“I think social media is listening to my conversations”

A lot of online users suspect that Facebook listens to their phone calls. This led to many doing their personal ‘investigation about it’.

A YouTube user, Neville, and his wife started noticing ads popping up that were eerily similar to the things they’d been talking about the day before.

So they decided they would do a test. They didn’t own a cat, they hadn’t had one in 20 years and never talked about them.

They set up a phone call, where they both repeated the words “cat” and “cat food” over and over again during a 10-minute phone call.

A few days later, both his and her Facebook feed were filled with cat food commercials (see above).

Ever noticed something similar in your case? Probably yes.

But why does it happen? The truth is that social media apps can and do listen to your phone calls. They do it because they know that the more targeted they can make their ads, the more they can charge companies for those ads.

So to make more highly targeted ads, they want to get right inside of your head and know everything about you.

Solution? If you don’t want Facebook (or any app) to listen to your calls, you need to go into your settings on your phone, find the app, click on permissions, and disable access to the microphone.

Social media companies will get as much information as possible about you with little regard for what is right or wrong. Just as long as it is legal (enough), they’ll do it!


Why only having a Facebook Page is not enough…

If you’re a small business looking to establish a digital presence, Facebook is a great and easy way to do so – it takes all of five minutes to get started, and the uniform look of Facebook pages means that you do not have to worry about web design. However, it is not nearly enough in today’s hyper-competitive market. As business owners, your time and resource are tremendously stretched, and so in this article we will show you how you can keep your digital marketing bases covered with what is effective for your business.

Don’t get us wrong, having a page on Facebook is good for several reasons
With it’s 1.5 billion users, odds are the people you want to reach are on Facebook – many of whom search for local businesses on the platform, especially on mobile. The contact information and operating hours sections are standardized, so potential customers don’t have to hunt for it – they can even hit the link to call the business. Even better, if any of their friends already like the page, this is also proudly displayed as a form of social proof.

However, this shouldn’t be your entire digital strategy
In the past, when your customers engaged with your Facebook content, there would be a good chance for the story to appear on the News Feed of their friends but over the two years, organic reach has been steadily declining, even amongst your own fan base. This means that you now reach less than 5% of your fanbase with each post.

Small business owners also have trouble quantifying the returns on their Facebook investment – an April 2015 study by Manta found that 59% of surveyed small businesses did not see a Facebook ROI and 17% of those who did, earned less than $1,000.

There is also another important consideration – search. Anecdotally, Google seems to prioritize Facebook pages lower than official sites and local listings. 33% of search traffic going to the top organic link, and 65% to 75% typically clicking through to the top 5 links, you would want to maximize exposure to your owned channels, especially ensuring you have the top link to capture all the interest when people search for your brand. This would be a tall order for a single Facebook page.

Having an official website in addition to a Facebook page
A recent eMarketer study found that SMB owners felt that corporate websites were their most effective marketing method, six percentage points higher than the next most effective method – social media. These days, creating a website does not have to be an expensive or time intensive process – tools like our Website Builder make it as easy as dragging images and entering text into a template while maintaining their branding and look. This allows you to create several pages quickly to include things like a product/service gallery, maps, customer testimonials, a blog and even an eCommerce page without the need for a web designer.

Having your own website and domain name also gives you a custom email address – adding professionalism and a sense of legitimacy when you reach out to your clients reach from your own email address rather than a free service like Gmail or Outlook.

Taking everything into consideration
Facebook might have been (and still is) an excellent channel for marketing your business online, but increasingly it is no longer sufficient if you are not intending to invest money in reaching your audience. While there are many other channels you can and should, a corporate website is one of the first steps you should take in order to build more credibility and authority with your potential customers, driving better returns on your marketing dollar.


Why your Business needs its own Mobile App

If you think that mobile apps are solely for big name brands, you are wrong. More and more small and midsize businesses are following the mobile trend, understanding that an effective mobile strategy involves more than just a mobile-friendly website.

In fact, these days you’ll notice that many small businesses you interact with in your everyday life have their own dedicated mobile app – be it the corner coffee shop or the beauty spa downtown. These companies are ahead of the game when it comes to taking their marketing to the next level.

In case you are still not sure why anyone would want to build their own mobile platform, here are the top six benefits of going down this path sooner rather than later.

1. Be visible to Customers at all times
Statistics show that the average person spends more than two hours a day (!) on his or her mobile device. While probably only a handful of applications make up the bulk of this total usage, it doesn’t change the fact that each user has to unlock, scroll, and scan their device for the apps they’re looking for. Being “in the way” can be an advantage to your company, as our mind unconsciously does record every image and text (or well-designed app icon!) it comes across – even if it happens unnoticed.

2. Create a direct Marketing Channel
Apps serve many functions: they can provide general info, prices, booking forms, search features, news feeds, and much more. One of the biggest benefits of having a mobile app is that all the information you’d like to provide to your customers – including special sales and promotions – is right at their fingertips. Through push notifications you’re getting even closer to a direct interaction, and can easily remind customers about your products and services whenever it makes sense.

3. Provide Value to your Customers
Talking about on-hand information, how about digitalizing that loyalty program you have in place? Instead of sticking to the old point-collection card, make it possible for your customers to collect their rewards via your mobile app. The result? More downloads and more return customers.

4. Improve Customer Engagement
No matter whether you are selling flowers or spa services, your customers need a way to reach you. Having a messaging (or helpdesk) feature within your app can really make a difference in the way you communicate with your customers. Think about it: instead of calling a restaurant for a table, one can book it with less than five clicks on their platform. So, how many customers would prefer to communicate with you via text than via phone?

5. Stand out from the Competition
These days mobile apps at the small business level are still rare and this is where you can take a big leap ahead of your competitors. Be the first in your neighborhood to offer a mobile app to your customers. They’ll be astonished by your forward-thinking approach!

6. Cultivate Customer Loyalty
Last, but not least, the most important reason why you should consider building your own mobile app is customer loyalty. With all the noise out there – roadside banners, billboards, flashing signs, newspaper ads, flyers and coupons – we slowly lose our impact on customers because of the immense amount of advertising surrounding us all. It’s time to go back to making a true and sincere connection with your customers, and making them a loyal lover of your product and/or service. I am not saying a mobile app is going to save your business, but it can be a way of staying closer to your customers, and being just a “fingertip” away at all times.


What good Design can do for your Business

A brand’s website can make a difference between showing potential customers you’re a legitimate business and having zero credibility. That’s why web design is important as a marketing tool. It highlights the need to invest time and resources into a well-built homepage, so it doesn’t appear you’ve settled for a default theme or overly-simple layout.

But what makes or breaks a small business website?

Why design matters
According to the studies held in the United States, a person’s eyes take 2.6 seconds to focus on a specific element of a web page when it loads. The viewer quickly forms an opinion based on what they’ve seen, so it pays to influence that opinion with a smart design.

A well-designed logo and website inspires confidence because it looks professional. If a company is willing to focus on creating a clean and functional design that is easy to use, then that could be an indicator of what using their product might be like.

Great design not only conceptually reflects the mission of your company, but also, functionally, it’s the embodiment of that concept.

Make it easy
Your landing page should set the tone for your company and provide important information, making it easy for your audience to understand what products and/or services your business provides.

Figure out what the most important information is that you need users/customers to take away from that page, and make it extremely easy to find and understand. Then identify the most important action you’d need users to take on that page and make it prominent and easily accessible.

For example, adding a purchase button on the homepage as a call-to-action. Whatever call-to-action you choose, it should engage your audience with your services and/or products.

Likewise, your design should prioritize simplicity over complicated strategy, that is you should be explicit and concise with your information, while establishing a tone, look and feel that is true to the brand you’ve created for your business. That way, your online presence can remain on-brand, but actively reach out to your audience in a way that’s clear and easy to navigate.

Visual aesthetic and appeal
You might have a great story to tell, but no one’s going to want to read your “About” page or explore your social media posts if you don’t engage your audience right away. But how can you accomplish this?

The answer is simple: strong visuals matter do the trick quickly. An image can communicate even complex messages quickly, concisely and memorably. It is this same drive for fast consumption that has evolved the Internet from its text-centric roots into an image- and increasingly video-centric.

For this reason, eye-catching visuals will set your brand apart. The imagery you use should be relevant to your brand and engage your target audience, and when in doubt, keep things direct and simple.

Business design tips
When you’re thinking about what your online brand presence should look like, it’s important to be consistent, but not repetitive.

Think about the qualities that are unique to your business and that could attractively represent your brand. Then let those qualities drive your logo and website to your Instagram feed and even your storefront, packaging and customer service.

Additionally, think about using the design process to answer some of the deeper questions around your company, before creating any visuals. Determining your company’s personality and what you stand for will help you enrich your brand. After laying this groundwork, create the visuals that naturally align with those traits and values.

A brand should created a sense of positivity and empowerment through the use of the right colors, illustrations and photography.