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How to use your blog to keep people coming back

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Blogging has become an essential part of marketing, but it is now so much more than just a broadcasting tool. Let’s discuss how to best leverage today’s tools.

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Putting your blog front and center

Part of what defines today’s economy is an emphasis on luxury – those customers with the most money are the target market for a vast array of products, but the cost of quality is only a small part of what these customers pay for. Rather, the biggest reason that luxury product consumers pay more is because of the level of customer service they receive. Customers pay to be catered to and brands spend big to provide an experience.

Of course, not all brands boast luxury as part of their customer experience, but every brand should boast product expertise for the benefit of their customers. And for brands that are competing for the larger middle-income market, expertise can be the added value that helps sustain customer loyalty. You can demonstrate that expertise in a powerful way on your company’s blog.

Show what you know

Before you jump in and start posting blog content, you need to assess your audience and their background. If you’re speaking to an audience that’s already knowledgeable, they won’t be interested in 101-style posts. Rather, they’ll want something more. This is the strategy Kuhlman Cellars took when building up their winery; knowledgeable customers didn’t want a show, but wanted to know that staff members knew the industry.

On the other hand, if your customers are just looking to get their feet wet, you’ll need to target your content using lay language, rather than industry lingo that might exclude newcomers. You don’t want to be using tech jargon with people who are just learning to send a text message – leverage what you know, but do it for the audience you have, not the one you imagine.

Be a guiding hand

Another way to make your blog work effectively as a forum for your expertise is by offering a guiding hand in the purchasing process. This is one way that a mid-range business can compensate for not being a luxury brand. While a luxury brand might assign a shopper to guide each client through the purchasing process, a mid-range brand can build product guides that serve a similar purpose.

This is how Mattress Clarity uses their blog, taking products beyond their basic specifications and describing them by using shopper-friendly categories, explaining what a mattress feels like rather than just what it’s made from. A blog isn’t a personal shopper, but for most buyers, this guiding hand is enough to make the shopping process easier.

Monetize your content

When we talk about blogs as value added, we mean that brands can charge a little more for a product because there’s more to it – the expertise present on the blog is the added thing they’re paying for. But one alternative to this is to specifically monetize certain types of content that really expand on your industry or product expertise.

Consider, as an example, a brand that sells cookware. Product guides that help buyers choose the right kind of pots for their kitchen might be a value added feature on that site. But what if the brand also produced a cookbook? Publishing an eBook like this is a great way to separately monetize internal expertise. Because the book is a type of product, customers will buy it, with the additional expectation that it adds to their other purchases. The same goes for webinars, music, and other downloadable products.

Be ready

Finally, your expertise has the most value when it’s available at a moment’s notice. Delays can cause you to lose conversions or negatively impact customer relationships. That’s why you need to set up your mobile devices so that they let you post and respond to customers while on the go, sending you alerts when a customer reaches out. Now, more than ever before, customer service is expected to be a 24/7 business – or at least have extended hours.

More than any product, you and your industry expertise are your company’s best asset. Make the most out of this! A product may be a one-time purchase, but expertise will keep your customers coming back.

#blogging

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he's not consulting, glued to a headset, he's working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Business Marketing

How a Facebook boycott ended up benefitting Snapchat and Pinterest

(MARKETING) Businesses are pulling ad spends from Facebook following “Stop Hate for Profit” social media campaign, and Snapchat and Pinterest are profiting from it.

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Phone in hand open to social media, coffee held in other hand.

In June, the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign demanded social media companies be held accountable for hate speech on their platforms and prioritize people over profit. As part of the campaign, advertisers were called to boycott Facebook in July. More than 1,000 businesses, nonprofits, and other consumers supported the movement.

But, did this movement actually do any damage to Facebook, and who, if any, benefited from their missing revenue profits?

According to The Information, “what was likely crumbs falling from the table for Facebook appears to have been a feast for its smaller rivals, Snap and Pinterest.” They reported that data from Mediaocean, an ad-tech firm, showed Snap reaped the biggest benefit of the 2 social media platforms during the ad pause. Snapchat’s app saw advertisers spending more than double from July through September compared to the same time last year. And, although not as drastic, Pinterest also saw an increase of 40% in ad sales.

As a result, Facebook said its year-over-year ad revenue growth was only up 10 percent during the first 3 weeks of July. But, the company expects its ad revenue to continue that growth rate in Q3. And, some people think that Facebook is benefitting from the boycott. Claudia Page, senior vice president, product and operations at Vivendi-owned video platform Dailymotion said, “All the boycott did was open the marketplace so SMBs could spend more heavily. It freed-up inventory.”

Even CNBC reported that Wedbush analysts said in a note that Facebook will see “minimal financial impact from the boycotts.” They said about $100 million of “near term revenue is at risk.” And for Facebook, this represents less than 1% of the growth in Q3. However, despite what analysts say, there is still a chance for both Snapchat and Pinterest to hold their ground.

Yesterday, Snap reported their surprising Q3 results. Compared to the prior year, Snap’s revenue increased to $679 million, up 52% from 2019. Its net loss decreased from $227 million to $200 million compared to last year. Daily active users increased 18% year-over-year to 249 million. Also, Snap’s stock price soared more than 22% in after-hours trading. Take that Facebook!

In a prepared statement, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.” As in, hint, hint, Facebook’s summer boycott did positively affect their amazing Q3 results.

So, Snapchat and Pinterest have benefited from the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Snapchat’s results show promising optimism that maybe Pinterest might fare as well. But, of course, Facebook doesn’t think they will benefit much longer. Back in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees, “[his] guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

Facebook isn’t worried, but I guess we will see soon enough. Pinterest is set to report its Q3 results on October 28th and Facebook on the 29th.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.

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Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.

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Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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