Choosing the Best E-Commerce Platform – 5 Tips for Entrepreneurs

Once you have decided to launch an e-commerce store, your next step is to choose the best e-commerce platform. Even after a brief online search, you will find that there are numerous e-commerce solutions on the market. They all have different features, support options, and customer ratings.

Avoid making a hasty decision about this important part of your online business. Instead, look for the e-commerce platform that best meets both the present and future needs of your company. Your choice can affect your business for many years to come, so take your time making the right decision. To help you decide, here are five tips that will help you choose the best e-commerce platform.

1. Look for Functionality and Ease of Use

You want to find an e-commerce package that combines advanced features with ease of use. After all, what good is a platform if no one knows how to use it? Similarly, you should think about your future plans and make sure that your solution will support them.

Your new e-commerce platform, regardless of its price or capability, should have the ability to import and export data into other formats. In addition, it should make adding and creating content as easy as possible. Failure to consider these vital matters can degrade the customer experience and cost you much in terms of lost sales.

While assessing the functions and simplicity of any e-commerce solution, remember to look for one that has a robust content management system. Such platform will help you speedily update your website without distracting team members from their core responsibilities.

There are more and more customers who use mobile devices to shop and will probably not buy from you if your site is slow or hard to navigate. This is why it is crucial for your platform for online sales to work well on mobile devices. This means that it will load quickly on smartphones and provide an uncluttered interface with easily accessible elements such as buttons.

2. Ensure that Your Payment Gateway is Supported

Practically all online sales require a secure payment gateway. If you already have a gateway, you need to make sure that your e-commerce platform supports it. If you have yet to sign up with a payment processor, now is a good time to think about how you want to get paid.

Every e-commerce package needs to connect with a secure service that allows customers to pay for their orders using a credit card or alternative methods such as Google wallet, Apple Pay or PayPal. You want to get maximum flexibility, which makes a digital solution that connects to a broad range of payment options your best choice.

Some e-commerce platforms offer low transaction fees but have unwieldy interfaces that add unnecessary steps to the checkout process. Ideally, you need to find a healthy balance between cost, security, and simplicity. Doing so will allow you to offer your customers multiple payment options without causing headaches.

Remembering that not every e-commerce package works with every gateway could be one of the most important factors in your decision. If you end up with a store and a payment processor that are incompatible, you might have to spend a lot of time and money creating a viable custom solution.

3. Make Site Security a Priority

The security of e-commerce businesses continues to rank among the top concerns of online shoppers. Although your payment gateway is vital to online security, the software or service that runs your store also plays a major role. Your payment processor should abide by PCI security standards that are designed to enhance confidence in e-commerce experience. Still, you should learn about those best practices and verify that your online store supports them.

Many digital solutions for online stores include enhanced security features and optional packages that help protect your company from fraud and other malicious activity that can affect you and your clients. Even if you want to avoid the added expense of those features now, keep in mind that you might decide to add them later. Choosing an e-commerce product that has such options can, therefore, save you time, money and inconvenience in the future.

4. Consider Your Current and Future Needs

You can improve the performance of every part of your business by considering both future and present needs. Such an approach creates a clear path for growth and maximizes the use of your financial resources. By acquiring an e-commerce platform that is a long-term solution, you insulate your business from the disruptions caused by changing technology.

Focusing on the current needs of your business ensures that you have an online store with adequate capabilities. If you want to have a smooth future operation, however, you should remember that your business will evolve as products, markets, regulations change.

If your company has extended customer lifecycles, you will need to have an e-commerce platform that can track the behavior of every customer over time. This also requires features that help your firm supply personalized engagements which can lead to high levels of satisfaction and loyalty.

Remember that your business will probably change over time, so you need an e-commerce platform that can be easily adapted. Just as you should create a business growth strategy that fits your e-commerce business, you should also choose the e-commerce platform that gives you the flexibility and scalability needed to accommodate new strategies that you might develop in the future.

5. Focus on an Active Support System

As an entrepreneur, you want to focus on developing fantastic products and services that transform the lives of your customers. Moreover, you want an exceptional customer service strategy that builds a solid reputation for your brand. Your e-commerce system can help, if it comes with active support options.

Automated and self-service customer support options minimize the cost of customer service while supplying customers with the rapid and accurate responses that they deserve. The around-the-clock support made possible by a robust e-commerce platform can, in fact, create a major competitive advantage for your company.

What will you do if your online store crashes? Every second your online store is down you lose customers. You need to make sure that both your payment processor and the vendor supplying your e-commerce platform have sufficient people and systems in place to quickly respond to any issues.

Final Thoughts

Your decision to expand your business online can either fulfill your dreams or give you nightmares. You can use the above tips to guide you as you search for the platform that meets all your present and future needs. By carefully comparing the capabilities, specifications and support options of available packages, you will have the confidence needed to create an outstanding customer experience and build a renowned brand.

About the Author

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.

Essential Tips for Growing your Following on Social Media

If you want to grow your brand in the modern day, making the most out of the power of social media is the way to go. This means that the more following you on social media, the more audience you are able to reach.
There are right ways, wrong ways, and smart ways harness the power of social media. How can you grow your following on social media to build an audience of customers around your business? Here are some methods that you can use to build a following, and increase engagement for your brand.

1. Decide Which Social Networks You are Going to Target

Create an account on all the top social networks; Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. It makes it easier for potential customers to find you, or talk about you, on Twitter, for example, one can easily mention you on a tweet if they are talking about your business. This makes it easier for someone following the conversation to find you.
Do your research. Find out where your target market is spending most of their time and focus more on those social networks. This will help you build your customer base and satisfy the ones you already have.

2. Optimise Your Social Media Profiles

People mainly post the same thing in the exact same way on all social media platforms, this isn’t right. All of the posts you are putting out there should be different depending on the social media platform you are using. For example, you’ll need great photos to go with an Instagram post and a short precise post for your twitter account. Everysocial media account should have a suitable delivery style.

3. Have Consistent and High-Quality Content

Creating a social media presence is more than just the number of likes a single post gets, it always comes down to content. It’s tempting to put up a post that will get you instant likes, but, it will not help in building your brand if the content doesn’t go hand in hand with your message.
If you are putting up high-quality posts on a regular basis, that is consistent with your message, you will build a fan base on social media that will continuously follow and share whatever it is you post, provided it’s relevant to your brand.
Remember, not all content will be popular but it is still important. Things like testimonials won’t get a lot of likes or shares, but they are important pieces if you want to make the market perceive you as a successful business.

4. Be Real

One of the things that make a social media page successful is if it’s real. If your fans can feel a connection to your brand, they will be more likely to follow you. Connect with your followers; reply to mentions, engage, and build relationships with your customers.

5. Link your Social Media Profiles

If you have a website or a blog, which you should, put up links to all of your social media profiles. For example, include a link to your Instagram account and website on your Facebook account. This makes it easier for someone who has found your Facebook page, to get to the Instagram page or your website and vice versa.

6. Make Use of Sponsored Posts

At a fee, some social media sites will promote a post for you. This makes it possible for your posts to reach a much larger audience, depending on your budget. This will help in making more people aware of your brand.

How to Make Content Marketing Work Without Breaking the Bank

On today’s Internet, content is king. The days of being able to throw together a website and do some search engine optimization magic to get immediate traffic are over. Google and other search engines value high-quality content more than ever, and creating it is the key to your online success. Content creation has a high return on investment, helps tremendously with search engine optimization, and can bring you increased leads and sales. When compared to other methods of customer acquisition, it is typically much more profitable as well.

If your company has a large budget to work with in the content creation realm, that can significantly speed up the process of implementing your content plan. However, many companies don’t have the budget to pay for a great deal of custom content. Although you can definitely spend as much money as you want on content creation, there are ways to go about it that won’t bankrupt your company. In reality, you can create great content without spending a lot of money. In some cases, you can do it for almost nothing.

Content Marketing Strategy

While content marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, it can cost you a lot of wasted time and energy if you’re not careful. What do you want to accomplish with your content marketing strategy? Do you want to convey a certain image or voice for your brand? Are you hoping to educate people on a complex topic or generate some buzz and attention? Do you hope to get more leads, more visits to your website, or look like the authority in your area of expertise?

Set achievable goals in relation to your content strategy. Make sure that the goals are specific, written down and measurable. Using vague descriptions of what you want to accomplish will result in vague results. The more specific you can be, the more realistic your goals become.

Start doing some research. Think about the ideal person that you’re trying to reach with your content. What are they searching for? What are they hoping to accomplish? Look at their current pain points and what issues they are having. In addition to looking at the pain points of your ideal customer, you should also take a look at the types of content that your competitors are making. If you can make similar content, only better, your chances of success will increase substantially. You don’t have to recreate the wheel if you find something that’s working well.

Before getting started with the content creation, you should also figure out a way to measure your performance. If necessary, get some software that will track all of the key performance indicators (KPI) that will determine if you’re successful. Google Analytics is a free platform that does much of what you’ll need, but if it’s not what you are looking for, there are many other programs out there to choose from.

Spend some time thinking about how you will promote your content. Depending on your target customer and your region, you’ll want to make sure you choose the correct social media platform to work with.

Before you begin making the content, you should also create a content calendar. A content calendar will guide your content creation strategy and help you stay on task.

Starting a Blog

One of the most basic and most important steps you can take in content creation is starting a blog. It only takes a couple of minutes to get started on WordPress, and it is a very simple platform to use. Although you always have the option of hiring a copywriter to write your posts for you, it’s not always necessary. You can write the posts yourself. If you have a staff to work with, pick some with the best writing ability and take turns writing posts. The writing quality doesn’t have to be perfect to make a difference. The important thing is that you’re creating content and improving as you go.

If you are going to utilize the talents of your staff for writing, you should give them the option to do it from home. Working remotely can increase productivity and it will make them more likely to actually do it. Your employees may jump at the chance to do some work from home.

If you’re in a situation where you don’t have any employees and you don’t have the time, you could consider hiring a copywriter. It’s possible to get a quality post written for $20 to $30, depending on the level of depth required. If you’re going to do a lot of content, that adds up quickly, but it’s definitely better than not creating content at all.

Another option is to hire a staff writer. If you decide to go this route, consider letting them work from home. This will be less expensive than giving them office space.

Content Creation

Go for quality over quantity. Search engines love quality content and do not value quantity anymore. Try to repurpose existing content that you have into new content instead of coming up with it all from scratch. You can spin the same content into a few different formats.

For example, you could turn a blog post into a video, slideshow, or podcast. Instead of creating a new post from scratch, you can also use old content that is outdated and update it with current information. This can cut your content creation time in half for each piece of repurposed content and costs next to nothing.

Another great way to get content is to accept guest posts. Other bloggers may want to offer you a free piece of content to put on your blog in exchange for a link to their website. You don’t have to accept every pitch for an article, but you can pick some of the best to feature. Accept only high-quality writers who are willing to contribute in exchange for exposure.

You can make a page about guest posting on your site and even reach out to some other blogs. Consider writing guest posts on other blogs and link back to your own articles on your blog, this will help you build additional exposure.

Promotion

Once you have content, it’s time to promote it. Share it on Facebook, tweet it, and post it to Instagram. If you have a mailing list, send it out. Use a variety of platforms to promote it. Visit other similar sites and comment about your content with a link. Get the word out.

Regardless of what kind of content you decide to create, focus on quality. Even if you’ve got a small budget to start with, content can take you from relative obscurity to a massively popular online brand. Focus on adding value in your content and the results will come.

About the author

Jen McKenzie is a freelance writer from New York, NY. She is fascinated by all things having to do with words, business, education and cutting-edge. When Jennifer is not busy writing, she enjoys taking long walks and spending time with her two pets Brando & Marlon. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie

How to Write SEO-Friendly Blog Posts Your Audience Will Read – And Love

So, you have started a blog for your business – great! But are you seeing the results you had hoped for? Perhaps you have been blogging for months without much fanfare, or maybe you just started and want some tips for writing blog posts. Whatever your situation, there are key rules every blogger must follow when it comes to crafting useful content that readers will consume, enjoy, and share with others. But how do you write a blog post that gives you the results you desire? Read on, blogging novice, it’s time to take notes.

Tips for Writing Click-Worthy Blog Posts

A regularly-updated company blog can play an integral part of increasing visits to your website, but it is just the beginning. Search engines don’t just love content, they love SEO-friendly content, and the more pages of click-worthy SEO content you have on your website, the more pages can be indexed and then found by your target audience on search engines. A keyword-focused blog can make a significant difference in your search rankings while playing a crucial role in acquiring new and returning customers.

Before you start writing, it’s important to understand that the content you’re creating must appeal to your audience as well as search engines. If you want a potential patient, client, or customer to click on your content, read through it, and then take action (e.g. book an appointment online, purchase a product etc.) you must be able to do three things:

1) Write content that is SEO-friendly

2) Write in an engaging tone

3) Solve a problem specific to your audience

If you can’t accomplish these three goals, then your blog content may not be seen by anyone at all.

Focus on Just a Few Keywords

While you may have heard that incorporating a lot of keywords into a blog post will help you rise in search engine rankings, this is entirely untrue. Cramming as many keywords as possible into your blog posts will result in stale, invaluable content that search engines will gloss over. And guess what? Your audience won’t be paying attention either.

It’s important to choose just a handful of core keywords and long-tail keywords to focus on in your blog post. This will not only show search engines that your content is rank-worthy, but it will also be enjoyable and worth reading.

Utilize Keyword Synonyms

Using keyword synonyms within blog posts is a simple way to include keywords you want to rank for, while also increasing search traffic to your blog. For example, if you have a blog post that focuses on dental fillings, you could also use the synonym, “tooth fillings” in both the body copy and in subheadings.

 

Optimize Your Blog Post with Relevant Questions

Writing a great SEO-friendly blog post goes beyond just user intent. For example, while someone may be searching for “tooth filling dentists in Columbus” they and other people who are researching the topic are usually curious beyond their intent to simply find a local dental practice.

If you are like most people, you have used search engines to find answers to specific questions. For instance, if you know that you have a cavity and need a filling soon, you may be curious about the dental filling procedure, how long it takes, if it hurts, and so on. Just know that you aren’t alone in this! If you type, “do fillings hurt?” into a search engine, you will see that there are plenty of blog posts that answer the question, and you will even find related questions on the topic that people are actively looking for answers to.

As you can see here, you may want to think about incorporating a handful of relevant questions into a blog post if you want to rank higher for “fillings”, “dental fillings”, and the like.

Optimize Headings and Subheadings with Keyword Variations

Before you write your post, think about searching for keyword variations of the main keyword your post is trying to rank for. For example, if your blog post will be focusing on a broad term such as “dental procedures” you could add related keywords such as, “cosmetic dental procedures” and “pediatric dental treatments” or “emergency dental procedures.” You can then use these variations as subheadings with descriptions and bullet points of the various types of procedures or treatments. However, be careful not to overdo it; integrate additional terms like this only if they make sense from a readability standpoint. A blog post that incorporates these keyword variations would benefit from a title like, “Common Types of Dental Procedures.”

Words of Wisdom: Breaking up blog content with relevant subheadings when possible also helps readability. Users love to skim articles first to see if the content may resonate with them. If they can’t find what they’re looking for easily, they will move along to another article — and search engines may even direct them to a competitor’s site instead!

These ideas are just the beginning when it comes to writing SEO-friendly blog content. But these guidelines will help your blog get started on the right foot so the right customers will find your content, read it, love it, and return for more.

Natalie Lynn is the content director of Two Wheels Marketing, a Columbus, Ohio based digital marketing firm specializing in search engine marketing (SEO, PPC), paid and organic social media marketing.

Salesforce Aiming To Dominate Predictive Analytics with Data Science

The recent acquisition of RelateIQ by Salesforce has again sent out very strong signals about the CRM leader’s intent to strengthen its capabilities in predictive analytics by integrating artificial intelligence technology into its software. However, according to experts, Salesforce will be focusing on achieving market leadership in predictive analytics rather than trying to become a force in AI. The company is attempting to employ concepts of deep learning that will rely on data analysis to provide the basis of knowledge programming into algorithms.

Is This the Beginning of AI?

Despite the buzz that has surrounded the concept of artificial intelligence for years, at this point in time, it can be said that we are in the very early stages of AI that is supposed to make machines intelligent. Our frame of reference for defining intelligence is that possessed by human beings but we are very distant from lending machines the emotions, awareness, and empathy that define the behavior of human beings and form the core of human intelligence. However, it seems that the development of the really intelligent machines that have emotions and awareness, even though a long time away, is inevitable. Even though Salesforce is very new to AI, it is unlikely that Marc Benioff, the Salesforce CEO would be making public statements, if there was no plan to do something concrete in the AI space that would take it straight to the table at which IBM and Google are already sitting at.

The Reasons for Salesforce Obsessing About Data Science

Salesforce chose the path to growth through data science because it has access to vast amounts of data with its popular CRM package employed in hundreds of companies all over the world as well as Flosum.com, a native application built on the platform. A mind-boggling 3 billion transactions take place through Salesforce on a daily basis. Because of the inherent value of this data, Salesforce thinks that it can work wonders for its clients by assuming a leadership position in data science so that it can, in turn, lead the race in predictive analytics. With AI already powering a number of Google’s functions besides digital assistants like Siri, Watson, as well as advanced concepts, like autonomous drones, self-driving vehicles and even movie recommendations of Netflix; it can well be imagined what the possibilities are when Salesforce applies predictive analytics technologies to the rich database it possesses.

Focused on the Future

Just how keen Salesforce is about predictive analytics can be perceived by taking a look at their investment in InsideSales, a company that employs machine learning for predictive analytics. The fact that InsideSales has also been named as a premier partner is another sign of the eagerness of Salesforce to forge ahead in this space. The opportunities presented by data science have been eyed by Salesforce for years, and even with these initial moves, the company will be joining the likes of Google and IBM in the AI space very soon. While the competition with the biggest cloud company and arguably the world’s most inventive company will be intense, one should not forget that Salesforce has been consistently ranked as the global leader in innovation. When you add to its formidable reputation, its expertise in cloud computing and its deep data footprint, it does seem more than a good match.

Salesforce has been shoring up its knowledge base with diverse tactics. It has not only poached from LinkedIn, almost its entire team of data scientists but also keenly observing MetaMind, a startup with a focus on deep learning, image prediction, and natural language processing. Salesforce has also been leading investments in Cloudwords, a machine translation company.

Conclusion

Marc Benioff has been accused of making extremely controversial statements regarding the future of the digital world, email, cloud computing, social media and even mobiles, however looking beyond the disruptive nature of these pronouncements, his sustained actions in boosting his data sciences capabilities all point in one direction – data science is going to be very big in the future and Salesforce aims to lead in that domain.

 

Author bio:

David Wicks is a Salesforce developer with extensive experience of deploying Flosum.com, a change management software native to Salesforce. James writes extensively on CRM and data science trends.

 

Pursuing a Challenging Career in Mobile App Development

The latest mobile app market no longer seems to be limited to only the general users. It has now extended its reach to the institutional and business users. This dynamic, progressive, and ever-expanding industry along with its immense opportunities for generating revenue has attracted business conglomerates apart from the usual customers. No other job could be more fulfilling, challenging, and greener than that of a mobile app developer’s. This actually, refers to an app developer who is competent in designing, building or maintaining mobile apps for predominantly Android and iOS platforms. There are, however, numerous other platform options such as Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian, and Psion. But the two giants namely Android and iOS are grabbing over 99.3 % of the entire market.

Reasons that Inspire You to Become a Mobile App Developer

  • The attraction of designing something innovative, novel, and fresh.
  • The golden chance of reinventing the manner in which mobile technology is being utilized.
  • In reality, mobile app developers could be working from anywhere they wish as long as they have access to a good SDK and a stable Internet connectivity.

The Desired Skill-Set

A mobile app developer must essentially possess sound knowledge and proficiency in software development skills. He must possess a bachelor’s degree in either Computer Science or some other allied discipline such as Mobile Computing, Software Engineering, and Mobile Application Development etc. Here are some of the basic app development skills you are expected to master.

  • A sound knowledge in the principles of stable and secure software designing
  • A thorough understanding of the lifecycle and software development process
  • Exposure to and experience in some development methodology
  • Professionally qualified having sound knowledge in at least two programming languages such as Java, JavaScript, SQL, C++ or C#, PHP, Python, Rails, and Ruby etc.

Training programs: You could complete relevant training programs from a college or university. Moreover, there are certain reputed online training providers who specialize in mobile app development. You could pursue training programs such as ‘Certified iOS App Developer’ or ‘Certified Android App Developer’ offered by Simplilearn. These types of app development training programs would help you stay abreast with the latest in the industry.

Certifications: At present there are only three accredited certifications in mobile application development.

  • Oracle Certified Professional (OCP)
  • Oracle Certified Associate (OCA)
  • CompTIA Mobile App Security+

If you wish to join a reputable Mobile App Development Company in Mumbai you need to stay updated on the relevant knowledge pertaining to the domain.

Some Key Responsibilities of a Mobile App Developer

A competent mobile app developer would need to take care of a few key responsibilities. He would be responsible for:

  • Developing, testing and improving mobile apps
  • Maintaining functionality and quality as per client’s requirements
  • Writing code for apps
  • Designing and developing the app’s interface
  • Conveying unique ideas and designs to group members

Conclusion

There is a constant demand for an innovative and novel mobile app and this demand seems to be growing rapidly. As such, there exist plenty of job opportunities for talented and competent budding mobile app developers either as a freelancer or as full-time employees in any reputed app development company.

Author Bio: Walter Moore is a passionate blogger and an experienced mobile app developer. He wishes to encourage amateur app developers. He recommends a reliable Mobile App Development Company in Mumbai for professional and competent services.

Who should Handle your Company’s Social Media Presence?

It does not matter what you think about it personally – social media presence has become a must for companies, no matter what industry they are in, how large they are or who their customers are. With a bit of savvy social media marketing, a company can attract new customers, help retain them, provide quick customer support and even attract top talent using various social media platforms.

In order to achieve all of this, someone has to be tasked with taking care of your corporate social media accounts and for a certain percentage of companies, this is easier said than done.

So, who should handle your company’s social media accounts?

Hiring Someone

For certain type of companies, hiring a person to handle their social media accounts is perfectly viable. Mid-sized companies can afford such a position and larger corporations can have entire teams dedicated to doing nothing but boosting their social media presence.

The main problem with this approach is that it is simply not affordable for smaller companies that are struggling paying their employees as is. Taking on another person just for social media efforts is probably the last thing they would do with extra money.

Some companies decide to go to an outside agency or a freelance social media marketer. Such agencies and freelancers usually offer certain packages and services that come as part of these packages.

While this can work perfectly well, it can still be pricy and there is always the danger that you might not end up one of their “priority clients” and thus end up with subpar service and results.

Taking on an Intern

One of the more common practices today is for companies to take on an intern who would handle their social media accounts for them.
On paper, this really does sound like a win-win situation. The intern gets the chance to put his or her foot in the door and the company does not spend money or someone else’s time (we’ll get to this later).

Unfortunately, the thing that sounds so good on paper turns out to be less-than-spectacular in the real world, at least in the majority of cases. Often times, the amazing social media skills that this intern is supposed to have cannot translate to corporate accounts in any way imaginable. God forbid you ask them to give you some numbers or tell you how they are doing in terms of KPIs you set or ROI that you expected.

It is also not unheard of to take on an intern and end up with someone who is absolutely disinterested in what they are supposed to be doing. They come up with innumerable excuses for not doing their job and they end up as glorified coffee-fetchers for the rest of the company.

Assigning it to an Existing Employee

This is an especially common solution in companies where no one really knows what they are trying to do with their social media presence. They see everyone doing it, they have a few ideas and they decide to throw something at it, so to say.

The obvious solution is to find the most social media-savvy person in the company and assign them with running a few social media accounts on various channels. Perhaps someone even volunteers, thinking that it is the same as having their own personal Twitter profile.

This is a solution that very rarely works out fine because this person is often not exactly versed in the intricacies of social media marketing. They try their best and they may come up with a few ideas, but once again, no one is tracking results, no one is measuring ROI and it all becomes an afterthought after a month or two.

The worst thing, perhaps, is that this employee starts neglecting their other tasks, since doing social media seems like an easier assignment. They think they’ll come to their actual work later, but they end up wasting time on social media efforts that do nothing.

A Company-Wide Effort

If pulled off the right way, the best approach to social media for companies that cannot afford to hire experts to do this long-term for them is to come up with a company-wide strategy that will be as comprehensive as possible.

For example, the owner or someone who is interested in these kinds of things can spend some time reading up on social media marketing and talking to people who actually do it for a living. Maybe the company can even hire a consultant for a few days, just to clear up the basics. At this stage, it is absolutely crucial that it is decided what the goals are and what the KPIs will be that have to be tracked closely.

The next step is to get the employees together and ask them if there are ways in which they would like to contribute. It is more likely than not that a few hands will go up and from there on it is just a matter of organizing everything so that everyone knows their assignments and schedules. This can be done using Basecamp or a similar Basecamp alternative, for example.

It is important to encourage input from the entire company but still have someone who will be in charge and who will monitor the results that are hopefully leading to a successful social media presence for the company.

How Social Media Can Help Your ABM Efforts

If you have been doing a bit of light marketing reading lately, you have probably encountered the omnipresent acronym ABM behind which lurks the increasingly popular concept of account-based marketing. Today, we will be focusing on whether social media can be utilized in account-based marketing and how it can help marketers who do it achieve more success.

Account-Based Marketing 101

Before we dive into how social media can aid marketers who do ABM, it would probably be a good idea to provide some basics for those people who are not yet familiar with this marketing approach.

Account-based marketing, as its name would suggest, focuses on a limited number of accounts that are outreached with a marketing campaign tailored specifically to them. This is diametrically different from traditional marketing where you target as many people as possible with your campaigns, hoping that wide exposure will bring enough people to justify the expense of the campaign. With ABM, the focus shifts to certain accounts and leads that are then targeted with extreme precision.

Of course, this kind of marketing does not work for just about any company and it is far more present in the B2B arena where companies can land a couple of huge clients and be perfect providing their service or product just to them without even bothering with new clients.

A subtype of ABM is agency-based marketing where a company targets a certain government agency in order to win a lucrative contract. Thanks to agency-based marketing, such a company increases their chances of persuading the government officials into giving them the contract, ensuring that the money they spent on advisers, a mountain of paperwork, insurance, bid bonds and everything else is not wasted.

Where Does Social Media Come In?

The majority of account-based marketing will still use the “traditional” marketing channels such as printed material, trade shows, email and the like. There will be a number of modifications made, but in general, ABM will follow the same routes as conventional marketing.

That being said, there are a number of idiosyncrasies that will make ABM very different from conventional marketing and this is where social media might show its strengths.

For instance, in account-based marketing, a great emphasis is put on the decision-maker. It is an old and tried concept that has been part of the B2B marketing arena since times immemorial, denoting a person or a number of persons that make a decision on the behalf of the customer company.

With ABM, targeting the decision-maker is taken up a notch and it involves some serious research and outreach that is incredibly individualized.

 

Identifying the Decision-Makers

The first use for social media in doing ABM will definitely be in the process of identification of the decision-makers. Various social media platforms can give you a fantastic insight into who fills what role in your target accounts.

This is where LinkedIn can be especially useful, providing you with a Sherlock Holmes-like map of connections and hierarchies, allowing you to have a great grasp of the company in question. On Twitter, you can find out who these people talk to and follow, which can identify people in similar positions in other companies, perhaps opening up new avenues.

Learning about Decision-Makers

The next step will be learning more about decision makers because they are the people you will want to influence with your account-based marketing. Social media can be a fantastic insight into their opinions, their preferences, and interests. With some analysis, you can start to get a grasp of the kind of people they are and how your future ABM efforts should be sculpted.

You can also learn quite a bit about the target companies on social media by following company profiles and perhaps even employees’ social media profiles. You never know where you might be able to find out nuggets of data that might help your ABM efforts down the line.

Doing the Prep Work

Down the line, the majority of your ABM efforts will be more direct and more traditional, but this does not mean that you cannot lay down the groundwork on social media.

Once you know what your target decision-makers are all about, you can start working your way into their social media world, positioning your company as someone who knows what they are doing and why just happens to have the solutions to the problems that you think those decision-makers might have.

This is perhaps best illustrated with a hypothetical example. Let’s say that you run an IT support company. It comes to your attention that your city government will be looking for a new IT support contractor the next year. You find out who the decision makers are. You also find out that the part of the contract will be to switch city the government computer system from Windows system to Linux. Over the course of the next few months or even more, you use social media to talk about your solutions for switching to Windows to Linux, especially in larger organizations.

This is just a single example of something that can grow in the back of the decision-makers’ minds and actually influence their decision once the time comes. They may not even be aware of what happened.

Closing Word

In short, there is always room for social media in marketing, be it account-based or not. It may be mainly used for preparation and some support work, but it can also easily be a deciding factor when the time comes.

 

 

James D. Burbank has spent more than a decade and a half in both traditional and digital marketing. He is the editor-in-chief at BizzMarkBlog and a huge NBA fan. He spends his time between Australia and Europe.