Change your Approach to online marketing!

We speak to and deal with lots of small businesses over the course of a twelve month period and one thing that has become clear is the lack of a coherent and cohesive strategy.

This is often not the fault of the small business owner as they have their own businesses to run and rarely have the resource to look at their marketing and particular online marketing in a holistic way.

The other problem is the industry itself with new platforms, software, products and services appearing every day all promising untold wealth and success.  As small business owners we are often looking for “quick wins” and can very easily become distracted by something “shiny”.  This means that small business marketing becomes an endless trail of bolt ons, cobbled together products and services without one big plan.

My challenge has always been how do we get this message across to a busy small business owner?  If they are working with us or a company like us the problem becomes less (although often still a challenge) because we see it as our job to look holistically and identify products that will work within a small business owners budget and market environment.

What became clear during this session is that the views of the people there were as follows:

Web Site – need a web site because our competitors have one and to act as a brochure for our business and products

Google – need to get to the top of Google in order to find new customers

Social Media – new fad but need it because clients expect it and competitors have it (didn’t really have a view as to how to generate leads and sales from it)

Video – expensive luxury

Article Marketing – time consuming and non productive for lead generation

Blog – most couldn’t see the benefit

Email Marketing – only did this occasionally when they had the time

Most of the companies we speak with build their web site and only ever make changes when forced too i.e. new product needs adding, old product out of date, price changes etc..  The most sophisticated had some kind of streaming news feeds because they were aware that content needs to be updated for SEO.

This lead me to the conclusion that we are missing the point.  We need to change our approach to Online Marketing in two fundamental ways.  I would also like to compare this to the “Old Offline World” we are familiar with.

Online Collateral or Building Blocks

If we see our Web Site, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, You Tube, Blog, Linked In as advertising platforms.  The comparison for this in the Offline World would be National Newspaper, Billboard at Euston Station, Radio, Regional Press, Exhibitions, Seminars etc..

Therefore the first thing you need to do is make sure you have all these things, and ensure they are branded and portray your business in the best light and you get them in the best places you can for your budget.

Marketing Message

Once you have your building blocks in place decide every day or every week what marketing message you want to send and use all these platforms to deliver it.  Some weeks your message might be delivered better vis Social Media, other weeks it might be email, other weeks it might be your web site or in fact a combination of all of them.

Do not fall into the trap of building these things and then leaving them to gather dust.  You wouldn’t pay for space in a National Newspaper and not place an advert, you wouldn’t pay for Billboard advertising and not put up a message or leave the same message their for years getting tattier and tattier.

Use your online collateral today to increase leads, increase sales and develop your brand!

If you need any help with your social media or online marketing please pop your details in our contact us  page and we will get in contact with you to help! Also if you are looking to save time on your social media we have a great tool which is like Hootsuite and Buffer which can do this for you! Just CLICK HERE and save time on your social media!

Social Media Marketing

There are many social media sites, including the ones you likely already know about:

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Before you start creating content for your content marketing strategy to syndicate across social media channels, you should identify which social media channels will be most appropriate for your product or service.

For example, consider Pinterest, on which the demographics are mostly women. Half of them are mums. If your business is in tailor-made suits and sports jackets, Pinterest probably doesn’t contain the right demographic for you. Sure, there’s always a way to make it work, if you plan your strategy just right. Women might fall all over your amazing threads and order for their husbands, sons, dads, brothers and friends. But you’d probably have to get lucky for that to happen. A better option might be to find a social network that fits your demographic. Did you know there’s a site very similar to Pinterest that is growing quickly? It’s called Gentlemint, and this one caters to men. This might be a much better social network on which to focus your image content marketing efforts.

So, start by selecting a few appropriate social media sites. Almost all businesses should have a Facebook and Twitter account, but don’t forget about Google+, Youtube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn (especially if you’re a B2B business). Grow and develop those first, then you can start including others. Don’t overdo it, either; you should have the resources in place to manage the accounts. Social profiles for your business that aren’t fully set up, don’t interact and engage, or just sit idly can reflect poorly on your business. If you truly don’t have the time or budget for some solid demographic research, then at least try to get feedback from your current customers as to which social media sites they often use.

A Look at Genders on Major Social Sites:

Obviously, if your product/service caters to women, then Pinterest should be on your radar. If it’s more geared towards men, then maybe Reddit or Quora are better suited for you (The last ones on the list are more towards computer and internet themes). What about demographics by age? Is there a certain age group that would be more interested in what you have to offer?

A Look at Age Groups on Major Social Sites:

There are many more sites that can be grouped by income, education, how likely they are to share video, and much more. Take your time and use this information to select the most appropriate ones to begin with.

Setting Up Social Media Sites & Integrating Them

After you’ve chosen which sites you’re going to use, you need to create accounts on them. One of the first things you should do is go to Knowem.com and input a username you’d like to use on your social profiles. Ideally, this should be your brand or company name. Knowem will then search over 500 different social sites, checking if that username is available on each one. Why is this important? Well, you don’t want to become known as StevesAutoRepair on several sites, only to have to use AutoRepairBySteve on others. A consistent username helps you achieve brand consistency, so that you’re easily recognisable and findable.

Get Social on Your Website

The goal should be for your readers, fans and customers to be able to easily share your content, and interact with you in social media. To achieve this, include social “follow us” icons to allow your visitors to easily connect with your brand. Ideally, these icons should be displayed on every page of your website, and they are commonly found in the upper right sidebar or header.

Additionally, include “share” buttons on your blog posts to allow readers to easily and instantly share your content with others.

 

Industry Research

Before interacting in social media, do your homework. What do I mean by that? Find some authority figures in your industry on the social sites you’re going to use. Who are the influencers in your industry? Who has the most reach? Who are the thought leaders?

Here are a few free tools to help you figure out the answers to these questions:

WeFollow.com – Allows you to search for industry influencers by keyword

TweetReach – Enter a Twitter name, URL or hashtag and get information about their reach on Twitter

SocialMention – Get regular updates when a person, company or topic is mentioned

Ok, so why are you gathering this information? Using tools like the ones above can help you get off the ground with your strategy. By monitoring what they do, when they do it, and what gets the most response or attention, you’ll be able to model some of your social media action plan after their example. Obviously what they’re doing is working!

Inbound links from social media marketing

Social media marketing does result in inbound links, and yes, many of those are included in the ‘social signals’ we covered. For example, every time a tweet contains a link to your website, that’s an inbound link and also a social signal. Similarly, when someone shares one of your blog posts on Facebook with a link back to the post, that’s an inbound link and a social signal.

If you need any help with your social media or online marketing please pop your details in our contact us  page and we will get in contact with you to help! Also if you are looking to save time on your social media we have a great tool which is like Hootsuite and Buffer which can do this for you! Just CLICK HERE and save time on your social media!

8 Steps to digital success

Integrated marketing has become a business buzzword, taking in advertising, public relations, direct marketing, digital and social media marketing – all as a unified force, making it a cost-effective and consistent promotional strategy.

Market research has shown time and time again that customers check out products and services online before making a purchase. Having an online presence not only increases trust in your brand – vital for small businesses without a big marketing budget – but also reaches a wider, cross-generational audience. Research by BT revealed that many young Britons don’t own a TV but rely on the web to watch TV through catch-up services and download films, music, games and videos, bypassing high-street stores.

So here are eight steps to create an effective digital marketing campaign from scratch and boost your ranking in the process.

Step 1: Create a keyword strategy

Any internet search starts with typing a few words in an engine, so the trick is to find which keywords can best describe your products or services. Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner can list the most popular searches at local and global level – all you have to do is pick the high-ranking words that suit your business.

Step 2: Optimise your website

To optimise your website, once you have identified your keywords use them in your website’s source (i.e. where the html code is) and sparingly in your website’s copy as keyword stuffing is penalised by search engines. Use your keywords judiciously in body copy, headings and picture captions.

Step 3: Create a blog and other content

A national digital marketing conference recently proclaimed that “content is king”, meaning that quality copy, pictures, videos and infographics all contribute to making your website rise in search engine rankings – the top-five currently being Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask and AOL Search. Your website should be worded with your customer in mind and allow for the short-span attention and time-poor behaviour of internet users. It should be brief, to the point and allow easy navigation – if potential customers cannot find the information they require, they will click away. More in-depth information can be conveyed through a blog, ebooks, videos and podcasts.

An Infograph by Chris Heiler

8 Steps to online marketing success

Step 4: Promote your content with social media

Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest are the main social media platforms. More specialised platforms include YouTube for videos, Digg and Stumbleupon for web links, and Instagram and Flicker for photos. As a rule of thumb, Twitter and LinkedIn are mostly used for B2B interaction, while Facebook is more B2C. However digital divides often blur, with companies using all platforms and most getting onto Pinterest’s bandwagon – a picture (or infographic) is indeed worth a thousand words. There is plenty of free information online to keep you up to date with social media trends – Mashable and Search Engine Watch offer excellent e-newsletters.

Step 5: Convert your website’s traffic into leads

Your website is ranking well, you have plenty of visitors, your blog is well received, but how can you turn your followers into customers? Don’t spread yourself too thinly, keep up with social media platforms and engage with your customers by giving away free advice, samples, consultations – whatever it’s suitable for your business to offer as an incentive to close the deal.

Step 6: Nurture your leads with email marketing

Email marketing is the 21st century answer to junk mail – but not as we know it. Customer engagement is key – your registered users want to hear from you and are keen to receive your e-newsletters via email. Focus on their problems and offer solutions – a pull rather than push strategy involving building a relationship and earning trust. For instance, if you sell gardening products, potential customers could get emails with gardening tips, short tutorials for easy makeovers and seasonal advice to showcase how your products can enhance their lifestyle.

Step 7: Be mobile friendly

Portable internet and wifi mean that some of your customers might be surfing the net from a mobile phone, so check with your designer that your website displays well on mobile devices. Google Analytics can give you a helping hand by indicating how mobile impacts your business – you can get free reports showing how your visitors are accessing your website, whether from a smart or a basic phone.

Step 8: Analyse and refine your marketing strategies

Many businesses still think that once their optimised website is up and running and they have one social media campaign under their belt, they are there… Yes they are, but not for long. In the fast-changing digital world, new platforms are constantly created and trends come and go at the speed of lightning. Your competitors won’t be standing still either. Small businesses should review their website at regular intervals. Refresh your content, keep up with social media, regularly monitor your visitors with Google Analytics and use all the free tools and information available to improve or maintain your ranking

Introduction to SEO

What exactly is it? SEO is simply the process of setting up and optimising your site so that it’s easily found (and favored) by search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Most people, today, aren’t going to pick up a phone book when they need something. Instead, they’ll go online to search for it. If your business isn’t showing up in search results, you’re almost certainly losing valuable business to your competitors that do. Furthermore, people that find your website via organic search tend to be highly targeted, making them more likely to convert to customers.

Most businesses understand they should have a website, but simply having a website is only the first step. Building an effective website that will provide a strong, consistent flow of leads or sales requires marketing. For the purpose of online marketing, the phrase “if you build it, they will come” does not apply. Building a website without marketing it is akin to building a brick-and-mortar store in the middle of the Sahara desert. There are no roads that lead to it, no traffic driving by and seeing it. Even people who need your products or services can’t buy from you because they’ll never know about you.

That’s where SEO comes in. SEO is like transplanting your brick-and-mortar store from the Sahara desert to Lincoln high street!

SEO makes your website visible to potential customers so that you can make sales.

Take a moment to think about what someone might search for when looking for your business. If you’re a bed shop that specialises in waterbeds, possibilities could include:

• bed shop

• bed shop with waterbeds

• Lincoln bed shop that specialises in waterbeds

Now, search Google for those terms. Does your business show up? If not, SEO is how you get there. Think about it… if you have a website and it’s not showing up in search results, it’s just the same as having customers drive right by your business while looking for what you offer, and not even know you’re there.

Just as building a beautiful store front isn’t the only factor that will result in sales, online marketing isn’t as simple as building a beautiful website. Sure, having a well-designed site is important. If visitors to your website don’t feel comfortable and get frustrated trying to find what they need (due to a poor navigation structure) or any number of other factors that drive visitors away, then you probably won’t make the sale. Let’s explore the other factors that affect your search engine rankings: on-site and off-site SEO.

In order for your website to be effective from an SEO perspective, both on-site and off-site SEO factors have to be included in your strategy.

SEO has changed dramatically over the last few months let alone years.

We will explore in more detail other elements which can influence site traffic and SEO in future blogs over the next few weeks.

 

If you need any help with your social media or online marketing please pop your details in our contact us  page and we will get in contact with you to help! Also if you are looking to save time on your social media we have a great tool which is like Hootsuite and Buffer which can do this for you! Just CLICK HERE and save time on your social media!

Why You Should Outsource?

Outsourcing your social media to us will ensure you have a professionally managed social media campaign at a great price point that should deliver you a solid return on investment.

Why should I use your Twitter or Facebook service when I could do this myself?
We are experts at social media, so we keep up with trends and technology. We understand hashtags, memes, mash-ups and microblogging – so you don’t have to.

Keeping your social media feed active takes a lot of dedication. Logging in to post 4 or 5 times per day, or even more if you use both Facebook and Twitter. Building your social channels takes time and patience.

We will still be posting while you are working on building your business. We’ll still be posting when you are on holiday or off sick. We’ll still be posting when you are called out to an urgent meeting that runs on all day. It’s hard work to post four or five times each day with well thought out content. We are experts at it.

We schedule everything at least a week ahead in a very convenient control panel that allows you to review and edit our content, add your own posts and monitor your campaign statistics. Don’t worry, it’s simple to use, and you don’t ever have to use it if you don’t want to.

We’ll make sure your social media feeds are buzzing with activity that’s positive for your business all week, every week. We try to keep it fun (if appropriate) while informing people about your business and promoting your brand. We’ll also research and post (or tweet) facts, tips and trivia about your industry. We profile your business to ensure the information we use is the perfect mix to promote you on social media.

If you haven’t got enough images yourself, we’ll supply royalty free stock photos that complement your business.

Don’t forget that you can post too! We highly encourage our clients to post as often as they like, with the things that we can’t. What new contracts have you taken on today? Does a sale start tonight? Simply log in and schedule the items in our easy to use control panel. Our user friendly control panel gives you a full suite of graphs, charts and statistics that allow you to see the benefits of your social media campaign.

What are the benefits of using social media marketing?

Like the fax machine of the 1980s and email of the 2000s, Social media marketing has gone from being a

“business option” to being a “business essential”, but you still have time to get ahead of your competitors.

Social Media Marketing
The main benefits of running a social media campaign are:

• Enhancing your trustworthiness

You will see an increase in your website conversion rates. The amount of website traffic (or visitors) compared to the number of sales (or leads) you get is called the sales conversion ratio. If you monitor this ratio before and after installing an embedded Twitter feed, you should see it improve. People are reassured by the presence of a regularly updated Twitter feed on a website (hours, not days). It shows professionalism, authority and clearly displays that your site is “open for business”.

• Brand recognition and repeat exposure

Your social media followers or browsers are in an environment that they are comfortable in. It is the very best place for you to place your brand and have them take notice. It is said of traditional advertising that a potential customer has to see your advertisement seven times before taking any action. This is your opportunity to get your brand under their noses without being pushy.

• Getting ahead of your competitors

Do your competitors use social media? Most of your competitors will probably not be doing a good job of embracing social media, so this is your chance to race ahead. If they are engaging well in the social networks then you must get involved or you risk being left behind and losing your audience to your competition. Your potential customers or clients are engaging in social media personally, whether you like it or not. When they visit a website they expect to find a social media presence and may judge you if there isn’t one – or worse if they find one that hasn’t been updated for weeks or months.

• Grow your marketing power

You don’t need followers, as our business profilers will include relevant hashtags that will get your brand into relevant conversations, however, as your followers increase your marketing power increases. Initially the increased conversion rate on your website, your hashtagged tweets and the potential for your social media campaign to appear in Google results are all that you are interested in. Over time you’ll also gain a loyal following, who you can market to at any time – at zero additional cost! The more followers you have – the more people want to join in and get involved. It’s the “crowd effect” – people always want to see what the crowd is interested in, and they join the crowd! Talk to us about how to get more followers.

• Improving your authority

When people see you have a busy social network with hints and trivia relating to your chosen business field they will automatically associate it with authority. Your business will be seen as having increased credibility and specialist knowledge which, in turn, will also increase your sales conversion rates.

• Return on investment

Our service offers a great return on investment. You should be able to track the improvement in website visitors to sale ratio and see it increase as well as seeing more visitors over time directly from your social media accounts. Google is now returning social media results in amongst its search results and Twitter and Facebook have literally hundreds of millions of users. You can get access to this market for a tiny monthly investment, when compared to other marketing channels.

• SEO

Google has placed more and more importance on what are commonly referred to as “social signals”. Nobody knows Google’s exact algorithm but it certainly includes social campaigns in the mix. You need to be actively engaged in social media to get any of that benefit. You should also think about getting your Twitter feed embedded into the homepage of your website. This constantly changing text is just the type of thing that pushes Google’s buttons. We’ve seen a huge increase in Google crawling rates once a feed is embedded which will help your SEO team push your website up the rankings.

• Website traffic

Even without followers the targeted use of hashtags should get your brand out into conversations that are relevant. This should start driving extra traffic (visitors) to your website. As your number of followers grows you’ll start getting even more exposure for your brand and your traffic will grow further still. Because Google is taking more notice of “Social Signals” you could find you are getting more traffic directly from Google too. Don’t forget that Facebook Pages and Twitter feeds are now appearing in Google’s search results. As your social media campaign grows and matures you will get more and more visitors.

What are the benefits of outsourcing your social media campaign to us?

Social networks are a fast paced technology and you have to invest a lot of time on the details to get the perfect social media balance. That’s before working out the effect each account has on Google, and what difference keyword density makes to your social media campaigns, how to get the best effect from “hashtags” etc. Somewhere in all that learning – you also have to post 4 or 5 times per business day to be seen as “socially active” and benefit appropriately. You should also aim to ensure you create and upload at least a few images per week, per account. Images make a text heavy Facebook page look fantastic. The very best way for your business to benefit from a social media campaign is if you outsource the “heavy lifting” to us. We know the exact recipe to create a social media campaign that provides an interesting and authoritative set of posts that your clients or customers will love as well as pushing Google’s social buttons.

We have teams of people that can post on your behalf all day, every day. Plenty of keyword rich content, nicely spaced out during the day.All of which can be reviewed by you via our simple to use control panel, as we schedule your content at least 7 days ahead.

Still not sure what all the social media fuss is about?

If you need any help with your social media or online marketing please pop your details in our contact us  page and we will get in contact with you to help! Also if you are looking to save time on your social media we have a great tool which is like Hootsuite and Buffer which can do this for you! Just CLICK HERE and save time on your social media!