How to Use Quora for Marketing

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Are you familiar with Quora? Quora.com is a Q&A site where anyone with an account can post questions or answer other user’s questions. Users rate the answers to public questions so that the best answers rise to the top.

For non-users, these answers often surface in search results for specific questions that have been asked on the platform.

The site has been around since 2010 and though it does not get the kind of buzz a lot of other platforms tend to attract, it continues to grow in popularity. And despite not being widely discussed in marketing circles, there are a number of benefits to incorporating Quora into a larger online strategy.

Content

Quora can be included in a larger content marketing strategy in a number of ways. First, Quora questions are a great source of content ideas. Find out what people are interested in learning more about by reviewing popular questions related to your industry, and create content around those subject.

Second, use Quora to share your content when someone has a question you have an answer to. It is common to post an answer and include a link to learn more or go further in depth on the subject. Doing this regularly establishes your own or your brand’s expertise in the subject area.

Referrals/backlinks

Sometimes, people may be asking questions more specific to the kinds of products or services you offer. This is a great opportunity to open up a direct channel of communication between your company and the marketplace. By answering questions in a helpful way, you can send potential customers through to your company’s website.

Advertising

Just this year, Quora opened up their advertising platform to all businesses. Your company can target ads to people using Quora, based on the type of content they are looking for. This is a great opportunity to get in front of potential customers during the research phase of their journey.

What You See is What You Get…Or Not (Guest Post)

The following is a guest post by Alex Williams. Alex is a journalism graduate born and raised in beautiful Sydney. She is a regular contributor at BizzMark Blog.

November 27, 2015 marked a major moment in shopping culture, because over 103 million consumers shopped online during the Black Friday, opposed to 102 million who went out to stores, according to the NRF Thanksgiving Weekend Survey.  This marked the first time the eCommerce customers outnumbered the physical shoppers during the biggest shopping day of the year. The holiday tradition of going out to the stores with friends and family is now matched equally to the new tradition of shopping online.

However, while online shopping has never been easier or more popular, it seems that most consumers still prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. According to a recent PwC survey, only 27% of consumers make a purchase online at least once a week, compared to more than 40% who buy in-store every week. The survey also revealed that around 60% of those consumers prefer the physical store because they want to have the item immediately. The fact is, people want instant gratification, because they are fond of seeing, feeling, touching and purchasing the item at the same moment.

Gratification and Expectation: Online vs. Physical

Buying online has given people the control over what and from whom they buy – but the actual product in question is maybe the most important factor.  While certain niche online manufacturers and retailers are able to thrive in today’s marketplace, consumer psychologist Philip Graves explains that consumers are likely to buy familiar, branded with qualities they can predict online. Basically, if the item is not familiar to the consumer, chances are they will buy it in person. The most common reason is the likelihood that an unknown will need to be returned if purchased without seeing it or feeling it in person, outweighs the convenience of online shopping.

Small business owners strategically use stimulating in-store retail displays and other visual marketing tactics in order to promote the products and take advantage of instant gratification. A recognizable, branded product that the customer has probably bought before, and can find anywhere, may be more cost-efficient to sell online only. Conversely, those proprietary and new-to-market products that consumers need to see in person to buy may justify storefront real estate and inventory costs, if sold only in-store.

What Consumers Want: Convenience vs. Experience

When people buy in person, they are willing to give something up – whether it is the time, the money or something completely different - just because they believe that there is some unique payoff. It may be the luxury of leaving a store with exactly what they need in your hands, or it may be the access to personal assistance in the buying process. Whatever the case may be, customers are willing to take the risk that a store does not have the item they are looking for in stock, and because of some perceived value that shopping in person tends to offer.

On the other hand, while buying online requires minimal effort, the customer’s expectation is not necessarily different. A customer comes to a physical store, expecting the attention and trained staff, while a person that visits an eCommerce website may be driven by a similar desire to find whatever they are looking for as quickly as possible. Online customers expect choice, information about the inventory levels and the ability to compare prices, read user reviews and promotional offers. In addition, recent Walker Sands findings reveal that 8 out of 10 consumers will opt for online shopping, if the seller offers free shipping.

The Importance of Connecting: Instant vs. Human

For some people, shopping is more than just consumerism – it provides an opportunity to spend an afternoon with friends, and to alter the way you are perceived temporarily by changing your physical appearance. Despite the growing popularity of buying online, these emotional aspects of the shopping process maintain the appeal of buying in person. In fact, according to a 2013 study from the retail strategy firm - WD Partners, 75% of consumers cite the experience of human connection as the number one reason they buy in-store.

All in all, shopping online is different from shopping in person - but we cannot say that one is necessarily better than the other. Simply by recognizing the deeper reasons people buy in each channel, small business owners can be more strategic in what, where, to whom and for what price they sell their unique products.

Where Has All My Web Traffic Gone?

Have you noticed a drop in traffic to your website? For many companies, this is a big deal. In today’s digital environment, a significant drop in website visits could put your business in danger.

But it does happen from time to time, so it’s important to be able to spot it and fix it quickly when it does.

Step One = Spot the Problem

Make sure you’re tracking activity on your website on a regular basis. A simple Google Analytics account is all you need to keep an eye on the number of visitors to your website. This is how you’ll know when traffic goes up or down so that you can react to it.

Step Two = Diagnose the Problem

After you see a dip in traffic, the next thing you need to do is figure out where that dip is coming from. Usually, a drop in the number of visitors can be traced back to one or two sources of traffic.

Here, you can use the Acquisition reports within your Google Analytics account to sort traffic by channel. You can see if the drop in traffic is coming from direct (maybe your email programs or offline ads), organic (search results), social media or any number of paid sources. When you know what source is lacking, you will gain a better understanding as to why your traffic is down and what you can do to fix it.

Step Three = Fix the Problem

Most times, it is within your control to fix the issue. Sometimes it may take longer than others, but a good marketer should be able to fix the problem once he identifies it.

If the problem is paid traffic, ask yourself what you’re doing differently. Maybe you starting running different ads? Maybe you lowered your budget? Maybe you’re advertising in a different place? This is usually the easiest problem to fix because you’re in complete control of where you’re advertising and how much you are spending.

If the problem is social media traffic, the solution is usually the same as paid traffic. Something is different about what you’re posting, where you’re posting, or when you’re posting. Maybe your content is not as engaging as it was before. That’s easy to fix with better content.

If the problem is referral traffic from other websites, track it back to a specific website. Maybe they removed a link to your site that was generating a lot of clicks. Maybe they lost traffic themselves and therefor they’re sending fewer visitors to you. This can be difficult to fix, but identifying the problem site allows you to reach out to them or do something to address it.

Finally, if the problem is organic traffic, you may need to review your organic rankings. Tools like Conductor or SEMRush allow you to monitor your rankings for a set of keywords. If your rankings start to fall out of the top positions or off the first page, it will almost always lead to lower traffic. It’s usually a sign of increased competition or a poor website strategy on your part. That means it’s time to either spend more on PPC ads or develop a search engine optimization strategy to improve your rankings as quickly as possible.

If you’re company is suffering from a drop in traffic, it’s not fun. You need to act fast. And those marketers that have the tools and know-how at their disposal to identify and fix the problem in a hurry will be better off.

The 5 Most Important Pages on Your Website

Every page on your website is important. They all serve a purpose. In fact, if you can point to a page on your site that does not serve a purpose, you should get rid of it today.

But let’s be honest, some are more important than others. There is a hierarchy of web pages. They were not all created equal.

Here’s my personal take on the five most important pages on your website:

  1. Search Results Page – does your website have a search function? It should. Because people use them to find what they’re looking for. A good search function is better than the best navigation. But your search results page is critical. Make sure it is not only serving the right results for the most important searches someone will do, but that it is clean and easy to navigate. Too many search results pages are not well designed, and make a website appear sloppy and cluttered.
     
  2. 404 Error Page – here’s an often overlooked page that I believe is very important. The page on your site that people land on when they click on a broken link or type in the wrong URL. What’s it’s’ purpose? It needs to let someone know an error occurred, sure. But it should make some attempt to point them in the right direction. Try the next closest URL, redirect them to the homepage, or give them a search option right there. Make it easy for them to continue to browse your site or you might lose them.
     
  3. Contact Page – if people want to get in touch with you, that is great. Most times that means you’re doing something right. So make it as easy as possible for them. Make your contact page easy to find, and include as many options as you can so that people can choose how to reach you. Even better, provide contact information on all pages of your site.
     
  4. Checkout Page – this may seem obvious, but a lot of companies don’t spend enough time optimizing this process. The temptation is there to believe that once someone enters the checkout process, you’ve already made the sale. But that’s a big mistake. More people leave during the checkout process because of surprise costs and fees or a poor user experience than you probably know about. These pages are ripe for testing. Simple wording or design changes can lead to an increase in sales without any additional traffic.
     
  5. Home Page – this is the first page that most visitors will see, and for that reason it is always going to be one of the most important. I am a proponent of simplicity on the home page. Get visitors situated, show them who you are, and then get them on to the next page of your site. That’s the goal.

There you have it. Apologies to those pages that didn’t make it. You’re still important in your own way.

What did I miss? Think you have a page that belongs on this list? Share it in the comments below.

How Much Does Online Marketing Cost?

A) Online marketing is free

B) Online marketing is too expensive

Both answers above are acceptable based on the question asked in the title. And to those of you who think you will know how I will answer that question here, don’t laugh necessarily. The idea for this post came from a question that I got the other day from an acquaintance attempting to open a small business this year.

This person has no marketing experience or training. And so it’s not surprising that this question was on their mind.

Of course, the problem with the question is that there is no real answer other than, “it depends”.

It depends on:

  1. What type of marketing or advertising you are interested in
  2. What your budget is
  3. How much you can afford to spend per sale
  4. What sites you want to advertise on

And a number of other factors. And based on how you answer each question, we can come up with follow up questions to help work our way towards an appropriate “cost”.

Because online marketing encompasses such a vast number of different activities. Everything from social media marketing, which can in essence be free, to search marketing and display, falls into the category of online marketing. I would argue that website optimization and email marketing are also version of online marketing, both with much different costs than forms of online advertising in general.

You can get started in the world of online marketing for free. And that surprises most people who might ask this question. For a great list of free or low cost marketing ideas, I encourage you to check out this blog series I published a short time ago on the site: Low-cost Online Marketing Ideas.