Cascade e-Commerce Solutions, Inc.

The Advantages of Social Media for Small Business

Since the early days of the 21st century, the use of social media for business has grown exceedingly, becoming an integral aspect of an overall marketing strategy. This is due to a growing awareness that cultivating relationships with potential customers is key to growth in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Using methods of social media marketing helps form relationships with potential consumers in ways previously unavailable to the business community.

Social Media Inclusion in Marketing Plans

Research confirms the necessity of incorporating social media into comprehensive marketing strategies. According to Jacques Bughlin’s July 2015 article, Getting a sharper picture of social media’s influence, “Consumers who use search engines to gain some initial knowledge of a product are also more likely to tune in to social media before a purchase.” * Although research shows that businesses that invest in SEO (search engine optimization) can increase conversions by incorporating social media in their marketing plans, this approach can be maximized further by also including email marketing, SEM (Search Engine Marketing), and Reputation Management into their marketing plan. Why? Because each of these channels cross-connect.

Social Media Activities that Influence Digital Shopping Behavior

As we have seen, consumers make connections with companies to obtain or deepen their knowledge of products prior to making a purchase. But, how are potential customers using social media to reach their decisions to buy or not? A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey conducted in September 2015** revealed the social media activities that influence digital shopping behavior. The report, based on a worldwide sampling of 22,618 digital buyers aged eighteen and above, shows that: 45% – Read reviews, comments and feedback 44% – Receiving promotional offerings 30% – View Ads 25% – Stay on top of current fashion and product trends 22% – Write reviews, comments and feedback 20% – Associate with particular brands or retailers 16% – Purchase products directly through a social media channel Businesses that understand and master the digital domain can use each type of contact in their social media marketing to guide consumers along the way, whether they arrive to the business’s website from an ad, a blog post, a review, a tweet, an image, etc. Each marketing channel can be an extension of the business through which the consumer gains knowledge, forms opinions, and develops impressions that will lead to making decisions.

Reputation Management through Social Engagement

An advantage of using social media is the ability to better track and respond to the information that is circulated on the internet. When a customer feels strong enough to leave a review or comment regarding a business, they will most likely go to that business’s website. Businesses who do not utilize social media in their marketing plan may not know the feedback they receive. However, customers pay close attention to such information and will use it to determine future actions. For small businesses, the opportunity for interaction and for conversions is great due to their ability to develop closer, more intimate relationships with their customers than larger businesses. Customers who frequent smaller, local businesses tend to spread the word online to friends, co-workers, and within community groups. Small businesses can use social media to: • Quickly release information about a service or a product going on sale • Post and discuss pictures of their products • Respond to customer service inquiries • Build e-mail lists for the purpose of alerting customers of specials, ads, community events or causes, contests or even personal announcements, such as births or weddings When a small business uses social media to interact with their customers, they make deep inroads into the community in which they serve. They get a better understanding of their customers’ wants, needs, and future desires which, when acted upon, may lead to greater success in the marketplace. Thinking of incorporating social media into your marketing strategy? Cascade e-Commerce Solutions supports small business with their SEO, SEM, Social Media, and Reputation Management needs. Contact us today at 206-244-9092 or [email protected] ________________________________________ * http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/getting-a-sharper-picture-of-social-medias-influence ** (February 2016 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report, “They Say They Want a Revolution: Total Retail 2016.

Take A Hike! | An interview with A Serial Hiker

This is Amanda and her friend at the top of mailbox peak.

Anyone who’s been to the Pacific Northwest (PNW for short) understands that it really is a beautiful place. There’s so much green, so much nature, so many sites to be seen. Because of all this it’s not hard to believe that hiking is a favorite pastime to many who call the PNW home.

Even if you live in the city you’re never more than an hour away from a good hike. With nature being so close to more urban areas, it’s common to see people wearing their outdoor gear (Patagonia, North Face, etc.) even while walking around the streets downtown. There are many avid hikers who are in the city during the work week and in the mountains when the weekend rolls around.

I have a friend I consider a serial hiker who I have interviewed to get her opinion on the best hikes near us. Whether you’ve never hiked before or if you consider yourself a serial hiker as well, hopefully this interview will point you in the direction of your next hike. This rundown should also give you options of hikes both near and far so you can plan for either a quick trip or a weekend away.

(Forewarning, anything in parenthesis is my commentary.)

What is the most difficult hike you’ve been on in the PNW?

Mailbox Peak near Northbend, WA. The original trail is 2.5 miles long with extreme elevation. They’ve since put in a longer trail with more gradual elevation. When coming back down the trail the incline/decline was so steep that if we wanted to stop we needed to brace ourselves with trees to keep us from falling. Although it’s a difficult hike, it’s definitely worth going; the view is great!

Least difficult?

Snoqualmie Falls is pretty easy and kid friendly, but it’s still worth the trip because once you get down to the bottom of the falls it’s beautiful. (It’s not too far of a drive and there’s a really nice viewpoint overlooking the waterfall.)

For those of us that love fun hikes, what would you suggest?

Twin Falls near Northbend, WA. There are a couple of viewpoints of the waterfalls, a cool bridge and this hike gives you a workout without being too hard.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen while hiking?

Cute dogs in hiking gear (I imagine hats and cargo vests), old bridges, old overgrown forests and cool looking vegetation on trees that have fallen.

What hike would you suggest for those of us looking for beautiful scenery?

Mount Storm King near Port Angeles, WA. This hike overlooks Lake Crescent, the Strait of Juan De Fuca and parts of Canada. (I’d like to see this view in person.)

What is your favorite hike in all of the PNW?

Cape Flattery near Neah Bay, WA is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous US. There are amazing views at the end of the hike overlooking an island with a lighthouse, cliff sides and where the Strait of Juan De Fuca meets the ocean. (I want to visit here and be on the northwesternmost point of the country, especially with all those views. This is definitely on my bucket-list.)

Why do you love to go hiking?

It’s challenging and it’s rewarding. Hiking sets your mind at ease and reminds you how much there is to see on earth. Would you rather go hiking or be stuck inside a gym? (I’d much rather be free outside than confined to a treadmill.)

Any tips for new hikers or visitors to the PNW?

Mud! Beware of mud. Wear the right shoes and check the weather before going. Once when visiting Shi Shi Beach it was so muddy that I had to jump from twig to twig to avoid getting stuck and losing my shoes in mud puddles.

Additional comments:

Be careful not to get lost. Just a few weeks ago I tried to go on De Leo Wall trail for a short afternoon hike and ended up in a loop with no view for 2 hours. (Do your best not to get lost. Amanda was able to laugh while telling this story now, but I’m sure being lost wasn’t very funny at the time.)

Thank you so much for visiting our blog! We hope this interview has inspired you to get outside, plan your next hike or two and add a few adventures to your bucket-list. Let us know what you think about these hikes and any other favorites you have. And be sure to follow us on social media!

Amanda at Cape Flattery, her favorite hike!

The Best Burgers in the Seattle Southside Area

Burgers. Simple. Delicious. Whether you like yours plain or with everything on them, most people would agree a great burger is a necessity every once in a while. Let me kick off this review by stating a few of the reasons I love burgers.Variety; burgers can have so much variety. You can put anything from a fried egg to bacon, fried mac and cheese, hash browns or peanut butter on them. The possibilities are practically endless.

Convenience; how handy is it to be able to eat your entire entree without using a single utensil? (Handy. Get it?)

 

The sides; I love all the options in sides. To be honest sometimes the sides are my favorite part. Depending on where you go you can get anything from traditional French fries to tempura green beans, onion rings, sweet potato fries or even poutine. There are so many choices when it comes to sides, this should definitely be a factor when picking where to go for your next burger.

I recently visited a new burger joint I have grown quite fond of and revisited a few old favorites. All the photos in this blog post are from Blue Moon Burger. I tried to keep these all fairly local.

Blue Moon Burger – This place is one of my new favorites. I will definitely be going back. They are located on Alki. The only downfall to this place is that Alki can get really busy especially when it’s sunny and it can be difficult to find parking. Other than that, this place was fantastic! They have indoor and outdoor seating with a view of the Sound. It’s directly across from the beach. But most importantly, they have amazing burgers!

I got the Code Blue burger. It had two patties, Cherry wood smoked bacon, cheddar, blue moon sauce and PEANUT BUTTER on a brioche bun. The combination of flavors with the cheddar, peanut butter and bacon was incredible. The fact that the bacon was Cherry wood smoked made it some of the best tasting bacon I’ve ever had. Between the bacon and the peanut butter, it’s my new favorite burger.

With my burger I got Garlic Parmesan fries. Those were also great. I need to go back to try their onion rings, waffle fries, tots and curry fries. Don’t be mistaken, it does not say curly fries, which is what I thought. Much more interesting than that, they have CURRY FRIES.

My husband likes a much simpler burger. He got the Double Cheeseburger Love with regular fries. His burger had two patties, two slices of American cheddar, ketchup, mustard and pickles on a brioche bun. I’m pretty sure he ordered it without pickles though. He loved it, and their fries.

Overall, we love this place!

Dick’s Drive-in – This is definitely a local favorite. Great burgers, I LOVE their fries! (I order tartar sauce with mine.) These guys are inexpensive and they’ve got really good milkshakes. Dick’s used to be cash only, but within the last year or so, they changed that and I am grateful. There are a couple locations to pick from, but my favorite is the one in downtown Seattle near the Seattle Center. You can stop by Dick’s Drive-in and then mosey on over to the Seattle Center to check out the fountain, science center, Space Needle, see an IMAX movie, etc. Dick’s keeps things pretty old school, which is part of what makes them so great. I think one of my favorite things about this place is how simple they keep their menu. It’s pure.

Five Guys – Five Guys is another chain that originated in Arlington, Virginia. But again, I figure I’ll review it based on our locations as it is still a favorite to many in the area. First off, peanuts. Peanuts everywhere. (So if you have a peanut allergy, just stay away from this place.) When you walk into Five Guys there are boxes and boxes of free peanuts shaping their order line. One reason Five Guys is so good is because they cook their fries in pure peanut oil. They grill their burgers and they have lots of topping options. In addition to their regular fries, they also have Cajun fries.

The Habit Burger Grill – This place is so good. The Habit Burger Grill is a chain that originated in Santa Barbara, California. I’m reviewing our local location because chain or not, I love it there. Fun fact, before they opened the location in South Center my husband and I got to go there for free. They were doing this sort of a test run before their grand opening where they let a small group of people eat there for free. That was a great first introduction. Since then, my husband and I have gone back many times.

We love it there. Their main specialty is their Charburger. (Charbroiled goodness.) Whether you stick with the original Charburger or you venture out into other varieties like their Roasted Garlic Portabella Char or their Teriyaki Charburger, the Charburger is the foundation to all of them. My husband usually gets the Double Charburger and I change it up almost every time. I love the Roasted Garlic Portabella Char and the BBQ Bacon Charburger. They also have great sandwiches and salads.

One of my favorite things about this place is their sides. They have French fries, sweet potato fries, side salads and onion rings, all of which are fantastic, but what I find the most interesting is that they have tempura green beans. I’ve had them, and they are definitely good. My favorite thing is still probably their onion rings, but the tempura green beans are definitely worth trying.

Zippy’s – Zippy’s is a small local burger joint located in White Center. They’ve been around for quite some time and they’re a favorite to many in the area. Zippy’s has been recognized by many foodie apps and reviewing sites including Zagat, Urbanspoon, Tastemade, Yelp and more. Their burgers are great. They have multiple options for size and variety. Sometimes I like to go with the Lil Zip so I don’t over-stuff myself. They also have their original size and another giant burger that if you eat all of it, you get a free t-shirt. They have really good onion rings, fries and tots. Their garlic mayo is AMAZING. I could eat that on everything and I practically do. Another fun thing about Zippy’s is that they only have bottled beverages. And they have a few arcade games.

All of these places are worth trying if you haven’t been before. As everyone’s taste in burgers varies, I have heard many different opinions about which of these places is the best. The answer changes based on who I ask. So it’s important that you try them out to see which one is your favorite. When you decide, let us know! Also, make sure to tell us about your favorite local burger joints. You can let us know in the comments below or on social media!

Hotel Restaurants | The Hidden Gems of the SeaTac Area

If you’re a foodie like me, you’re probably on the lookout constantly for new restaurants to try. In my searching and consistent interest in restaurants and food, I’ve discovered something fascinating. Because this Seattle Southside area has a substantial airport smack dab in the middle of everything, there are lots of hotels. Hotels have restaurants. Often times these hotel restaurants are fairly unique to the hotel and the area. They range in style and cost. They are often of great quality and they are close by. Here’s the problem: no one knows they exist. (Ok, well maybe some people, but not many.) These hotel restaurants can be hard to find even online. Even when they are found, there is yet another issue; many people don’t know that these restaurants are open to the public outside of hotel. In other words, you don’t have to be staying at the hotel to go there. Some of you may have already known this, but this was exciting news for me. There’s so many great places to try. But wait, what about parking? Don’t most hotels charge for parking? Yes they do, but the restaurants typically validate parking for those who dine with them! This has opened up a whole new world. I’ve looked into a few places to try: Basil’s Kitchen at Embassy Suites in Tukwila. I had lunch there recently. I had a burger with grilled onions and balsamic vinegar. They had great service and I didn’t get to try them but they have zucchini fries! Overall, they were unique and had great food. NW Landing at the Double Tree Hotel in Southcenter. I have not eaten there personally, but the owner of CeSI has been there a few times before. She adores their brunch, and if a restaurant has great brunch, I think it’s pretty safe to say they’re just great. I have been to a few weddings at that hotel previously, so I can say that it’s a nice location and definitely worth checking out. The Bistro at the Courtyard Marriott. I have not been here myself. The hotel is nice and I have taken a look at the menu and while they a nice variety of choices, overall I’d say there menu is light and fresh. If you try it out you’ll have to let me know! Copperleaf Restaurant & Bar at the Cedarbrook Lodge. This is one place I’m really looking forward to trying. The resort itself is fairly tucked away. I’ve lived in this area my entire life and up until a few years ago I had no idea there was a high end lodge a few blocks from my house. I’d say that’s pretty fancy. From everyone I know who’s been there I’ve heard only good things and between that and looking at their website I would describe them as elegant. Seaports Restaurant & Lounge at the Double Tree Hotel in SeaTac. I’ve lived right around the corner from this hotel for the majority of my life and have never been here. But it looks very nice. This is another one I’d like to try. They serve lunch and dinner daily. Their menu definitely looks really good. Gregory’s Lounge at the Red Lion Hotel in SeaTac. I want to go here, because it seems casual and inviting. Often when I drive by I think they must have god food, I see people there frequently. They are almost directly across from the airport which is nice too if you’re to or from Seattle. Spencer’s for Steaks & Chops at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center in SeaTac. Spencer’s is a high end restaurant, they have steak and seafood options. I have not been here yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Their menu looks great! These are just a few examples of hotel restaurants in the area. If you can think of any others or if you have anything more to add about the restaurants above let us know! Find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! P.S. Writing about all this made me hungry.