade toward “the restaurant that nearly killed me!”

Managing our business reputations online is tricky business indeed. We have not only customer perceptions and opinions to consider, but internal employee (and stakeholder) perceptions and opinions to consider as well. A business’s online presence has to be carefully managed, day in and day out, to ensure its long-term success and viability. Defining your brand via an “online personality” can go a long way toward customer loyalty and retention.

Make a Tracking Plan

To manage your reputation effectively, you must first ensure you are actively monitoring any online activity related to your business. There are a wide variety of sites (some free) dedicated to searching content and reviews that mention your business: take advantage of these to stay abreast of what customers are saying about your brand. The Go Fish Digital Complaint Search, for example, allows users to search more than 40 review websites at once.

As part of your online reputation management services, it’s not enough to occasionally Google (or use a similar search engine) your company name and skim through some reviews—both positive reviews and negative reviews. These online reviews must be measured and monitored in a systematic way to ensure you are not missing important trends (especially negative ones) in your customer feedback and online reputation. Spotting positive trends can also inform your decisions about prioritizing brand initiatives that matter to your customers.

Keep it Classy…and Keep it Honest

Your online presence is a reflection of your business values, and engaging in petty arguments or using inflammatory language in any online setting must be avoided—at all costs.

The digital world is rife with trolls and a quick read of any comments section in a media outlet site proves there are always people looking to pick a fight. Businesses are not immune to this, no matter how well they treat customers, and you may find yourself faced with a barrage of negative comments over one unfortunate incident with a defective product, a rogue employee or some other “one-off” occurrence.

If you find yourself reading angry comments online, avoid responding with an angry tone. Keep it professional, genuine, and positive (even when it feels as futile as arguing the merits of bedtime with a toddler). Other customers will see how you have responded and this will shape their opinion of your brand.

Keeping it honest is equally important; you should aim for transparency in your online commentary and avoid language that feels disingenuous. Own up to mistakes if you have made them, and tell customers what you are doing to correct them. Resist the urge to create any fake reviews or online commentary because customers can see right through them. (The same applies to sites geared toward potential employees. Generating fake employee reviews to try to position your company in a positive light can really backfire. Savvy job hunters are able to sniff out this kind of review from a mile away.)

online reputation management business

Timing Is Everything

Responding to online complaints and reviews in a timely manner is also critical to your brand reputation. Allowing negative commentary to fester without reply will reflect poorly on your business’s customer service. Make it a point to respond promptly and take quick action where necessary to resolve the issue (offer a replacement product, a free service, etc). Use sincere and apologetic language, and you may not only win back the customer’s loyalty but increase your brand reputation with other potential customers as well.

Your plan for measuring online activity should also include a backup plan; the marketing director’s two-week vacation to Bali is no excuse for online commentary to be left without reply. Ensure several individuals in your organization are able to assist when needed. (And they are clear on your company’s direction for online brand management) It should be noted that while responding quickly is critical, you should also aim for a quality response. A rushed response with even a tiny typographical error is food for the trolls…don’t give them any added ammunition to make disparaging remarks about your brand!

Keep it Consistent

All of your online activity—from your business website to social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—should have a consistent voice and feel. Ideally, the entire range of your online presence will be managed by one person (or a small team of people) so that the result is consistent content across all channels. This serves to solidify your brand identity among customers who may follow you in various channels. Your brand shouldn’t appear to be managed by a left and right hand who do not speak to one another. Consistency is key!

And…Have Fun!

Businesses with the strongest online reputations tend to be the ones that remember to have a little fun as well—whether poking gentle fun at competitors (or themselves), creating entertaining content for their customers or just showing a sense of humor (and humility). Your online presence should appeal to customers in a natural and genuine way and the ability to inject humor into even difficult situations can put people at ease. Your digital footprint needs to reflect the human element of your business: consider every interaction online in the same way you would a face-to-face exchange with a customer. And above all else, practice the golden rule in these exchanges!

5 Inexpensive Marketing Ideas for Small Business

Small businesses with limited financial resources can still make a big marketing impact with creative and low to no cost efforts to get noticed by your target audience and potential new clients—by going beyond simple business cards and a handshake. There are plenty of ways to market your small business without breaking the bank, but you must be prepared to get out there and HUSTLE. The key to successful low-cost marketing is a consistent and energetic approach, week in and week out. Making one big splash then fading away will not produce the results your business needs, so you should develop a plan of action to stay visible and relevant to your potential customer base all the time!

Why Aren’t You Blogging?

If you have not yet created a blog or joined the world of social media for your small business, start NOW. The content your business produces, and how that content is shared and read online, will drive your marketing strategy and increase awareness of your brand through each and every carefully crafted blog post. Savvy business owners know that the best way to engage an audience in the digital age is with high-quality content that provides value to the potential customers; this is not just about getting in the customer’s face of the people you want to talk to with direct promotion of your product—and offers some of the best low-cost marketing ideas out there. Instead, it is about creating content that will inform, entertain, and engage, and keep customers coming back to your site. Perhaps you do not have natural writing talent within your organization; if so, consider bringing on a marketing intern to help with the blog and other business marketing needs. Partner with a local college or university, where you may find a sharp and creative marketing major looking for some “real world” experience. (An added bonus is that an internship program can create good PR for your business as well!) Keep your business blog posts informative yet brief and entertaining. Graphics and videos are proven to keep existing and potential customers engaged, so be sure to include those as well.

A Rising Tide Lifts all Boats: Collaborate

There is a reason why “synergy” is one of the biggest buzz words in business these days…because it WORKS! Partnerships with other small businesses can leverage your marketing power and widen the reach of your brand while saving your marketing dollars as the cost of your activity is shared by others. Start by reaching out to your local business neighbors. Invite other small business owners in the area to have coffee and discuss ways you can help each other grow brand recognition. Is your day spa located next door to a travel agency? Pitch the agent on a partnership where customers who have booked vacations receive a discount on your services…call it the “Get Ready to Get Away” package! Then offer to keep the travel agent’s brochure in your waiting area. (Perhaps he throws in copies of travel magazines for your waiting area, an added bonus for you!) Consider making the coffee gathering a monthly meeting to encourage the sharing of best practices and successful marketing ideas. Networking with other small business owners is one of the easiest ways to generate new ideas to implement in your own marketing strategy.

collaboration partnership marketing

Pat Yourself on the Back…and Get Others to Do so as Well

This can be one of the toughest hurdles for some small business owners who feel reticent about bragging….but it’s a hurdle you need to jump over immediately. If your business has achieved something noteworthy, be it a record year of growth, an acknowledgment from a leading industry organization or accolades from a local charity whose mission you supported, you owe it to your business to shout that news from the rooftop. Announce the news on social media platforms and send press releases to local media outlets. Don’t wait for anyone else to spread the good news for you…do it yourself! And business owners should not hesitate to nominate their companies for relevant industry awards. Study the awards programs for your industry and start the process of getting yourself nominated. (Consider discussing this at your small business owner coffee meetings as well. Perhaps each participant would be willing to nominate a neighboring business for an award in their relevant field.)

Get More than the Sale: A Customer Referral/Rewards Program

Business owners all want to reap the benefits of customer referrals. The power of a positive review can do wonders for a small business; however, the savvy owner knows to take a proactive stance on making this happen versus sitting back and hoping it happens organically. Find ways to incentive your customers to share positive reviews of your business, both online as well as by directing friends, family, and neighbors to your business. Start with a simple customer rewards program that you can measure and implement with your existing software and systems. Perhaps it’s as simple as an extra field in your customer files to keep track of referrals, and x number of referrals earns that customer a one-time discount, a free service, etc. Make it a habit at the close of every sale to ask customers to share their experiences online with a Google or other review relevant to your business. Not all customers will take the time to do this, but if you don’t ask you will never know! Make it a habit to read the reviews regularly, find ways to improve your business based on any unfavorable comments, and most importantly, RESPOND to the reviewers. Staying engaged with your customers—whether they post positive or negative comments—is crucial when it comes to gaining customer loyalty.

Read all about It

The world of small business marketing strategies is ever evolving and changing, and business owners should stay abreast of the latest trends by reading marketing books (and blogs) as often as possible. There are thousands of books on marketing strategies, and you may be overwhelmed by where to start. Make it a goal to read a few “classic” marketing books this year as well as a few of the newest. Consider these best-sellers to get started: Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne; All Marketers are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works—and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All by Seth Godin; and The Long Tail: How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimited Demand by Chris Anderson. Finally, consider one more idea for your monthly coffee group: share these books! One of your neighbor business owners just might pass along the book that inspires some of your best marketing strategies for 2018.

5 Funny Marketing Campaigns That Caught Our Attention Last Year

Many marketing campaigns in 2017 grabbed our attention with emotional messages and important social commentary; however, there is often no match for the buzzworthy moments created by humorous and irreverent marketing strategies. Brands big and small created buzzworthy campaigns that kept us talking and sharing on social media. These lightning in a bottle moments create incredible momentum for businesses in 2017.

Wendy’s Drops the Mic on the Mac

If you could call being “savage” a campaign, Wendy’s is certainly leading the pack. In 2017 a Twitter user posed a question to Wendy’s asking how much a Big Mac costs (the signature sandwich at its rival McDonalds): the reply from Wendy’s, “Your dignity,” was the ultimate Twitter mic drop. Wendy’s is an example of a company whose savvy marketing team clearly understands the power of social media and how to attract people to become followers.

Wendy’s has mastered the art of humor and sarcasm on social media: they do it consistently and keep followers engaged with their constant “zingers” and jokes at the expense of the competition. They also understand the importance of staying engaged with followers and posting user generated content. One especially memorable exchange came from a user who asked how many retweets were needed to win free chicken nuggets for a year. Wendy’s quickly confirmed that number was 18 million! And the exchanges with customers aren’t just humorous; Wendy’s responds quickly to customer complaints, which is crucial when it comes to customer loyalty.

Denny’s: Less Savage than Wendy’s, But Still Getting Laughs

While restaurant chain Denny’s has gained massive attention on social media with humor, they might be considered a “softer” version of Wendy’s…think of them as your goofy, suspenders-wearing Uncle Fred (versus Wendy’s as your often-inappropriate-at-the-family-reunion Aunt Janice). Denny’s approach to online marketing is upbeat, mostly wholesome, and fun, even if followers sometimes simultaneously groan while laughing. Their twitter feed may elicit responses equivalent to an “eye roll” at times, but the strategy is working. In recent years their social media campaign following has seen massive growth, and whether we love their jokes or cringe when reading them, Denny’s is getting the last laugh. In 2017 when their sausage “mascot” was roasted on social media for resembling a bathroom byproduct, Denny’s grabbed the bull by the horns and responded with a timely, and perhaps just a bit snarky, response. A picture of a “sad” sausage was posted with the message “I’m just a sausage…I can’t help the way I look.” Said sausage was being comforted by an equally sad-looking bacon strip in a classic Denny’s rebuttal. Even if we groaned, we are bound to keep watching for more, just as we’re bound to appease Uncle Fred by laughing at his jokes and accepting the hard candy he always carries in his pocket.

marketing viral content

Gucci FTW with TFW

Gucci went FTW (“for the win”) in 2017 by capitalizing on the popular TFW (“that feeling when”) trend on social media and instagram marketing campaigns. In a meme-focused campaign launched on Instagram, the luxury brand used the knowledge of their target audience and essentially poked fun at the absurdity of the high fashion industry and its wealthy clientele, seemingly oblivious to the over-the-top price tags that cause the everyday Joe’s jaw to drop. The posts focused on Gucci watches, in a variety of outlandish settings. One featured a model donning a swim cap, a sequined jumpsuit, and the caption “When you have Aquagym at 3 pm but you need to accessorize existential angst externally.” In another post two coffee mugs are bound together by a Gucci watch with the caption “How it looks when everything in life starts coming back together.” Oh, how we all love a success story on social media, and we are thrilled to imagine the struggling soul whose life came back together….thanks to a luxury watch and mugs surely filled with the world’s finest java. We tip our (Gucci) hat to this cheeky and highly entertaining campaign.

MailChimp: When in Doubt, Poke Fun at Yourself

In the ultimate example of self-deprecation as a marketing strategy to build brand awareness, MailChimp decided that the frequent mispronunciations of its company name could translate into a clever campaign. And they were right. MailChimp embarked on a memorable and hilarious marketing campaign, which included videos, events, and products all centered around the butchering of their own brand name: KaleLimp. FailChips. JailBlimp. MailShrimp. The truly genius result was when users searched Google for these names, they were all directed to the MailChimp website. Leave it to a marketing company to produce one of the year’s best marketing campaigns. Kudos to you, SailGimp.

Delta Knows We Love to Look Good

Delta partnered with dating site Tinder on a clever marketing strategy that ultimately poked a little fun at our growing need to impress others with our “fabulous” lives on social media. On a wall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (what better place to attract hipster singles?) Delta worked with Wieden + Kennedy New York and Colossal Media to paint a series of nine exotic locales. The aim was to attract those in the dating scene to pose for selfies to use in their online profiles, because as the signage on the wall pointed out “World Travelers are More Likely to Be Swiped Right.” While it is unlikely these images generated any fairy-tale romances, the stunt certainly generated plenty of buzz on social media, and the beleaguered airline industry was certainly overdue for a good laugh and some positive feedback. The installation, which was originally intended as a one-off project, continued to evolve throughout 2017 as a form of viral marketing…we guess you could say it really took off.

How to Rank Your Site Higher on Google: 3 Things You Can Do Today

Keeping a website up and running is hard work. From making sure you have a steady stream of blog posts to upload daily or weekly to designing the website theme to fit your needs, it’s hard to make sure you check off all those boxes. But, even if you do, if you have your whole to-do list crossed out and finished, you may still be left with some anxiety about your website’s overall traffic.

You could have the coolest design possible. High-quality items are stocked and ready to sell. The blogs you post are witty and full of content that actually matters. And yet, every time you go to look at your website analytics, you see that traffic is less than what you want it.

There are a lot of reasons why your traffic isn’t growing like your brand or site (it could be marketing, awareness, anything related to publicity), but there is always one thing that many novices and even experienced bloggers or developers fall short on: your site’s ranking on Google

Google is…well, Search engines like Google are the key to a successful website. Google is the key to seeing that traffic graph raise well beyond what you ever hoped or dreamed. Raising your Google rank for your website is mandatory if you want to have a prosperous site.

While it may take a bit of time to see an astronomical growth—which isn’t great for the impatient—there are simple things that you can do today to make sure you help your Google ranking.

Content Is Key

You’ve heard this one before: content is key. Content is king. Content is everything is you want a rewarding site that becomes a profitable way of life.

Even though you’ve probably heard this time and time again, it’s worth repeating, only because it’s true. Content is everything. If you have a website that lacks in original material and high-quality content, fewer people are going to come back to visit again—and they’re more than likely not going to share your blog post or article to their social media feed for all their followers to see. And that really wouldn’t be good. One of the key ranking factors that will ensure a steady flow of traffic is search engine optimization. Search engine optimization or SEO will help increase the click-through rate and dramatically improve your search engine rankings. By using keywords, keyword phrases, and title tags (SEO), you can optimize your text and push it all the way to the top in terms of search ranking. If you sell brown shoes and someone wants brown shoes, you have to ensure that “brown shoes” is in your text. Otherwise, it will never reach the top five or ten in the search.

Blog content, in regards to Google ranking, matters. Google wants sites that publish new content regularly. If your site just exists as an idle being, Google isn’t going to want to rank it that high.

If you’re more of a site that sells products instead of publishing articles, this is where having a blog section of your website comes in handy. While you may not be uploading new items to sell every week, you can post a blog post every week to help ensure higher rankings on Google—and sell more products.

Word count is also important. Google appreciates wordy blog content before short blog posts. A 1,000-word story can be considered better, by Google standards. This method, however, shouldn’t be used on every single post you upload. Sometimes, a simple 500-word story will do. But, if you really want to rank your site higher, make sure you regularly upload a higher word count blog post or article, among your shorter ones, to help your rank overall.

Today, look at the blog posts you have already uploaded (if you do). Take note of the average word count and decide if you need more or fewer words to fit what Google wants to see. If you don’t have a blog on your website to where you can weekly upload new content, make one!  Better now than never.

Build Links

Google is a fan of links—but not just any links. These links have to matter.

As soon as possible, as soon as you start that new blog or new business venture, start creating a link building strategy. Building links that will direct someone back to your website can take a long time—and Google sometimes takes weeks to recognize solid backlinks. The early bird gets the worm, so start now!

Also, make sure your links are from high-quality, authoritative websites. Having only a few backlinks associated with legit websites is much better than having a ton of links associated with smaller or more unknown websites.

This is where you have to be a bit patient. Google can even penalize you in your ranking status if they feel that you’re getting those backlinks unnaturally. So, today make a strategy and guide.  Plan on how you’re going to get those links. Take your time. You might not see the results immediately, but when you finally do, it’ll be well worth the wait.

Make Sure It’s Mobile

It is incredibly helpful if your website is mobile capable. For the most part, a high number of people read articles and surf the web on their smartphone in this day and age—and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change. If your website is currently not mobile capable, you’re going to want to change that A.S.A.P.

Luckily, most website developer sites have the option to see what your site layout looks like in mobile form. This is where you can see what’s working and what’s really not. Make it look as clean and nice as possible. We’ve all been on websites on our phones that look a mess—don’t let your website join those ranks

Today, go to your website platform that you’re using (whether it’s WordPress or Weebly) and see what your site looks like on mobile format. Do what needs to be done. Make sure it doesn’t take forever to load. Make sure it looks like something you’d actually want to be scrolling through yourself.

Google ranking is important—and you can help make your own site higher in the rankings with simple steps. While seeing the results could be considered a more long-term aspect, there are always things you can do immediately to help your ranking. Working on your site to make it the best it can be shouldn’t be put off.

Incorporate these three steps into your daily site maintenance. Before long, you’ll be doing these steps without even thinking about it—and your Google ranking will rise higher; therefore, increasing your average traffic because of it.

How Successful Amazon FBA Business Models Leverage Content Marketing

Content is king, isn’t it?  Running a successful Amazon FBA (that’s Fulfillment by Amazon) is no different.

Content marketing has become a viable asset for many Amazon FBAs and other e-commerce platforms/e-commerce stores that are currently running a quite profitable business. People and consumers like to engage with content (quality content, of course) and buying items from Amazon is no different.

However, Amazon does have its limits, making quality content marketing a bit more of a struggle. As an Amazon FBA business, you don’t have access to important customer details (like demographics) and you can’t really change how you sell your items. But that doesn’t mean content marketing is impossible. It just means you have to think out of the box a bit.

Once you develop a content marketing strategy that works for you and your business, you’ll be able to see added engagement and an increase in sales.

Create a Website or Blog

Here’s the thing with Amazon: it’s hard to create your own content. When selling items on Amazon, it can be difficult to branch out and be more creative with your e-commerce business. There is a set guide that you have, and you have to stick to that.

That doesn’t mean you can’t enhance your business on Amazon elsewhere, though.

Many successful e-commerce businesses and Amazon FBA businesses enhance their profit because their whole content marketing and digital marketing is through their blog or website. Honestly, having a blog and even social media links to go with your business is a great way to bring more followers and potential buyers to your business. Content is king, after all, and you don’t really have control over what you can do, and what you can produce, on Amazon. That’s why having a blog is so beneficial, as you have complete creative control over how you market and publicize your business.

Now, once you have a website or blog set up for your FBA business, there are a few things you must do. For example, make sure a link to your business on Amazon is as clear as day. Always have a call to action at the end of a blog post where people can find out how to look at your business. Remember, the blog is there to produce content for your business—so make sure your business is readily seen.

You should also make sure you keep your blog and website as up to date as possible. High-quality blog posts and content is also important, of course, so make sure you’re treating it with the importance that it deserves

You probably already know this, but it’s worth repeating. Your audience is going to know if you don’t care about what you’re writing. Content is so important—so have fun with it! Write great, informative, and interesting posts that somehow tie in your Amazon FBA business and make sure these posts are published daily or weekly.

Blog Tip:  FAQ section

As many business owners can tell you, potential customers really resonate with a frequently asked questions section.

With a blog or website dedicated solely to your business and increasing the content marketing for your e-commerce site, having a clear FAQ section will help you incredibly. Former customers and potential customers alike will respond highly to buying from you if you have a clear and detailed FAQ section. This is also a simple way to create high-quality content that you know your customers are going to want to check out.

Blog Tip: Pay Attention to Your SEO

For experienced bloggers, search engine optimization (SEO) is probably drilled into your head from various articles. If you’re a bit new to blogging and content marketing in this sense, you really should learn as much about SEO as possible.

Where you rank on search engines and how you increase your overall traffic to your website falls hand in hand with everything search engine optimization stands for. Of course, you’re going to want as much credible traffic as you can get, which will then help increase your brand or business’s sales page.

There are always simple ways to enhance your SEO footprint, and this shouldn’t be a step that’s put off until the last minute. Learn about SEO and learn about it now! It can really help you in the long run—and having high traffic results is never bad.

Start an Email or Newsletter

Many people contest that one of the greatest ways to build a steady and reliable following for any business is to start a newsletter. The same goes for Amazon FBA businesses.

With your new website or blog, you can now start up an email or newsletter for people who visit your site. This is actually perfect for Amazon FBA businesses because you can send them emails every week (or day, depending on your schedule or product availability) with new products or popular products in stock.

As you probably know, Amazon keeps its customers private, which is always a good thing.  However, as a business owner, this can be hard to find out key demographics—and hard to find out things like email addresses. Through campaigns set up on your new blog or website, you can have your actual customers (or potential customers) sign up and willingly give you the information yourself. This can help when trying to decide who your target audience is, which can then help you decide on new products to invest in.

Luckily, newsletters are easier than ever to create and schedule thanks to cool platforms like MailChimp. Utilize newsletters—you really won’t regret it.

Pitch Articles or Guest Posts on Other Blogs

While having a blog is key for successful content marketing, there are also steps that you can take to make sure you are being seen as a business as much as possible. Pitching articles to other websites or bloggers is one option. Guest posting on said blogs or websites is another.

Guest posting is actually great and if you find a reliable platform to guest post on, we highly recommend it! You’ll find a new audience to talk to maybe gain a few new followers that sign up for your newsletter and hopefully add a few more customers. Of course, after every guest post, make sure you have links to your business and your blog.