Month: July 2014

4 Tips to Build a Relationship With Your Business Blog’s Audience

We all want our customers to trust us. To relate to us. To look to us for answers (and to have faith that we will provide those answers). But how do you build that connection and strengthen the relationship between your customers and your business?

For companies big and small, blogging can be a great tool for engaging with your customers, attracting leads, creating a voice for your brand, and even boosting followers on social media. Blogging about your business is an excellent way to foster a connection with your existing clients and catch the eye of prospective customers. It gives you a forum to get your message across and share valuable insights and information in order to demonstrate your expertise and value.

However, if you’re not careful, you can wind up boring and turning off your readers rather than piquing their interest and instilling loyalty. It’s easy to make business blogging mistakes if you’re not looking out for them. Luckily, we at xAmplifier are here to not only show you what pitfalls to avoid, but also to offer positive alternatives to make your blog required reading.

DON’T Fill Your Blog with Sales Messages

DO Offer Your Readers Content That Is Useful to Them
 

In attempting to get your message out, it’s all too easy to focus on what YOU want customers to do – continue (or start) buying your products or services. But you always need to keep your audience’s desires in mind. They don’t want to read a bunch of thinly-disguised advertisements. That won’t keep them coming back to your blog.

Instead, make sure your content offers something the audience wants. It can be useful information (“5 Small Business Website Design Tips”). It can be advice to help solve their problems (“6 Do-It-Yourself Car Care Tips”). It can be a discussion of relevant current events or trends in your industry (“10 Best Twitter Marketing Campaigns”). It can simply be something that they’ll find interesting or thought-provoking (“Why Google’s Office Environment Is Conducive to Creativity”). The key is to put the readers’ needs first. If you give them something they want or need (or, ideally, both), they’ll appreciate it and be much more likely to keep visiting your blog for more. And by discussing relevant, useful topics or solutions to their problems, you establish your expertise and trustworthiness.

DON’T Be Boring or Take Too Long to Get to the Point

DO Engage Readers with Interesting Headlines and Opening Paragraphs
 

Have you ever heard anyone talking about how patient people are these days, or extolling the virtues of the modern attention span?

Of course not. Let’s face it: people are easily bored and distracted, and there are endless alternatives online competing for their attention. If you don’t do something to stand out or hook them early, you’ll struggle to get them to even finish reading a post. Remember that interesting/useful/valuable content we told you to include? Let them know up front what value the post offers them.

You want your headlines to attract attention and provoke interest or curiosity. Including words with sensory or emotional connotations is a subtle way to make people more likely to click. Numbers also naturally stand out in a row of titles otherwise composed of letters, so offering “4 tips on business blogging” is more eye-catching than “tips on business blogging.” Titles that emphasize the timeliness of the material are also a good idea, when appropriate (for instance, “Top 10 Predictions for 2015” or “12 Christmas Gift Ideas”).

DON’T Be Too Formal

DO Engage Readers with a Conversational Writing Style
 

You want to establish a closer connection with your readers/customers. You want them to feel closer to you. So don’t write as if you’re speaking to visiting royal dignitaries. Write like you would speak in a casual conversation. You don’t have to go overboard and get too slangy or vulgar, but a conversational tone makes the reader feel comfortable and on more equal footing with the writer than formal or technical language. A little humor doesn’t hurt. And there are other simple ways to make your writing more engaging. Use the active voice rather than passive. Address questions to the reader. Address the reader directly (You’ve already noticed me using those last two, haven’t you?).
 

DON’T Make it the Reader’s Job to Find Your Content

DO Make Your Blog Accessible with Links and a Mailing List
 

If someone really likes your blog, they might bookmark it or remember to check in every few days. But why not make it even easier for them? Include conspicuous links in your posts so the reader can sign up to receive new content directly. If your posts are arriving directly to their inbox they never need to go searching for you, so they won’t miss posts or forget to visit your blog. You could even share a newsletter every week, two weeks, or month centered on one major blog post and featuring links to other posts.

You can also use social media to make your blog more accessible. Share your blog posts via your company’s social media pages and encourage your employees to do so on their own accounts. Within your blog posts, include social media buttons for one-click sharing so your readers can help get the word out. Once you build a relationship with your readers, let their recommendations bring you new readers to start the process all over again.

At xAmplifier, we aim to provide you with interesting, useful content to solve your business’ problems. You can contact us at sales@xamplifier.com or call 866.363.6434 to see what xAmplifier can do for you!

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How to Run a Successful Hashtag Campaign

At xAmplifier, we want to help your company improve your digital reputation and garner a wider social media audience. One way to do so is by launching a hashtag campaign on Twitter and other social media platforms. This week, we’ll offer you tips and tricks for a successful hashtag campaign.
 
Spark Conversation with Your Hashtag

Nike’s 2013 international social media campaign shared posts containing the hashtag #MakeItCount across Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to promote the Nike + FuelBand launched in January 2012. Nike published content starring eleven athletes in three countries with the #MakeItCount hashtag to inspire fans to share the ways they #MakeItCount.
 
This well-crafted hashtag encouraged users to present their own fitness goals, moments and progress with a like-minded community. With its carryover power, #MakeItCount builds on Nike’s core values without namedropping the brand itself and sparks conversation among both fans and customers.
 
Engage Both the Digital and Physical World

Cole Haan launched their #DontGoHome campaign the week before 2012’s New York Fashion Week to project a fresher image and attract a younger audience. The shoe and accessory company advertised the hashtag on New York City storefront gates with witty lines like “Your fairy drag mother says #DontGoHome” or “Tomorrow’s story happens tonight. #DontGoHome.”
 
Cole Haan used this intersection of the digital and physical worlds, relying on social media word-of-mouth using both Twitter and Instagram hashtags to spread the word beyond New York City. The #DontGoHome campaign earned more than 800 shares within the second week, giving Cole Haan an 86 percent spike in engagement.
 
Promote a Good Cause

In May 2011, Ben & Jerry’s launched a Twitter app called “Fair Tweets,” allowing users to type in a tweet of their choice and donate their leftover characters of the allotted 140 to a good cause. The app used the remaining characters to promote Fair Trade Day with both a #FairTweets hashtag and a link to an article about the movement.
 
A company constantly involved in activism, Ben & Jerry’s used word-of-mouth to spread awareness about Fair Trade without over-promoting themselves in the process. The Twitter app microsite garnered more than 43,600 site visits from more than 100 countries and donated about 518,000 characters to the Fair Trade cause. The successful hashtag campaign came back for Fair Trade month in October 2011.
 
Prepare for the Worst

Unfortunately, some hashtag campaigns don’t go as originally planned. McDonald’s started their #McDStories hashtag campaign, encouraging the company’s suppliers and consumers to share positive stories and experiences. Within two stories of the campaign’s launch, the hashtag became a platform for unhappy customers and fostered more than 2,000 negative tweets about the brand.
 
Hashtag hijacking is a risk for any branded hashtag campaign, so vulnerable companies like McDonald’s should avoid hashtag campaigns. If such brands do decide to execute a campaign, the hashtag should be specific to the company’s goals. #McDStories opens the door for irony and negative attention.
 
Remember these tips when starting your own hashtag campaign. When executed well, a hashtag campaign can help your company cast a wider net and improve your digital reputation.
 
Interested in learning more about using social media to engage with your customers? Contact us at sales@xamplifier.com or call 866.363.6434 to see what xAmplifier can do for you!

What is the Best Way to Measure Success?

Every business wants to succeed. That’s a given. But how do we define that success? What is the best way to measure how a business is doing and tell whether it is trending in a positive or negative direction? There are a lot of metrics and ways to look at performance, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s examine some of them:
 

Month-by-Month Improvement

One simple way to measure how your business is doing is to compare your performance (be it in sales, revenue, conversion rate) from one month to the next. Obviously improvement each month is a desirable goal, and if you’re achieving it then your business is constantly moving forward and growing. But a failure to improve each month may not be a uniformly bad sign. Various factors such as relative health of the economy, advertising cycles, market saturation, holidays, and even the weather can cause unexpected fluctuations throughout the year.

Month-by-Year Comparison

The limitations above can be avoided by simply comparing a month to the same month in the previous year (or years) to track growth without having to worry about seasonal influences on the numbers. If your sales numbers go up in December compared to November, you’re probably happy. But if they’re significantly lower than last December’s numbers, you’ll want to be aware of it and figure out why you suffered the drop-off. The biggest drawback with this method is for new businesses without the past data to compare or those that have experienced major changes that make the past numbers less relevant.

New vs. Return Business

New business is always a positive, and it is absolutely essential to business growth. That is why some businesses put a big emphasis on their rate of new customers. But there are limitations to what new business alone can do for you; especially if you are a local or regional business, there are a finite number of realistic new customers out there. High rates of new customers are wonderful, but the growth they provide won’t be sustainable unless you can win their loyalty and their repeat business. The Gartner Group says that 80% of your future profits will come from 20% of your existing customers, and a Harvard Business School study found that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.*

Net Promoter Score® (NPS®)

Net Promoter Score® (as we’ve discussed previously) is the most trusted metric for measuring customer satisfaction. If your customers are happy, you can look forward to their repeat business and the benefits of their word-of-mouth (both physical and digital) to advocate your brand and amplify your reputation. A strong NPS® (although there are variations by industry, an NPS® score above 50 is considered very good, a score of 30-49 is considered good but with some room for improvement, and a score below 30 is considered a red flag and threat to business growth) is a sign of a business that is performing well and can expect to experience growth going forward. You can use your NPS® to compare yourself to direct competitors in your industry to see where you stand. This is a more relevant comparison, but even within the same industry there may be factors that skew it; if you’re a regional business, for example, a comparison to a competitor in a different region may be affected by economic or other demographic factors.

Conclusion

So, which method of measuring success is best? That’s up for debate. The real question is: Why limit yourself to one? xAmplifier provides reporting and analysis using all of these methods to give our users a more complete view of the state of their business, as well as attempting to compensate for any weaknesses in one method by balancing it with the others. This multi-pronged approach means users can decide which methods they find most helpful or significant to their business, but don’t become over-fixated on one at the expense of the others (and a more comprehensive understanding of their business).

Interested in learning more about measuring your organization’s success? Contact us at  sales@xamplifier.com or call 866.363.6434 to see what xAmplifier can do for you!