Increase Instagram Followers for Your Online and Offline Store

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Run Hashtag Contests

If you want an Instagram hashtag of your very own to start trending, contests are one of the best ways to make it happen. Most people aren’t going to just use your hashtags because you want them to. But they WILL use your hashtags if they know it is how you are organizing and collecting contest entries. If there is something in it for the Instagram user, they are much more likely to behave in the way you want.

It’s very easy to setup a contest for your online store.  Have Instagramers post a pic or video on their account and then have them tag it using your specific contest hashtag.  

What is an Instagram Hashtag Contest?

An Instagram Hashtag Contest is one of the simplest ways to get fans interacting with your brand. It involves an individual posting their own picture on Instagram, then tagging it with a specific hashtag that your business has chosen.

All pictures uploaded with that hashtag are then displayed in a gallery page on your website or Facebook Page as well as being shown in one single stream on Instagram.

This type of contest allows you to deepen the emotional connection you have with followers. You get them communicating about your business to their own networks while also capturing user-generated content which you can then use for future marketing efforts.

What’s better than having fans as brand advocates? Not much at all.

Once in the gallery, all photos with the hashtag can then be voted on, shared or liked. This increases the reach of your contest and your business massively, allowing other users to discover you on the platform. You can then choose if you want to display submissions in the gallery based on most votes, most recent submission, or randomly.

 What makes an Instagram Hashtag Contest so effective?

  • Using a specific hashtag allows you to spread the word about a campaign, exposing your business to new users

  • It requires little effort from your business - the hardest part simply being coming up with a good, catchy hashtag and theme

  • You get rewarded with engaged followers and authentic images from the customer themselves, showing your business through their eyes

  • A prize of a $100 gift certificate is relevant and valuable to Instagram users (more valuable, even, than a specific product worth $100). It is also proportionate to the level of effort required for users to participate. 

  • They have asked users to tag their business in the photo, allowing all uploaded images to also be shown on their account in their tagged photo section. 

Any questions. Let me know

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Are men the salvation of brick-and-mortar retail?

Mall retailers have long considered women to be their primary shoppers, but all that might be about to change.  A study from new product solutions provider First Insight found that men are more likely than women to want to touch and feel a product before buying it, more likely to pay full-price at a retail store, and less likely to turn to Amazon for a cheaper alternative.

I loved this post and knew you’d be interested in reading about this issue. Enjoy Barbara

Walmart rolling out high-tech ‘pick-up towers’

Walmart is expanding its modern-day — and oversized — version of a vending machine — but the new model will come with an additionThe discounter plans to add more than 500 additional “pickup towers” to stores across the country, bringing the total to more than 700 by the end of the year. Walmart said the response to the existing 200 kiosks has been “overwhelming positive,” with more than half a million orders retrieved since the chain first introduced them.Based on customer feedback, the new towers will come with pickup lockers, which will allow customers to retrieve large items, such as TVs.I found this article very interesting. I know you will as well.

First Look: Zara unveils pioneering store concept

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Global apparel giant Zara has taken the wraps off its transformed flagship at Westfield Stratford mall in London, debuting a format that revolutionizes the in-store shopping experience.

I read this article with great interest. Hope you do to .The two-story, 48,000-sq.-ft. store feature digital technology that integrates the online and offline shopping experiences, with such features as automated order collection points, self-checkout, interactive mirrors and mobile payment systems.

Online Shopping Goes In-Store

At the base of Canadian Tire Corp. headquarters on Yonge St. near Eglinton Ave., a small, chic experiment is taking place.

Humble products, including baseball caps and cotton T-shirts, toques and hoodies, branded North Point, hang like designer wear off elegant racks in a small concept store being tested. The atmosphere is spare and white and bright.

It’s not just a different look for the retailer, which also runs more workmanlike Mark’s stores. Beside the wall of sneakers and shoes at the concept store is a tablet, where customers can swipe to find the shoe they want, to see whether it is in stock in their size, and have a sales associate bring it out of the storeroom to try.

In the store’s change room, another tablet. A shopper with an armful of products to try on can order a different size or colour, or a different product altogether — perhaps a pair of shoes suggested by the interactive tablet — without having to poke their head out of the room, flag down an associate and wait while the associate searches the floor and returns.

Loved this article. I know you will too.

Five Must-See NYC Holiday Window Displays

Since the 1870s, holiday window displays in New York have been a tradition. The tradition continues to present day as stores large and small create an awe-inspiring tapestry of decorative scenes, from the cute and cozy to the magnificent and dramatic.

I was so inspired by these windows I just had to share them with you. Enjoy…
After strolling through the major shopping avenues of Manhattan, here’s my list of “must-see” window displays for this year’s holiday season. Marrying today’s latest tech with timeless sentiments, each of these cleverly designed displays will add wonderment and joy to your day, so be sure to take time and explore each of these special worlds:

Lord & Taylor: The Best and Brightest

For its 80th annual holiday display, Lord & Taylor transformed its Fifth Avenue windows into a whimsical journey as seen through the lens of enchanted snow globes, featuring over 60 variations throughout the display. Snow globes, and the animated figures playing within them, provide the unifying motif that pulls together the retailer’s five magical window scenes.

Macy’s Herald Square: The Perfect Gift Brings People Together

Photo: Diane Bondareff

Macy’s Herald Square brings people – and window themes – together. There are six windows lining the Broadway- facing side of Macy’s, each with its own theme. One focuses on the holiday tree as the centerpiece of family and home, and two show the holiday metropolis filled with life and activity as animal creatures enjoy the coming of winter in their own festive ways.

The third features a viewfinder through which visitors can take a better look at this panoramic winter scene, featuring Santa flying high above the city.  The fourth gives a look into a holiday spectacular being staged in a giant theater, and the fifth focuses on transportation… all under Santa’s watchful eye, as he waves to the passersby. And the sixth depicts Macy’s Herald Square itself in miniature as shoppers dart by against a backdrop of Santaland and the giant Christmas tree.

Saks Fifth Avenue: Once Upon a Holiday

Each year, Saks Fifth Avenue’s display is made larger than life, thanks to its 10-story-tall theatrical light show that accompanies the 14-holiday window displays. But this year is a little different. First off, for the first time in its 94-year history, Saks is animating each and every one of the window displays. The displays all depict scenes from Disney’s animated film classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It’s a first-time collaboration with Disney. Probably the stylistic highlight of the display is the rich fairytale dress gowns Saks commissioned Alberta Ferretti, Naeem Khan, Monique Lhuillier, and Marchesa to design.

Bloomingdales: The Greatest Showman

 

This year, Bloomingdales’ windows also feature a movie tie-in, this one with the upcoming holiday release of “The Greatest Showman,” a musical depicting the life of P.T. Barnum and starring Hugh Jackman. Bloomingdales partnered with some of its best designers to assemble one-of-a-kind items inspired by the movie, many of which are featured in the circus themed window displays. And Swarovski created crystal-themed images bring glisten and sparkle to this circus wonderland.

Tiffany: A Tiffany New York Christmas

At Tiffany’s, each window features a wintry scene accented with the jeweler’s signature flair. Each window showcases the elegance of giving a Tiffany gift, from a diamond studded Christmas tree to a holiday table setting complete with jewel-filled Christmas crackers, champagne, and cakes.

Traditional winter accessories like woven hats, scarves and earmuffs, are given the Tiffany touch, using the iconic brand color to pull together each of the holiday scenes. (The 5th Avenue store also just made it possible to actually have breakfast at Tiffany’s in its just-opened Blue Box Cafe, fulfilling many the dreams of many women.)

Tips for your next email blast

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Getting ready to send your next email blast and wondering what you can do to improve your results?

This post was written for you.

I hope you enjoy it. Barbara

Here are five simple tips for your next email blast, or eblast.

1. Don’t think of it as an email blast

If you’re just “blasting” out information sporadically whenever you have the time, you need to reevaluate your email marketing strategy.

Focus on creating a thoughtful email marketing plan that consistently delivers value to your subscribers and your business.

Rather than blasting out information, think of email marketing as a way to interact with your customers and prospects, build relationships, and drive valuable repeat business.

Look for opportunities to engage your subscribers by offering useful tips, providing exclusive discounts, or giving your subscribers the opportunity to share feedback.

Learn MoreHow to Plan an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

2. Get to know your subscribers

Once you’ve taken a second look at your sending strategy, you’ll need to take steps to better understand your subscribers. Who they are, what they’re interested in, and how you can improve your relationship with them.

The more you think about your subscribers, the more you’ll realize the different groups you’re trying to talk to all at once.

While some people on your email list may be lifelong customers, others may be completely new to your business.

Rather than “blasting” all of your contacts with the same information, take the time to figure out how to deliver a more personalized experience to each of your subscribers.

Consider creating separate email lists to better target your different types of contacts. Here are a few examples of how different industries segment their list:

  • A nursery will email its residential customers about new spring plantings and its commercial customers about availability of bulk mulch.
  • A cosmetics boutique will email one coupon to customers who buy makeup and another to those who buy skin-care products.
  • A financial services firm will email tax prep customers a timely IRS filing reminder and another to financial planning clients about rebalancing their portfolios.

3. Make your emails interactive

When you approach emails with an eblast mentality, you risk forgetting that your emails should inspire action and elicit a measurable response.

Make your emails interactive and give your subscribers a clear call to action so they know how to take the next step.

Should they read an article on your website? Purchase your new product? RSVP to your event?

Your email design should be clean and focused — with every element in the message supporting the goal of your message.

Learn More: How to Instantly Increase Engagement in Your Emails

4. Provide value

Today, consumers expect more from the businesses they interact with online and off.

With so many brands competing for their attention in all the places they visit every day — whether it’s through TV, email, or social media — consumers have gotten better and better at filtering out messages that aren’t relevant to their needs or interests.

If you want your audience to remain engaged with your content, you need to make sure you’re offering something of value. For some readers, that means offering a special discount or an exclusive promotion to your email list. For others that could mean offering a how-to article from your blog or a piece of content that’s more than just the typical sales pitch.

Make it valuable, make it relevant, and make it something your audience would thank you for.

If you’re not sure what to send, add a Poll to your email and ask your subscribers what information they’re most interested in.

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5. Measure your results

If you’re not measuring your results, how could you ever hope to improve on the work you’ve been doing?

One of the biggest benefits of using an email marketing service, like Constant Contact, is it’s easy to track your email marketing results.

Your email marketing reports will tell you exactly how many people are opening your emails, clicking your links, and even sharing your content. They’ll also provide insight into the type of information your audience is most interested in and will provide a benchmark to improve upon every time you hit send.

Whether you’re trying to learn more about your readers, provide valuable content, or increase sales — your email reports can help.

Use these tips to improve your next email blast

Thinking of your email blasts as a powerful marketing tool is important to get you in the right frame of mind.

Develop a plan to communicate with your subscribers effectively, start sending valuable and engaging messages, and measure the impact of your efforts to make sure you’re on the right track

Sign-up for email marketing today

How to Make a Newsletter More Engaging With Two Little Words

By Miranda Paquet | Jun 13, 2017how-to-make-a-newsletter-ft-image

Wondering how to make a newsletter that drives action?It comes down to using two simple words:“Read more.”Why? If your business is in the habit of sending jam-packed newsletters, filled with updates, articles, and tips — you might be unintentionally turning your readers off.Rather than overwhelming your subscribers with text-heavy emails, add Read More blocks to let readers quickly skim your emails and find the topics that interest them.This will increase your email engagement and help you learn what topics are most interesting to your audience. 

Amazon buying Whole Foods Market

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In a blockbuster deal, online giant Amazon is acquiring Whole Foods Market in an all cash transaction valued at $13.7 billion, or $42 a share. I am a Whole Food shopper and thought you might be as interested as I am to … read more about this recent acquisition.