How to Increase Sales Using Social Media

CCC is excited to welcome Lisa Austin and MyEcomClub.com to the blog! Learn more about both at the conclusion of this guest post.

Learn how you can better market your ecommerce business through Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. These 5 simple tips will teach you how to increase sales using social media.

The Power of Social Media

Cherilyn and I were next door neighbors ten years ago. Since that time, we have both moved–she moved to a different state and I moved to a different city. Despite the distance of two hundred and forty miles between us, I know that Cherilyn recently started her own online business selling beauty products.

How do I know? She announced it to me and all of her other friends on Facebook. In addition, I know when she’s having specials on certain products or running promotions. And it has all been done without a cent of her money being spent on marketing.

What’s the secret? The secret is social media. Viewers of social media know you and trust you because you have a relationship. According to DEI Worldwide, 70% of consumers use social media as often as they use firm websites to gather information about products. In addition, 60-70% of people believe that recommendations from other people online are “valuable, credible, and honest.”

Consumers Online

81% of the developed world now has internet access. Essentially that means that of the countries with expendable income, 81% can be reached from anywhere in the world. Global accessibility has never been greater than it is at this time. But with that accessibility also comes an overload of information and products.

Social media can help shoppers sort through it all. Social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, allows business owners to build relationships with their prospects, as well as use existing relationships to turn friends into customers.

Think about how many adults use social media while at work–just to get a mental break from their jobs. They may be on a coffee break, scrolling through their Instagram feed, when they see your business’s post. With every social media post your business makes, you’re reaching prospects during a time or place that television, radio, and print ads often cannot.

A Boost to Businesses

When a viewer sees a post, it can be almost like magic. According to Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers, “studies have shown that social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing.” And an IDC study released in 2014, found that buyers that use social media have 84% larger budgets than buyers that don’t. That’s a powerful formula!

Most of the developed world has internet + social media users have larger budgets + 100% higher closing rate = success!

Social media can bring you more leads and more sales without investing a fortune in marketing. However, social media marketing often falls flat. So I’ve gathered five tips to help you successfully connect with your customers.

5 Tips to Increase Sales Using Social Media:

  1. Post Often – By spending at least six hours per week, 66% of marketers saw a benefit from social media in lead generation.
  2. Use Images – Place an image alongside your text on Facebook. Posts with images have 2.3 times more engagement than stand-alone text.
  3. Learn to Pin – Pinners spend 50% more on purchases through the social media channel than users of other social media platforms, yet only 40% of marketers use it.
  4. Photograph People – When posting on Instagram, use photos of people. Studies show that photos with faces get 38% more likes than those without. So place your products with a person for a more positive response.
  5. Make a Video – Close to half of all internet users look for product related videos before visiting a store. Even though you may not have a brick and mortar storefront, put this statistic to work for you. Create simple videos about the products or services you sell and place them on your website as well as Youtube. Shoppers who view a video are almost twice as likely to make a purchase than shoppers who did not view a video.

(Thanks Hubspot for these great stats!)

So next time you are searching for a way to boost your sales, take a closer look at social media. It’s a great way to build your brand and boost your sales.

This post originally appeared on MyEcomClub.com and has been shared on the CCC blog with permission.

Lisa Austin, My EcomClub.com  Lisa Austin

 

Content Marketing: A Crucial Component of the Customer Experience

A stat from a recent article on content marketing caught our eye.

“Consumers engage with 11.4 pieces of content on average prior to making a purchase.”

pexels-photo-296878

In the B2B world, buying journeys tend to run longer anyway, but consumers (B2B and B2C) are doing their homework these days. Studies show that 70-80% of people research a company online before visiting the small business or making a purchase with them.

Whether it’s leftover angst from the Great Recession or the availability of information today, it’s precisely why content marketing is so important.

Here’s a real-life example:

Recently, I stayed over in Park City, Utah, for a day after working a client’s conference in nearby Salt Lake City. On a whim, I decided to get a massage after spending the previous four days pounding convention center floors. I pulled up local spas on my phone, checking their hours, availability and services. Not surprisingly, I contacted the spas who had this information available online — not ones I had to call just to see if they were open. And the spas who had additional content available — more in-depth descriptions of their services, photos of their facility, online real-time availability, etc. — moved to the top of my list.

What does this have to do with content marketing? The information I sought was quality content created by (or for) these spas: descriptive services pages with quality photos, blog articles on the benefits of one type of massage over another, recommendations on how to maximize your spa-going experience. This is what consumers are looking for today before making a purchase or even contacting your company.

While I didn’t end up getting a massage, I did manage to take a break from technology and enjoy the magic of Park City. But not before I utilized even more content — a visitor’s guide from my condo, Park City Transit’s website — to plan my stress-free day.

We’re all consumers at some point, so don’t forget about your experiences as a customer when you put on your marketing hat. These experiences are valuable and can make us better marketing professionals, if we choose to use them.

Reader Feedback

How have you used content marketing to learn more about a business or make a purchase?

How do you use your experiences as a customer to become a better marketing professional?

What types of content do you prefer when researching a company or purchase?

A professional customer and marketing professional,
Jaime

 

Let’s chat (about content marketing, customer experiences or otherwise):
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Customer Experience: Starbucks Shows How It’s Done

Loyal readers of this blog know that I’m an espresso lover and Starbucks fan. Despite being a longtime, loyal customer, I do run into problems with the coffee behemoth once in awhile, like you will with any brand. What matters most is how your favorite brands resolve these occasional issues.

Starbucks logo on coffee sleeve

The famous twin-tailed mermaid, or Siren, makes me smile.

Earlier this week, I decided to run to my local Starbucks to grab lunch. In the midst of a chaotic day, I ordered a deli sandwich via Mobile Order & Pay in the Starbucks app. Upon arriving, I learned that the sandwich I had ordered was sold out.

The barista apologized and let me know what other sandwiches the store had and reminded me of the newly available (in our area) Bistro Boxes. I decided on another sandwich that I had been debating on ordering anyway, and my revised order was quickly filled.

The same barista, who took control of my situation, didn’t charge me the additional cost of my new order and promptly gave me two $4 coupons for future use. The best part was that I was still in and out of the store in 3-4 minutes so I stayed on schedule.

The substituted sandwich was delicious and paired nicely with my second latte of the day I brewed when I was back in my office (with Starbucks coffee, of course). Instead of leaving the Starbucks store peeved and empty-handed, the barista made sure that I walked away with a positive experience despite the hiccup.

How do your favorite brands handle the occasional hiccup?

Always drinking (or thinking about) espresso,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about coffee, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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The Dark Side of Social: How to Respond When Things Go Wrong

At CCC, we’re big believers in the power of social media and the value that it can provide to your brand. However, you need to understand the darker side of social so you’re prepared for anything that could go wrong or reflect your brand in a negative light.

Velvet Heart Promoted Tweet

Velvet Heart was trying to promote its new arrivals for spring, not trend with a mass shooting.

Recently I was on Twitter and noticed the name of a nearby town trending (regionally). I clicked on the link to see why it was trending and discovered a mass shooting had occurred at a retirement village. (My thoughts and prayers are with this community during this difficult time.)

While scrolling through the feed, I saw a promoted tweet advertising a retailer’s new spring arrivals. I was included in the audience targeted in this campaign, so the tweet showed up in my feed — no matter what I was viewing at the time. The advertiser had no say where its targeted audience members saw its tweet. (For more on Promoted Tweets, click here.)

Last week, I saw a news story about a guy who blew his lower leg off while shooting a lawn mower packed with explosives. As usual, an ad played prior to the video on the news site where I watched it. AT&T didn’t ask for its ad to play prior to a graphic video, but that’s when I saw the ad and its brand.

“A brand can’t control the message in the way it once did but it can still have influence.” –Jeff Barrett, CEO, Status Creative

These examples both point to why some brands and companies are so afraid of getting social — loss of control. On social media, it’s impossible to control every aspect of the message about your brand.

I’m not trying to discourage you from joining the conversation — just the opposite, in fact. If you’re a part of the conversation, you can help guide its direction and speak directly to your online community.

What if I hadn’t known that advertisers don’t control where Promoted Tweets show up? A user may have tweeted the advertiser expressing her dissatisfaction that the company would try to profit off a tragedy. That’s why you need to be aware of all the possibilities before jumping into something like Promoted Tweets. You can respond to say that you only chose to promote a tweet to a targeted audience, and did not use a trending hashtag or phrase inappropriately. If you’re not active on a social platform where a discussion breaks out about your brand, you can’t help set the record straight.

“While you can’t control the conversation,  you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.”

Don’t worry about controlling every aspect of the conversation about your brand. Be prepared and know what you’re doing before jumping into social media in general, or a specific area, such as Facebook advertising or Promoted Tweets. Have a plan, but be prepared to adjust it as necessary.

Social media may not be easy for brands, but it’s worth it. Getting social can start a conversation that takes your business to new heights!

Are you struggling with your social media strategy, goals or execution? Let’s talk. We’d love to help you join the conversation and shine the spotlight on your brand.

Getting social (day or night),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Share the Luck of the Irish with Your Clients & Employees

Whatever your background, we’re all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick's Day revelers enjoy the celebration

St. Patrick’s Day by Courtney Collison via CC BY-SA 2.0 http://bit.ly/1QVmT1J

Here’s how to share the spirit of this holiday with your business family:

  • Throw an Irish potluck — Ask employees to bring their favorite Irish-themed foods for a festive event in the office. If you’re throwing a last-minute shindig, order in from your favorite Irish restaurant. Hand out fun promotional items, such as four leaf clover-printed sunglasses, green hats or four leaf clover beads. Remind everyone to wear green and punctuate the event with some fun Irish music (or March Madness)!
  • Enjoy March Madness during a St. Patrick’s Day Happy Hour — Invite your employees and/or clients to Happy Hour at your favorite local pub. Cheer on your favorite men’s college basketball teams (or the ones you picked on your bracket) with an ice cold Guinness in hand. If you’re feeling lucky, pick up the first round of drinks along with some hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy the camaraderie as you survive the roller coaster ride of the NCAA Tournament!
  • Hold a Luck of the Irish Contest — Invite your clients to participate in a themed contest celebrating this popular holiday. Anyone who places an order receives a mystery discount or gift. You can hold the contest digitally with a well-designed landing page, email marketing and social media promotion. Take the contest offline with direct mail, scratch off tickets and in-person visits. Don’t forget to create a hashtag and encourage clients to post their winning tickets on social!
  • Bring the Irish Spirit into Your Office — Encourage employees to wear green along with festive accessories. Reward the most festive, creative and other categories of your choice with gift certificates to your local pub, lunch delivered in the office or a day (or afternoon) off. Throughout the day, highlight your festivities on social media so fans can get to know the faces behind the scenes and see your fun culture.

St. Patrick’s Day 2016: How the World Will Celebrate From Dublin to Tokyo

However you decide to celebrate, have fun! May the Luck of the Irish be with you and your business always.

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about green beer, holiday marketing or otherwise):
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How to Provide a Superior Customer Experience on Social

If your brand is on social media, fans expect a conversation, not a one-way broadcast. They’ll use this medium to provide feedback on their customer experience and request assistance when needed. Are you ready to provide a superior customer service experience on social?

"A Conversation" by Khalid Albaih via CC BY 2.0

A Conversation by Khalid Albaih via CC BY 2.0

“Brands that are still refusing to use social for customer care will really start to look foolish in 2016.”  -David Moth, Econsultancy

Speed Matters But So Do Solutions

Yes, timely replies are appreciated but responding immediately is overrated. People want an answer to their question or a solution to their problem. They don’t care whether you tweet them every few minutes that you’re working on their issue. If a solution is going to take some time, respond to give them a time-frame and then provide an update if that changes.    

Respond in the Right Way

If assisting a customer requires sharing sensitive information, move the communication to a private channel. Facebook helped Page administrators earlier this year by adding a Message option to posts and comments. When choosing this response option, a message opens with the post and/or comment included for easy reference and a note is displayed on the Page letting others know that you responded. Twitter also made private communication easier this year with a number of changes, including the ability to receive and reply to Direct Messages from anyone.

Facebook Pages: Now Open for Communication

Don’t Nix Negativity

It’s a judgement call whether the conversation should be made private. However, don’t do it just because a customer makes a negative comment. Resolving an issue in the open can be a boost for your brand and shows others that you’re transparent and willing to correct a poor experience. No brand is perfect but how you handle a negative situation can be the difference between a disgruntled fan and brand evangelist.

Get Social on Social

If possible, keep your communication on social media. This is the medium that your customer chose to use, so don’t just respond with a stock message to call your general customer service number. Your customer may have already tried other routes, so pushing her back to those failed avenues is frustrating and will lead to an even more negative view of your brand.

Providing a superior customer experience on social requires work, but the pay off is worth it. By keeping the four tips above in mind, you can create evangelists for your brand and fans for life.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Kindness in the Workplace: A Guide for Your Organization

The evidence is in, and there can be no doubt. Treating employees well and making them happy affects the bottom line. Let’s explore the dynamics, and see just how to achieve a kinder workplace and happier employees.

This “happiness map” is a generic guide to happiness. Nevertheless, it is as relevant in a workplace setting as anywhere else.

This way to happiness >> By Carol Preibis

This way to happiness >>
Happiness Map by Carol Preibis

 

Notice that the starting point is “Mindfulness.” Being mindful promotes compassion (kindness). Mindfulness also leads to “Appreciation” — it teaches us gratitude. Conclusion: To achieve happiness in the workplace, we would do well to:

  •   Apply mindfulness to the workplace.
  •   Foster gratitude across the organization.

 

Mindfulness

Do you live in the moment?

“SAKURAKO – Pick up the phone.”
by MIKI Yoshihito via CCBY2.0

“Mindfulness is a way to live your life as if it really mattered. And that involves being in the present moment with open-hearted presence and kindness toward yourself.” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

Evidence suggests practicing mindfulness can help organizations by diminishing stress-related health care costs and increasing productivity. Kelley McCabe Ruff runs eMindful, a Vero Beach company that puts on virtual workshops for businesses. She has been able to quantify the effectiveness of eMindful’s programs, showing that they support behavioral change that leads to physical changes, such as reduced cortisol levels and lower blood pressure. “We actually supply employers a return on investment calculation.”

 

Kelley McCabe Ruff, eMindful CEO and founder, relates eMindful’s focus on reducing employee health care costs and increasing productivity. Live programs are offered via the internet, allowing eMindful to provide the most experienced and expert teachers in Mindfulness as well as other Mind-Body Programs. Presented by eMindful – http://www.eMindful.com

Reflecting before reacting is the first step in practicing mindfulness, and learning it is quite simple. Think of the acronym STOP:

Stop — Stand or Sit
Take a breath
Observe
Present – be in the present moment

Rhonda Magee explains the technique in this video.

Rhonda Magee, JD, is Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of San Francisco. In this talk from the “Practicing Mindfulness & Compassion” conference on March 8, 2013, Magee explores how to apply contemplative practices to our professional lives–and in doing so create more compassionate workplaces.

 

Sharon Salzberg, author of the book Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement and Peace, believes mindfulness can be applied in any career.  “It’s a great tool for coming back to the moment and remembering your intention,” she says. For example, practicing mindfulness at work could be pausing and planning before picking up a phone, or taking a deep breath and focusing on the desired outcome during a contentious meeting.

“Teaching and encouraging mindfulness in the workplace has become a part of corporate efforts to reduce the stresses that can lead to burnout. Increasingly, the practice has gone mainstream, buoyed by the recent endorsements of CEOs, educators, actors, and politicians who link mindfulness to improved psychological and even physical health.” ― Cindy Krischer Goodman, Working with ‘mindfulness’ reduces stress in the workplace

 

Gratitude

Good job!

“Good Job on Sticky Note” by David Castillo Dominici via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“To practice gratitude, we must practice mindfulness. When we are truly present in the moment, we see the beauty all around us. And the more joy we cultivate, the more we can practice our purposeful awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Mindfulness begets gratitude, gratitude begets mindfulness.” — Sarah Rudell Beach, Mindfulness and Gratitude: A Celebration of Thankfulness

Foster an environment of gratitude across your organization. Gratitude in organizations is important—it can boost morale and increase productivity. To learn more about this dynamic, the Greater Good Science Center developed a quiz that measures the level of gratitude in an organization. An analysis of the results concludes: “In order to foster gratitude across an organization, it may help to maximize opportunities for people in low-level positions to make meaningful contributions, and ensure that their contributions are recognized—especially for employees who have been in a low-level position for many years. It may also be wise for organizations with high levels of stress to bring more awareness to how often—and to whom—expressions of gratitude are granted.”

A wonderfully effective way to recognize employee contributions is with an “office gratitude journal.” The Administration and Finance office of the University of California, Berkeley, created an appreciation platform that allows employees to recognize each other’s contributions, which feeds into a “Kudos” webpage that publicly highlights these contributions. A simpler and equally effect implementation of this same idea is a bulletin board known as a “wall of gratitude.” For details on these and other suggestions, see five ways to boost gratitude at work.

 

Kindness

Business Team Discussing Ideas

“Business Team Discussing Ideas” by stockimages via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“This is what I find most magnetic about successful givers: they get to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them. Whereas success is zero-sum in a group of takers, in groups of givers, it may be true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” ― Adam GrantGive and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

There are so many ways to bring kindness into work. Here are a few suggestions:

  •   Never, ever play the “blame game.” Rachel Woods, in her article on Tiny Buddha, explains how to stop playing this destructive game.
  •   Develop the skill of giving and receiving criticism. I highly recommend Zen and the Art of Constructive Criticism by Erin Dorney.
  •   Help one another. Mentor. Collaborate.
  •   Be friendly! Smile, give a compliment, speak a few kind words. Bring in a treat to share.
  •   We all understand the importance of work-life balance. A booklet from Acas Publications offers expert advice on work-life balance and flexible working. It includes some real-world problem scenarios, and provides real-world solutions.

 

Employee Engagement

employee engagement = success

Photo credit: betterworks.com

“To win in the marketplace…you must first win in the workplace. I’m obsessed with keeping employee engagement front and center.” — Doug Conant

Employee engagement is crucial to the success of any organization, and it is management’s responsibility to make it happen! Managers, consider these tips:

  •   Give your employees autonomy. Let them know what’s going on, and elicit their ideas for improvement.
  •   Transparency is important to employees. Share long-term visions. Explain how their work fits into the big picture.
  •   Give employees opportunities for growth. Offer them new responsibilities. Give them time to train and learn.
  •   Employees love feedback, so give it often. If you have recommendations for improvement, offer to help them implement them.
  •   Be nice! Let them know that you care about them as people, not just as employees.

 

Books to Instruct and Inspire

Join the Kindness Revolution

It’s inspiring to think about individual pay it forward chains. It’s even more amazing to picture pay it forward webs. Each person in a chain has opportunities to fire off new chains. Most people are in multiple chains. Perhaps a web might look like a Tinker Toy project!

Tinker Toys

“Tinker Toys for Adults” by greenmelinda via CCBY2.0

 “The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.” — Maya Angelou

The time is right. These ideas are becoming mainstream, and for good reasons. It’s an exciting time for all of humanity. Be mindful, be grateful, be kind. Watch kindness spread from heart to heart and share the joy, especially in the workplace.

This is part two of a two-part series, Kindness in the Workplace, by Carol Preibis of Ahh The Simple Life. If you missed part one last week, please click here. For more on Carol, keep reading. Thanks, Carol!

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.


Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

Kindness in the Workplace: It Just Makes (Dollars &) Cents

happy employees

Killer Infographics thinks it’s important for their workers to be happy, and they’re encouraged to have fun. Photo credit: KillerInfographics.com

 

Why Kindness Is Important

Kindness is important everywhere, and the workplace is no exception! The power of kindness is extraordinary. But when we talk about the workplace, there are some important additional reasons why kindness is so vital.

Treating employees well and making them happy affects the bottom line. As shown in the diagram below, employee happiness increases profits three ways:

  1.     By increasing customer satisfaction, and thereby increasing sales.
  2.     By decreasing absenteeism, and thereby reducing the costs associated with absenteeism.
  3.     By improving employee retention, and thereby reducing the costs associated with replacing an employee.
workplace kindness map

Workplace Kindness Map
By Carol Preibis

There are numerous research studies to support this model.

employment engagement

employee engagement = success

Photo credit: betterworks.com

Dr. Noelle Nelson is a clinical psychologist, business trial consultant, and best-selling author of Make More Money by Making Your Employees Happy. In her book, Nelson cites a study from the Jackson Organization, which shows, “companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity and assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t. When looking at Fortune’s ’100 Best Companies to Work For,’ stock prices rose an average of 14% per year from 1998-2005 compared to 6% for the overall market.” Dr. Nelson explains, “When employees feel that the company takes their interest to heart, then the employees will take company interests to heart.”

low employee engagement is a crisis for businesses

Photo credit: Kevin Kruse

absenteeism

The American Psychology Association tells us that stress is a major cause of illness today, and often workplace stress is the primary cause. This contributes to workplace absenteeism, which causes considerable direct and indirect costs to businesses. According to a white paper from Circadian, “A company of 5,000 hourly employees has the potential to reduce costs by over $7.9 million per year, or 3.2% of total payroll.”

employee retention

 A white paper by the Kenexa® Research Institute reveals that organizations with highly engaged employees achieve twice the annual net income of organizations whose employees lag behind on engagement. Their conclusion: “It is clear that properly-fitted leadership practices give rise to an engaged workforce—a workforce positioned to deliver the organization’s customer value proposition. Loyal customers lead to market share gains, greater profitability and long-term success.”

Are You Listening?

Listen.
In every office
you hear the threads
of love and joy and fear and guilt,
the cries for celebration and reassurance,
and somehow you know that connecting those threads
is what you are supposed to do
and business takes care of itself.
Someone needs to say “amen”.

 Amen. — Stanza of a poem called Threads, by a former CEO and author of Love and Profit, James Autry

CCC is honored to host this 2-part series on the value of kindness in the workplace written by Carol Preibis. Part 2 will focus on how businesses can achieve a kinder workplace and enjoy the benefits mentioned in this post. For more on Carol, keep reading.  

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.

 

Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.