Internet Fast Food Market Opportunities

Almost half of U.S. internet users patronize fast food restaurants regularly, according to a recent study.

Internet Fast Food Market Opportunities

The study is part of an infographic from GlobalWebIndex. The infographic states that 42 percent of internet users in the U.S. are regular eaters of fast food, making it one of the biggest markets for fast food restaurants in the world.

In addition, the infographic states that fast food consumers are 44 percent more likely than others to have interacted with a brand on a mobile app in the past month. They are also 24 percent more likely to follow brands they are thinking of buying something from on social media, and 28 percent more likely to opt in for personalized loyalty rewards from brands.

So what does this mean for small businesses? Well, if your business is a fast food franchise or independent quick service restaurant, the link is clear. Using methods like mobile apps, social media and personalized loyalty programs can be a great way to appeal to returning customers.

But it’s not just fast food restaurants that are seeing results from these methods. New media and marketing methods like mobile apps and social media have proven to be a great way for all types of brands to reach their ideal customers. But it can be especially relevant to the brands that have some overlap with those regular fast food consumers. For example, if your brand is known for convenience features like fast shipping or delivery, your business could very well appeal to a lot of those same people who appreciate the convenience of fast food restaurants.

Overall, it’s a good idea to do some research on your target audience and learn which methods and channels are most likely to appeal to them. For fast food and quick service restaurants, that seems to include things like mobile apps and personalized loyalty programs. And your business could potentially benefit from using some of those same methods as well.

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Internet Fast Food Market Opportunities

Fast Food Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "42 Percent of Internet Users in the US Are Regular Fast Food Eaters" was first published on Small Business Trends

5 Website Google Violations To Avoid

For website owners and/or managers, there are many paths for online marketing and optimization. From SEO to PPC and content marketing to social media marketing, there is certainly no shortage of ways through which to achieve your goals. However, those options and opportunities for your website come with rules that you have to play by, and if you don’t, you could find your website in hot water.

If you’re reading this and what I’m saying applies to you, then there’s a good chance Google is your search engine of choice for marketing and optimization. In regards to SEO and general website management, Google plays by the rules they’ve carefully developed and continue to evolve over time. The guidelines Google has for website management keep the focus on providing the best experience and information possible for users while also preventing any one website or brand from cheating their way to the top.

Beware Google Violations

That being said, there are many instances in which businesses end up on Google’s bad side or with a penalty without doing so intentionally. You’ve probably heard horror stories of this happening to website owners, seeing a drastic plummet in rankings overnight or realizing they’ve fallen victim to an algorithm update and earned a penalty. Such penalties can severely hurt a website or business, as they can negatively impact traffic, ranking, and performance. In my experience, I’ve seen plenty of websites from clients that were completely unaware they’d done anything to get on Google’s bad side in the first place.

While there’s a long list of things that can get your website slapped with a penalty or red flagged by Google, there tends to be a few common ways that businesses end up in that position. Check them out below, and ensure that you’re actively taking steps to prevent these slip-ups.

Common Ways a Website Gets in Trouble

Black Hat SEO

One of the single most common issues that gets website in trouble is Black Hat SEO. This includes shady practices like cloaking, keyword stuffing, hidden text, using link farms, and much more. In short, black hat SEO practices try and skirt around the rules to get SEO results in half the time. As I’ve said before, there are no short cuts when it comes to SEO, and any practice that tries to take such a shortcut will very likely get you in a lot of trouble. Unfortunately, some businesses hire what they think is a reputable SEO company and later find out that they were doing black hat SEO for their website after being caught by Google. As a rule of thumb, website owners and managers should familiarize themselves with what black hat SEO is so they can spot it early if it’s coming from an SEO provider or avoid it altogether.

Duplicate Content

Many website owners and managers don’t realize what a problem having duplicate content is. This is especially true for e-commerce websites with hundreds of product listing pages, as it can be difficult to come up with unique content over and over again. However, in the eyes of Google, duplicate content directly equates to low-quality or less useful information for users. It’s a labor of love, but the copy on your website should be well written and unique on every page.

Excessive Guest Blogging

Google just recently issued a warning about abusing guest posting in order to gain links. To be clear, guest posting is by no means a black hat or shady strategy. However, having an article published across many different sites or guest posting low-quality content is considered a violation of Google distributor guidelines and should be avoided at all costs. For bloggers especially, it’s important to focus on building relationships that open up valuable guest posting opportunities. The posts you guest blog should be your best work and in no way reflective of spammy or less useful content, or Google will eventually catch up with you.

Slow Page Speed/Poorly Performing Site

This matters a lot, because Google regularly crawls sites and accounts for how functional and accessible they are. Having a slow page speed, not being mobile friendly, or having a difficult to navigate site shows Google that your site isn’t the best option for users to find in their search results. By now we know that page speed, mobile friendliness, and ease of website crawling are factored into algorithms. Checking to see how your website performs through user testing and testing page speed are both things website owners should check on if they haven’t already.

Hacked Websites

Security is a big factor for Google, because they want to know that user information is secure on the websites they visit. Hacked websites are up 32% in the past year, posing a significant threat to the performance and success of websites as well as the security of users. Securing your website is an important and necessary step all webmasters must take if they intend to be successful on Google. From simple practices like implementing two-step authentication to purchasing more advanced security packages, it’s in your interest to make your website security airtight to avoid a penalty from Google.

Sinking Ship Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "These 5 Violations will Sink your Website with Google" was first published on Small Business Trends

What is Clickbait and Why Should You Be Careful Using It to Promote Your Business?

Content marketing is all about generating traffic. If you can’t attract visitors to your site, your chances of online success are virtually non-existent.

Yet over the past couple of years, there’s been a surge of marketers and small business owners trying to find an easier route to bolster ftraffic by producing and promoting so-called ‘clickbait’.

When used shrewdly and sparingly, clickbaiting can be an effective marketing tool — but you’ve got to tread carefully. More often than not, clickbait is a recipe for disaster.

What is Clickbait?

You’ve seen clickbaiting everywhere, even if you aren’t always aware of it.

Simply put, clickbait is a piece of content that intentionally over-promises or misrepresents in order to pull users onto a particular website. Clickbait generally captures users with a snappy, sensationalist headline — such as “you won’t believe this”, or “you’ll never guess what happened next” — but then fails to deliver on the user’s implicit expectations.

One of the more popular types of clickbait content is to produce “listicles” that aggregate content from other sites in order to pull a wider range of users onto one site.

Clickbait articles tend to run under 300 words, and don’t ordinarily include original ideas or content. Instead, they’re summaries of longer stories or embedded videos that could be found elsewhere, and upon inspection don’t necessarily match their corresponding headline or lede.

A lot of small business owners and marketing agencies like to use clickbait because it’s a super-fast way of generating web traffic — and it can generate results. Industry-specific listicles in particular can save users a lot of time and energy attempting to aggregate information for themselves. The subsequent increase in traffic this content creates can improve a site’s search engine presence phenomenally. Generally speaking, that’s a win-win.

Whether that traffic directly translates to higher conversion rates and an increase in sales is more difficult to say. But if companies over-rely on clickbaiting, it can often come back to bite them hard.

Why Should You Be Careful Using Clickbait to Promote Your Business?

The trouble is clickbait over-promises and under-delivers, so chances are most of your would-be customers try to avoid it whenever possible. After all, nobody likes to feel like they’ve been duped or had their time wasted — and so if you start publishing or promoting clickbait too often, your brand might become toxically synonymous with questionable information or wasted time.

More important still, you could be shooting yourself in the foot in terms of SEO.

Search engines like Google factor a whole lot of criteria into their algorithms when producing results pages for users — and one of those factors is the quality of web content. Every couple of months, Google rolls out a number of updates designed to sift through clickbait, duplicate content and fake news, and subsequently punishes the pages and websites associated with that low-quality content by pushing them further down the results pages.

Another factor search engines look at when ranking different sites is a webpage’s bounce rate. If users click onto a page, identify the content as useless and immediately “bounce” away from the site without clicking to another page, Google generally classes that site as less valuable from a user standpoint. The more users bounce away from your pointless content, the more your website suffers.

Facebook has taken its own steps against clickbait, too. Last summer, the social media giant unveiled a new algorithm update that identifies clickbait being posted by companies, and subsequently prevents those posts from showing up in users’ News Feeds.

Bearing this in mind, it’s worth thinking twice before hosting clickbait on your company website or sharing it on social media. When used sparingly and creatively, it can generate positive traffic that could ultimately bolster your online presence. That increased profile comes hand-in-hand with a number of indirect benefits.

But relying too heavily on clickbait is also a sure-fire way to harm your SEO, lose social media followers and tarnish trust in your brand. So, you really should tread carefully. Sometimes it pays dividends to avoid hopping on the bandwagon — and unless you’re a confident marketer, that means you just might want to steer clear of clickbaiting.

Fishing Lure Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "What is Clickbait and Why Should You Be Careful Using It to Promote Your Business?" was first published on Small Business Trends

Billion Dollar Fitness Mogul Shares 10 Tips for Building a Brand Around a Mission

Does your business have a mission, which goes above and beyond making money and profit? The savviest of companies use their mission to build their brand. They never falter in their unwavering commitment to develop their brand around their unique mission.

One highly reputable business magnate who has successfully built a brand around a mission, is Carl Daikeler, CEO and co-founder of Beachbody.

Daikeler and his co-founder Jon Congdon created Beachbody is 1998. Congdon is now President and Chief Marketing Officer of Beachbody and helps drive the company’s mission to help people achieve their goals and enjoy a healthy, fulfilling life.

The California-based company has gone on to be a leading resource of home fitness and nutrition tools, providing top weight-loss solutions, such as P9OX, Insanity and 21 Day Fix.

Through the Team Beachbody Coach Network, it is Daikeler’s aspiration to generate the largest community of peer support related to health and fitness in the world.

Beachbody’s approach to fitness and its mission to help people achieve their fitness goals, has meant it has attracted the support of millions of satisfied customers.

Building a Brand Around a Mission

Small Business Trends caught up with Daikeler, who provided 10 inspiring tips for building a brand around a mission.

Make It About the Results

According to Daikeler, it’s not about the brand, it’s about the results.

“I’ve often seen charities — which should be the MOST mission-driven organizations — be more about their brand than they are about the RESULTS of their efforts. Such a waste,” said Daikeler.

Beachbody is helping people get healthy and fit and its co-founder and CEO says the brand doesn’t matter unless people are getting better results with the company’s combination of fitness, nutrition and peer support than any other solution.

Align Staff and Management on the Mission

Daikeler also advises businesses building their brand around a mission to ensure staff and management are aligned to the mission. Though the successful fitness mogul warns it’s not always easy to do this:

“Keeping the finance and operations department aligned on the mission isn’t easy. They hear about the mission and think ‘Yeah, right. So about the profits.’  You need to make sure decisions are made that do not contradict the mission in every area of the business.”

Train Salespeople Not to Sell but to Solve Problems

Daikeler advises businesses to think in the longer term, about the relationship they are starting with the customer and stand behind what they promise. At Beachbody, the company aggressively trains people not to sell, but to help solve a problem.

“’I’m not here to convince you. I’m here to help you.’ Salesmanship cannot be about the numbers,” warns Daikeler.

Commit and Deliver on Your Promises

The Beachbody co-founder and CEO says when building a brand around a mission, businesses should commit and deliver on their promises.

“We promise to help people get healthier and lose weight in a specific period of time. If we don’t achieve the promise, we either give people their money back, or preferably find a way to better serve them on what we promised,” says Daikeler, advising other businesses to stick to their mission’s promises.

Know That It Will Be Hard

“Everything is hard and there’s always competition,” Daikeler says. But Beachbody knew creating solutions to get people results would force them to actually workout with intensity, and it would require them to admit “cheap nutritional supplements” are worthless.

Other businesses should know it will be hard but realize that quality matters.

“But it’s hard to sell the real thing in a sea of charlatans. It’s hard. But we handle it,” the health and fitness mogul commented.

Treat People with Respect and Be Courageously Forthright

Another point Daikeler shared in his tips on building a brand around a mission, is to always treat people with respect and be “courageously forthright.”

Daikeler cautions a mission to solve a problem plaguing society for so long — like weight loss — will come with pitfalls. There is no template for success, which is why the problem still exists.

Daikeler advises businesses to admit mistakes, treat customers with respect and make it right “100 percent of the time.”

Improve Everything

Daikeler also recommends businesses should keep improving and stay committed to serving the mission.

“As we peel back the layers of the onion, we see that there is no silver bullet. There’s always a next best thing,” says Daikeler.

Beachbody breaks successful business models — when necessary — to better serve the mission. That’s why, for example, the company created Beachbody On Demand, recognizing that DVDs are dead.

Observe What Works

According to Daikeler, other successful businesses leave clues on how to promote and influence with less mission-oriented initiatives. While the missions may be different, the strategies and tactics can be similar, and businesses should pay attention to everything, observing what works.

Work with Passion and Enthusiasm

“If your passion to live up to the promise of your mission doesn’t burn hot, you will drift when the going gets tough (And it will get tough. Guaranteed),” Daikeler warns.

Businesses should find a way to “keep their fire stoked.” In order to achieve this, Daikeler says he listens to customer success stories and hunts for Beachbody’s own weaknesses — a process he never stops!

Care

Finally, all businesses need to care, Daikeler advises.

“Our mission to help people achieve their health and fitness goals strikes a very sensitive nerve for many people. Throughout the company we make it a point, whether they are staff, management, vendors, reps, or customers, we care about their experience when it comes to our company,” Daikeler told Small Business Trends.

Other businesses should do the same, he says, as caring is all part of the mission.

If you have any experiences or success stories on building a brand around a mission, feel free to share them with us.

Image: Carl Daikeler

This article, "Billion Dollar Fitness Mogul Shares 10 Tips for Building a Brand Around a Mission" was first published on Small Business Trends

How To Boost Conversions with Influencer Marketing

Every marketer has their little tricks up their sleeves when it comes to promoting their brands. Usually they follow by the same general model, adapting the same practices to different projects, or to fit certain needs. There is nothing wrong with this method, but it won’t work if you don’t add in new ways of marketing as they become more successful with customers.

Influencer marketing is a clear example of this thought in practice. Social media has been a powerhouse in promotion for years. But where that new means of marketing meets more traditional forms of endorsement advertising has been growing, though many people are still shaky on how to properly apply it to their campaigns.

Why Influencer Marketing?

Businesses keep doing the same mistake again and again: They discover a traffic generation strategy (in the vast majority of cases that’s Google search) that works for them, start growing exponentially and then instead of reinvesting into discovering more growth opportunities they keep feeding from that single source until it stops working for them.

Unlike most of online marketers may think, Google search is not the only source of traffic and awareness. There are more ways to generate clicks and sales:

The power of word of mouth should never be underestimated. People buy from people and via people’s recommendation. That is where the power of influencer marketing comes into play.

Influencer marketing is essentially the newer form of celebrity endorsement. We all remember sitting around Saturday morning and seeing a commercial for Proactive come on the screen, with a flawless skinned A-list actress trying to convince us that she had a problem with acne at some point in the past.

Think of influencer marketing as a more down-to-earth, simple version of that idea. You are taking the equivalent of celebrities in the digital realm (YouTubers, social media stars, bloggers, etc.) and having them push your brand into the spotlight. They endorse you to their fans which can be in the literal millions, and you reap the benefits.

The bigger of those benefits is creating a solid, trusting customer base. That base includes the influencer(s) that you have managed to snag. It is a mutually beneficial relationship that can vastly increase your conversions.

How To Boost Conversions with Influencer Marketing

Now that you understand why influencer marketing is so great, we can start looking at ways to incorporate it into your campaigns and get those conversions really growing. These are by no means exhaustive, but consider them your starting point. It won’t be long before you begin to see results, and can build on them.

Know Your Influencers Well

There is no point in trying to target an audience, much less find an influencer to help you do so, if you don’t really know who you are talking to. Before you begin you need to really understand the demographic you are catering to. Not just who they are, where they live and the basics (age, gender, education and income level, etc.). You need to know what they want, need, and don’t even realize they need.

Who do they watch you YouTube? Do they prefer Netflix or Hulu? Do they use Tumblr? Reddit? Facebook? Snapchat? Instagram? Do they like dogs or cats better? Do they put ranch on their pizza? It might seem like overkill, but the better you know your audience the more direct your trajectory will be when finding the perfect influencer to reach them.

Talking to your audience is almost always the first step to understanding them better. I’ve always been an advocate of surveying tools to help you better understand your niche community. Moreover, surveys provide so many opportunities beyond the obvious audience research. For example, you use them to actually build connections with influencers (by providing them with various perks in exchange for taking the survey). And afterwards, you can turn the results into a solid linkable brand asset and invite all the participating influencers to spread the word. That’s what Moz has been doing, quite successfully, with their “Search Engine Ranking Factors“:

  • Invite niche influencers to participate
  • List those influencers as contributors on the landing page
  • Build trust and turn your brand into the niche knowledge hub which, in turn, brings more conversions because buyers now know who they are buying from:

How To Boost Conversions with Influencer Marketing

Featured tool: I know there are a few obvious surveying tools out there but I’ve recently discovered Wyzerr which is probably new for most of the readers. It lets you build fun interactive quizzes that are actually enjoyable to take, so you are likely to get many more responses with it:

How To Boost Conversions with Influencer Marketing

Work out a Flexible and Effective Rewarding Strategy

I have just mentioned perks above and this is something you need to put some thorough thought into.

I am approached by so many companies on a daily basis: they invite me to check their tools out, participate in expert interviews and compete their surveys. Sadly, there are so few companies who actually get the “rewarding” part.

Don’t get me wrong: Not all influencers will insist on being rewarded. Most of them will simply want you to be polite. No one likes being used. Never demand.

That’s why I emphasized being flexible in the heading above. Don’t go to each influencer with the same cookie-cutter approach: Some of the influencers will want to be paid while others will get offended when you offer them a pay. Some possible perks include:

  • Exclusive access to your tool;
  • Free trip to your conference or meetup;
  • The opportunity to get featured together with other prominent niche influencers, etc.

Don’t miss the opportunity to thank your influencers after your campaign is wrapped up. Simply sending out a thank-you card or a branded coupon card can go a long way. It can very cost-effective too. Stock photography can come for free (here’s a good list) and designing a card is easy with sites like Canva.

Remember a proper “Thank you” notice is yet another opportunity to engage those influencers in sharing your brand around. As an example, here’s me sharing Buzzsumo’s gift basket because I was truly surprised and excited:

How To Boost Conversions with Influencer Marketing

There will be different rewards for different influencers, so there needs to be a tool that could help you manage the process properly. Salesmate helps organize and scale your influencer onboarding. It lets you clearly see which step of influencer onboarding your managers are at and what works for different influencers in terms if incentives:

How To Boost Conversions with Influencer Marketing

Salesmate integrates well with all my favorite apps too, so it’s nice to be able to keep everything under one roof.

Important note: When working on your rewarding strategy, keep in mind the legal aspects of online endorsement. Kerry O’Shea Gorgone gave a solid outline of disclosures influencers should be using when endorsing anyone online:

How To Boost Conversions with Influencer Marketing

Learn The Power Of Micro-Influencers

You don’t have to always be looking to get the guy who has a million Twitter followers to promote your brand. How about the gal with 100k? Or that teen blogger who has managed to build a steady ad-revenue through their beauty blog? Influencers come in all sizes, and that is where micro-influencers come in.

They don’t have the reach of the most popular social media mavens, but they have a dedicated audience and are often easier to secure. Plus you can build a relationship with them that goes beyond just marketer/talent.

It all comes down to how engaged their community is rather than how many followers they have managed to build!

Tools like Klear and Twitonomy will help you both discover and analyze the reach of niche (micro-)influencers. They both work for Twitter. Here are more ways to discover influencers beyond Twitter.

How To Boost Conversions with Influencer Marketing

You may also want to up your social media engagement by investing in Facebook ads and target your influencers’ followers. You’ll be sure to generate many more leads from your advertising campaign if you incorporate your influencers’ identity (logos, pictures) into your display advertising. Of course, you need to get influencers’ permission first.

Aim Higher: Focus on Building Loyalty

Brand loyalty is always a must, and influencer marketing really helps you to build it. They already have a relationship with their audience, and they are putting you forward as trusted within that relationship.

You are reaching them through someone they already know they can and should listen to. If you can prove to them that trying your brand out was a positive decision then you have a chance to hooking them for life.

Influencer marketing campaign shouldn’t really focus on the actual ROI (conversions or sales). There’s much more to it: The long-term goal should be to build trust which always results in a natural increase in conversions.

Building a brand ambassador program is a natural extension and a goal of an influencer marketing campaign.

Jeff Bullas (speaking of influencers) did an awesome breakdown of how you can use brand ambassadors by utilizing visual content.

Conclusion

There are many different ways that we can market our brands. Conversions are the natural conclusion to those efforts, and so we tend to be tangled up in the bigger picture. Breaking it down into smaller aspects of each campaign we can see where every piece fits into the whole.

Influencer marketing may not be the sandwich, but it is at least the cheese between the slices of meat. It adds something real and effective where that final push was lacking. You can vastly improve your conversion rate with the right influencers driving interest.

Do you have any tips for using influencer marketing to boost conversions? Let us know in the comments!

Influencer Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Influencer Marketing Secrets Revealed: Can it Boost Conversions?" was first published on Small Business Trends