Corporate Survival of the Fittest: How User Experience (UX) Helps You Win

Companies are continually releasing products with new features and functions to keep customers happy, but meanwhile consumers are expecting (and demanding) more from the brands they know and love. Giving your clients what they want is a good place to start if you want to increase your company’s revenue and popularity; however, to make your company stand head and shoulders above the rest, you need to create a truly outstanding user experience.

Essentially, this means making your clients’ time on your site – or spent using your app – as easy and satisfying as possible. They will thank you by returning to your site for subsequent purchases, and as quite an added bonus, they’ll tell their friends, family, and co-workers to join in on the fun by pointing their web browser to your site too. However, if they have a bad experience, it could mean the opposite: bad reviews and tanking sales.

What is User Experience, and Why Does it Matter?

Your company is only alive because you have customers. Treat them with respect and understanding, and you will foster a sense of loyalty that leads your business to thrive.

Interface, usability, and human-machine interactions are just several components that make a memorable experience. These are important considerations, but the best UX includes much more.

Components to create best user experience

Play Your Cards Right

What UX really comes down to is designing a website or other online portal that meets if not exceeds visitor expectations. So how do you keep your users happy?

First, it pays to make sure you aren’t making common usability mistakes: a flat color palette, hardly any links to help users navigate around your site, overly complex categories, and a lack of search options.

Next, look over the key points of user interaction: where the buttons are placed, whether or not links are easy to find, how users can customize their experience, and if text is placed in a way to make it approachable rather than overwhelming.

Trial and Error

For many e-commerce companies, potential sales never make it past the shopping cart:

Trial and Error
Source: Statista.com

Thankfully, you can avoid this trap. How?

Put yourself in their shoes by taking the UX test provided by usabilla.com.  As you proceed through your web-based purchasing and sales process, ask these questions:

  • Was the final cost what you expected it to be? Why or why not?
  • Did you feel the website was fast, slow, or about average?
  • Did you think the checkout process was long, short, or about right?
  • Did you feel secure entering your payment information?
  • At any time did the website crash or timeout?

Was the price in the currency you expected it to be?

Once your site or app update goes live, get plenty of feedback from employees, friends and customers to tweak the final design to make it better suited to your user base. To keep your customers’ attention, you need to create a satisfactory experience that makes your company memorable and keeps your visitors coming back for more brand interaction, more blog reading, and more shopping.

Read the User’s Mind

While it isn’t possible to know exactly what thoughts are running through your visitors’ heads as they browse around your website, there are ways to capture and analyze data to paint a big picture of the reaction that your digital marketing efforts are eliciting. The bounce rate, for example, will give you an indication of how many users immediately click away. If it only takes a website visitor 10 seconds to leave your homepage for an unrelated destination, that’s a big clue that your user experience isn’t meeting everyone’s basic needs.

Tools like Google Analytics, Omniture, and WebTrends will also let you know how users behave on your site. Are they entering through your most popular blog post, but staying to read more content without ever finding your services? Is Facebook steering them to a promotional webpage, but not getting visitors to click on your ecommerce store? Once you identify gaps in visitor behavior, you can add links to your site in the places they’re most needed.

Above all, it’s important to provide a user experience that’s compelling. If your consumers feel valued based on their interaction with your brand online, that positive user experience leads to increased customer loyalty. The next step from there is positive word of mouth, which brings more people to your website or application, in turn increasing ROI for all of your digital marketing campaigns.

Can HR Boost Your Bottom Line?

You can have all the tools and technology in the world, but at the end of the day, what really drives your company’s success is people. You already know that everyone who purchases your products is critical to your business’ survival and growth; however, the real fuel for your organization’s fire comes from its own employees. That’s why, no matter what industry you’re doing business in, the value of human resources (HR) cannot be overlooked.

According to research conducted by the National Business Research Institute, the attitudes of employees have an enormous effect on customer satisfaction – as much as 80%. Happy humans, even in today’s technology-based and highly digitalized society, are still one of the most critical components to making or breaking corporate success. Furthermore, satisfied employees are, on average, twice as productive each day at work.

The Power of One

What makes your employees happy, and how can you keep them satisfied? First, let them be themselves. My technique for personal branding encourages employees to express creativity and be themselves. Those individual traits can seem at odds with developing a cohesive corporate image, but they are actually quite valuable to improving ROI and driving corporate success.

The most successful companies do not ask employees to leave their personalities and opinions at door upon clocking in each day. Giving employees personal freedom makes them feel valued as a key part of the business, and they’ll know the CEO, or team at the top, cares for their overall well-being.

Power of One

Ideally, your employees have plenty of opportunity to grow and learn along with your company. I always say that creating harmony between the “personal” and “corporate” spheres does wonders for your business. Each employee has unique values and relates to different types of people. In turn, they can appeal to a wide audience, which can be translated into a very effective way to build a larger and more loyal consumer base.

Learning the Ropes: Corporate Branding 101

Your employees should understand and be able to explain what makes the company unique and stand out from – if not totally defeat – the competition. This is a vital strategy for any business looking to grow. After all, how will potential customers know what unique value your product or service has if each of your employees can’t even put their finger on it?

Learning the Ropes: Corporate Branding 101
                                                                      Source: hrreview.co.uk

This is one area of business where human resources (HR) is absolutely critical. When employees are first brought on to work for the company, that’s the prime time to teach them about branding, communication policies, and workplace culture. If that process goes smoothly, it lays a foundation for active employee engagement.

As a business owner or manager, how can you know if your employees are engaging enough – or at all? There are four main things to look for:

check mark Everyday satisfaction in the workplace
check mark Willingness to recommend the business as a place of work
check mark Employee retention – or even consideration of leaving
check mark Sense of pride to be part of the company

No matter how happy your employees are, it’s important to continue to take steps to increase employee engagement. In the next blog, I’ll share three of the top ways to involve your workforce in your company culture.

Show the Corporate World You Mean Business with CMS

Having a high-quality content management system (CMS) to help manage your company’s website is critical to corporate success – more than you might have ever imagined! Without one, websites all too easily become out-of-date and disorganized, leading to high bounce rates (in other words, potential customers who click away in mere seconds).

Organization = Conversion

How can a software program give you a competitive edge? Like a home contractor, a CMS can build out your website to be as minimalist or as sophisticated as you want, keeping it in line with your branding. A CMS is more than a well-built closet, however. It’s also a powerful electronic marketing tool. When your site is fun and easy to browse, customers will keep returning for purchases, in turn raising your SEO rankings and boosting sales.

From all the CMS programs available, how do you choose which one to use? First, consider how much data you have to organize (e.g., your company’s size, products sold), your geographic location, and your level of technical expertise. If you have a multinational and multi-million dollar organization, you will need a CMS system – maybe two or three – that has large data storage capacities and can handle high web traffic volumes. Note, however, that transitioning to a CMS will be more difficult if your company is larger and uses multiple communication platforms, such as videos, webinars, graphics, chats, and diagrams.

CMS Info

Go From Ordinary to Extraordinary 

A good CMS program makes your website come alive. It will knock down the wall of communication that customers believe stands between them and your company. It should also make your website feel like an online coffee shop – a place where clients, corporate friends, and your own employees can go to chat, relax, and have a good time.

Most CMS programs offer base packages with templates for organizing and publishing information, revision tools to track changes, and capacities for search, retrieval, and storing data to allow users to quickly find what they want with keywords.

Database vs. Flat File

Among database programs, several consistently rank high in customer satisfaction for providing many features, design flexibility, and customer support: WordPress, Joomla!, Magento, and Drupal. These programs are good for one-stop shopping, but they can require some technical knowledge to use. Additionally, some find the volume of features they offer to be a bit overwhelming.

Flat-file programs, such as GitHub, Ghost, and Jekyll, are good for smaller companies. They are more affordable and user-friendly, but these programs lack the bells and whistles of data-driven systems. Although the listed programs are the most popular, it’ll take some shopping around to find the CMS best suited for the needs of your company and clients.

comparison database vs flat file
Source: dci (dotcominfoway.com)

Forecast for the CMS Future

A CMS system can make or break your electronic business. It is key to digital marketing, and can make the difference between your company attracting a large following, or quickly losing customers to competitors. Additionally, CMS programs enable you to lay out and manage your site in a way that makes doing business easier for everyone involved. Before making a decision, consider your company’s needs, and pay attention to projected trends.

If you want to get a leg up, consider upcoming trends before making a CMS purchase. Right now, this means making your content accessible through multiple channels, facilitating collaboration, and enabling data-based decisions, among other necessities. For those business owners who feel lost in the digital playing field, a web management or online marketing professional can steer you in the right direction.

A Little LAM Goes a Long Way in Supporting Corporate Success

Do you ever stare longingly at the commercials and campaigns of multinational companies, wondering how they are so successful while your own business has trouble staying afloat? Those companies had to learn to crawl before they could walk (and eventually run) in the corporate world. In fact, many still rely on the same secret weapon that got them to where they are now: local marketing.

Climb the Stairway to Success . . . One Step at a Time

Consider the statistics: Over half of your customer base lives less than three miles from your store. By catching – and keeping – local interest, you’ve already done much of the hard work of creating reliable revenue. Therefore, the biggest questions are:

How do you reach customers, and how do you keep them coming back for more?

Behind every iPhone, iPad, social media account, and computer screen is a human being. Despite flocking to the newest technologies en masse, humans still have emotions and want to feel connected. There’s power in a simple connection:

Local area marketing

Local area marketing (LAM) bridges the gap between geography, social class, and economic status that often stands between larger companies and clients. It targets a certain audience based on the local trends, customs, age, and socioeconomic status of customers most likely to buy your products. When you satisfy their desires, customers will remember your company’s name and be more likely to return to you for their next purchase.

Batting against Local Competition

When you’ve pinpointed who to target in the area, it’s time to take action. You will need to create a message that is clear, concise, and consistent. Repetition leads to memorization, which means in time your new customers will associate certain products with your brand and will return to you when they need more. Once they know what they want and who they want it from, they will want to know where else to find it. Telling customers exactly which local stores stock your products makes them much more likely to go there.

The marketing message is just the first part of the LAM equation, however. To make it more effective, you need to scope out your competition. Keep up with the business across the street by following their social media pages, subscribing to their e-mail newsletter, and taking a peek at their website at least once a month. Feel like you’re forgetting something? Set up a Google Alert to get notifications whenever your competitors write a blog, post updates online, or make the news.

Before you start a search for what others are doing, however, you need to make sure that other searchers can find you. Place listings in print directories, like YellowPages, as well as online hubs, like CitySearch and Google. If someone searches for a business like yours on GoogleMaps or Foursquare, it’s important that the correct information pops up so loyal customers and interested consumers can call or stop by. After you’ve checked with all the relevant listing services, you can further spread the word of your business by distributing content.

Channeling Your Energy

No two people are alike, and although your targeted group shares many commonalities, each individual will respond to stimuli in different ways. Some people – particularly those who are older and have less access to technology – are likely to go directly to a store to browse for and buy an item, but those numbers are dwindling fast. Most shoppers are using the internet to find the brands and products they love before they go to a brick-and-mortar establishment. As you can see, reaching out to your clients via the web, mobile devices, and social media is one of the best ways to contact them.

Channeling Your Energy

By taking your LAM strategy to the web, you can stay in touch with your supportive local network of customers and have a much better chance of finding potential clientele. As your company’s popularity grows, your web traffic increases, and your SEO rankings rise as well – in other words, when people type in certain keywords, your company’s name will be on top.

Starting small helps you to win big. Targeting a local audience establishes critical connections and creates the network you need for sustainable growth. What are you waiting for? Tap into the local market with internet marketing to increase the chance that casual online shoppers will be converted to your loyal buyers.If you want to get a leg up, consider upcoming trends before making a CMS purchase. Right now, this means making your content accessible through multiple channels, facilitating collaboration, and enabling data-based decisions, among other necessities. For those business owners who feel lost in the digital playing field, a web management or online marketing professional can steer you in the right direction.

Treat Your Company Website to a Makeover for Better Business

There are different types of marketing mediums, but these days one is more important than the rest: a website. It’s the face of your company. Having a great website is the key to drawing and retaining customers, and web designers and marketing experts agree that a good site contains one-of-a-kind features yet is easy to navigate and peruse. When you want to capture your audience’s attention and make your brand name memorable, consider adopting innovative web design concepts, which will make your audience not only click but take notice.

Show off Your URL

A website doesn’t just have to look good to be good. Who cares about a beautiful, state-of-the-art website if no one ever sees it? Don’t overlook search engine optimization (SEO), a web marketing fundamental will increase the number of hits your site receives and boost its overall ranking on Google, Bing, and more. Essentially this means the words on your website should match what your target market will be looking for.

Creating a uniform and consistent brand identity is also critical for improving SEO rankings, as well as making your company’s name, image, and products memorable. According to research, a significant part of the success accrued by the world’s top name brands – Starbucks, McDonalds, and Dunkin Donuts – is due to their recognizable identities and clear, focused advertising messages. These studies have shown that consumers are able to correctly identify these brand names in different places, online and in person, nearly 100% of the time.

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is another simple way to increase traffic to your company’s website and increase its quality scores.

Show off Your URL
                                                                                                            Source: TheLogoCompany.net

Stand Out from the Crowd 

When designing or redesigning your corporate homepage, it is also important to consider conversion rate optimization (CRO) and user experience (UX). UX refers to the ease with which users can access, navigate, and ultimately remember (and return to) your site. CRO involves adding the bells, whistles, and unique features that make your company’s name and image stand out in the minds of your audience members. A successful website balances the two – it’s simple enough for your customers to use, but unique enough for them to remember.

Be a Social Butterfly

Given the power and success of social media, sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can (and should) be a part of your web design or redesign plan. It is fairly simple and quite cost-effective to set up accounts on these sites, and with the myriad of social connections each of your customers have, these networks are an invaluable marketing tool.

Make it easier to make new connections – and easily reach your loyal customers – by integrating social media into your website. It can be as simple as adding a Facebook “like” button for your page, or fully synced to share your live Twitter feed. Check out Dictionary.com; everywhere on the page, there’s something related to social media: Google+, Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram.

Be a Social Butterfly

Check Your Progress

Once you start a design or redesign campaign, you will be eager to know whether or not it is actually working. Capture sales and marketing data on various parts of your site through Analytics. This will help you measure performance and make targeted adjustments when necessary. A digital marketing expert can provide and manage the progress-tracking tools that will help your website – and by extension your company – grow to the next level.

Regardless of which web host, content management system (CMS), or online marketing tactics your business is using, it is absolutely essential to have a user-friendly website. Social media is powerful too, but those cookie-cutter profiles can’t capture the unique vision and perspective that your company offers. If you don’t have an easy-to-access website, your audience will be lost without a touchstone. Help your fans engage with everything your brand is doing online – from following your social media and resharing your posts to reviewing your industry-specific content and searching your entire inventory of products.

Increasing Brand Awareness is the Road to Long-Term Success

Whether your company is already considered the cream of the crop, or if you dream of getting to the #1 spot, increasing your brand’s awareness is one of the best ways to make sure that you become – or stay – head and shoulders above the competition.

Go Global

Experts agree that the trick to increasing visibility is to make your business global. Doing so may seem risky, or even frightening. With a sound strategy, however, you can significantly improve your return on investment (ROI) and pave a clear road to corporate success. Large companies, such as Lenovo and IBM, have reported that their ROI increased over 50% when their brand name went global – netting them billions more in revenue.

How can you lead your business in that direction? Start by developing a plan with three central components: quality, innovation, and creativity. Over 90% of customers surveyed listed those three factors as the most important considerations they made when purchasing, and continuing to purchase, products from certain companies over those of their competitors.

Make Personal Connections

In addition to being purchasers of your goods and services, your clients are people too. They’ll respond positively or negatively to certain stimuli, and that’s not something to overlook when planning your communications. Customers want to feel valued and are more likely to purchase products from companies they trust, and the seed of that trust is a personal connection.

What keeps your repeat customers coming back, and how can you attract new clients? Contrary to what you may believe, it is not just a matter of luck.

The most successful companies have a business strategy that includes a short- and long-term plan, along with a clear, focused message and targeted customer base. That requires doing some research into local populations – cultures, trends, and demographics. Then, tailor your message to your market to make strong emotional connections.

Check out Kmart’s #ShipMyPants ad campaign for an example of how to use a sharp message to attract a specific audience. The humor in this commercial may have been off-putting to some viewers, but along with making waves, it made the once-bankrupt store some brand new fans.

Brand awareness campaign

Stepping Stones to Success

Don’t immediately switch to international thinking; instead, start with baby steps. The thought of going global can be frightening, but if your company already has a good local presence, you have the foundation you need to start scaling. Many small businesses make a strong local name for themselves the good old-fashioned way: a physical office, a friendly customer service and support center, and personal relationships with customers.

In today’s digitized world, a bit of friendliness goes a long way so it doesn’t hurt to uphold those traditional business methods. The value of face-to-face interactions – or screen-to-screen interactions, in the case of live online support – is still a powerful and effective way to gain credibility and attention for your company’s name. Simply move from providing that winning service in person to also providing it online – on Facebook, Twitter, etc. – and your business will go global before you know it.

Audience Participation

Most of your customers are linked to social networking communities and have a wealth of digital connections. In other words, they give you access to their friends, family, coworkers – and even that friend they had in the 8th grade – and those people are all your company’s future fans, waiting to hear about what you have to offer.

Asking your current customers to participate in surveys, polls, online chats, and other methods of providing feedback will help spread your company’s name. Specifically speaking, it will increase your SEO/SEM rankings, which is one of the most important methods for increasing sales overseas. With a little bit of planning and a sound strategy, you can easily build on small achievements to increase your capital on a larger scale and go viral.

Increasing Awareness Increases ROI

Brand awareness is critical for business success. Whether you are a small company or an internationally renowned firm, a sound marketing strategy must be in place to ensure you stay at the forefront of customers’ minds – and the top of their shopping list. Making the most of the tools at hand, especially social media and the web, will help more of your target market understand just how perfect your product or service is for them.

But, how aware of your brand are people in the first place? There are a lot of ways to answer that question, including number of times your brand is mentioned by users on Twitter, how often your brand name is brought up in relevant online conversations, and whether or not your brand is being referred over your competitors. Of course, it also helps to know if people are sharing your company’s content, like pictures and blog posts, or if they’re searching directly for your product.

Brand Awareness Tools

That’s a whole lot of online activity to track! How can you possibly monitor every corner of the internet at once? There are a lot of tools to measure brand awareness, including Google Analytics and SocialMention.com. And, you can really take the reins with Google AdWords, which directly encourages visitors to interact with and learn about your company.
This popular advertising tool doesn’t simply put your pitch on the side of the road for anyone who drives by; you can pick specific placement spots and target audiences to get the biggest bang for your buck. On top of that, AdWords collects data to form a clear picture of your brand’s response rate. The more information you have in the online marketplace, the more prepared your brand is to be seen and heard.

The Power of Email Marketing in Action

Email is far from outdated, according to research and surveys. In fact, it is more effective than ever when it comes to communicating with consumers. Here’s a refresher of the statistics:

check mark Email has a return on investment (ROI) of around 4,300% (learn more from the Direct Marketing Association ).
check mark 80% of people choose to read marketing messages with their personal emails.
check mark 70% of people make use of emailed coupons or discounts.
check mark 60% of people named special offers as the top reason they sign up for e-newsletter subscriptions.

But knowing all that won’t help you harness the power of email for your business. Not every piece of email marketing will make it through the spam filter and compel readers to click.

Keys to Success

Email campaigns are only as valuable as you make them. It’s important to have a strategy in place to get more subscribers to read your carefully crafted email.

First, determine your goals and objectives, and draft a message. Do you want immediate sales, or would you be satisfied with more fans on your Facebook page? Your customers must be able to see what you have to offer, whether it’s a great product or your funny tips on Twitter, and they should be left feeling like they need it.

Now that you have an email that represents your brand and speaks to your target audience, you have to make sure your email actually reaches your targets. That means getting past the spam filters. The subject line has to be relevant, but beyond that, it should quickly and clearly tell the recipient (and their email provider!) what your message is all about.

What to Say

In the subject and the body text, use words specific to your brand, product, and industry. Avoid any phrases that read like a one-size-fits-all sales pitch (e.g., “FREE trial,” “Download now before it’s too late,” “Don’t miss this deal!!”).

Right away, identify yourself as personally as possible. Then, in your own voice, tell your subscribers why you’re writing, and explain what you have to offer. If you’re pointing them to your latest blog articles, give a brief summary. If you’re talking about a sale, tell them how much they can save. Keep it brief to show you value their time.

Once you have your readers’ attention, make sure to keep it by maintaining an email list with regular communication. Consistency builds trust, which is the secret ingredient you need to attract loyal brand ambassadors. But keep in mind that your subscribers’ expectations have to do with more than quality content.

When to Send

Timing is the key to getting your followers to not only open the welcome message, but to then look forward to receiving your latest updates on a regular schedule. This aspect of a winning campaign is why the right email solution is invaluable. MailChimp, Constant Contact, Bronto, and more email marketing services will not only schedule your communications but track your campaign’s performance. That way, you’ll know your newsletter is a huge hit in the late morning – except when you send on the weekend.

When to send newsletter

The Future Looks Bright

Although the face of e-mail is changing, experts predict it will remain as effective, if not even more so, into the future. Projected trends include predictive analytics, big data transparency, higher functioning platforms, more user-friendly designs, and synchronization of email to more channels, such as mobile devices and wearable electronics.

Future of email marketing

Source: Email Vendor Selection

Although some companies are overlooking the power of email and choosing to communicate mostly through social media, it’s important to know that an email subscriber is worth more to you than a Facebook fan – but only if you have a strategic marketing campaign to land the right messages in their inbox.

It can take some fancy technical footwork to know what your subscribers are worth down to the dollar, but if you track visitors with cookies starting from the first time they land on your website, you can see how often they return after signing up for your mailing list.

There are endless ways to attract subscribers, design e-newsletters, and schedule an email marketing campaign. But don’t get caught up by the details of what you’re sending and when; the first step is to get started. From the first few emails, you can gather data to pinpoint how to hone your messages, where to place your links, and what time your subscribers are most looking forward to hearing from you.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race: The Power of Email Marketing

When asked to name the marketing platforms that generate the greatest sales online, most business owners think of the latest trends like social media, mobile apps, and sophisticated web software.

However, one of the most effective marketing methods is good old email. Although it is not the latest and greatest among e-commerce tools, email remains the best means of communication, making it a critical way to touch base with employees and clients alike.

Email has not gone out of fashion, according to research and surveys. In fact, it is more effective for reaching consumers than ever:

check mark Email has a return on investment (ROI) of around 4,300% (learn more from the Direct Marketing Association ).
check mark 80% of people choose to read marketing messages with their personal emails.
check mark 70% of people make use of emailed coupons or discounts.
check mark 60% of people named special offers as the top reason they sign up for e-newsletter subscriptions.

Growth of email marketing
 Source: Shopify

Email Stands Tall over Social Media

When you need strategic and cost-effective marketing, forget the fancy software programs and invitations from social media sites begging you to join – at least to start.

Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, require payment for advertising space, and it is not cheap. Additionally, to get publicity, you need to make your sales pitch to your target audience. That means you need to be posting new updates and tweets when your customers are logged in, leaving you with a small window of opportunity. Getting attention on social media is often a shot in the dark.

Email also establishes your quality, credibility, and reputation. Lots of companies are trying in vain to promote sales on Google and other search engines by purchasing ad space, hijacking keywords, and using other cheap techniques, which lands them in the e-commerce penalty box. While these tactics might work temporarily, they can ultimately hurt these businesses’ bottom lines and cost them all kinds of opportunities.

Avoid this pitfall by investing in long-term relationships with an email marketing campaign. Email ultimately works by sending the same focused message to people over and over again. It takes some time and patience to create the most effective message and get it across, but perseverance pays off.

What Benefits Does Email Offer?

There are so many; it’s tough to know where to start! Of course, an email blast allows you to reach many people in a short time. Email is cost-effective, and messages can be customized to target multiple audiences. It also has a much faster response time (1–3 days) than snail mail marketing, which generates responses within 1–2 weeks.

Benefits of email marketing

Perhaps the best quality of email is that it’s easy to track, and there’s a long list of tools that will help you do the legwork: Constant Contact, Bronto, MailChimp, VerticalResponse, AWeber, and more. These email marketing services not only help you design a professional, easy-to-read newsletter, but they also capture data about your subscribers.

By tagging your email campaigns, you’ll be able to see which emails get the best response rate. How many people are reading your newsletters, and how many of those readers translate to sales? Which part of your emails are attention-grabbing, and which links aren’t getting clicked at all? When you collect and analyze data about your promotional emails, you’ll be able to answer those questions and much more.

While your competitors go for the glitz and glamour with a flash-in-the-pan app or viral video, you can be the turtle that wins the proverbial race by building a strong email marketing campaign and tracking its performance. You will ultimately attract more customers than your competitors, who’ll be left spinning through the boom-and-bust cycle of technological trends.

Link Building: How to Increase ROI and Strengthen Online Presence

These days, a majority of the communication between businesses, whether to consumers or to other companies, is carried out electronically, primarily through e-mail and online messaging systems. But beyond providing a convenient way for businesses and clients to stay in touch, the web can be a powerful tool for making connections. And what could be better at building digital connections than hyperlinks?

Corporations looking to attract new clients, promote their services, and increase revenue should (of course) be using several effective methods to fortify their online presence. However, the most beneficial strategy – the one you can’t afford to miss – is link building. Yes, you can increase your company’s popularity, respect, and web traffic by making good use of all those underlined words!

Consider these statistics: Facebook users average 150 friends apiece, and nearly one-quarter of all LinkedIn users have between 500 and 1,000 connections. Essentially, link building is the electronic equivalent of getting recommendations and referrals by tapping into these and other existing networks.

Link Building Brings Business

The process of link building can be broken down into two parts: integration and accrual. Integration refers to the volume (or lack) of interesting internal features that make a website stand out from competitors, thus making it popular (or unpopular) among consumers and clientele. A fully integrated site considers the needs and interests of all potential audience members, including customers, employees, prospective clients, industry affiliates, and competitors.

You can improve your link-building program by growing relationships with anyone who wants to spread the word of your company’s excellence: loyal customers, employees, friends and family, brand advocates, and key business partners.

Link Building Brings BusinessHow did the blog Little Red Mommy Hood achieve this exponential growth? Building relationships! (Source: Search Engine Land).

Using SEO for Link Building

Links are also important, both in quality and quantity, to make your website more visible in internet searches. Search engine optimization (SEO) can be a powerful tool for bringing traffic to your site, but you’ll never get a top Google ranking without external hyperlinks. Search engines work by picking up signals from links; therefore, the more high-quality links you have from your site to others – and from other sites to yours – the more often your webpages will appear. With a customized SEO strategy incorporating hyperlinks, your company will be able to achieve better search engine results.

Once you start a link-building campaign, how do you know if it’s working? The tricky thing about grabbing the attention of search engines like Google and Bing with all those little hyperlinks is that they don’t work individually. All of the keywords on your website work like a team to increase your search engine ranking. If you want to know how the different SEO keywords work – including which ones are the biggest earners of traffic and ROI – you’ll need tools to do it.

Are All These Links Driving Traffic?

Generally, your link-building success can be measured in your SEO ranking and by the number of quality links you have on your site. You can also pinpoint your best keywords by looking at referrals in Google Analytics. These simple statistics can be tracked internally, or you can hire an outside consultant to do the ’net detective work.

Tracking the progress of your link-building campaign is where a digital marketer becomes invaluable. I can collect thorough information about your website, including which other sites and social media networks it interacts with, and provide real-time feedback to make sure your campaign is progressing as it should. If a link is hurting your site instead of helping, I can quickly identify and remove it. By analyzing data about your SEO keywords, you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly what’s working (and what’s not) in your web content strategy.

Don’t Wait – Make the Right Connections Today

Link building can benefit your business tremendously. When done properly, it places your company’s name in front of more web users, specifically those in your target market. In today’s digital age, gaining the competitive edge in the online market is critical, and knowing how to generate traffic to your website by using SEO tactics and external links will boost your business, increasing your return on investment (ROI).

Carry the Conversation Forward with Social Media Campaigns

Even though many traditional aspects of doing business are experiencing upheaval as industries gravitate towards the digital marketplace, the underlying principle of marketing remains the same: foster a unique connection with your target audience. Nowadays there are just many more places to share your message and meet new customers, and that’s where the new marketing landscape starts to get rocky.

Keep in mind that social media is to digital branding and advertising what relationships and referrals were to businesses in the past. When used strategically, these online networks have the potential to be even more effective in reaching consumers and more powerful in driving sales as compared to traditional advertising.

Keep Your Old Friends While Making New Ones

Social media is all about connecting with the people you already know – plus those who you want to know. The key to having a successful social media branding campaign, then, is fostering social engagement. This is achieved by clarifying your marketing message and delivering it to a larger audience through videos, comments, and other multimedia formats.

By giving you a new space to develop personal relationships with customers, social media networks empower you to directly share your message with others. They allow you to continue the conversation that started while you were behind the counter – not the next time your customers stop by, but as soon as they are back in the comfort of home. This one-on-one connection can increase your electronic sales and brand awareness.

Become a Trendsetter

While making your first Facebook profile is a good social media start, following trends is the key to an effective online marketing campaign. Experts predict that in 2014 Twitter will take the lead, the popularity of Google+ will grow, visual content will be critical for marketing success, micro videos will replace longer clips in effectiveness, and user-generated content (e.g., customer photographs, blogs, and reviews and ratings) will become more important in increasing brand awareness and brand name visibility.

Speaking of those users, focus your message on reaching your true fans, not on wooing the big-name bloggers and other top influencers. Research has shown that brand advocates – the everyday people who know and love your products – are whose voices really count.

A good way to know whether or not influencers are following your brand online is to check which sources are driving traffic to your website using Google Analytics. For greater detail, you can see who’s mentioning your products and keywords with SocialMention, a tool that compiles data from 80 different social media sites. To look at blogs too, IceRocket runs a similar keyword search with a wider scope.

Become a Trendsetter

                                         Source: ConvinceAndConvert.com

Keep the Conversation Going 

The more that people can relate to – and have a personal connection with – the company whose products they are purchasing, the more inclined they are to keep that business-consumer relationship going. Show your customers they are valued by soliciting their feedback and opinions through reviews, polls, and surveys. Allowing them to have their say helps build trust and confidence in your current customers, which is evident to potential consumers, ultimately increasing your visibility and your revenue.

Even if you are receiving responses from fans, how can you know it’s enough to call your social media campaign a success? Tracking tools will help you visualize the volume of conversations occurring on social media. For example, Facebook Insights is provided for free to all business page admins. It not only shows you how many interactions your Facebook posts get, but when your page fans are most likely to see them. Similar tools like Pinterest Web Analytics and Tweriod exist for other social networks.

Increase Conversion with Quality Conversation

Social media, like it or not, is here to stay. Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram are among the most important tools your company can use to increase its visibility in the electronic marketplace – and to gain and retain customers. If you want to boost web traffic to your site, engage customers and clients, and expand your business exponentially, it’s time to dip your toes into social media and test the waters of online interaction.

Now you know where your business needs to be in the world of social media, and you have tools to measure how engaged your audience is. But, what about the bottom line – is all of that talk adding up to sales? Tracking ROI can be difficult because each fan follows a unique path from your social media pages: jumping to your blog, becoming a newsletter subscriber, downloading your app, or heading straight to your store.

To follow all those leads from LinkedIn, Twitter, and more, a tool like Oktopost provides an overview to see which platforms and messages are your biggest earners. After you can assess that – either on your own or with a digital marketing pro – you’ll be able to spend your social media time more wisely to further bump up your conversion rate.