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Building a large audience on social media platforms offers businesses numerous opportunities relating to communicating the company’s messaging, building credibility with an expanding target market, and improving rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). Much like the most effective search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns, building an audience takes time and effort, an issue that a growing number of businesses are trying to circumvent through the purchase of “Likes” on Facebook and “Followers” on Twitter.    
 
Here’s the problem: While having a huge amount of Likes and Followers may look impressive, the benefits of building fake audiences pretty much stops right there. Rather than adding value, the strategy results in numerous issues including:
 
* Fake Likes/Followers cannot engage with posts generated by the business – While the sheer number of a business’ Likes/Followers may have mattered in search algorithms at one time, these easily manipulated social signals are now ignored when it comes to SEO benefits. What matters now is engagement, but that isn’t going to happen with fake accounts. Instead, the immediate result is a plummeting ratio of social signals generated by posts, which will have a negative impact on search engine rankings.   
* Changes in Facebook’s News Feed work against fake accounts – The recent changes in how accounts’ posts are seen in the News Feed mean that only a fraction of a page owner’s fans/friends will see each post, unless the company pays to promote them. Absent constant payments for visibility, Facebook measures the quality of each post by, you guessed it, engagement. This works against Like buying in two ways; the News Feed will distribute a portion of the percentage of posts to fake accounts and lower engagement will reduce the percentage of real fans, friends, etc. that will receive subsequent posts.
* Buying Likes/Followers does not build credibility – Spotting fake accounts is a relatively easy activity. For example, if a business suddenly has a huge new group of Likes/Followers from Bangladesh, the vast majority of them are likely to be fakes. For businesses trying to build their brand through trust and credibility, manipulating these numbers can set in motion a situation where the real accounts start wondering  what other information is being misrepresented.
 
While there may be a strong temptation to buy Likes/Followers, do not do it. It will likely start working against your business immediately, while also hurting your target market’s perception of your company over the long term.
 
One of the biggest challenges for independent electronics dealers is competing on prices, due to the fact that their smaller orders do not command the same types of discounts as the larger orders placed by big box electronics stores. An effective solution to this challenge can be found by joining a buying group that aggregates orders from their members to deliver a variety of financial benefits. These benefits include:
 
* Discounts on larger order sizes - A buying group combines and builds orders from their members to reach the same volume purchase discounts as the largest buyers in the industry. These discounts occur at the time of purchase, through volume based rebates, and for accumulated orders over set periods of time.
* A buying group can negotiate better lending terms - Terms negotiated by a buying group can be stretched out over time, financed at lower interest rates and include discounts for paying the loan off before maturity.
* Centralized tracking of rebates and other credits - Rather than trying to stay on top of various rebates and purchasing benchmarks from each vendor, the buying group centralizes the tracking of credits for a simplified solution.  
* Buying groups allow independent electronics dealers the chance to buy limited release products - Volume purchasing power can enable smaller dealers access to products in limited release, a benefit that can prevent existing customers from going to larger competitors to purchase hot new products.
* Single payee billing and invoicing - Rather than paying multiple vendors for product purchases, a dealer receives a single invoice from the buying group and makes one payment. 
 
Joining a buying group can solve numerous financial issues for independent electronics dealers. With volume price discounts, better terms, simplified rebate tracking and centralized billing, even the smallest dealers can operate like the biggest players in their industry.
 
Regardless of whether the business is a professional sports team or an appliance dealer, the existing customer base is a very important asset that can deliver unit sales that are more cost-effective than those derived from new customers. This is not to say that companies shouldn’t strive to be adding new customers, but that retaining the existing customer base should be prioritized as a source of revenue growth. The value of a business’ existing customer base is supported by numerous statistics including:
 
* Acquiring a new customer costs 5 times more than retaining an existing one – Forrest Research
* Reducing the attrition rate of your existing customer base can increase profitability by 75% - Bain & Co.
* 80% of a business’ sales will come from 20% of its existing customers – Gartner Group
 
With these statistics in mind, here are three tips that can help to reduce attrition and grow this valuable asset known as your existing customer base.
 
* Focus on the customer, not the sale – Appliance dealers with a customer relationship management system in place can “mine” all sorts of customer information to develop data sets, with the best use of the information going toward providing a personalized customer experience. As products become more commoditized, the one aspect that will build customer loyalty will be the level of service they experience when dealing with your business.
* Go social – Communicating with your existing customers via social media platforms adds another form of engagement, but there is a degree of risk as well if communications aren’t conducted properly. That being said, catering to existing customers through these venues adds another facet of personal interaction that can facilitate retension.
* Run targeted promotions – With the bulk of an appliance dealer’s revenues coming from existing customers, rewarding them with valuable and targeted promotions can deepen the relationship and keep them doing business with you over the long term. Running promotions via email and/or social media sites can also increase engagement while keeping costs at a minimum.
 
Gaining new customers is great but don’t neglect the people who have already made purchases from your business. Remember, it is this group that will make up 80% of your appliance sales at a fraction of the cost of selling to new customers.

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