15 July

6 Steps to Successful Digital Listening

In today’s world, the customer is king and just like traditional kings, the customer will tell you exactly what they want, so you better listen. To listen, you have to find out what your customers are saying, and in today’s hyper-connected world, customers are talking online. But how do we listen to them online? Through digital listening.

Digital listening means locating and analysing what is being said about a company, brand or individual on the internet. The listening can and should take place across many channels – as many as your customers are located on – to get a full, balanced report of how people view your company, brand or product.

Getting started with digital listening can be intimidating. Venturing on to the internet unprepared and finding that there’s a whole conversation going on that you weren’t involved in until now can shock even a veteran marketer. So, where do you start? (more…)

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24 March

7 reasons why you need a custom maintenance solution for your WordPress website

WordPress is a powerful tool to use in order to create websites, and it’s our favourite here at connector360. If you have a WordPress site, you may have noticed messages appearing at the top of your dashboard reminding you to install updates once in a while. Website managers need to remember that WordPress is a software like all others and needs to be kept up to date. However the major difference here is that WordPress is based on an open-source community, which means that at any given moment, hundreds of developers are working on improving your experience – that’s why WordPress updates are so frequent. Updating your website may be an annoying task at times, but you have to understand that it’s good practice.

According to Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and the same can be said for your website. Your site could crash when you need it the most, but updating it is best way to prevent that from happening.

However, your website crashing isn’t the only problem you could encounter. In the case of a severe website failure, you won’t be able to reinstate it unless you use a dedicated backup solution.

With this in mind we want to give you an overview of the main reasons behind how you could benefit from WordPeace, our brand new maintenance solution for your WordPress website.

1. Keeping your WordPress website up to date – Our WordPress experts will ensure that your core WordPress software is up to date, including:

- Bug fixes: Every new update comes with a set of bug fixes. Some things that may not be noticeable for you may bother your customers and leave them with a bad impression about the user experience on your website. Don’t forget that at the end of the day your website is a powerful communication tool for you to stay in touch with existing and potential customers, so it needs to have the best user experience that it can have.

- New features integration: Major update releases encompass new integrated features, giving you more tools and functionality in order to get the best possible experiences from your website.

- Performance upgrades: The aim of updates is also to make things run faster and more smoothly. Updates often bring new software optimisations in order to make WordPress websites quicker to browse.

- User experience enhancements: WordPress tries to keep things simple. Now and again updates come with interface improvements in order to make the content management system for the website owner (yourself) easier and faster to use.

- Future-proofing: If your website is not regularly updated, it may eventually reach a point where the plug-ins you use on your website are only compatible with newer versions of WordPress. Gradually updating your WordPress site will allow you to deal with only small changes and fixes, whereas installing all updates at once would be likely to lead to a major disruption of your website and create a heavy maintenance workload due to the combined effects of different changes and bugs.

2. Security patches installation – Our WordPress experts will update your website with the latest security patches, in order to ensure optimal protection for your website, including the following:

- Security breach closing: Hackers are always one step ahead and are constantly trying to find ways to infiltrate websites, especially because WordPress holds the keys to millions of sites. It is therefore of paramount importance to update yours in order to shut down any possible security gaps.

- Shared server infections prevention: Hosting your website on a shared server may be a risky thing. If one of the hosted websites gets infected, your website could get contaminated if you have the same WordPress version. Installing updates will thus help you prevent infections on your own site.

3. Weekly backups – What if your website has a major problem? If you don’t use a backup solution, no data rollback will be possible. With WordPeace, you won’t have to worry. We’ll backup your website weekly in order to minimise the effects of a potential website failure.

4. 24/7 uptime check – Our dedicated team will be monitoring your site’s server 24 hours 7 days a week. If any server problems occur, the team will notify you immediately.

5. Updating plug-ins – WordPeace also includes all plug-in related maintenance. We will install the latest versions of all your site’s plug-ins to guarantee the best possible digital experience for your customers.

6. Profile rights management – Are you tired of managing user accounts on your website? Don’t have time to delete old accounts that may cause a security breach? Our WordPress experts will close every obsolete account on your request to ensure that no unauthorised users have access to your site.

7. Immediate response – In case of website failure, our team will be able to reinstate your website to its most recent backup within 24 hours!

At connector360, we hold your WordPress website security close to our hearts. We know your website matters, and we endeavour to ensure your peace of mind.

If you want to learn more about WordPeace, you can take a look at the product description below, or get in touch with our team: team@connector360.net

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13 June

10 Killer Tips For A Sales Focused Website

Your company website is your virtual shopfront – the place online that anyone interested in your product is likely to arrive at.   Here you highlight the unique value your products can offer everyone in your target market.  As with anything that can be sold online, new markets may open up for your business worldwide.  Of course with opportunity comes competition.  Now you may not be competing only against your rival across town but with similar firms from Melbourne to Milan.

As some online shoppers will never set foot in your own physical store (if you have one), you must wow them and woo them through your website.  The question we ask today is – once they visit, do you make it easy for them to move from curious, to interested, to sold?  Here are 10 tips to help improve user experience and increase sales.

 

Tip 1: Get Your Landing/Home Page right! - Once visitors click onto your homepage or through an ad to a specific landing page, make sure they know (a) where they are and who you are (b) what they can do while on your site, and (c) why they should stay longer.

 

Tip 2: Write great copy - Ensure your copy and content is persuasive and highlights the value of your product.  Does it

  • read well and is understandable by everyone?
  • focus on benefits for the customer, not just features?
  • provide answers to any fears or uncertainties visitors may have against purchasing?
  • give clear instructions on how to buy?
  • provide information on what happens after buying (delivery, returns process)?

 

Tip 3: Use product images - This seems an obvious point, but a text heavy site with no product images or visual cues often has visitors nodding off if they haven’t already clicked away.

 

Tip 4: Offer less products per page, with better description - Rather than following a ‘something for everybody’ approach and offering dozens of product alternatives, maybe try to focus on fewer.  This way you can zero in on the benefits of each in more detail.  Some web design guru’s give advice that for online retailers, 4-6 items on any one page is the magic number.  Did you know that Amazon follow the rule of 6?  They limit their highly effective ‘customers who bought this also bought these’ list of related items to a max of 6 per screen.

 

SocialMedia.ie importance of testing

Tip 5: Test/Change which benefits you use to sell each product - You may be very proud of a certain product benefit.  Do customers feel it is equally as important to them though?  Test different benefits within your headline or sub header and see what visitors are responding to in biggest numbers.

 

Tip 6: Test layout of any call to action - anything from the headline, copy wording, placement on page or even colour scheme of any ‘call to action’ box or button can increase response rate.  Tweak, test, repeat!

 

Tip 7: Reduce clicks to get to sale - Ensure that visitors don’t have to jump through too many hoops to avail of a free trial or make a purchase.  The longer the ‘click trail’ they have to follow, the more likely they are to baulk.  Simplify when possible.

 

Tip 8: Offer time sensitive offers/stocks etc - This is a great way of keeping your website up to the minute, and keep customers coming back to your site.  A timely offer can make your product look scarce and exclusive to potential buyers.  Google loves websites that update content often too, so it won’t do your SEO any harm either!

 

Tip 9: Promote shareability - using sharing buttons on your site allowing visitors to share an offer or product with their social network can be great exposure.  An example would be a clothing or art & design site allowing Pinterest pinning to special interest community boards to gain you viral attention the easy way.

 

Tip 10: Be your customer! – The more input you have had in your website design, the more a labour of love it will be to you.  Try to take off your designer hat and wear a visitor’s hat instead.  Use your site like they would.  There may be holes in user experience that you are not seeing, looking from the inside out.

 

These tips will get you thinking about your website and any potential for improvement.  It may be purring like a kitten to your eyes, but tweaking, testing and always looking at every change from a user perspective can glean even those small improvements that can snowball into better sales.

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09 May

Top 3 customer communities in action – SAP, Weightwatchers & beaut.ie

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Building and interacting with your customer community can be a challenge, but it can lead to massive pay-offs for your business. Regardless of your size, it’s possible to create a community that nurtures your client base and improves your business. Below are our top three examples of customer communities. Whether the business is large, medium or small, these communities provide real value to the business.

sapSAP Community Network (SCN)

The SCN has been around for nearly 10 years. It provides SAP users worldwide with a massive forum to offer advice, seek guidance and self-manage issues amongst themselves. SAP provides the framework and let their customers do the talking.  How successful is it? Have a look at these figures.

  • SCN contains over 2.5. million members
  • 3000 posts daily, 450 blogs monthly, over 230 countries have active users
  • 375 topics active for internal product managers to monitor with over 600 moderators!
  • Their IdeaPlace suggestion hub has seen over 9000 customer led product/service improvement ideas to date, with over 200 already implemented to their solutions (Forbes, 2012)

We consider SAP to be a best in class example of large scale community maintenance and management. Take a tour of their community at http://scn.sap.com/welcome  so you can get some inspiration.

Weight-WatchersWeightwatchers

The famous weight loss and dieting community. You’d think that they would naturally lend themselves to online communities, and you’d be right. Their US and UK sites have a massive, highly active communities.  The largest groups contain over 15,000 users where topics are opened by members, not the company. The site promotes their own branded food to a receptive audience, which happens to create a legion of brand evangelists along the way, not a bad result.

An interesting point to note is that the Irish site currently contains no community section.  We assume they think the Irish market’s size isn’t large enough to support a thriving community. Other Irish sites, such as rollercoaster.ie and mummypages.ie, however, both maintain large forums in part devoted to lifestyle issues such as dieting.

logo2Beaut.ie

This Irish site offers a friendly, accessible alternative to the more aloof magazine culture regarding beauty products.  Their posts are delivered in such a conversational tone that forums quickly became populated by thousands of fans. They use the forum to share tips and cement Beaut as the leading authority in the Irish market, far ahead of the traditional magazines.

We include this example to show you how disruptive even a small community can be to the market as a whole.

 

Communities take time to nurture, but they can be so rewarding for a company’s efforts to really connect to their client base for the long term.  If you’re playing for keeps, it’s worth the effort!

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08 May

Communities gang up to love their brands

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As we showed you yesterday, clued in consumers have formed communities online. They tell each other about what they want from life, what they have, what they need and what their favourite goods and services are.  Seth Godin calls these communities “Tribes” and you can learn a lot by interacting with your tribes.

Idea-mining your customers

Working with customer communities involves more than just support and troubleshooting.  You can also use them to mine for potential ideas and innovations.  Large companies done this to great effect. Some examples are Dell’s Ideastorm initiative, My Starbucks Idea forum, and of course Microsoft’s ‘I’m a PC and I designed Windows 7’ campaign that lifted them from post-Vista blues.  They admitted that consumers hated their last product, that they needed to take advice from users more and made it their launch campaign to great effect!

Strategy formation

Listening to your communities can help you switch your marketing focus from ‘push’ to ‘ pull’. I.e. in future your brand won’t push itself onto potential customers, instead you’ll be there to help customers when they are ready, pulling them in.

Listen to the problems they have, what they expect from you and how they use your product. Look at your business from their perspective and see your brand as they see it. Take an ‘outside-in’ approach and update your strategy based on their needs, this will let you target your audience better, improving your reach.

Stories, dealing with the bad and the good

When dealing with a negative stories sprouting online, the main thing to remember is that the complaining customer will have the sympathy of the community.  Whether it occurs on ‘neutral’ ground or your own social media pages, David V Goliath thinking often prevails. Communities need to be convinced that you are there to help them.

The customer usually holds the sway of public opinion (especially in a complaint situation), so tread softly, be polite, offer to take them ‘offline’ into a private email, phone or face to face conversation and resolve things there.

If they are talking about a good experience, then jump right into the conversation and thank them for their feedback. This will enhance their warm and fuzzy feeling, making them feel that they made the right decision.

Doing it right, an example

A great example of this type of community interaction happens daily on tripadvisor.com.  As the hotel and hospitality industry are so beholden to public opinion, hotels will often respond to comments. They’ll give an explanation for bad feedback or thank good reviewers for their kind words. Either way, this kind of interaction shows they care, painting a positive image of their brand.

Check back tomorrow for some success stories on making community outreach a priority…

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07 May

Finding Customer Communities Online

Anywhere that people gather online creates a community, whether its a handful of enthusiasts swapping tips on fly-fishing equipment, to giant consumer and business forums sharing ideas and experiences. Recent Neilsen reports state that over 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations for purchase decisions, whereas just 53% of people trust content written by your company about your own product or service.

What has changed of course is where this discourse takes place. Facebook is the new watercooler, Twitter is the chat over the garden fence, message boards, forums, even blog comments are the gathering place where every manner of product, service, business and brand are discussed.

The good news however, is that these conversations aren’t taking place in a hidden consumer clubhouse that your business will never learn the secret knock to enter. You can find these customer communities and listen to their discussions to enhance your own product offering.

Open Sesame… Finding the Door

Online communities are there to connect data and people, so naturally people will congregate where this data exists in easy to find pockets. This can of course mean that the usual social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums etc are hotbeds of these types of conversations, but digging a little deeper and you can find all kinds of specialist communities such as

  • Industry centric communities like pissedconsumer.com, Tripadvisor, or tech repair forums. They can contain highly motivated, very active and extremely knowledgeable members, their thumbs up (or down) may stick!
  • Consumer advocacy groups such as Which? Local
  • Online investor forums, for example onlinetradersforum.com. These communities are info-loaded and highly attuned to the strengths and weaknesses of companies. Being negatively mentioned here could be a real alarm bell.

engagement-sm

Forewarned is Forearmed

It is now increasingly important for a company to know every nook of the web where chatter about your business may be taking place. These online tribes of like minded and information hungry customers can make or break your brand. In certain markets, even a smaller number of savvy customers can possess the knowledge levels and opinion leader status to deliver a word of mouth blessing, or kiss of death.

So get listening, get monitoring and get searching for these communities that will be discussing your brand. As Oscar Wilde aptly put it “the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about”.

 

 

 

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24 April

The Death of HMV – Why social media killed the music store

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There are many reasons why a business can fail but the majority of them are due to a failure to change the business to changing consumer needs.

It’s affects can be seen in businesses of any size, be it a startup or a large corporation, like HMV or Kodak, that just failed to innovate and change with their consumers. These failures could have been avoided had they been prepared to capture and act on the market intelligence.

The Death of HMV - Why social media killed the music store

HMV is an organisation that chose to ignore the disruptors. Despite their huge customer base and access to a treasure trove of content, they failed to innovate and accept that their product range was ideal for online distribution and marketing via social media and digital channels.  They were destroyed by changing consumer behaviours and the emergence of many new music players like iTunes, Spotifty and Last FM.

kodak-logoThe Death of Kodak – Gone in a flash

A series of bad decisions sealed the fate of Kodak. Despite knowing that change was coming down the line they failed to respond. While their competitors were grappling with disruptive technologies, they chose to ignore them, despite being the ones who had developed the technology in the first place. From a company who had coined the phrase ‘Kodak moments’ they had indeed missed theirs. The irony of Kodak’s sorry tale was the fact that the company’s initial success had come about as a result of their founder George Eastman’s ability to respond and innovate. He had the foresight to move away from the company’s core product and take a short-term hit for the long-term gain.

The evolution of Toyota – From strength to strength

Fortunately for the business world not every organisation chooses to take this ‘head in sand’ approach. Toyota, for example, ensured their continued success by listening and responding to the demand for products that were kinder to the environment and the US Government’s call for better fuel efficiency. In the face of breakthrough technology they were prepared to make the switch from one culture to another. 

engagement-smListen to your target market – Adapt and survive

Reinvention and diversity came too late for companies such as Kodak and HMV. Their inability to be flexible and respond to change ensured that they were overtaken by the march of technology. The good news for organisations who have taken their businesses online is that this doesn’t have to be the outcome. The real strength of social media channels and digital marketing lies in it’s data and our ability to monitor & measure everything happening online.

By gathering and analysing global data from blogs, social media channels and websites you are able to:

  • identify areas for improvement
  • devise appropriate strategies based on your findings
  • gives us an insight into the needs and problems of your customers
  • anticipate a shift in the market and respond accordingly in a timely fashion
  • make better business decisions based on data, not intuition

In addition to this, by examining your metrics we can determine the level of awareness, influence and engagement your brand is having on the target market. By utilising free and paid tools such as Google Alerts and Social Mention we can manage your brand in realtime.

If you would like some help to understand what your target consumers are talking about and how you can listen and act fast, we are happy to help you. Contact team@socialmedia.ie today to discuss how we can help you avoid the same fate as HMV.

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15 April

SocialMedia.ie Whiteboard Masterclass No.1 – Targeting Social Media Influencers.

This is the first in our series of videos explaining Digital Marketing concepts. This week we’re explaining Targeting and Influencers, two of the most important concepts for a focussed marketing strategy.

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12 April

Why listening to your competitors audience on Social Media can greatly improve your online business

wltycauWe’ve all done it: eavesdropped on a conversation on a train, in a restaurant, on the street – it’s human nature.  Sometimes though, we’ll over hear some nugget of information that we can use to our advantage. A bit of ‘right place, right time’ opportunism can make all the difference!  This certainly applies to your business and its position of the digital marketplace. Monitoring your competitors’ dealings with their audience can gain you valuable insight into how the larger market works.

CustomerSegmentationBroadening/sharpening your appeal

Do you know who your audience is yet?  If not then you’d better get started. You can use tools like Facebook Insights or Tweetreach to get some starter information.  Once you know the vital statistics on your audience, eg. gender, location, age, look for segments where your competitors have a foothold and you do not.

Ask yourself, how did they get them, and how do they interact with them?  Use this information to tweak your own message, this will give you access to this untapped customer segment.

problem-freePre-empt problems before they occur

Monitoring your competitors can be used to future proof your business against upcoming problems. Customers can now escalate complaints and service issues with ease, and they are not afraid to do so!  You can fill gaps in your customer experience before your own clients even realise that one may exist, just keep a keen ear to the ground.

Let’s say you noticed a problem with your competition’s customers over delivery times.  So far, nothing has gone wrong for you, but it’s an increasing bugbear for their customers. Why not strive to improve yours further?  Implement a new next day delivery promise and make that your next campaign!

Use these opportunities to your advantage. Play to your strengths by locating chinks in your competitor’s armour!

surveyListen out for great client feedback

It is an old adage that for every ten complaints you get, you’ll only receive one compliment, but that doesn’t mean that compliments should be ignored. Customers will often post about their purchases to their own network. Be it bragging or genuine feedback to the company, these messages give real insight. Listen to compliments about your competitors, then cherry pick the best parts to strengthen your offering.

Etsy sellers (who live and die by word of mouth) now offer little ‘extras’ with orders, eg. branded stickers or hand-written notes.  This increases their client’s affinity for dealing with them again, and they will often tweet the seller with photos of the extra items and thank them for going above and beyond for them.  Of course, an active monitoring of this competitor will unearth these nuggets and allow you to add this type of value to your own orders.

In summary, no brand is an island, and you cannot hope to enjoy a harmonious and undisturbed relationship with your clients indefinitely.  If you ensure that you are keeping an eye out over the fence for how your competitors are doing things (their successes and failures) you can bring more understanding and better customer experience into your own backyard.  A little digital eavesdropping can go a long way…

 

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11 April

Social media facts #1 – Vine Video

This is the first in our series of Social Media fact videos that we’re going to release once every 2 weeks. We hope you enjoy!

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