You have a website, a few social media profiles, and even traffic coming in from search results. This is all nice and dandy, but when you factor in that there are now more than a billion active websites and blogs on the internet today, you are going to need more tools and resources in order to beat your competitors.
Gone are the days of writing content, promoting it a little bit, and then moving on with your life. Now it’s all about using the best tools and services to expand your content reach, increase customers, and generate more traffic and sales than ever before.
To help with all of this, we are going to look at some of today’s best tools to effectively monitor, improve, track, and grow your business across platforms and media outlets.
When it comes to increasing sales, it definitely takes a team effort. Whether it’s content creation, social promotion, or even making sure everyone in your organization is on the same page… it’s all about engagement and conversation.
One of the best tools for accomplishing this is Smarp, which allows businesses and brands of all sizes to create an internal content hub for employees, sales teams, or any other specific business unit within the organization.
Smarp can allow your team members to zero in on the content that is most helpful for boosting sales. Here they can discover, discuss and share themed, dynamic feeds of articles that will be useful to sales prospects, whether it’s industry-relevant wisdom, news about your company, or differentiating details about your products.
Employees are encouraged to share this content out via social platforms like Twitter and Facebook, leveraging their own networks as a means of social selling. This presents an opportunity to build brand awareness and increase traffic, all while improving employees’ reputations as thought leaders.
In addition to providing an easy way to access relevant, up-to-date content for sharing, Smarp also comes with advanced analytics tools. There’s a leaderboard to see who’s been most active within the organization, as well as a Smarp Score to rate individual influence. That way, your social sellers can make smarter decisions about the best time to share and the best content to share, helping them to establish more of those key relationships.
Whether you like it or not, data is at the heart of any successful business. The easier it is for you to understand your website and business analytics, the easier it will be to take action and improve sales across the board.
Your decisions, from marketing to prospecting to acquisition to supply chain management, need to be driven by data. But all that data can be incredibly overwhelming, especially for people who aren’t especially data-savvy.
Helping you cut through all that noise and get down to the heart of the matter is Oribi. The idea here is to make data and web analytics much more accessible and understandable for every business owner. In many ways, this is like a simplified version of Google Analytics that you can apply to your business.
It all starts with your personal dashboard, a simple and engaging point from which you can see exactly what is happening on your site, track your goals automatically, and stay on top of all the key stats and metrics that are of interest to you. From a sales perspective, this means keeping tabs on newsletter sign-ups, e-book downloads, blog readers and more. Oribi also makes it easy to correlate the onsite activities you want visitors to take, and also to connect these “events” back to original referring marketing channels and campaigns.
When you are armed with the right information, you can make more informed business decisions. You can see if visitors who view videos are more likely to sign up for your highest priced service, for example. Thus, you can decide where best to dedicate your resources in order to maximize sales.
Despite all the shifts in online communication over the years, email remains the de facto standard for much business communication. However, you can’t really get started with nurturing a lead or even extending a “cold call” message if you don’t even have the prospect’s email address.
Boasting that it “can find anyone’s email address” is Norbert, an online tool that can connect you with huge sales prospects. You’ll still need to lean on your keen sales skills and relationship-building ability, of course, but Norbert can help to open up those channels of communication by unearthing an email address for just about anyone you’d like to approach.
The two main features of Norbert are the ability to find leads and the ability to verify emails. With the former, you can find the corporate email address of key decision makers at the companies you want to convert into clients. They claim up to a 98 percent success rate, giving you access to an incredibly accurate database of B2B contacts that are enriched with powerful data for even better conversion opportunities.
Got some emails, but not sure if they’re actually right? You can use Norbert to verify emails too by way of smart technology. This helps to protect your email reputation, all while increasing open rates. And Norbert integrates with tools you might already be using, like Salesforce and MailChimp.
They say that time is money. So, the more time you can save on repetitive tasks, in particular, the more time you’ll free up to focus on tasks that can’t be so easily outsourced or automated. It might surprise you to learn that even outbound sales can be automated, opening up a whole new world of opportunity.
What you need is Growbots, described as “an outbound sales platform to get new customers faster.” The process is broken down into three main phases. First, you’ll need to select your target market. Growbots can help you build up a tailored list of potential customers in just a few clicks, fueled by the incredible power of artificial intelligence. This taps into a database of over 200 million contacts, so you can reach the perfect decision makers.
Second, you’ll need to set up your campaign. It is during this stage that you’ll compose personalized emails that can be sent out to the prospects identified in the first step, scheduling those messages to be sent out at the appropriate times. This is also where you can create drip campaigns so the follow-up emails reach your prospects at the appropriate times too.
And finally, you’ll have the opportunity to optimize your results. Take advantage of automated A/B split testing, collaborate with team members, and study the actionable insights to learn where there are the greatest opportunities for growth. The net result is that you save an incredible amount of time in prospecting, so your sales team can focus on closing those deals.
First impressions go a very long way, not only in closing the initial deal but also in retaining customer loyalty over the long term. And sales have far more to do with just landing that first purchase order too, especially if you’re in a line of business that offers free trial periods. This is why sales and support must go hand in hand.
Empowering small businesses and brands of all sizes with incredible tools for help desks and support is Groove. Trusted by over 8,000 businesses already, Groove brings together the support team through the “best ticketing system.” Support agents don’t have to go scrambling to find the right customer information, because team members can collaborate on emails, social posts, live chats and calls, all within one help desk.
Customers who engage with support are treated to a very positive experience, one that encourages brand loyalty over the long haul. Since all the conversations can be found in one place, nothing slips through the cracks, and customers can feel known, understood and appreciated. Team members can also add private notes so they know how best to work with client issues too.
Are you using UberSuggest yet? Because you should. This powerful keyword research tool is a must-have for anyone interested in search engine optimization and competition analysis, yet doesn’t carry the heavy costs that many of its competitor tools do. Targeting the right keywords in your paid and organic search efforts has the potential to make or break your sales performance.
Rebooted and upgraded by Neil Patel, UberSuggest provides users with access to such data, information, and reports as a technical SEO audit, position tracking, backlink analytics, ads strategy analysis, ad keywords and creatives research, keyword grouping, social media engagement analysis, social strategy insights, and more. This is definitely a tool that I use often, and you can see some of my favorite SEO reports and features for it here.
Part of this has to do with analyzing your own efforts, but it is also about tapping into what your competitors are doing. Peer into their best keywords, discover new organic competitors, uncover your competitors’ ad budgets and so much more. And again, with the tool being 100% free, it’s an easy win for all site owners and bloggers, no matter what type of budget they might be operating with.
7. Facebook Ads
Anyone in online marketing and advertising is likely already very familiar with Google Ads. It’s clear enough that Google is the elephant in the room when it comes to online advertising. But another sizable elephant that should not be ignored is the opportunity to work with Facebook Ads too.
More specifically, the targeting capabilities within Facebook can be remarkably robust, as Facebook has so much information on its users. You can pinpoint just the right prospects, zeroing in on specific interests, demographics, and behaviors so that your ad dollar stretches the furthest by only reaching the people who are most likely to convert. Remember that two billion people use Facebook every month.
Beyond the incredible capabilities for targeting strangers, perhaps the biggest opportunity you can find with Facebook ads is through remarketing. You can create targeting audiences based on people’s interactions with your content on Facebook, including long-form videos. And once you install the Facebook tracking pixel on your site, you can build custom audiences based on visits to specific pages, lead nurture status and more.
Grow your sales with individuals who have already self-identified as being interested in what you have to sell.
Build your online empire in 2019
One of the best ways to grow your blog, brand, or business, is to rely on the same tools and solutions that all of the major players are using. That is exactly what you will find with each of the tools above.
Be sure to try each of them out and consider how they might help grow your business, save time, and increase revenue. By this time next year, we will be thinking about the latest and greatest tools for 2020. Don’t miss out on these ones!
Guest author: Zac Johnson is a world-renowned blogger and entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience in the online marketing space and has helped his readers generate millions of dollars online. He shares his story and guidance at ZacJohnson.com
You’re always looking for a good recommendation, right?
Chinese food, car mechanic, or the latest tech gadget – we want confirmation from someone we trust that it’s a good buy.
Essentially, affiliate marketing is the eCommerce version of product promotion through an online influencer.
Affiliate marketing can be the strategic move you need to increase sales and connect with clients you otherwise would never reach.
- By 2020, U.S. affiliate marketing spend is expected to rise to $6.8 billion.
- 81% of brands use affiliate marketing programs.
- 16% of all online orders are generated through affiliate marketing,
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is one of the only marketing channels that offers a 100 percent return on investment every time. It’s one of the only tactics that allow you to pay for marketing spend after the sale.
The affiliate marketing process involves the merchant – that’s you – and the affiliate. The affiliate, or publisher, is the company or individual that promotes your products and brand on their website. Your affiliate receives a commission when someone clicks through to your website and makes a purchase.
The best affiliates will have:
- A trusted website that generates traffic.
- Updated content.
- Influence on their audience.
- Valuable content (blog, product reviews, how-to guides).
Since the affiliate is counting on commissions, you’ll need a game plan for converting your site visitors to product buyers. It’s all about providing affiliates with the highest earnings per click (EPC). Even if you work with the best affiliates, they’ll promote your products less and switch their concentration to other eCommerce sites that have higher conversion rates and EPCs, so you need to be strategic in your approach.
Here are 10 ways affiliate marketing will transform your eCommerce business.
1. Indirectly grow your sales team
Your entrepreneurial juices are flowing and you’re ready to grow your eCommerce business without limits. If you’re just one person or a small group, affiliate marketing can instantly expand your indirect sales team to include experts in your niche and beyond.
Affiliates are skilled in driving quality traffic to your site.
Quality traffic = More conversions.
More conversions = Higher revenue.
Higher revenue = More opportunity to grow your eCommerce business.
A highly qualified indirect sales team that doesn’t waste time designing traditional ads, getting them approved, and tracking their progress? We’ll call that a marketing win.
2. Improve customer loyalty
Customers that continue to support your brand over time will spend 67 percent more than new customers. Affiliate marketing allows you to benefit from the trust and expertise of your chosen affiliates.
When a social influencer, affiliate marketing blogger, or celebrity signs off on your product, they bring their audience with them. G-Shock has its own set of fans and customers, but now they’re benefitting from @elorabee and her nearly 183,000 Instagram followers.
3. Multiple paths to conversion
What does success look like for your eCommerce business? Unlike digital advertising, affiliate marketing allows you to choose what your successful conversion will be through manually setting incentives. Choose from conversions like:
- Sale of a particular product.
- Email capture.
- Filling out a survey form.
- Downloading a how-to guide.
You can manually set incentives through affiliate marketing by offering commissions on the success of your choice. Your eCommerce business is unique, so how you rate success should be just as distinctive.
Plus, affiliate marketing quickly gets your eCommerce website in front of more eyeballs by featuring your products across the web. Instead of working on getting 1,000 new visitors to a product page, you can leverage a high-traffic affiliate site and get visitors to your site that way.
Make sure to work with your affiliate partners to optimize the path to conversion. You should have them focus on your highest average order products and send traffic to your highest converting pages to maximize impact.
4. Better budgeting and ROI
You don’t have to spend loads of cash hoping your ads hit the right audience or that Facebook and Google’s algorithms won’t change overnight.
It doesn’t matter if your marketing budget has a couple of commas or you’re shaking your piggy bank, affiliate marketing allows you to more precisely budget for marketing campaigns.
It’s simple: Choose your conversion target. Offer commissions. Make money.
Because you only pay out when products sell, you can use your marketing budget for other revenue streams – sponsoring social media influencer posts, social media, or unique content creation optimized with your keywords.
Plus, eCommerce affiliate marketing has an incredible ROI. Since you’re paying a small percentage for each sale generated (typically 3-10%, based on your vertical), you can see a return on ad spend of 10:1 or more. After factoring in your products COGS (cost of goods sold), profit margin, and affiliate commission, you should still have room for some solid profits.
Most eCommerce affiliate marketing commissions are paid out based on a percentage of the product’s sale cost. And you can set different commissions for different affiliate partners. For example, you may want to send a coupon or loyalty site an IO (insertion order) with a commission of 3%, while sending an influential blogger an IO with a commission of 10%. Get creative! Inside your affiliate platform, you can create multiple offers for your affiliates. You just want to make sure you are as competitive as possible – check your competitor’s affiliate programs and match or beat their commission rates.
5. Enhance credibility
When an affiliate promotes your service or product, you can use that promotion to add credibility to your business. Use images, icons, or text to publicize where your brand has been used and reviewed.
Chelsea Krost, a top influencer, showcases where her brand has been publicized with an “As Seen On” section on her homepage.
6. Develop brand ambassadors
People are talking about your brand, and if you’re not leading the conversation, you may be unaware of what prospective customers are reading. Affiliate marketing puts your brand in the hands of influencers who help create brand ambassadors.
When trustworthy influencers blog about your products, post photos of them or feature them in videos, they’re telling all their fans and followers that your brand is awesome. It’s approved, and 82 percent of consumers say they’re highly likely to follow a recommendation made by an influencer.
According to a survey of more than 4,000 social media users from the U.S. and Europe, an influencer:
- Has 10,000+ followers.
- Is someone who brands contact to help promote products and services.
- Shares info on brands they love and reviews popular products.
- Is considered an expert in their niche.
The influencer’s fans become your new brand ambassadors by trying the products, posting about the products, and sending even more traffic to your eCommerce site.
7. User-generated content overload
Have you ever sat down at your computer and had nothing? It’s a couldn’t-create-something-good-if-the-business-depended-on-it kind of day. One very evident way in which affiliate marketing enhances your eCommerce business is with UGC (user-generated content).
Even for the Instagrammers who don’t have mass followings, this can make a difference. Here’s why:
- The vast majority of consumers (92 percent) say they turn to people they know for referrals above any other source.
- Twice the amount of sales are generated through word-of-mouth compared to paid ads.
- Nearly three-fourths of all consumers depend on social media for information about a product.
- 84 percent of consumers say they’ll go with peer recommendations above all other advertising methods.
When your fans and followers snap photos, leave reviews, or post videos about your product, use that content as marketing power. It’s always better to have someone else say what a killer brand you have than to proclaim it yourself.
8. Tailored target audience
With most paid ads, there’s a process to target who sees your content. You can target prospects from characteristics like income and geographical location down to hobbies and whether they prefer whole milk or soy in their cafè mocha (maybe not yet, but we’re close).
But how do you know if those audience members are actually seeing your paid ads?
And when you funnel your marketing cash to Google Ads or other similar platforms, are the referral URLs what you would expect?
With affiliate marketing, you control where – and to whom – your brand is advertised. You get to hand-select the websites and partners that will promote your name. Take control of where your eCommerce brand is being promoted with affiliate marketing.
9. Speedy results
Did you know that it takes 6 to 9 months to see the results of a traditional digital marketing campaign? You could build a house (or two), have a child, or improve your credit score in that amount of time.
With affiliate marketing, you’re relying on an organization or influencer that already has online credibility, so there’s no educating, retargeting, or email stalking to lure prospects to your website.
One of the reasons affiliate marketing is so beneficial is that obtaining customers is easy (when you compare it to a 9-month timeline expected from other marketing efforts). Quick customer acquisition means you see immediate results with revenue and online traffic.
You simply sign up for an affiliate marketing platform and begin sending offers to affiliates. Once they accept, they can begin promoting you the same day. It’s a much speedier process than SEO, content marketing, or other digital tactics.
10. Develop your niche
Because understanding your audience is one of the first – and most important – elements of marketing, affiliate marketing is crucial to your eCommerce growth. Affiliate results help you develop a niche and plant your products directly in front of engaged, interested prospects.
- What brands are they following?
- Which influencers have an impact?
- What type of content do they find engaging?
When you partner with affiliates to market your brand, you learn more about your audience. Through evaluating your affiliate successes (and the not-so-effective ones), you gain insight into where your audience hangs out online.
You need an affiliate marketing strategy to enhance your relationship with customers and strengthen partnerships with businesses and social influencers you admire. This low-risk marketing style provides insight into customer behavior, helps you develop new strategies for growth, and ultimately boosts your revenue. While the method will call for your time and energy in the beginning, you’ll soon be well entrenched in your specific niche with time to focus on what matters to you – running your business.
Guest author: Adam Enfroy is the Affiliate Partnerships Manager at BigCommerce. He is passionate about leveraging the right strategic partnerships and software to scale digital growth. Adam lives in Austin, TX and writes about launching side businesses while working full time at adamenfroy.com.
The post 10 Surprising Ways Affiliate Marketing Will Transform Your eCommerce Business appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.
Blogs are booming. Instagram interest is on the rise. Facebook is forever fashionable. And LinkedIn continues to lead the pack.
These all reflect trends found among Fortune 500 companies on social media, according to recent research from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research.
We scoured UMass Dartmouth’s research in search of key takeaways and surprising tidbits that would intrigue and inspire B2B and B2C brands large and small. Here’s what you need to know about how the world’s largest corporations are tackling social media, plus some helpful resources to help give your social media marketing efforts a boost.
More Than Half of F500 Companies Now Have a Blog
It’s kind of amusing to see blogging grouped into this study as a social media tactic. But hey, the research comes from an academic institution, not a marketing entity, and they started conducting it 10 years ago when the lines were more blurred. In any case, there’s still plenty of integration and overlap between blogging and social media (i.e., long-form posts on LinkedIn) so the medium is definitely fair game here.
From 2017 to 2018, Dartmouth’s data finds one of the biggest year-to-year spikes in blog usage since they started tracking in 2008. The percentage of corporate blogs on company websites among Fortune 500 companies is up to 53%, rising 11 points from a year ago.
If that number still seems low to you (it does to me), keep in mind the folks compiling this report aimed to include only blogs that: a) are public-facing, and b) include content that goes beyond “newsroom” type posts such as product announcements, press releases, and philanthropic involvement.
The chart above offers a compelling visualization of the firm traction that content marketing is now seeing in the high-level business world, after failing to truly take off for several years. There’s little reason to think we won’t see this proliferation power ahead at a frantic pace.
Of particular interest, to me, is the rapid decline in number of blogs that allow comments:
This is emblematic of a real conundrum: the internet can be a nasty place. On large and well-trafficked blogs, moderating comments can prove to a be prohibitively time-consuming task. But dialogue is crucial, and preventing readers from being able to respond on corporate blogs really deters the openness and transparency brands should be striving to project.
There’s no easy solution to this dilemma, but one way to inject the voice of your audience in a controlled yet still authentic way is via strategic user-generated content. UGC not only helps you spotlight your customers and their stories, but can also help build rapport and a sense of community, all at a relatively low cost.
In general, we believe blogging is an essential digital marketing tactic for almost any business, large or small. For more insights on driving more targeted traffic to your own corporate blog, check out these recent posts:
- Is Anybody Out There? How to Get More Eyes On Your Blog Content
- How Amanda Todorovich and the Cleveland Clinic Monetized Their Blog (And Why the Resulting Revenue is Just Gravy)
- CMWorld Interview: Path to 1M Monthly Readers Has No Shortcuts, Says J.P. Medved
Twitter and Facebook are Table Stakes for Top Dogs
Dartmouth reports that 455 of the 2018 F500 companies have active Twitter accounts (91%) and 445 (89%) have Facebook pages. On each, the top 10 companies are all accounted for. Commercial banks and specialty retailers are the only industry verticals with 100% representation across both channels.
It’s inexpensive to create a brand page on Facebook or Twitter, and keeping them updated requires only modest time investment, so it’s hardly surprising to see these high levels of penetration among heavy-hitters.
The great challenge, now and going forward, will be finding ways to stand out and break through on these platforms. On our blog, we make a point of keeping readers up-to-date on changing social algorithms and how marketers can gain visibility on feeds. The posts below can offer some guidance on this front:
- Twitter Has Renewed its Live Video Push & Here’s What You Need to Know
- The Latest Evolution of Facebook: The Marketing Low-Down on 5 Recent Changes
- The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game
Enterprise Instagram Adoption is Exploding
In 2013, 9% of Fortune 500 companies had an Instagram account. In 2018, that figure is up to 63%. As you can see below, the visually oriented platform has seen enormous year-to-year growth in the past half-decade:
It isn’t hard to see why the corporate world is being drawn to Instagram like millennials to a group selfie – everyone’s there. Back in early 2013 the app had 100 million users; here in 2018 it just surpassed 1 billion.
With that astonishing number in mind, it feels like malpractice for any brand not to have some Instagram presence. But how can you really connect with audiences there? What are B2B brands and big companies doing successfully on this leisure-driven platform? Here are some posts that can help you see the big picture, with examples and actionable tips:
- What You Need to Know About Instagram Stories for B2B Marketing
- How 5 B2B Brands Are Using Snapchat and Instagram Stories
- What Marketers Can Learn from Fortune 500 Companies Mastering Instagram
Fortune 500 Companies Are All-In on LinkedIn
While Facebook and Twitter are creeping upward, and Instagram is experiencing rapid growth, LinkedIn remains the leader in terms of F500 penetration. The Dartmouth report shows 489 of the companies (98%) with a presence on the platform, same as last year and up slightly from 97% in 2016.
Given its business-oriented context, and its audience of more than 500 million professionals, LinkedIn is clearly a no-brainer for any major company. I’m actually shocked that 100% of Fortune 500 brands aren’t linked up.
Check out these articles for tips on tightening up your LinkedIn game:
- Allen Gannett Shares His Secrets to Racking Up Millions of LinkedIn Video Views #CMWorld
- LinkedIn’s Megan Golden on Building a Blockbuster Content Marketing Strategy
- LinkedIn Native Video: What Works, What Doesn’t, What Marketers Need to Know
Social Media is Big Business
Across all channels and platforms, the world’s most powerful corporations are increasingly recognizing social media marketing as a necessity rather than a nice-to-have — a trend we expect will continue into 2019.
UMass Dartmouth’s research finds that an overwhelming majority of 2018 F500 companies are present on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook; meanwhile, visually-driven networks like Instagram and YouTube are picking up steam fast in alignment with evolving user preferences.
If you want to get the full scoop on Fortune 500 social media usage, check out the full report. And if you’re hankering for more analysis of social media marketing trends in 2018, we’ve got you covered:
- From Messenger Bots to the Growth of ‘Gram, Social Media Examiner’s Annual Report Reveals Trends to Watch
- Social Media Marketing Benchmarks: What Works & Where to Focus
- Best Practices for Choosing Effective and Captivating Social Media Visuals
The post Tapping Key Takeaways from Recent Research on Fortune 500 Social Media Usage appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.