Unleashing the Power of LinkedIn for Business Development

It’s no secret that LinkedIn is an incredibly valuable networking tool. However, like all social channels, LinkedIn isn’t simply about the number of connections. Business owners that know how to leverage LinkedIn can build it into their business development strategies, helping them to create strategic partnerships with people who have compelling experience or interesting skills to help grow the business.

Business owners who want to use LinkedIn for business development efforts may accomplish this in a variety of ways. LinkedIn offers areas for sponsored content, which means that if you can provide interesting content specific to your industry, you can use paid LinkedIn marketing to grow your business and your personal brand by solidifying yourself as a thought leader in your area of expertise.

However, while paid placements can be tremendously valuable, the platform is really about the engagement.[quote]It’s more than simply posting updates and interesting articles, though that’s a great starting point.[/quote] If you want to be truly effective at using LinkedIn, it’s important to incorporate it into your overall business development initiatives.

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One of the easiest ways to get started using LinkedIn to help grow business is to develop a strategy. This way, you can create goals and desired outcomes, and can even create a playbook of best practices.

Because LinkedIn is a professional social media outlet, as opposed to Facebook or Twitter, which are designed more for general interest, it’s easy to overlook the effectiveness of creating a LinkedIn campaign the way you’d create a Facebook or Twitter campaign. But, if you’re planning to attend a conference soon, you can develop a creative LinkedIn campaign to do outreach, with an attempt to set up meetings prior to the conference or introduce yourself to noted speakers. Or, if you’re pushing out a new product, you can reach out to your network on LinkedIn for feedback and validation. Hearing from people in your related field can prove much more valuable than the feedback you might get from friends and family. Active involvement with LinkedIn groups and engagement with your favorite companies is a great way to make the most of LinkedIn.

In using LinkedIn as an effective business development tool, it’s important to consider the value proposition you’re offering. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time, and this holds especially true if you’re reaching out to a person in a powerful position to help you achieve your business goals. If you’re asking someone for a meeting, think about what you can offer him or her. Is it as simple as a cup of coffee, or can you offer to introduce that person to someone else who might be in a position to help them? Having an idea in mind of how you can help them is a great way to facilitate contact, and creates a more tailored experience than just a sales pitch.

Like any campaign, using LinkedIn as an outreach tool requires testing and optimization. Experiment with InMail subject lines and outreach strategies. Creating goals can help you measure the success of your campaign, and can help you revise future campaigns to make them more effective.

If you’re having trouble managing your contacts due to the sheer breadth of them, look into using tools such as Contactually to help store and manage your contacts. This program provides easy ways to keep in touch, so that your contacts remain on your “hot leads” list until you close a deal.

Contact our team of strategists today for more LinkedIn expertise!

Social Media Listening and Social Media Marketing

Marketers can garner a ton of data from social media listening — some people would argue it’s even too much! It can be daunting to try to sift through the noise, but with a little bit of calculated research, doing efficient social media listening can help marketers better understand brands, customers and the relationship between the two.

The biggest thing about social media listening is that it takes time. However, taking a few weeks to conduct a proper social media brand analysis is ultimately much cheaper than spending a significant amount of cash to conduct a focus group. This type of social media research also takes money, granted you’re working with large brands and need to use powerful social media listening tools such as those from Sysomos and Radian6. But, if you don’t want to pay for such tools, there are a variety of methods to help learn about users and how they interact and engage with social media content. The team at our Orlando marketing agency thinks you should try the following:

SET A GOAL

The most important and often overlooked aspect of social media listening is to determine a goal. “Get more Facebook likes” is not a goal; if that’s all you really wanted, there are plenty of places to buy them on the Internet. What would likely be a better goal for that brand would be to get more engagement, which for them would hopefully create more site traffic and ultimately more sales. The more specific this goal, the better the results of your social media listening survey will be.

RESEARCH THE BRAND

When conducting social media listening, a great place to start is by researching the brand through other sources. Checking Wikipedia, conducting informal research about the brand and closely reviewing the website helps understand the consistent viewpoints, and the dichotomy between the ways the brand describes itself, and what others say about the brand. If the brand has a brick-and-mortar location, visit it in person.

START WITH FACEBOOK

Then comes the fun part. Start by checking the brand’s Facebook page, and specifically, clicking on the box that says “likes,” which will take you to another page that will show you the brand’s activities in terms of mentions and new likes. It’ll also tell you which week was the brand’s most popular week, so you can look to that to see the kind of content that gets the best result. Also, if people are sharing photos and fan curated content, this might offer some insight into the types of marketing promotions you can run in the future.

CHECK TWITTER

Then, check Twitter to find out what types of things people are tweeting at the brand, and how the brand is responding. Take note of any patterns or canned responses for complaints, as this can be an area for improvement in social media strategy. Many times, brands are more active on Facebook, but have much stronger followings on Twitter, which can be a valuable insight in learning how to better leverage Twitter.

REVIEW OTHER SOCIAL CHANNELS

Finally, start looking to other social media networks: Instagram, Pinterest, tumblr, and anything else that might offer some insight into how people are interacting with the brand. In a recent review, I found that one of my clients had a significant Instagram following, yet did very little to engage with them. I also found that another brand had a massive and engaged following on Pinterest, yet was doing little to leverage this in terms of campaigns, and encouraged them to experiment with ways to grow their following.

CREATE A CAMPAIGN

Once you have the baseline information, the next step is to take behaviors you’re already seeing and to leverage them in order to create a campaign or strategy. An active Instagram fan base might inspire a photo competition, while a heightened Pinterest strategy might lead to more of an interest in aspirational brand photography than previously used. But remember to keep your eyes set on the goal, as your strategy may differ if the goal is to increase site visitors than it would be to try to get more people to visit a stores’ physical location.

In any case, social media can be a valuable tool in helping you understand your brand. For more ways to use social media listening to learn more about your business, contact our uber-talented team today!

How Website Optimization Can Help Grow Your Business

Remember the first days of the Internet, when it felt as though every single person had a Geocities page, full flashing graphics and crazy clip art-inspired interfaces? This was in an era when search engine technology was miniscule, which most of us now rely upon.
In this day and age, there are many more options for businesses to build impressive web pages. But all the features in the world won’t necessarily make for a better website: the key lies between optimized design and optimized content. The team at our Florida marketing agency is ready to break down ways for business owners to do both – here, BIGEYE brings you a few thoughts regarding web optimization, and how it can help grow your business:

Website optimization:

Designing a great website requires a calculated mix of graphic design and user experience design. Most companies that have great graphic teams may be lacking in the UX department, meaning that even if a website looks beautiful, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to navigate.

One solution to this is to enact user testing on your website, both throughout the development process and periodically after the site launches.[quote]Google Analytics offers powerful tools to help track users’ behaviors once they reach a website.[/quote] A high bounce rate may mean that your Google AdWords strategies are misleading, or that your site takes too long to load. Business owners can also test website functionality by asking about user experience through survey data or even informal questioning. Collecting qualitative and quantitative data as to friction points can help business owners find ways to ease user concerns. Some small businesses note massive increases in conversion to sales after installing quick and easy fixes such as a call to action on the front page or seamless shopping cart functionality.

Business owners can also optimize their websites using tools like Optimizely, which helps facilitate A/B testing to see which website designs work best within a given user base. Additionally, data mined using Moz can help boost the SEO ranking of your website through design optimization in accordance with Google’s search algorithm.

Content Optimization:

Even the most beautifully designed website isn’t going to gain search engine traction if the content isn’t optimized. Website content optimization doesn’t just depend on the actual text on a website, but also is contingent on metadata, tags and a whole host of other facets that content writers can read about at Moz.

The number one rule of SEO website optimization is to avoid tactics that seem slimy, such as linkbaiting practices and poor-quality, keyword heavy content. These will seriously damage SEO rankings, and it may take a long time for a domain name to recover after losing rankings due to bad practices.

Companies can also improve SEO rankings by blogging. Focusing on a few keywords and posting about relevant topics pertaining to that field can give companies even more opportunities to appear in organic search.

Site content is just the start of search engine optimization; Moz and a host of other companies offer packages to help optimize the backend of your website using a variety of tools and facets, many of which are updated frequently to reflect constantly-evolving search engine ranking algorithms.

Our Florida ad agency hopes you can use these tools to help optimize your site to get more money for your dollar. While website optimization in some cases may be a large investment, it can have a major payoff when it comes to the bottom line.  For more information as to how your business can optimize its website, please contact BIGEYE’s Florida advertising agency.

The Seven Best Black Friday Marketing Practices You Should Know

Black Friday is the biggest sales day of the year with a record $59 billion spent in 2012. Retail stores are seeing more and more people, lined up earlier and shopping later than ever. There’s just something about a nice Thanksgiving dinner that makes people comfortable spending cash on their loved ones (and themselves!) the day after.

Marketers who work for retail companies can expect sales upticks on Black Friday, but what can they do to make the most of it? Here, the marketers (and shopaholics) at our Orlando marketing agency share the 7 best Black Friday marketing tips for your company:

1. Start Early, End Late: Years ago, Black Friday was limited to just that. However, a Black Friday summary from CNN Money showed that 10% of Black Friday shoppers were at stores by 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, while 28% were there by midnight, showing that businesses can make even more profit with longer Black Friday hours.[quote]In the digital space, ecommerce companies also focus on Cyber Monday, which encourages deals for people who shop from their computers, tablets and mobile devices.[/quote]

2. Look at Trends: What sold well last year? What types of discounts helped the most? Looking at data form past promotions can help marketers tailor their sale strategies to consumer activities. Evaluating these trends also helps with the next item on our list…

3. Set Goals: For most companies, the Black Friday goal will always be to increase revenue. But perhaps the company also harbors secondary goals of increasing social media engagement or pushing products that haven’t been selling as well. Looking at previous trends can help marketers set attainable goals, and can also help them tailor their strategies to insights regarding consumer behavior.

4. Promote Where Your Potential Customers Are: When determining where to place your ad dollars, try to assess your customers’ personas to figure out where you can most likely reach them. Internet savvy businesses may get more out of investing in social media campaigns, while department stores with older clientele may have more success with advertising in print publications.

5. Seek Publicity: Each year, hundreds of media outlets report on Black Friday – not just the people lining up to be the first to snag a deal, but also months after the event to recap sales and trends. Businesses can seek to be part of this publicity storm by offering unusual deals, selling packages designed just for Black Friday and advertising unique offerings.

6. Encourage Return Visits: If one of your company’s goals is to increase sales between Black Friday and Christmas, it may be wise to offer coupons redeemable only after Black Friday. This can help incentivize people to return to the store and spend more money throughout the holiday season.

7. Reward Employees: Though more of a management tip, it is highly applicable to all business owners and CEOs who are running Black Friday campaigns. This time of year can be extraordinarily stressful, so incentivizing and rewarding hard work is one of the ways to help ease this stress for everyone.

Marketers who follow these tips can look forward to seeing success with their Black Friday campaigns. In the retail industry, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate oneself, but with targeted marketing and advertising, the team at our Florida advertising agency believes good marketing can turn Black Friday into lots and lots of green. Contact us today for more retail strategies to ensure you’re prepared for a bevy of new customers!

Know The Importance of Embracing Seasonal Marketing

Each year as the crisp fall air starts to deepen into a winter chill, people across the country don their snow boots (or just boots for us Florida folks) and head out to Starbucks seeking the type of warmth that can only come from a seasonal Starbucks Christmas blend. The team at our Florida advertising agency loves these tastes – even when it’s still a balmy 70 degrees outside!

Starbucks’ Christmas coffees are insanely popular, and fanatics often endeavor to collect and sample these flavors year after year. The national coffee chain, which does very little advertising through conventional media such as TV advertising or print, managed to build this community through word-of-mouth – plus clever tactics that get people buzzing from more than just the caffeine in their tasty beverages.

For example, in 2011, Starbucks released an augmented reality mobile app tailored specifically to the Starbucks Christmas coffee experience. The reality app encouraged users to interact with their Starbucks-branded Christmas goodies, and offered them unique images and interactive graphics upon viewing.

How has Starbucks been able to so cleverly tap into the consumer psyche, causing positive associations between seasons and products?

We all know that holidays drive sales. But that’s only part of it. The other part is the authenticity of a company’s marketing efforts. Efforts geared towards seasons reflect life experience; and therefore, the most successful seasonal marketing efforts are ones that connect with the consumer’s emotions.

Beer marketers have known this for years, often releasing summer ales and winter lagers, made up of differing compounds to help correspond with the season. [quote]Rather than focusing on a one-off seasonal event, seasonal marketing becomes part of the company’s overall strategy.[/quote]

Therefore, a company’s “holiday” plan becomes a 365-day endeavor, with the most successful companies plotting their holiday strategies months in advance. Any company can do this by initiating a seasonal marketing calendar, and preparing for seasonal events months in advance.

For businesses that specialize in digital technology, it is easy to monitor website analytics to learn more about consumer’s habits through the seasons. Retooling the year-long marketing plan to conform with consumer tastes and spending habits can help marketers identify trends and capitalize on consumer actions.

Companies that rely on seasonal marketing efforts can stretch their efforts further by finding ways to piggyback off of seasonal campaigns. As discussed above, Starbucks keeps people coming back year after year with a line of limited edition items. However, other businesses can offer incentives for consumers to return after the holiday season, or can even start offering Valentine’s Day promotional materials just after the New Year.

Our Florida marketing agency wants you to remember that the important thing about seasonal marketing is its appeal to customers’ emotions. In particular, the holiday season is a time when families make happy memories, and therefore changes in the weather evoke feelings of happiness and adoration. By tapping into these emotions and consumer behaviors, marketers are better able to connect with their purchasers.

So, the next time you walk into Starbucks and smell the fresh-ground dark roast coffee with a kick of cinnamon in the air, look around, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by seasonal marketing at its best. Let our team help your company embrace the seasons and take your marketing efforts to the next level – contact us today!

Is Your Marketing Campaign Mom-Friendly? Learn Why It Should Be

Over the past two decades, Moms have controlled up to 80% of household spending. When you break it down, they are not only buying for themselves but for many other age groups and demographics including adults, babies, tweens, teens, males and females. By putting in some consideration and tailoring your marketing campaigns to fit this influential consumer group, you could reap quite the harvest in customer conversion and tap into a market that will keep giving.
As a Florida advertising agency we make sure our clients consider the demographic they are marketing to. If the age range or product falls anywhere close to the “Mom” demographic, we like to ask the following questions as we develop or critique an existing marketing campaign:

Question 1: Are my marketing campaigns easy to read and navigate on a mobile phone?

From juggling careers, family schedules and keeping the home in order, Moms are always on the go and use their trusty mobile sidekicks to keep up the pace. According to BabyCenter’s September 2012 Media Mom Report, 65% of moms have smart phones (38% higher than the general US population). Quick, easy and straightforward is the name of the game when you’re dealing with Moms and mobile media. In fact, BabyCenter’s monthly poll states 91% of smartphone equipped Moms expect websites to be mobile friendly.

Pay specific attention to:

    • Clear click-through links: Consider the webpage that your ad, email campaign or image may link them to. Does it bring the audience straight to the desired destination? Or does it lead them to a home page that they would have to scroll through to find the information or product?
    • Mobile visuals: How does it visually look on the phone? Is the image clear? Is the color scheme eye-catching and easily understandable?
    • Clear call to action: Does the content clearly and concisely state what you would like them to do? For example: “Click Here to Order.”

Question 2: What kind of woman am I marketing to?

Stereotypes and assumptions of a Mom’s role can often be detrimental to a marketing campaign if skewed in the wrong direction. Mothers no longer fit within the “Leave it To Beaver” role these days and are sometimes categorized somewhere between stressed and tired or on an episode of Real Housewives. The truth is that Mom’s are women first, modern, forward thinking women who have added responsibilities like children, a spouse and other family members. Mom-hood doesn’t change the fact that they are still women and want to feel beautiful, empowered and all around badass, plus able to cook a mean grilled cheese sandwich.

Question 3: Just how social is my marketing campaign?

Moms are all about relationships and look to social sites like Facebook that promote that relational connection. In fact most Moms spend their socializing time on Facebook because of the information and content sharing capabilities between friends and family. Twitter has been found to be more influential with the tech savvy and higher wage-earning Mom. To reach the mainstream Mom market, use Facebook for social promotions and talk to those Moms because they are certainly talking too.

To learn more about how you can market to moms in order to create brand preference and instill brand loyalty, contact our team of experts today! We’re poised to discuss strategies for segmentation, creating appeals and assessing your own brand to determine perfect target market for your business.

Resources:

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/babycenter-reveals-five-trends-that-impact-the-business-of-mom-172863301.html
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703521304576278964279316994.html#project%3DNUMBERS_GUY_1104%26articleTabs%3Dinteractive%20OR%20http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703521304576278964279316994.html