Organic Reach for Facebook Pages Will Soon be Non-Existent

It is common knowledge at this point that organic reach for Facebook pages has been steadily decreasing in the past couple of years.

This is for a variety of reasons, but can be generally attributed to Facebook's promoted posts and ads in timeline, as well as the 'rewarding' of only the most popular posts.  And of course, as Facebook pages became more widely used by brands, reader's feeds began to fill up even more.

According to a recent article published by Adweek, organic traffic will soon only reach 1% to 2% of those who like the page.  

Though there is always the option to move primary brand communication to other social media sites like Twitter, which do not have this problem, that is not always viable.

In a previous post, we recommended 4 simple tips for small businesses on Facebook.  However, since even smart Facebook posts will probably not save you money, it is more important to spend wisely instead of not spending at all.

How so?  Here are 3 things to keep in mind every time you create a promoted post on your page.

1. Demographics

Though you may gloss over these choices, always pause to consider who needs to see your posts.  Would women be more likely to be receptive to this post?  Those under the age of 30?  Or those located in Montana?  Just because you are targeting your fans on Facebook does not mean you should target everyone who likes your page.

2. Day of the Week/ Time of Day

Though it certainly depends on your brand, look at when your page receives the most interactions.  Is it the weekend?  Or lunchtime during the workweek?  Either way, make sure that your posts have the most potential for reaching active Facebook fans.

3. Is this best for Facebook?

It is likely your brand has a social media account somewhere else, and that free posts on that platform will be more effective.  Is it a quick update?  Then Twitter may be better.  New dress on sale? Pinterest.  New office furniture? Instagram.  Essentially, think before you post on Facebook: Will you really receive a valuable ROI from a Facebook post you have to pay for?

 

 

eCommerce in the Time of Amazon: Tips to Grow your eCommerce Business

eCommerce in the Time of Amazon: Tips to Grow your eCommerce Business

Amazon is a significant player on the eCommerce landscape.  Their dominance can strike fear into the hearts of the most nimble competitor.  But there is hope.  We present exclusive, original research conducted by Protea Digital.    

We explore Amazon’s apartment advantages, and how you can ju-jitsu your way into a position to keep your eCommerce firm growing and thriving.    

1. It is tough to beat Amazon at everything

Competing Solely on Price

Don’t try and beat out Amazon’s prices.  Not only are you competing with Amazon and Amazon’s supply chain, but you have to compete with Amazon Affiliates.  Chances are, your price point will be unable to compete.

However, our research shows that online shopping is not just about price. According to a recent study by Protea Digital, a minority of consumers are only focused price. 

We surveyed 1,000 online respondents within the United States , and our survey found that  just 27% of consumers think that only price is important when making a purchase.

Think Beyond Price

There are other ways to show price competitiveness, like free shipping. If your company can offer free shipping or shipping discounts, that will often entice customers.  Realistically though, your company might be unable to offer free two day shipping for every product.

Research shows that the conventional  wisdom (that you must have free shipping) is not entirely accurate. A lack of free shipping is not always a deal-breaker. According to the same Protea Digital research, only 15% of consumers said they will not make a purchase if free shipping is unavailable.  

Brand Recognition

Everyone knows Amazon’s name.  They may not like Amazon, they may not like some of Amazon’s business practices, but people know that they can trust Amazon on products they may purchase.

Don’t be discouraged; this is nothing you have not heard before.  These things are important to keep in mind when thinking about your company.  Put your energy into areas that will allow you to successfully compete against Amazon. According to our survey, just under 40% of respondents had never made a purchase from Amazon.  There is still room for growth for e-commerce sites. 

2. The Joys of Specialization

So if Amazon sells everything, what should you sell? Specialization of your company will allow for differentiation and competition.

Sell Something Exclusive

This may be obvious, but sell something that Amazon doesn’t.  The product itself does not need to be unique, but the branding and expertise you provide can help.  If your customers cannot get it from Amazon, then they will come to you.

Create a Brand

If you can’t sell an exclusive product, then create an exclusive brand.  A unique voice will appeal to specific demographics.  This could include quirky product descriptions, advice and tips, and even demonstrations. The point is if you control the brand, you can keep it off Amazon or competitor sites.

Become an Expert

Excellent customer service is just part of becoming an expert.  Offer advice on your website and provide a way for shoppers to easily ask questions.  If customers feel like they can return to your site to ask questions after a purchase, they will be more likely to invest in one of your products.

3.Make it unique

Another way to make your products stand out is through special touches or services.  Special, unique touches can reinforce the uniqueness and the identity of your brand.

Packaging Matters

It is amazing what nice packaging will do.  There is a reason stores at the mall use nice paper bags with handles instead of plastic grocery bags that say “thank you.” Packaging will make your product appear “special” and exclusive.  Besides, have you seen Amazon’s packaging recently?

Subscribe

Another way to make your company stand out is to make it into a subscription service.  Why? People love getting something new every month, but something they still need.  For example, Birchbox is a cosmetics website that sells products you can certainly find on Amazon, probably for much cheaper.  However, Birchbox has a program where subscribers receive a monthly box of makeup samples for $10. 

Handcrafted Difference

Amazon’s products, though inexpensive, are rarely handcrafted or unique.  Are your products created by a unique process?  Is there a special designer?  For example, Corter Leather products are all created by one person, Eric Heins, in a process that does not use electricity.  People love products that have stories, and being handmade is certainly a good story.

Unique Gift or Add-On

How else can you make your product special?  A unique complement or gift may be just what you need to incentivize your consumers.  For example, Totally Chocolate offers customers a small hammer to break the chocolate as an order add on.

Easy Bargains

Consumers love bargain hunting, but with ease.  The new models of e-commerce companies like JustFab.com offer consumers the choice of one pair of shoes, from a curated collection, with all shoes the same price of $39.95.  Easy to look through, but also gives consumers new choices!

Product Photos & Videos

One of Amazon’s weaknesses is they often have poor product photos. Because of affiliates and the nature of the site, certain products are poorly photographed, or only feature photographs submitted by consumers.  Excellent photographs and videos of products will build trust with consumers, and they will be more likely to purchase.  The videos of asos.com, which are included for all products, allow consumers to get a better feel for the clothing before they purchase.

Does design matter?

Pretty much everyone thinks that their website is beautiful, and a well kept and crafted website is a great way to differentiate one’s company from the rest.  But according to Protea Digital’s research, only 85% of online consumers will purchase from a website even if they think it is ugly.

4. Engage!

Make Loyalty a Virtue

Amazon does not have a rewards program for its loyal consumers, but you can.  Sell a product that people order multiple times a year.  Reinforce that behavior with the reward of free or discounted products.

Social Media

Because Amazon is such a large company, their social media does not bring together people with similar interests or hobbies.  Chances are, your customers have a lot in common.  By building a community centered around your company and what it provides, your customers are more likely to be enthusiastic about your company in the future. For example, we have clients who always respond on the same day to any comments they receive on Twitter and Facebook. Customers are impressed and often say they have referred friends to the company for this reason.

Blog, Blog, Blog

‘Get blogging’ might sounds like advice from five years ago. But blogs have now become the building block of social media. You can write substantial pieces for your blog, and then use social media to distribute and amplify your message.

Not only will a blog contribute to your website’s search ranking, but it will also allow those who visit your website to connect with others.  A blog establishes a voice for your company, and it will let your consumers know that your company is operated by dedicated, real people.

The web can be impersonal, but adding your own personality and flavor through your blog really does help.

5. Smart, Targeted Ads

The internet is a big place, and there are many opportunities for you to connect with new customers.  As a unique company and brand, there are ample opportunities to share your story and website.

8% of consumers who receive an email from a company they know click-thru. 

Promotions on other blogs

Teaming up with well-known blogs will allow your company to reach new consumers.  Give away products to bloggers to review, or sponsor a contest on a blog.  This will bring traffic and new shoppers to your site. Thomas Lee Ltd, a luxury sheets company, offered a free set of sheets to the bloggers and more sheets to giveaway to readers.  This led to a photoshoot, review of the sheets and many more Thomas Lee customers.

Partner with other sites               

This may sound counterintuitive, but selling your unique products on another e-commerce website can help alert people to your brand and products.  Leverage a better-known website’s brand name to help build your customer base. 

Email marketing

Make sure your customers are up to date on new products and promotions on your site.  It is easier to get a past customer to make another purchase than to recruit new consumers. One tip: never, ever buy a list of email address. It might sound tempting, but it almost never works out.

Pay-Per-Click advertising

There are many things that you will not be able to beat Amazon in, and one of them is search engine rankings.  Google Adwords and Bing ads can work. With high-quality ads, the click through rate to your site can greatly increase, and you can get your ad listed next to Amazon.

Retargeting

Everyone knows what an Amazon display ad looks like, and they stand out little to consumers. Retargeting with display ads will remind those who visit your website of your brand and products.  There are so many retargeting networks right now, that it has great potential to increase your overall conversion rate.  

 

 Want to know more?  Download the full white paper under our resources section.

           

 

 

Too Much Information?

Too Much Information?

‘There is too much information out there’ is common refrain we hear.

There are new web channels, more screens (phones, tablets, readers and desktops), more apps (billions of them), and more content: more pages, more websites, more articles. There is just more to absorb or ignore. So much noise, so little signal.

So how does one allocate one’s precious time and attention?

Clay Shirkey, an internet scholar, claims that “there is no such thing as information overload, only filter failure”.

Is it then a question of making sure you have a good filter? Who do you trust to be your filters? Your favourite newspaper is a great example of a trusted filter. The editors of the publication choose what they think is important.  Or one can cast a wide net, and use something like Google News, which algorithmically aggregates many information sources.

Once you have your filtered information, what do you do? As Nicholas Carr wrote in his important book, The Shallows, we have become worse at paying attention. In his memorable phrase, we used to ‘deep dive into topics, but we’re now become jet-skiers, skimming over the surface of information’.

I’d argue that skimming is exactly the wrong approach for the global information age. Value comes mostly from deep knowledge and expertise, and bouncing from click to click without fully absorbing information leads to a poverty of insight or original thought.

A combination of poor filtering and skimming means that many people find themselves stuck in paying little fragments of attention to lots of things from which they don’t really learn. It might be entertaining to bounce from link to link, but this comes at the expense of absorbing knowledge.

My guess would be the solution is to find a few trusted filters, and pay concentrated attention to these sources. The way I have done this is to have five blogs I regularly read carefully, and try and think and assimilate what they are saying. I’ve found this has been much more satisfying and useful than skimming through forty or fifty less quality blogs. Reading a greater volume of blogs used to leave me coming away thinking I’ve missed some piece of information.

A good insight or perspective can be worth ten times the volume of information.  And if you are serious about insights, the Harvard Business Review agrees that ‘if you’re serious about ideas, get serious about blogging’.

3 Reasons Why Online Automation is Problematic

3 Reasons Why Online Automation is Problematic

More and more, automation is making its way into online marketing.  Intuitively, this makes sense.  Computers performing tasks on other computers?  Why not?

As computers can perform and integrate smaller and smaller tasks, more fine-tuned and seemingly intelligent automation is possible. Which can be a good thing, right?  However, the implications are stronger than they appear.  The loss of the human touch in marketing (and many other things for that matter) could result in three worrisome trends-

1. Uniformity with less creativity.

2. Mediocrity because of a loss of originality

3. Loss of expertise, as experts become devalued.

Obviously, automation of simple tasks is useful and important in an efficient technical economy.  However, nothing can replace the unique personality and creativity inherent in humans.  Furthermore, if everyone uses the similar software, then there is a concern that content will all become the same. If no one is performing tasks, then the expertise required to do certain tasks will be lost.

Nothing replaces the unique creativity and ability of humans to get uncommon results.  At least for now!

Not sure if we entirely agree (obviously), but here is an interesting article from The Economist on the future of long term jobs and the roles of humans in tech, at www.theeconomist.com/automation.

 

4 Tips for Small Businesses on Facebook

4 Tips for Small Businesses on Facebook

Facebook announced last month that a new algorithm will limit the amount of 'free' organic traffic that pages receive.  Instead, the new algorithm will reward outside links and popular content.

What does this mean for small business pages?  It will be more difficult (and more expensive) for brands to reach their fans on a daily basis.  It also means that the average Facebook user will not see daily posts, even from their most beloved pages.

Obviously, this makes communication for small businesses even more difficult on Facebook.  Many small businesses rely on the social media site for inexpensive organic traffic, and as an effective way to communicate with loyal consumers.

So, now what?  Here are some tips to get the most bang for your buck on Facebook.

1.  Keep content platform specific.

When posting to the brand's page, make sure that posts are succinct, length appropriate, and relevant.  Posts are still rewarded based on popularity.  According to Facebook, posts between 100 and 250 characters get about 60% more interaction than posts of longer lengths.  Basically, remember that Facebook is not a blog, and is not Twitter.

2. Give followers directions.

On any post, readers are more likely to engage if you give instructions.  For example, tell fans to "like a post if they do _________", ask them to answer a question, or even request that they share the post.  We have found that these types of posts get 3-5 times more interaction.

3. Use images to their full potential.

We have found that posts with images can be counted to get over 100% more interaction.  Just make sure the picture is high quality ( 600x600 is the ideal size) and of course, relevant.

4. Pay for what matters.

Your company was probably already doing this, but now its more important than ever. Of course, saving money is crucial.  However,  spending money  to promote posts on huge promotions or events will often return more than spent.  The key is just to save your cash for what counts.

So, just because Facebook is changing the game does not mean you have to despair!  It just requires a little more thought and a little more effort to make sure your Facebook fans engage with your brand.