Social Selling Explained

The use of social media in the last few years has had a huge impact on the way businesses and brands conduct themselves – from customer service to advertising and selling directly to customers on those platforms, there has been a great deal to learn and many changes to adjust to.

There are many different terms that use ‘Social’ as a descriptor – social media management, social selling, social media advertising; and while it’s tempting to combine these disciplines into one umbrella term, each discipline operates in significantly different ways, each with their own best practices and outcomes,

Social Selling Defined

Social selling is a vital tool which keeps your brand at the forefront of your customer’s mind; it’s a technique which utilises social media to identify your customers, connect with them, understand their needs, and encourage them to purchase from you.

Social selling techniques are used for cultivating brand awareness and building relationships on a more personalised level; something that is increasingly important with digitally savvy customers – your prospects want to feel that they matter to you, social selling gives you the tools to create personalised interactions with your audience and make them feel like appreciated.

Why is Social Selling Important?

Brands that don’t have an online presence are missing out on a huge potential market. Between December 2016 and January 2017, more than 1 in 5 of the global population shopped online. Having your brand name recognised and making potential customers aware of your company is the key to success.

In 2016 MarketCube (on behalf of LinkedIn) conducted a survey with 1017 US sales or business professionals – they found that more than 70% of their panel used social selling tools (including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter), and that 90% of the individuals in the group who were considered to be the ‘top salespeople’ of their respective businesses used these tools as part of their sales strategy.

In 2016, 97% of global online adults aged 16 to 64 used or visited a social media site at least once per month – an estimated 1 in every 3 minutes spent online was spent using social media – with an average daily engagement of nearly 2 hours (1hr 58 minutes)

Companies who are not seen engaging with their audience will soon fade from the public consciousness – but whilst publicity stunts and one-off events may generate a certain ‘buzz’ it will only last until the next interesting topic arises. Having a social selling strategy allows your company to respond to current events in a manner best suited to your business, it lets potential clients see that you are active and socially aware – encouraging them to engage with you, without having to create an ‘artificial’ engagement that may actually backfire and turn your intended audience away from you.

Having a strong strategy in place is vital, and social selling is one way to nurture and grow your rates of engagement, increase your brand awareness and promote a positive company reputation.
Social Selling can essentially be broken down into four main approaches – creating a strong brand, building relationships, engaging with your customers and focusing on your prospects.

In 2016, 91% of retail brands used two or more social media channels allowing them potential access to the 2.3 billion users who were active that year.

Why Do You Need Social Selling?

Having a social media presence gets you brand recognition, allows you to build relationships (not just with potential customers, but other businesses as well), and ensure your customer service is running at optimal speed.

There are many tools available (such as Google Analytics or Hootsuite) which allow you to optimise your approach to social media, and then record a quantifiable data stream to analyse. Getting the right balance of content, approach and channel exposure may take some time – you will need to fully understand who your customer is and what they want from you, then find out which social media platforms they make the most use of (there is no point targeting your advertising at a channel that your target audience doesn’t use).

Once you have created and optimised your customer profile and begun your engagement, you can use the social selling techniques to create further recognition and trust in your brand, generating new leads and potentially new sales.

Using the data provided by the analytic sites, you will be able to see which parts of your strategy are working, which aren’t – which could do with improvement, and which need to be expanded on because they’re doing well.

Social Selling gives you the tools to show your audience that your company is active, aware and approachable, and provides you with the data to turn those connections into potential sales.

Top 3 Reasons Small Businesses Fail at Marketing

I often speak to groups of small business owners and I keep hearing the same comment over and over again with many of them saying that marketers don’t matter or marketing doesn’t matter anymore.

There are many reasons I’ve heard as to why marketing doesn’t matter: “all my business comes by referral,” “I never spent money on marketing and my business grew,” “marketing is a waste of money,” “I see no value in marketing,” “marketing is all luck so why spend money on it,” and so on.

Oh, how they are so very wrong! Below are the top 3 reasons why:

1. Their definition of marketing is wrong

When business owners tell me that marketing doesn’t matter, they usually have a totally different understanding of what marketing is than those who recognise how marketing contributes to business goals where it enables you to charge the most money you can for your services and products.

Marketing is first about spending time building a solid foundation based on strategy before proposing a series of tactics aimed at lifting sales. Until the business finds a way to change the context of how their ideal customer views what they do, and then becomes become the obvious choice provider, they’ll find that their marketing efforts never seem to build momentum or gain any return on investment.

You must be able to enter the conversation taking place in the head of your customers. Or, to look at it in a different way, to be able to address the number one question on your customer’s mind at exactly the right time.

So, how do you do this? The conversation that is taking place in every prospective customer’s mind revolves around two major points. There is a problem they have, and that they don’t want… and there is a result that they want, and they don’t have.

Those who often misunderstand marketing believe that it is only about advertising campaigns, brochures, flyers, website, email marketing, SEO, trade shows, social media, copy, etc. These are the tactics – the way you implement your marketing. I’d argue that marketing is essentially the core of business strategy because it is about understanding the current customer, tapping into their fears, their goals and their aspirations and then creating products and services that the ideal customer is willing to buy from a brand they now they know, like and trust.

2. They believe either they or their co-worker can do it

Sometimes in the “do it all yourself” world of small business (or even big business when it comes to it), it’s difficult to identify the areas that require outside help. A business may be able to set up their newsletter, add plugins to WordPress, write a Facebook or LinkedIn post, and clumsily create header graphics, but you need somebody who is trained, practised, and skilled at looking strategically and holistically at the marketplace, understanding the customer, and then creating unique opportunities based on this understanding.

Just think about it for a minute; just because you have a calculator and excel does that mean you are an accountant? If you have a ruler, pencil and have watched some episodes of Grand Designs – does that make you an architect? If you post regularly to your friends on Facebook and Instagram – does that mean you are a social media expert?

So why do small businesses believe that by buying a Mac and some software they will become a designer, marketer and communications expert?

It needs to be led by a strategic marketer who can then develop an integrated marketing approach. Can you or your co-worker do this? In some cases, you can. But those who can are most likely to either come from marketing or consulting backgrounds where they have transferable skills and experience defining AND delivering against a growth strategy.

If you are a small business, you need somebody who will have a very solid, process, streamlined, consistent, repeatable approach. First, they will research and learn about your company in great depth, the dynamics of the marketplace and identify shifts, trends, and changes. From there, the strategic marketer will be able to present the different elements of your marketing plan in logical order of how you should construct them, update them, or revise them; and identify the key areas you should be focusing on – be it generating leads, converting leads, increasing transactions right down to changing prices.

3. They hire the wrong marketing help

There is a huge misunderstanding around marketing strategy, marketing tactics, and marketing execution.

There is a difference between being strategically capable, creatively capable and executionally capable.

Small business owners don’t hire a strategic marketing coach/firm to develop creative graphics and headers; nor should you hire an advertising/graphic design agency to handle marketing strategy. A small business doesn’t need to hire a consultant or a firm who is a strong marketing executor when their biggest need is a strategy for sustainable growth. You may get more attention, but not the best results.

Tips To Creating Your Own Marketing Strategy

Developing and creating marketing strategy is an essential for any types and forms of business. If you do not have one, it is a must that you create one, your efforts, time and money are likely to be inefficient and useless.

You should create your strategy which focuses on making sure that your products and services meet what the customers want and needs. This is important in order to develop a long-term and profitable relationship with your customers.

The main goal of a marketing strategy is to identify and to communicate with what benefits of your business could offer to your target market. Quite genius!

In order to achieve those goals you have set in your mind, you will need to create a smart strategy which can respond to customers’ perceptions and demands.

Tips below could help you define your key objectives and goals in reaching your customers, on the other hand, this could help you identify which customers you should focus on. Smart list for smart and effective action.

  • Identify your Key Elements. The acknowledgement that your existing customers will fall into particular groups or segments is one of the key elements for a successful marketing strategy. Characterise them by their “needs” and “perspective”. Market research could help you identify these groups and especially their needs, address them in a more fruitful way than your competitors, this should be the centre of interest of your strategy.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses. Your strategy takes account of how your business’ pros and cons will affect your marketing. A genuine Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis could be a great start, to begin with. This one is a substantial idea to conduct market research on your existing customers, it will also help you to build a more genuine portrait of your reputation.
  • Developing your Marketing Strategy. Understanding your business’ pros and cons and the other external variables to consider, you could develop your strategy that engages to your own strengths, match them to the transpiring opportunities. These questions below could possibly help you develop your marketing strategy:
  1. What changes are taking place in the business’ environment?
  2. Are these opportunities or threats?
  3. What do I want to achieve?
  4. What are the customers’ demands and needs?
  5. How do I target the right potential customers?
  6. Which are the best way to connect with my customers?
  7. Is there something missing with my customer service? Do I need to improve it?
  8. If I change my products and services, could it be possible that it will be more profitable?
  9. How do I price my products?
  10. Which is the best way to promote my products?
  11. When can I finally conclude that my marketing is effective?
  • Tips and Drawbacks. Think about how you can get the most out of your existing customers before looking at new markets. It’s more economical and swift than finding new customers. Take time to think and consider, could it be possible to sell more to your existing customers? You could always search for ways of improving the possession of customers. Your marketing strategy document should:
  1. Examine the different needs of different groups of customers
  2. Focus on a market niche where you can grew rapidly
  3. Goal to put most of your efforts into the 20 percent of customers who provide 80 percent of profits

Avoid these:

  1. Makes assumptions about what customers want.
  2. Ignores the competition.
  3. Trying to compete on price alone.
  4. Relies on too few customers.
  5. Trying to grow too quickly.
  6. Becoming complacent about what you offer and failing to innovate.

Marketing can be tricky, but if performed right, the output is way more successful than what you have expected. Having a hard time creating a marketing strategy? Use your ideas, try to analyse and connect the dots, how can it help to make your business successful? Then once you created and put your plans to effect, all you have to do is to monitor its effectiveness and efficiency, if there is something that needs to be improved and adjusted to maintain success.

14 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

How to improve your Email marketing

Many small businesses use email marketing as it is a popular and cost effective way for small business owners to consistently engage with past, current and prospective customers. If done well, it can be quite effective. If you already engage in email marketing, here are some tips to help you improve your results and work towards achieving email marketing success. If you haven’t tried it yet, keep this information in mind to help guide you through the process.

Whether you are trying to increase click through rates (CTR) to your website or ecommerce store, increase your email open rates or boost the number of times an email is shared, there are some things to keep in mind to help you improve your approach.

Tips for Email marketing success

Deliver one clear message. Have a single focus. For instance, focus on one topic and avoid ambiguity in your email content. Having too many focuses or too much information often gets ignored and is not as effective in grabbing people’s attention.

Small Business tips for better email marketing

  • Share a clear reason why subscribers should click your ‘call to action’ for instance, click on your or ‘web link’, or ‘subscribe’, or click your ‘buy now’ button.
  • Don’t make your emails too long, as most people just scan for key pieces of information.
  • Cut out words that may trigger spam filters, particularly in the subject line, such as, ‘free’, or ‘you are a winner’ etc. Avoid overusing exclamation marks.
  • Be consistent, establish a set time and day to deliver your emails. It could be weekly, monthly, quarterly or whatever time you think works best for your audience. Try and schedule your emails so that you are consistent.
  • Make your emails mobile responsive. This is such a popular medium for readers nowadays. Make sure you are not missing opportunities by not investing in making your content mobile friendly.
  • Keep subject lines short and communicate something of value.
  • Ensure your target audience can still read your e-mail without having to download graphics.
  • Keep your copy simple and professional and focus on the benefits to the customer.
  • Make sure it is easy for people to unsubscribe (opt out) of receiving your emails.
  • Segment your email lists so that your messages are more relevant and targeted to your specific clients. For example, if you have a sale on women’s cosmetics, it is less effective sending a blanket email to your entire list. If you segment your list to females within a certain age range, then your email will be more effective. You can also segment by geographic region, or job title, or by buyer behaviour, depending on the sort of data that you capture about your customers.
  • Track response rates and metrics from email campaigns so you that you can obtain insights into buyer behaviour and refine campaigns.
  • Add links to your images, so that readers can click through to your website or store via images.
  • Add social sharing buttons like Facebook. LinkedIn and Twitter to promote social sharing.

Finally make sure you preview and test your emails before sending. Do all of the links and buttons work correctly? Have email addresses and web addresses been spelt correctly? What about phone numbers? Consider split testing your emails to determine which one will perform best. Finally ensure that everything is in order before sending.Don’t forget to track your results so that you can measure the impact of your efforts. If you need any assistance with your email marketing or any other marketing services find a marketing consultant that can help point you in the right direction and get you started.

Effie Cinanni is Founder and Director of Small Chilli Marketing, a Melbourne based consulting firm specialising in marketing and communications for small business. She is an Associate Member of the Australian Marketing Institute and a Certified Practising Marketer (CPM). She has experience across a range of industries including; IT & software, allied health, children’s services, real estate and professional services. Effie is degree qualified in Marketing & Finance and has worked in marketing and business consulting roles for over for 15 years. Her experience encompasses all facets of marketing, including strategy, planning, digital, communications, branding, event management and online.