Five keys to success with social media marketing

Social networking apps on Apple iPhone 5S

In the last few years, having a social media strategy has gone from a nice-to-have to an absolute-must-have. Consequently, just about every business no matter how big or small can be found on at least one social media platform. And no matter how niche your small business is, chances are there are other brands who offer similar things that you have to compete with on social media. The following tips can help you differentiate your brand from others and really succeed with social media marketing.


Communicate your brand’s mission


Every brand has to have it’s own unique message–a statement of vision or mission that sets it apart from every other brand. Often this takes the form of a carefully worded mission statement or slogan. Sometimes it’s never stated explicitly, but customers know what that thing is that sets the brand apart from everyone else. If you want your brand to be differentiated from the rest on social media, you have to first know what your brand’s mission and vision are and you have to have a plan for communicating that to your target audience on social media. Of course you can craft a carefully worded statement for your about page. But in addition to that, every post you share and every interaction with customers and every comment on every post must communicate that brand message as well. Anyone with access to your social media platforms needs to share that vision and fully understand that brand message to ensure you never go off-message.


Automate where possible


Many smaller businesses treat social media marketing as something to do only when there’s time and it ends up on the back burner when things are busy. If a business is sometimes very active on social media, posting frequently, engaging with other content, responding to comments and answering private messages and other times all but invisible for days or weeks at a time, that business won’t be able to maintain a strong social media presence. That’s where automation comes in. Even smaller businesses that can’t afford to hire a team of social media people can pay for tools that help automate social media activity. You can write several posts in advance and then use an automation to tool to set the day and time for each to be posted so there’s some consistency in social media activity. Another way to automate is through chatbots. Chatbots can automatically respond to customer queries immediately and can even resolve many of them unassisted.


Monitor social media channels closely


Brands that are effective on social media are ones who are very aware of the numbers. They look beyond the number of likes and shares which anybody can see. They invest in more advanced analysis tools that can give them a better picture of what’s working and what isn’t. Paying attention to key performance indicators and actively working to adapt accordingly is a huge key to success.


Keep an eye on the competition


While you never want to copy a competitor’s strategy (remember the first key to success and staying true to your own brand message and vision), it’s a good idea to occasionally check in on your competitors and what they’re doing with social media. This can serve two functions: it can help you discover things about your target audience since your competition is most likely targeting the same people as your brand and it can reveal to gaps in their social media strategy that you can fill to further differentiate your brand across social media channels.


Merge social media and content strategies


So many brands treat content marketing and having a company blog as synonymous. But social media can and should be an equally important if not more important outlet for your content as well. You can use your social media profiles to extend the reach of blog posts by sharing an excerpt and including a link to the full article in social media posts. You can also use social media to post unique content in formats that don’t work on a traditional blog. Some formats to include might be video, livestream, or microcontent.


Mobile Technology News brought to you by





How to tell if influencer marketing is right for your small business


Marketing has changed a lot over the last few decades. A major reason is that customers are a lot more savvy and aren’t as trusting as they used to be. People are inherently less trusting of advertisements put out by the brands who stand to profit from them. After all, they’re obviously biased and they can’t be objective. This is where the value of influencers come in. Influencers are people who customers view as peers. They aren’t sponsored by any company so they can be trusted to share accurate and objective information about various products. People considering a purchase often turn to influencers to see what they think. When influencers give their approval, customers are more likely to buy. If you have yet to look into influencer marketing, here are a few signs that can tell you it’s time to.


Five signs

  1. Your audience has stagnated. If your audience has dwindled to just a small loyal customer base who keep coming back for more, your business isn’t going to thrive. You need to be constantly adding to your customer base and influencers are a great way to help you accomplish this since they can generate interest among people who’ve maybe never even heard of your brand before.
  2. Sales are down. This one’s pretty self explanatory. If you’re not moving merchandise off of shelves or out of warehouses, your business won’t be around much longer. A good review by the right influencer can reignite sales. And once you’re moving merchandise again, you can keep investing in improving your product or adding to the products you offer.
  3. Your social media presence is lacking. If you’re not on social media channels, you aren’t operating anywhere near your potential. The younger generations spend so much time on social media that it’s pretty much essential that your brand be visible there. Whis is where influencers excel since influencers, by definition, already have a strong following on various social media platforms. Finding influencers can be a great way to jumpstart a new social media marketing campaign or revive one that is pretty much dead.
  4. You’re relying too much on paid content. If all of your advertising is in the form of paid content, you need influencers. You don’t pay influencers to review your products or share your content with their audience the same way you have to pay Facebook or Google to sponsor your post or website. Influencers in your niche are already interested in what you’re selling, they want a to get their hands on your products and they’ll most likely be happy to offer a free review of anything you send them.
  5. Digital offers aren’t being redeemed. If you’re using email, SMS, or other channels to send special offers to customers but they’re not redeeming these offers at the rate you’d like to see, an influencer can help you by sharing that same offer, or an exclusive one, to their already considerable audience.

Finding the right influencers


The right influencer probably isn’t a world-famous actor, athlete, or singer. Only the national brands can afford to hire them anyways. The right influencers are people that your target audience look up too. Often they’re bloggers or YouTube video creators or minor social media celebrities who are passionate about a subject relating to your business. By simply searching out content relating to your industry, you’ll start to get a sense of which people have influence. Don’t start by asking for favors. Comment on their blog posts or videos. Share their posts on your social media pages. Once you’ve established a relationship, you can reach out to offer a product in exchange for their honest opinion. Finally, make sure you’re sharing their write-up of your product with all your available channels whether it’s a company blog, an email newsletter, or SMS. A relationship with the right influencers will be mutually beneficial as you drive traffic their way, and they influence their audience to become your customers.


Mobile Technology News brought to you by



Four things a chatbot can do for your business (and one thing it can’t)

Analyzing business growth


Just within the last couple of years, the popularity of chatbots have exploded. There are already thousands of chatbots spread across dozens of messaging platforms. Chatbots are different from the AI assistants that we interact with on our mobile devices. While digital assistants are programmed to work more broadly across a wide range of mobile applications, chatbots are narrower programs that typically work within a single application. In short, it can do one thing very well rather than many things not as well. But what really sets chatbots apart from virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa is that they can more realistically simulate conversation with a human. Though chatbots are still in their infancy, businesses have already found many different ways to put them to good use. Here are four things a chatbot could do for your business, and one thing it can’t.

It can…

  • Aid with customer support. The most common use for chatbots in the world of business is customer support. Instead of going online or calling a customer service line, customers can shoot a quick text to open a support ticket. A chatbot can attempt to resolve the customer’s issue unassisted by using natural language processing to understand the nature of the issue or question. Chatbots lighten the load for live customer service agents by answering simple questions and resolving issues and only transferring people to live agents when necessary.
  • Help analyze conversational analytics. Another great use for chatbots is conversational analytics. While calls with live agents are recorded and can be reviewed for the purpose of finding and correcting inefficiencies, chats between customers and chatbots can all be saved already in text form. These archived conversations can then be used to improve the effectiveness of future chatbot-customer interactions so that chatbots are actually learning and adapting to be more effective over time.
  • Assist with accounting tasks. Accounting is one of the most boring and time-consuming side-tasks that a small business owner has to manage if he/she can’t afford to hire an accountant or secretary. There are chatbots can can do accounting tasks for the business owner whether that’s pulling up invoices, creating and sending invoices, or compiling financial information.
  • Provide automation for ecommerce. Businesses are also finding that they can use chatbots to boost their ecommerce. Since many prefer to shop online from the comfort of their homes, chatbots that can act as in-store associates in offering suggestions, narrowing down choices based on the shopper’s preferences, and completing the transaction.

It can’t…

  • Replicate the human touch (yet). One thing that chatbots can’t do is pass the Turing Test. In other words, humans can still tell they’re talking to a bot and there are many people, especially among older generations, that don’t like it. As the artificial intelligence that goes into programming chatbots improves, chatbots may be able to reach a point where they can perfectly simulate human conversation but for the time-being they still have a lot to offer even with their limited conversational abilities.

Mobile Technology News brought to you by


You don’t need to be a coding guru to develop a chatbot



Thanks to chatbots, people now have the convenience of interacting with brands or websites without having to contact a live person. Chatbots are set to revolutionize the customer service industry. If you’re like thousands of other business owners who are following the advancement of chatbots and considering whether to use one for your own business, you’ll be happy to hear that developing a chatbot isn’t as hard as it seems. But first, here are some reasons to invest the time in creating one.


Chatbots speed up customer service


Nobody likes the experience of reaching out to customer service, either through a hotline or through a chat service only to be placed in a queue waiting for a live agent to be available. Businesses can try to arrange to have a sufficient number of customer service representatives at all times but there will undoubtedly be times when there is a higher-than normal call or chat volume and customers will have to wait, and by waiting, they’ll feel unimportant and unappreciated as customers. When they do get a live agent, the conversation is more likely to start out hostile and lead nowhere. This is where chatbots come in.


Unlike live agents, chatbots can assist an unlimited number of customers simultaneously. A chatbot can lessen the strain during an especially busy time period by answering simple questions and resolving easier issues. For more difficult matters that the chatbot can’t resolve, there is still a benefit. The chatbot can obtain account info, ask security questions, or pull up an order before routing them to the person who can help that customer with all of the preliminary steps out of the way.


The problem


If chatbots are so incredible, why isn’t everyone jumping at the chance to have one? Because in order to be reliable and accurate, a lot of artificial intelligence and a solid understanding of coding is required and the average person simply doesn’t know the language of computer programming required to develop a chatbot. The biggest companies with all the resources buy up all the engineering talent leaving small companies with few options. Fortunately, there are affordable alternatives.


Chatbot development platforms


A number of companies have done the artificial intelligence and coding work for you, so you don’t have to. These chatbot development platforms work in a way that’s similar to website building platforms. The platform does the heavy lifting and the user can drop and drop features and work from templates to develop their own chatbots with minimal understanding of coding. These platforms range from the more simple (and limited) and the more complex (with more features but at a higher price and a steeper learning curve). If you are interested in chatbots but fear you don’t know enough, you can get started by familiarizing yourself with the most basic aspects of chatbot programming. Then you can use that limited understanding and with the help of a chatbot development platform, create your first bot. It might not be very good but you’ll get better if you keep fine-tuning and learning about chatbot programming.


Mobile Technology News brought to you by



Five ways that Chatbots and AI are changing the workplace

Snowbot on a phone in an office-1


When chatbots were first introduced, the business world knew they had potential. There were implications early on for improved customer service and increased productivity but few could have predicted just how much chatbots would change the business world over time. Here are just five of the ways.


1. A personal assistant for everyone


Most businesses don’t have the resources to give every employee a personal assistant. But thanks to chatbots, every employee, not just the higher ups can have a personal assistant that can manage their calendar, schedule, edit, or cancel meetings, book travel, handle any other secretarial work that they might need.


2. Better customer service


While chatbots may not be as effective at resolving customers’ problems as humans, they can work 24/7 with zero breaks and can assist limitless customers simultaneously. Businesses can use chatbots to provide limited customer service during hours when there might not be a human customer service representative to help and even during the day, a customer service chatbot can help by pulling customer information, asking a few questions to get a sense of their problem, resolving simpler issues without needing to involve a human agent, and directly more complex issues to the appropriate person that can best help.


3. Shopping assistance


One reason people still prefer to shop for certain items in-store instead of online is because of the experience of asking questions of a salesperson as they decide to buy. But salespeople can’t be everywhere at once and they can’t know everything about every product. Chatbots can. Businesses can design a chatbot designed for customers to use in-store in order to ask information about products that may not be printed on the label. That same chatbot would even be able to ask questions of shoppers to narrow in on products that are most likely to appeal to them.


4. Empowered IT departments


When it comes to IT problems, some are harder than others. A chatbot can serve as a kind of automated IT service to help diagnose and resolve the more common tech-related issues that might arise from day-to-day. Not only can chatbots resolve simpler issues without any help, they can also access vast amounts of data on a per-user basis much faster than a human would be able to in order to find the source of an IT problem.


5. Increased productivity all around


All of these and other ways that chatbots can and will be used by businesses have one thing in common: they increase productivity. Personal assistants for every employee allows them to focus on more important things; customer service chatbots mean that customer service representatives can spend more time on the more difficult problems and customers get faster service; shopping assistant chatbots free up salespeople to close sales and ring up customers without being sidetracked answering simple questions; finally, IT chatbots free up IT professionals to devote more time to resolving more challenging problems.


Mobile Technology News brought to you by




How to make each text more impactful



Your customers are putting a lot of trust in you when they hand over permission to send a text message directly to their phone. Text messaging is one of the more intimate forms of communication. It’s not like a mass print mailer or email (the majority of which go straight to the trash or junk folder). Text messages are almost always opened and read, usually within just three minutes of being received. As a business owner or marketer, it’s your job to ensure that you’re not taking advantage of that trust, because if you do, customers will opt-out–and fast. The following tips can help you ensure you’re sending impactful messages that keep your opt-ins sticking around.


Know your target audience and cater to them


If, in your mind, your audience is everyone, then when you set out to try and target that audience, you’ll reach nobody. In an ideal world, everyone in the world would love your business and the products/services you offer. But in the real world, only certain demographics will. Before you can even think about crafting a text message to send, you have to figure out who you’re trying to reach. What kinds of people are most likely to be interested in what you’re selling or who is most likely to need it? Find out what compels your target audience. What do they like and dislike? What kind of approach is the most likely to succeed with them?


Understand the message you’re trying to get across


Along with knowing your target audience, you need to know your message–not the exact wording of any one given text message–the overall message you’re trying to send with your entire SMS campaign, your brand’s message. You can fuss over the exact wording of individual texts later but when first putting together your SMS campaign you need to have a clear vision for it and a clear message that you want to come through with each and every text. That message can be as simple as “we care about our customers.”


Select the right channels


Because text message marketing is one of the least expensive and one of the most expensive mobile channels, SMS is a given. But what about other channels. SMS marketing can’t be successful all on it’s own. For one, you need to make use of other channels to make your customers aware of your SMS channel. SMS can also function as a doorway to other channels. You can use SMS to funnel customers into your mobile site, social media pages, or video content. Which channels you use to get more opt-ins and which ones you advertise in your text messages will depend on your target audience and mobile marketing aims.


Never stop fine-tuning


No matter how hard you try, some customers will still opt out. The best you can do is try to learn from those opt-outs. Pay attention to opt-out trends. Where you sending too many promotional text messages prior to a surge in opt-outs? Maybe you need to be less pushy. Have recent texts been a little too long or uninteresting? Maybe you can reduce opt-outs by working on conciseness and directness. Continually fine tune your SMS strategy. It’s never finished.


Mobile Technology News brought to you by



Five ways restaurant owners can use SMS to grow their business


Opening a restaurant is one of the most popular and challenging forms of entrepreneurship. In fact, it’s popularity is one of the reasons it’s so challenging. Restaurant ownership is a crowded marketplace and it can sometimes seem impossible to stand out when there are already so many restaurants offering every kind of cuisine you can imagine. Developing brand identity and finding something unique to offer is critical if you want your restaurant to thrive. Another good strategy to keeping your restaurant successful is to take advantage of the SMS marketing channel. Here are five ways a restaurant can do this.


Send special offers


Probably the most popular use for SMS marketing is sending mobile coupons or other deals to customers. This can be a great way to get more people through the doors during slower times if you do it right. The offer needs to be good enough to incentivize but not so good it will put you out of business if everyone comes to redeem it either.


Send reservation reminders


Missed reservations can really hurt your restaurant’s bottom line. Since 98% of text messages are opened (and 90% of those within minutes of being received) there’s no better way to send a reservation reminder that the recipient is going to see. Best of all, these SMS reservation reminders enable recipients to add the reservation to their calendar app by clicking on the date and time included in your text. This way they can get reminded again by their phone when the time of their reservation is near.


Create an SMS loyalty program


Just as punch-cards reward frequent customers with every ten visits, an SMS loyalty program can reward your frequent customers with exclusive offers that no one else can get. Make sure that at least a portion of the text messages you’re sending are exclusive to those who’ve opted in to receive your texts. If anyone can get the deal regardless of whether they’ve opted-in, then there’s less incentive to do so.


Make table reservations easy


Text messaging is the preferred method of communication for younger generations who are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with calling up a place of business, including your restaurant. You can deploy a chatbot via SMS that allows customers to make a table reservation by simply sending a text to your chatbot. The easier you make it for customers to make a reservation, the more reservations you’ll get.


Gather feedback


Many receipts nowadays have instructions for going to a website to offer feedback in return for some deal during a future visit. These tend to be ineffective because it involves too much work for the customer. A better way is to send a text (if they’ve opted in) a day or so after their visit to your restaurant asking them to participate in a very short survey (three or four questions tops). Since you initiate the survey and they know up front it’s short and they get something in return, you’re going to get more feedback which you can then use to improve your restaurant.


Mobile Technology News brought to you by



Best practices for creating an effective SMS chatbot



Though there are many different platforms for Chatbots such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, SMS (text messaging) is still the ultimate platform when it comes to chatbots. Because there are so many different messaging services now and it’s impossible to know which one your customers prefer, SMS is the safe option since virtually everyone is familiar with the concept of sending a text through their mobile phone provider. SMS also boasts the highest response rate for messaging services. So if you’re going to deploy an SMS chatbot to assist customers, here are a few best practices to keep in mind.


Set clear boundaries


When your customers engage with your chatbot via SMS, it should be immediately clear (either by telling them directly or by just making it very obvious) that they are in fact texting a chatbot and not a real person. Additionally, customers should know what they can expect the bot to do and what they shouldn’t expect the bot to be able to do. Research suggests that people are more understanding of a failed chatbot interaction when they have clear and realistic expectations going in. On the other hand, if it’s hard to distinguish between chatbot and human customer service representative customers are more likely to grow frustrated when a chatbot fails to understand seemingly simple requests or questions.


Have a fail-safe


Make sure to implement a number of friendly denials and error messages. Better for the chatbot to be upfront in stating that it doesn’t understand or can’t assist with a specific issue than to have the chatbot and customer run around in circles getting nowhere.


Make it easy to get a human customer service agent


Along with that fail-safe, make it as easy as possible for the customer to get connected with a live person when a chatbot is failing to assist the customer. A well-programmed chatbot can often connect the customer to the appropriate customer service agent even if it can’t understand how to answer the customer’s question itself. Don’t make the customer listen to several options and waste precious time like many automated phone response systems do.



Let bots answer the easy questions


Where chatbots excel is in freeing up human customer service agents by tackling the easier issues. When programming a chatbot for your business’s customer service needs, think about the issues and questions your customers are most likely to call in with. If your chatbot is efficient at recognizing and appropriately responding to the most frequently asked questions, that’s going to be a lot more helpful than anything else.


Don’t make it weird


Too many businesses are caught up in making their chatbots more personable or chatty like human customer service agents would be. As it turns out, customers usually don’t respond well to more life-like chatbots. For one, it blurs the line between human and computer and it sometimes creates unrealistic expectations for chatbots as mentioned above. Also, people prefer their chatbots to sound like bots. It’s unsettling to know you’re talking to a computer when it sounds so much like a real person. So just focus on designing a bot that’s quick, efficient, and has a neutral but pleasant tone.


Mobile Technology News brought to you by

Businesses aren’t using SMS marketing to its full potential


The average smartphone owner will interact with their smartphone in some way over 200 times per day. US consumers are spending 25% of their media time on their smartphones. It stands to reason, then, that US businesses would be spending around 25% of their marketing budget on mobile, but they aren’t. Companies are only devoting 13% of their marketing budget on mobile advertising. Budget allocation isn’t the only disconnect between the opportunity mobile presents and the effort that businesses are putting in. For instance, the majority of video advertisements are simply repurposed from TV commercials and many text messages are simply emails sent via text. The problem is that many advertisers group mobile marketing in with the larger category of digital advertising. But in this day and age, it’s more beneficial to view mobile marketing as completely separate.


Mobile marketing: a whole different animal


Each marketing channel has different rules of engagement. The people who consume these various media have different expectations about the advertisements they’ll encounter. When marketers treat mobile as a subset of digital, they’re bringing their perceptions of one marketing channel and trying to force it to work with a different one.


The reason traditional digital marketing doesn’t work for mobile consumers is because mobile is non-linear. When people watch television, they might channel surf for a while but eventually they settle on a program and watch until it either gets boring or it ends. With mobile devices, consumers are jumping between video content, web browsing, social media, mobile apps, shopping, and texting/calling. The attention span of a mobile user interacting with their mobile device is much shorter that someone sitting in front of the television. Videos and text messages must get to the point faster.


The wrong metrics


Businesses also need to look at different metrics when developing their mobile marketing strategy. For a long time, businesses have tracked the success of an advertisement by looking at the metric of how many people made a purchase after clicking on a link to the product. This doesn’t work as well on mobile though, because they might encounter an ad while using an app, open up a web browser to do additional research about the product advertised, then open up a shopping app like Amazon to read reviews and then finally complete a purchase. Traditional metrics often overlook this journey the consumer takes before completing a purchase. Businesses have to look at many different metrics to get a sense of how their strategy is working.


Location-based marketing


Many businesses are now experimenting with location-based marketing that will automatically send special offers via text when people are near that business location. This is one of the most promising mobile marketing strategies and it’s proving to be especially effective since it takes advantage of one of the most unique features of mobile: its mobility.


Mobile Technology News brought to you by



Three things you can learn about SMS marketing from direct mail marketing


SMS marketing is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal, but only when you’re using it in the right ways. One strategy for using SMS marketing more effectively is to offer variety in the types of messages you’re sending. In this aspect, you can learn a lot about SMS marketing from direct mail marketing strategies. Here are three direct-mail techniques that apply equally well to SMS marketing


1. Offers that motivate


The most effective direct mailers resonate with customers. These are the ones most likely to motivate customers to act on them. There are a few qualities that a motivating message will have:


    • Personalized. Customers should feel like the message was directed straight at them even if it was sent to thousands


    • Exclusive. Recipients should feel pampered—like they’re getting special treatment that other customers don’t get. You can accomplish this by making certain offers exclusive only to those who’ve opted in to receive your texts


    • A clear call to action. Don’t leave it up to the customers to realize what you want them to do, come right out and tell them.


2. Appointment reminders


Every missed appointment is a missed opportunity for a sale. It’s also lost productivity. For years, companies have been using direct mail to send appointment reminders. Studies show that a simple appointment reminder can reduce no-shows by about 35%. SMS is an especially effective channel for appointment reminders since it’s immediately received once sent and much more likely to be read. Not only will appointment reminders improve productivity and increase profits, it can be a great lead-in to getting customers to opt-in for promotional text messages as well.


3. Coupons


Coupons are the oldest marketing trick in the book but they’re still the most popular because they work. In 2015 alone, American consumers redeemed a total of 2.5 billion print coupons in stores. Approximately 87% of Americans report using print coupons that they receive in the mail. The numbers for SMS coupons are even more startling because they’re more immediate. While the average direct mail coupon is held for 17 days before being redeemed, SMS coupons are more likely to be used within the first few days. Though you might assume coupons are old-fashioned, they’re still a powerful marketing tool especially when combined with newer marketing channels like SMS.


Mobile Technology News brought to you by