What is a Call to Action? Tell Me!

Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase – Call to Action (or CTA) – used by a marketer schmarketer and assumed it was just high falutin’ “lingo” that need not apply to you.

If you have a web site or use social media, you would be mistaken. Read on!

What is a call-to-action?
Simply, it’s text or a graphic that prompts a visitor to your site to take action. Typically, this action will take them to a landing page where they will then enter an email address, subscribe to a newsletter, watch a presentation or take advantage of a special offer.

Why do I need a CTA?
An effective CTA will gain you more leads and sales. Plain and simple.

Tip: Keep a “call-to-action” spreadsheet on your desktop. The next time you’re out and about on the web, take time to notice all the calls-to-action YOU are responding to! Jot down the phrases used and what they prompted you to do. Note the graphics, the colors and how well they stood out. This will help you build your own library of effective CTAs.

Where do I use CTAs?

  • Your website’s homepage is a terrific place for several calls-to-action. It typically receives the highest traffic of all your web pages, and allows you a great opportunity to tell your visitors what you want them to do next.
  • Posts you make on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media websites are great places to include a CTA: Visit our website to see more great tips. Sign-up for a newsletter! Subscribe to our blog here.
  • Your email signature is also a great place to include a call-to-action that directs the reader to the desired page.

What makes a good CTA?
It should be clear, concise and action oriented. It should convey value. It should be engaging, personal and create urgency. It should stand out on the page. If it includes an image, it should be relevant and enhance the call-to-action.

Can you give me some examples?
Sure – here are a few to get you started:

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  • Like our page to grow the garden of your dreams!
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  • Download 60-hour free trial
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These are way better than “Click Here” or “Contact Us” – right?

Tip: Make sure your call-to-action takes your visitor to a page they would expect to see!

Entire books are written on calls-to-action so this article is meant to give you a “taste.” If you’re interested in learning more, here are some articles that I particular thought were useful.

15 Tips in Making an Effective Call to Action
Blogosphere Trends + Effective Calls to Action

We’re here to help! So be sure to let us know if you need some help crafting your CTA strategy.

10 Tips for Getting the Most from Your New Timeline Page

With their rollout of Timeline for Pages, Facebook is encouraging (even pushing!) everyone with a Page to “tell a story.” Even so, there are still some very practical marketing best practices that you can put into place – without appearing overly “promotional.”

Tip #1. Use your logo as your “Profile Picture.” This will ensure that your business identity is tied to your “voice” at all times: whether posting on your Page, or on other Pages.

Tip #2. Be creative with your Cover Photo, but use it wisely. This giant space above the fold to showcase your business is a wonderful opportunity! Be creative and swap it out frequently. Ideas include:

  • Exterior/interior shots of your business
  • Seasonal photos which welcome holidays or weather changes
  • Applicable quotes with accompanying backgrounds
  • Fan created photos (this could be a great way to get some interaction!)
  • A montage of fan testimonials
  • Beauty shot of some of your top selling products or most visually appealing products
  • Pictures of you, your staff and customers
  • Above all, make sure it’s professional looking – and do not use a generic photo! It would be well worth having a friend or relative with a really nice digital camera come into your business and take a nice variety of shots so you have a library of images to choose from.

Tip #3: Photos are “King” in the Timeline layout. Make ‘em work hard! From the giant cover photo, the bigger space for posts, and the highly visible (and static) Photos app, to the humongous Milestone images and the ability to Highlight posts, your Page just went visual in a very BIG way. Make sure you take advantage of all the background info a photo can have including location tagging, and an informational caption with a call to action and links to your website.

Tip #4. Be sure your “Info” section is complete. But keep your About message short and sweet, so it’s completely visible. (144 characters or less).

  • If your Page is not a Place, be sure your web url is in the About section. This gives your website good visibility since it cannot be included in your cover photo.
  • If your Page is a Place, make sure you have all your info filled out completely including address, phone, hours, parking and directions. This makes it easy for your customers and potential customers on Facebook to quickly acquire this info!

Tip #5. “Pinned” posts have power. This is where you can put the most important info of the week and ensure everyone who stops by your Page sees it first. An image with it would make it especially compelling.

Tip #6. Custom apps are a great feature! Use them. Apps (which used to also be called ‘tabs’ in the old design) can greatly enhance your efforts. You can have up to 10 apps for a wide range of strategies from email sign-ups to fan of the week. Since apps have clear descriptions underneath, consider the “buttons” as another fun way to use “calls to action” and to push your visual identity. And be sure to sort your Custom apps by importance.

Tip #7. Have a strategy for your Photos! This app is non-negotiable, and gets LOTS of attention on your page. Undoubtedly, fans will be clicking like crazy on it, so put it to good use. What are some ways to do this? Photo albums of products, behind the scenes candids, a visual tour, staff, in-house events, trade shows, your vacation, pet photos…

Tip #8. Take advantage of Milestones. This more than any other feature on Pages allows you to easily “tell your story” AND they appear full-width and *may* receive more impressions in the news feed and more prominence on Timeline than standard posts. Take advantage of it!  Get a plan together and publish a few per day (vs all in one chunk). Milestones include:

  • Anniversaries
  • Key events
  • Changes to your business
  • Product intros
  • Employee acknowledgements
  • Anything you want!

Tip #9. If you’re not going to regularly respond to your Messages, turn this feature off! Fans (and non-fans) can now message you directly, which is a great feature. But – for obvious reasons– only if you plan on regularly responding to their messages.

Tip #10. Use Facebook as your “social home” and not your “content home.” Consider what would happen if:

  • Facebook went down for a day
  • Your Page was deactivated
  • You lost your admin rights

You have complete control over your blog and website, but you have zero control over Facebook and other social media channels. (Witness the reports of Facebook’s terrible customer service, how quickly they launched Timeline for Pages, and how quickly Pinterest has become all the rage…) The point is, things change, sites go down, get buggy, and sometimes worse. For this reason, continue to house the bulk of your content on your website, and use your Page to build relationships with your customers, and build awareness of your site through the above practices.

Timeline for Facebook Pages

Holy cow! That was fast. Facebook ain’t messin’ around with this project. Timeline for Pages was launched yesterday and everyone’s Page will change over by March 30th.

Yep – changes this big can sometimes bring confusion, frustration and puzzlement. But we’ve had some time to dig into the details and there really are some very nice enhancements! We’ll feature these and ideas for best practices in future posts.

While there is no longer the ability to have a default landing page (if you even had one of those to begin with), there are plenty of excellent work-arounds that will be both more elegant and powerful.

So, with that in mind, here is an excellent .pdf created by Facebook to get you started. We suggest that you print off a copy and spend a few minutes reviewing all the features. More to come!

Buzzz Word: Content Marketing

Content Marketing.

Do a Google search and you’ll get a bazillion results (106 billion as of today to be precise). It sounds all social media jargon-y and buzzzy, but it’s not. It’s something you as a small business owner do every single day: share your knowledge with customers. You do this because you’re nice, helpful and hope that offering good customer service will ultimately lead to a sale.

You: So, what exactly is it?

Me: Content marketing is the creation and sharing of useful information in order to engage current or potential customers. It’s also typically tied to some type of a marketing goal  such as increased web traffic, capturing an email, getting a “like” or “follower.”

You: How does it work?

Me: The highly sophisticated level of thinking behind content marketing is that providing “free” useful and relevant information to current and potential customers builds trust and loyalty toward a brand… which will ultimately lead to more sales.

You: How is this content shared?

Me: The most popular tactics used are blog articles, downloadable white papers or ebooks, e-newsletters, case studies, infographics, social media posts and the like.

You: How can I, as a small business,  take part in this incredibly powerful social media buzzz trend?  

Me: You already are – so keep doing what you’re doing (sharing your knowledge with customers), BUT make it work harder for you.

You: What do you mean?

Me: You probably take a lot of your knowledge for granted because it’s such an ingrained part of your mundane day-to-day operations. Don’t! It’s what sets your business apart from others; it’s what makes your business shine. Make it work for you!

You: Examples please??

Me: OK. Here is a practical way you can create and integrate some “content marketing” into your social media marketing efforts. (Say that 10x fast!)

First, create your content. Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left side, write down the top 20 questions your customers most frequently ask; in the right, jot down your reply.

Now, you have the start of some content that is incredibly useful, and can be used in multiples ways:

  • as a Facebook post
  • as a blog topic
  • as a Tweet
  • in your e-newsletter
  • as a helpful hand-out
  • all of the above
Here are a few more ideas (using separate pieces of paper – or ideally captured in a Word doc or spreadsheet for easy retrieval):
  • Jot down your top 20 bestselling products or services and why
  • Note a list of new products/services you’re bringing in and why you selected them
  • Come up with a few tips related to using one your most popular product(s)
  • Jot down the 20 most common pieces of advice you find yourself giving to customers throughout the week. Wah-lah! Content!
  • Write down the websites you frequently visit (related to your business) and why you love them.
  • Books you’ve read (related to your business) and review them!
Do you get the picture? You’re sharing “content” everyday – you content marketer, you – most likely in person, over the phone or via email. Take a minute to think about it differently, capture it and USE it – over and over again!
P.S. Think outside of the written word, too. Perhaps some of your tips, sage advice or FAQs may be better portrayed in a photo or video.

 

 

 

Our first workshops are this month!

Order your tickets today!

Are you feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by social media? Are you unsure about how it can used to bring new customers to your business? You are not alone! It’s a new world for every business out there, and it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit out of your comfort zone. But don’t let that stop you from taking that first step! Mike and Peg are here to help.

If you live in the Middletown, OH area, come to our  “Get Started with Facebook Marketing” workshop on either Tuesday, February 21st or Thursday, February 23rd from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Pendleton Art Center in downtown Middletown.

With Facebook on track to reach 1 billion users this year, it’s here to stay and every business (including yours!) needs to learn how to use it to their advantage. Hang on to your hats because we’ll be covering a lot in this 90-minute jam packed workshop. You will learn:

  • How to set up an optimized Facebook fan page (from start to finish!)
  • Tips and tricks for growing your fan base quickly
  • How to create top-notch content that gets your fan page noticed

Whether you have a small business or you’re a solopreneur, this small investment of time and money will:

  • Get you up to speed quickly on Facebook marketing (saving you precious time!)
  • Give you the confidence to take it to the next level (we’re here to help!)
  • Give your business a great start to 2012! (you’ll turn fans into customers!)

You can click here to visit Mike’s Red Skyy Group Facebook page, and here to learn a bit more about Peg and Relate-able Media.

Order your tickets today!

P.S. Don’t forget your laptops!

“Social media is just a buzzword until you come up with a plan.”

Zach Dunn is exactly right! The small business owners I know have few resources and even less time. Without a plan, this whole thing can become paralyzingly overwhelming, and putting it on the back burner becomes MORE than easy to do.

But the clock is ticking, and Facebook ain’t gettin’ any smaller! So here’s an easy plan for starters:

“Use Facebook as a way for my existing customers to interact with me.”

You know your customers are on Facebook. You know they will support your efforts. Get your page started!

Here’s the plan strategy:

“Be just as available to my customers via Facebook as I am in other channels such as phone, email or face-to-face.”

Here’s how to execute this strategy:

  • Make sure all your contact info is posted in the info section on your Facebook page.
  • Schedule 10 minutes a day (or 20 minutes every other day) to respond to any questions or comments from your fans
  • Make sure your Facebook url is mentioned on ALL printed materials (flyers, biz cards, receipts, etc) and in your place of business so my customers know they have another way to reach your.
Here’s how to execute the content strategy (ie what you post on your page):
x
“Create posts that are related to serving my existing customer.”
x
  • Remind them of upcoming reminders of sales or promotions
  • Give them exclusive coupon codes (i.e. Mention the following code when you come in to receive 15% off your purchase today!)
  • Sneak peeks at new products
  • Ask their opinion (ie which new products or services they’d like to see me carry)
  • Create a customized set of the most frequently asked questions from your customers and turn them into posts
  • Introduce them to your staff via staff interviews

This is an easy plan to start with – and will reap rewards. Once you master this, then you can move on to additional strategies which may be relevant to your business including using your Facebook page to:

      • Grow your leads
      • Drive traffic to your web site
      • Convert new fans to customers
      • Build awareness of your service
      • Become a trusted knowledge leader in your category

You’re in charge of your business. You’re in charge of your Facebook strategy. As you can see, it doesn’t take much to get started! But if you need a little boost, we’re here to help.

7 Steps to Creating a Facebook Fan Page Custom URL

Three reasons why this is a great idea:

  1. It makes your Facebook page url much easier for your customers to remember
  2. It gives your fan page a more professional feel
  3. It makes for a cleaner Facebook url to feature on your printed marketing materials (business cards, flyers, phonebook, ads, etc!)

Just follow the same steps I did when creating a custom URL for my new Fantastic Custom Fan Page page.

Step One: Go to your Fan Page and click the “Edit Info” Link (note the URL with long string of numbers that I’m starting with highlighted in green)

Step Two: Click the “Create a username for this page?” link

Step Three: To change a username (or URL) for any fan page you admin, you will need to continue as yourself. Go ahead an click the “Continue as” button.

Step Four: Enter the desired name of your custom URL and click the “Check Availability” link.

Step Five: Once you have found a username that is available, click the “Confirm” button. Remember – you can’t change it once you’ve confirmed.

Step Six: Success! Now click the “Okay” link

Step Seven: Done! Check out my new URL!

When it comes to fan page images, bigger is better

There aren’t that many places on a Facebook Page that are customizable AND static, but your image in the UPPER LEFT CORNER is one of them. Facebook will accept an image that is 180 x up to 540 pixels!

So instead of a small square image in the upper left corner of your wall like this …

… you can use an image three times the size, and brand it with hard-working information!

Including your business name and URL is a great place to start. You can also include:

  • a BIG benefit
  • a call to action
  • logo
  • photo (of you or your place of business or products)
  • tagline
  • contact info
  • hours of operation

Don’t be afraid to add a little of your personality, and make sure any copy on the image compliments the “About” section which sits an inch or two below.

Top 10 Ways Small Business Owners Successfully Use Social Media

We recently read this article on HubSpot, and loved the specifics of it. They interviewed small business marketers and combined that with research and examination of their own database to find 10 common traits of small businesses successfully using social media.

We especially like #4 and #6 and find these to be KEY traits to keep top of mind when first starting out in social media. Those would be followed by #1 and #2.

Small Business Owners Who Successfully Use Social Media…

1. Commit weekly resources to creating content and engaging in social media.
2. Have some methods of understanding how social media activity had an impact on business results.
3. Regularly generate content using blogs, Twitter, Facebook or other social platforms.
4. Don’t try to do use every platform, instead focusing time and resources on the social media channels that drive the best results for their business.
5. Use social media to drive participation in offline events.
6. Set clear expectations for customers regarding frequency and types of social media interactions their company is willing to provide.
7. Leverage social media to position their company as a thought leader within their industry.
8. Provide clear calls-to-action and opportunities to generate leads and new customers using social media.
9. Use information and data from social media to drive business strategy.
10. Balance paid and organic search engine traffic.