You’ve created social media accounts for your business, but how do you actually get people to follow your page? Social media followers are potential loyal customers and advocates for your business. Ninety percent of shoppers say they buy from businesses and brands they follow on social media. A major focus of your social media marketing strategy should be growing your followers and cultivating your existing ones. This will help you increase your audience reach, boost engagement, and build a loyal following. We’ve outlined steps businesses should take to do just that.
You will attract new followers with content that engages and adds value. Consider content that is:
Helpful Useful tips and tricks go a long way with followers, and they have high reach potential – meaning followers may send it to friends or reshare it by posting it to their Facebook page, Instagram stories, or retweeting.
Thought-Provoking Anything that gets followers to leave a comment on your posts is well worth a shot, so ask questions. Does your company install micro-markets? Ask followers what their must-have snack is. Coffee service providers can ask “Do you prefer flavored or traditional roast coffees?” The options are endless.
Exclusive Give followers the advantage of hearing exciting announcements first on your social media page. This can include sales, new product offerings, or exciting business updates. You don’t need one type of content to work for everyone; try experimenting to discover what works best for your audience.
Visually Pleasing Some people just love a good aesthetic and seek that during their daily social media scroll-throughs. Remember each post is part of the same story!
Entertaining You can’t go wrong with a good meme. They’re easy to create and easily editable so that you can make them relevant to your business’s offering.
Follow Relevant Businesses
Following the social media accounts of potential customers in your area can serve as a great discovery tool. They’ll most likely follow your business in return, and this will help your page get suggested to their followers too. However, there are likely other prospects not even on your radar. We suggest partnering with your local Chamber of Commerce to get access to the names of decision-makers and notified of new businesses coming to your area. Following community organizations, especially those you support can also serve as a discovery tool. By liking and commenting on their posts, you’ll catch the eye of potential customers – and stay top of mind when they are ready to make a purchase.
Partner With Your Suppliers
In addition to following relevant businesses, you should follow your suppliers and partner with them to curate your social media posts. Brands have a wealth of pre-made graphics they are willing to share. This will ensure you use high-quality content that’s engaging and consistent. It also makes it easy for brands to feature you in their own content, which can lead to more exposure and more followers for your business.
Another strategy is to encourage user-generated content. This popular tactic involves reposting content created by customers. User-generated content (UGC) can include photos, videos, and product reviews that speak to the quality of your business’ products or customer service.
By rewarding customers with the possibility of reposting, UGC encourages engagement and exposure. For you to see their content, make sure they tag your account or incorporate your branded hashtag in their posts. This simple process introduces you to their followers, who could soon become yours.
Try commenting on the posts of other businesses or individuals in your community. You can answer questions, leave a helpful tip, or just provide some kind words. When people see your comments, they may be inclined to check out your page and eventually follow you. You can search for people and places by location using Facebook and LinkedIn.
Include Your Social Media Links on Everything
If possible, make sure that non-social media touchpoints can be used to access your social media accounts. Website pages, email campaigns, and other digital assets should include direct, functioning links to your channels. Run a micro-market? Tangible items like receipts or shopping bags can include your social media handles, too.
Use Relevant Hashtags
Give users a way to find you based on their interests, because there’s usually an intention to follow with hashtag searches. Use the names of your products and services, as well as popular terminology among your target audience (think #coffeebreak) to boost your chance of catching a potential follower’s eye.
Use Location Tags
This is another quick and easy way for people to find your page. Many people search by location — specifically cities — to find new businesses in their area. Others may search by location to find additional content of interest. Using location tags can be a powerful tactic, requires minimal effort, and helps increase traffic to your business. To stand out among the competition, ramp up your strategy by adding a location to your posts and stories.
Contests and giveaways are great for boosting engagement and gaining followers. To enter a giveaway, one must follow you, “like” the giveaway post, and tag a friend (or several) in the comments. It’s possible that some of those tagged friends will be interested in your content and follow you. Running a contest after an install for VendBucks or micro-market credits is one idea that’s easy to conduct. It will help drive traffic to your social pages, as well as the potential to increase sales.
Some other techniques to incentivize new followers include offering freebies or perks for proof of a follow. One idea is to hold a coffee tasting event and offer a free danish or pack of donuts to any employee that follows your business on social media. Be sure to have signage that includes your social handles, so it will be easier for those on-site to find and follow you.
Now that you have some ideas for content to post, you need to make sure it’s posted on a consistent basis. A sporadic posting schedule can put people off, because how valuable can your content be if it’s only posted once every few weeks? On a more technical level, consistency plays a big role in how algorithms determine what content your followers will see. To put it simply, consistent posting leads to consistent engagement and new follower growth, which is the goal.
You may have heard of a customer journey map, but are wondering what it is and how businesses can benefit from it. An effective customer journey map is a great tool to help you get inside the customer’s mind, understand their perspective, and learn how they interact with your company from start to finish. The better you understand your customer’s journey, the better you can improve their experience.
What Is a Customer Journey Map?
Your customer’s journey (sometimes called a user journey) is their experience from the moment they first learn about your business, to when they engage in purchasing your product or service, to when they receive after-sales communication. It is the entire lifecycle your customer goes through to convert from a prospect to a satisfied customer.
So, what is a customer journey map?
A customer journey map is the visual representation of your customers’ journey when engaging with your business. Customer journey mapping is used by many companies to understand every detail of their customers’ experience from discovery, to purchase, to long term customer service and retention.
Why Is a Customer Journey Map Important?
There are many reasons creating a customer journey map is beneficial for your business. Although no two customer journeys are alike, a customer journey map can help you ensure consistency in providing a great customer experience. It takes time and practice to create a customer journey map that is clear and effective, but it’s worth the effort.
An effective customer journey map can help you better understand and empathize with your customers. In other words, it will help you put yourself in your customer’s shoes. The customer’s experience should be illustrated at every touchpoint, until they achieve “satisfied customer” status. By doing this, your company can identify improvements to make the experience more efficient and rewarding.
Business leaders create customer journey maps that accomplish the following:
Result in a Desired Outcome
Whether it be contacting you for a free consultation or purchasing from a specific product line, your map should have a specific purpose and goal in mind. Are you creating a map to improve customer service, generate more sales, or eliminate specific pain points? Use your map as a tool to clearly identify obstacles on this journey, address them, and then eliminate them.
In mapping the customer journey, touchpoints refer to the platforms or locations where customers interact with your business. It can be an advertisement, a social media post, a website, or a Google Search results page.
Customers often go through multiple touchpoints on their journey. For instance, they might have heard of your business from a Yelp review before visiting your website. Identifying all potential touchpoints your customer may go through will help you better understand how you can impact them.
Create Customer Personas
Every customer is unique, comes from a different background, and may have varying expectations. For instance, a facility manager looking for a vending provider might not be looking for the same supplier as an HR manager shopping for an employee retention solution.
Your customer base can be made of multiple types of customers. Part of a compelling customer journey mapping session is identifying and differentiating between each one. Creating different maps tailored to different customer personas ensures your solutions are personalized to that customer type. Personas are powerful tools for predicting different behaviors by customer groups and tailoring your products or services to give them what they are looking for.
Along their journey, a buyer’s desire to purchase can weaken as doubts creep in. Is this really the right choice? Should I think about this for a few more months? When mapping, anticipate barriers to closing the sale and create plans to reduce or eliminate them.
Many sales are influenced by price, and they can be lost if a lower-cost alternative is available. Train (or re-train) your team on how to sell value over cost and the points of differentiation that make your offerings unique over the competition. Consider if it is OK to offer discounts or incentives to compete in tough situations and what concessions will make an impact without too much sacrifice to the bottom line.
Be sure your marketing and sales materials are in sync and proactively address the questions and concerns that come to mind along the customer journey. This can effectively remove small barriers before they become big obstacles to closing a sale.
Your existing customers are one of your most valuable assets so it’s important to invest in a plan to ensure their satisfaction and retention. How are you maintaining contact with them post-sale? Your map should address the content you will generate to market to and serve your customers. You should continually evaluate this content to ensure it is timely, relevant, and interesting.
Keep your customers up to date on news and promotions through regular social media posts, emails, newsletters, and website updates. Blogs, guides, and ‘how tos’ are also excellent ways to help customers without being overly sales-focused. Overall, digital marketing is the quickest and most efficient way to reach your customer base. It can also attract new prospects to your website to learn more about your offerings.
Listen to your customers’ feedback on your products and services to understand what you are doing well and how you can improve. Encourage them to share their thoughts and make it convenient for them to do it. Many companies check in with their customers through email surveys or good old-fashioned phone calls. Progressive companies are using apps to make it even easier for customers to share their feedback through a simple text message.
Mapping your customers’ journey will help you understand their experiences while engaging with your business. It will allow you to identify and better relate to the different types of customers you are serving (or hoping to serve). And it will help you develop strategies to improve the process from beginning to the end. Considering the factors in this article will help you make your map more comprehensive and effective. Examples of customer journey maps are readily available online. Consider using one from your industry as a reference to help you get started.
Challenging times can provide companies with opportunities to prove to their customers and the rest of the world that they are there to help when it matters most. But, reaching your customers online with authentic and meaningful messaging often requires targeted, personalized content. This shows prospects you see and think beyond the obvious and connect with your customers creatively, and with empathy.
Show Customers You’re Listening
Personalized content is more important than ever in a world where people’s lives have changed so much due to COVID-19. Delivering the best personalized content requires strong marketing strategies and a seamless online experience to meet people where they are.
Think of it as a conversation. Imagine that someone is telling you about their day, and you’re either not fully listening or you don’t quite understand something they’ve said. You have a couple of options. 1) Respond with a generic “That’s nice” or a smile and head nod. 2) Guess what they’ve said and respond from that. For both options, the probability of success is low.
Your customers share their thoughts, feelings, likes, dislikes, and their typical coffee order as data, and they know when you’re not listening. For example, industry-related topics are always beneficial when establishing your expertise in a particular field. But when you take it a step further and layer personalized content that speaks directly to a particular demographic–this is much more effective in grabbing their attention.
Adjust your messaging accordingly, and keep adjusting, because your customers are going to keep changing. You have to present the right message to the right customer on the right channel at the right time.
Deeper Connections Build Loyalty
Community and feeling connected are likely to remain important as we transition to a post COVID world. This will increase the value of customer relationships even further. Businesses that have taken steps to personally engage with customers during this difficult time will take customer loyalty to unprecedented levels, only seen before by the most iconic and most trusted brands. Over the years, those brands have built passionate customer loyalty. Difficult times call for creativity and new ideas. It is the perfect time to develop a personalized digital marketing strategy for retaining customers and gaining new ones.
VendCentral is a digital marketing agency solely focused on the refreshment services industry. Our team of digital marketing specialists can help deliver personalized, targeted messaging for your company. Interested to learn more about how we can help? Let’s chat! Contact us today to get started.
Great SEO ensures that beautiful website you’ve built is being viewed by potential new customers. Not a top search result? It’s time to use social media to improve your Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.
SEO performance is driven by keywords and elements on your company’s website – as well as by additional content that promotes your business online. Strong SEO boosts your website’s search rankings, resulting in increased traffic and leads.
SEO is a critical part of a successful digital marketing strategy. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to develop a social media program that improves your SEO.
Utilize Multiple Social Media Platforms
There are all sorts of creative ways to attract customers to your website through social media. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram each boast unique strengths when it comes to capturing and engaging your audience.
LinkedIn is the preferred platform for sharing professional content and acquiring new clients. 80% of B2B social media leads come from LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers a wide variety of searchable content and, like a website, the SEO of your LinkedIn page plays a role in how easily potential customers can find you.
Facebook is ideal for connecting with customers in a more casual and familiar way. While it isn’t the top platform for B2B marketers, Facebook is used by 77% of American adults, making it the most popular social media site overall. Be sure to include relevant keywords on your Facebook page and posts.
Instagram offers the opportunity to inspire customers with photos (think micro-market installs or delicious new products you’ve added to your menu). It is a great way to build an additional base of followers and attracts a younger demographic that prefers to share ideas and information visually.
To increase exposure, encourage employees and business associates to share your posts. Tag clients in your posts, when appropriate, to reach their social media followers too. It’s also a great idea to embed hyperlinks in your posts to draw customers to your website for more information.
Create Unique Blogs
Blog articles give potential and existing customers a deeper look at what is going on in your company and industry. Plus, they go a long way in establishing your organization as a business leader. Posting blog articles across social media platforms will provide additional opportunities to connect with your audience and drive them to your website.
Custom blog articles written specifically about your organization are usually the most interesting. They are also the perfect way to thoroughly explain how you are differentiating yourself from the competition. However, don’t be afraid to share industry related blog articles as well. They show that your company is on top of industry news and trends.
Take Advantage of Free Exposure
The digital world thrives on content. So, if you have exciting news it is likely third parties are willing to share it. Press releases will give you free exposure in industry publications too. Take advantage of opportunities like these to increase the number of people you reach with your content.
The top benefit of a well-developed social media strategy is the traffic it draws to your website. The more traffic your website generates, the better its SEO, and the higher it ranks in customer search results. A great social media strategy takes time and attention to fully evolve and produce results, but it is well worth the investment.
State by state, the gradual reopening of businesses has started. Many companies are beginning to take measured steps towards returning to work at the office. They are developing new procedures and accommodations to ensure employee safety amidst ongoing concerns about COVID-19. The decisions they make about the company breakroom will be an important part of their go-forward plan.
Last week, members of the refreshment services industry banded together to send a heartfelt and reassuring message to their customers throughout the nation. The message (shot in isolation from each person’s home or business) is an inspiring 2-minute video led by VendCentral, a marketing company dedicated to the industry. The takeaway from this video is clear: breakroom service providers are here to support companies as they transition toward a safer working environment.
Breakroom service providers are each responding to their own state’s COVID-19 re-opening schedules and guidelines. Moving forward, they are adopting even stricter health and safety measures than before. Delivery drivers are maintaining social distancing practices and are washing their hands or putting on a fresh pair of gloves before each visit. They are also sanitizing all contact surfaces and high touch areas at the end of every service call. The intent is to leave their clients’ breakrooms cleaner than they find them. Additionally, providers have developed social distancing policies in their own offices and distribution centers and are closely monitoring their employees’ health.
The company breakroom will be a valuable resource for employees in their new working environment. In fact, micro-markets and vending machines inherently provide a safer way for employees to access fresh foods, snacks, and beverages. Items offered in micro-markets and vending machines are individually wrapped in secure packaging for quick and easy “grab and go”. Vending machines and micro-markets also provide cashless payment options, limiting contact even further. By providing employees with plenty of fresh foods, snacks, and beverages in the breakroom, companies are able to satisfy their employees on-site during the workday, limiting their potential exposure to viruses by reducing trips outside the office for food.
Companies are increasing the frequency of their breakroom cleaning and sanitation and many are reducing or eliminating their seating options for now. However, they are continuing to provide food and beverage services. They are recognizing it as both a convenience to their employees and an opportunity to limit outside influences on their controlled office environment.
For companies looking to increase breakroom services for their employees, there’s help. Coolbreakrooms, a company dedicated to improving breakrooms across the nation, specializes in helping companies find trusted breakroom service providers in their hometown. For advice or assistance in modifying or upgrading your breakroom services, contact them at 866-699-8363 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
VendCentral’s Mobile Request Platform improves communication between operators and customers.
VendCentral’s Award-Winning Mobile Request Platform, specifically designed for the vending channel, has played an increased role in helping refreshment providers better serve their customers post COVID-19. The technology provides automated communication between customers and providers using a QR code and smartphone.
With the app, customers can directly access important COVID-19 information, report machine issues, request items, and more, all from the convenience of their own smartphone. QR codes are placed on vending equipment and include easy to follow instructions.
VendCentral’s app eases the workload of facility and office managers, allowing them to focus on other tasks. In the new workplace environment, they are appreciating this streamlined, contactless form of communication more than ever. Providers are also seeing improvements. The app helps them process requests in a more organized and efficient way, resulting in better customer service.
VendCentral’s Mobile Request Platform was previously awarded Product of the Year by Automatic Merchandiser and VendingMarketWatch.com. The company plans to continue to improve upon its exclusive technology and introduce a new version of the app in Fall 2020.
Americans spend 9+ hours per day on electronic devices. To capture potential facility managers’ attention, it is important to meet them where they are — online. One of the tools available in your digital marketing tool box is online reviews and testimonials.
Online reviews and testimonials impact everything from consumer buying habits to your brand perception. Since potential customers progress more than 70% of the way through the decision-making process before engaging a sales representative, your potential vending customers may not be finding information about your vending services. The key to engaging them is to deliver easy-to-find, high-value, relevant, and timely content especially reviews and testimonials.
Online Reputations Seal the Deal
In 2018, performing in-depth research such as reading reviews and testimonials via social media and other platforms is easy to do. Potential customers look to reviews and testimonials to understand what kind of vending experience they might have. Positive reviews can entice facility managers to visit your website for the first time. The overall picture created by reading your reviews helps facility managers come to a conclusion when they don’t know much about your company.
67% of facility managers believe online reviews are important when choosing a break room provider
57% of customers will eventually buy from a vending service provider they researched online
85% of facility managers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
97% of customers read online reviews for local vending services
74% of facility managers say positive reviews make them trust a local vending provider more
The more reviews that exist about your business, the more credible those reviews are perceived to be, and the more likely a potential customer is to visit your website. In addition to the number of reviews and their content, potential vending service customers want to see how many stars your business has. Stars play an important role as they encourage other potential customers to visit your website. For example, if your website is the second one in the results of a micro-market provider search AND it has a star rating, that potential customer is 154% more likely to visit your website.
Why Google and Facebook
Google and Facebook are number one and number two, respectively, for online reviews. While Facebook is the leading source for customer reviews, Google is the most used search engine, and 63.6% of consumers check reviews on Google before visiting a business’s website. Mobile searches almost always contain one of the following four words or phrases: “best,” “to avoid,” “worst,” and “is ___ worth it.”
Google reviews and ratings also impact local search results, which are based on relevance, distance, and prominence. As Google explains it, “Google algorithms might decide that a business that’s farther away from your location is more likely to have what you’re looking for than a business that’s closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.”
All Reviews and Testimonials Matter
Your customer reviews are integral to building trust. Bad reviews mixed with good reviews create an authentic online presence. For reviews to be perceived as authentic, they should vary by tone, and language, and grammatical and spelling errors. Reviews perform a specific function by answering questions for facility managers and creating personal connections to local vending services.
treat reviews and testimonials like precious assets
Star ratings and total number of reviews are important for attracting online searchers, BUT the content of your reviews has the power to influence purchase decisions. 82% of customers look for negative reviews to see if the flaws in your services are a one-time issue. Taking the time to respond to bad reviews is an opportunity to show responsiveness and empathy to current and future facility managers and their coworkers. When the reviews and comments are shorter, a higher quantity of reviews are necessary, while longer reviews mean fewer reviews are needed to build trust.
Plan of Action
Step 1: Build your Google and Facebook profiles (ex. pictures, contact information, and company overview).
Step 2: ASK — 68% of consumers left a local business review when they were asked. Let the facility managers and employees of your existing customers know why and how their reviews will help.
integrate asking for reviews into the sales/customer retention process or marketing strategy
ask for feedback about specific aspects of your business
keep review and testimonial requests short and sweet
make sure review and testimonial requests come from the same place you want your reviewer to leave a review
include icons on your website to direct visitors to your Google business listing and Facebook page where they can leave reviews and testimonials
Example: Send the following message on a postcard with your business logo to a facilities manager. “Thanks for your business. If you have a few minutes, please visit any of the sites below and leave a comment or review about us”. Include a list of shortened URLs that led directly to your business’s profile on Google and Facebook.
Step 3: What to do with Reviews and Testimonials
respond regularly and publicly using polite and helpful responses to all reviews
develop a management response strategy to respond to negative reviews
respond quickly with empathy and compassion
set up Google Alerts to notify you when your company is mentioned
track reviews especially poor ones; it allows you to see a pattern (if there is one)
work with customers to find a reasonable resolution to a bad experience
Share positive reviews and testimonials on your website and social media channels, and include them in email communications, etc.
You have a great vending company, with a great reputation. You get good quality vending, office coffee service and even micro market customers through word of mouth and references. So why do you need online or digital marketing? Because that is where these interactions are happening more and more for facility and human resource managers, online and in social media channels.
Check out these stats! In a 2014 business to business (B2B) study, nearly all the participants reported doing online research when considering partnering with a new business.
77% do a Google search
3% check the business’ website
41% read user reviews
Only 12% want to meet in person
The take-away? You need to be marketing your vending company where facility managers and human resource professionals are looking.
Digital marketing is powerful
The high rate of online research, use of reviews, and attitude about in-person meetings versus online purchasing mean that to be considered by the refreshment service decision makers of today, a strong digital marketing effort is needed. Even if your customers are referring you to other people offline, those prospects are researching your vending company on Google and LinkedIn and Facebook and your website. They need to be impressed with what they see, including how you will make their job creating a rewarding employee experience and providing on-site refreshment easier.
Digital marketing has benefits for your sales department as well. With the right search engine marketing and content, your online presence will get qualified leads, not just traffic. These are the facility managers, culture teams, and human resource professionals in your service area that match your ideal customer criteria. You can actively search for them and engage them on social media platforms. Bring them into your sales funnel to start converting them to your customers.
Finally, digital marketing builds long-term bonds with customers. Being seen and well-represented online ensures existing vending, office coffee service, and micro market customers continue to see you as a professional service provider. They can quickly discover your new product and service offerings or contact you in the way most convenient for them. Fostering these relationships turns your customers into brand advocates, who will not mind telling others about your company. They know that when those people go to find you online, they will like the refreshment service offerings and professionalism they see, thanks to digital marketing.
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Technology has advanced quickly. In less than a century we’ve gone from rooms dedicated to giant computing devices to the mini mobile computers that fit into a single pocket. This swift transformation of where and how people get information has brought marketing changes as well. Gone are the days where a memorable logo and glossy brochure would garner new business. Now, companies need to be everywhere, in print, but also online with a presence that impresses customers and brings in new business. Companies must constantly update their look and platform to maintain a professional image that matches what human resource and facility managers expect from modern service providers.
This change isn’t because the vending machines, office coffee service, or micro-market services you are offering are no longer valuable, but because where and how your customer is searching for the services has changed. They are looking online. You need to be where they want to find you and exceed their expectations.
It’s not just about a website
A quality website is a must. It used to be that a website had a shelf-life of 3-4 years before it looked dated and old fashioned to the customer. Now, that shelf-life can be closer to 12-18 months. This means by the time you’ve selected the look of your site, created content, approved and loaded it — it might already be too old. Not to mention the challenge of using social media and the right keywords to draw attention to your operation online. Customers are using search engines to find exactly the services they want with specific keywords, social media to determine your reliability as a service provider, and your website as a measure of your professionalism. It’s more essential than ever to work with a marketing team that can keep you relevant, that adapts to the latest search engine parameters, updates design with photo rich layouts, and keeps the content new and fresh across multiple platforms in a timely manner that will benefit your business.
There is more to marketing than just content and design, however. There is also knowing how to use that marketing to monitor who is coming to your site and turning that person into a lead. It’s about not just being relevant to new businesses, but knowing how to reach that new business and build a relationship that will quickly turn into a refreshment services contract. The right online marketing partner will deliver actionable customer interactions to you, that will ultimately grow your business. That’s the power of tech-savvy online marketing.
Contact us for your digital marketing needs!