Matt Mellinger Posts

2015: The Year That Social Media Breaks Out

2015: The Year That Social Media Breaks Out

Marketing is not what it once was. In the past decade, social media has become a juggernaut in news, conversation, and business. Marketing is no exception; social media marketing is quickly becoming an integral factor in how content is presented and sold. Social media companies are becoming more than just networks. Think about it; what did you do this morning when you woke up? Did you go outside to get your morning paper, or did you check your Twitter feed to see what was trending? Did you check your Facebook newsfeed? The proof is in the pudding; social media is quickly becoming a pillar of life, and 2015 is going to be a HUGE year for social media marketing.

Let’s start with this basic idea: your consumers are increasingly embracing a “mobile-first” mentality. When smartphones and tablets first entered the mainstream consciousness, they were looked at as more of a second screen, which accompanied a television or computer. As apps were developed, tweaked, and more content became available for consumption, mobile devices wove their way into the fabric of our daily routine. Now, phones and tablets are firmly entrenched into our shopping habits, and are integrating themselves into our wallets. I walked into a coffee shop the other day, and not a single person was using cash! All of the customers were buying their beverages with the shop’s app. Gift cards are becoming more digital, and consumers are more than happy to leave the extra plastic at home.

Soon, social media and devices will make it so that you will not even need to carry around money in a wallet. Banks are incorporating money transfer services into their mobile apps, and more and more people are using apps like Venmo every day to transfer money to each other. If you have not already, your credit cards will likely be digitized into your phone, and cash will be more of an emergency item than a necessity. According to a Mashable article, the state of Iowa is making it so that your iPhone can digitally hold your driver’s license! Digital technology is looking to replace your billfold, and will be doing it sooner rather than later.

Most of the foundation of social media is text-based; however, 2015 should see a great increase in the way that companies market on a visual scale. If you have Instagram, you are no doubt seeing the “sponsored posts” that some companies are using to disrupt your news feed. This trend is more than likely to continue next year, as Instagram grows in popularity. A recent announcement from Instagram says that the photo-sharing service has reached 300 million followers, putting it above Twitter. Keeping this in mind, corporations are going to use Instagram as the leading source of image-based social media marketing.

You will also see Pinterest increase in follower numbers as well, because of how useful it is in niche communities. Pinterest helps people by providing pictures of food recipes and room decorating tips, among other functions. Pinterest is being used by a variety of people for a number of purposes, and that trend should continue well beyond 2015.

Finally, as social media increases, you will see networks establishing themselves as leaders in their fields. LinkedIn is taking steps to establish itself as “the” B2B platform for networking, Instagram is cementing its reputation as “the” social photography site. Every network is doing new things to make itself the go-to app.

Another trend that you will see in 2015 is the advent and rise of new networks. We are already seeing the effects that small networks like Ello are creating. People are always looking for the next new network to jump on, and you will have more than your fair share of those to choose from in 2015.

Marketing is in an exciting time. People are connecting more than ever before, and it is beneficial to your business to know the latest trends in social media. Get out there, interact, and start selling!

(Trends curated from TechRepublic and Forbes)

 

Not Just a Marshmallow World: Tasty Treats for the Holidays

Not Just a Marshmallow World: Tasty Treats for the Holidays

As far as food is concerned, the holiday season is an exciting time. The dominant factor in most holiday food is one thing: sugar. People love to enjoy sweet treats all year, but in December, the creativity and consumption is much more prevalent. In keeping with this theme, we have created a list of some of our favorite holiday sweets for you to enjoy.

Above all, gingerbread appears to be the order of the holiday season. Every year, gingerbread flavoring seems to find its way into more and more items, at an earlier time. The starting point is usually after Halloween; then, people stop searching for the pumpkins and start seeking out gingerbread. There will be gingerbread lattes, gingerbread men, gingerbread houses, and a myriad of other things that you can catch.

If gingerbread is the most common and popular holiday flavor, then peppermint is right behind it. Candy canes and other peppermint candies are a popular decoration on gingerbread houses, and peppermint mocha beverages are the order of choice in local coffee shops.

If you are looking for cookies apart from gingerbread men, you have a variety of options there as well. There is so much that can be done to the traditional sugar cookie that makes it a delicious holiday treat. What separates a sugar cookie from a Christmas cookie is all found in the presentation. By cutting a cookie a certain way and adding frosting designs, it becomes a Christmas cookie. The most common Christmas cookies are usually trees, snowflakes, and snowmen, but you can make your own designs to reflect your favorite holiday traditions.

Of course, if you want to add a snowy touch to your favorite confection, put a small amount of powdered sugar on top!

Image Source: Food Network: 12 Days of Cookies

Unwrap Holiday Revenue with GiftFly!

Did your business miss out on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday? There is still time to get in on your slice of holiday season revenue. GiftFly is an easy, turn-key gift solution that can be bought by anyone. Your customers will purchase eGift cards because they are convenient and thoughtful. Sign up with GiftFly today, and instantly create a new profit stream for the holidays!

Three Easy Steps to Creating a Call to Action

Three Easy Steps to Creating a Call to Action

As a business owner, the call to action is one of the most important things that you can use to promote your product. A good call to action will bring in potential revenue, and inspire a customer to do what you want them to do, when you want them to do it.

To have a truly engaging call to action, you must first lay the foundation, and explain the call to action. Tell the people what they are getting by clicking that button, and not just in the “Click Here for (insert call to action)” format. Be conversational, and add a human element to the explanation. Of course, clarity and conciseness are key to any call to action, but treat your message as if you are writing to someone in particular. In addition, offer up something in exchange for their information, such as a whitepaper piece or something else that will get your audience to put in the time and effort to click on your link.

As far as text is concerned, there are a few points that are integral to any great call to action. It is not enough to just tell someone what to do; you need to tell them how to do it. Hold the hand of the person that you are trying to entice with your copy, and make it as easy as possible for them to get to where you want them to go. Again, remember that clarity and conciseness are paramount, so use short, direct commands in your directions as well. Another thing that needs to be kept in mind with your copy is to use strong and commanding verbage in your call. In addition to this, utilize words that will emphasize a sense of urgency in a consumer. Never underestimate the power of a “limited-time” or “one night only”.

Finally, once you know what you want to do, and the words that you will use to get there, you need to design a button and graphic that will catch the eye of the viewer. Distinguishing your call to action is the most important thing that you can do. Make it big enough that it will be seen as an entity of its own, but position it so that there is plenty of whitespace as well. Use colors that will set your call apart from the rest of your site, but make it fit. For example, if the colors of your website are blue and orange, and the background of your website is mostly blue, use orange as the primary color for your button. Make it fit the theme of your website, but make it stand out.

With these simple steps implemented, your customers will not only see your call to action; they will heed it as well!

Gifting for the Holidays

You know the signs: the candy canes and the red and green packaging start to fill the grocery aisles, wreaths start to appear outside of businesses, and seemingly everyone has illuminated the exterior of their homes. It’s time to prepare your staff for the holiday shopping season. Last year (according to a survey done by the National Retail Federation), 141 million people did their holiday shopping during the four days after Thanksgiving time, spending a grand total of $57.4 billion. To carve out your slice of that pie, you need to start planning your marketing strategy now (if you have not already). At GiftFly, we have been doing some research, and we have come up with a few tips for you to maximize your email marketing campaign:

 

GET THE WORD OUT EARLY. Do whatever you can to let people know that you are having holiday sales and events, and use that to attract your business. Partner with local businesses that have will bring in similar customers, and hold events revolving around a particular holiday. If you build it (“it” being the sales), they will buy.

 

DO NOT OVERLOOK MOBILE. Use your social media presence to get people excited about your sales, and your business. More often than not, people are using laptops, tablets, and smartphones for their holiday purchases. Use this information to create sales, and use those sales in your business’ marketing campaign. People are constantly looking at their social media accounts, and doing so on the go. Get into their feeds, and bring in more customers.

Finally, here are some quick tips for your holiday email marketing strategy:

  • Integrate a seasonal element into your customer emails, even if it is just a graphic.
  • Prepare to send at a high volume in a short time period.
  • Get access to real-time analytics to find out what is/is not working.
  • Create subject lines that stand out.

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Get the Most(est) from Your Hostess Gift!

Get the Most(est) from Your Hostess Gift!

So, you are going to a relative’s home for Thanksgiving, and you want to show gratitude and appreciation beyond eating all of their food and watching football on their couch. What better way to say “Thank you” than buying a hostess gift? Usually people bring over a bottle of wine, bouquet of flowers, or something generic for the home. While those are great gifts, you know that you can do better, and we are here to help. Here are a few suggestions for creative gifts that will almost certainly put you at the top of next year’s Thanksgiving guest list:

Home decor is always a great idea for any hostess gift, but you want to go beyond the standard bouquet of flowers. Why not dress them up a bit with a festive vase? Your hostess will be able to re-use the vase throughout the holiday season, and you will make a lasting impression. If plants are not your style, pick up some holiday-scented candles! Nothing says “winter” like a nice pine aroma.

Do you want to guarantee that your gift will be used far beyond the holiday season? Buy a gift that relates to food. Platters, serving trays,  and dishes all come in a variety of styles, and fit every occasion. If you want to go with a gift that will be a conversation piece, buy either a slate cheese board or an olive oil mister. These are gifts that not many people have, but many should. These are unique items that will certainly have your gift become the talk of the party.

Finally, when all else fails, a bottle of wine is a good, reliable gift. However, if you want to be creative with your purchases, buy a bottle cooler. If you are going to an event where daytime drinking will occur, bring a basket with all of the necessary items to make Bloody Marys, mimosas, etc. If you are buying gifts on a budget, a 6-pack of beer in a brown bottle is nice, and this picture shows how you can spruce up even the most plain of gifts to make them festive.

If you take our hostess gift suggestions, you will see a holiday spike in your social calendar!

Photo Credit: (Life of a Modern Mom Blog http://lifeofamodernmom.blogspot.com/2010/11/reindeer-rootbeer-beer.html)

Celebrate Small Businesses on Saturday!

Celebrate Small Businesses on Saturday!

The weekend and Monday that follows Thanksgiving accounts for a lot of your holiday season revenue. According to statistic generated from IBM, Black Friday online sales came in at $1.19 billion, while Cyber Monday sales came in at $2.29 billion. Those numbers are staggering, no?

Small businesses get their chance to shine on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Established in 2010, Small Business Saturday was created by American Express in an attempt to get local businesses their cut of the lucrative holiday shopping pie. To learn more on how your business can participate, visit: http://amex.co/1bukTFx.

Consider adding eGift cards to your offering before the holiday rush to capture more gift card sales. Cater to today’s busy shopper providing them a convenient way to buy and send gift cards for your small business from any device, anywhere.

 

How Important Are Gift Cards to Holiday Sales?

How Important Are Gift Cards to Holiday Sales?

First Data Corp released its Prepaid Consumer Insights Study just in time for the holiday shopping season. First Data had 2,371 people respond to their survey, which provided a comprehensive look into the shopping habits, types of gifts bought, and the method and thought process behind those purchases.

The main focus of this post is that people are buying more and more gift cards each year. Out of the people surveyed, 84 percent planned on purchasing as many or more eGift cards than they had last year, and 81 percent of respondents said they would buy as many or more physical gift cards. This means that a lot of people are foregoing the traditional practice of buying a certain item for someone, and letting them choose what they want instead.

What does this mean for you? More people are going to come to your business if you buy gift cards. If you want to get in on the revenue that comes with the holiday season, creating a gift card solution is your best option. If you want to give your customers even more incentive to buy gift cards from you, adopt an online gift card solution, and create a doorbuster deal around midnight on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Another interesting statistic is found in the amount of money that people spend over their gift card balances. This year, people plan on spending an average of $23.41 over their card balance. That is an increase of $2.62 over the figures of last year.

Bottom line: gift cards are the best and easiest way that your business will make money this holiday season.

(Statistics from First Data Corp.)

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Holidays Come Early: Launching Your Holiday Promotion

Holidays Come Early: Launching Your Holiday Promotion

Marketing your business over the holidays is a part of getting in on the extra revenue. If there something that we talk about more than answering the question “How can I sell more eGift cards for my business?”, it would be saying that “Your customers cannot buy from you if they cannot see you”. This post will tell you what we have seen that does NOT work. You will learn all about which marketing practices to avoid, and from there, you can create a marketing plan that will work for you!

Before you do anything, make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row. Organize a plan, and think it through in a comprehensive way. Bounce it off of some of your most trusted friends and your staff, and do not be afraid to take their feedback. If you deem it to be constructive and feasible, take it! Once you have your plan in place, make sure that your staff knows what they are doing with the promotion. Train them properly, and make sure that they are ready to handle the large influx of customers that your promotion will incite.

Now that you have your plan ready, and your staff is prepared to take in as many customers as possible, it is time to send out the email that lets the masses know about your holiday sale. We have a quick summary prepared so as to give you the best possible email that you can create. The first thing that you need to know is that no one will read an email whose subject line looks like spam. Subject lines should be captivating and make the reader want to see what is inside your email. Make sure that your email is not in poor taste, and also that your pitch is not too sales-oriented. Lead the horse to water; don’t dunk its head into it. To that point, do not flood your consumers’ inboxes with emails. One well-placed message will do more good than ten messages in ten days.

Finally, do not miss out on the opportunity that last-minute shoppers provide for you. Just because they come to you later does not mean that they are any less important. Have some items ready for them to buy, or even stage a last-minute sale to let them know that you are ready for them! If your business follows these easy steps, your promotions will bring a lot of money home for the holidays!