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What’s the Deal with Online Deals?

Social Sonar - Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We love a good deal. There's something awesome about getting that thing you desperately need or desire for a few bucks off. Special deals helps us feel like we're in the loop, and somehow ahead of the rest of the pack. They also help us feel rewarded for being loyal customers. But from your perspective, deals can be risky business. Social media is a great way to promote savings, but are you using the intersection between deals and social media to the best of your advantage?

Don't be a Coupon Machine

It's tempting to use social media as the primary way to advertise coupons, sales and deals. The danger here lies in becoming a coupon catalogue. Don't let special offers take over in such way that all your other content falls by the wayside. You need time and space to develop other aspects of your brand, so don't let the coupon clutter build too much.

Do Reward Loyal Followers

If you're trying to engage with your most loyal customers, deals and savings are a great way to reward their excitement and passion for your product. You can generate excitement online with competitions, teasing special deals along the way. It's also not a bad way to repair damage from bad customer experiences.

Online-Sales.jpg

Don't Use it as Your Only Strategy For Growth

As this study from Rhythm Insights shows, most social media users (close to 60%) follow brands to show their loyalty or support. Creating original content that shows off who you are as a brand is much more vital to a sound social media strategy, so make sure that those efforts take priority over publicizing deals.

Do Make Stipulations

For any deal you're offering, always make stipulations. Plan ahead and set deadlines for deals to expire. Brainstorm with staff members to make sure there aren't any gaping loopholes in your plan that would allow someone to run off with more than you can afford to give away. Make sure you communicate all the fine print to your followers before they take you up on any special deals. You can avoid awkward confrontations and negative customer experiences that way.

With the knowledge that gaining and retaining followers doesn't rely solely on the discounts you offer, you can relax a little and refocus your energies elsewhere. Be as specific as you can with what you're offering, so that your next coupon or sales discount isn't a deal breaker for your most valued customers. Finally, have fun! Create contests, roll out deals with teases that build excitement and document people enjoying your special offers so that you have a reminder of what makes it all worth it.

3 Ways to Grow an Opt-in Email List

Social Sonar - Thursday, February 28, 2013

Growing an opt-in email list takes time. It is highly discouraged to buy an email list, since the people on it are not qualified, and more likely to mark your email as spam. Once too many people mark your emails as spam, service providers like Gmail will send your messages to the Spam box for legitimate recipients, as well. Here are some more fruitful tactics you can try.

email list1. Find a Partner.

If you want to reach a lot of people quickly, consider partnering with another business that has a larger opt-in email list. The joint email should be very clearly marked as a partner email so you can build upon the trust the recipients have with the existing brand. It should simply be presented as an introduction or a special offer for people on the list.

Ideally, you would create a special landing page for the people on the partner company’s list so there is continuity in the message. A special discount code never hurts, either.

2. Use Your Existing Customers.

If there are not any relevant companies willing to partner with you, you will need to build your own list. You should start by asking all of your current clients for their email addresses. If you already have their email addresses, you can send them an initial email asking if they want to receive regular email messages.

It is a good idea to send all optional email messages from an email address that is different from the address you used to send admin communications. This way, if the customer unsubscribes from the new email series, they can still receive notifications about system outages and updates, as well as billing information.

According to CAN-SPAM, since you have an existing business relationship with your customers, you do not need to ask for their permission to email them. However, to keep people from marking your email as spam and affecting your deliverability, you want to be sure you have their permission before you send a second one. This is known as a double opt-in, and is often a required step for legitimate email service providers like MailChimp and Emma. It also ensures that anyone on your list has chosen to be there, which should improve your deliverability in the long run.

3. Ask for New Email Addresses.

There are a number of different ways you can collect email addresses. If you have a physical location, the least painful way is to keep an iPad at the front counter or desk so people can sign themselves up. This saves the time of retyping and prevents having a paper sign up sheet where people can see each other’s email addresses; it protects your customers’ identity security. If you have to have a paper sign up sheet, ask your employee to keep it hidden until people need to sign up.

You can also ask people to sign up online. You should have an email sign-up form on your website, and preferably on your Facebook page, as well. Many of the most popular email service providers have a Facebook app that allows you to easily add a form to your profile.

It’s a good idea to let people know the type of content you will be featuring in your emails as an incentive to add their name to your list. You can also offer something for free in exchange for an email address, like an e-book, but it needs to be compelling enough for people to give up their real email address. Jay Abraham is doing a very excellent job with this. He gives away the transcripts for all of his books as a way of building his email list and developing a relationship with potential clients.

You can also ask for email addresses as a required field in live chats.

Slowly but surely, you will build a list of interested recipients. Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know.

3 Reasons to Start a Loyalty Program

Social Sonar - Thursday, December 13, 2012
Frequent Shopper Stamp

Many shoppers belong to several loyalty programs that allow them to acquire points, money, or merchandise. Big chain stores have been implementing this easy marketing tool to establish customer retention. Small business might assume that these programs will cost too much to implement and maintain, but their benefits can be greatly underestimated. Here are some reasons why you should kick off 2013 with a loyalty program.

1. Return Customers

If a shopper knows they are building up for incentives, they'll go out of their way to support your establishment. It's nice to think that if you get 10 cups of tea, you'll get one free. Chances are the customers who enroll or take part in the loyalty program know that they frequent your business and would benefit from the program. Its an easy sell.

2. Easy Implementation

You don't need to make your loyalty program complex. It can be as simple as stamping a card and having the customer fill out a form with her name, email address, and birth date. Or you can create a program where cards are swiped or scanned and allow for points to accumulate. Your choice is just a matter of budget and time.

3. Targeted Marketing Efforts

If you have a special promotion, or maybe even an event, you'll be able to communicate with the right audience. Maintaining a marketing database will ensure you are talking to consumers who already love your brand. You'll have a successful return on your invest because you will be speaking to the right people.

Methods and Resources to Promote Social Media

Social Sonar - Friday, December 07, 2012

The best way to get more "likes" on Facebook and followers on Twitter is to let your customers know about your sites. Below are some business cards and flyers with default text you can edit and order or print out. We recommend ordering from OvernightPrints.com. They are very reasonably-priced and high quality. We actually use them for our own business cards.

To promote Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Google Places:

  • Add Facebook and Twitter icons to your website in a prominent place, usually the top right.
  • Add your Facebook and Twitter links on business cards, invoices, flyers, ads, and email signatures.
  • Create a business card (like the one below) with your profile addresses. 
  • Post a small flyer in your window and on your counter. We made ours a double. Just print it on glossy paper and cut it into two halves.

To encourage signups for your email newsletter:

  • Keep an iPad or laptop at the front so people can sign up for your email newsletter.
  • If you don't have an extra laptop, but your database allows you to enter email addresses, your staff should ask customers as they are paying if they would like to be added to your email list in order to receive discounts and the latest news. This is the safest method and saves the most time, since you will be able to export these emails to your email newsletter software later. 
  • If your current database does not allow you to enter email addresses and export them, print out a form (like the one below) you can put on your front counter in order to collect email addresses. To better protect your clients' personal information, your staff should keep the form on a clipboard behind the front desk and only present it to a client after they have agreed to sign up.
Business Card FrontBusiness Card Front
Adobe Illustrator CS4
Business Card BackBusiness Card Back
Adobe Illustrator CS4
Half Sheet Flyer Promoting Facebook and TwitterHalf Sheet Flyer Promoting Facebook and Twitter
Adobe Illustrator CS4
Newsletter Signup SheetNewsletter Signup Sheet
Microsoft Word 2008

Important 2012 Holiday Shopping Days

Social Sonar - Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Holiday season is upon us. We see it everywhere we go: the local drugstore, big box store, and e-commerce websites. Every marketing effort is being put toward holiday sales. Whether you're a small or big business, you should take note of important holiday dates. These dates will help you keep in line with your competitors, as well as bring in possible new customers who are in the mood to shop. Mark your calendars for the following dates:

November 22: Thanksgiving Day (US) - Online promotions

Online retailers are learning to post offers early. They are marketing to consumers who spend time in long lines for those "big bargains". Developing one-day Thanksgiving offers can help bring in sales. While big box store are stocking their shelves, you can start generating revenue with the growing online market.

November 23: Black Friday

Oh yes, you know about this day well. Black Friday is the day millions of shoppers get up at 3am and stand in line to get deeply discounted items. Don't be afraid to be part of this shopping extravaganza. You may not be a big box store, but it doesn't mean you can't create great deals.

November 24: Small Business Saturday

On this day we say to shoppers, "Shop Local". This holiday season shouldn't just be about the big box store or mass production. Offer one-day specials and discounts. If you're a restaurant, offer a free dessert with the purchase of an entree. Local stores, offering unique gifts and showcasing your merchandising this particular day will go a long way. If you use social media to promote Small Business Saturday, remember to use hashtag #smallbizsat. Get on the Official Map.

November 26: Cyber Monday

Technically (pun intended), this is a new tradition. This is the day many shoppers head back into the office and start to look for great deals online. Offer an incentive for shoppers to shop at your online store. Tie in social media acquisition or engagement. Advertisers like Origins (EA Games) will post things like, "Fans can enjoy an 30% off of clearance items if we receive 200 likes on this post by 1pm." They reveal the 30% off code once they have received the 200 likes. It's a great tactic, and you can use it too.

December: National Shipping Day - Global

The competition will be doing this, so you should, too. The following days will be National Shipping Day for these countries:

Merchants within these countries will provide free shipping on any order with a guarantee that shoppers will receive their items before Christmas. This is one of those rare times your mother didn't anticipate when you should do something just because everyone else will be doing it.

8 Steps to Run a Facebook Contest

Social Sonar - Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Carnival Prizes

Consumers have always loved the idea of contests, mostly because they're getting something free, but for a business it's a way to market their services or merchandise. Creating contests can help develop a customer database, and with the introduction of social media, it's a way for consumers to easily engage with their favorite brand. But do contests, especially social media contests, work?

Business owners provide some mixed feedback. While many recognize that contests increase the number of followers or likes for their business, some proprietors simply don't find social media contests useful. This made us question, are they conducting these contest the right way?

Expectations may be too high, and when the owners don't see the results they were hoping for, they simply deem the contest concept a failure. Be realistic and set goals which are reasonable for your business and your consumers. Contests help give your followers a reason to interact with the business and each other. As a business owner, try to focus more on your customer interaction, and less on the amount of Likes or Followers you're obtaining.

Social Media is an investment of your time and money, including the cost of the prize, and if you've paid money for a third party to run the contest, this cost can be overwhelming. Having to invest in both areas can set you up to create unrealistic goals.

I'm sure you're asking, "How can I ensure my contest is successful?" Well that's what we're here to answer.

1. Ask yourself, "Do I really need to run a contest?".

If you're a B2B company, running a contest won't really help you gain new clients. It makes more sense if your business sells directly to a consumer. Look at your goals, and if they can be accomplished in a more efficient or reliable way, take that route.

2. Set Realistic Expectations.

Make sure you set goals for the contest by asking the following: What do you want to achieve? Are you running this contest to bring awareness to your brand? Are you going to highlight a product or service that you provide? Do just want to increase Likes or Followers? Do you want to obtain feedback about your company? Be specific with your questions.

3. Match Your Fan.

Think about your business; if you're a clothing store, will conducting a photo contest work best? Maybe you could ask a question about a product. For example, recently Goorin Bros Hat Company ran a Free Hat Fridays contest. They posted a picture of their merchandise and asked followers "What would you wear with this hat?" They engaged consumers and randomly picked a winner from the 200+ comments.

4. Less Is More.

Remember to keep it simple. If your consumers have to fill out several pages just to win one prize, they'll abandon the idea, and you'll be left with few entries. Only ask for the information you absolutely need.

5. Pick a Perfect Prize.

Remember to ensure your prize shows off what your business provides. And make sure your giveaway reflects what your participants need to make an entry. If you own a camera store, and you're giving away a new state-of-the-art camera, have your participants post a picture they have taken.

6. Shout It from a Mountain Top.

Don't limit your contest to just Facebook or Twitter - let the world know! Include it in your email newsletters, on your webpage, and if you have a physical location, tell your shoppers. Make it a part of your marketing strategy. If you are going to run a print ad, save some room for the contest information.

7. Learn from It.

Once your contest is over, make sure you follow up. You've collected information to help you market to shoppers who showed an interest in your business. Keep them engaged. Let them know you heard their feedback. They'll appreciate knowing their comments made a difference, and they'll understand how important they are to you.

Last but not least...

8. Follow the Rules.

Social Media sites, especially Facebook, have rules and policies for running these contests. They have a list of do's and don'ts. For instance, Facebook regulations require that you notify winners via email, snail mail, phone call, or singing telegram before you congratulate them publicly on Facebook. They also ask that you state Facebook is not sponsoring the contest. We can list these forever, so let's make it easier - check out Facebook's Pages Terms.

Happy Marketing!

Ménage à Trois: A Marketing Love Story

Social Sonar - Monday, October 08, 2012

Ménage à Trois translates to "Household of three". Here at Social Sonar, we often talk about the Virtuous Cycle, the three services that complement and feed each other seamlessly to create a cohesive marketing program and serve as the basis for all other efforts. Combining services does more than triple your reach; it has a multiplying effect.

Virtuous Cycle of Marketing

1. Blogging

Maintaining a blog is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your business. Not only does a blog educate your customers and demonstrate your expertise, it also greatly improves your search engine ranking. Every blog post increases the number of keywords and pages on your site, so search engines will rank your url more highly than other websites with less information.

Having a more highly-ranked site ensures more traffic to your blog, which leads to more people signing up for email newsletters, and more people liking your Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you run any Google AdWords campaigns, you can actually pay less and be ranked higher than less informative sites.

Blog posts also provide you with unique content to promote in your Facebook and Twitter messages, as well as your email newsletter. You can even run targeted marketing campaigns linking to specific blog posts, which are easier to set up than landing pages.

2. Social Media

Updating Facebook and Twitter pages shows customers your business is healthy, and you are keeping up with the times. Rather than expecting people to visit your website, you are meeting them where they already hang out and making it easy for them to interact with your business or check your hours.

Social media is an ideal tool to drive customers to your website when you need them to take an action. For example, you can promote your recent blog post on Facebook and Twitter. People click the link to visit your blog and spend time on your site, where you can convince them to make an appointment or call with questions.

You can even run specials on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Post a unique coupon code and send people to your website to make the purchase. You get to keep more money than if you partnered with a deal site like Groupon or Living Social.

Tell other fans on your Facebook and Twitter pages about your positive Yelp reviews, and encourage them to review you. You can even link directly to the positive review!

3. Email Marketing

Gaining the trust to receive an email address is one of the most powerful marketing relationships you can build. Make sure you always send relevant content so recipients are less likely to unsubscribe.

Blog posts are ideal for ensuring your emails are always interesting and informative. They enable you to take a "Something for Everyone" approach, as we mentioned in our blog post What Saturday Night Live Teaches Us About Email Marketing.

Facebook and Twitter are great tools to promote signing up for your email newsletters. People who sign up to receive your emails are more likely to make a purchase than someone who has only liked you on Facebook or followed you on Twitter.

This recent article from TIME states, "Forty-eight percent of consumers reported that social media posts are a great way to discover new products, brands, trends, or retailers, but less than 1% of transactions could be traced back to trackable social links... For repeat shoppers, 30% of online purchases begin with an e-mail from the retailer."

Our complete package offers everything you need for the basis of a healthy marketing program: Blogging, Social Media, and Email Marketing. Give us a call at 1-866-843-4490 or send an email to service@socialsonar.com to find out how our customized automated solution can work for your business.

How Do You Find Social Media Content?

Social Sonar - Monday, May 14, 2012

We have often talked about the importance of the interesting content when it comes to social media.

Check out our past posts on blogging, e-mail newsletters or communicating using social media sites.

Whether you want to post "interesting and engaging content" once a day or once a week, where do you find all of this info?

Just Google It

The easiest way to find content is to "Google it" (enter a search term into any internet search engine). You don't have to hand-craft all the content you post. Most search engines have a news tab, which you can also limit to any stories posted within the previous 24 hours. BAM! You have the most recent news stories about your industry.

For example, if you are a jewelry business, you can search for new and interesting pieces or stone cuts to share on your Facebook or Twitter page. If you own a restaurant, you may want to use some current news piece about a salmonella outbreak to write a blog and explain why your restaurant is a cut above the rest in cleanliness.

Ask the Experts

If you receive newsletters from other companies in your own industry, you may be receiving a daily list of interesting content you can easily share on your own social media profiles. The work is almost done for you! You may even check out posts from your competitors to inspire items you post on your own page.

Go Where the Action Is

Some of the most shared content comes from aggregation sites, which pull together the most interesting content people find. Our favorites include Digg and StumbleUpon. For shorter posts with more visuals, we love 22 Words.

Choose a TrendStay Current

If you're looking to take advantage of what is trending at this very moment on Twitter, you can always check out the "Trending" area on your profile. If you're having trouble figuring what something is, or why the heck it's trending, check out What the Trend. It has handy explanations of why things are showing up.

Finding content to post to your social media profiles does not have to take up hours of your time. Although you do also want to have items specifically related to your business, posting about broader industry-related topics is absolutely acceptable as well. It is a quick and easy way to keep your profiles fresh with content.

Where do you find content for your social media sites? We always love hearing your unique and creative ideas!