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Yelp Faces Another Lawsuit Over Review Policy

It has been rumored that Yelp has kept fake reviews on it’s website as a way to extract more money from it’s clients. Many businesses have claimed that once they started paying for Yelp advertising, the fake reviews came down or were filtered out.

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On Wednesday, August 6th, a class action lawsuit was filed against Yelp on the charges that Yelp knowingly designed their filter to keep fake reviews live and then sell services that would then make these reviews go away. The lawsuit went on to claim that Yelp installed this policy in order to look better to investors and stockholders as a way to inflate the price of their stock.

It still remains to be seen whether or not these allegations are true. But what we do know is that this isn’t the first time that Yelp has been faced with this sort of legal action.

In October of 2013, Yelp revealed that it filtered approximate 25% of all reviews, claiming that they were fake. Many small business owners, however, have seen legitimate reviews fall through the cracks. Yelp claims this is not intentional and that the filter is simply a work in progress.

But many small business owners also felt that Yelp was using the promise of accurately filtered reviews as a way to get them to start paying Yelp’s high premium for advertising. It is rumored that once they signed up, previously filtered positive reviews reappeared on their page.

Yelp stands firm that this is not the case. And at this point, we can’t know for sure simply because the inner workings of the Yelp filter are kept quiet. Until then, small and local businesses should keep a close eye on their Yelp pages.

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Steer Clear of Email Marketing List Fatigue: 4 Ways to Never Overwhelm Your Email Subscribers Again

Email can be a powerful tool if you want to grab readers’ attention and turn them into paying customers. We’ve found, though, that emailing too much can turn readers off instead of exciting them about your business. If you’ve been guilty of sending too many emails in the past, don’t panic. We’ve found some strategies that really work to get people loving your emails — and your business — again.

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Steer Clear of Email Marketing List Fatigue: 4 Ways to Never Overwhelm Your Email Subscribers Again

1. Stop Sending Emails So Frequently

People love getting emails from their friends and family, but not so much from businesses. Unlike emails from people readers care about, branded emails aren’t always relevant, and people get tired of seeing them in their inboxes. Think about it: If you were a customer subscribed to 10 business email lists, would you want 10 emails a week, or worse, 10 a day?

Even sending an email once a week is too much for most business customers. Aim for no more than twice a month, or even less. If you want to keep in touch with customers between emails, step up your Facebook or Twitter campaigns. People expect frequent communications on social media, so your updates will be more welcome there than in email.

2. Avoid Mistakes That Turn People Off

In addition to frequency, you’ll need to post useful, easy-to-read content in order to keep readers engaged. Avoid some common mistakes business email writers sometimes make, such as using too many punctuation marks, writing subject lines in all caps or publishing content with spelling and grammar errors. These things make you look like an amateur, and readers may hurry to click the unsubscribe button if your email looks or sounds unprofessional.

3. Keep It Relevant

Emails should help you build relationships with your readers. Write about things that are relevant to their interests, not just about what you’re doing. For example, talk about ways to solve a common problem or solicit reader tips. Don’t use your email list every time you want to announce new changes to your daily operations such as business hours or staff members; readers don’t like being bombarded with information that is largely, unrelated to their day-to-day lives.

4. Make Sure Every Email Provides Incentive

Offers like this one from A Feel Good Experience Spa are eye-catching and convert visitors instantly with a Buy Now option.

Offers like this one from A Feel Good Experience Spa are eye-catching and convert visitors instantly with a Buy Now option.

Don’t send an email every time you change something in the way you do business. Instead, send emails sparingly and give just enough information to entice people to try your new products or services. For example, if you change your menu, it might be more effective to send a digital coupon to get people into your restaurant than to write an email explaining your new menu.

Email is one of the most powerful marketing tools at your disposal, but you have to use it correctly. Don’t be over enthusiastic. Keep readers interested and motivated to check out your business by reducing the number of emails you send and limiting the information you share in each email.

Looking for easy to use, mobile-optimized emails that convert clicks into dollars? Take a tour of our product or sign up for a free 10-minute marketing assessment to learn how hundreds of business owners have used LocBox to generate more revenue with email marketing.

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The Big Problem with Sending Too Many Emails to Customers

You may have heard that email marketing is the most effective type of marketing available today. It’s true that if you have a solid email marketing campaign, your return on your investment can be up to 4,300%.

However, there’s such a thing as sending too many emails to customers and it could cause a lot of problems for you down the road.

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The Big Problem with Sending Too Many Emails to Customers

1. Readers May Unsubscribe

Your email marketing is only as effective as the number of people it reaches. Unfortunately, if you send too many emails, you’ll shrink your readership instead of grow it.

Studies show that bombarding people with email is the number-one reason they unsubscribe. In fact, 69% of people unsubscribe from business lists that send too many emails. Anyone who has agreed to receive your emails can unsubscribe at any time, so you don’t want to alienate readers by sending too many messages. More people unsubscribing means you have fewer readers. A smaller number of readers translates to fewer members of your target audience seeing your messages.

2. Your Messages May Be Marked as Spam

Nobody likes getting spam. Unsolicited emails that promise you the world in big, bold letters may be spam or contain viruses.

Spam is so problematic that most email programs have filters that automatically sort junk mail into the spam folder, where it’s never seen again. However, this system isn’t perfect, so sometimes spam messages land in readers’ inboxes anyway. For this reason, users have the ability to make any and all messages as spam – even the emails your sending on behalf of your business.

If this happens, the reader will no longer receive your emails. Some email marketing programs keep track of the number of messages that are marked as spam, and your account could be suspended if too many readers react this way.

Most readers don’t like reading the same thing over and over. They may feel that you’re invading their privacy or wasting their time if you ask them to buy new spa treatments or massage services too often. These readers might be annoyed enough to mark your messages as spam instead of just unsubscribing.

3. Getting Marked as Spam May Ban You From Other Inboxes as Well

When a reader marks your message as spam, it doesn’t just hurt your relationship with that reader — it can hurt your ability to connect with prospective customers. Four things happen when a reader marks your message as spam:

  1. Spam filters across email providers synchronize data about spam, so you may be put on many providers’ spam lists. This means your messages will automatically be put in the junk mail folder, and people who subscribed won’t see them unless they check their junk messages.
  2. Spam filters keep track of how many of your messages are marked as spam. If you get too many marks against you, any messages you send will be considered spam and delivered to people’s junk mail folders instead of their inboxes.
  3. You won’t be able to send any future emails to that customer without them being diverted to the spam folder.
  4. If the recipient used a company email address to read and mark your email as spam, any emails you send to anyone with an address at that company may be marked as spam.

If you get a lot of spam marks, you will be blacklisted, which means that any emails you send to anybody will be diverted to their junk folders. This can happen if you send too many emails.

4. People May Delete Your Emails Without Reading Them

Once you start sending emails, people get a sense of the type of messages you send. They may be able to predict which ones are relevant and which ones aren’t, and delete the ones that aren’t without reading them. If you send a lot of messages, people may delete the majority of these because they just don’t have time to read them.

This causes a couple of problems. If people don’t read your emails, you won’t get your message across. Your email won’t help you convert leads to sales if your audience doesn’t read it — no matter how persuasive your content. In addition, some spam filters will mark your emails as spam if a sizable number of recipients delete the emails unread.

An Email List Is Only as Good as It’s Engagement

An engaged list means more opens, more clicks, and if designed with purchasable offers, more sales. And what’s the secret to keeping engagement up and unsubscribes down? Sending great content that your customers are excited to read, when they want to read it.

To learn more about how LocBox helps our clients stay out of the SPAM folder and generate sales from email lists, take a tour of our product or sign up for a free assessment from one of our marketing experts. 

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The Marketing Habits of Highly Successful Local Businesses

Good marketing habits can help local businesses expand, grow their customer bases, and become even bigger businesses.

We’ve worked with hundreds of local businesses that have seen their sales numbers go through the roof when they follow our advice. These business owners are smart, savvy, and understand that marketing is necessary to engage old customers and find new ones. Establishing good habits is essential because they can help you build a healthy, sustainable business that can thrive with little maintenance. Below are several important habits we believe are essential to success.

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The Marketing Habits of Highly Successful Local Businesses

1. They Understand the Value of Returning Customers

Highly successful local businesses understand that getting customers to come back is just as important — if not more so — than obtaining new customers. Returning customers spend about 67% more than new customers, making it more cost effective to spend marketing money on customer retention. In fact, it costs five to 10 times as much to acquire a new customer than to retain a current customer.

2. View Marketing as an Investment

Some local businesses owners try to market their company for free or at a low cost. The problem with this is that you get back from marketing what you put into it; if you spend nothing, you’ll get nothing. Instead, do what the most successful local businesses do: treat marketing as an investment. Start by determining your goals. Then — whether you want to improve brand awareness, sign more people up for your email list, or convert more prospects to sales — spend the money you need to make it happen.

3. Keep Track of Revenue Versus Expenses

The most successful local business owners have a general idea of how well the business is doing at all times. They constantly keep a mental count of how much money comes in and how much goes out. It’s important to keep an eye on these numbers. If you know how many customers you see every day, how much revenue you take in, and how much you spend on marketing, you can easily see whether your marketing investment is paying off.

4. Make Your Email List Your Primary Marketing Tool

Email is a vital part of successful local businesses’ marketing campaigns. Highly successful business owners understand that email is a more effective means of marketing than any other method. They collect email addresses from every customer and add them to their email list, then send emails on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Email is particularly effective because 90% of people check their email accounts every day. Emails should only go out to people who are already interested in the business–that is, people who signed up to receive the emails, not addresses that were on a purchased list. This makes your email list the ideal audience for your marketing messages.

Healthy Habits Mean a Healthy Business

We have helped hundreds of business owners exceed their own expectations by using these four marketing habits of highly successful local businesses. Our most successful clients kept these principles in mind while doing business. These ideas are not quick fixes, but instead are best practices that will help small businesses become highly successful if they’re used regularly.

Learn the best marketing practices to keep your business thriving and growing strong. Take a tour of our product or get in touch with our marketing specialists with a free assessment.

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4 Psychology Hacks to Encourage Customers to Make a Purchase

As a small, local business, you know how important it is to attract a steady stream of new customers. One of the best ways to attract customers is to utilize your website; however, it’s not always clear what you should do besides put a website up.

Ultimately, the way you’ll attract new customers, online or otherwise, is to demonstrate that you understand what they most want and that you can fulfill those desires. Small and local business marketing is mostly persuasion — if you can convince people that they need what you’re selling, you’ll make sales. Here are a few things you may want to consider in order to encourage customers to make a purchase.

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4 Psychology Hacks to Encourage Customers to Make a Purchase

1. Show that you have the same values as your customers.

Over 64% of customers prefer to develop relationships with brands that have the same core values as they do. For example, customers who value sustainability are more likely to develop relationships and buy from companies that are committed to positive environmental practices.

There are several ways you can show your customers that you understand their values, whether it’s the environment, social issues, such as workplace equality, or more abstract values such as integrity.

  • Stand for something and make sure your commitment shines through with all your web content. If you’re into sustainability, put a graphic into your header announcing that you use only recycled materials or that you keep packaging to a minimum. If you value customer service above all else, make sure you talk about that.
  • Have an About Us section that contains your mission and story. Don’t hold back here–write passionately about what you care about and why you started this business.

These online marketing ideas will attract customers who share your values. This is important because customers are loyal to companies that they feel are like them and care about the same things they do. So if you do a good job of demonstrating shared values, customers will choose you over the competition even if other local businesses have the same products and pricing that you do.  Showing that you share your customers’ values can also help you stand out from competing local businesses that may not explicitly state the same values.

2. Sell differently to different types of buyers.

There are three types of buyers in the world: Those who love spending money and don’t mind paying more for great service, average buyers who spend whatever they need to, but would prefer to spend less whenever possible and those who are reluctant to part with any money at all and spend the bare minimum to meet their needs.

Understanding this helps you market more efficiently to all three types of buyers. Each buyer type responds differently to your offers. For example, those who love to spend will be more likely to buy a bundle package that costs a certain amount per month, while those who hate to spend might only want a service if they can pay for it once and then forget about payments for the rest of the year.

Vary your content to reach all three types of buyers. For example, re-frame offers to appeal more to those who hate spending by saying they cost “$10 per month” instead of “$120 per year” so that it sounds like less money to them.

3. Give specific calls-to-action.

Your calls-to-action should make buyers feel like it’s urgent to act right away so that they won’t put off checking out your sale or buying something new. Urgency isn’t enough, though; research shows that you also need to give specific instructions so that customers know exactly what to do. Otherwise, they’ll be confused and might not do anything except feel bad that they aren’t acting on your offer.

Make your calls-to-action very specific to eliminate this problem. For example, don’t just say “Tell your friends about us within 24 hours and get 10% off your next spa visit.” Instead, send a coupon offering a 2 for 1 deal if they and a friend visit your spa together. The next day, send a reminder email with instructions about how to redeem their coupon. Frequent follow-ups combined with initial urgency gets results, while urgency with no follow-ups usually gets nothing.

4. Build a sense of community though package names.

According to behavioral studies, people tend to conform to labels given them. For example, people labeled as politically active are 15% more likely to vote in elections than people who are not.

You can use this principle when naming your spa or massage packages. For example, offer a “serenity” package for people who are see themselves as becoming peaceful and want to use your service to help them get there and to meet other people like the one they hope to become. Offering this type of package will make people who hunger for serenity more likely to buy, and afterwards feel like they belong to a community of serene people. This sense of belonging to a community that has common values and goals can encourage people to keep buying from you, while generic names, especially names reflecting prices such as “lowest level package” or “most expensive package” discourage people from buying from you.

The Secret to Online Marketing: Think Like Your Customers

In order to find new customers, you have to thinking like a new customer. Appeal to their values, budgets, sense of urgency, and desire for community in every aspect of your marketing and you’ll find yourself with more customers than you know what to do with.

Converting clicks into purchases is one of our specialities. Learn more about the LocBox platform by signing up for a free marketing assessment and product demo.

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