How to Win Over Customers with Your Online Reputation

Are you looking for some online reputation marketing tips? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

Marketing your business online in a traditional way is on the decline due to the way that people are now using real customer recommendations. Frequently, before they spend any money, they’ll hop over to Google, Facebook, Yelp, Amazon or any other site that gives recommendations to check out what other people are saying. This helps them feel like they can make an informed decision about how and where to spend their money.

To help make the buying decision easier for prospects doing research, businesses must begin to build, grow and protect their online reputation. This includes monitoring online reviews, blog comments, top ten lists, directories and more.

Even if you are actively asking for reviews and responding to negative reviews, you’ll need to take it up a gear to highlight your positive online content via multiple marketing channels. This will result in boosted sales (and a happier owner)!

Get More Clients with Proactive Tactics for Online Reputation Management

You must use online reputation management tactics if you want to show on the first page of Google. It also ensures that your company’s page shows up in online searches for your business name. This activity helps you attract more leads, retain your clients, and saves you money by helping you avoid the cost of fixing a poor public perception.

To help grow your business cost-effectively, you’ll want to use a proactive approach to the following activities:

–   Monitor your company’s online presence

–   Respond to both negative and positive reviews

–   Request new positive reviews from your clients

–   Publish good reviews and useful content online that ranks highly

Monitor Your Company’s Online Presence

Knowing where and when your business is being talked about is a big part of maintaining your online reputation. These conversations will rarely happen within your website, so you need to go find them.

You may ask, “How do I find what people are saying about my company online?”

The answer is very simple. Google your business name and look to see what results come up. Then, use Bing to do the exact same thing. Take note of where your name is being mentioned and bookmark the sites. This will make it easier to monitor them in the future. You can also set up a Google alert for your name or your company’s name. They’ll let you know when a new search result appears that mentions you.

If you find any negative information, take action! Reply to the review, contact the customer or add to the forum…Anything that can move your company into a positive light.

Respond to Negative and Positive Reviews

The first step to good online reviews is to claim your profiles on Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc. so you will have control over the information for your business found there. You should monitor these sites on a daily to weekly basis.

Create a process for your business to respond to all online reviews and make sure that you and your employees follow it every time.

When you receive a positive review, it is easy to write a response. Thank them for their time and review, use their name, talk about your commitment, let them know that their feedback is important and invite them to take another step with your company. For example:

Hi Claire, we at ABC painting wanted to thank you for taking the time to write that great review! We’re committed to working really hard to provide everyone with a first class experience, it’s our #1 goal. Your opinion is valuable to us and helps us shape everything that we do. Please consider us again for any future painting needs and consider joining our mailing list with exclusive promos and discounts.

If you do receive a negative review, comment directly on the review with a polite tone and offer to help resolve this issue offline. This way, potential clients will see that you care about customer satisfaction and that you tried to make it right – allowing you to flip a negative into a positive.

Request New Reviews from Your Clients

Did you know that it is much more effective to email or text your clients to ask for a review than it is to do it in person?

This is due to human biology!

Generally, people like to help people. It releases the “feel good” chemical, oxytocin. So, when you ask someone to leave you a review and they say yes, their body releases oxytocin because they said that they would help you. However, because they have already released the oxytocin, they have less desire to actually go online and leave a review.

When you email or text the request, they have to actually leave you the review before their body releases the oxytocin.

You will also want to make sure that the request makes it as easy for them as possible to leave you a review. Send them the exact link that they need to click on.

Publish Good Reviews and Useful Content Online

When you actively promote positive reviews and comments from your clients, you will attract new business and persuade undecided prospects. As a BONUS, this will demote any negative reviews further down in the search results.

We Promised You Online Reputation Marketing Tips

Now that you know how important it is to actively pursue a positive online reputation, here are a few ways to get started:

1.  Get Active on Social Media

To get the most return on investment, find out what social media channels your ideal customer is on and focus on those. Ensure that you create a positive, professional profile that will attract the clients that you want and will repel the ones that you don’t want.

Social media has the potential to expose your business to millions. It also puts you in complete control of what those people see about you and your brand. Make sure that they see why they should spend money with you by providing quality, consistent posts.

As a bonus, your social media profiles can help boost your organic search engine rankings because they provide social proof.

2.  Content is Still King

If your company does not have a blog, create one! Blog entries can help you get a great organic ranking with the search engines because they love informative and original content. When you create your blog entries, see sure to have keywords that you want to rank for in the title and the first two paragraphs. Consistency is important, so pick a blog schedule and stick to it.

Stuck on what to write? Create a list of the ten questions that your prospects or clients ask you the most. Then, answer them. These are your first ten blog posts with original and helpful information for people that are searching for your business.

3.  Great Reviews are Key

Reviews can help influence people researching your company as well as help your ranking on the search engines. Create an easy system to request reviews and make it as easy as possible!

Win New Customers with Your Positive Online Reputation Marketing

Online reputation marketing is a must for any business looking to grow. At IFTS, we have a complete system in place that can automate everything for you! Give us a call at 412-715-6266 to learn more and check out our free trial today.

Why Should Online Reputation Matter to a Small Business?

Small businesses (especially those with local brick and mortar locations) seem to underestimate the importance of having a positive online reputation.  Without national or international customers, you may ask – “What’s the big deal?”

The big deal is that 82% of searches done online are followed up with an in-store visit!

It is very clear that local consumers are utilizing the internet to research businesses close to them.  The real question is, “What is the internet telling them about you?”

Any business that is not taking this seriously risks losing business…to your neighbors that position themselves online well (even if their product isn’t better than yours)! 

Just How Important Is It to Create a Positive Web Presence?

When looking for great service or a great price, local consumers turn to their phones and tablets.  With just a few clicks, they are able to peruse Google, Bing, social media, other review websites and forums for businesses that have exactly what they are looking for.  

Your company may have an amazing product at an unbeatable price with the world’s best customer service, but if your online presence does not reflect this and you have negative social signals, you will have a very hard time convincing new customers to trust you…and pay for your product.

Many people are using word of mouth on social media, online reviews and company content to make informed buying decisions.  In fact, more than 90% of people trust online reviews as much or more than a recommendation from a friend or colleague!

Two important questions to ask yourself when it comes to your online presence are:

  • When your ideal client searches for your product (or service) near your location, do you show in the search results or the maps results?  
  • If so, does he or she see a professional online face to the world with glowing reviews?  

If you answered “No” to either of the previous questions, the chances are that you just lost a great customer.

What are the Benefits of Online Reputation Management?

You need to have a positive web presence for the survival of your business.  It can help:

  • Establish your credibility with positive testimonials
  • Give you an edge over your competition
  • Build trust with current and future clients

Position your company as the first and best choice for your ideal clients.  When they are researching, you need to be the obvious decision.

A well-positioned online reputation is also your best sales person, working for you 24/7/365, especially to those people in your community searching for your specific offering.

Finally, having good reputation management can help you rank higher organically in search engine results, which will expose your business to more customers.  Good reviews that mention where you are, what you do and your company name will help tell Google a bit more about your offerings.

How Can a Small Business Build a Positive Online Reputation?

Your website, print advertisements and social media posts are not the only things that make up your web presence.  It is a much wider net than most realize.  Your online reputation does include those things, but it also is made up of reviews from various review sites, comments on your website or blog, “complaint forum” threads, “Top 10” lists that your company may have made, photos tagged with you or your business and much more.  Anywhere that you (or your business) is mentioned, tagged, linked to online – that is all part of your online presence.

Managing all of this seems like it could be akin to “herding cats”, but there are a few impactful steps that you can concentrate on to start.  This will help ensure the future success of your company.

Step 1 – Monitor Your Online Reputation

The first step to taking control of your online reputation is to monitor it daily.  You can handle this yourself or you can outsource this activity, but it is very important that someone is watching.

You need to make sure that you know exactly what your ideal client is looking at online about you.  If you find any negative information, be sure to remedy that quickly.  With so many products and services available to today’s consumer, there is no reason for him or her to trust you (or buy from you) if there is negative information readily available about your business.

Step 2 – Acquire Positive Reviews and Mitigate Negative Reviews

Online reviews are one of the major factors when it comes to your online reputation.  Remember, 90%+ of people trust online reviews as much as or more than a friend or colleague.  This is why there are more important than any content that you could create.

How many times have you seen a company with multiple one-star reviews and decide to buy from them anyway?  I would bet on a very small amount.

Be sure to create an automated system for monitoring, soliciting and responding to reviews that you receive.

If you happen to receive a negative review, it is imperative that you respond to it quickly and with a level head.  Remember, your response is for your future clients and not the person that left the bad review.  Be sure to apologize that they had a negative experience and offer to talk about their issue offline.  This way, people can learn something positive about your company (that you care about your customers) from a negative review.

Step 3 – Get on Social Media

Where do your clients hang out online?  Are they on Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? LinkedIn?

Do a little research and find out where they are most likely to be active.  Then, concentrate on those social networks and build your profile to be attractive to your ideal client.  Be sure to completely fill in the profile and include photos and videos to keep it engaging.

By keeping your social media simple, it will help you avoid overwhelm and really concentrate on activities that will give you the best ROI.  Create a schedule for posting regularly and use a tool that helps you automate the process.  This allows you to use social media for your business, but cut the time that it takes in half.

Leveraging Your Online Reputation

You’ve worked hard on your business over the years to build up your name!  Don’t jeopardize that fact by neglecting to build and monitor a positive online presence.

Overwhelmed or unsure where to start?  Contact IFTS to learn more about our online reputation management program and steps you can take to better position your business.

7 Facts You Need To Know About SEO

When it comes to SEO, there are many factors that determine the way your website is indexed and ranked by the search engines. That in mind, it’s obvious that by focusing on the right SEO techniques, you can maximize your marketing efforts and grow your business into a success.

But other than improving your visibility on the search engines, what else does SEO offer? 

Here are 7 facts you should know about SEO and why it’s so important for businesses when trying to take their brand to the next level.

1. Most traffic on websites comes from organic search

Organic search is currently the main source of traffic for websites. While you can direct targeted traffic to your website through paid ads or a social media marketing campaign, being visible on the search engines is always going to work in your favor. With organic search engine optimization (as opposed to pay-per-click ads) people will more easily find your website on search engines while they are looking for a product or service you provide. Making it more likely that they will convert from visitor to customer. No one searches for a product or service that they don’t want, so they’re already in the mood to buy. You just have to stand out among the competition. Additionally, when you rank on the front page of a search engine, you are showing potential consumers the legitimacy of your products or services because of your high ranking.

2. SEO is the best long term strategy to market your business

Results don’t happen overnight – organic search engine optimization takes time, patience, and consistency. While PPC or retargeting campaigns are great ways to reach your audience and sell more of your products, keep in mind that your ads will stop showing up the very moment you stop paying for them. With search engine optimization, that doesn’t happen. If your website is well optimized using the best SEO practices, it should continue to show up on search engines for months or even years to come. 

3. Good SEO is NOT expensive

Contrary to what many think, SEO is relatively cheap, considering the payoff. If you were reluctant to spend money to optimize your website for search, think of SEO as an investment. The sooner you invest in good SEO implementation, the sooner you’ll gain more visibility on Google and grow your brand for the long haul. 

4. SEO best practices are constantly changing

Did you know that ‘pausing’ an SEO campaign for too long can have a negative effect? While it’s true that SEO is a long term strategy to rank your business, what’s also true is that the search world is always changing. Google alone is known to make often algorithm changes. This means that, if you fall behind, getting back on track may be quite the challenge. 

5. SEO and User Experience are related

Few people realize that today, user experience is a big part of ranking well on search engines. Google already knows what a positive user experience looks like on a website and how to spot a negative one. The better your website is structured, the more likely it will gain more visibility. 

Google and other search engines take hundreds of factors into account when determining which pages rank highly in search engine results pages (SERPs). With that being said, today, elements of user experience have been rolled into SEO best practices. How easy is your site to navigate? Do you have quality content that makes visitors want to stay and engage? Is your site secure, fast and mobile-friendly?

Think of the partnership of SEO and user experience this way: SEO targets search engines and user experience targets your website’s visitors. Both share a common goal of giving users the best experience.

Some common website elements that impact both SEO and user experience are:

-headings

-easy navigation and site structure

-site speed

-mobile experience

6. Great rankings influence conversions

Customers today do a lot of research before buying something – whether it’s a product or a service. This is a big advantage! Not only does good SEO help you rank well in Google, but it allows you to send a positive message about your offer. Using this SEO best practice to outrank your competition will definitely have a positive effect on your conversions.

7. If you’re not on Page 1, you’re losing business

Obviously, if you’re not #1, someone else is! And that means you’re losing business… If you need assistance in improving your SEO, contact us at IFTS and we will help get you on the road to page number 1!

How To Get More Clients Using Facebook

If there’s one social media platform that all small businesses owners should be on, it’s Facebook. With over 2.6 billion monthly users, this social network has come to dominate the online space. According to a study done by Pew Research Center, 74% of Facebook users visit the site every day, which is more than any other social network. Finding success with Facebook marketing isn’t hard, but it does take some time and know-how to truly engage your customers and drive more leads and sales. 

Running your own business can be very stressful on it’s own, but finding ways to get new clients and keep them coming in can be one of the greatest challenges. In this post, we will be sharing a few strategies that will help you get more clients through Facebook.

1. Create a Facebook account for your small business

It’s free to create a Facebook page for your business. Start by selecting the type of business you own, then you’ll be prompted to fill out some information such as your business’s name and description. You can then add a cover image and profile photo, and a call to action! Once you’re finished, be sure to hit “publish to make it public. After you publish your page, you’ll then have access to Facebook’s business features, including messaging and analytics.

2. What should I post on my small business Facebook page?

Now that you have your page set up, what should you post about? Don’t be afraid to diversify your strategy by sharing both written and visual content including:

  • Tips and advice
  • Blog posts you have created
  • Blog posts from other relevant websites
  • Posts from other facebook pages
  • Create surveys and ask questions to engage in conversation
  • Share interesting photos or videos that your audience would benefit from
  • Show people more about what you do behind the scenes or things you and your team get involved in such as community events and office celebrations

3. When should I post on my Facebook page?

Just like the content that you choose, timing your posts also depends on your audience. You can post as many times a day as you want, but make sure to be consistent with posting at least one thing every day. The best way to figure out what the best time to post for your business is to test different times with similar content. Consistency with testing is going to accurately measure results so be sure to use the same or very similar content when it comes to testing so that your results are not skewed. If you want more information on specific times to post that may work for you, check out our best time to post on social media blog. Here, we go into more detail on experimenting with your social channels to find the perfect time to engage with your audience and how to get started on the right foot!

4. What if I don’t have much time to post on Facebook?

Does posting on Facebook one to three times a day sound overwhelming? Sure it does, especially if Facebook is not the only social platform you are active on! This is where a social media management tool comes in handy to take care of posting for you. With a tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to name a few, you can schedule all of your posts in advance, saving you time to spend on other areas of your business. Check out our previous post where we go into detail about the top 3 social media management tools to help manage all of your pages and profiles in one place!

5. Use Facebook Ads!!

Facebook offers paid placement ads on their website and mobile apps where your content, special offers, website and posts can get in front of customers with a few clicks. What’s even better is your ads will be targeted to a very specific demographic. Now you may be wondering how much it costs to run facebook ads. The answer to this question depends on your budget and your goals but you can allocate as little or as much as you want per day. Before putting your entire marketing budget behind Facebook ads, test with a small budget and scale up from there as you test what works best for your business.

6. Actively participate in Facebook groups

Join facebook groups where you feel that your ideal client might be present. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you might want to join groups that include bloggers or small business owners as these are people who could benefit from your services. Now, you don’t want to come off as spammy or self promoting right off the bat, so what you can do is just be outrageously helpful when people ask questions in the group. Group members will take note of your expertise and hopefully check out your profile that should be linked to your business’s Facebook page. This technique does require some time and effort, but is one of the best ways to get leads from Facebook.

These strategies will help you to increase your engagement on facebook and generate leads that will hopefully turn into loyal customers!

Top 3 Social Media Management Tools

A strong social media presence can do wonders for your business, but keeping up with posting on multiple social platforms can become a chore. Social media management tools help you to manage all of your profiles and pages in one place, so you can spend more time on other aspects of your business. These tools are designed to save you time and help you build an audience.

In this post we compare the top 3 social media management tools, Buffer, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite, noting where each one excels and which one might be the right fit for you.

What makes a great social media management tool?

The 3 social media scheduling tools that we selected cater to a broad range of social networks, particularly the 4 most popular: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

One of the main reasons people turn to social media management tools is for queuing and scheduling posts. This makes it extremely easy and convenient when coordinating autonomous campaigns that run according to a schedule of your choice. 

Given the ability to schedule and post across multiple of your chosen social networks at once is a BIG time saver – especially when you wear many hats within a business. You can even customize each post to suit the platform you are targeting.. Like tagging locations for Facebook and adding relevant hashtags on Instagram.

Top 3 social media scheduling tools

Buffer

Buffer is the best social media management tool for straightforward social media scheduling. It is one of the longest-running social media tools aimed primarily at scheduling posts. One major bonus is just how simple and straightforward it is to use, while also giving you flexibility. Buffer also gives you the ability to measure your performance, create reports, and get insights to grow reach, engagement, and sales.

This service supports Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and pro users can also schedule Pinterest updates.

Buffer can be collaborative – but only if you are willing to pay for a more expensive plan that eliminates the need to pass around login credentials and allows you to approve new posts before they’re added to the queue.

Buffer’s free version includes one user, 3 social media accounts and 10 posts per profile. The Pro plan is ideal for those who are just getting started. This plan is $15/month and includes one user, up to 8 social accounts and 100 scheduled posts. An option for growing brands would be the Premium package where you can add up to 8 social accounts, schedule 2,000 posts and have 2 users. Now, Buffer has an ideal option for larger teams coming in at $99/month that includes up to 25 linked social accounts, 2,000 scheduled posts and 6 users.  

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is probably first and foremost known as a one-stop shop for managing and scheduling all of your social media accounts through one simple-to-use platform. 

Sprout Social handles team interaction very well. You can see when other team members are viewing or replying to messages in real-time. You can also turn items into tasks and assign them to other team members. Several team members can collaborate on drafts before they hit the queue, and you can distribute permissions or request approval before posts are published so that everything remains to your liking.

Although Sprout Social is the best social media management tool for team-based social media management, you have to pay the monthly fee per user.

Sprout Social offers a free 30-day trial. If you like it, prices then start from $99 per user per month for up to 5 different social profiles, with additional plans offering more profiles, scope and features.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is the best social media management tool for all-in-one scheduling, monitoring and analytics. This app is compatible with over 35 social networks including the top 4 – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

With any of Hootsuite’s plans, you have the option to schedule posts from multiple profiles across multiple social media sites. This allows you to ensure any marketing campaigns are properly timed and targeted when and where you need them to be. 

One of Hootsuite’s strongest areas is analytics. The tool helps you understand social results by drawing on more than 200 metrics to measure performance. Once you’ve generated reports, you can export them as Excel, Powerpoint, PDF and CSV files for use within your organization. 

Hootsuite is built to work for teams, not just individuals. You can assign access to various team members to avoid handing out passwords, with custom permission levels on a per-user basis. Your team members can use Hootsuite’s included content library to compose updates with on-brand assets of your choosing. You can even assign specific tasks to your team members (like responding to comments or incoming messages), then approve the outgoing responses before they’re sent.

There are 3 different plans available that include unlimited scheduling, where the difference lies in the amount of users and number of social profiles that can be connected. Professional, Team, and Business plans allow 1,3, or 5-10 users as well as up to 10, 20, or 35 social media profiles to be managed accordingly.

Which social media tool is best for you?

Hoostuite takes the cake at being the all-in-one tool that has the biggest list of compatible networks. It offers more power-user tools that go just beyond scheduling your own posts. The business plans are moderately priced, so if you’re working for a large organization with many separate teams, it’s likely worth it. For no-frills social media management, Buffer offers a clean user experience that focuses on sharing your own posts and easily manages a small team. With it’s cheaper priced business plans, it is ideal for a business that is just getting started and doesn’t have a ton of resources to devote to social media. Sprout Social has the best collaborative features of the three but comes at a premium price point.

5 Social Media Marketing Secrets Nobody Has Told You About

Surely and quickly, social media marketing is becoming one of the most important ways for businesses to reach their target market. But why? 

How does social media provide such incredible benefits? It wasn’t too long ago that social platforms were only used to connect with family & friends.

The truth is, over the past few years, things have changed… A lot! Today, over 90% of marketers have noticed how social media has significantly increased their exposure. And this can only mean 1 thing: if you’re not using social media to your advantage, you’re missing out on an incredible marketing opportunity. 

That in mind, here are 5 “secrets” about social media marketing that no one’s telling you about: 

1. Social Media Marketing can help your SEO

What does social media have to do with search engine optimization? The idea is simple: search engines know which pages on your website are getting traffic and which ones aren’t. This means that, each time your content is shared on social media, traffic will be sent to your website that tells the search engines your website is still relevant, helping you to maintain your rankings or climb faster in the search engine results pages. The more shares you have on social media, the more opportunities people have to see your content and link to it.

2. Social Media helps you know your target market

By taking an interest in your “fans” on social media, you can easily find out who your target market is! By simply looking at their profiles and seeing what other brands they follow, you can learn what products they buy, what their hobbies are and maybe even what they like most about other brands. The more you know about your audience, the better you can market your products or services.

3. A Social Media presence helps you increase your brand awareness

People don’t look at Facebook or Instagram and see a marketing platform. They see a social network! That in mind, the more you interact with everyone, the sooner you can start building a relationship with your audience and grow as a brand. Social media is a great platform for brands to maintain customer relationships, while also having the opportunity to be found by new leads. 

4. Social platforms allow you to target and RE-target to your audience

Did you know you can narrow down your audience on social media and target only your ideal customers? Not only that, but Facebook allows you to retarget your products and services to anyone who was “this close” to becoming your client! If someone visited your website, but left before making a purchase, you can add that person to your list of “almost clients” and deliver your ads to them in the hopes that they convert.

5. Social Media Marketing is cost effective and fair

Did you think you’d have to spend a fortune to market your business on social media? Creating a business profile is free and so is being active. And if you decide to advertise on Social Media, you can always start small if you don’t know what to expect.

One of the best things about social media is that it’s a fair way to market your business. Sure, bigger brands have some advantages like bigger marketing budgets and better name recognition. But everyone can create a social account for free and dedicate their time to engage with their audience.

 

If you need help with social media or even just want it done for you.. contact us at IFTS!

Visit our website for more information!

How To Define Your Target Audience

Marketing isn’t just the practice of placing ads, rather it’s a method of attracting new business. You have to know exactly who you want to target with your marketing – your target audience will not simply be “everyone”. Your task in defining your target group is to identify and understand your particular niche so you can dominate it. 

The better you understand your target market, the easier you’ll be able to target them with relevant content that will stand out. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through a few steps that will help you to understand who is already interacting with your business (and competitors) and use that information to develop a clear target group.

What is a target market?

A target market is a specific, defined segment of consumers that a company plans to serve with its products or services. These are the people who are most likely to purchase your products or services and have common characteristics such as demographics and behaviors. Identifying your target market is an essential step in the development of products, services, and the marketing efforts used to promote them.

Market segmentation is the process of dividing a market of potential customers into groups, or segments, based on these different characteristics. The segments created are composed of consumers who will respond similarly to marketing strategies and who share traits such as similar interests, needs, or locations.

There are 4 types of market segmentation:

  1. Geographic segmentation –  involves grouping potential customers by country, state, region, city or even neighborhood.
  2. Demographic segmentation – divides a market through variables such as age, gender, education level, family size, occupation, income, and more.
  3. Psychographic segmentation– focuses on the intrinsic traits your target customer possesses. Psychographic traits can range from values, personalities, interests, attitudes, lifestyles, and opinions.
  4. Behavioral segmentation– focuses on specific reactions and the way customers go through their decision making and buying processes. Attitudes towards your brand, the way they use it, and their knowledge base are all examples of behavioral segmentation.

Marketers can use segmentation to prioritize their target audiences. If segmentation shows that some consumers would be more likely to buy a product than others, marketers can better allocate their attention and resources. The purpose of segmentation is that you are able to introduce a more tailored message that will be received successfully. 

What is a target audience?

A “target audience” is more narrow than a “target market”. It refers specifically to the group of consumers targeted by marketing messaging. A target audience is a group of people that has significant potential to respond positively to a brand message. Your target audience may or may not be the end users of your product, but they are the people you plan to direct your marketing to. 

To communicate effectively with your target audience, you need to understand who they are and what their true needs and desires are. 

How to define your target audience

  1. Know the value of your product/service

When identifying your target audience, it is important to determine the features of your product or service. What needs does your product or service fulfill for a potential customer? How does your product or service differ from others in your industry? Is your product more affordable? Is it more effective? These are some things that need to be taken into account before figuring out who will be on the receiving end of your marketing efforts. Think about those who may be interested and who might benefit from your product or service. These are the people that will make up your target audience.

  1. Get to know your existing audience

When trying to figure out who wants to buy from you, a great first step is to identify who is already using your products or services.

How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do for work? What social networks do they use? Do they scroll through their feeds on a mobile device or the computer? These are all questions that you need to be able to answer about your current customers, and once you understand their characteristics, you can go after more people who fit the same mold.

One way to start is by gathering whatever information you have about your existing customers. Some data points that you may want to consider are:

  • Age: This is one area that doesn’t need to be too specific. Whether your average customer is 23 or 27, it won’t really make that much of a difference. Rather knowing which decade of life your customers are in, or their generation can be much more useful.
  • Stage of life: are your customers college students? Parents of young children or teens? Retirees?
  • Interests: what do your customers like to do? What other businesses do they interact with?
  • Location and time zone: Where in the world do your existing customers live? If you’re based in the PST time zone and have followers in the EST and GMT time zones you might find posting at 8 a.m. PST works best because it hits the workday in both other regions. Understanding where your customers are located geographically is so important when deciding what time you should post to ensure best visibility. 
  • Spending patterns: How much money do your current customers have to spend? How do they approach purchases in your price category?
  1. Check in on Your Competition

Now that you have a better idea of who is already interacting with your business, it’s time to dig a little deeper and see who’s engaging with your competitors. 

Looking into who is interacting with your competition can answer some key questions: are you and your competitors both going after the same market segments? Who are they currently targeting? Are they reaching segments you hadn’t thought to consider? 

You won’t be able to get detailed research about the people interacting with your competitors, but you’ll be able to get a general sense of approach they’re taking and whether that is allowing them to create engagement online.

Define your target market and revise as needed. You shouldn’t think of your target market as set in stone. As you learn more about your customers, how you define your target market will most likely change. So, work to understand who your business serves, and why they should care. 

As your business grows, your target audience may change, and finding this specific group of people should be a continual effort.

What is the Best Time to Post on Social Media?

 

What is the best time to post on social media? 

This may sound like a ridiculous question, but there absolutely is a right time to post on social media. Finding specific times that your audience is most likely to see and engage with your content is key. More likes, comments, and shares can result from a well-timed post, although timing can vary depending on industry and your specific audience. 

At the end of this guide, you will have a better idea on how to experiment with your social channels to find the perfect time to engage with your audience on those that you appear.

How to find the best time to post on social media

Know your audience

How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do for work? What social networks do they use? Do they scroll through their feeds on a mobile device or the computer? These are all questions that you need to be able to answer to develop the best publishing schedule for your content to be seen by your anticipated audience.

Test different times with similar content

Consistency with testing is going to accurately measure results. Use the same or very similar content when it comes to testing out different times. This way, a less than engaging post shared at a high-traffic time won’t skew the results.

Keep an eye on your competition

When are your competitors receiving a high amount of likes, shares, retweets, and comments? Test those times as well as an opposing schedule for yourself. Do you also see a boost at the same time? Or do you get more engagement on the weekend when your competitors are quiet? 

Take note of what the leaders in your industry are doing. Larger organizations with sophisticated social strategies are great examples to help you find a starting point for your posting schedule. Take your cues from the leaders, but it is best to always run tests to optimize for your own audience.

Continue testing 

Find the times that work best for you, but never stop testing. Factors such as audience habits, as well as network algorithms are always changing. 

An easy way to keep track of when you get the most engagement for each posting time is to create social media reports for yourself and determine how often you’ll rerun experiments on your social channels.

The best times to post on social media 

Hootsuite was able to compile data from 300 brands on social media to identify what day/time of the week is the best to post, and receive maximum engagement. They have also broken the data down by social network and divided the results into B2B and B2C industries.

Generally, their data shows that the best time to post on social media is between 9am and 12pm early in the work week. 

The best time to post on Facebook

For B2B brands, the best time to post on Facebook is between 9am and 2 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

For B2C brands, the best time on Facebook is 12pm EST on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

Things to consider when posting on Facebook

The best time to post on twitter

The lifespan of a tweet is only 18 minutes, so timing a tweet to reach the correct audience matters more on this network than others!

B2B brands: The best time to post on Twitter is between 9am and 4pm EST (emphasis on the 11am to 1pm window) on Monday or Thursday

B2C brands: The best time to post to twitter is at 12pm or 1pm EST from Monday to Wednesday.

Things to consider when posting on Twitter

The best time to post on Instagram

The Instagram algorithm favors recency when it determines the posts that show up in your feed. Newer posts are more likely to appear at the top of your feed as it is designed to constantly show you fresh content that you are likely to engage with. 

Hootsuite analyzed the top 20 Instagram accounts in 11 different industries over the span of 18 months to then figure out which of their posts received the most engagement.

Professional Services Industry

Data has shown that the best time to post on Instagram for professional services is early in the workday on Fridays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays between 9 and 10 am.

Professional services usually post informative, educational content such as links to videos and blog posts. This is content that people are more likely to interact with earlier in the day while they’re at work.

It is suggested that if you are just launching your social media accounts, avoid posting on the weekends and evenings unless your internal data tells you otherwise.

The best time to post on LinkedIn

Hootsuite was able to determine the best day of the week to post on linkedIn. Combined with their own internal data of what times they get the most engagement on this platform, they were able to state the following:

The best time to post on LinkedIn is 7:45 am, 10:45 am, 12:45 pm, and 5:45 pm. For B2B brands, Wednesday was found to be the best day to post. As for B2C brands, the best days to post on LinkedIn are Monday and Wednesday.

Amanda Wood, Social Marketing Lead at Hootsuite says “The Hootsuite social team posts on the 45-miute mark because most brands are posting on the hour.” This is interesting because it offsets your posts from being thrown into the mix with competitors, giving you an opportunity to be seen outside of those flooded peak hours.

Things to consider when posting on LinkedIn

All of these timing recommendations can be used as starting points, then supplement internal data that you have found through testing to maximize your engagement.

If you need help with posting on social media or would even like it done for you, contact us at IFTS.

 

Sources: 

https://blog.hootsuite.com/best-time-to-post-on-facebook-twitter-instagram/

https://blog.hootsuite.com/best-time-to-post-on-instagram/

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the name given to the activity that attempts to improve search engine rankings by driving targeted traffic to your website. Common tasks associated with SEO include creating high-quality content, optimizing content around specific keywords and building backlinks.

Search engines want to provide the best for their users so they not only deliver search results on pages that are high quality but also relevant to what searchers are looking for. Search engines will scan websites to learn what they are about which helps deliver more relevant results to those who are searching for specific keywords or topics.

What goes into SEO?

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your site through organic search engine results. SEO involves making changes to your website design and site content to make it more attractive to a search engine. 

To understand the true meaning of SEO, let’s break down the three main parts:

Quality of Traffic

The quality of traffic directed to your site is of the utmost importance. Your site can attract numerous visitors, but the only views that matter are the visitors that are genuinely interested in products or services that your business offers.

Quantity of Traffic

Once you have the right people clicking through to your site from search engine results pages, the more traffic the better.

Organic Results

Ad’s make up a significant portion of many search engine results pages. Organic search traffic is any traffic directed to your website that you don’t have to pay for.

 

Favoring quality over quantity in building your content will result in more clients!

Factors That Impact SEO

Now that you know what SEO is, let’s take a look at some of the factors that can impact your website’s ranking. The factors that impact search engine results pages include both on-page and off-page factors, that will be discussed in further detail below.

Content Marketing

Before we dive into on and off page factors, let’s discuss content. The type of content produced is effective in attracting the search engines and making connections with site visitors.

The more relevant, higher quality content pieces that you have on your site, the more likely search engines will rank your site higher on search engine results pages. Creating content that is engaging to visitors will most likely have them spending quality time on your site.

The key to creating content that is optimized for both search engines and your site visitors is to have a variety of content pieces that are most relevant to your audience. 

Here are a few different types of content that can be added to your site to help improve your search engine rankings:

  • Informative videos
  • Blog Posts
  • How-to guides
  • Social media content
  • Infographics/visual content

Something else to consider when creating SEO content for your site is keywords and phrases. These are relevant combinations of words and phrases that a user can type into a search engine to find answers to their questions or more information on products or services. Creating content around these keywords and phrases will improve your chances of ranking higher on search engine results pages.

Creating brand new, fresh content is another factor that can impact your search engine ranking. Frequently posting new content to your site, updating posts, and adding new information are all ways to keep your content fresh. 

On-Page SEO

On page seo factors all have to do with the elements of your own website, which are things you have complete control over. You can work to improve these factors over time by optimizing both the content and HTML source code of a page. 

Here are some on-page SEO factors that can help improve your search ranking:

Title Tag 

The most important of all tags on your page is the title tag. The title tag outlines what the page is about; it is what users see on the search engine results pages, and also the words that appear at the top of each tab in your browser. 

Meta Description

The meta description tells search engines and helps visitors understand what your site is all about. A well written meta description can create a higher click-through rate with a greater chance of conversions, generating a competitive advantage.

Heading Tags 

Headings can be used to represent different sections on your page and should include multiple tags. H1 is the most important tag on the page and you should never have more than one. You can include multiple subheadings; h2’s or h3’s as users scroll down the page to represent different sections. 

Image Name & ALT Tags

When using images on your website, make sure to include your keyword in the image name or ALT tag. This will help search engines better index your images and can appear when users search for images with that certain keyword.

Internal Links

Building internal links to other content on your website can help search engines learn a lot more about your site. An internal link is a link from one page to another page on the same domain. Internal linking aids in website navigation, defines the architecture and hierarchy of a website, and distributes page authority and ranking power throughout the site.

Off-page SEO

In addition to on-page SEO factors that you have control of, there are also off-page SEO factors that can impact your ranking. You cannot directly impact these off page factors, but there are ways that you can improve the chances of these working out in your favor.

Here are some off-page SEO factors that can help improve your search ranking:

Backlinks

Having high quality backlinks to your site is one of the most important factors of off-page SEO. You can get backlinks to your site by guest posting or blogging, social media activity, influencer marketing, and simply creating high-quality, shareable content on a regular basis. 

Social Activity

Social signals such as likes and shares are another important factor of off-page SEO. Receiving quality shares from influencers is a great way to boost SEO. The more creative, relevant content you post to your site will result in the likeliness of people sharing your content with others.

 

If you would like help with your SEO plan, please contact IFTS for your free one hour consultation.

How to Respond to Online Reviews

Did you know that when it comes to choosing a local business, 91% of people will read online reviews?*  In fact, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend or colleague.**

Having online reviews is VERY important for your business.  However, there is a second step that is often forgotten. You need to respond to these reviews as well.

Responding to reviews can benefit your company in many ways:
  • It shows that you care about your clients and that you are appreciative of their time
  • Google looks favorably upon companies that take the time to respond to reviews
  • Businesses that respond to reviews actually earn up to 49% more than businesses that do not according to a recent study by Womply***

If you are not responding to your online reviews, you should definitely start!

When it comes to receiving online reviews, there are 3 distinct outcomes

  1. You receive a positive review
  2. You receive a negative review
  3. You receive a fake review

This article will go over what to do in all three cases.

Case 1 – How to respond when your business receives a positive online review.

If you receive a 4 or 5 star online review, thank the person that left it.  It’s that easy!

A few rules for these positive responses:

  • Don’t use the same “Thank you” wording every time
  • Make sure to respond within one week
  • Try to include their name or their company’s name within your response
  • BONUS POINTS: If they mention something specific about your business that they like, mention that in your response.  As an example, if they say “I really enjoyed working with ABC moving company. They packed everything up and had it in my new house in under a day!”  Your reply could be “Thank you, [person’s name]. We pride ourselves on our quick turnaround guarantee”.

Here’s a list of sample replies that are short, sweet and work great. Feel free to use them for your own responses:

  • Thank you, [name].  We always try to be available to our clients!
  • [Name], we really appreciate you taking the time to review [business name].  Thank you for the review.
  • We really enjoyed working with you, [name].  Thank you for the review!
  • We appreciate the review, thank you!  [Company name] enjoys working with you on your [business type] needs, [name].
  • Thank you for taking the time to leave us a review, we really appreciate it.  We strive to provide excellent [service] to all of our customers!
  • [Name], thank you for the review.
  • We really appreciate feedback from all of our clients.  Thank you, [name], for taking the time to review our [agency/company/business].
  • Hi [Name], thank you for taking the time to leave a review!  We like making working with us as easy as possible.

Case 2 – How to respond when your business receives a negative online review.

When you receive a negative review, a normal response is to get angry or defensive.  However, don’t let those feelings be reflected in your response. You do not want to seem overly emotional.  In fact, sometimes it is a good idea to have someone else help you craft a response or to sleep on it for a day.  You do want to be sure to respond within one week so it does not appear like you are ignoring the bad review.

When writing back, don’t be emotional and stick to the facts.  Apologize for the situation, but don’t take the blame. You can say “I’m sorry for the experience that you had” or “I apologize that you feel that way”.  Then, offer to discuss that matter offline – either in person or via phone. Sometimes, this conversation can turn that one star into five.

Make sure to keep the response succinct and to the point.  Remember, you are responding not only for the person that left the review, but you are showing prospects that you care about the client experience.

Don’t freak out about one or two bad reviews.  Most consumers don’t expect to see a perfect score.

If you do receive a bad review, respond accordingly.  Then, to offset it, contact 3 clients personally that you know will give you a good review.  Once they leave their reviews, your average will be back up again because:

1 star + 5 stars + 5 stars + 5 stars = 16 stars / 4 reviews = 4.0 average rating

Case 3 – How to respond when your business receives a false online review.

If your company receives a false online review, whether it is accidental or malicious, there are a few things that you can do.

If you have definitive proof that the review is false, you can report the review to the site that it was left on.  Here are the links for how to report a false review:

Google – https://support.google.com/business/answer/4596773?hl=en

Yelp – https://www.yelp-support.com/article/Will-Yelp-remove-a-false-or-defamatory-review?l=en_US

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/help/439579999521224/

However, this reporting process is not always timely or smooth.  The review sites tend to side with the reviewer, so your proof must be indisputable.

To combat the review immediately, you will (again) want to contact multiple clients that you know will provide good, truthful reviews of your company.  These will effectively “bury” that bad review.

 

Want to put your review system on autopilot?  Check out IFTS + ReviewLead! We take over all of the difficulty of getting reviews and act as your negative review triage specialists.  Sign up for one month free and see how we can help you! https://reviewleads.iftsdesign.com/

 

Sources

*https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/

**https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/

*** https://www.womply.com/impact-of-online-reviews-on-small-business-revenue/#impactofreviews-section2–