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BOSS Seminar Teaches Online Marketing Strategies

The Chamber’s First B.O.S.S. (Business Owners Sharing Solutions) Seminar on March 30th covered a variety of topics relating to Online Marketing. Moderator Jeannine Taylor of KawarthaNOW.com led the conversation with a panel of small business owners who discussed tips, tricks, and success stories relating to Website Mobile Responsiveness, Email Campaigns, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Chris Calbury from Emmatt Digital Solutions spoke about the importance of website marketing.

Mobile Responsive vs. Mobile Friendly

With the popularity of cell phones and tablets, it is important for websites to be mobile-responsive. Mobile traffic now makes up 60% of overall internet traffic, and continues to grow. A mobile-friendly website will work on a mobile device, but is not ideal. To view text and images, the user will need to do lots of ‘pinching’ and ‘pulling’ of the screen.

A mobile-responsive website is easily visible on any size screen. A fluid mobile-responsive design allows the page elements to move around and fit any screen for easy view and accessibility.

When creating your website, ask yourself, who are my clients? And how do I talk to them? If your customers and clients are finding you on a mobile-device, your website needs to be accessible for them, and easy to view. It is important for your website to be easy to navigate, have a clean and concise layout, and be to the point.

Does my business need a website if it has a Facebook page?

Yes. While many users will find your business on Facebook, it is still important to have a website presence. With a Facebook page, you do not have 100% control of your content. You own your website. If something happened to Facebook and your content was lost, you would lose your online presence. You are also restricted to Facebook’s layout and capabilities, but with a website you have more control. It is also important to remember that not everyone is on Facebook.

It is important for your business to have a presence on social media as well. Use your social media page(s) as a tool to drive users to your website.


Vikki Whitney of Griffin’s Greenhouses discussed email marketing and how it has worked well for their target demographic.

Email Marketing Content – What do I write about?

Griffin’s Greenhouses sends their email newsletter bi-weekly and since implementing their email marketing plan, Vikki says their sales have tripled.

Much of their content is created in house. Industry trends, tips for customers and upcoming workshops are common topics for the e-communication. Vikki advises to avoid including too many coupons and sale promos, as people are often bombarded by money driven emails daily. Readers are looking for more valuable content, something they can learn from, rather than another coupon or promotion.

Content from suppliers and business partners can also be shared as valuable newsletter content. Photos are also an important piece of email marketing. Lots of visuals will attract the attention of your readers.

Tracking Analytics for Email Marketing

Clicks, opens, and bounces are important to track when looking at the analytics of your email marketing.

‘Clicks’ refer to what your readers are actually clicking on when they look at your newsletter. It may be a link to your website with more information, or a how-to video on YouTube. This will tell you what your readers are interested in.

‘Opens’ shows how many of the emails sent were opened. An interesting and creative subject line will help to improve Open Rate. Use a Call to Action in your subject line (i.e. Learn More! Sign up now!) will give your reader a reason to open your email for more information.

Vikki, and other panel members agreed that consistency is important when sending your email campaigns. Consistent day of the week, and time of day, will be beneficial as your readers will know when to expect news from you. Constant Contact, an email marketing software, allows users to schedule emails at any time of day.


Rachel Sloan, owner of Trinkets and Treasures, spoke about the success she has had with promoting her business on Facebook.

What to Post on Facebook?

Rachel suggests including a lot of photos in Facebook posts, to get the best possible reach. She takes many photos around her store with her cell phone and posts them at various times throughout the day. When people see visual posts, they are more likely to ‘like’ the post which will make the post appear more often in newsfeeds.

Photos that have a personal touch, with people in them, are more likely to get a large reach. Rachel will sometimes post photos of her family or staff to show a more personal side of the business.

Some of Rachel’s most popular Facebook posts have been Contest or Give-away posts. Post a photo of a give-away prize, and asks users to like the post, share it, and tag a friend in the comments. That way the post will appear more often in a newsfeed. ‘Boosted’ or ‘Sponsored’ posts can be purchased by Business Pages on Facebook, but Rachel chooses not to use that option. The reach on her posts is always organic, meaning people are seeing her content without a paid ad appearing in their newsfeed.

When is the best time to post on Facebook?

Moderator Jeannine Taylor shared that 1.87 billion people are now on Facebook, and ¾ of those users login every day. While you will not reach everyone with your content, time of day can help to ensure people see your posts.

With so many Facebook users vying for attention in busy news feeds – it can be difficult to have your content seen. Posting when users are most often using Facebook will help to make sure your posts don’t get lost.

Early in the morning is often a good time of day to post – many people wake up in the morning, and check Facebook almost immediately. End of day, when people are at home relaxing they often check social media, making it another good time for Facebook posts. Think of your daily schedule, and the time of day you often check Facebook, it’s likely that other users are doing the same.


Erin McLean of McLean Berry Farm discussed Instagram – a relatively new, and very visual social media outlet.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is the fastest growing social media site in history. It is a very visual and primarily made up of photos and videos. The newsfeed is similar to twitter, but more visual, with a small text component. Predominantly viewed on a mobile device, it is easy to engage and get many likes with Instagram. Users scroll through the feed in the palm of their hands, ‘double tap’ to like a post, and then continue to scroll.

Business owners on Instagram can link their account to Facebook and create a Business Profile which gives access to statistics and analytics. A Business Profile also gives you the ability to add a ‘Contact’ button which users can use to call or email your business directly from their smart phone.

Hashtags can also be used to group photos into categories and make them easily accessible for users. Erin suggests using geographic hashtags to show the location of your photos and find other posts nearby. (i.e. #Buckhorn, #Kawarthas, #StoneyLake)

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Erin McLean speaks about the growing popularity of Instagram.

How can Instagram help my business?

Instagram is a great way to maintain year-round contact with your followers, especially if your business is seasonal. Erin suggests, think of social media as having a conversation. Instagram allows you to tell the story of your business through photos. This social media platform is very user friendly. Users can scroll through photos quickly and easily engage with your posts.

Erin suggests using visually striking photos to grab the attention of your followers. Like Rachel, Erin takes many photos with her cell phone, and will post them instantly, or save them to post later in the day.

Avoid using ‘flyer’ photos, or images with a lot of text promoting a sale or event. Users are looking for visuals when scrolling through Instagram. Posting too many photos that resemble advertising will encourage users to unfollow your account.

Support Local Businesses Online

During our question period, a comment came from Tracy Logan of Logan Tree Experts, that is important to remember as small business owners:

“A way we can help each other as a community of business owners is to like each others pages, share each others posts, improve our own community.”


Do you have a question that wasn’t answered?

Email us at info@kawarthachamber.ca and we will get an answer for you!

Thank you to our panel members and moderator Jeannine Taylor, kawarthaNOW.com, for taking part in this valuable and informative discussion.

For more information on our Moderator and Panel Members’ Businesses click on their names below:

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Erin, Jeannine, Chris, Rachel and Vikki

Thank you to our Professional Development Sponsor: Lynn Woodcroft Sales Representative, RoyalLePage Frank Real Estate, and to Jennie McKenzie of the Lakefield Pantry for the catered breakfast, and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 77 in Lakefield for providing the space.