Facebook Pixel: Explained

Social Media marketing takes many forms. Not just providing your followers with relevant and interesting content, it is also useful for attracting potential customers with paid advertisements.

Each platform has it’s own analytics tool but for now (drum roll please) Facebook Pixel! The Facebook Pixel is code that is associated with a Facebook ad. The code can be placed on the webpage to track the ad’s success. With Pixel you can use your limited marketing funds more efficiently to reach the specific audiences that care about you and your content which means fewer wasted ad monies!

Reach more people:
By seeing who is clicking an ad, your input along with Facebook’s algorithms can decide who else sees your ad. If there are a lot of clicks by women in their 30’s, it will increase the frequency that those women see your ad.

Get more sales:
If the people who are seeing an ad are the ones who are most likely to engage, then this will get the right people to your website and increase sales or engagements.

How does it measure results?
Using “Ads Manager” you can monitor relevant statistics related to your ad. Performance results include how many people clicked, the ad’s total reach, the cost spent on the ad, and how much was spent by customers who saw the ad. All of this is great information when you are decided where to place those marketing dollars!

Places to use the pixel code?
Depending on the results you are seeking, here are a few ideas of places the code could be helpful.

• Sale confirmation page – See the sales that were directly generated from your ad
• Contact Us submission confirmation page – Discover how many customer inquiries were initiated by the ad
• Pricing and more information page – On this page, you can tell who became interested in your product or service based on your ad.

Facebook Pixel gives advertisers more useful targeting and meaningful feedback data to refine audiences. Pixel is a POWERFUL tool to help you reach the best audiences with the greatest level of engagement, and track interactions. Here is Facebook’s installation directions through the Ad Manager on your Facebook account. Happy Tracking!

Trend Update

What’s the best way to stay current and get seen on Social Media? It’s #hashtags! Using the right hashtag at the right times shows that your business is listening to its followers and staying on trend. A great way to find new followers and interact with the platform as a whole is to incorporate hashtag usage into your posts. It allows users who may not have been following you, to see your content and increase your exposure.

A trending hashtag is one that has recently gained popularity for one reason or another. It could be something as obvious as a holiday or event, but it could also be more obscure like something that John Oliver said on an Last Week Tonight (#LetLetItGoGo).

Want to get seen today? Try one of these!

1. #InnocentPhrasesThatScareMe
There are a lot of these like “Hey, watch this!”
2. #WhyIDontUseFacebook
What’s a funny reason you may reduce your Facebook usage
3. #summer
Share a summer event, adventure, or story.
4. #4thofjuly
Fourth of July is next week! Anything special going on?
5. #harrypotter20
Are you celebrating 20 years of the boy wizard?
6. #nationalsunglassesday
Start the debate! It should be Sunglasses Hut! They don’t make monocles don’t come tinted
7. #nbaawards
The first annual award show was this week. Did you see who made MVP?
8. #PTSDAwarenessDay
Honor those who fight daily to hear wounds no one can see.
9. #ModernDayBoyScoutBadges
What’s something that you think would make a good badge for kids today? I like the “Participation Badge” or “Fire starting with Galaxy Note 7.”
10.#longweekend
Some people are taking off for the holiday weekend. Share photos or stories of your travels.

Email Lists: Boost Your Chances, Get Seen!

When sending out an email, most marketing professionals want one thing: For people to see it! It’s hard to get that mythical 100% open rate and still harder to get a 50% open rate. However, there are a few things you can do to boost your chances of being seen.

Sending at the Right Time:
Choosing the right day and time to send an email can mean the difference between a 1% open rate and a 10% open rate. There has been a lot of research done on when people open their emails. While most work emails are opened within 6 seconds of them hitting the inbox, most marketing emails are read within 60 minutes.

Tuesday is the top day to send. Week days are generally better since most people don’t tend to check their email as frequently on weekends. However, based on your business type this also can shift slightly. If you have an event coming up on Saturday, you may want to send that email out Thursday or Friday when people are trying to come up with their weekend plans.

Now, what time is best?  Late morning is a winner with 10 AM being a sweet spot. Other popular times would be 8 PM – Midnight and 6 AM. (These are probably all those people ruining their sleep quality reading emails in bed.)

If you don’t know what’s best for your business, MailChimp offers a great solution with Send Time Optimization. Based on your recipients email habits, MailChimp decides when to send the email. This ensures that your email has the best chance of getting seen by the most recipients.

Sending Relevant Information:
While the time you send can impact who reads it, the content is really the deciding factor. There needs to be more than just making the recipient think about you and how great you are. You want them to tell other people how great you are, too. Provide fun or interesting news about your company. Make it shareable. If you are getting the email out because it’s 8:30 AM on Tuesday and you don’t want to miss that golden 10:00 hour, that’s not going to increase the engagement. Send it out of Thursday and have something to share.

Top 5 List of Suggested topics:
#5  Top 5 lists
#4  Upcoming events
#3  New blog post
#2  Company news
#1  Promotions

Making the Subject Line Pop:
Like a book cover, making your subject lines intriguing will make people open the email. One-third of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email purely on the subject line. Keep it short and to the point. Make sure that it doesn’t state the obvious. No need to tell people this is your newsletter, they are about to find it out. (Assuming they open it, that is.) Try to solve a problem for them in the subject “What’s mom getting this Mother’s Day?” or “Top Gifts for Mom.”

My Essential MailChimp Tips

Email marketing has evolved into an essential tool for all types of modern businesses. There are a number of tools and services out there, however, Classic City Consulting chooses the popular Atlanta-based MailChimp. Not only are we supporting a local service, but it also happens to kick-butt in function and ease-of use. The interface, variety of options, and the analytics tools create a powerful user friendly experience. Since I use MailChimp frequently (just about daily) here’s a list of my top 3 favorite (and essential to survival) tips for

Automation
“Welcome to our email list!” When a new customer wants to join your community a simple “Thanks!” is a great welcome. The key to email success is being well received by your customers. Send them too many emails, they unsubscribe; Too few, and they forget about you. With automatic emails, you can touch your customer when they are thinking about you. If they left an item in their shopping cart, and there is a great coupon that they can use on it, let them know! It is always appreciated, and, with automation, it’s easy! And lets be honest, who doesn’t like saving a few bucks on an item you were going to buy anyway?

RSS Sends
You have information to share and your customers want to hear it! Make sure that they don’t miss out just because they don’t visit your page weekly. With MailChimps’s RSS Campaigns, you can update your blog and make sure it gets seen. These are easy to set-up with client lists, content templates, and your only real problem is making sure you keep coming up with interesting things to share.

Segmented Email Sends
Not everyone needs every message. By segmenting your email list, you can get a higher open rate with people who are more likely to take action. Within MailChimp you can use criteria like demographics, email engagement, interest groups, and location to choose the right audience for your email.

The key with any email marketing is for it to feel like a natural engagement. You aren’t asking people to do something for you. Those who have signed up for your list are interested in your company and your brand. Keep them engaged and give them the information that they came to you for in the first place. Make sure email marketing is reinforcing your message and brand by helping the customer, and not ending up in the Spam folder.

My Leap From Status Quo

The status quo is the simplest thing to do.  Being content somewhere you’re not meant to be is not a challenge.  It’s like waiting for Publisher’s Clearing House to come knocking on the door rather than trying to find your niche to make your unique mark on the world.  Good things happen to those that live in the status quo.  Great things happen to those who try.

The Beginning

It freaked me out when I left my first job right after I finished college.  I was moving on to another position at another company, but it was a startup and I didn’t know how long it would last.  The people at my former gig pushed me to start pursuing consulting.  They all were running their own web consulting businesses on the side and were older than I was. I definitely felt like I wasn’t cut out for that lifestyle.  I was just out of college – there was no way I could start up a business and provide jobs for other people later down the road.  That path was for people who had “an idea for an app” and could go out there and pitch to the wealthy investors of Shark Tank. Definitely not me.

The Leap

But I took the leap.  Within three months of leaving that job, I went ahead and registered for my first LLC – Christopher LaFay Consulting (genius name, I know).  Even though I felt like I was biting off more than I could chew, I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be.  After some time past, one new project every couple of months turned into a new project each month (and so on).

The Reason

And it was because I surrounded myself with people who pushed me over boundaries of my comfort zone.  If I didn’t listen to my friends and family who told me to go after the prize of being an entrepreneur, I would have never registered for an LLC, never signed on a contractor to help get a project done, never gotten that first testimonial on Google, never had a “First Employee” and the list goes on.  Now I get to live the dream of an entrepreneur – I get to work with people I call my friends on a daily basis – and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

4 Tips to Optimize Social Media

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. LinkedIn. Reddit. YouTube. Pinterest. Anyone with access to the internet in the last decade knows, some if not all, this list of the most popular social media sites to date. These platforms have completely revolutionized how people interact and communicate with each other. Social media has risen to be one the prominent avenue that we use to express our ideas, keep in touch with our friends and family – and further our business ventures. Many of these social media accounts allow companies to set up special “business accounts” that allow the social media site to essentially become a website platform to advertise to, inform, and communicate with its current and potential customers. However, without the proper approach, it is very easy for business to let their social media accounts become disadvantageous or even dormant. So, what are the best tips? What will allow your social media campaign to become the most successful and visible? The core idea is based on what social media platforms are built to do – keep you connected with the community around you. Staying active and involved with your friends, followers, subscribers, etc. is what will give your social media campaign the foundation necessary for success. Here are 4 ways to optimize your social media presence:

1. Share what you love.

Share what interests you, what you’re passionate about. It means sharing ideas, highlights, and successes of others that hit home for you. Expressing your interests is an opportunity that others can use to see inside your world and get to know the kinds of things you value. When they are given access to know about you or your business on a deeper level, it builds loyalty and connection with clientele.

2. Share what you know.

They key to sharing what you know is to make sure you are sharing things from your own expertise. Be sure that they are things that interest your friends and followers. This is your chance to show off what your business is all about and your expertise. Show your audience you deserve that Subscribe, Followed, and Like. This strategy reinforces within your social media following that you are reputable and dedicated. (A critical side note: when re-posting articles from external sources TRIPLE check the source and the information. With the rise of ‘fake new’ has become the scourge of the internet and your reputation of providing accurate information can be damaged by perpetuating the problem)

3. Don’t take it too seriously.

All of us have that one subscription or business that we follow that we can never seem to get them to stop sending us too much information or spam that we cannot seem keep up with it all. This is where we can all learn a valuable, if not painful lesson: to not take social media postings too seriously. By that, I mean, post when you can. Perfectionism will kill the purposefully light-hearted, fun culture of social media. Now, there is a very fine line between posting when you can and neglecting your social media accounts. Remember, we don’t want it to become dormant. It is imperative to be consistent with your postings, but be careful not to dog down your following with countless posts. There is a certain genius about posting enough information at the right times that leaves your audience looking forward to, or begging for, more.

4. Stay Positive.

We all know that one person who is a drag at parties, and we typically try to stay away from them. This is also true of social media culture – and followers can have the same response… avoidance and un-subscribing. Keep posts positive in tone and also when responding to comments left on your own posts. Often your responses can make it into timelines of your followers and subscribers… so a comment left for a particularly nasty user might display as an update to EVERYONE who follows you. If you wouldn’t want it heard by your customers, don’t say it at all (even if they might deserve a clever rebuttal.)

These are best and core examples of social media best practices. The goal is to keep you connected with the community around you: but is also can double as public relations – creating new and positive experiences with your clientele through mutual engagement. Staying active, passionate, and current are what make these platforms so exciting and rewarding for creators and followers alike.

Letting Your Team Excel

Stop letting your team have a mindset of “If I can just reach this level, I’ll be happy!” Everyone in corporate America is always trying to strive for the next rung on the ladder and to get that new title so they’ll have more responsibility. It’s been our mindset ever since Henry Ford introduced well-paying jobs on the assembly line to the first Model Ts.

I’ve never been terribly fond of the traditional employment/job title route. Yes, it is important for your team to know what their responsibilities on a day-to-day basis are because that’s how you keep your customers returning to do extended business with you. However, if those roles are limiting, then you may need to rethink them entirely.

For example, earlier this summer we brought on someone whose main goal was to be a project manager and run sales. As the first few weeks progressed we realized a lot of our internal processes were clogging up our gears and not letting us move smoothly as a company. Since organization and smooth processes are “in her blood,” she slowly started asking if she could spend more and more time on making Classic City Consulting a better oiled machine so that while we continue to grow, we are stepping on each others toes.

Fast forward to today: She is currently managing a few of our top clients, brought on a jack-of-all-trades person to work with her and organized our processes so anyone on our team can find out where their project stands at any given time. And this process only took four months!

By being flexible with her original set of responsibilities, she has allowed us to spend less time on the tedious parts of all of our jobs and more time making sure our clients are 100% satisfied with their end product.

No Website? No Excuse.

The world we live in today is as dynamic and ever-changing as it has ever been. The sheer number of technological advancements and inventions that we have seen since the turn of the century is truly amazing. One of the main drivers of such growth is worldwide access to the internet. The number of people who have access and use the internet has increased from 738 million in 2000 to over 3.2 billion in 2015. That is a more than a seven-fold increase, which brings the percentage of the world population taking advantage of the internet up to 43%. However, even though the exposure to the internet is worldwide, studies show that just 46% of small businesses still don’t have a website. That is unacceptable! When approached about this issue, most small business owners gave several excuses. I have compiled the top 6 excuses and rebuttals to each. It is time to bust the myths about having a website.

Excuse 1: I don’t need one. If you think you don’t need one, you cannot be more wrong. Having a website is one of the best, most thorough ways of reaching the masses. Studies show that 84% of American adults use the internet, and 96% of Americans aged 18-49 use the internet. That is just about everyone.

Excuse 2: My target industry doesn’t have an online presence. If this is the case, you need a website now more than ever! One of the best ways to be successful is to be the first to blaze the trail. Look at multi-billion dollar companies like Amazon that revolutionized online shopping. If you can be one of the first of your industry to have a web presence, the results may be extremely profitable.

Excuse 3: Building a website is too expensive. I don’t have the money. The internet is a treasure trove of resources. That is what makes it so popular. One of those resources is DIY websites that come at an extremely low cost, maybe even free. It might help to also look at a website as a long-term business investment. This small investment now will more than pay for itself in time.

Excuse 4: I don’t need the publicity. I have enough customers. Really? You can’t be serious? Since when do people want to limit themselves and put a cap on the number of customers they have and the revenue generated from them? If you are a small business, this is the wrong mindset to have. Your focus should be on growth and advancement. 23-time Olympic medalist and American swimming legend Michael Phelps put it this way, “You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.”

Excuse 5: I would rather use social media as my outlet. Well, you are on the right track. Social media is a key part of making sure your business has a presence on the web. However, a social media page does not do the job of marketing and advertising the capacity and capability of your business. A website allows you to go in to detail about the full scope of the products or services you offer. Instead of using social media only, try linking your website and your social media accounts. Turn your social media followers into customers. Give the customers who visit your website a more personal, lively view into the company via social media.

Excuse 6: I don’t have time to maintain a website. Let’s think about some of the other things you spend your time doing throughout the day. Do you have time to grab some coffee? Do you have time to read the newspaper or watch the news? Do you have time to surf the internet in search for that new piece of clothing you must have? In that same amount of time that you do these things, you can also manage a website. Just like the DIY website companies that you can find on the web, there are also many companies that offer website management as a service. If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, you may want to consider reaching out to some of these companies.

By now, the picture should be pretty clear. There is no excuse for your small business not to be on the web. Having a website is potentially one of the most profitable investments that you will ever make for your business. After all the hard work you put in to your company, you owe it to yourself to give you and the business the opportunity to put your best foot forward and “wow” your customers with your website.

Startups: 4 Things You Need To Start Your Business

I’m on the phone a lot – daily (so glad the days of “minute limits” on cell phones are gone now).  Over the last few weeks I’ve had conversations with a few individuals each beginning the route of the startup business.  After finishing these discussions, I realized there were only a handful of themes in all the conversations.

“What do you do for banking?  How do you manage the books?  Should this person be an employee versus a contractor?”

If you haven’t owned a company before (or in a high level of management) then you can easily get overwhelmed by the options you have actually running your business.  Here are the highlights so you can hit the ground running.

Accounting: QuickBooks

For keeping track of your income, expenses, reconciling your bank accounts, knowing what clients haven’t paid in over a month, creating 1099s and W2s for contractors/employees it is fantastic.  When it comes time to payroll and direct deposit your team members, it even does that.  It makes accounting super-simple and your accountant will be very happy you chose a product that he or she already knows how to use.  We use it to setup recurring invoices for clients, make sure our people get paid on time as well as generate reports on how well the company is doing from a profitability standpoint.

A quick note on QuickBooks and Banking

QuickBooks allows you to migrate all of your bank accounts and credit cards into their system so you can categorize everything that comes into (and out of) your business.  I have found that a lot of small, local banks do not have great QuickBooks connectivity and thus make accounting much more difficult.  Personally, I would suggest banking with a larger bank in your area so you can reap the benefits of “accounting made easy.”  If I had to manually reconcile all my expenses (and income) from our different accounts, it would take away from the time I have to give to our clients during the week – and that’s not time I can get back.

Employee or Contractor?

The IRS has a detailed set of rules that defines who is a contractor versus who is an employee.  The three basic rules are:

  • Behavioral: Are you controlling when and how this person is doing the job?
  • Financial: Are you reimbursing their expenses? Do you provide the tools necessary to complete the job?
  • Type: Does the work the person is doing perform a critical role in the business? Does the get benefits?

What it mainly boils down to is understanding and documenting the reasons for/against employee/contractor.  There isn’t a “certain number” of items you have to check off a list to make a person an employee (or a contractor).  Just make sure you take into account everything the IRS tells you to do and make your determination logically.

Critical Employee

During the beginning phases cash on hand is typically a bit tight.  However, there might be that one person who you just have to have on your team in order to make it a success.  You might not have the cash on hand to guarantee a market-rate salary, but if this person is in a position to effect your revenue stream, you might want to consider a simple bonus structure in connection with a lower-than-market salary offer.

First, find out where you want your business’s overall profitability percentage to be.  Let’s say that number is 35%.  If the work this employee touches over each 6 month period is at a 35% profit margin, give out a small bonus.  Do a tiered bonus structure (increasing bonuses for higher profit margins) so the person has the drive to help make the company as profitable as possible.

Simple Website

If you are going to run a business you have to have (at minimum) a simple but solid online presence.  People need to be able to verify you actually exist and the first way people typically do that is through a quick Google search.  If you can’t be found online, you may not actually exist; in the sense of Google-credibility.  If you don’t know where to even start with your website, make sure you budget out some money to get something online before you start passing out business cards.

I admit, I too have been caught in that “oh my gosh, what is going on” moment. When there are so many moving pieces and things … just feel too much. Stop yourself. Give yourself a minute. Boil things down to your basic priorities. These are the 4 things I’ve found (and discovered personally) are essential for getting the operations of your small business running. Whew… just breath. You got this.

Google’s G-Suite Makes Teamwork Easy

You’ve got a small business, now get the tools that will make collaboration a breeze between everyone at the office. G-Suite provides a large set of apps that makes working together easier than ever.

 File Sharing

Drive is the file storage service in Google’s G-Suite. Every file, including documents can easily be shared with others. It’s as easy as right clicking a file, and clicking on “Share”.

gsuite1

The best part is all you need to share the file is an email address. If a client is not part of your team, just type in their email address and they’ll be sent an invitation to view the file. A shared folder is perhaps the most useful feature in Drive. Clients don’t have to worry about email size restrictions which can lead to multiple emails or leaving them looking for some alternative way to get you large files.

Within your own team, you can easily share that folder with everyone. You won’t have to worry about getting the client’s files to the right computer or fussing about downloading the files from an email and moving them elsewhere to the right person — they’re all in the cloud!

Collaborate in Real Time

Docs, Sheets, and Slides (the office suite)  allow you to collaborate in real time with others. You’ll see edits each user makes as they type! Each editor is given a unique colorful caret with their name attached to easily identify which people are working on which sections of a document.

gsuite2-crop

You don’t have to worry about sending an email about what party supplies everyone at the office needs. Send a shared document, and have everyone throw in their ideas. The possible uses are endless.

The real time collaboration works just as easy in Slides and Sheets too. Throw the whole team to work on a sales presentation without worrying about merging changes into one presentation file after everyone finishes their work. Get it all done, simultaneously in one document.

gsuite3

Cost

You can try out Drive and the office apps and other Google apps and services free with any Google account. If you would like business features like domain email, user management, and more storage you can get G-Suite for businesses.

G-Suite is $5 per user per month. Each user gets access to the full suite of Google apps which includes email, an office suite, video conferencing, and more. If you want more storage or a few extra administrative features, you can upgrade to a $10 per user per month plan which is still easily affordable.

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