All posts by Kari Sullivan

How To Do a Loyalty Program the Right Way

Loyalty programs can be a winning proposition for both small businesses and their customers when they’re set up correctly. Many small businesses feel that they can’t compete with bigger companies when it comes to loyalty programs, but that’s simply not true. A good loyalty program simply takes a bit of creativity, care, and technology.

Make it easy to sign up

A loyalty program for your business shouldn’t be complicated for you or your customers. Don’t ask for more information than you need, and don’t make your customers sign up for a special account if you can avoid it. I prefer to ask for emails only and to email out special perks to these customers. While this is extremely basic marketing, if it’s executed right, it’s effective with little headaches on your end.

Offer something right away for signing up

Customers aren’t motivated to sign up for a loyalty program if the rewards are far off. Offer something in exchange for your customer opting in, and make it as good as you can without jeopardizing future sales. Of course, your loyalty reward should be related to your business or service and should showcase what you do. Realtors may want to offer a free market analysis or ebook about selling your house. A local sandwich shop may want to offer a free sandwich, no strings attached.

Give a surprise right away

This is possibly my best secret for loyalty programs: you need to over-deliver right away, starting with your first communication with the customer. The surprise doesn’t have to be big, but it should be a little extra something included with the freebie you’re giving away. In the realtor example, you could include a free, high quality grocery bag mailed to the customer’s house. (These are in high demand in areas like mine where plastic grocery bags have been banned.) The sandwich shop could do something as simple as give away a free fountain drink with that free sandwich.

Continue to give freebies periodically – good ones!

One of the best loyalty programs I belong to is for the chain restaurant Noodles & Co. They send me regular coupons, which are nice, but sometimes they send me an email for free meals for two at one of their locations. Every time I get an email like that, it blows me away, and there’s no way I’m ever unsubscribing from the Noodles loyalty program. Be generous with your best customers, and they’ll reward you with continued loyalty.

Have I shown you how easy it is to run an effective loyalty program for your small business? If you want to get started, we can help you build an effective email and / or web based loyalty program. There’s no better way to reach your best customers for practically no cost.

Sound good? Contact us below to find out more:

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Phone Number’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]


5 Reasons to Ditch Your Facebook Business Page for Your Own Website

Do you know a business whose primary web presence is a Facebook page? I see more businesses are turning to Facebook to connect with customers, while at the same time neglecting to update, maintain, or even create an independent web presence of their own. While creating and updating a Facebook page can be an easy fix for the difficulties surrounding building your own business website, I don’t recommend it. Here are the problems that all business owners will face from choosing Facebook as their main web platform:

Facebook will filter your posts from customers who already “Like” you

It can be thrilling to first set up a Facebook page and see all the faces of the people who “Like” your business. Unfortunately, unless you’re willing to buy an ad with Facebook, you can never guarantee your post will ever reach the majority your customers. (Reaching all of our customers for our Blogthings site would cost us about $200 per post.)

By implementing something called EdgeRank, Facebook filters out your posts from most the fans who signed up to get your updates. For any given post, you will reach 1-10% of your fans, and to get to the higher end of that number, you’ll need a lot of luck. The deal that Facebook is making with all business owners is: “Build your page on here for free, you can reach a select few customers with any given post, and you can pay us to reach the rest.”

You don’t get access to your customer list

You may be thinking that it’s no big deal if Facebook filters your posts to fans because you’re planning on reaching these fans independently through email. Unfortunately, Facebook gives you no control of or access to your customer list, and it’s virtually impossible to export your fan list. If you do figure out a way to export your list, you’re breaking Facebook’s terms of service and could get your whole page banned. With your own website, it is much easier to build a list of customers with email or even a user account system.

Not everyone is a Facebook member

It may be hard to believe, but not everyone who uses your business has signed up for Facebook. Even more customers may not be signed in to Facebook at any given time, which means the amount they can see on your Facebook page is limited. Also, anyone not signed into Facebook will not be able to interact with you, while you can control who comments more easily with your own website or blog by allowing non-signed in users to still comment.

Facebook has terrible search engine optimization

How many Facebook page posts have you found in Google in the past month? And how many blog posts have you found in Google in the past month? If you’re like most people, you are constantly running into blog posts when searching but rarely find an individual Facebook post through a search engine. Facebook is not very SEO friendly, while WordPress and other blog sites are. If you want people to search and find your business, then your best bet is to have all of your news and information on your own site.

You can’t control comments easily

Most business owners are surprised by how little control they have over their comments and community on Facebook. While there are some basic moderation controls for your Facebook page, they are much lower level than what is built in with any basic blogging software. Unlike all the major blogging platforms, Facebook never gives you the option of turning off or closing comments on a post. You can’t even delete a comment completely, unless it’s your own. In the end, the community on your Facebook page is Facebook’s community, not yours. On your own website, you have the ultimate control over what discussions are taking place.

Have I convinced you to ditch Facebook for your own website? We can make an easy to update website for your business and show you how to develop your own community of customers on there. If you have a pre-existing website that is too difficult to update, we can rework it for you so that it’s as easy as posting to Facebook.

Sound good? Contact us below to find out more:

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Phone Number’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]


5 Reasons to Use a Personality Quiz to Promote Your Business

Personality quizzes are experiencing a resurgence right now, and there really hasn’t been a time when they couldn’t increase traffic to your site. Back before the internet, women’s magazines knew that a compelling personality quiz on the cover meant higher sales numbers.  Everyone likes a lighthearted look at how they tick, and a personality quiz helps your customers think about their relationship to your business.

We have been writing personality quizzes for clients and for our own business for years, and here are the top reasons why you should consider including a personality quiz in your marketing plan:

To showcase every aspect of your product or service

Depending on what type of product or service you offer, any individual customer may have a fairly narrow relationship with your business. For example, loyal coffee shop customers may not know you also serve delicious muffins. You can remedy this by sharing a What Kind of Muffin Are You? quiz with your audience, with each result being a muffin you offer. Similarly, if house cleaning clients don’t know about your holiday cleaning service, you can remind them with a When Does Your House Need to Be Cleaned Most? quiz.

To get some social media buzz going

As much as we may want our customers to take interest in the day to day news surrounding our businesses, we have to admit that most of it is not very interesting. Many businesses struggle with getting blog posts shared on social media, especially businesses that directly target consumers. A well-written quiz is an easy way to encourage social media sharing, as people naturally like to share quiz results on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

To get free press

A little known secret about personality quizzes is that the best ones get linked frequently by blogs, local publications, and even local TV and radio stations. We have had many of our quizzes linked to without even having to alert the press, and you can ensure even more press coverage by sending out a quick press release of your quiz to any local media that may be interested.

To increase your search engine visibility

As anyone who has read a bit about search engine optimization knows, having more quality links to your site increases its rank in search engines. There is no rule saying that the links need to be to the most serious content on your site. Any links to your main domain name help, and links to a quiz will almost certainly improve your overall search engine ranking.

To show customers you have a sense of humor

If you are a more traditional business looking for a human voice, a quiz can help immensely. Personality quizzes are naturally fun, and you can let customers know that you don’t take yourselves too seriously. Quizzes add an element of play and interaction to your web site that many of your biggest fans will appreciate.

We love writing and marketing personality quizzes for clients, and we have written hundreds of successful quizzes over the years. We’ve even developed a few techniques to improve social media sharing rates, and we can help you spread your company’s message all over the internet with a well-written and executed quiz.

Sound good? Contact us below to find out more:

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Phone Number’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Having Trouble Finding Quizzes You Like?

We’ve been working on ways to help you find more relevant quizzes on Blogthings. The first thing we’ve introduced is quiz topics. Anytime you take a quiz, you can find related quizzes on the top right part of the page. Pictured below is an example of what it looks like.

We hope you enjoy this new feature and are able to find more quizzes you are interested in.

Can Blogthings Users Spell?

spelling.pngNo doubt about it, the internet is plagued with horrible spelling. (I admit I’ve probably contributed to this quite a bit!) I’m happy to report that Blogthings users are super spellers.

I recently wrote How’s Your Spelling? – which covers some of the most commonly misspelled words. On average, Blogthings users got 8.15 out of 10 questions right. I’d say this is pretty darn respectable.

Unsurprisingly, the average posted score on blogs was 9.39 out of 10 questions right. I guess even admitting your spelling is less than perfect is embarrassing for some bloggers!

Automatically Post Blogthings Quizzes to Myspace

Starting today, you can post Blogthings Quizzes automatically to Myspace.

Some other sites have had this feature for a while, but it was not officially supported by Myspace. We like to play by the rules, so we waited until Myspace gave us a way of doing this.

Any time you take a quiz, look for the button on the results page that says Add to Myspace. Just click on it, and you’re on your way to sharing the quiz you just took with your Myspace friends.

(just an example of what the button looks like – doesn’t really work for this post)

Want to try out this feature? Take one of our newest quizzes to get started.

Could Blogthings Predict the Election?

Probably not, but so far we’re 1 for 1! Fred Thompson was generally in the bottom three for our visitors when they took the Who Should You Vote For? quiz that we just launched yesterday. So it’s not that surprising that Fred was not popular enough to stay in the race. (And as a result, he has been removed from our quiz.)

Who would Blogthings visitors elect as president? Well, if they voted their hearts, early results suggest it would be Dennis Kucinich or Barack Obama. Who wouldn’t be president? For Blogthings visitors, it’s pretty clearly Mitt Romney.

Who Spends the Most Time on Blogthings?

Like Fanta soda and David Hasselhoff, Blogthings is most popular outside the United States.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. 66% of our traffic (measured in unique sessions) comes from the US. But if you measure visitors truly in terms of how much time they spend on our site, Americans are just about average. And that means over 100 nations bring us visitors who spend more time taking Blogthings than Americans do.

So where do our long lingering visitors come from? It’s fairly mixed. People from beachy, temperate places seem to enjoy hanging out at Blogthings… and the same can be true about people from some of the coldest areas in the world. We also have some long visits from people in countries that are predominantly Muslim.

Who Spends the Most Time at Blogthings (broken down by continent)

  1. Africa
  2. Asia
  3. Oceania
  4. Europe
  5. Americas

Who Spends the Most Time at Blogthings (broken down by country)

  1. Brunei
  2. Trinidad and Tobago
  3. Pakistan
  4. Bangladesh
  5. Norway

Who Spends the Most Time at Blogthings (broken down by US State)

  1. Alaska
  2. Idaho
  3. Wyoming
  4. New Mexico
  5. Hawaii

Who Spends the Most Time at Blogthings (broken down by European country)

  1. Norway
  2. Iceland
  3. Macedonia
  4. Estonia
  5. Malta