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Eric Dalius On the Best Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

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With a society highly saturated in marketing content and audiences with decreasing attention spans, it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to stand out from the crowd, especially when these businesses do not have the resources to compete with Fortune 500 empires.

For smaller businesses who do not have endless marketing resources, every dollar counts and needs to provide maximum ROI. Marketing professional and entrepreneur Eric Dalius shares his insight on the best marketing strategies small businesses can use to maximize their investment.

The Importance of Content Marketing

Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing, in which your business brings customers directly to you instead of reaching out via ads and cold outreach.

It consists of creating high-quality content that serves the following purposes:

  • Gain the trust of your prospects
  • Display your knowledge in your industry
  • Improve your search engine optimization by making your website a useful, educational online destination

What is considered high-quality content? Dalius suggests following these guidelines for any content your business outputs:

  • Unique and from your business’ unique point of view
  • In-depth, educational, and actionable
  • Solves a pain point for your prospects
  • Optimized for the web (well-formatted

What types of content gets the most attention?

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • Video tutorials
  • Live videos on social media
  • Case studies
  • White papers

Have a Powerful Social Media Presence

Social media platforms are still growing every month. Facebook alone has approximately one billion active users – Instagram has over 100 million monthly users. It is the perfect tool to reach a larger audience and use both organic and paid content to gain more customers.

However, do not make the mistake of spreading yourself too thin. With limited resources, Eric Dalius states that small businesses are better off concentrating on just a few social media platforms.

The key is in choosing the right platform for your target audience and the type of product or service your business provides.

For instance, many Pinterest users go to this platform when making a purchasing decision – this network tends to be popular for households with over 100k of yearly revenue. On the other hand, Instagram is the go-to platform for millennials and younger individuals.

Social Media Tips

  • Optimize your profile to get your branding on point
  • Post on a regular, consistent schedule so people expect your posts
  • Encourage engagement from your audience by having a call to action with every post

Use Effective Paid Content Strategies

Online advertising through Google, Facebook, and Instagram can be very effective to grow brand awareness and generate more leads, but this strategy can be a hit and miss.

Instead of setting up a promotional campaign and forgetting about it, Eric Dalius instead advises you to target your ads to a very specific group of people. This way, every single dollar you are paying towards this ad is getting used adequately to promote brand awareness to an audience that has potential interest in your business.

Additionally, you’ll want to retarget your ads. What does this mean? If a prospect visits your website, do not show them the same ads as someone who knows nothing about your business. Furthermore, if a customer clicks away before making a purchase on your online website, use this data to retarget the appropriate ad to them.

Wrapping it Up

By having a strong online presence that essentially provides value to your audience, you will gain the respect and loyalty of your prospects. In time, Eric Dalius states that these loyal prospects will provide you the best return on investment for your small business.

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Marketing

What is Reputation Management for Hotels in 2021?

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According to a survey, when a customer is given an option between two similar properties, 79% prefer choosing one with a higher star rating.

That’s the impact your reputation has on your potential customers, making reputation management a must for every hotel.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently

Warren Buffett

Irrespective of whether you own a vacation rental or a hotel, these lines ring true in the digital landscape. In a world where every customer is a critic, where hotels strive hard to earn that extra star rating from the customers, controlling your online reputation is more necessary than ever.

Plus according to research, when hotels increase their review score by 1-point on a scale of 5, the hotel can increase the price by 11.2%. This should encourage you to start giving importance to reputation management.

But first…

What is reputation management?

“No matter how strong your products, they’re only as good as buyers think they are” – MrWhatman.

Reread these lines every time you’re apprehensive about the importance of reputation management for your hotel. Reputation management is nothing but a practice of shaping your hotel’s public or customer perception by influencing, controlling, and improving online information. It helps in improving how others perceive your brand.

Hotel reputation management involves:

  • Keeping track of review sites
  • Posting engaging content on social media
  • Optimizing your website for search, among other things

In the simplest form, reputation management involves three basic steps:

Build

You need first to build your hotel’s reputation online. If you’re new to the hospitality sector, this would include creating profiles on different review platforms, social media platforms and encouraging customers to leave reviews. If you’re a business hotel, build your reputation in that industry instead of positioning yourself as a bread and breakfast hotel.

Monitor

The next step involves monitoring and maintaining your reputation, which you developed in the first step. Monitoring is essential because unless you know what people are saying about your brand, you cannot respond. What you monitor solely depends on where your brand is present.

Do people talk on social media, review forums, or other OTA booking platforms? Missing out on any place could be detrimental to your hotel’s reputation because customers may be complaining, and you fail to take any action. This could pinch your reputation beyond repair.

Respond

After knowing where people are talking about your hotel, it’s time to take active measures to develop a positive reputation. It would help if you improved upon what people are saying. The best way to respond and recover a spoiled reputation is to press down negative press and respond quickly to all reviews, whether positive or negative.

4 Ways to Hotel Reputation Management

Even though your hotel is physical, its reputation is digital and online. Here are four ways to manage your hotel’s reputation:

Use software for managing your reputation

With hundreds of hotel review sites online, your guests could post about their experience with your hotel anywhere.

Tracking and managing these reviews is an uphill battle. That’s where reputation management software comes in. This software aggregates reviews and customer feedback from the web. This helps you read, react and respond to the feedback in a timely and efficient manner.

Hoteliers who monitor and respond to what customers are saying on social media and review sites are the ones who are successful.

For example, suppose common feedback on review sites is that the check-out process was tedious as it took more than 1-2 hours for your customer service desk to respond. In that case, the operations team at your hotel could take the feedback positively and ensure to rectify such a mistake. Furthermore, this software will help you decode the most relevant and popular review sources for your hotel.

Using a hotel reputation management tool, you can quickly identify your hotel’s most preferred and least preferred service. For example, if your spa services are a hit among customers, you can plan to introduce new massages to capitalize on their popularity.

  • Benefits of online reputation management software
  • Driving direct bookings to your website
  • Enhancing guest satisfaction
  • Increasing revenue
  • Performs sentimental analysis
  • Conducts competitor analysis
  • Translates review in your language
  • Help flaunting your best reviews

Watch out for negative reviews

If your hotel enjoys a good name and has a higher star rating, negative reviews can backfire and adversely affect your reputation. Instead of panicking about a negative review’s possible consequences, take the review in a positive light. Always remember that it’s impossible to make every guest happy. Even a tiny lapse on your part is enough to irk a customer. One negative review doesn’t degrade your hotel’s name if you tackle it tactfully.

As reviews are listed in reverse chronological order, the newest review first, a negative review, causes more harm when it’s new. A swift response showcases your eagerness to make things right and sends a message that you value every customer. Instead of being aggressive, apologize for the poor experience, and propose changes you plan to implement to ensure such instances do not repeat.

With 64% of guests agreeing that they don’t prefer booking hotels that respond aggressively to a bad review, being polite is the key to ensure a silver lining even in a negative online review.

You can also try taking the conversation offline or in a private chat to prevent further damage to your reputation.

Encourage guests to leave feedback.

Have you ever noticed that Amazon sends an automated feedback form after every purchase? It’s a great way to collect feedback. As a hotelier, you can replicate the same review-seeking model.

Send automated feedback forms or encourage guests to leave feedback after check-out. The key here is explaining to your customers the importance of feedback. With 96% of users consider reading reviews as the backbone for making travel-related decisions, hotels cannot ignore the importance of reviews.

When a customer is happy with your hotel’s services and enjoys their stay, a few moments to post about their experience isn’t a burden. To capitalize upon the power of reviews, many hoteliers offer something small like a cup of coffee or a free cookie in exchange for sharing a review.

You can even send follow-up emails to event planners and guests to capture their experience. However, remember to share your Yelp or TripAdvisor profile link so that without wasting time, the guest can leave a review.

The rule here is simple, the more positive reviews you get, the higher the chances to see a ‘sold-out’ board outside your hotel.

Use social listening tools

Apart from tracking reviews using reputation management software, it’s essential to listen to what people are talking about your brand in their conversations. With social media becoming a strong influencer in deciding the travel plan, a social media listening tool ensures you don’t miss out on a single conversation about your brand.

Social listening is not about how many comments a post about your hotel receives; it’s more about the sentiments that trigger those comments. Today, the entire hospitality sector can use social listening and monitoring to identify trends and capitalize on them.

Social listening, when done effectively, improves performance and shapes up a winning marketing strategy that ensures footfall in your hotel. It also helps you give insights into what travelers are looking for.

Using these insights, you can craft persuasive marketing messages to increase your occupancy rate. Furthermore, social listening helps create content that resonates with your target audience, opens up new opportunities to increase occupancy rate, and solves customer issues. All this collectively improves the hotel’s reputation.

  • Benefits of social media listening
  • Measure your hotel’s performance against competitors
  • Refine your positioning
  • Increases and maintains positive hotel reputation
  • Open opportunities to connect with customers and partners
  • Increase occupancy rate
  • Help ineffective budget allocation

Jump on the reputation management bandwagon

Success mantra for 2021: Hotel reputation management is a never-ending project and requires continuous efforts from your side. With the ever-changing customer needs, hoteliers must adjust to the change. Otherwise, the reputation will falter.

Today, reputation management is no longer limited to a revenue strategy; it’s gaining and maintaining competitiveness in the market. Collecting, reviewing, responding, and distributing your online reviews helps increase your visibility across different social media platforms, booking platforms, and review portals.

It’s your hotel, and you have to ensure it remains the top priority for travelers. Reputation management is a go-getter and will help your hotel increase its occupancy level over a long time!

If you start implementing these four tactics, you’re on the road to creating a community where a customer prefers your hotel over others. Like your guests, reputation management is a valuable asset that will reap results 24/7 throughout the year.

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Marketing

How To Build Your Client List In 2021

Brand Power

Client acquisition is not just the core task of salespeople. It’s also how most marketers are assessed.

If your marketing strategies don’t appeal to the target audience, then they’re not working out for the business, and nor are you!

Did you know new customer acquisition costs five times more than customer retention?

You may be doing really well with your marketing to keep customers buying, but there is such a thing as churn rate or attrition rate where a percentage of customers choose to no longer buy from a company. This is why customer acquisition is essential to all businesses.

New customers need first to replace those who have taken their business elsewhere and take the business to greater heights, i.e. more revenue and market share.

So how do sales and marketing teams convince prospective customers to trust products and the brand?

Marketers have a system that works hard to achieve high customer retention rates and attract new customers.

The secret to building a robust client base is developing a framework to create a loyal audience for your brand and product. You will need:

Product-market fit

When you reach a point where your product or service demand is more than you can supply, you know that you have just got the product-market fit.

Loyal fanbase

No matter which industry your business operates in, market saturation is imminent. If your company has to have any chance to stand out in the long-term, you need more than customers. It would help if you had a loyal fanbase.

Your first few customers do a lot more than add first sales to your business. They turn into your loyal fans, acting as your brand evangelists. To supercharge this strategy, we have a few recommendations.

Giveaway campaigns

If you are starting your brand with a handful of customers, building trust in your audience is complex, especially if you compete in an overcrowded market.

The solution? Start building trust. Give something valuable for free. But remember to get creative here. When you are experimenting with gorilla marketing techniques, you need to get something in return for your products.

Referral programs

Your customers tend to trust brands that their friends and families use, therefore incentivizing your first chain of customers can work wonders in creating the second and consecutive waves of new customers. But remember, one key aspect of a successful referral program is audience motivation.

Turn your existing customer into brand ambassadors.   You will need to give them a reason to take action and communicate with their networks of family, friends and so on, spreading the word of how great a product is or your business generally.

Contest campaigns

Contests can gain both new eyeballs and engage old ones with your brand simultaneously. Increasing participation of a targeted audience with a promise of an incentive ensures you get hold of a fresh audience to track, engage and finally convert into customers in the long term.

Brand management

No amount of branding will profit your business if you do not measure working for you and what is not. Using brand management software is highly beneficial in this process.

Following are some of the top branding strategies that you can use to develop your brand.

Social media

Use social media’s power to continuously stay at the top of your target audience’s minds. It is critical to keep your brand message clear and consistent whenever you communicate with your audience.

Product placement

If you need to get new customers who care about your product, you need to trigger inspiration in them. Remember, people do not buy the what; they buy the why? Investing in buying spots for your products in films and digital entertainment can gain you a lot of traction.

Word of mouth

Did you know word-of-mouth is one of the most sustainable and effective organic marketing strategies, driving 5x more sales than paid marketing?  Your marketing strategies need to satisfy two metrics: cost efficiency and impact. Word of mouth essentially meets both.

Contextual Marketing

Modern marketing is all about time. If you can’t reach your customers when they are thinking about your product, your competitors will.

Contextual marketing is advertising that leverages the content on the page, so how do you do it? Use customer data to drive what, how, when, and where you present content to your audience. It will skyrocket your overall user experience by leaps and bounds.

Interactive Marketing

In this attention economy, if you have to give your audience the ‘wow effect’ consistently, you need more than just a good product. Significant customer product interactions always lead to sustainable brand-customer relationships; therefore, interactive marketing can be your new growth strategy.

Interactive storytelling

Using dynamic content that lets your user choose a path they want to take is the future of content marketing.

Dynamic infographics

There’s a reason why gifs are so popular. 🙂

Interactive video

Videos are an excellent medium of marketing. But with more and more businesses adapting to this form of marketing, your competition is growing stiff. It would help if you thought out of the box. Interactive videos are a great way of achieving this. Give your audience a choice of what they want to consume, and this will increase engagement automatically.

Quiz

Quizzes are already a big hit in the new client generation. But to optimize your campaign, tie your quiz with a reward.

Email Marketing

A personalised email so each recipient understands the content is relevant to them is email marketing at its best.

No wonder emails drive a £42 ROI on every GDP spend. Your audience is much more responsive in such a private landscape. But, to make the most of this channel, here are a few strategies that you can apply.

Interactive emails are the best way to increase engagement with higher conversion rates.

Cold emails are still the most effective way of getting new clients if done in the proper context. Remember, the key to a successful email marketing campaign lies in contextual value-added conversations.

Blogging

blogging

If there is one classic example of content marketing that will not die any day soon, blogging. It is your all-in-one tool to gain authority, brand equity, and a loyal customer base. But the future of blogging does look somewhat different.

Following are a few ways in which you can stay one step ahead of your competitors.

Microblogging

What is microblogging?   HubSpot explains it well when they say most audiences want blog posts of less than 1000 words.

The attention span of your online audience is lower than the goldfish. Therefore, you will get a lower bounce rate when you use less content to satisfy your audience’s need to read, grab and go.

Use the KISS rule to create short, to-the-point sharable, and valuable content your audiences will love.

Microblogging is also an exceptional opportunity to create a pre-launch hype about your products in your audience. You can run campaigns where you indulge in microblogging in partnership with micro-influencers.

PR

When you are starting new, digital PR can work wonders for your business. You can always opt for the sponsored post in a well-known e-magazine like Forbes or choose to guest post on someone else’s blog. This allows you to interact and attract an entirely new set of audiences. If you have a budget for a little more, opt for one or two press releases. Your press coverage needs to be aligned with your sales strategy to get added traction in the initial product sales.

User-Generated Content

One of the most significant benefits of using user-generated content is your audience engages with your brand and gets actively involved in the marketing of your products and services. In a way, they are your extended marketing team. But if that is not a big reason for you to invest in UGC model marketing, the sales potential indeed is.

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, a whopping 92% of modern buyers trust organic content over traditional advertising. You can indulge in a variety of user-generated content. From custom reviews to hashtag campaigns to video content and gamification, you can experiment with many content formats here.

Parting Advice

Marketing is an ever-evolving world. What works today might not work out tomorrow. This means to create a sustainable marketing plan truly, you need to get your fundamentals right.

Your audience and their respective behavior towards your brand will guide you on which strategy has the potency to be the next big trend.

The core of building a rock-solid client list is having meaningful conversations frequently with your audience.

The better you get at creating impactful brand-customer encounters, the better your client list goes.

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Marketing

4 Ways Tree Testing Can Benefit Your Business

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Designing a successful digital product is tricky and challenging. In the crowded space of the WWW, your product may not end up in search results, and this is why findability precedes usability in designing for the web. If your product can’t reach your audience, it has failed already.

Therefore the big question here is how do you ensure that your product is easily found and accessible by your target audience?

The answer to your question lies in information architecture. Design a superior user experience (UX) using a tree test.

Top 4 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Tree Testing

Still unsure of what a tree test can do to your design venture?

Let’s take a look into the true capabilities of a tree test.

Primarily, you would be running a tree test because of any one of the following reasons.

  • baselining an existing tree
  • detecting the problem area and points thereby establish a base score
  • experimenting test trees trying to solve existing information architecture problems
  • comparing each version against each other to find the best possible solution to the existing problems

However, a tree test also does a lot more for your product. Following are a few primary areas where a tree test can be beneficial.

Why It Pays To Use A Tree Test

1. Evaluate product navigation

A tree test can improve your digital product’s online findability. With the test tree, you can evaluate your product’s existing information navigation system. How? Well, users complete a series of tasks looking for items using the site structure. Using this method to evaluate your site structure, you have a way to measure how easy it is for users to find things.

Treejack is one of the most popular tools used for tree-tests.

2. Time-efficient

With a remote tree test, the users can be located anywhere, and they can take the test in their own time. You benefit from getting quality, quantitative data.

3. Cost-efficient

By using online test conduction, results accumulate from global users. Thus, it reduces the costs of on-premise tests.

4. Agile

The biggest asset of tree testing is that it is designed for experiments. The test sessions are concise, each test of around 15 – 20 minutes, having a maximum of 20 tasks per session.

This improves the success rate of completing the test by users significantly. These tests, like card sorting, are pretty much simple with low complexity that readily helps with the dropout rates.

Combined with remote access to the test, all this makes data collection fast and the data analysis process lean. This means whatever insights you derive from your test analytics, you can apply them in no time.

How To Optimize Your Tree Tests

Ensuring you get the maximum benefits out of your tests is one of the most important yet neglected design tests areas. But if you can make sure to ask the critical questions without fail, your tests will not fail you.

Following are a set of core questions that can ensure you make the most of tree testing.

1. What is the objective of your tests?

This is perhaps the anchor point of your complete questionnaire. This answer is going to help you achieve the hyper-targeted activities for your test. For instance, you may want to analyze the results of your design changes in the navigation structure.

2. Who is your target audience?

Answering this question right in the beginning can save you a lot of pain in the long term. A good practice here is to take some time out and think deeply about your product visitors.

If your answer is: “everyone”, then you are doing it wrong. Remember, if everyone is your audience, then no one is your audience.

3. Define the independent variables

Deciding on the independent factors that are dynamic can produce multiple end-results.

Use factorial experimental designs. This method enables you to examine each variable in isolation.

4. Define the dependent variable.

Dependent variables can also bring a lot of improvements to your overall user experience. To assess its impact, you have to observe its effect on its respective independent factor instead of the end-user interface result. For instance, you can examine the precision of an area locator for completing preset tasks.

5. What do you use while comparing trees, a control group or a treatment group?

Control Group acts as a benchmark. It is not vulnerable to changes. Here, comparing the altered results to the original group is possible. You can assess the degree of difference between the results of both groups.

6. While comparing testing trees, do you use a between-subject design or a within-subject design?

It’s important to decide whether you want the same group of test-takers to participate in all the versions of your test tree or anyone.

Whether you choose both strategies or not, both have their own merits. Therefore, it would be best if you decide based on your test goals. For instance, choosing a between-subject approach can reduce the test taker fatigue, and the learning effect could even prove to be time-efficient.

Parting Advice

The whole point of executing a tree testing activity is to ensure you stay updated about your target audience’s behavioral nodes. This means conducting frequent tree tests can boost the overall information architecture health of your digital product.

The above tips and tricks are definite to help you optimize all your tree testing campaigns, but the heaviest success metric still lies in your hands.

Ensuring you understand your target audience will make sure that your design assumptions walk the closest to reality.

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