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Grow Customer Engagement This Holiday Season With Free Giveaways

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Offering customers and prospects free giveaways can be a powerful strategy to increase brand visibility, drive engagement and increase sales, especially during the holiday season. Although giving away free products may seem counterintuitive, well-executed giveaways and contests can help you achieve rapid growth.

According to Shopify, giveaways have been widely successful in driving growing traffic to the platform’s blog and social media accounts, while many organizations reported an increase in revenue by employing the same strategy.

We asked 13 entrepreneurs from YEC to share their best ideas for driving customer engagement and increasing sales through the use of free giveaways this holiday season.

1. Let Your Customers Give Back

This year, we will be giving our customers the opportunity to donate a percentage of their purchases to the charity of their choice. This is the gift of giving back that really resonates with our clients.

Jessica Gonzalez, InCharged

2. Make It Specific to Your Audience’s Needs

When running a giveaway, your no. 1 goal should be to build your email list with targeted leads. To accomplish this, your giveaway needs to be a product that only your target customer would use. For example, don’t give away an iPad; everyone in the world wants one. Instead, if your audience consists of, say, online marketers, give away a yearly subscription to a marketing software you love.

Bryan Kesler, CPA Exam Guide

3. Retarget With Free Trials

As a service provider, we’ve found retargeting coupled with free trials to be an effective strategy. Retargeting allows us to create promotions relevant to the user’s browsing history. If they show an interest in a particular type of server hosting, we can retarget them with advertising containing promotions related to that product.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

4. Partner With a Publisher

In your category or niche, there are at least a handful of publishers who partner with brands for giveaways. This allows you to leverage the relationship they have with their already large audience to get more active participation so you can ensure thousands of highly qualified consumers will be clamoring to win your giveaway.

Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

5. Utilize Social Media Influencers

Giveaways are a great opportunity to directly engage with current and potential customers. We have hosted a few subscription giveaways, and have even gone outside of our current customer base to host a giveaway with an Instagram influencer. In this instance, we were able to engage with potential customers who may have never seen our brand before, and it expanded our own following.

Stefan Lewinger, Sock Fancy

6. Barter for Reviews

We recently launched a new line and wanted to generate reviews on Amazon so potential customers could see what real users were saying. As such, we gave away hundreds of samples with a stipulation: You’re accepting this free giveaway if, in return, you agree to post an honest (good or bad), constructive review on Amazon within a week. This really helped get the ball rolling.

Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

7. Exchange for Email Addresses

Online giveaways are a great opportunity to collect email addresses for highly targeted email marketing campaigns. Ask your visitors a few questions to best target future email marketing campaigns, such as their names and what they are interested in hearing from you in the future. Then, take this information and segment your email lists to deliver only what they want from you.

Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

8. Bundle Offers Together

This is an effective strategy commonly used in smartphone apps and online games. Giving away an amount of store credit big enough to purchase one smaller item, with a bit extra left over, will encourage customers to spend more of their own money to get the most out of the remainder. They’ll end up spending more money than they originally would’ve, but will still feel like they got a good deal.

Bryce Welker, Beat The CPA

9. Offer Branded Merchandise

If you don’t want to give away the farm, branded merchandise is the perfect free giveaway for customers who make a purchase with you this season. This could be a T-shirt, hat or something smaller. People love branded merchandise, and it also boosts your word-of-mouth advertising. The more loyal people are to your brand, the more likely they’ll be to bite.

Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

10. Organize Sweepstakes and Contests

We are offering a holiday giveaway for all new customer sign-ups within the month of December. This allows us to drive sales through our people, on our website and via social. This is a good incentive and great for driving sales during that critical last month of the year.

Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

11. Use a Countdown

Countdowns in e-commerce are great. They create a lot of excitement and buzz around the sale. It can get your customers to know what’s coming up and can be used to leverage sharing and more discount offers.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

12. Reward Social Media Followers

Making it exclusive to a certain part of your audience that is more loyal is a great approach. It creates the idea that only certain people can get it because they have gone the extra step to be loyal. That’s why those that take the time to like us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram get holiday giveaway access, hopefully encouraging others to sign up.

John Rampton, Calendar

13. Play on the Excitement of a Good Deal

It’s so easy to run a promotion during the holiday season because most people are out actively looking for a good deal. If you can play on this excitement, your online giveaways can gain a lot of traction. In turn, you can add the new sign-ups to a unique nurturing funnel and create a paid upsell offer for them to take advantage of, turning them into paying customers.

Nathalie Lussier, AmbitionAlly

How to Get the Most Out of Your Holiday Promotions

While the holidays and fourth quarter might seem like the best time to run a contest or giveaway promotion, year-round promotions are happening all the time. Get creative with your ad campaigns and engage with new audiences through social sharing and refer-a-friend promotions. Sometimes the best contests and giveaways are for simple prizes or promotions, that paid ad campaigns could never duplicate!

If you enjoyed this expert round up, be sure to read our previous ones on top recommended entrepreneur books and also 7 low-cost site builders to consider when creating your next site.

Zac Johnson is a online marketer with 15 years of experience and also a blogger at ZacJohnson.com, as well as the founder of BloggingTips.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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2020 Trends in Marketing: 9 Digital Strategies to Look Out For

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Do you run a business? If so, you can’t ignore the benefits of advertising your company online.

Businesses everywhere are starting to increase their digital presence. Reports show that 95% plan to increase their ad spend this year.

You need to stay up to date with what’s going on if you want to compete online today. Below are nine 2020 trends in digital marketing that deserve your attention.

1. Increase in Chatbots

Are you having trouble keeping your customer support staff on track? If so, you may have an easier time in the coming years.

Chatbots are starting to become commonplace on the front lines of customer services. Businesses are using them for the initial point of contact when people start a support chat.

A chatbot can determine what someone needs help with, direct them to the right location, and solve some of the more straightforward issues. As time goes on, their roles are going to grow more.

2. More Augmented Reality

It’s hard for customers to go to a store and imagine what a product will look like when they take it home. This problem leads to bad purchasing decisions and returns. The good news is, augmented reality will help.

Instead of window shopping at a physical store, customers will download an app to their smartphone to do their shopping. Shopping applications will allow people to use their phone cameras to look at their desired products in their homes.

This will give them a good idea about what something will look like when they bring it home. Once your customer finishes shopping, they can order straight from their phone or pick up their product at the store.

3. Increase in Video Consumption

The internet used to be primarily text and image-based. But as internet speeds have increased, so has video production.

Believe it or not, there are 300 hours of video content uploaded every minute on YouTube alone. That number isn’t likely to go down.

You can use this to your advantage by creating video content of your own. Create content that the people in your industry want to see. As you grow your following, you can start driving more traffic to your site to bring in more sales.

4. Localized Advertising

It’s hard for local businesses to target the people they need to online. Sure, you can put in some demographic data. But it’s hard to get in front of people at the right time.

Geofencing has changed the game for local advertisers. Instead of focusing on the usual demographics, you can focus your ads on people who are near your store.

Doing this allows you to target people who are out in about. If someone is near your store, they are more likely to stop in to buy your products.

Find out more geofencing tips so you can take advantage of it today.

5. Private Messaging Apps

People don’t use text messaging as much anymore. We now have Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to take its place. The good news is you can also use it for your business.

Many businesses are now using these messaging apps to promote their business and perform customer service.

Messaging applications are also starting to incorporate eCommerce straight into their products. Soon, you’ll be able to sell your products right from your messages. Your customers won’t need to leave to go to your website or application to buy what they want anymore.

6. More Targeted Advertising

Data makes the world go round these days. Consumers are giving up more of their personal information than ever. You can make use of this information to create more targeted advertising. Using a web scraping tool makes the data collection process easy and effective by collecting big data to enhance your decisions.

In the past, you had to put your advertisements on websites and hope that your target audience saw them. The sites you advertised on might have had no people interested in your products.

Since data collection has now become the norm, you can start targeting your ads more effectively. Create a customer persona that is most likely to buy your products. Target their demographics and tailor your advertisements to target these people.

7. More Voice Search

Voice-powered devices are on the rise. Not only can they perform simple tasks, but they can also perform searches for you. This trend will lead to a new list of keywords you can target with your website.

People don’t ask questions out loud the same way they type them in a search engine. If you can figure out how people are asking questions, you can perform SEO on your website to target these new search terms.

If you can get ahead of this trend, you can start ranking for more organic search results than your competition.

8. Social Media Shopping

Influencer marketing has been around for a few years now. The problem is, it’s hard to track results and get people to your website. Your betting that an influencer’s followers will know how to get back to your site.

That will be changing in the coming years. Social media sites are beginning to integrate shopping options straight in their activity feeds. For example, not every social platform is different. Instagram will be better for others, while Facebook or Twitter might be a better option for other ecommerce and retail brands.

Now when an influencer promotes your product, their audience can buy straight from the post. You’ll be able to gather better data and make more sales.

9. Focus on Customer Engagement

The online world has countless businesses trying to get the attention of potential customers. You can’t stand out from the crowd if you don’t provide content that engages your audience.

Expect businesses to focus on creating online experiences that keep people engaged with their brands. If you can create an enjoyable experience, you’ll be more likely to get attention when you launch new products and deals.

Don’t Ignore These 2020 Trends in Digital Marketing

You can’t afford to fall behind in digital marketing. Make sure to keep track of these 2020 trends and make use of them where it makes sense. If you can take advantage of these new methods before your competitors, you may be able to get a competitive advantage.

Of course, you don’t always need to use the latest and greatest to have a successful marketing campaign. Head back to our blog to read our guides on the tried and true online marketing methods.

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7 Lifestyle Bloggers to Follow on Instagram

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You can find accounts to follow on Instagram about nearly any topic that interests you. A simple search will probably give you a wealth of choices. So many options can be overwhelming. The lifestyle category of influencers is a wide one that covers such areas as fashion, home decor, food and travel. It’s also one of the most popular genres around. 

To get you started on finding quality lifestyle bloggers to follow on Instagram, check out this list. These accounts are attracting tons of followers and offering a great deal of value. They may have started their accounts by enlisting the help of opting to buy Instagram likes for every post, but their content has kept people flocking to them for more. 

  1. @fullyrawkristina

Kristina bills herself as a “healthy lifestyle advocate.” With over a million followers to date, she’s shown that people are responding positively to her messages. They’re probably also in awe of her gorgeous photos of tropical locales and delectable, healthy foods. She’s a popular YouTuber, as well, and offers her fans challenges such as the 21-Day New Year Challenge. Clearly, she’s an inspiration to many. If you’re looking to eat better and enjoy a more adventurous life, why not give her a follow? 

  1. @brunchboys

If you love food from across the globe, the Brunch Boys are the account you want to follow. They have over 470,000 followers. That’s a lot of people waiting to see what these boys are having for brunch! You can browse their latest posts or check out the Instagram Stories Highlights at the top of their page to see Stories from specific cities and locations. They also invite you to check out their YouTube channel for more in-depth views of their fabulous food finds. 

  1. @louisnicolasdarbon

Let’s switch gears and check out a popular fashion blogger, specially men’s fashion. Based out of London, this luxury jet-setter offers a glamorous look at his fashionable lifestyle in his Instagram feed. You can view him poolside in a tux in the Hollywood Hills or bundled up in a sweater and parka in Stockholm. This guy always looks good. On top of it all, he’s an accomplished artist who’s happy to show off his works and other fine art he appreciates. 

  1. @aina.simon

Another fashionable traveler to watch is Aina Simon. She’s based out of Barcelona and is the founder of her own fashion collection. That’s pretty impressive, as is her following of over 166,000. If you’re into women’s casual women’s fashion, she’s one to watch. Just browsing her afeed is a pleasure, and you’ll get a glimpse of her travels wearing the cutest outfits. Of course, you’ll find her hanging out in her home city of Barcelona. But Aina also travels extensively, and you can peruse some of her specific destination choices at the top of her page through her marked Instagram Stories Highlights. Prepare to spend a lot of time here. 

  1. @amanda_stantonn

If you want to find a stylish mom to follow on Instagram, Amanda Stanton is a good one to choose. She has over a million followers and has established herself as a key influencer in her niche. She and her family are adorable. They travel together to a wide variety of locations. It’s tempting to be a bit jealous of her grand lifestyle, but then you see how genuine she comes across sharing personal details of her life in quirky ways, such as one with she and her daughter using a cute animal filter overlay. Not many fashionistas are willing to portray themselves in such silly, spontaneous ways!

  1. @hudabeauty

Hudabeauty is the Instagram account of Huda Kattan, the woman you want to know if you’re into all thing’s beauty. This woman has rightfully established an incredible cult following of 31.6 million followers. That’s right, million, not thousand. That huge number is almost too difficult to comprehend when it comes to social media audiences. 

But she’s earned it. When it comes to makeup and beauty tips, she knows it all and is up on all the trends. She’s also a lot of fun. Huda doesn’t hesitate to add lots of adorableness to her feed by dropping in posts that include her adorable baby or a humorous video of her applying makeup to a very handsome sleeping man. Please visit her page. Makeup lovers need this in their lives. 

  1. @muradosmann

If travel photography is your thing, take a look at the Instagram account of Murad Osmann. He and his wife will take you on amazing journeys through the lens of their camera. With 4.2 million followers and awards like Forbes Top 3 Travel Influencer under his belt, you can bet you’ll find nothing but breathtakingly beautiful images here. 

Their destinations are simply exotic and exciting. Find the latest lineup of travel locales at the top of their feed. This couple documents their journey to everywhere from Mykonos to Egypt to Cannes and closer to their home in Moscow. This is definitely a feed you can get lost in for hours. Better grab a cup of tea. 

Using Video to Attract More Engagement on Instagram

Hopefully, you’ll find these seven lifestyle bloggers enjoyable to follow. You’ll surely learn something new and discover ways influencers are presenting Instagram accounts that get noticed. However, what you will notice about some of them is that they like to focus more on their video content versus just using visual images and photos.

With more people using their mobile devices and social applications to view content on the internet, video is now in demand more than every. This can also be backed up by statements from simpleshow, where they write about how video continues to outperform on social. From both the content creator and the end user perspective, its a win-win situation.

Businesses and bloggers alike can benefit from taking a look at what these popular folks have to offer and the various ways they’re making an impact on the social media world.

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YouTube vs Blogging: How to Determine Which One is Best For You

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Content marketing of all types is only continuing to grow in popularity, and if you haven’t started jumping on the content bandwagon yet, it’s time. The major issue that most people have is where to start making their content. 

When it comes to starting your content marketing efforts, there are two major mediums you should look into using when you are starting off: blogs and videos. These are the two easiest places to start that show the highest engagement, but which one do you choose? 

Let’s take a look at the differences with video content and blogging, to figure out which one you should jump into first. 

Video Content on YouTube

Making video content is a great place to start your content creation, but there is a catch. Making high-quality video can be expensive and time-consuming. Most of the expense comes upfront in the form of buying a quality camera and editing software. If you already have those, congratulations, the bar of entry just dropped. Video is a great way to connect with your viewers in one of the most personal formats available online. On top of that, video is one of those mediums that keeps growing year after year. 

However, if the idea of getting in front of the camera and being the face and sound of your brand, there are plenty of other alternatives as well. For example, explainer videos works extremely well on both YouTube, social media, and as blog content. And what’s even better, is that there are plenty of low cost and reliable drag and drop solutions out there for creating your own short black and white videos in just a few minutes time.

No matter what type of videos you want to create, the growth of video keeps going up because of the rise in smartphone use. These little devices make it easier for people to connect with the internet because the access is in their pocket. 

When you start making videos, you want to create a video production timeline. This includes everything from finding the right people to the video storyboard and production to final edits. 

Formatting Your Video Content

There is a great format that big agencies and companies use to create their videos, and if you plan to make video content, you should use this format too.

The best video format looks like this:

  • The Hook (10 seconds of something later in the video to interest viewers)
    • This can also be replaced with an introduction.
  • An Intro (A recurring introduction you use for all your videos)
  • Pose a Problem (show a general problem that many people have that your product or services fixes)
  • Show the Solution (show how your product or service takes care of the problem)
  • Ask for Action (tell them how to take the next steps in case they are already sold)
  • Destroy Doubt with Testimonials (take the time to fill in holes that people might see in the pitch. This can be done with testimonials, footage of the item being used in different ways, or explaining further detail about the potential you are offering)
  • Sign of by Asking for More Action (again tell them where to go or what to do)

If you format your videos in the manner, you are more likely to develop an interest in engagement from your customer. If your goal is to create one of the most viewed YouTube videos this year, you should really look into this format. Think about it, if you have ever seen an infomercial, you have seen this format, and it’s proven to work with the test of time.

Blogging

Blogging is another great place to start, and it has one major advantage over video, the cost of entry. If you can write, you can blog. All it takes is a place to showcase those blogs, and that is ultimately cheaper than any camera you can buy for video production. 

The only major downside to blogging is not having the knowledge or knowhow to make those posts rank organically. The biggest things you can learn to help your blogging succeed are keyword research, blog style, keeping it simple. 

Keyword Research

There are specific keywords that relate to your post that will give your blog more potential to pull organic traffic. Basically, if the term is highly searched and you use it in your post, you have the opportunity to rank for that term as the search engine bots index your page. This can also be done for your video titles. 

Blog Style

Style is important when you are trying to set up a successful blog post. If you just write a block of content and post it online, it might be hard for search engine bots to determine it’s meaning and value. You want to break up your content with headings that describe the sections readers are about to read.

If you are wondering what that looks like, you can look at this post. If you really want to know what it takes to have the best setup possible for a post, you want to look into something like HubSpot’s inbound marketing course. This course will take you through the requirements and styles of great content, and it gives you a great framework to build your blog posts with. The best part of this course is the price: free.

Keeping it Simple

Remember, you are being ranked by robots, and although they can do some amazing things with the information they are given, robots perform better with simple tasks. That means keeping your writing simple will help the bots rank your content easier. If you can explain the topic the best with the easiest to understand terminology, you are likely to rank higher than using complex sentence structures and words. The rule of thumb you should shoot for is writing at a 5th-grade level when possible. 

If You Can, Do Both YouTube and Blog Content

If you are wondering which is better than the other, there is no right answer when it comes to creating quality content for your audience.

The only truly right answer is that doing both together will create a better user experience than one or the other. When you put the power of video with the organic rankings of keywords in blog content, you get a more developed piece of content that has a higher potential to net you rankings in the search engine results.

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