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Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

Why You Need More Visuals in Your Life

As marketers and business professionals, we’re always trying to find a way to engage our readers and customers. Except, engaging people means many things. It could be sending out a yearly thank you card to your customers or hosting a customer appreciation day. But what if we told you there were simpler ways to engage your customers?

Look no further than your marketing efforts. Sure, you blog a few times each month and update the company social media pages. But how many of those blogs and updates include visuals? You know, a behind-the-scenes photo of a product in production or short video from coworkers talking about upcoming events. Visuals are all around us, and we know what they are, but how well do we actually use them?

What Are Visuals?

Images

Whether you take the photos used for your company yourself or use a stock service such as Shutterstock, images engage people. They break up a sea of letters and words into manageable chunks of text. Then when you throw in our shortened attention spans – ahem, we’re all guilty – and images are an inner tube in that sea. Marketer and entrepreneur Jeff Bullas found including an image with an article increases the number of page views by 94 percent. Ninety-four percent. Think of how many of more pairs of eyes could become a lead for your business. Our guess is more than one.

 

Visuals on a work desk.

 

Videos

It doesn’t matter if you produce a video with the top of the line equipment in a studio or taken on your smartphone. Video gets engagement which leads to conversions. According to Hyperfine Media, one-third of all online activity is spent watching the video. How many times each day do you watch someone’s shared video on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter? If you’re a regular to YouTube, you already know you’ve lost count of viral videos you’ve consumed through the hours.

 

Infographics

These colorful and engaging visuals tie everything about content marketing into one piece. Data and statistics, pieces of relevant text, and related graphics or illustrations seamed together into one digestible visual. Sounds engaging, right? Infographics are easy to share on social media, meaning more reach for your company and brand. Add in their ability to condense information down and infographics are great for limited attention spans.

 

Infographic showing a year in review with a client.

 

Memes

The word has been around since 1976, years before the college crowd hit the share button between classes. Originally, it meant “an element of a culture or system of behavior considered to be passed from one person to another by imitation.” Now a meme is a photo with a humorous quote or caption attached to it that has gone viral. Companies can create their own memes as visuals, giving customers and viewers a snapshot of company culture. Keep in mind that the memes should follow your brand and company image each time.

 

We created a meme for this blog! Do you know where it’s from?

 

Presentations

You’ve written a longform piece that covers several areas your customers care about. Except going into depth on each topic would double or triple the piece. Since we’ve already established people have shorter attention spans, how would you still provide them with the information?

Enter presentations, the same style you saw in school and still do at conferences. The word presentation is synonymous with PowerPoint. Presentations allow for a complex topic to break down, slide by slide, with other visuals mixed in to keep your viewers engaged. But how do you then get the presentation to your customers? Enter SlideShare which lets a user upload PowerPoint, PDFs, Keynote or OpenDocument files. There the presentation is hosted through their website or embed elsewhere, such as through your website.

 

Woman giving a presentation.

Woman giving a presentation.

 

Screenshots

Screenshots are more versatile than snapping one to share with your friends of a raging online review. If you have a product or claim about a service, a quick screenshot can back up statistics that go along with it. For example, the author of this post used screenshots to create a ‘how-to’ guide in a previous job for using InDesign. Though she had been using the program for several years, the two co-workers who would split weekly design duties at the small newspaper were new to it and Macs. Screenshots gave a visual element to the line after line of written ‘click here for this command then click this part of the box that will pop up.’ Word on the street is the guide fell apart within a few months from constant use and reference.

Screenshot of a website on multiple devices.

 

How Do Visuals Impact Purchase Decisions?

You and your customers share one big trait: you’re both consumers. Everyone buys groceries, clothing, and other personal items. Whether you realize it or not, visuals play a role throughout each step of the purchase decision process.

To start, they provide details. Visuals can sort through the nitty gritty details that would take several minutes to explain either verbal or written. Think of it as show and tell, giving an example to the reader to reinforce the message. They also increase information retention than written material sans any type of visual. Only 10 percent of information is recalled after three days with information or words only. Retention jumps to 65 percent after three days when a relevant image is used.

Science Behind Higher Engagement Rates

We aren’t neuroscientists and we don’t play them on TV, but science tells us why content with visuals earn higher engagement rates. To put it simply, our brains process visuals 60,000x more quickly than text. Processing efficiency deals with how interpret what we see. Text has to be decoded to have meaning, from the individual letters to the context of sentences strung together. Images need less decoding. This decoding need decreases more when related images are used and improve the overall experience.

Expressive potential explains, simplifies, and expands on concepts that are otherwise difficult to put into words. This is when a visual that immediately and succinctly summarizes whatever topic you’d been trying to understand through text or speech. Think of it as the lightbulb moment when everything makes sense.

Why do they work?

Color.

The reason visuals, regardless of form, work is because of color. Humans are visual beings, taking in information and interpreting it the best we can. From capturing attention to enhancing productivity and improving communication, color plays an enormous role in our daily lives.

Think about these stats from Xerox:
  • Reader attention spans and recall increases by 82%
    • Important or vital information, such as safety notices, will stand out and be remembered when in color
  • People are 55% more likely to pick up a full-color piece of mail
    • A single or dominant color grabs someone’s attention, making them at least glance at the material
  • Search time, such as looking through a contract or other lengthy document, falls as much as 80% when color is used
    • A quick blast of contrasting color for pertinent text can help people answer their own questions without placing a call to a customer service number.
  • Learning and retention increases by 78% with color
    • Think of the training materials you put together for your staff. Using color for key points and areas will help recall the material than the worn out black and white sea of text.

How to Use Visuals for the Most Impact

Be creative, but consistent. We’ve all seen how quickly a GIF will appear on all our social media feeds, so why not create one or two for your company? It’s a chance to share your company personality, but also take advantage of our love of short videos. Even if you’re not ready to jump into creating the next viral GIF, make sure all the visuals you do create align with your brand. Timeliness is also key. Take advantage of an upcoming holiday and build a theme around that or any promotion or sale your company may have.

In the same vein as creativity, people react with emotion to everything they see, whether they realize it or not. Appeal to those emotions by telling a story with your content and visuals. If a customer has told you of a problem they have, and you have a solution, share it with everyone. Create a short video demonstrating the solution or a short video to be included with a blog post that details a specific part of the solution. Use your creativity and understanding of your customers to appeal to emotion and help them solve a problem.

Why Providing Excellent Customer Service and Support is Key to Your Business

It doesn’t matter if you’re at your desk checking off your weekly to-do list or trying to return an item at a store – customer service and customer support touches everyone and everything. And like your customers and other consumers, you likely have high expectations for either of these areas should you need them. And with marketing taking on a more personable, authentic approach in the last year, it goes without saying how crucial customer service and customer support have become. Many people and businesses use the two terms interchangeably, but there are pointed differences between the two. However, depending on the size of your company, you may have one area or department that provides both.

What’s the difference between customer service and customer support?

Let’s start with customer support. Customer support normally covers troubleshooting, conflict resolution, or any issue that requires a more technical approach to resolving. Most of the burden is placed on the company for a resolution with customer support, especially since it is more issue specific. For example, you are having issues accessing the weekly metrics for your social media platforms through your CRM (customer relationship management) software. Would you call the customer service number you have on hand or customer support? In this case, it would take a team with technical experience to determine whether it was a bug in the software, user error, or some other technical glitch causing the hang-up.

On the other hand, customer service often reflects the company’s brand more so than customer support. Customer service has more exchanges between the company – often through customer service representatives – and the customer. The resounding goal between the parties is finding a more efficient means of a solution to the issue at hand, rather than going through the regular process. It has a proactive focus, wanting to solve the issue once and for all for the customer. The fewer interactions a customer has with a customer service department, the higher the chances they will become a satisfied customer and recommend your company to others they know.

Why are customer service and support crucial for any business?

The number of answers to this question is innumerable, but the first one that comes to mind for us is the ability to set yourself apart from your competition. If you consistently provide quality customer service and support to any and every body, it will quickly set you apart from the rest of the field. The more quickly and efficiently you can solve a customer’s question or situation, the more likely you are to continue having a customer friendly reputation. And with those words being used by many businesses, being able to back them up is everything.

Think of customer service and support this way – it’s often the only time a customer has contact with a business once the sales process has ended. A product or service you provide met the customer’s need or want and everybody went on their way. But what happens when something goes awry? If an issue does awry long after the sale is over, customers have a legitimate expectation of it being resolved quickly, efficiently, and professionally.

Without customer service and support, no company, regardless of industry, would survive. It goes beyond troubleshooting; many times these departments handle questions, payments, messages, and other information between the business itself and customers.

How Can It Help or Hinder Lead Nurturing and Customer Retention

Whether it’s in business as a whole or a specific area such as marketing, the Pareto principle or 80/20 rule dictates more of our actions than we may realize. Why? It simply states that 80 percent of effects come from 20 percent of causes. In this case, 80 percent of sales come from 20 percent of clients. And when talking about customer service and customer support, this rule applies to every situation and issue.

After the sales process is over, service – or lack thereof – is why customers will either become one-time buyers or repeat customers with your company. The Small Business Administration and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have multiple studies that show new customers cost five to seven times more to acquire than retaining current customers. But if 20 percent of customers give the vast majority of sales to a company, why do so many companies focus on offering discounts and promotions to new customers?

One way of knowing if your customer service or support is hindering or helping your business is by using key performance indicators (KPIs). These give a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is reaching key business objectives. It works best when the objectives have been determined and set before you begin tracking KPIs.

How you conduct customer service and customer support also directly affects your lead nurturing. As a business, it goes without saying that customers are the lifeblood; if you don’t have customers coming in, chances are your business won’t be in business long. This is where lead nurturing comes in. Its focus is on developing relationships with potential buyers at every stage in both the sales funnel and buyer’s journey. The sub-focus is on marketing and communication efforts to consumers, by listening and providing information they are seeking, along with answers to questions.

Yes, customers want to be wowed, but they also want it to be as easy as possible to conduct business with you or any company. They also have an inherent expectation of consistent and professional customer service. Whether it’s lead nurturing or customer retention, if the channel used for contacting your business is in any way restricted, you’ll begin to see a churn in customers. Web forms that take several minutes to fill out or telephone lines with notoriously long wait times will begin to turn people off. Then you’ll be back to square one trying to bring in new customers instead of nurturing relationships with long time customers.

How to Deliver Top Notch Customer Service and Support

Everybody has their sure fire, absolute winning way to provide quality customer service and or customer support.

Know your customers

The first step in providing great customer service and support is knowing your customers, individually if possible. Keeping a note of interactions with customers in their file to reference in case someone else handles an issue or concern is a tremendous help. This way you’ll have a quick history of the customer in front of you and neither person will have to rehash old information before getting to the issue at hand.

Customers, like anyone, love personalization. Knowing small details about them such as what they have purchased in the past and making a small conversation about that if they have purchased it several times can go a long way in fostering a one-on-one relationship.

Respond in a timely manner

The sooner you can resolve an issue for a customer, the happier everyone involved will be, especially in time sensitive situations. Maybe it would take an extra call to a supervisor or putting a customer on hold for a minute or two to review a file. If that’s what it takes to resolve the issue, you may have just created a return customer who will sing praises about how thoroughly you solved their problem.

If you made a mistake, fix it

Mistakes happen because we’re human. But not fixing a mistake and allowing it to crop up again – and again – will hinder your customer service and customer support ability quickly. Not only will your customers become irritated, but employees who are caught on the broken record will also. Not fixing something simple can lead others to wonder what else about your business is lacking.

Have your customer service policy written out and prominently displayed

Training on customer service and support for employees should be at the forefront of everything you do and continuous. Training can take many forms, such as written materials, verbal instructions, and on-the-job demonstrations. Without continually focusing on customer service and support, lapses can happen with your customers paying the price.

How to Use Pinterest in Your Company’s Marketing Strategy

When you hear of Pinterest, do you automatically think of recipes, crafts, and endless hours spent scrolling through a sea of pins? While the social media platform has a reputation as a place for women, the number of men using Pinterest doubled in 2014. And though those numbers are two years old at the time of this blog, think of the number of potential customers for your business.

What is Pinterest?

Having dubbed itself as “the world’s catalog of ideas,” Pinterest is pretty much that. Launched in March 2010, the social media network features the ability to ‘pin’ anything that can be found on the internet to user created boards. The platform is commonly known for its collections of recipes and crafts, but if it catches a person’s eye, it can be saved.

Think of the boards as digital bulletin boards without losing push pins in the process. Boards are used to organize ideas and break user’s interests into categories. You can have as few or as many boards as you like. The author of this blog personally has 25 different boards on their Pinterest account. The boards I use most often are titled ‘running,’ ‘film photography,’ ‘food,’ ‘apartment decor,’ ‘yarn,’ and what I call ‘wardrobe updating.’ Secret boards were introduced in 2012 and allow only the creator of the board to view the contents, unless they add a collaborator to also pin.

How Does It Benefit Any Business?

Businesses of any size can reap absolute benefits from using Pinterest. It is a great source for back links. These are a crucial SEO ranking signal and a boost to your overall visibility online. It also falls under referral traffic which is argued by some as the number one benefit of Pinterest to any business.

Think of Pinterest as another way to show off and share your knowledge of your specific business or industry. As an image based platform, if you include even a single image or graphic on every page of your website, that is an opportunity for someone to pin your content. A single pin can be active for more than a year on Pinterest, a phenomena addressed further in a moment.

People can link to your content via widgets. What is a widget? It isn’t an abstract object from a fourth grade math problem. Instead, it’s the little red ‘Save’ button that usually appears on a photo when you hover the cursor over it for a few seconds. Widgets can be created for any photo or graphic you have on your website, opening the door for visitors to share every inch of your website.

Does Pinterest Help My Content Stay Fresher than Twitter?

It’s an ongoing strategy session for marketers and businesses who use online marketing alike. How do you get your content in front of people and keep it there, or at least for a few minutes for engagement? We’ve all seen how quickly tweets are pushed down a Twitter feed and Facebook posts are constantly adjusted by the platform’s algorithms. What worked last month – or even last week – could soon be outdated.

Enter Pinterest and its ability to see pins for content that is more than a few days old. If you’ve used Pinterest for any amount of time, you’ve seen pins that are at least a year or two old. How does this happen? One person liked that content and saved it to a board. Someone new came along, began following that person, also took an interest in it, and saved the pin. The cycle keeps moving along as long as Pinterest exists.

Exactly how many pins on Pinterest are re-pins? According to a September 2015 infographic from Social Marketing Writing, 80 percent. When you think of the 72.5 million people who use Pinterest, that’s a lot of pins floating on the internet since early 2010 and high odds of your content being continuously recycled.

How to Engage with Other Users

Like any social media platform, there are many ways you can engage with users. Our favorites for Pinterest start with the simple fact that people love sales, discounts, coupons, and any way to save a little money. Take advantage of Pinterest’s image base to share sales and drive traffic to your website or brick-and-mortar store.

Give your followers more opportunities to interact by using several images on each of your web pages. This goes back to the widgets discussed earlier in this blog. The more options people have, the more likely Pinterest users visiting your website will pin content.

If you’re looking to give your overall search engine optimization efforts another boost, take advantage of rich pins. Consider these citations specifically for Pinterest, individual pins that use meta-tags. Articles or mostly text content will have a headline, the author, story description, and link in its pin. A product or service can have real-time pricing, availability, and where to buy included. Not only are you giving yourself a little help in the SEO department, you’re giving your customers even more valuable information about your company and services.

Don’t be afraid to respond to questions and comments left on your pins. Like any other social media network, Pinterest provides space at the bottom of each pin to comment. You can also tag a person which will notify them of the comment on the pin. Just remember to follow the basics of responding to online comments at all times.

How Can Elevare Help Me?

While we can’t help you cull out the many delicious looking recipes that you’ll make someday from your boards, we can give your business another boost online. Pinterest may have started out as a place for people to save recipes and plan weddings, but we know it’s grown to much more than that. Whether it’s helping you build a strategy to further engage your customers or create a plan for restarting a listless campaign, we can help you use Pinterest to grow your business and bottom line.

Are you ready to grow your social media presence? Elevare has had great success helping people with social media goals including awareness campaigns for new business launches and conversion campaigns to grow revenue.

To get started, fill out the form below and we will contact you within the hour to start the conversation towards your success!