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5 Ways To Use Pinterest For Business

Posted on December 13, 2012 by Jessica

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past year, you have probably heard of Pinterest. Pinterest is a social media site that is purely image driven. Users of Pinterest save, or "pin" images they like and can follow other users' collections of pins that they find interesting.

Originally aimed at individual users, Pinterest is now targeting companies with their new "Pinterest for Business" accounts. Businesses can now have official accounts that link directly to their business website and are encouraged to interact with the public through pinning. This is a great opportunity for businesses to take advantage of! Here are our top five ways to use your Pinterest for Business account:

1) Branding You can use Pinterest to raise awareness about your company. Pinning company logos is a favorite, both yours and the logos of any brands you are associated with. You could also post photos of your employees hard at work (or play!) and that will also help solidify your brand's image in your customer's minds.

2) Networking Pinterest can help with networking. You can follow people that you want to do business with and comment on their pins. You can also repin their pins. The people you wish to do business with will be drawn to your board and your business because they see you sharing their content.

3) Promoting Sales Use Pinterest to promote discounts and sales by setting up boards that feature products that you offer at a discount. As an alternative, you can pin related products to a board together, showing them as a package deal that the customer can purchase through your company.

4) Research Pinterest is a great research tool. You can use the site to find out what your customers actually like. This information can be used to identify trends and determine which products would be best to advertise to your customer base. Pinterest can also be used as a tool in finding companies similar to yours and openly seeing what they are doing to engage customers.

5) Building Credibility Use Pinterest to show people you are an expert in your field. Pin articles that you have written. Pin useful websites that are related to what you do. Everything you pin helps build credibility. Even when you share resources that you didn't create, you show your expertise by connecting your customers to the best content on the web.

If you are ready to sign up for Pinterest for Business, head on over to the Pinterest for Business Sign Up page. We hope you agree with us that Pinterest is a great tool for connecting your customers and people like your customers to great visual content.

Will you be creating a Pinterest for Business account to grow your presence in social media? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.

For more information about the new tools for Businesses in Pinterest, check out the Pinterest Blog.

Creating a Social Media Plan for the New Year

Posted on December 10, 2012 by Jessica

It's the end of the year, time to get all of your marketing campaigns ready for the start of 2013. Social media advertising is looking a little different for the coming year - get ahead of the game with these five essentials for a successful campaign in Social Media:

1) Build a mobile strategy. Consumers are now accessing social media with everything from computers and tablets to game consoles and mobile phones. To widen your reach, make sure they can access your website via whichever social media platforms you intend to use, from every kind of device.

2) Build trust with honest and informative content. According to a recent Nielson poll, consumers place trust in all forms of advertisements dead last when compared to other types of content. Rather than trying to sneak even the smallest of sales pitches into your content, simply provide transparent information while educating about your products, providing coupons and deals, and answering inquiries.

3) Use blogs and video to distribute information. The majority of consumers, around 70 percent, use a company’s blogs and product videos to help them decide what to buy. Enable social sharing features on your content while letting everyone know of updates via your social media posts on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.

4) Avoid trying to make your customers leave a social media site. Social media is all about socializing, so use your social media accounts to do just that, rather than trying to redirect people who would prefer to stay on-site. Posting interactive and shareable content that directs users to your social media page will maximize your chances of your content going viral.

5) Draw customers in with stunning and interesting images. Even though marketing professionals have known for years that people cannot resist sharing a gorgeous image, there are not nearly enough of them being used. Use informative infographics or well-shot photographs related to your products and services on Pinterest, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram to create a whirlwind of sharing and discussion.

Most of all, don't get sucked into the idea that social media ad space is a great place to spend your marketing budget. Social Media ads are proven to have a much lower ROI (return on investment) when compared with search engine PPC advertising. However, social media is one of the best ways to engage existing customers and potential ones in conversation about what you do and how you do it. What are your plans for social media marketing for 2013?

Common eCommerce Website Mistakes

Posted on November 29, 2012 by Jessica


The goal of any eCommerce website is to sell products. Once you've created your site, promoted your products and attracted potential customers, how do you ensure they become repeat buyers? Even the most well-designed eCommerce website can send customers to your competitors if you aren't careful. Here, five common eCommerce website mistakes and how to avoid them.

1) High Shipping Costs
Charging exorbitant shipping fees is a surefire way to send your customers elsewhere. People are much more likely to abandon your shopping cart if your shipping fees aren't reasonable. In general, aim to charge between 5 to 10% of the total cost of the item for shipping.

2) Browser Incompatibility
If your eCommerce site only supports one Internet browser, you are missing out on many potential customers. It's important to test your site with more than one browser, so you know what needs to be tweaked. By supporting all of the most popular Internet browsers, you ensure you are reaching the maximum amount of customers possible.

3) Slow Loading
If your customers have to spend too much time waiting for your site pages to load, they will become frustrated and run straight to your competition. By making the majority of your webpages "static," - that is, without continuously changing content - your site will load faster and provide a positive experience for customers. Having too many pages with changing content can slow down your site and give customers a frustrating user experience.

4) Lack of Images
As an eCommerce site, it's important that potential customers are able to see high-quality images of your products. If you fail to provide images - or not enough of them - your customers won't know what they are buying and may turn elsewhere. Make sure you provide several photographs of your products from various angles so your customers feel comfortable with their purchase decision.

5) Complicated Site Design
Don't make your customers jump through hoops to purchase something from you. If your site design is too complicated, you'll turn away customers and lose out on potential revenue. Provide a user-friendly design and an easy check-out process, and people are likely to become repeat customers.

As an eCommerce site owner, it's important to avoid these common mistakes to make your customers as happy as possible. A happy customer is a repeat customer, which means more money in your pocket.

Twitter for eCommerce: How To Create Sales and Communication

Posted on August 24, 2012 by Josh Mc

Twitter can be an incredible tool for promoting your eCommerce website. Unlike Facebook, Pinterest, and other social networks, Twitter is all about the conversation. Twitter users aren't there to passively check out what is happening in their timeline. They are there to engage, communicate, discuss, and share. You won't have any luck using traditional marketing tactics to sell your product on Twitter. You will need to engage customers and potential customers in a two-way conversation. Below are 6 tips for getting the wheels moving and jumpstarting your Twitter eCommerce success.

1) Use Twitter for Customer Support
Since Twitter is so conversation-oriented, customer service is one of the best roles in which to use Twitter to increase eCommerce sales. Answer questions that your customers have, seek out frustrated customers or confused potential customers, and turn your Twitter feed into a customer service channel.

2) Connect with Bloggers
Twitter is the platform of choice for bloggers in almost every industry. These are the influencers that you need to get the attention of. Create a Twitter list with the top bloggers in your niche and follow them. Whenever you have an opportunity to engage or help a blogger, or even just share their latest post, take it. Build a relationship on the social network, and it will pay dividends in the form of mentions, positive reviews, and links.

3) Build Buzz with Contest and Promotions
Twitter is a great way to get people talking about your product or service. Try running exclusive promotions or contests that are only available on Twitter. If you can incorporate a way to offer an incentive for your followers to share the details of your promotion even better. There are also number of services that can help you streamline contests and promotions on Twitter.

4) Manage Your Reputation
Whether or not you're on Twitter yet, you can be sure that your customers are. Not everything they are tweeting is positive, either. Get involved in the community and closely follow your brand mentions. Pay special attention to those that are dissatisfied. This is your chance to turn their opinion around, and an opportunity to gain positive publicity for offering exceptional customer service above and beyond what might be expected of your company.

5) Learn About Your Customers
Twitter can even be a tool for effective market research. Follow those that have mentioned you or followed you, and try to learn what you can about your customers. Who are they and what are they interested in? You'd be amazed at the valuable information you can glean just from taking a second to listen to your customers.

6) Integrate Twitter with Your eCommerce Site
This is somewhat of a no-brainer, but if you plan on getting involved in the Twitter community, integrate the platform in to your e-commerce shopping experience. Allow customers to share products and images via Twitter right on your website. Show the latest tweets from your Twitter feed. Better yet, offer an incentive for your visitors to head to Twitter and follow you. Offer your customers a social shopping experience and you can position your brand for success on Twitter.

Now it’s your turn, what are some great ways you can build your brand on Twitter? Make sure to leave them in the comments.

Three Useful Ways to Improve a Team's Workflow

Posted on August 16, 2012 by Josh Mc

Leaders, managers and team members have been an integral part of human society as far back as we can see into history, whether they were building ancient societies or fighting the first known wars. Even in these times that may seem distant to our own, there are principles that determine a team's productivity. Shifting focus to these principles is an easy way to identify the weak points of a typical workflow.

Provide the Right Tools for the Job

Imagine ten workers that have been assigned to clean the tile floor of a huge, 10-story building. Two of these workers have brooms, two have mops and six of them have a toothbrush. Anyone with a discerning eye can understand that having 6 toothbrush-wielding workers is a bad idea, and this concept translates directly to teams responsible for different tasks in virtually every field.

Whether it's a toothbrush, software, a comfortable chair, a truck or countless other tools that can improve an worker's output, providing an employee with the tools necessary for the job is instrumental in them being successful. Managing that workflow with tools such as Trello can also help to see where the employees are at and what snags may be holding up their progress. Even if a tool seems expensive, if you consider the amount of hours it saves an employee in the day, that can in turn be attributed to a different task or job, then the price quickly becomes worth it.

Supplement Communication

Communication is almost always a factor in teamwork. Dissonant attitudes between team members often leads to poor communication and is one of the underlying issues that makes personal disputes in a team such a threat to success. Communication should almost be held sacred, like something that is to never be tainted and only appreciated. Improving communication is similar to sharpening a blade, in that it isn't about turning a piece of metal into a samurai's sword in the blink of an eye, but rather, it is about making small, precise changes that shape the team into a fully functional unit. For example, if one teammate does not understand critical news that affects a project, their ability to rapidly adapt is diminished by their lack of understanding. These situations are easily alleviated with proper communication, and there are thousands of books and documentaries on the subject.

Work with Strengths

Humans have a huge propensity to have both strengths and weaknesses. Things like anxiety, insecurity, awkwardness, laziness and countless other issues can all have a huge impact on a seemingly simple project. This is something that has to be expected, but a good manager will see which people will work best on which projects and assign them accordingly, thus allowing each member to use their strength and weaknesses to achieve a common goal.

A great team is made up of complementary strengths that can work together well. If the sum of a team's strength is great enough to accomplish a task, then there should be no debate or worry of the weaknesses of the individuals of the team. If the strengths of a team are properly organized, weaknesses will never be a concern. The weakness of a team can always be assuaged with better tools, training and communication, but the strengths of a team are its foundation for success.

These are just a couple ideas on how to improve a team's workflow. If you have any additional ideas, make sure to leave them in the comments.

How to Become a Great Affiliate Manager

Posted on August 2, 2012 by Josh Mc

The relationship between a business and its affiliates is often one that is not cultivated as much as it could be in order to benefit both the business and the affiliate. There are numerous things that businesses can do to increase the number of sales that their affiliates bring in. There are also several approaches that affiliate managers can take to prevent things like fraud, and to make sure that they are working with only the highest-performing and most reputable affiliates. Here are a few tips on how you can develop yourself as an affiliate manager as well as create a good rapport with your affiliates.

Provide Strong Incentives

Affiliates only promote products if they feel that they are sufficiently rewarded for promoting the product. For this reason, businesses must make sure they provide attractive rewards to their affiliates. Affiliates have many products that they could be promoting and they will only choose those products that are likely to bring them a strong return, so make sure you are offering a good value to the affiliates so that they will want to work with your site.

Provide Clear Terms

It is crucial that affiliate managers provide a thorough and clear Terms page that includes information on what is not allowed to promote a specific program. Most affiliate managers will not want their programs to be promoted through malware or through spamming techniques, which gives the business a bad reputation. Also, many businesses do not allow affiliates to bid on the businesses name in Google Adwords. Knowing and presenting these terms upfront makes it easier for both parties to be on the same page.

Selectively Approve Affiliates

Managers should make sure that they have a functionality that allows them to approve and ban affiliates. This is crucial when dealing with affiliates that engage in malicious marketing practices and is also important for controlling who is able to become an affiliate in the first place. While managers might feel like they will get more sales if they approve as many affiliates as possible, doing so will increase the risk of some affiliates engaging in the use spammy tactics.

Communicate Frequently

Another problem with having too many affiliates is that it will make it harder to manage each individual account. Providing affiliates with careful management and close contact will help the customer find the right product and will help the affiliate by giving them a communication line to the manager, allowing them to create a better affiliate program.

Focus on High Performing Affiliates

Affiliate managers want to pay close attention to high-performing affiliates to make sure that they do not accidentally delete affiliate links or place the links on less popular areas of their websites. Many high-performing affiliates are so busy that they do not realize that they misplaced an affiliate link. Affiliate managers will also want to contact high performing affiliates when they have a new products or sales so that new products can be quickly tested on the market.

Provide Ongoing Training

Another reason to stay in close contact with affiliates is to provide them with ongoing training on your business and products, which in turn can help them generate more sales. One way to improve performance is to provide as much information as possible on the product being sold through the affiliate program so when the customer does land on their site, the purchase decision is easy.

Prevent Fraud

Affiliate managers can prevent fraud by paying attention to the earnings of affiliates to make sure that they are not earning a disproportionate number of sales. If an affiliate is earning a large number of commissions from websites that they do not have listed in their profiles, it is possible that the affiliate is using some type of system to manipulate affiliate links and convert them into a fraudster’s affiliate link, stealing commissions from legitimate affiliates. This will often cause legitimate affiliates to abandon the program, so making sure you are watching for these types of problems is a good way to maintain the strength of your channel.

These are just a few tips on how to become a great affiliate manager. The most important thing to take out of this is to manage your affiliates the way that you would want to be managed. If you assume they need some of the same things that you do, then you can hopefully cultivate a relationship that is beneficial for both partners.

If you have any additional suggestions, make sure to leave them in the comments.

Five Tips for a Successful Press Release

Posted on July 20, 2012 by Josh Mc

A press release can be one of the best ways to distribute information about an event, issue or product; however, it will only be effective if it is interesting, well written and received by the right people. To ensure a press release covers all these requirements, adhere to the following five tips.

1. Use the Correct Format

A press release needs to be easily readable and engaging; format can help with this tremendously. The press release should begin with a short title in bold letters that immediately catches the attention of the reader. This should be followed by contact information including address, phone number, contact name, telephone number and email. Before the main body, the press release needs a headline of around six or seven words to briefly detail the content. The entire press release should span no more than one page.

2. Demonstrate Why the Press Release is Newsworthy

The body of a press release should briefly answer the questions of what happened or will happen, who will be involved or was involved, when and where it took place or will take place, and why this is significant. The introduction should begin with the key information and follow with additional details. Everything should be written in third person, be free from opinion, and should include for a quote from a credible source.

3. Engage the Reader

A press release is useless if it does not grab the reader's attention. This can be achieved by ensuring there is an element of human interest in the press release. An easy to read and clear writing style is essential, and the addition of a photograph of the person quoted is highly desirable.

4. Distribution of the Press Release


If the press release does not reach the right people, the whole purpose is defeated. The press release needs to reach its audience through radio, television, newspapers or Internet. The key is to decide what reporters would be the most likely to use the information and if this would enable the information to be reached by the target audience. It is also useful to know the copy deadlines of the sources and what is there preferred method of delivery i.e. physical mail or email.

5. Timing of the Release

The time of release plays an essential role in the effectiveness of a press release. For this reason, it is important to know when the cutoff period is for the different forms of media. For example, while television cutoff time tends to be two hours prior to newscasts, a weekly newspaper may have a cutoff time two days before printing.

These are just a couple tips for writing a good press release. By far the most important thing is to make it interesting. They say you only have a couple seconds of the persons attention before they move on, so make sure your release its interesting right from the start. If you have any other tips for a good press release, make sure to leave them in the comments.

Preparing for a Holiday as an eCommerce Business

Posted on June 29, 2012 by Josh Mc

When you are running an ecommerce business, you are accustomed to the ups and downs that occur during different times of the year. Sometimes you have a lot of business and sometimes it slows to a trickle. When a holiday rolls around, for most companies, you’ll find that there is always a drop in business. This is something that even big businesses worry about, so what should your eCommerce business do to survive? The truth of the matter is that a holiday lull can be very profitable for you if you know how to work with it.

Be Aware of the Holiday
The last thing that you should be is surprised by a holiday. A month or even two months before the given holiday, start making sure that you can get all of your bills paid. If necessary, have a few sales or push out a new promotion. If you keep a careful eye out, you can see plenty of other businesses doing the same thing. They are trying to shore up their businesses for the lull ahead.

Do a Holiday Special
There are definitely people who are willing to purchase on the holidays if you make it worth their while. One way to drum up interest for your business during the slow holiday times is to do something exciting on the holiday itself. You might choose to offer a sneak peek at a new product that will be rolled out later that year, or you might choose to hold a 24 hour fire sale during the lowest point of the holiday season. This is a great way to clear out old stock, and the holiday gives you an excuse to do so.

Holiday Countdown
Plenty of eCommerce businesses realize that they can keep their customers through the holiday lull if they keep giving them something to come back for. A countdown allows you to do something special every day leading up to the holiday. Every day can be a sale or a discount on a specific item, or you may offer other types of promotions in the week leading up to the big day. Of course save the biggest sale for the day of the holiday itself so that your customers have a reason to come back.

Run a Holiday Contest
Why not give your customers something to do while the holiday is going on? While some are going to be traveling or busy, there will also be plenty who simply don’t know what to do with themselves. Hold a contest on your site or on a social network and make sure that you give out one big prize or at least plenty of small prizes. You can ask them to like a post to be entered into a drawing or you can ask them to draw a picture for a prize or even go on an online scavenger hunt. Whatever your business and imagination can think of will work, it is just all about keeping people engaged during the holiday season.

These are just a couple of the tips you can use to make sure each new holiday does not hit your business hard. While your numbers will still probably take a dip, remember that it is natural and that there are methods that you can use to prevent something disastrous if you only do some planning.

Now it’s your turn, how do you keep customers happy and coming back during the holidays? Let us know in the comments.

How Google Shopping Will Shape Internet Retailer Strategies

Posted on June 21, 2012 by Josh Mc

Recently, search engine giant Google made headlines with their decision to switch their Google product search to an all-inclusive paid service that will be known as Google Shopping. Given how deeply Google impacts every market they touch, this change to a paid service is sure to have a drastic impact on the internet economy as a whole.

The change itself will take what has been a free service for almost a decade and make it into a pay to play product, thus limiting the amount of people that can take part and use the service to only those that can afford it. Google says this change will be rolling out over the next couple of months.

Under the new model, users will be able to submit the traditional feed and pay Google a percentage of the sale that results from the click. Not the same as the pay per click model where you pay regardless of whether you make a sale, but it does cost money from every sale that Google Shopping sends.

The change is poised to make a huge difference as ecommerce companies could have been making 100 to 100,000 dollars a month on this product without paying Google anything. Now they will be paying a percentage on every piece that is sold through the service. The change figures to be good news for the larger companies though, who are often already seeing higher conversions from their Google Product Ads, the service they are combining into Google Shopping, and can easily transfer over the increased budget as they should have less competition.

While in the long term companies will be paying a lot for the service, it does have a potential benefit for small companies in the short term. With all the changes and companies moving in and out of the system there is a chance that the competition will be a lot lower in the onset of this launch, thus allowing your company to have a better chance of converting the customer. Smaller companies that are just starting out and have no organic rankings, can still take advantage of Google shopping to gain exposure by concentrating efforts on the categories in which they feel they are strongest; however, they will no longer be able to get free traffic from Google for this, so they will need to really think about what products they decide to list.

The new format for Google Shopping is designed to provide another way for retailers to strategize and increase sales and internet presence within Google itself. While the pay model appears to benefit only the largest companies at first glance, smaller retailers will still be able to receive ample placement on the site with a little research and planning.  It is easy to see the revenue benefit for Google in this but a lot harder to see how it really benefits the user. This is an important story to follow as Google has always been against this type of paid inclusion that they are now embracing, so it will be really interesting to see what happens as a result of this change.

What are your thoughts on this significant change?

Guide to Pinterest & Pinterest Marketing Strategies

Posted on June 7, 2012 by Josh Mc

Pinterest is an exploding social network whose momentum keeps on building. Millions of people have begun to discover how to use it to develop their distinctive personal brands. This website has attracted attention from the time it was first launched. Today, it may be one of the best ways to build your personal brand as well as your business.

How it Works

Currently in a beta phase, Pinterest is only allowing those who have requested an invitation, or been sent one by their friends, to join. Once your invitation is accepted, you will be offered a virtual pinboard. You will use this to create your own unique collection of images of favorite things on the Internet. It is like bookmarking with a lot more style.

Like Twitter, you will expand your reach into the world of social networking by following others. In turn, people will start following you. This process of following and being followed is initiated through content sharing. In other words, you will be following the pinboards of others and people will also be following your pinboards. In addition, you will be alerted when one of the people you're following pins something to their pinboard, and you will also get a chance to share the same content.

In essence, then, Pinterest is a place to collect and pin images that represent something associated with your unique personal brand. This process will allow you to share who you are in a way that is visually attractive. Avid users of Pinterest claim that it is even more addictive and fun than Facebook.

Essential Features on Pinterest

By looking at some of the features on this website, you will get a better understanding of how everything on it works.

A Pin

A pin is an image that you share with those following you. The image can be a photograph or a video that you created or found online. This pin will have a link which will allow you to tell people about where you collected the image.

A Pinboard

A board or pinboard is a group of pins that share a common theme. For example, it may be all about dog training, house remodels or even about marketing concepts. The whole idea is to pin objects that reflect your values and interests and that adds to your credibility as a dog trainer, remodeler or a marketer.

A Pin It Button

This is a browser button that expedites the whole process of collecting images as you surf the web. With the click of a button, you will be able to pin an image you like onto your browser. You will be invited to install the button into your browser after your invitation has been approved.

A Repin

A repin is much like a retweet on Twitter, it simply means to pin again. A repin then is similar to a Twitter retweet. When you repin, you pin an image on your pinboard that was previously on someone elses pinboard. Moreover, you can share on Facebook and Twitter your own pin or someone elses pin. As a result of all this pinning and repinning, you can attract either clients or employers by sharing your interests. Something unique even has the potentiality of stimulating viral sharing.

Summary

Of course, this is just the beginning of the many things possible on Pinterest, but this guide should get you started on this fabulous website. Check out the below infographic for more information Pinterest Marketing Strategies.


Taken from Social Media Online Classes