vt internet marketing

Mobile Friendly – Is Your Website Ready for April 21st?

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Got Clicks Mobile Friendly WebsitesI’ve been playing for awhile with making a website mobile-friendly in Serif WebPlus.  It works great if you have a simple website like InsuranSites, however, when you have LOTS of pages, it can get a little sticky.  I have 2 urls for Got Clicks and after a bit of reworking, it is now mobile-search friendly.

Why Do I Need to Make My Website Mobile-Friendly?

While yes, it’s a pain, Google does make a valid point:  If I’m searching on my mobile device for your business and I have to scroll clear across Canada to see your Contact Us info on my iPhone, I’m going to dump your website and go to one that’s a heck of a lot easier to read than yours. The Cardinal Rule: Make it easy for customers to buy from you.

How do I Know if My Website’s Mobile Friendly for Google?

Easy!  Just go to this simple link, type in your url into to test and see if you’re good to go on April 21st.

Helpful Links:

Depending upon how far the rabbit hole you wanna go, here are some articles that may be helpful to you and your web designer:
Google’s developer guide to smartphone sites – this is the most important document and the best place to start:
For sites with separate mobile and desktop URLs, this section is especially important:
These are common mistakes Google has seen in mobile sites:
Changing in rankings of smartphone search results:
25 key principles of mobile site design:

Free Tools to Rev Up Your Lead Capture Strategies in 2015

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The New Year rang in some wonderful free tools ideal for lead-capture, conversions and putting muscle behind your social media posts.  Here are two reviews for Snip.ly and SumoMe, both free and both worth your time.

Snip.ly:  I took App Sumo’s new tool, Snip.ly out for a test-run this afternoon, and I’ve gotta say, this tool has some serious power.  They’re doing a free one-year subscription to the Pro package and I suggest you get it while it’s hot – (it’s a $300 value) and no, I don’t have an affiliate link to them… (yet…)  Here’s a quick 4-minute video showing you the back-end:

Snip.ly not only abbreviates your long urls, but it allows for embedding a call-to-action button right onto your landing page with a one-two punch.  I used it to promote my affiliate hosting site, Midphase with their 40% off sale and my tutorials for Serif WebPlus.  It allowed me to promote BOTH pages on 1 post in both Facebook and Twitter (now how cool is that??)

SumoMe:  I’ve gotta admit, this one was a little confusing (still is…) in that I don’t always see the lead capture box show up on my website.  I put a device up on my home page (lemme know if you see the bugger…) to give away my free report, “The Top (Dirt-Cheap) Tools I Use to Get Noticed Online.” Some leads have come in, but not an avalanche. In all fairness, I haven’t promoted this to the max – I may use the power of Snip.ly to drive traffic to my pages that house the SumoMe lead-capture device and see if that works a bit better.  Nonetheless, it is easy to install, just not always easy to see it all the time, especially if you’ve put in commands that it only show once a month so as not to pester loyal followers of your website or blog.  Here’s the scoop on SumoMe and a few other GREAT tools:

So if you’re playing with your website over the weekend, take these two tools out for a spin and let me know what you think of them in the comments below.

Dear VT Legislature: WTF?

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What would you do if you had an internet business for 10 years and received an email like this one telling you one of your revenue streams was going to dry up tomorrow?  Yeah, our shop got that letter yesterday:

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I always tell my clients to avoid blogging about the Big 3 your mother warned you about discussing around the dinner table:

1)  Politics

2)  Religion

3)  Sex

However, when it adversely affects how I put food on the table, I go looking for answers.  I went out on Facebook and Cairn Cross of Fresh Tracks Capital had talked about this back in 2011.  I don’t really think the Vermont Legislature fully understands the impact of their decision.  We’re messing with flippin’ Amazon here – and the legislature’s decision could affect so many people.

I just released my book, “A Man to Honor You,” which I’m about to do a major campaign for on February 9th – in time for Valentine’s Day. Will my income eventually be affected by this decision?  How about other authors eeking out a living?  What about folks who started an Amazon store to sell coffee or widgets or???

I’m all for paying my fair share, and yes, I should’ve paid closer attention to all of this, but I didn’t – I was working to build my business.  It ain’t cheap to live here in Vermont, but it’s where I was raised, it’s where my roots run 5 generations deep.  Do I have to leave (as many others before me have…) to make a living?

I don’t want to just sit here typing to you and complaining; I really want to fix this.  Maybe there’s someone at the legislature I can explain how affiliate sales work so we can mend this gaping hole in the fence. If Amazon found Vermont too much of a pain to work with, where will that leave Google?  I make $ off each click on my tutorials I have on YouTube.  Will my Adsense profits be dinged here, too?  Short of that, I may be looking for work – sooner rather than later. (Anybody need an internet marketer?)

Got Clients? No? Then Stop Putting Cats in Dresses

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Two_cats,_dressed_as_humans,_holding_rope,_which_doll_appears_to_be_skippingBack in January, I had the assignment from hell.  Every day, I had to cold-call 50 people I didn’t know, asking if they wanted digital marketing for their business. There were several things wrong with this scenario:

1) Most people I spoke with didn’t know what digital marketing was or why they needed it.

2) I had a quota to fulfill, so I didn’t have the luxury of time to research their companies.

3) I undervalued what Got Clicks brought to the table thinking that a big-named company could deliver the goods better than my little company. I was wrong.

4)  The power is NOT in the list, (I had literally thousands at my fingertips…) the power is in what you have to offer.

What did I do? Well, I didn’t hit quota, I can tell you that. (Nor did many of the other salespeople I had trained with for that big conglomerate.) But I came away with something far more important. We were missing something in our technique – the ability to listen.

Stop Putting Cats in Dresses

I made the simple (yet fatal…) mistake of talking about my solution before understanding their company, their products, or even understanding what their pain points were. As entrepreneurs, we create a product or solution first and THEN look for customers to sell our product to. It needs to be the other way around. Find the Pain, Find the Money THEN Follow Your Heart. Otherwise, you’re putting cats in dresses – forcing your solution to people who really don’t want (or need…) what you have to offer.
I spent endless amounts of time yapping about how I used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a kickin’ lead capture page to generate leads (and results.) What’s wrong with that? Nothing –  if it’s the right fit for that customer.

But what if it isn’t?

I’ve had more than one client have HUGE success independent of social media. Why? Because they spent the time learning what their clients REALLY were hungry for. They created what I like to call “Raging Cookie Fans.”  Raging cookie fans will go to great lengths to find you if you have what they’re hungry for.  Social media and web pages only make it easier for them to find you.  But you MUST have the product, solution or service your fan base is hungry for, otherwise, no Facebook, Twitter or cool website will EVER work if you fail to understand the pain points your customers face and how you can solve them.

The Click Retreat Begins This September

IF…

S-E-L-L is a four-letter word
Marketing means misery
Your client base has fallen off and you don’t know why…

Then maybe it’s time for The Click.

I began teaching this workshop last April and it was a HUGE success. I’m teaching it again in September and it’s perfect for those of you who are:

  • Stuck in your business and need a serious reboot.
  • Considering starting a business, but you find social media and website stuff overwhelming.
  • You want some hand-holding and help honing your message and finding RAGING cookie fans for your product or service.
  • You’d like someone to unveil your communication style and how you can successfully approach your clients without it being a hollow, sales-y pitch.
  • You want to meet other entrepreneurs who are interested in joint venture opportunities.
  • You want a weekend away where your main focus is on the messaging of your company.
  • You don’t want a “rah-rah” weekend and then it’s over. You want continuity, a well-defined start-to-finish program that you can implement with your style and your clients in mind.

If it’s time for you to Find The Click, LEARN MORE HERE

Finding Your Voice – A Social Media Crash Course

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Find The Click - Stand Out in Social Media
Stand Out in Social Media

I’m working with a few clients who have gone to my 2-day retreat, The Click and we’re doing the second of 12 follow-up sessions.  Every one of them wants to rush right to the social media piece.  The conversations all start the same:

“Sarah, when will we talk about Facebook?”

“We can talk about it right now.  Why do you want to be there?”

“My daughter says I HAVE to be there.”  She sighs, resigned to the fact that technology has robbed her of the human touch – the face-to-face communication she relished in her 27 years in the corporate sector.  A handshake and a contract were her symbols of success.

“Maybe you don’t need to be on Facebook at all.” I reply.

“I don’t??”  I hear her voice brighten.  It happens with each of my clients over 50 – most have been in corporate jobs and social media belongs in the realm of their teenage sons and daughters.  Or, of those who have wa-ay too much time on their hands.

“It’s just so much drivel.  I don’t like everyone knowing my business – it’s so intrusive.”

“Yes, it can be.  So can a diner.”

“A diner?  What does a diner have to do with Facebook?”

When I was a kid, after we worked the horses on the track, we headed over to the local Dunkin Donuts for our reward – a donut and steaming mug of hot chocolate.  Walt, the owner of the racehorses, always had the newspaper open and he’d read our horoscopes aloud.  The banter would begin – “Oh so THAT’S why you’re in a mood this morning.”  We’d all laugh and poke fun at each other.  We’d find other stories about the horses, the track, the cold, the heat.  Year-round, it was our ritual.  I don’t hit the track anymore, or even a newspaper.  But I do hit Facebook for pretty much the same thing – engagement.

Just like when you walk into Barnes and Noble for the first time – it’s OVERWHELMING.  Yet, when you see the sections that interest you, you can easily get lost for hours perusing books and magazines that pique your interest.  Not a bookstore fan?  How about a hardware store?  Send me over to the paint chips and I can easily amuse myself.  Once you learn the tools you can use on social media to hone in on your interests, then it starts to make sense.  You can find all kinds of people who share your interests and that’s where it can become not only beneficial to your business, but it can be (gasp…) FUN!

So no, don’t force yourself to endure social media, find the reason why you WANT to be there, not why you HAVE to be there.  Find someone who can show you the ropes.  Follow (or “like”) people who you resonate with, who have something interesting to share.  Most importantly, don’t make it all about promoting your business – the secret to social media success is sharing other people’s success.  On my Got Clicks Facebook page, most of the posts you’ll see on there are about what my clients are up to. They have so many fascinating stories, I love to share what they’re up to.

So how do you sort through the drivel to enjoy the divine?  Here are some tips to navigate Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (it’s long, but useful.)

Twitter: 

  • What is it for? Best used for headlines or short news.  Only 160 characters, so short and sweet is key.
  • # (hashtag) is used to search for conversations like #babyboomers, #loa, #abrahamhicks.
  • @ sign is used to include people in a conversation so they can be “tagged” in your post and see your comment.  It’s also used to search for people @gotclicksbiz for example, finds Got Clicks and Sarah Spencer.
  • bit.ly or goo.gl – Use these tools to abbreviate long urls so they fit inside Twitter’s parameters
  • Lists – Great for organizing people you have in common (ie I have a list of “Marketing Gurus.”)  You can find List in the upper right corner where the gear is.  Click on the gear and you’ll see how to create your list.

How do I communicate on Twitter?

  • Reply – If someone makes a comment, you can click “reply” to engage in a conversation.
  • Retweet – This is the same as “sharing” a post.
  • Favorite – Similar to the “Like” button on FB if you don’t have anything else to say.
Why would I use Twitter for Business?
 
  • When you want to test a specific market to see how active it is (ie #babyboomers, #tires, etc.)
  • When you want to tweet about a time-sensitive event, such as a conference, you can find others who are experiencing the same conference by using #nameofyourconference, and meet them for coffee, lunch, etc.  Great for impromptu connecting at an event.
  • When you have writer’s block for your blog, website, presentation, etc. and you need inspiration.  Just pull up your list of gurus you enjoy and become inspired from their posts all in one place.
LinkedIn:
 
  • What is it for?  Business networking, finding a job and finding customers if you are in the b-to-b sector.
  • @ sign is used to include people in a conversation that may be relevant or for searching.
  • Posts – Found on the left-hand drop down next to the search box.  This is AWESOME for finding articles relevant to your industry (ie “55+ entrepreneurs, babyboomers,)
  • Groups – Great way to connect to people you need in your circle of influence.  Find a contact you’d like to know better, scroll down on their profile.  Search for groups you may have in common and join the group. Then, when you click “Connect,” when asked how you know them, in the drop down, you can say you have a group in common to get the conversation rolling.
How do I communicate on LinkedIn?
 
  • Post links to blogs relevant to your industry.
  • Participate in groups with thoughtful questions to encourage participation.
  • Service, service, service.  Always be looking for how you can serve OTHERS, not necessarily yourself.
  • Formal – business only.  This is NOT where you post what you had for breakfast or how you partied hearty.
Why would I use LinkedIn for Business?
 
It makes connection on a business level very easy.  It shows you as the expert in your industry.  Definitely the place to show and tell what you know for the benefit of other peers in your industry or in industries you wish to sell into.
Facebook:
 
  • What is it for?  Think of Facebook as your local diner.  All characters from all walks of life enter in with the good, the bad and the ugly.  Real Estate agents, car salespeople, generally anyone who sold used to swear by visiting the local diner on a daily basis to get the heartbeat of the neighborhood. Now?  It’s Facebook.
  • @sign is used to include people in a conversation that may be relevant or for searching.
  • # (hashtag) is used to search for conversations like #babyboomers, #loa, #abrahamhicks.
  • Personal Page – You must have a personal page first before having a business page.
  • Business Page – Can be accessed either in the drop-down on the upper right or the left side of your page.

How do I communicate on Facebook?

  • Comment with links back to your blog or website.
  • Comment on posts relevant to you.
  • Like comments you agree with.
  • Ignore idiocy.
  • Remember your mother – don’t say or post anything you wouldn’t say in front of your mother.
  • It’s always better to be kind than clever.
  • 80/20 rule:  80% interesting, relevant articles.  20% selling your stuff.
Why would I use Facebook for Business?
  • People buy people.  Facebook shows you have depth as a person and not necessarily always pushing your business.
  • ALWAYS make certain you’re clear on who you’re posting as, your business or personal before posting.
  • If you find you’re not getting a lot of views on your business page, you can always share it using your personal page.
  • Facebook is VERY social (which can make an introvert run for the hills.)  The key to the Magic Facebook Kingdom is the power of numbers.  The more likes, the better your chances are of being heard.  The more interaction?  The more likely your post will be seen in others’ news feeds.
  • If you’re new to the game, “like” some pages who have 500 or more “likes” and see how they play the game first.  See if they’ll share a link you’ve offered to their audience to grow your own.
  • Contests- Great way to build your fan base.  Rafflecopter offers a platform and it’s free.  Make sure your prize in RELEVANT to what you sell.  Otherwise, you’ll just get “junk” posts.
Hootsuite
 
  • What is it for?  Use it to write for all your social media under one umbrella.  You can easily put all your posts for the week on a Sunday night while watching TV.
  • You can post across all platforms or select one or two depending upon relevance.
  • Short stuff – Twitter Feeds.  Business oriented:  LinkedIn & FB Biz Page  Interesting Pics:  FB Personal.
  • Abbreviated Links – Hootsuite  automatically shortens long urls for you.
  • Scheduling – VERY important.  Know when your audience is on.  I find 7:10 am for some reason is a great time for me to post.  Experiment and watch your stats to see when you have the most engagement and make it a habit to connect with your audience on a regular basis.
  • RESPOND – For goodness sake, respond if someone’s kind enough to like or comment on your post.  See what they’re up to and share their stuff if it’s relevant and important.  The worst you can do is let a whole week go by and not check your inbox.  Respond just as if these were customers calling you on the phone.  Because one day, if you play your cards right, they will be.

I’m offering my 2-day retreat and 12-one-on-one internet marketing sessions with The Click this coming late August – September.  I would love to see you join us.  It’s designed to help you hone the messaging of your business to help you find “raging cookie fans,” people who want, need and are willing to pay you for your products and services.  Check out the 5 minute video and see if it’s a good fit for you here.

The CEO and Social Media – A Tricky Walk

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CommentI recently worked with a large Vermont company to obtain a contract to manage social media for them.  One of the topics that came up repeatedly surrounded the ethics a public company faces when posed with less-than-flattering posts from trolls.  How do you handle it?

I had this question come up when I taught a seminar in Lake George where competition between hotels and B and B’s is fierce.  Many of them relayed stories about competitors posting negative reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor.  So what DO you do?  Is the response for a small hotel or BnB in Lake George different than what I would advise a large, publicly traded company?  Suddenly, my ethical compass was tied in a knot.  As I went sans sandwich or bathroom break and we were closing in on 6 hours of grilling, the magical question came up.

“If faced with a negative comment on our social media page, how would you handle it?” I was asked as my potential new client leaned forward.

“It depends.”  I said. “Is it a common problem that more than one person has posed?  If so, you may want to address it internally and then respond on your social media outlets.  But it needs to be communicated clearly internally so the message is well thought out before broadcasting on social media. However, don’t sit on it for a week – Social Media is immediate and demands attention or you’ll be seen as uncaring in the face of adversity.”

My interviewer leaned back in their chair with a decided frown briefly crossing her face.

“No, that’s not how we work here.  We are a publicly traded company.”

“So, what do you do?”

“Nothing.  We don’t respond.”

Wow.  She explained it further to me,

“If we give attention to someone complaining on our social pages, it leaves us open for liability.”

“Do you offer to reach out to them offline via email or customer service line?”

“No.  We also do not post news stories that are unflattering to our customers.”

I shifted in my chair.  If it’s a troll and they just post on a large corporate entity’s page to get more attention,I agree, do nothing; most intelligent people will understand that the person’s not worth your time.  What’s even sweeter is if you’ve taken the time to cultivate a loyal following of your brand, many of THOSE customers will step up to the plate and address it for you – establishing something that money simply can’t buy and that’s customer loyalty.

However, in a situation where there is genuine customer dis-satisfaction, my gut just tied in knots over their answer of doing – nothing. If you make a mistake in your company? Fix it.  If it adversely affects others?  Tell them.  Fast.  Give them an idea when you’ll be able to solve it just as Buffer did a few weeks ago when they were compromised.    Posting unflattering stories of your clients I don’t recommend, but I also don’t think it’s right to bury your head in the sand, either.  Does your customer know the story’s out there?  What’s their take on it?  Perhaps you could offer a platform to your customer that the traditional news media hasn’t given?  It’s a slippery slope for a CEO to determine what is released into the Wild, Wild, Web.  That’s why Buffer’s story is so wonderful:

1)  The CEO addressed the issue directly.

2)  They responded within 10 minutes of the breach.  On a weekend.

3)  They could have lost customers, but instead, they gained the magic glue that’s been holding companies together long before the Internet:  TRUST.

Yes, if you have a chronic Negative Nellie posting on your wall and it’s minor, let it go.  However, if it is customer-affecting, is seen as a sore-spot and you can take action to resolve it, take action.

Planning Posts Prevents Poor P.R.

Get your ducks in a row internally first, so that you have a game plan. Then, by all means, communicate with those who put you in the driver’s seat in the first place – your customers.

 

Facebook – Are You There? Should You Be?

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About a year ago, I spent so much time extolling the features of our products (Social Media Management, Search-Engine Friendly websites, ) showing my vast knowledge of Internet Marketing that I would miss the tell-tale signs of client burn-out:  eyes glazing over, arms crossed, leaning back in the chair and looking out the window wishing they were anywhere but in my office… What did I miss?  Showing my customers not only the WHY of social media (they already know it intuitively) but the HOW?

I saw this happen at a recent workshop I observed on Social Media.  It was excellent material and I was completely enthralled.  However, I heard questions from the audience that I didn’t feel were answered:

  • I don’t have TIME to manage Facebook – I really don’t want a second full-time job.
  • How do I know if anybody sees my posts on Facebook? (ie, ‘is this mic on?’)
  • How do I get people to “Like” my page?

Granted, you can’t always answer everyone’s needs in a one-hour workshop.  However, showing slides of statistics, graphs and quotes will do nothing but disengage your audience. Business owners already know they need to be on social media; they just don’t know the how yet.

Time Management:  Pick ONE that you love to post on – Facebook or Twitter and TIE them together.  That way, you post on one and it’ll show on the other.  Now, I realize there are pros out there who will squawk at this advice and you are absolutely right – in a perfect world, ALL the posts should be unique.  However, we live in the real world where time is money.  Tie them together – save yourself a headache.  The other nifty tool?  Hootsuite.  It posts to all of your networks. You can schedule your whole week out in advance.  Just make sure you check in daily to see if any new comments are in.

Getting Posts Noticed:  With all the algorithm changes, it IS very hard to get professional pages showing in newsfeeds.  I’ve found if I share my posts from my Got Clicks page onto my personal Facebook page, it helps with the number of people who see it.  If I have a seminar, I ask friends that I think would benefit to share it on their pages.  I shared fun photographs of my friends supporting one of my seminars (you’ll see the Selfie my good friend, Jerry took of him hanging one of my posters for my upcoming seminar in Middlebury and Williston).  If it’s fun, interesting and gets the point across, go ahead and post it!

Getting Likes to a Page:  Let’s say you don’t have a ton of friends on your personal page in Facebook, let alone your business page.  Find friends of yours who do have a regular following and ask them to recommend your page.  Another way is to have an offer – “Like” my page and get a gift certificate to ______”  Make it relevant to your business.  If it’s a gift card to Starbucks, so what?  But if it’s a discount to one of your products or services, it does 2 things:  allows people to check out your stuff and gets them buying with an upsell opportunity.

It’s Not All About YOU…  Don’t forget to LIKE other pages that compliment your business!  Not only should you “Like” them – COMMENT on their stories.  Chances are, they’ll comment back, or be more likely to share your content.  Don’t be spammy, be relevant.

Something in Common:  Find companies that compliment what you already do.  This is easily accomplished in Twitter.  Simply type in one of your keywords with a # in front:  #social media #paintedfurniture.  Do this and you’ll see which companies commented most recently.  Follow these pages, then look them up on Facebook to have a cross-promotion.

BUT… You could do ALL of this and STILL have no “Likes” to your business page.  Why?  Because you may have missed the most important lesson of entrepreneurship that no Facebook page, no blog – heck, no website could ever fix.  If you’d like to learn what that is, don’t miss “Got Clients” workshop.  The next session is listed HERE.