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How to Improve the Profitability of Your Small Business Mobile App

If you have been following the latest marketing developments, you know everything is trending in a mobile direction.

Consumers are seemingly glued to their phones and tablets. In fact, 77% of adults in the United States own a smartphone. That number is up from 35% in 2011.

That’s why it’s so important for you to optimize your web design for mobile users. While this is a necessary approach, it’s not enough if you really want to enhance your mobile marketing strategy.

The way people use their phones has changed. People don’t consume information the way they did five or ten years ago.

With the rise in smartphone usage, it makes sense that there is also a growing popularity in mobile app usage.

In fact, 90% of mobile usage time is spent on applications.

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If you are one of the small business owners who recognized this trend and built a mobile app, congratulations.

Developing an app is no easy task, and it’s definitely not the least expensive investment you’ll make in your lifetime. But now that your app has launched, you might be having some concerns about your return on investment.

You expected to see massive profits right off the bat, and that’s not always the case.

Some of you may have had your small business mobile app out for a while now. At first, it was performing well, but over time sales have become stagnant or even declined.

Even if your mobile app is successful, there is always room for improvement. That’s the inspiration for this guide.

I’ll explain everything you need to know about optimizing your small business mobile app to maximize sales and increase profitability. Here’s what you need to know.

Don’t charge users to download your app

I know what you’re thinking. How can you make money with a free mobile app?

Charging an upfront fee for downloads may seem like an appealing way to get some fast cash. It could be the way you forecasted getting your initial investment back. But I advise against this strategy.

As a small business owner, you know how important it is to prioritize customer service. You also know how cost-sensitive your customers are.

The investment to download your app will turn people away. Even if you’re only charging a few bucks, it’s just not worth it to people.

Why?

Well, for starters, your customers are not used to paying for their apps. Research shows the vast majority of mobile app downloads are free.

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Is your app really that much more valuable to the user than all the other free apps on their device? I doubt it.

Removing the cost to download an app will ultimately result in more downloads. Now people won’t have a reason to hesitate when installing your app on their devices.

The more people download your mobile app to their smartphones and tablets, the greater the chances of them spending money.

Here’s another way to think of it. If you’re using this app as a platform to sell your products, what’s the cheapest item offered on your app?

Now, compare that to the cost you were considering charging for a one-time download. It’s just not worth it to collect an insignificant fee when you can cover these user acquisition costs with actual purchases instead.

Focus on app store optimization (ASO)

Since you’ve already developed a mobile app for your business, I’ll assume you’re somewhat tech-savvy.

Even if you didn’t build it yourself, you at least have your finger on the pulse when it comes to the latest technology. You probably have a website and understand the basic principles of search engine optimization (SEO).

Well, app store optimization is basically the same concept. But it’s in reference to the app store as opposed to an Internet search engine.

There are certain elements based on how you set your app up that will affect your ranking in the app store.

However, there’s a catch. These algorithms and factors will differ depending on where your app is available. The two biggest app stores are the Google Play Store for Android devices and the Apple App Store for iOS devices.

Those of you who have your app available on both platforms, which I definitely recommend, need to understand how these elements affect your ranking.

Here is a look at some of the main differences between these two app stores:

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As you can see, there are definitely some similarities between the two stores that have implications for your ASO strategy. The app title in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store has the most significant impact on your search rankings.

The way user reviews and ratings impact your search ranking is also similar on both platforms.

However, some of the key differences here include:

  • description
  • keywords field
  • app listing links

You’ll need to make changes to your listing in each store so that it’s appropriately optimized for ASO.

If you have your app available only in one store, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity here. Alienating a large percentage of your customers is costing you money.

Once you have your app offered in both app stores and prioritize your ASO, you will see more downloads.

As I have previously stated, increased downloads will improve profitability.

Personalize the user experience

What happens when someone downloads your app?

Think about what everyone sees on your homepage and interface. Is it the same?

If the answer to that question is yes, you’re making a mistake. You should encourage app users to create a customer profile when they launch your app.

Often, people are turned off and discouraged by the time-consuming and tedious process of creating a profile. You can make it easier for your customers by integrating your app with their Facebook profile or Google accounts. This simplifies the login process.

Here’s an example from the Quora app that illustrates exatly what I’m referring to.

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This is much easier for your users than having to type in all of their information to set up a profile.

But now that they have an account with your app, every action they make can be tracked to enhance their personalized experience.

Based on things such as their search history and previous transactions, you’ll be able to recommend appropriate products and services to each customer.

You can also recommend items based on age, location, gender, etc. Tracking previous purchases makes it easy for customers to complete repeat orders.

All of these factors will help you drive sales and boost profits through your app.

Personalized offers encourage customers to spend more money. In fact, 39% of customers are willing to spend more after receiving personalized mobile promotions.

Use your app to enhance the in-store experience

I know that some small businesses operate exclusively online. So this tactic may not apply to you at the moment.

But I still encourage you to review this section in case you expand your company to physical locations in the future.

But if you have brick and mortar retail locations, your app can help complement the in-store buying process for your customers. How well have you been tracking your customers’ shopping habits?

If you watch them closely, you may have realized they are already using their smartphones while they are shopping in your store.

You might as well integrate your mobile app with your physical store to make shopping even easier for your customers. These are the top ways that customers use their phones while shopping in stores:

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Your app should be able to do all the things on this list.

Make it easy for customers to scan a barcode of an item in your store directly from your mobile app platform. Now they’ll have access to a detailed product description and be able to read user reviews.

Give them an option to save items in a list of their favorites so they can buy it later, even if they don’t want to buy it right now.

This will make it easier and more appealing for them to complete the transaction.

On the flip side, they can browse for an item on your app and save it in their favorites list before they get to your store. When they arrive, your app can tell them exactly where the product is located in the store.

Now they can check it out in person to make sure it’s exactly what they had expected before buying it. This really enhances the customer experience.

As we previously discussed, you want to personalize the customer experience.

Your mobile app can also act as a customer identification card for each user. This will be linked to their account and loyalty rewards program. We’ll discuss this concept in greater detail shortly.

Send push notifications

Your mobile website is a great asset to your small business. But one thing it can’t do is contact your customers at will.

Since you have a mobile app, you need to use push notifications to your advantage and reach out to your customers.

You just need to be cautious when it comes to the type of message you’re sending with each push notification.

We know that 48% of app users want to receive push notifications about special offers based on their preferences. This relates back to one of my earlier points about personalization.

Just don’t send push notifications too frequently. That’s because 52% of users believe that push notifications are an annoying distraction. You don’t want your company to be perceived as annoying. Sending too many notifications can cause damage beyond your brand’s tarnished reputation.

For example, 32% of app users will stop using an app altogether if they get too many notifications.

You should also consider the word count of your push notifications.

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If you have too many words, they may not fit on the screen. This will obviously have a negative impact on your open rates.

That’s why push notifications with ten or fewer words have the highest click rates.

When it comes to your push notification strategy, your best bet is to only send messages that add value to the recipient. I’d recommend discounts or promotions to get started.

Timely notifications are helpful as well. If your company is delivering something to the customer, such as food, a notification “your food has arrived” would definitely be appropriate.

Just don’t go overboard with these, or users can turn off notifications. If that happens, it won’t help you generate more profits.

Set up a loyalty program

You don’t always need to turn to new downloads and user acquisition to make more money. Instead, look at your most loyal customers as a way to increase profits.

As I mentioned earlier, your mobile app can act as a digital customer loyalty rewards card. We’ve all seen these before. Your small business may even have one of these systems already in place.

I’m talking about things such as a simple punch card. For example, if you have a sandwich shop, you may offer a free sandwich on the customer’s 10th visit.

The problem with this system is that cards get misplaced, and it’s not easy to track the purchases. But a mobile customer loyalty program is much more effective.

You can set it up based on the number of visits, but I’d recommend taking your strategy to the next level. If two customers each make ten purchases, does that mean they are equal?

Not if one spends $ 100 total and the other spends $ 1,000 total. Setting up your rewards program based on a spending threshold system rewards your top customers.

Here’s a look at how Sephora implemented this strategy based on a customer’s annual spending:

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Adding this feature to your mobile app will help increase the buying frequency and average purchase order for each user.

That’s because customers are encouraged to spend more money so that they can reach the next level. Once they get to a new threshold, their benefits will increase.

As a result, you’ll see higher profits and improve your customer retention strategy at the same time.

Encourage user referrals

As I just finished saying, you don’t always need new customers to improve your profits. That said, it certainly helps.

A great way to get new downloads is by leveraging your relationships with your current customers. Encourage them to refer their friends and family to your app.

However, this is easier said than done. Simply asking your existing users to refer others probably won’t be enough to get the job done.

Sure, your app may be great, but it’s not enough for someone to help you just out of the kindness of their heart. They’ll be expecting something in return.

Reward customers for their referrals. Give them an incentive, such as a discount off their next purchase.

You can reward the referred user as well. It may seem as if you’re giving away too much, but it’s worth it in the long run since you’ll be getting new customers.

Here’s a look at how this feature looks on the Airbnb app:

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Research shows that this referral tactic helped boost their app download rates by 300%.

It’s safe to say it’s a winning strategy. It can also create an exponential download effect.

That’s because each time a new user downloads the app, they’ll also be encouraged to invite their friends to join.

This is one of my favorite ways to get your customers to recommend your brand to others.

Optimize the checkout process

Let’s continue our discussion of customer profiles. You want to take full advantage of this feature.

Once the customer makes an initial purchase through the app, you can save all of their information to their account.

Now you have their shipping address and billing information. Unlike on a desktop or mobile site, they don’t have to enter this information each time they want to buy something.

All they have to do is click on what they want and finalize the transaction. The entire checkout process can be completed in a couple of clicks.

That’s why mobile apps have higher conversion rates than mobile websites:

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Do everything possible to make your app’s checkout as smooth as possible.

Fewer steps and less friction to complete a purchase will help drive sales. Plus, your app makes it easy to accept alternative payment options, such as Apple Pay.

Constantly monitor the performance

Nobody’s app is perfect.

Sure, you spent the time to make sure it was good enough before you released it, but there is always room for improvement.

Prioritize speed. Avoid glitches. Fix crashes and errors as soon as possible. It will help improve the user experience.

Research found 48% of app users are less likely to use an app if they have a poor experience. And 31% of people say they are less likely to buy something from a company based on a poor app experience. You can’t afford to overlook that.

Read through your user reviews to see the feedback and what needs to be changed.

Use beta testers to help you get valuable insights before releasing new versions and updates.

Conclusion

If your small business has a mobile app, you are already on the right path to success. But if your app isn’t generating high profits, it can feel as if there is a hole burning in your pocket.

One of the best ways to improve your app’s profitability is by finding ways to get more downloads. Ultimately, downloads will translate to dollars.

Make sure you offer your app as a free download. Focus on app store optimization to improve your search rankings in both stores. Encourage users to invite their friends through a referral program.

Personalize the user experience. Use your app to improve the way they shop in your physical stores. Set up a mobile loyalty program, and send promotions through push notifications.

Simplify your checkout process so it’s easy for app users to make a purchase.

If you follow these tips, your small business mobile app will turn into a money-making machine.

How are you using your small business mobile app to drive sales and increase profits?


Quick Sprout

Voice Search: What Small Business Owner’s and Marketers Need to Know

Voice Search: What Small Business Owner’s and Marketers Need to Know written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Voice Search

An increasing number of people are turning to search devices, but not necessarily search engines per se. We have laptops and our phones, and then, of course, we’ve got these Alexa and Google Home devices. These are how people are actually now executing searches. Not all of it is direction-based (“Google, find a salon nearby). A lot of it is going to be assistant-based. It’s going to be playing our music. It’s going be turning our lights off. The sky’s the limit.

As marketers, we need to start embracing this idea of search using voice. Research says 50% of searches will be voice-based by 2020.

So are we in “panic mode” time? I don’t know if that’s the case, but we certainly are at “pay attention mode” time, even for the smallest of businesses.

In fact, for local businesses, this is coming faster than you might have realized or understood, and it may be more important for these businesses to pay attention to voice search more than any other business now. According to Search Engine Watch, mobile voice-related searches are three times more likely to be locally-based than text.

Yes, a lot of those searches have to do with looking for directions or trying to find a good place to do “X”. They’re not necessarily doing full-on research, say to hire an attorney or to hire a plumber necessarily, but a lot of transaction-based searches and location-based searches are happening through voice search in the local market.

According to Bright Local, 53% of people use voice search to find information on local businesses. Many say they use voice search daily (particularly on a smart speaker).

Smart speakers have clearly taken off in the past couple of years, with Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa dominating the marketplace. Google has really moved into the spotlight with their speakers this year because it’s so tightly integrated into search to begin with.

How people use voice search for local businesses

So, what are the things people search for? How do they use voice search for local businesses today? Making restaurant reservations receive the highest use, by far. Additionally, people are using it to find sales and offers from local businesses, as well as to find out which products a local business has in stock. In a nutshell, it consists of a lot of very product transaction-based searches.

What local businesses should do about voice search

Google My Business

If you’re a local business, you need to get really good at some of the things that Google has been telling us about for search anyway, such as optimizing your Google My Business listing. It’s now just become more important so you must embrace it and optimize it. Google is clearly showing signs that they’re not kidding this time. They are investing a lot of time and energy into Google My Business and continue to add features, which I think businesses need to be paying attention to. I’d recommend taking advantage of every new feature they offer, including Google Posts, Messaging, the new description, and product and service offerings. Don’t forget to add photos and videos as well.

Bottom line? Make sure the listing is claimed, accurate, and complete.

Featured Snippet

Have you ever done a search for something and see a full description at the top of the page? This is what people are starting to call position zero or the featured snippet.

position zero

What I believe Google is trying to do is get you to stay on the page. Why ever leave the search results if they can give you most of the answer they think you’re after? The featured snippet is what around 70% of voice searches bring up today. Google Maps results are also big for voice search results.

To get this coveted spot, start doing some brainstorming. Find some low intent terms that don’ have a featured snippet today and write an answer-based or list-based blog post that clearly gets at the intent of what those low intent search terms might be. You might want to take a look at Answer the Public to find questions or related phrases. A lot of times you can create content that more specifically addresses the search term or at least what the intent of a search term is.

Site speed and security

This has never been more important. If your site doesn’t load, you’re never going to show up in voice search results because that’s a bad experience.

According to my friend Brian Dean from Backlinko, 70.4% of Google Home result pages were secured with an HTTPS or SSL certificate. We need to all go to HTTPS, or have secure websites. At some point in 2018, you’re going to start seeing search results that indicate that a site is not secure.

As you can see, reputation matters more than ever. There’s a lot of indication that search results are not going to show up for companies with low ratings for voice search. Local media mentions are probably underrated, so make sure you pay attention to them and social signals as well (even though Google denies it, I believe that it does in fact matter). 

Google Assistant

Google Assistant, which is really part of the Google Home piece, is really going to start doing things. They have a new tool that they’ve announced that’s been getting a lot of hype called Duplex, where you can say, “Hey Google, find me a hairdresser near me and make me an appointment for 2:00 on next Wednesday,” and it is actually going to make the phone call and interact in an artificial intelligence-way with whoever answers the phone.

You’re going to see more of that coming and for a lot of businesses, particularly appointment-based businesses like restaurants and hair salons, the staff are going to need to get those phone calls and it clearly is going to sound like Google. They’re going to need to understand what it is and how to respond to it. 

You’re also going to start seeing smart displays. Televisions today are going to have built-in Google Assistant available more and more where somebody can just be sitting there and tell Google to order them a pizza right from their television without getting up.

As I said, this is not panic time. This is the time to start preparing. Be realistic about it and see if voice search applies to your business at this point. You’re not going to go out there and dominate for voice search in a competitive industry, but I will tell you one thing: Even if you think that they are evil, pure evil, you need to get one of these smart speakers like an Alexa, or a Google Home so that you can understand a little bit about how they work, and what kind of search results they return. 

What is your business currently doing for voice search?


Duct Tape Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Small Business in 2017

Does Twitter still work for small businesses? How can you get your Tweets seen? Should you invest time into it? These are some of the most common questions we’ve seen about Twitter for small business in 2016. The common theme is businesses are struggling to make Twitter work as effectively as it used to.

As Twitter grew and more brands jumped on board, competition became more fierce. The upside is it gives you a larger audience to reach. The downside is Twitter feeds fill up faster than the gym in January, so it’s harder to get your Tweets seen. But don’t worry, Twitter is far from dead.

Unfortunately a lot of the old advice you’ve read before like “Tweet great content” or “fill out your Twitter profile” isn’t enough anymore. If you want to be successful with Twitter for small business in 2017 and beyond, you can’t treat it like it’s still 2012.

Follow these tips to get more from Twitter:

Scale the Unscalable

The reason people don’t engage with your content isn’t always because they don’t like what you’re Tweeting. It could just be they didn’t see it. Luckily this is an easy fix.

One of the original draws of Twitter was the ability to reach the masses with a single Tweet. Now that a majority of your followers no longer see your Tweets, you don’t have that same luxury. Even top brands and celebrities with millions of followers aren’t seeing the level of engagement they did five years ago. Here’s how to combat it.

Instead of looking at Twitter as a bullhorn, think of it more like a phone. While you have the ability to communicate with all your contacts at once, you can also have individual conversations as well.

Use Twitter to reach out to people directly, rather than only as a platform to broadcast your message to everyone.

The reason most brands don’t take this approach is because they think it’s difficult to scale. On the surface, it seems that way. But the reality is for many brands it’s a lot more effective than sending a regular Tweet that gets completely overlooked.

At its core, Twitter has always been a network for conversation. But over time, marketers lost that connection and began using it as a mass messaging channel. Take it back to the essence and focus on creating personalized experiences and engage in conversations with your followers.

Use tools like Sprout to manage and facilitate these conversations. Sprout even allows you to track your conversation history to create context around your relationships with any followers you’ve communicated with in the past.

sprout social conversation history

Work With Twitter’s Algorithm

When Twitter switched the way it displays the feed from reverse chronological order to showing users the Tweets they’re more likely to care about, some marketers were upset. However, the shift was actually a gift in disguise.

Twitter’s algorithm essentially rewards brands that share content their audience actually want to see and get engagement. If followers are consistently engaging with your Tweets, you’re more likely to show up in their feed when they first open the app.

twitter in case you missed it

And guess what? When you focus on creating the one-to-one conversations we mentioned in the first tip, you’ll have a much easier time getting Twitter engagement.

As your followers start to engage with your Tweets more often, Twitter will pick up on the pattern and be more likely to prioritize your Tweets for those users.

Use Twitter Video

Vine might be gone, but Twitter’s native video system is alive and well. Social media video marketing has been a highlight of 2016 and you can expect it to continue to explode in 2017. In addition to Snapchat, Instagram Video and YouTube, don’t underestimate the power of Twitter Video.

Twitter users love video. A whopping 82% of Twitter users watch video on the app.

twitter video stats

What’s even more interesting is unlike YouTube where people use it more as a search engine, Twitter users rely on Twitter for video discovery. So even if you don’t have a ton of followers or notoriety, your videos still have a chance of being seen on Twitter.

twitter drives video discovery

Best of all, native videos on Twitter receive more engagement than third-party video players.

twitter video engagement

So what type of videos work best?

Twitter Videos have a maximum length of 140 seconds, which is more than enough time to capture the attention of your viewers. One of the best uses of Twitter Video we’ve seen involves one-to-one conversations again. Noticing a trend? Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk uses Twitter Video to record short responses to follower that Mention him or ask questions.

Or you can go the route of Trulia and use Twitter Video to promote other pieces of content.

Video can be one of the most effective ways to be successful with Twitter for small businesses. If you’ve never given it a try, hopefully this will give you the push you need to take action.

Stop This Habit

A common bad habit small businesses on Twitter have is to Tweet a link to their latest blog post once and never again. As we mentioned, Tweets don’t have the same organic reach as they used to. So it pays to Tweet your content multiple times throughout the week or month to get more eyes on it.

You can use Sprout to schedule your Tweets ahead of time.

schedule tweets

Make sure you test different headlines and copy for your Tweets. It stops your feed from looking stale and repetitive, plus gives you the ability to see what works best with your audience.

Tweet More Frequently

How many Tweets per day is too much? There really isn’t a clear cut answer to this. It’s more about what you’re Tweeting than how often.

Sending a Tweet every 10 minutes telling people to check out your website is probably too much. Your followers are going to get annoyed and bored very quick.

However, look at someone like Guy Kawasaki. He Tweets almost every 5-10 minutes, yet his followers aren’t rushing to unfollow him. The difference is Guy’s followers like the content he shares. Almost every Tweet gets at least a handful of Likes and Retweets.

Back in the day when Twitter wasn’t as active as it is today, it was a lot easier to overwhelm your followers. But now that most people are following at least a few hundred if not thousands of accounts, it’s barely even noticeable if you Tweet every 30 minutes.

That doesn’t mean you should just start spamming your followers to get seen. Always put quality ahead of quantity. If you have the ability to Tweet something awesome every hour, go for it. Your audience will tell you if it’s working or not. Just monitor your Twitter analytics to see if your strategy is helping or hurting your profile.

twitter analytics report

We can’t stress the importance of checking your analytics enough. When you’re making changes to your Tweet frequency or schedule, you need to know what impact it’s having. The last thing you want to do is put more time and effort into something that’s not working.

Try Something New

This brings us to our next point—don’t be afraid to try new tactics. Make 2017 the year of experimentation for your Twitter marketing strategy.

There are so many ways to use Twitter for small business, yet companies default to the same tactics they’ve been using for years. It’s time to try something new. Here are some quick ideas to get those creative juices flowing:

    1. Work with influencers: Partner up with influencers in your industry for creative campaigns like a social media takeover or an “ask me anything” Tweet session.
    2. Twitter “feud”: We’re not saying to get into a heated argument with another brand. But a little friendly back and forth like we’ve seen with Burger King and McDonalds or KitKat and Oreo can be great for branding and exposure.

  1. Try Twitter Ads: Have a few extra dollars in your budget? Give Twitter Ads a try. Even though it’s been around for a while now, many small businesses have yet to experiment with it because they think it’s only for larger brands. While it’s not quite as cheap as Facebook Ads, there are plenty of small businesses seeing success with it.

Go Find Your Customers

One of the biggest challenges of Twitter for small businesses is trying to figure out how to use it to get customers. Just Tweeting links to your articles and hoping the right person sees it will only get you so far. If you really want to use Twitter to get leads, you have to be more proactive. Start by putting yourself in the shoes of your customers.

Think about the challenges or frustrations your customers would have, then do a search on Twitter using the phrases and keywords they’d use to describe them.

For example, a subscription food service like Blue Apron or Plated could search for things like “I hate cooking” or “grocery shopping” with negative sentiment.

This is the exact type of issue both Plated and Blue Apron could solve. All they’d have to do is reply with an article to their site about how to save time on grocery shopping by using their services. Or if they wanted to be a bit more aggressive and straightforward, they could offer a special promo to entice them to get started now.

Finding these Tweets is very simple. You could use Twitter’s advance search to quickly see the latest Tweets for your search phrases. Here’s the exact search we used to find the Tweet above.

twitter advanced search negative sentiment

Another cool option that’s a lot more convenient is to use Sprout’s Smart Search and save the phrases people tend to use the most.

sprout social smart search

Try a few different phrases and find the ones that provide the most relevant results. Then you can save the search and check it regularly to see all the latest Tweets including your phrase.

sprout social smart search results

This approach is particularly ideal for small businesses that don’t have a huge following. Brands like Nike or Samsung are so established they can afford to be more reactive with their strategy. However, when you’re a small business that’s still growing or in a competitive industry, it’s extremely helpful to get out and make those individual connections.

Success With Twitter for Small Business in 2017

Twitter definitely isn’t as simple as it once was, but it’s still a platform small businesses need to focus on. It drives the third most referral traffic of any social network. That means if your goal is to get eyes on your site, Twitter is the place to be.

Use all the tips above to put your small business in a position for success in 2017.

This post The Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Small Business in 2017 originally appeared on Sprout Social.


Sprout Social

Infuse Your Content with Small Stories for a Big Effect

Infuse Your Content with Small Stories for a Big Effect

Marketers are constantly hearing about the importance of storytelling in their marketing. They should be trying to tell their brand story. Lead with a story. Connect with a story.

For the average marketer, this can feel like a daunting change. You may just be getting the hang of this whole content marketing thing, where you are trying to provide value by educating your prospects instead of telling them about your products and services. And now you have to tell them a story. Is that in addition to trying to educate them, or instead of that? You feel like new parent with that deer-in-the-headlights look. If only someone would tell you what to do.

There are plenty of resources about storytelling if you want to get started in a big way, but what if you want to get started in a small way? This blog post may be just the thing.

I work for a big company, and there are already plenty of stories about the company, and even our specific product suite. But that’s not where I’m going with our content. I have been thinking about story differently. I am using small moments of story to catch people off guard. (highlight to tweet) They are reading about a marketing topic, and suddenly they encounter a brief scene that they were not expecting. It could be a simple visual metaphor, but it could also feel like a very short story. In the middle of an ebook or other type of top-of-funnel content, I’ve created a short story in their mind.

Let’s look at some ideas that make these kinds of small story moments work. These are embedded in content that is helping to build trust, so a prospect will ultimately buy from your company.

Be Relatable

These stories have to be about things that people recognize from their own lives, or in this case, their own offices. In a piece about the importance of tools that help you manage resources, I included the following sentence: “It also lets you identify bottlenecks—we’re looking at you, Sandra—and brings efficiency to your content team.”

Every team has someone that is a bottleneck. Not only did I create a moment that is relatable, but I called out a specific person in a way that is totally unexpected. But when you read the sentence, you get an instant picture in your head of Sandra, and you think about your own bottleneck person. And this has made you think how nice it would be if there really was something that could solve this problem.

Be Memorable

Writers, which is what we were called before we were content creators, can get happy with well-turned phrase, but if it doesn’t stick in someone’s mind, it’s just another piece of content. We also need to keep educating our prospects about what we do.

I included this sentence at the beginning of a piece about segmentation and targeting: “Imagine walking down the street and trying to sell a ham and cheese sandwich to everyone you meet.” I continued to describe the different reactions of people and their condiment and cheese preferences.

Not only have I explained a concept—how much more successful your marketing and sales could be if you craft a message based on what you know about people—but also I’ve told a memorable story that forever ties this aspect of marketing automation to ham and cheese sandwiches.

Be Creative

No matter what kind of content you are writing, there is room for some creativity. Not only will it make you feel like a better writer (you’re probably never going to write the great American novel), but you will better connect with your prospects. By the way, that “great American novel” comment was just what I’m talking about. It created a picture in your head of a writer toiling away—very relatable to writers who wonder how they became marketers.

I’ll just leave this example here with no additional comment. It’s from a piece about lead scoring: “That’s because no matter how many trashy leads you have brought in with your crayon-drawn stick figures posted on neighborhood telephone poles, only the best ones get passed along to sales when you have properly set up your lead scoring.”

Be Humorous

Humor can be hard for many people. It is definitely subjective, but it is frequently unexpected. In the example below, the humor comes from the specificity of the details—another thing that creates strong mental picture.

I used the following to describe what it feels like when a company uses social media listening, gathers data, and immediately tries to sell you something: “Imagine you are sitting in your living room talking to a friend about a 10-pound bag of potatoes you just bought, and the doorbell rings. It is someone selling potato peelers. Whether it is the world’s greatest potato peeler or not, this feels like an intrusion.”

Be Understanding

These small stories that paint pictures in the minds of your prospects can also show that you understand them and their daily challenges. This particular example expresses that understanding quite literally: “Modern Marketers face a myriad of problems. Should I buy those new shoes? Should I have a diet soda with my burrito? How effective is my marketing?”

These questions are things that our prospects ask themselves every day. Again, the specific nature of the stories that are brought up in their mind are what make these effective. If you’ve wanted a particular pair of shoes, this brings them to mind. Maybe today is the day to visit your favorite burrito place for lunch. And now we have tied our company to things that you like.

Use Sparingly

Finally, this approach to storytelling needs to be used sparingly. If you want to connect with prospects by creating memorable pictures in their head, you do not want to overload them. A simple approach needs to remain a simple approach. Too many of these moments will just override each other and be somewhat counterproductive.

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Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting

Think Big and Act Small as an Entrepreneur

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For such a glamorous sounding word, entrepreneurship is not easy. Long hours, high levels of resilience and strong belief are all required to survive….not even thrive! So why do it? Why break free from a more secure corporate life?

Because a business can get in the way of doing business.

And therein lies the irony; people want to create a business and when they do, they find it is not the ideal structure to deliver a great experience.

So what to do?

How do you create a business that has the strength of process to achieve repeatable levels of outstanding service…whilst retaining the flexibility that a small business offers?

In a sentence – Think big. Act small.

Think big to allow a repeatable process. Act small in not allowing the process to overpower the people.

Growing a business means developing processes to cope. However the aim must remain on what the process delivers to the customer. Processes are not there to help YOU, they are there to help deliver those repeatable promises on a daily basis to the market.

Big business fall into thinking about how the process works, how it can protect against mistakes.

Small business what needs to happen in the process to make the customer happy.

Yes, that is a generalisation as there are many small businesses who may say “The computer say’s no” and big companies who ignore the computer… deliver it, then fix the problem without the customer knowing….However it is usually easier for a small company than a large conglomorate.

So to succeed as an entrepreneur you have to solve this dilemma

How can you deliver a flexible, repeatable process that puts the customer at the heart of its delivery?

That needs you to think about how to maintain the personal aspect as you grow. It needs you to think about solving problems without adding to the process. It needs you to be constantly vigilant on how process is being used to cover a lack of understanding, training or motivation. It needs you to allow control to pass to others rather than a form.

They are hard tasks when it is your business. However remember the business exists because of the customers not you and without customers YOU don’t have a business.

How flexible and repeatable is your business?

 

 

 

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