3 Powerful Ways to Increase Your Instagram Presence

February 11th, 2015 by

InstagramHi everyone! My name is Emily and I run a diverse business which I refer to cheekily as my “Multi-Media Empire.”  I only call it that when I’m feeling sassy and don’t feel like trying to explain to people that I am a graphic designer, fashion photographer, and style blogger.  I built my business from the ground up, and through trial and error, I have experienced both devastating failure and incredible success.  I am always excited to share valuable knowledge that I have learned along the way with other small business owners!

Today I’m going to talk a little about how to effectively use Instagram for your company, and share with you 3 powerful ways to increase your Instagram presence.  Social media is the best thing to ever happen to my business, and, when used correctly, can take your success to a whole other level.  So that brings me to my 3 INSTAGRAM COMMANDMENTS.  I had a client implement these rules last week, and within the last 7 days, their number of followers have increased by 19% and their “likes” have increased by 1200%!!

1.  USE HASHTAGS STRATEGICALLY.

You can use up to 30 hashtags with each Instagram post, so come as close to that as you possibly can! Each hashtag you use has the potential to bring more followers, comments, and likes.  Do not make up your own hashtags, but rather research ahead of time what hashtags relate to the subject of your post and are frequently used.  The more frequently they are used, the more frequently people will search for that tag and find your photo.  Use both broad (#fashion, #outfit, #blog) and specific hashtags (#LAblogger, #phillycheesesteak, #rescuedog) so that you can connect with Instagrammers who are browsing broad, popular categories as well as ones who are looking for something very specific.  I find it helpful to keep a list of my favorite hashtags in the “notes” app on my iPhone so I can easily copy and paste them into IG.

 2.  INTERACT.

Engaging with other Instagrammers is very important if you want to gain popularity.  If someone comments or likes your photo, try to comment back or like one of their pictures.  This increase the likelihood of them coming back to your page and/or following you.  Comment very frequently on Insta-lebrities pictures because their followers will see it and may decide to explore your page (especially if said Insta-famous person comments back to you).

3.  PLAN YOUR PIC.

As tempting as it is to post a photo of your pizza at that dim bar you are at, just don’t do it.  Take your time deciding what to post and timing/composing the photo.  If it’s blurry/too dark/too bright/etc., do not bother.  If you can take your photos with a DSLR that’s the absolute best option, but not a requirement.  Also, posting at certain times of the day will yield more attention to your image than others.  The most ideal time to post is in the early evening on weekdays; people are home from work/school and are relaxing.

I hope you found these useful! Please feel free to let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

xoxo

Emily

Email: emily@emilyenvelopes.com

Blog: www.HausOfHounds.com

Graphic design: www.EmilyEnvelopes.com

Search Wars: Shake Shack vs. Five Guys

January 30th, 2015 by

Shake Shack vs. Five Guys

Since it was founded in 2004, Shake Shack has become more and more popular. Today, it opened its doors to public shareholders as it declared IPO. Shake Shack has seen a rise in popularity. It’s no surprise that the chain is valued, according to Forbes, at around $675 Million and its IPO opened at $19 per share, and have risen as high as $48 per share. As it opened its doors to shareholders, the Shake Shack IPO soared in popularity on Google, passing 50,000 searches in a single day!

According to Google Trends, Shake Shack’s popularity not only spiked in the last month, it has seen a steady increase in search queries ever since it opened its first doors in 2004, making it a no-brainer for shareholders, and poising it to go head to head with other popular burger chains.

Now, let’s take a look at how Five Guys compare with Shake Shack in terms of popoularity:

Shake Shack vs. Five Guys

Where Shake Shack’s popularity continues to grow, Five Guys’ popularity has leveled off. However, Five Guys still has an average search rating of 47, whereas Shake Shack’s search rating is only 14, making Five Guys’ the more popular of the two burger joints.

So, who’s searching for Shake Shack so much? According to Google Trends, most of their searches come from the United Arab Emirates:

Five Guys’ searches come almost entirely from the United States:

At the end of the day, it’s no surprise that investors are interested in Shake Shack. However, as they clearly continue to grow in popularity, it may be a while before they can compete with the big boys like Five Guys and Wendy’s on Google.

7 Ways to Attract More Visitors to Your New Website

January 25th, 2015 by

7 ways to attract more visitors to your website

So you’ve got a brand new website for your business.  You’ve just invested hundreds, or maybe thousands of dollars to create a polished, functional website design that reflects your business, product, or service.  Now you’re ready to share it with the world.  You might tell a few friends, but how can you really attract visitors to your new website?  The analogy that we often use here at Be Wise is if a tree falls in the forest (even a giant, beautiful, massive tree!), but no one is there to hear it, did it even fall?  Your website is like a freshly fallen tree, but if nobody knows about it, how will people find out?  Does it even exist?  Here are seven ideas to inspire you to attract more visitors to your new website.

1.  Start, and Maintain a Blog

Your blog can be one of the most vital assets to your business. This is the place on your website that will keep visitors coming back for more, and allow you to attract new visitors. Great blog posts will add value to your website, and help you establish yourself as an authority in your field of expertise. You don’t have to be a prolific writer to keep a great blog. If you don’t fancy yourself a writer, then hire one! Your blog posts can be used to share ideas, and make people say “aha.” If you keep your posts focussed, and incorporate rich photos, content, and diagrams, you’ll attract new visitors that may convert to new business. Use this as an opportunity for visitors to opt-in. Companies like MailChimp and Constant Contact give you the tools to incorporate a sign-up form into your blog, so that people who are interested can keep up to date. People can also stay up to date with your blog by subscribing to your RSS feed. Additionally, you don’t need to call it a “blog.” The term “blog” can be stale. Try giving it a creative title.

2.  Leverage Traditional Marketing

Use traditional marketing techniques to drive traffic to your website. Traditional advertising through methods like business cards, favicards, flyers, posters, billboards, and TV advertisements, can all help drive traffic to your website. Sites like vistaprint.com and jakprints.com offer great deals on printed goods. Traditional methods can be just as powerful as digital marketing methods. Not to mention that nothing is more personal than a handshake, business card exchange, and a personal invitation to visit the new site can be very effective. Additionally, incorporating a QR code (http://www.qrstuff.com) will give people the ability to easily access your site by scanning the code, and give you the ability to track visits from the code itself.

3.  Advertise on Third-Party Review Sites

Testimonials on sites like www.yelp.com and www.angieslist.com will help increase both credibility and visibility and help drive traffic to your site.  This will make it easier for people to find you and help augment your online presence through link building.

4. Leverage Social Media

In the age of social media, services like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google Plus give everyone a mouthpiece, and the ability to broadcast their ideas to entire communities at once.  Establishing a social media presence can be tricky, though.  Make sure to share posts that inspire your audience, add value to their day, and give them a legitimate reason to visit your website.  Once you build trust in your community, word will begin to travel, and your website link will travel along.

5. Email Newsletters

Use email newsletters as an opportunity to establish meaningful relationships with existing and new customers.    Email newsletters can be used to share things like new services, new promotions, and press releases.  Share your ideas and offerings with people who have opted in to your newsletter.  However, be sure to not overdo it.  Email is the most personalized method of communication, and if you email newsletters too frequently, they very well may end up in the spam folder of the recipient.  Once a month, or special occasions are appropriate times to email newsletters to your loyal customers.

6. Follow Up with Repeat Clients

Send personalized messages to your customers via email, with a link to your new website.  Extend the invitation to them to join you as you explore new opportunities online, and gauge their interest in new products and services that your business has to offer.  The 80/20 rule tells us that 80% of business comes from 20% of your clients/customers.  Make sure to circle back with those that are most loyal to you.  Additionally, give them a reason to share your website link with their followers.  Use this as an opportunity to share each others’ links, and offer/collaborate on promotions.

7. PPC Advertising

When all else fails, you can always buy new customers!  If your service is valuable, but you’re really struggling to get new visitors to your site, online companies like Facebook and Google offer Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising services.  Most of these services allow you to choose a monthly budget, and precisely target your online advertising campaign to ensure that it reaches the right audience.  Google Adwords (adwords.google.com) will allow you to maintain a list of keywords that will drive traffic to your website.  Google also offers Adwords Express (http://www.google.com/adwords/express/), an entry-level service that allows you to “set it and forget it” based on a particular customer interest and budget.  Make sure to monitor your campaign closely, though, as it’s particularly easy to wrack up a bill quickly with Google.  Additionally, Facebook gives you a very easy-to-use tool that allows you to set up a campaign on Facebook, reach people in their Facebook news feeds, and target audiences based on demographics and interests.  If you are new to the world of paid advertising, one thing that you may want to keep in mind is your cost per customer acquisition.  In other words, how much does it cost you to buy a new customer?  According to Wikipedia:

Customer Acquisition Cost is the cost associated in convincing a customer to buy a product/service. This cost is incurred by the organization to convince a potential customer. This cost is inclusive of the product cost as well as the cost involved in research, marketing, and accessibility costs. This is an important business metric. It plays a major role in calculating the value of the customer to the company and the resulting return on investment (ROI) of acquisition. The calculation of customer valuation helps a company decide how much of its resources can be profitably spent on a particular customer. In general terms, it helps to decide the worth of the customer to the company.

Customer Acquisition Cost (abbreviated to CAC) refers to the resources that a business must allocate (financial or otherwise) in order to acquire an additional customer.

Numerically, customer acquisition cost is typically expressed as a ratio — dividing the sum total of CAC by the number of additional patrons acquired by the business as a result of the customer acquisition strategy.

So you’ve managed to attract some new visitors to your site.  Now don’t forget to measure the success using the plethora of free tools available online.

On Page SEO Secrets

January 20th, 2015 by

On Page SEO

Our clients ask us about on page SEO all the time. Many of them find that there is much more competition online than they had expected and want to know how their site can be optimized so that it stands out amongst the competition. The internet is an extremely vast place where anyone can set up shop and sell what they have to offer. The problem that we find, is that if their product or service does not have added, or unique value compared to the competition, it will be a tough sell online. The success of your website goes beyond the design of the website itself. Even keyword optimization will prove to be ineffective if the keywords aren’t relevant, or convincing to a real human.

A Crude Analogy

Let’s pretend that you are a plumber. Imagine that you’ve created a listing in the Yellow Pages, and are now listed in the business section. Now, imagine that there are a number of potential customers that use the yellow pages, all looking for a plumber. However, they’re not just looking for any plumber – they are looking for a plumber located nearby, who can fix solid gold pipes without scratching them. It just so happens that you are the only guy in the neighborhood that specializes in fixing solid gold pipes without scratching them; or so you thought. It turns out that there is another plumber who fixes solid gold pipes without scratching them. If both of your names are listed, and you both specialize in fixing solid gold pipes without scratching them, how will people know who to choose when they look at the phonebook?

Well, Google, is like the new Yellow Pages for the whole world, and has millions – MILLIONS – of similar search results for almost every topic! Google is smarter than the Yellow Pages though, and it’s already spoken to all the sales people that represent each and every plumbing business in town. It’s very easy for someone to find a plumber these days. However if you’ve identified yourself on your website as being the plumber in town who fixes solid gold pipes, then you’ve differentiated yourself from 90% of the competition, and made yourself both exclusive and more relevant to the person searching. Google knows this from talking to your #1 sales person, your website.

When someone asks the search engine to serve results based on their particular search, the search engine talks to the sales people, and tries to help the customer make the best decision by serving relevant results to your search topic based on its conversations with the sales people it knows best.

Let’s now pretend that you and the other plumber that fixes solid gold pipes have identical websites. However, the other plumber’s website has a beautiful interactive graphic that explains exactly how to fix gold pipes without making a scratch, what tools to use, information about successes that they’ve had, and uses all the right industry lingo, without sounding “hokey” or “preachy.” The search engine will likely serve your competitor’s site to the searcher first. Moreso, if your site is titled “Solid Gold Plumbing Expert,” Google probably won’t have to think very hard to serve your site in its results, because it remembers that you’re THE Solid Gold Plumbing Expert.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that the more relevant content you have, the more reasons people will have to visit your webpage. This will give search engines like Google a good reason to serve your site in search results. Solid Gold Plumbing Expert may be just one of many pages on your site that could be relevant to the person searching. So, just remember, keep it simple, keep it relevant, and provide a great experience to your user, and you’ll win every time in the SEO game.

4 Things We Learned from our 2015 Website Redesign

January 17th, 2015 by

Be Wise 2015 Website Redesign

We recently took on the task of redesigning our website. The things we found will make you think and reevaluate your approach.

1. Swallow your Pride

Don’t let your ego get in the way of functional design. Even though art and design is subjective, there is no place for ego in business. When you try to achieve a goal, subjectivity doesn’t matter. In the case of Be Wise, we had used iterations of the Be Wise owl as our logo for years because we loved it. As it turns out, even though our beloved owl was memorable, it didn’t make a good first impression, and actually took away from the credibility of our brand. The same thing occurred with our color scheme. We were attached to our yellow, orange, and red color scheme. It was loud, interesting, and fun…so we thought. By now, you may be asking yourself, “how do you know?”

2. Feedback is Key

We wanted to redesign our website because we knew that we were falling behind our competitors, but we weren’t sure exactly why. The information that we found really intrigued us. In our research, we looked at Google Analytics data and created five-second usability tests. We used the Google Analytics data to find out who was (or wasn’t) visiting the website and what their user flow was (or wasn’t). Then we ran usability tests using usabilityhub.com to test our suspicions. We asked random samples of people to look at our website, old and new, for five seconds, and tell us what they thought about the design. So, what did we find out?

3. Don’t Assume that Your Brand is Credible

This lesson was a hard pill to swallow. Our usability tests revealed that our logo, color scheme, usage of text, and usage of diagrams were presenting the wrong image to our potential customers. When we asked our customers, on a scale of 1 to 5, how credible or trustworthy was our brand, people replied with an average of about 2. Comments revealed that people were getting confused as to what our brand represented, what our service was, and what to do on the site once they landed. We also found out that there was too much text at the top of the page, and nobody wanted to read it. With the website redesign, we changed the logo, color scheme, and imagery, and broke the text up throughout the page, and our brand credibility increased according to the follow up research.

4. Take your Time and Iterate

We didn’t get it right on the first try, or the second, or the third.  The first three iterations of the Be Wise website could have been better.  We’re confident that our new website is the best Be Wise website that we’ve ever built. However, only conversion data will prove our hypothesis to be true.  We do, however, acknowledge that our website is a living and breathing creature that evolves with the company, and we plan to continue to change and iterate it as we continue to grow.