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Facebook Tips for Clothing Brands and Retailers

June 30th, 2014

Facebook Marketing TipsLet’s face it

if you are in the online world to sell, you can’t ignore Facebook. True, F-commerce (a fancy term for e-commerce stores on Facebook) might be a little way off still, but as a clothing brand or a clothing retailer, you got to have a Facebook page.

Here’s why:

  • 23% Facebook users find Facebook pages of clothing retailers influential.
  • There is more than a half a chance that a Facebook user who has liked your page would buy your product.
  • 92% Facebook users trust word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends on Facebook.

The above stats have been gathered from The Main Street Analyst
Now, the trouble is, most small-time fashion retailers or start-ups find it difficult to build a fan following on Facebook. The Victoria Secrets and Burberrys of the fashion world get a ready Facebook fan base, since they already have a strong offline presence.

So, what can start-ups in the fashion world do to make the most of Facebook frenzy?

The usual Facebook tips of “engage rather than sell”; and “create compelling content” hold, but they offer little by way of actionable advice.
If you want to jog the marketing cells of your brain, here are a few tips from me for clothing retailers and brands that are finding it hard to make their mark on Facebook.

1. Give them a behind-the-scenes peek

Let your users in on how the buying decisions are made; what drives the trends at your fashion boutique; the brainstorming sessions with designers. Give them access to something that they usually won’t get anywhere else. As I write this, I have an interesting idea: post exclusive footage of a day at office (or your fashion boutique; rented apartment-cum-office; factory; whatever it is where you work) uncensored, uncut. It could be a fantastic way to drive engagement.

2. Organize a giveaway, with a twist

Giveaways where users who get the most number of likes while wearing a certain brand’s clothes get free goodies have been done far too often. To stand out, give it your own little twist. Challenge your consumers to wear your clothing in the wackiest way possible. Shortlist the ones with the wackiest dressing sense and then ask them to gather likes. An even wackier idea could be asking them to do a random jig, or maybe pose by the roadside during peak rush hours.

For such wackiness to work though, the stakes have to be really high. Maybe some super exclusive, premium range of clothes could do the trick; or free shopping for a whole month. If the stakes are high enough, you could drive a lot of traffic to your Facebook page, and ultimately, your e-commerce store.

3. Let them decide what they want to wear

Every month, come up with 4-5 designs. Post them on your Facebook page and ask your audience to decide which design they would prefer the most. The design that gets the highest number of votes is the one that goes into production. Again, the idea is to create a loyal fan base.

4. Make sure you show them the way

The above tips work when you have a sizeable audience on your page. But that’s the problem- most small brands find it hard to build a fan following for their Facebook page. It is akin to saying that you need to be experienced to get a job, but to gain experience, you need a job.

There is a workaround to the situation though- hire influencers on a temporary basis. For example, if you are planning to run the “dress-wacky” contest, hire wannabe designers who have a sizeable Facebook following. Let them dress wacky and influence their Facebook friends. As the word spreads, your campaign has a better chance of gaining momentum.

I will be posting actionable-Facebook-ideas for other kinds of brands too in the future. In the meanwhile, if you are a fashion brand or a fashion retailer, let me know if the above tips helped you out.

Image by: Stockimages

The Idea Generator: Purple Cow Ideas for e-Commerce

June 22nd, 2014

EcommerceThe ‘purple cow’ concept coined by Seth Godin has always found a favor with me. I have always believed that if your product or service is great (not just good), it does not need millions of marketing dollars. However, the problem is, thinking of a ‘purple cow’ for your business.

While very few companies have ideavirus worthy products or services, thinking of a ‘purple cow’ is still difficult.

Since this is a marketing blog, I thought it would be a good idea to start an ‘idea generator’. I would be listing ‘purple cow’ ideas that pop in my head for random industries or products every now and then.

Let’s see if this ‘idea generator’ idea can help you out in some way. Today, I pick up the e-commerce industry. In recent years, e-commerce has seen stupendous growth, backed by the mobile revolution. While the industry still has a lot of potential, making your mark is difficult, considering the presence of big players in almost every geographical area.

Now, let me be honest. I haven’t researched the nooks and crannies of the e-commerce world. Therefore, the ‘purple cow’ ideas that I am listing here might already be around (or maybe not). Spare me vehement criticism either way.

1. Get into a premium niche

- Amazon started with selling just books, and so did Flipkart. It worked for both of them. As far as I know, there is hardly any e-commerce store for premium brands. Get in a premium niche. For example, premium chocolates, or even super-expensive jeans. Get every available option in that niche on your store. In fact, as I write, I don’t think premium is necessary. What I am talking about is a super-niche. For example, you could launch an e-commerce portal specifically for adult books (read erotica). Get every damn erotica book ever written on your portal. Thus, you start catering to a very specific niche, and as your popularity grows, you could start to widen that niche. A worthy ‘purple cow’ idea I think.

2. De-clutter it

- Most e-commerce portals (at least the major ones that I frequent) emulate the feel of a big supermarket. There are products everywhere on the home page. You are bombarded with special offers as soon as you arrive. Instead of emulating a supermarket, emulate Google. De-clutter your portal. Make it as clean as possible. Give your users an experience of flipping through a well-published magazine. If users can feel the difference, they are bound to tell their friends.

3. Hire gorgeous models to showcase your products

- Recently, several online retailers have been testing the idea of product videos, instead of the usual product descriptions. They have met with relative success. However, how about pushing the envelope even further. Hire gorgeous models (like Hollister does for its offline stores) for product videos. Let them showcase what you have on your portal. Now, getting a model to sell each product that you have is going to be a tiresome task (not to mention pretty expensive too). To counter that, you could pick the most popular products in popular categories. Again, it’s just a thought. The purpose of the ‘idea generator’ is just that- to generate ideas in your head.

4. Get Siri for your e-commerce portal

- Imagine how cool it would be if users could command your portal to show them exactly the products they want to see! They flip out their mobile, log on to your portal, and literally ask you if you have any on-going sales. Voice-command technology is already there. Apple has Siri, while Microsoft is planning to launch its rival Cortana very soon. On paper, it seems like a fantastic ‘purple cow’ idea.

I hope those random thoughts help you in giving your brain cells a jog. I will come back with more such ‘idea-generators’ soon for different products and industries. Let me know if it’s a useful idea.

Image by: svilen001

Is SEO Really Dead? Let’s Find Out

June 4th, 2014

SEO - Search Engine OptimizationIn recent times, Google has made several changes to its search algorithm that has had a profound impact on search engine optimization practices. Tactics that used to work brilliantly till an year or two ago no longer yield results. Try the content farm route and you will understand what I am talking about.

This changing landscape of SEO has led people to believe that investing in search engine optimization isn’t a worthwhile investment anymore. ‘SEO is dead’ is what they are saying. SEOMoz, arguably the bible on SEO, has rechristened itself to Moz only, adding fuel to ‘SEO is dead’ debate.

The truth is different. SEO can never be dead for as long as search engines exist.The whole purpose of search engines is to make good content more accessible to people, and that’s what Google is doing.

Cheap SEO tactics won’t work anymore; at least most of them.

A keyword-rich URL isn’t going to rank well.

Buying links and spamming blogs with your website’s URL isn’t going to get you in the good books of Google.

Stuffing your website’s content with keywords isn’t going to work either.

SEO is now about strategizing

SEO is no longer about cheating your way to the top of search engine results. Instead, it is about formulating a sound digital marketing strategy built upon quality content. Not too long ago, a SEO specialist’s job was only concerned with keyword density and building back-links.

However, in the post ‘Google penalizes poor quality content’ world, a SEO specialist’s job is overseeing digital branding at large. He has to take care of social media marketing, build PR, and invest in building a fan-following for a business. You can build a fan-following only when you give quality content on a consistent basis- content that engages and interests your audience.

As Sam McRoberts of Vudu Marketing aptly puts it- “SEO isn’t about marketing anymore. It is more of a branding play”.

Google has given us plenty of clues in the past

Take for instance Google’s ploy to not give you keyword data for users arriving to your website organically. By doing so, Google is taking away your focus from keyword oriented goals. In other words, it is minimizing the tendency to focus on keyword-rich content.

Similarly, there is Authorship, which was launched in 2011. Google plans to use it to associate content with a particular author. Over a period of time, it can accumulate data and find authors that draw favorable response in a particular field.

Higher your author rank, better chances you have of emerging in the top search results.

The bottom-line: SEO isn’t dead. It has just changed drastically.

This awesome SEO Infographic sums it up perfectly.

This interview by Vudu Marketing’s CEO is also a worthy read on the topic.

Image by svilen001

Hitting the Bull’s Eye with your Website’s Content

May 27th, 2014

While there are no rules when it comes to copywriting, some key pointers can help improve the impact the written word has on your audience. Here are some from me. I hope this helps you improve your website content.

Shock the reader, but pleasantly

Shock works brilliantly in the world of advertising and copywriting. Brands have been using this strategy since times immemorial in their print and TV ad campaigns- giving the viewers something unexpected. You can use a similar sort of strategy in your website content. For example, instead of starting off with “who you are and what you do”, you can instead start off with “who you are not” and “what you will never do.” Another example could be ending the page with an unusual “call-to-action” statement rather than the usual contact us etc. It is all about intriguing the user so that he/she wants to read on.

Do not exaggerate, stay honest

There was a time when phrases such as “fantastic deals” and “quality services” used to work. Not anymore. Today, almost every second website you come across has those phrases. A better approach to writing to sell is staying honest and stating the facts as they are. For example, instead of saying something like, “we are the best in the business”, a more humble (and effective) approach would be “we may not be the best in the business, but we are certainly counted as one of the best by many.” Again, it is a matter of putting words in a way which will leave an impact on the reader.

Use interesting comparisons

The advertising world very often draws parallels to promote a product or service. For example, an ad comparing the lifetime of a person and life of furniture to promote a plywood brand (Google Greenply Plywood advertisement to know more). Interesting comparisons always interest the reader. They help in establishing your brand value too. For example, for a web hosting provider, a punch line such as “Usain Bolt would be our perfect brand ambassador” signifies the lightning speed of their servers as well as reliability. It is interesting phrases which leave a mark on your reader; and your website’s content should have plenty of those.

Don’t over elaborate

Would you like to read something that’s repetitive and is saying the same thing over and over in different words? If not, then how can you expect your audience to like it? The irony is, many out there commit the cardinal sin of over elaborating on their offerings, just to appease search engine bots. Most of the times, this over-elaborative content is boring and monotonous, and hence, ineffective for your sales. A short, crisp copy always does a better job any day when it comes to writing- be it website writing, blog writing, or something else.

Focus on the Consumers and Everything Else will Follow

May 25th, 2014

Focus on the ConsumersNow, I apologize straight away for taking something directly out of Google’s books. “Focus on the users and all else follows” is one of the mantras at Google which drives company’s strategy. As a content strategist, I often have to spend my time and energy explaining to my potential clients one simple fact- keywords are secondary; what matters most are the visitors/users/consumers or whatever you like to call them.

Having content with a fantastic keyword density of 2% on your home page can fetch you top rankings on Google and other search engines. However, it would serve no purpose at all if the visitors to your site do not find the content interesting enough. Sadly, that is the case with a large number of websites out there.

Just take this for an example- follow the two links below and just glance through the content written on both the pages:

MaxxDesign
PopcornWebDesign

Both the websites listed above offer web designing solutions; both of them rank on the first page of Google. After reading through the content on both the pages, which one do you feel like contacting and taking things forward with? For the majority, it would be the second link.

The first one has a good keyword density, but does not give you any new reasons to choose it for your web designing needs. On the other hand, the second link has low keyword density and instead has content meant to drive sales.

“Content is the King” but nobody said that content should revolve around keywords. Nor did anyone say that content should be some minimum number of words. In fact, most people nowadays are not into a habit of reading much, not to mention that reading on a computer screen is all the more difficult. Thus, having “minimum 500 words on your home page with 2% keyword density” would serve little purpose other than top ranking on Google.

But you want to be on Google to drive sales, right? Then why not try the direct way instead by giving people something interesting to read rather than focusing on keywords. Remember, if people like what they see on your website, it would serve two purposes simultaneously- one, it would improve your conversion rate; two, it would increase the popularity of your website, which means you automatically move up on search engine rankings.

I plead with you – please don’t focus on quantity when it comes to website writing or blog writing for that matter. Quality is what would fetch you the results.

Image by: FloatingLemons

Copywriting is like Foreplay

May 13th, 2014

Different copywriters out there have different views on what sells and what does not. However, a majority of them are likely to agree to the fact that copywriting and foreplay have a lot more in common. While the purpose of foreplay is to get a person ready for love making, the purpose of copywriting is to get a person to your store and buy your products or services.

Both the activities follow a pretty similar approach to fulfill their purposes.

You have to say the right words

- Speaking the right words can have a tell-tale effect on the brain. A little dirty joke, a compliment on how good she looks in her gown (or without it), a little flirtation here and there can set the mood for what’s to follow. It is pretty similar with copywriting as well. Using the right words in the beginning of the copy makes a person excited for what’s to follow. A good example would be the efficacy of ‘No’ in copywriting. I wrote a blog post on it last week.

Touching the right areas

- Ahem, now you know what I am talking about here. Touching the right areas is an essential part of foreplay. Behind the ears, on the back of her thighs, on her neck….alright, I am not going there. I am not too good writing erotica. But the point is, touching the right areas the right way gets your woman or man ready to rock it. With copywriting, it is something similar. Although you don’t get to touch a person physically, words can touch a reader’s heart. And that’s the hallmark of a well written copy. Traditionally, the advertising world has always used fear and humor as two of the best strategies for selling products. If a person has a smile on his face while reading your copy, you are likely to make a sale than not. Copywriting is about touching your customers the right way.

While the above should make sense to anyone who has experience with copywriting, I have always wondered if good lovers actually make good copywriters. Can any of you shed some light on it, just to amuse me?

No, Don’t Ignore This Powerful Word When Copywriting

May 5th, 2014

CopywritingDid I get your attention immediately with the headline? If I did, you are like most others in the world. For a moment, replace that headline with the following:

“A highly effective word when copywriting”

Does it have the same impact as the original headline? Probably not. The reason for that has to do with how our brain processes certain words. Cognitive experts have proved that we are more sensitive to words that have negative connotations than to words that have positive connotations.

It has to do with our survival instinct. In order to protect us from lurking dangers in the early days of humanity, our brain conditioned itself to be more susceptible to threats. Despite our modern advances and largely safe environments, our brain processes any negative information as a life threatening situation.

So, what’s the most powerful word in copywriting?

It’s NO. Yes, the very word at the beginning of this blog post’s headline. Psychology Today has written a neat article on the word, terming it as the most dangerous word out there.

The article states that fear provoking words like ‘no’, ‘illness’, ‘death’ etc. immediately trigger a worry response in our brain. When we worry, our natural reaction is to make ourselves safer.

It is that loophole in our brains which is exploited by this article’s headline. ‘No’ catches your attention, while the rest of it actually makes you think you might lose out on something very important.

Imagine the possibilities of ‘No’- a simple two letter word that you probably use every day. Visualize the different ways you can influence your customers’ brains; think about your sky-rocketing sales- all with the help of this humble word.

Did you actually start imagining all that just for a moment? If you did, you just discovered another powerful word in copywriting- Imagine!

The word ‘Imagine’ is not processed as a command by our brain. Instead, it is seen as something fun, like a game.
Thus, when you ask someone to imagine rather than buy, you get a brain that’s more receptive to your words.

Make them imagine the consequences of buying or not buying something

Evolutionarily, we are predisposed to playing it safe. This article by Harvard University tells you just that.

When you ask your customers to picture how comfortable their life would be if they buy your product, you immediately tap into their brain’s predisposition to look for safe, comfortable havens.

On the contrary, if you ask them to picture how miserable their life would be without your product, you are again forcing their brain to look for the safer option, which is, to buy your product.

However, it is a different ball game when you are at the negotiation table. More on that later!

Image by nkzs

Is Facebook Really Worth Your Marketing Time?

May 1st, 2014

Facebook MarketingQuestions have been raised about the viability of Facebook marketing ever since the social networking site reached significant numbers. The numbers side of the social networking giant sounds really compelling- more than 1 billion active users. Even if you discount the 11.2% fake accounts admitted by Facebook in a 2012 filing, the number is still significant.

However, experts in the field have been skeptic of it of late. Their grouse- it has become too crowded; it is more focused on keeping advertisers happy; it is losing its cool factor. Earnest’s blog post is one of the many which voices those concerns.

So, the billion dollar question (rather, ‘more than a billion’ dollar question) is- is Facebook really worth your marketing time? And money?

Answer: it depends!

If you are still going after likes, you are wasting it

Facebook has admitted the presence of fake accounts on its site. These fake accounts are mostly run by click farms which help companies increase their Facebook page likes. However, such likes are worthless since you won’t get any engagement from them.

Now, the obvious solution to that is to pay for Facebook likes the legitimate way, that is, Facebook advertising. However, even the legitimate way does not seem to get you legitimate likes. Here is an awesome video by Derek Muller which explains the problem with paying for Facebook ads.

In other words, likes just won’t drive any real value for your brand.

The solution lies in building a loyal fan base

You would be better off building a loyal fan base through Facebook than taking part in a popularity contest. Popularity contests did you good back in the days when Facebook was in its infancy. There were very few pages back then and people actually cared about those few.

In the current Facebook world, it is better to invest in building relationships with your Facebook audience.

How to do that? Keep giving them awesome content. It could be useful information, funny cat pictures (metrics prove that they actually work), hilarious memes related to your industry- anything that makes the content shareable.

It makes even more sense given the recent Facebook move to throttle organic reach. Read about it here.

So the answer to the ‘more than a billion dollar’ question is- Facebook marketing is still worth it if you go for the right results. We may put together a case study soon to substantiate that claim.

Is Blogging Still Worth It?

May 1st, 2014

1165446_38770408EDIIn the late 90s and early 2000s, blogging took the internet world by storm. It opened up the web to people, making it a two way street. People could now voice their opinions and influence others’. It was in 2003 when it became amply clear that blogging had arrived. It was the year when Google bought Blogger and Adsense.

As with every other ‘in-thing’, marketers were not far behind. They realized the immense potential of blogosphere and immediately hopped on the bandwagon for innovative, immersive, ‘web 2.0 marketing’.

However, of late, experts have written off blogging as a viable way of marketing. They give several reasons for that, most of which are actually pertinent.

What the naysayers say about blogging

People have low attention spans than ever before

The age of web 2.0 has meant that we are constantly bombarded with information. That has resulted in really low attention spans in people. A study done by Social Times has found out that our attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to 5 minutes over the last decade. Lower attention spans mean people no longer have the patience to read the long format of writing.

It is the era of mobile content consumption

China alone has 80% of its 617 million internet population on mobile. Mobile internet consumption is bound for really fast growth courtesy smartphones and high speed internet. Experts argue that traditional blogging is not suitable for the mobile format. Instead, microblogging sites like Twitter and Tumblr is where the future is. Numbers say as much. As of 2012, there were 69 billion blogs hosted on Tumblr, compared to 55 million on WordPress.

People are not interested in blogs-

While no comprehensive study has been done so far on number of people who regularly read or follow blogs, experts argue that the number is abysmal. According to a 2005 comScore study, only 30% internet users in the US actually read blogs.

While the arguments given against blogging are substantial, here is

Why blogging is still a viable marketing investment.

Don’t put all your eggs in someone else’s basket

Sure you can use Twitter and Facebook to reach out to your audience. Numbers suggest that is the right thing to do too, since those social networks are top online destinations among people worldwide. However, what if Facebook goes the mySpace way in the future? What if people get tired of Twitter eventually?

By relying on other platforms completely for your marketing efforts, you put yourself at risk of digital sharecropping. Read this awesome Copyblogger post on the threat of digital sharecropping. What it essentially means is that by relying on third party platforms completely for your digital marketing efforts, you are handing over the fate of your business to someone else. By putting blogging in the mix, you mitigate that risk.

It is still a great way to build personalized e-mail lists

You can gather all the Facebook likes in the world, but there is hardly any way to reach out to that audience personally right now. According to Expandedramblings.com , an average Facebook user likes 40 pages, which is a lot. You cannot be really sure that your communication is reaching your Facebook fans. However, when someone signs up on your e-mail list through your blog, you can be sure that he wants to hear from you. Blogging still remains one of the best ways to build an e-mail list.

It is a great way to drive traffic to your website

By hosting a blog on your website and updating it regularly with excellent information, you make sure you drive traffic to your website. Having an active blog is still one of the best search optimization techniques. The jury may still be out on the merits of guest blogging though.