May 2014 Archives

Keeping up with the changes in social media and marketing are keys in developing a strong B2B public relations strategy

And, with the latest new feature from Twitter, it's vital that businesses realize how important it is to be part of the online conversation, before they are muted from the discussion.

Media-Controls-Mute-icon.pngLast week, Twitter announced a new mute feature for iPhone, web, and Android users.  This new feature gives users the ability to mute or "silence" other users content from appearing their feed.  The mute feature also is a helpful option when a user goes on a posting spree about sporting events, concerts, TV shows, or rants in general.

According to Twitter in a blog, muting a user on Twitter means their tweets and retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user.

The muted user will still be able to favorite, reply to and retweet your Tweets; you just won't see any of that activity in your timeline. The muted user will not know that you've muted him/her, and of course you can unmute at any time.

The feature began rolling out last week, and will be available to all iPhone, Android, and Twitter.com users in the next few weeks.  Twitter provides the following guidelines for users to mute others:

•    To mute a user from a Tweet on an iOS or Android device or on Twitter for web, tap more and then mute @username.
•    To mute someone from his/her profile page, tap the gear icon on the page and choose mute @username.

At Ripley PR, we believe in the importance of integrating marketing and social media engagement into a public relations campaign. Knowing how to stay engaged in the online conversation and reach your customers without overwhelming or irritating them is key.

With new advancements in features, like the mute button on Twitter, it's vital to ensure your business stays part of the discussion by interacting the right way on social media. 

Contact the experts at Ripley PR to learn how to make the best use of your time on social media and fit it into all of your public relations initiatives in a positive way.

Small businesses that blog generate 126% more leads than SMB's that don't blog. I'm hoping that alone will convince you to start a blog for your small business.

Companies that blog also have 97% more websites linking to them as well. More links = more traffic, social shares, leads and as a result: more revenue.

how-blogging-for-lead-generation-works.jpgSMB Blogging: Did You Know?

  • Over 60% of consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post that they read

  • Approximately 70% of consumers learn about a company through their blog rather than through paid advertising

  • 60% of consumers have a positive feeling about a company after reading their blog

Those are some serious stats! It's fairly well documented that if you're a small business and participate in content marketing, you're going to do well.

Just take a look at how many people are searching on Google for content marketing:

content-marketing-search-trend.png

As you can clearly see, content marketing is growing every day. More and more people want to learn how content marketing will improve their business and replace part of their more traditional advertising spend.

One of the best ways for a small business to improve content marketing is to start a blog. You've got a few options when it comes to picking a platform to blog:

Still asking yourself if you should create a blog for your small business?

  • 82% of consumers enjoy reading content from company blogs

  • Over 30% of consumers consider a blog to be the second most influential factor when it comes to making a purchase

  • Businesses that commit to blogging and publish over 51 posts receive a 77% lift in monthly leads.

Content Syndication & Multichannel Marketing

If you want to push your local content marketing to the next level, it comes down to content syndication and marketing through additional channels.

Syndication
You need other people talking about your content. Bloggers republishing your posts, guest blogging in other networks, being found on a top local content publisher like NearSay. These are things that will significantly improve your content marketing plan.

Multichannel Marketing
Content is what powers the value of your channels. Your email list, Facebook updates, tweets, LinkedIn updates and Instagram photos have much more value if they're supported by great content. You need to be telling your stories through multiple channels to reach your customer. Without great content marketing and syndication, this is a difficult task.

What Does It All Mean?

By publishing content online frequently (1-2x per week), you will see significant and measurable results. Without a blog, your small business is not firing on all cylinders.

Have you recently started a small business blog? What kind of results are you seeing?

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

The post Why Every Small Business Needs To Blog in 2014 appeared first on LocalVox.

Digital advertising has really found its foothold: last year, online ad revenues surpassed television for the first time ever. Marketers are finding it more effective than just about any other form of advertising - but online advertising should come with a word of caution.

Neustar, a real-time provider of cloud-based information services and data analytics, found that companies waste 26 percent of their advertising dollars, by not picking the right outlets or technology for online ads.

What does that mean for you as a B2B marketer? It means identifying the best channels to allocate your advertising dollars and maximize your results.

Neustar says marketers and agencies waste digital dollars in five main ways:

  1. Not identifying which channel will reach the target market: It takes some careful planning and market research to identify the target demographic and the best ways to reach people in that demographic. That way you can plan advertising that actually reaches your customer, not that just gets lost in the ether.

  2. Overlapping ads: To make the most use of your online advertising, you need to identify unique segments of users on each channel to figure out where you'll get the most outreach. Remember, people use multiple websites, even ones that are very similar to one another, so it's important that you're not reaching the same small number of people with every ad.

  3. Too many ads: Like in many other applications, when it comes to advertising, less can be more. Bombarding your market with frequent ads isn't the way to get people to click on them - they're more likely to just get annoyed and ignore them. Monitor your market to determine the best frequency, and then control it for optimum clicks.

  4. Assuming first or last impressions are best: don't assume that the final ad a customer sees is the one that convinces him to make a sale - and only track analytics or that ad. Many marketers still use a last-touch attribution system, but that might not be the best way to go about it.

  5. Not connecting online and offline efforts: Monitoring your marketing efforts across all platforms, digital and non-digital, will help you determine which channels are working - and which ones aren't worth your time or money.

At Ripley PR, we can help you identify the best options for advertising as part of your B2B public relations and marketing strategy. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with lead generation, franchise sales, and more.

If you're reading this blog post, I can already tell you that you're a step (or ten) ahead of your competition. We're living in a world where only half of small businesses have websites. Yes, you read that right!

The other half? They have websites, but they're struggling to make them great. You want to take your SMB website to the next level.

How do you get there? Every great small business website needs the following:

1.) A phone number on every page

You'd be surprised if I told you how many small business websites don't display their phone number on the home page of their website. Hint: It's over 60%!

You've worked hard to bring potential customers to your website, and now you need to make sure it's simple for them to turn into paying customers. Find some free real estate at the top of every page on your website and insert your phone number. Make it easy to read, bold it if you have to.

If you want customers to call you, you'll need to make it simple. Go ahead and add that phone number!

2.) Basic search engine optimization

It's not possible to ignore SEO these days. Nearly half of all website traffic comes from search engines. If you're not optimizing for search, you might as well not have a website.

SEO can be complicated. So we created a blog post that simplifies SEO for small businesses. Read the blog post to find out exactly what you need:

  • Optimized headers and title tags

  • Great content

  • Internal links to content

  • A simple way to measure your results

  • And of course, lots of call to actions

3.) Customer testimonials

Approximately 90% of consumers say that online reviews influence their buying decisions. Now there's another statistic you can't ignore!

If you have a great business with happy customers, why not prominently display those on your website? You'll want to create a testimonials page that has the following:

  • Names of those who have left their review

  • Dates of testimonials received

  • Description of product or services that were performed

  • Proper schema.org review markup

4.) A clear map with accompanying directions

If you're a local business, you'll want to make sure it's easy for customers to find your address and get clear directions. Google makes it easy to embed maps on websites, just follow their simple instructions.

Underneath your map embed, you should include simple instructions for getting to your business. You can include driving directions from multiple locations, or if you're in a city with public transportation, include bus/train directions as well.

If you're in a complicated complex or office building, put together some clear instructions for finding your specific location.

5.) A blog with content that helps your customers

Last, but certainly not least is a blog with great content. Your small businesses website has to stand out somehow. If you want to step your game up, past the generic "home, about us, services, contact us" sections, you'll need to add a blog.

Content marketing is rapidly growing because traditional advertising, or "shouting" at your customers is slowly dying.

Identify 10 problems that keep your potential customers up at night. It could be rodents getting into the house, wondering if a fallen tree will be covered by insurance, or wanting to know if their small business website is good enough.

After you've written out your 10 problems, commit to "solving" one problem per week through a blog post. Promote your content on your social networks and to your email list. If you aren't collecting emails, find out how to easily start here for only $5.97.

Any business can create great content. If you're struggling to come up with epic content ideas, tweet at us for some free tips and ideas. We think small business content marketing is so important, we've put together a great presentation on it. Download it today for free!

Do you think we missed anything that a great small business website needs? Let us know in the comments!

The post The 5 Things Every (Great) Small Business Website Needs appeared first on LocalVox.

Like most other industries, public relations has a set of unwritten rules, mostly developed through tradition and experience. However, as the saying goes, there's an exception for every rule, and PR is no different in that way, either.

At Ripley PR, we work with clients in construction, franchising, home services, manufacturing, and more.

Each industry is different, but media training is fairly standard across the board. We teach clients how to conduct themselves in interviews and how to prepare for a crisis and handle it in the event that one arises, and we work to find them story opportunities in news, trade publications, blogs, and more.

We found this article from Ragan's PR Daily interesting, because it addresses the rules of PR or media relations that were just made to be broken.

Consider a few of these nuggets from the article.

  • It's okay to say "No comment." Especially in a crisis situation, it's important to communicate effectively - but there are times, maybe when you don't have all the facts about a situation, when it's simply best not to talk to the media. And that's okay.

  • Your own news isn't the only opportunity for a story. If you have an expert quote to offer to another story, or an interesting viewpoint on an issue, you can find lots of opportunities to be featured, even if your story isn't the main one.

  • Sometimes exclusive is best. Traditional PR maintains that it's wise to cast a wide net to media outlets - but sometimes you'll have better luck if you offer one publication an exclusive, before reaching out to others.

  • A press conference isn't necessarily your best bet. Many companies think that holding a big event to announce a launch or grand opening is the best way to guarantee coverage, but that's most often not the case. Strategically reaching out to media will generally serve your purposes better.

Ultimately, the best way for companies to get good coverage is to have a good PR strategy - and that's where a B2B public relations agency like Ripley PR comes in.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you achieve great results.

Most people write well enough to convey interesting ideas. You probably do.

And, this is a bit of a problem for you when you compete for attention on Linkedin.

You could spend time creating your own LinkedIn network, one quality connection at a time. Since 2005, I have grown my LinkedIn networks to over 6,000 connections. So, I can get a bit of attention for my ideas or you ideas when I share them.

But, now with the LinkedIn Sponsored Update advertising program, I could have an audience as big as Sir Richard Branson. All I would have to do is pay for LinkedIn to sponsor my updates.

How does the LinkedIn Sponsored Update program work?

Here is an overview of how Linkedin thinks you should be marketing on its platform. (You might have to refresh your screen, Slideshare is a bit wonky.)

Ok, but let's dive into the details a bit more.

Once you share an update into the LinkedIn update stream of news, it is seen by some of your first connections.

LinkedIn says that you can expect that 20% of your first connections will get your article in their stream of news or updates. These are impressions.

Fewer than 20% will actually click on the headline and view it. These are views.

Even fewer will view the headline, and then read your article to the end. These are readers.

Finally, some of these readers will actually do what you want them to do - follow your call to action at the end of the article. These are leads.

For example, my call to action at the end of this article will be to ask people to sign up for our newsletter on LinkedIn Tips for Authors. And this article will have to get quite a few impressions from the Franchise-Info network to get a few leads. We estimate that you need around 10,000 impressions to get 20-40 readers. That is a lot of impresions, especially when the average impression for an update is below 50 views.

But, the Sponsored Update program allows you to buy those impressions, instead of only earning attention from your network of 1st connections.

Think of Sponsored Updates as a PR program for the LinkedIn platform. Instead of getting your article placed in a magazine, newspaper or press release, a Sponsored Update gets your message directly to a decision-maker.

If you are interested in knowing more about the basics of setting up a Sponsored Update advertising program, Jeff Haden has a good review of the Sponsored Update Program.

And, If you thought this was useful or interesting, then you should sign up for the Franchise Info Newsletter on Tips for LinkedIn Authors. Just click here and Mail Chimp will take over. Thanks.

Oh, and we never give out your email.

As a small business, doing all your online marketing by yourself can be very challenging. You must build and market your website to build your audience, send out email newsletters to engage customers, and utilize social media to increase awareness.

Having just a company website isn't enough to get found through the search engines. The "if you build it, they will come" mantra doesn't apply for most small business websites.

Your potential local customers are constantly conducting quick searches on online directories. These directories not only have substantial brands/marketing budgets to drive traffic, but they also rank well in the search engines for your most important search terms. So even if you can't get your website ranked high for a specific search term, you can appear on the local directory site that ranks for that term.

Listing your business on these 5 local online directories can really help you generate more customers:

1. Google Places for Business

Since over 80% of searches are conducted through Google, you need to make this directory number one on your list. Your Google Places page allows you to control what information Google has and presents to searchers about your business. You can fill in your Places page with information like a description, images, hours of operation, and contact information.

2. Bing Places for Business

Bing Places for Business is another local directory that gives you all the tools you need to easily and quickly manage your reputation and find local customers online. Enrich your business listing with compelling online content like photos, specialties and services on the second largest search engine.

3. Yahoo! Local Listing

 A free Yahoo Basic Listing helps customers get your business's contact information, including address, phone number, and URL. Simple to create and easy to manage, the Yahoo Basic Listing can be a first step if you're just starting out online. They also offer paid plans that give you additional benefits like enhanced listings, special offers, and analytics.

4. Yelp

Best for word-of-mouth, Yelp Business Accounts offer a suite of free tools for local businesses. Communicate with your customers - privately and publicly. Track how many people view your business page. Add photos, a detailed business description, up-to-date information, history, and specialties. Recommend other local businesses and build your audience with co-marketing.

5. Manta

Manta's free business directory is one of the fastest growing small business resources in the United States. Not only is it a local directory for you to claim and promote your business, but Manta also centers around connecting its community of small businesses with one another, perfect for expanding reach. They also offer a paid plan with additional features and benefits.

Other great local directory listing opportunities

Don't forget to pick the low-hanging social media fruit of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Foursquare. There are more businesses utilizing these outlets than ever before so make sure you're competing on them locally!

Getting listed on these local directories is a great way to maximize your online marketing results and expose your business to more potential local customers, but you should not stop there.

Make sure you're also building co-marketing partnerships to build relevant inbound links to your website and optimizing your pages with your most valuable keywords using a tool like BoostSuite.

Have you ever listed your website on any of these local directories? What was your experience with them? Do you recommend any others that weren't included in this article? Let's hear them in the comments! Thanks!

The post The Five Best Local Directories To Get Listed In To Maximize Results appeared first on LocalVox.

LinkedIn wants to be part of your breakfast.  That part where you open your tablet, review the LinkedIn stream of news &  read some brand advertorials.  Your LinkedIn stream of news has more noise than the WSJ, but you can take steps to edit out the noise & read things are informative and congenial.

And advertorial in a print magazine was deliberately made to look similar to the editorial page.  Although titled "Advertisement", some readers who regularly skipped display ads were interested in the conversational format of the advertorial.  So, they read & some bought.  The newspaper made money matching a supplier with a customer.

LinkedIn is doing something similar.  It is allowing franchise brands to post their ads directly into your LinkedIn update stream, even if you aren't currently following the company. 

These sponsored updates are different from the LinkedIn paid ads which you see around the edge of the LinkedIn stream, usually in widget  on the right hand side.

Since the sponsored update programs was announced a couple of weeks ago, Joe and I have been trying some of the features out -using our company page.

First, buying impressions is relatively simple.  You figure out what a target audience is, fill in a few buttons and then you are presented with screen that looks like this.

sponsor.png

Ok, this campaign would cost us $23.74 for each 1,000 impressions we want to buy.  We are targeting the 104k LinkedIn users in Restaurant or Hospitality industry, Senior Director or VP and above.  We are also targeting it to the people who are in business development, sales or marketing.  So, 10K impressions would cost $237.40.  

But, before we tried to buy the interest or impressions, Joe and I thought we should experiment.  How many impressions could we get using the company page?  

Well, we tried out some ideas and look what happened!  

On May 5th, were able generate, just with 2 articles, 29,031 impressions.  This would have cost us $689.19

But, we generated these impressions organically - as you can see we have gone from essentially zero impressions to almost 30,000 impressions in less than a couple of weeks. 

0-30k.png

Now here is thing. Both articles that we tested were advertorials or sponsored updates.  We were using articles that were asking people for a sale.  People read them, just like you are doing now.  Because of their conversational tone.

When your brand needs to make an impression in LinkedIn, and you want your brand to go from 0 to 30k, or more, send me an email in LinkedIn.  Use the title "I want to make an impression."

Or, you can just sign up for more of our ideas about how to publish on LinkedIn. Just click here and Mail Chimp will take over.  Thanks.   Oh, and we never give out your email.

 

Have you heard recent rumors that Google Plus is going away, due to the recent departure of Google's senior vice president Vic Gundotra?

The search engine giant introduced this social network in 2011, in hopes that it would be a competitor for Facebook.

To build users, Google Plus was integrated across Google's platforms, including YouTube, Gmail, and Hangouts.

It's never had quite the reach of Facebook, but many businesses have created company pages where they can make posts and engage with customers.

At Ripley PR, we have recommended Google Plus pages as a tool within clients' B2B public relations and social media marketing strategies. But is it still a valid use of time and resources?

For basic social media interactions with customers going forward, Google Plus may not be the best option for most companies.

Right now, with the shuffling of more than 1,000 Google employees from the Google Plus team to other parts of the company, it remains to be seen what the future of the social network is. Most analysts believe that it will likely become a platform to link the whole network of Google products.

Along with that, Google Plus may evolve to target more people in the business sector, and there may be opportunities for advertising on the platform in the future. For that reason, we believe it is still worthwhile for our clients to have a Google Plus company page.

We will continue to watch the evolution of this product, and assess how it can help meet the needs of our PR and marketing clients now and in the future.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2014 is the previous archive.

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