How Successful Small Businesses Use Twitter – Part 1

May 17th, 2013 Comments off

blog_twitter-for-small-business-2Twitter is a powerful communication tool for growing a small business. The service provides a great way to communicate with your customers and get instant feedback regarding how your product or service is perceived in the customer’s eyes.  It also provides an easy and free method to promote special events, new products or special promotions that your business is running.

If you haven’t used Twitter yet, we’ve created this two-part article series for you to get started.   Part one covers the Twitter basics including how to choose a username, how to write your bio, the one tip that will guarantee your success, and a bonus glossary.

How to choose a username
Prepare yourself for the likelihood that your first username choice is unavailable. If your business name is available, go with that option. If your business name is not available, try an abbreviated version of your name, adding an underscore, including your location, including your motto or mascot, or a new word combination.

How to write your bio
Think of your Twitter bio as an elevator pitch. There is a 140-character limit (just like tweets). Make sure to include who you are and what you offer. In your bio, describe your business in a compelling way and give people a reason to follow you. One or two hashtags (example: #postage) is appropriate. Don’t forget to add your website and location in the designated space, and to upload a simple photo for your avatar.

Listen first
If you remember only one tip from this post, make it this: listen first (and often). The purpose of marketing is to provide value to potential and current customers, and nowhere is this more relevant than Twitter. Use Twitter as an extra set of eyes looking out for what your customers care about (and when they’re upset). Before you start sending out tweets, spend a couple weeks following businesses that are similar to yours and observing their behavior. Notice who they follow, the frequency and content of their tweets, and their engagement levels (look at @ replies and retweets).

BONUS: Glossary
The basics, to get you started with Twitter lexicon.

  • @ Sign – Used to indicate a username. When you put an @ before a username, it links to that Twitter profile.
  • Direct Message (DM) – These are private tweets between the sender and recipient.
  • Hashtag (#) – This symbol is used for keywords or topics in a tweet.
  • Mention – A mention is including another user in a tweet by using the @ sign followed by the username.
  • Modified Tweet (MT) – Use this symbol before someone else’s tweet that you’ve changed.
  • Retweet (RT) – This forwards a copy of someone else’s tweet to your followers.
  • Tweet – A message posted on Twitter that is 140 characters or less.

Be sure to watch for part two of this series where we’ll be sharing ideas for what to tweet and how to handle customer complaints.

Now that you understand the basic methods for using Twitter, start today by visiting Twitter and signing up!

Best Practices: 6 Tips to Keep Your Passwords Safe

April 29th, 2013 Comments off
With the rise in identity theft and online security breaches, good password management has never been more important. Strong passwords ensure your information is kept private.
Here are 6 tips to keep your online passwords secure:
1. Include a combination of upper and lowercase alphabetic characters, symbols, and numbers.
2. Make sure the password is more than six characters (the longer, the better).
3. Avoid using all or part of your name in your password.
4. Stay away from using an all-numbers password or a single, repeated letter.
5. Steer clear of reusing or recycling passwords.
6. Rotate your passwords every three months.
Does your Stamps.com password meet these standards? Click here to change yours.

blog_password-lockWith the rise in identity theft and online security breaches, good password management has never been more important. Strong passwords ensure your information is kept private.

Here are 6 tips to keep your online passwords secure:

Tip #1 Include a combination of upper and lowercase alphabetic characters, symbols, and numbers.

Tip #2 Make sure the password is more than six characters (the longer, the better).

Tip #3 Avoid using all or part of your name in your password.

Tip #4 Stay away from using an all-numbers password or a single, repeated letter.

Tip #5 Steer clear of reusing or recycling passwords.

Tip #6 Rotate your passwords every three months.

Does your Stamps.com password meet these standards? Click here to change yours.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

Social Technology Your Business Can’t Miss

April 17th, 2013 Comments off

blog_social-media-technologyMaintaining your company’s Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, and other social accounts in tandem can be a labor-intensive undertaking. However, social technology tools exist that make posting content, monitoring mentions, and providing service an easy, innovative, streamlined process. From your improving your online marketing efforts, to empowering your sales team – read on to see how social can make your business better in every way.

Social Automation
The companies who have the most followers and online engagement on Twitter tend to send approximately 22 tweets over the course of each day. Since it’s considered poor conduct to send all 22 tweets at once, you need to find a way to space them out.

Marketing automation software makes it easy to post content to all of your social profiles in a consistent, timely manner. You pre-populate the software with content and schedule it to post to your accounts at a rate and time of your choosing. Social automation software can also:

  • Send a pre-written direct message to your new followers
  • Post a link to your profiles every time your blog has a new post
  • Schedule updates for all of your accounts or only for specific profiles.

Remember that in order to produce effective and engaging marketing, consistently adding content to your social profiles is only half the battle. It’s up to you and your marketing team to make sure that your posts are interesting to your audience, appropriate for your company, and effective in turning followers into customers.

Social Customer Service
A recent Oracle report found that more than half of Twitter users expect a response within two hours of tweeting a complaint, but 58% of users who tweet about a bad experience will never receive a response from the company (Bluewolf). When you monitor mentions of your company over social media, you have the opportunity to respond to customer service issues immediately – just as you would with a customer calling on the phone.

  • Much like call center software, social media monitoring software transfers every social media comment or mention into a helpdesk ticketing system. Your customer service agents can assess whether each mention merits a response, and immediately send appropriate responses through the portal.
  • Software that uses this ticketing system makes for responsive, accurate, and consistent customer interactions that benefit both your marketing and your customer satisfaction.

Social Monitoring
Social media isn’t only about output. Just as it’s important for your company to produce and post content to your social profiles, it’s integral that you monitor what is being said about you in the social sphere.

Posts about your company can be opportunities for positive marketing and customer service; but if left unaddressed, they can damage your company’s reputation. Social monitoring software listens for mentions of your company and alerts you to instances that need to be directly addressed by your company.

  • Social listening software monitors conversations, analyzes the content for relevance, and helps you take the appropriate action to provide a positive customer experience.
  • Most software will automatically search for and collate @ mentions of your company. However, many times customers don’t use the @ when speaking about your company. You should program your software to listen for mentions of your company with and without the @ mention, as well as #brandname. You should also listen for common misspellings of your company name.

According to the Bain & Co. report “Putting Social Media to Work,” when companies engage with customers and provide responses to customer service requests over social media, those customers end up spending 20% to 40% more money with the company. Look into social media automation and monitoring technology to streamline and optimize your company’s social media presence.

blog_272x77_resource-nationMegan Webb-Morgan is a business blogger, focusing on a variety of topics ranging from social technology to online marketing. She writes for ResourceNation.com, a B2B lead generation company. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Image: Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tax Tips for eBay Sellers (Video)

March 1st, 2013 Comments off
If you sell products on eBay, knowing all the IRS tax obligations you have at year-end is a very important part of your business.  You have sales tax to collect on product purchases, quarterly estimated taxes to pay and of course the traditional year-end tax forms to submit in April.
Worried over which records to keep? Confused about which tax forms you need to file, where to report your income, or how to account for your inventory? Then this book is for you!
Top Rated Seller Webinars recently had a webinar focused on key IRS tax laws, forms and possible deductions for online sellers featuring financial-industry experts Laura Messerschmitt and Cliff Ennico.
<iframe width=”480″ height=”360″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/oTFyJ4iY678?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Topics in the webinar include:
– The whats, whens, and hows of income taxes for eBay sellers
– How to handle the 1099-K you received from PayPal
– Is selling on eBay a “business” or a “hobby”, and does it matter?
– Calculating your income from selling on eBay
– Common deductions that eBay sellers take
Top Rated Seller Webinars is a monthly webinar series for eBay sellers that is sponsored by Stamps.com, Outright, PageMage, eBay Radio, Terapeak and Kabbage. Sign-up for a webinar today!

If you sell products on eBay, knowing all the IRS tax obligations you have is a very important part of your business.  You have sales tax to collect on product purchases, quarterly estimated taxes to pay and of course the traditional year-end tax forms to submit every April.

Top Rated Seller Webinars recently had a webinar focused on key tax laws, IRS forms and possible deductions for online sellers featuring financial-industry experts Laura Messerschmitt of Outright accounting software and Cliff Ennico, attorney and best selling author of numerous eBay books.

Topics in the webinar include:

  • The whats, whens, and hows of income taxes for eBay sellers
  • How to handle the 1099-K you received from PayPal
  • Is selling on eBay a “business” or a “hobby”, and does it matter?
  • Calculating your income from selling on eBay
  • Common deductions that eBay sellers take

200x200_top-rated2Top Rated Seller Webinars is a monthly webinar series for eBay sellers that is sponsored by Stamps.com, Outright, PageMage, eBay Radio, Terapeak and Kabbage. Sign-up for a webinar today!

3 Ways to Thank Your Customers Using Stamps.com

December 13th, 2012 Comments off
3 Ways to Thank Your Customers Using Stamps.com
As the holidays get closer, don’t forget to say “thanks” to the customers who buy your products or services. Most businesses forget this simple step and a
small note can make a big difference in helping your business stand out from the competition.
Stamps.com has several features to help you show your customers how much you appreciate them.
#1 Thank You Message in your Shipment Notification emails
Stamps.com will automatically send out a shipment noticication email to your package recipient.  This email notifies the recipient that the package has been
shipped and includes the delivery address, mail date, mail class, estimated delivery date, special services, and a link with the tracking number so that the
recipient can track their package.
You also have the ability to include a customizable personal note in the email. This is a great place for a short “thanks for your order” message.
Get more info on shipment notification emails.
#2  Sending Newsletters and Marketing Materials with Stamps.com
If you a bigger canvas to communicate your message to your customers, try sending a newsletter on regular 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper for a quick and easy mailer.  With this option, you’ll be able to print your marketing message on one side of the 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper. On the opposite site, Stamps.com will print return address, delivery addresses and correct postage on the lower side of the paper.  Once printed, just fold the paper, fasten the open edge with tape and drop it in the maibox!
Get more info on newsletters
#3 PC Postcards
These high-quality postcards are great for thank you notes, appointment reminders, invitations, and more.  And by using a postcard, you get to utilize the discounted first class postage rate of $0.32.
Using your favorite word processing program, you can print your marketing message on four postcards in one pass through the printer.  Then, on the opposite
side, Stamps.com will easily print the delivery address, return address (optional) and postage on all four postcards.    If you are using MS Word, Microsoft has a number of templates you can use to customize the design on the postcards.
Get more info on PC Postcard
Buy the PC Postcard in Stamps.com Store

With the holidays in full swing and the end of the year getting closer, now is a great time to say “thank you” to the customers who buy your products or services. Most businesses forget this simple step and a small note can make a big difference in helping your business stand out from the competition and generating returning purchases.

Stamps.com has several features to help you easily communicate a note of “thanks” to your customers.

#1 Thank You Message in your Shipment Notification emails
Stamps.com will automatically send out a shipment notification email to your package recipient.  This email notifies the recipient that the package has been shipped and includes the delivery address, mail date, mail class, estimated delivery date, special services, and a link with the tracking number so that the recipient can track their package.

You also have the ability to include a customized personal note in the email. This is a great place for a short “thanks for your order” message.

blog_ship-notification-email

Get more info on shipment notification emails.

#2  Send Newsletters and Marketing Materials
If you need a bigger canvas to communicate your message to your customers, try sending a newsletter on a regular 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper for a quick and easy mailer.  With this option, you’ll be able to print your marketing message on both sides of the 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper. On one side of the paper, leave enough room towards the bottom of the page (one of the three panels) for the address and postage to be clearly printed.   Using Stamps.com, you can print the return address, delivery addresses and correct postage on the empty panel.  Once printed, just fold the paper into a tri-fold, fasten the open edge with tape and drop it in the mailbox!

blog_newsletters

Get more info on newsletters

#3 Quick Direct Mailings with PC Postcards
These high-quality postcards are great for thank you notes, appointment reminders, invitations, and more.  And by using a postcard, you get to utilize the discounted first class postage rate of $0.32.

Using your favorite word processing program, you can print your marketing message on four postcards in one pass through the printer.  Then, on the opposite side, Stamps.com will easily print the delivery address, return address (optional) and postage on all four postcards.    If you are using MS Word, Microsoft has a number of templates you can use to customize the design on the postcards.

blog_pc-postcard

Get more info on PC Postcard
Buy the PC Postcard in Stamps.com Store

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