I don’t know if my marketing is working

i don't know if my marketing is working

i don't know if my marketing is working

When many businesses first come to us, they often say “I don’t know if my marketing is working.” They’ve tried a few different things, but it doesn’t appear to be doing anything other than costing them money. Does that sound familiar?

It’s important that you can show the Return on Investment (ROI) of your marketing efforts. If something is working, you need to be able to show that. And if it doesn’t work, you need to be able to prove that so you don’t waste further time and money on something that doesn’t work.

When businesses come to us and say “I don’t know if my marketing is working”, we evaluate these 6 things to find out what might be the cause of the problem.

Have you set a goal? If so, what was it?

While all of these points are important, this is a huge one. If you haven’t got a goal, how can you possibly know whether your marketing is working?

When setting goals, follow the SMART method to create goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

 

How are you tracking your marketing activities?

Once you know what you’re working towards, you need a way of tracking activity produced by your marketing campaign. If you aren’t tracking what’s happening, you won’t know if your marketing activities are working or not.

Tracking and monitoring needs to be considered before you begin marketing as you may need to implement something before you campaign begins, such as setting up a dedicated phone number, or setting up goal tracking in your analytics software.

Exactly how you track your marketing campaign will depend on what you’re doing:

  • If you’re running a special offer, you might look at orders using the offer code in an email you sent out
  • If you’re getting people to call you, you would track phone calls to a dedicated number, or you could ask people where they saw your number
  • If you’re at an event, you might just track the number of people who put their email address down on your email marketing form

By tracking your marketing activities, you will easily be able to identify whether or not you are reaching your goal.

 

How strong was your campaign and call to action?

Your call to action (CTA) is the most important part of any marketing campaign because it tells your target audience what you want them to do next.

If your CTA is weak, unclear, confusing, or if you have multiple CTAs, your audience won’t know what to do. Best practice is to have one CTA that is focused on getting someone to take the next step.

Keep your CTA succinct and use verbs to encourage your target audience to take action as soon as possible.

The rest of the copy should back up the CTA and encourage your audience to take action by focusing on their pain points and telling them how your product / service can remove that pain.

 

What did your marketing activity look and feel like?

The way things look, and feel if they are physical things your audience can hold, is incredibly important. Especially if this is the first contact someone will ever have with your brand.

Think about the junk mail you get through your letterbox at home. I bet you’ve received a cheap and nasty looking leaflet from a local takeaway that you’ve never heard of before. It’s confusing on the eyes, there are probably lots of dark colours, bad editing, the paper feels thin, and just looking at it makes you feel like you might get food poisoning. What do you do? You throw it out.

Now, it might be that the takeaway makes delicious food, but if you judged it on that piece of marketing material alone, it certainly didn’t give you the impression of delicious, filling food.

It’s not just the first time you contact your audience that you need to make a great impression; you need to make a great impression every time you contact your audience and customers.

A great impression can remind loyal customers why they are a customer of yours, encourage them to purchase from you again, and hopefully remind them to tell their friends about you.

If that’s not enough to convince you that your marketing to existing customers needs to be high quality, this statistic might: 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your existing customers.

 

Is it your audience’s preferred method of communication?

This is where a thorough understand of your audience is helpful and will help you.

Where your marketing material appears is important. If your audience are 16-25 year olds who regularly use the internet, then online is the best place to target them.

If your audience are 70+ olds who don’t use the internet, then offline marketing activities will suit them better.

 

What’s your brand like? Is it putting people off?

The way your brand looks can play a large part in whether or not your audience pay attention to your marketing.

As a consumer, you probably understand this yourself.

If you see a brand that looks small, unprofessional, outdated, and maybe even a bit dodgy, you will probably steer clear of it. No matter how good an offer it is. You don’t want to risk being ripped off, or receiving a faulty product.

If you see a brand that looks clean and professional, it will automatically come across as much more trustworthy than a brand that looks bad. It will give you confidence that the business knows what they’re doing. That you’re likely to get a product which fulfils your needs.

 

If just one of the points above isn’t right it can prevent your marketing activities from being effective, which means it’s wasting your time and money.

To find out if your brand might be putting your audience off, read 4 signs you need to rebrand your business.

4 signs you need to rebrand your business

4 signs you need to rebrand your business

4 signs you need to rebrand your business

It’s easy to think of your brand as ‘just a logo’, but it’s a visual representation of your business and the way your brand looks has a big impact on how people perceive your business.

Your brand should appear on every touch point your audience and customers have with your business: website, leaflets, catalogues, emails, business cards, packaging, invoices and receipts, social media, signage, and more.

A brand that doesn’t represent your business effectively, can do you more harm than good and have a negative impact on leads and sales.

If your brand is causing you any of the below problems, it’s a sure sign that you need to rebrand your business.

 

It’s confusing for your existing customers

If your brand focuses on one particular sector, product, or service you offer, your existing clients may not be aware that you offer other related services or products.

At the end of last year, we rebranded Electrical Certs to Veriserv, because the Electrical Certs brand was confusing their clients and staff.

Veriserv offer services in electrical, fire, mechanical, security, and compliance, but the name ‘Electrical Certs’ led their existing customers to believe that they could only handle electrical compliance. Customers were unaware of the other services they offered, and went to other providers for related services that Veriserv actually offer.

The rebrand has helped to make their existing customers aware that they don’t just deal with compliance, and that they can handle many related services. This makes things easier for customers as they don’t have to deal with multiple providers.

You need to rebrand if: your brand is confusing customers.

 

It’s preventing growth

Similar to the point above, your brand can prevent you from moving into new sectors and growing if it focuses on one particular service or sector.

A couple of years ago, we rebranded a business called SSC Learning (with SSC standing for ‘Skills Source Care’) who offered apprenticeships and training in care, marketing, sales, leadership & management, recruitment, and more.

As they tried to offer training in new sectors, the name SSC Learning held them back and prevented them from moving into new sectors as people thought they only offered care training.

When they relaunched as ‘edo’ they were able to move into new sectors and grow, and were no longer held back by their brand.

You need to rebrand if: your brand is preventing your business from growing.

Read the edo rebranding case study to find out more about how a new brand helped them grow their business and increase inbound leads.

 

It makes you look low quality

If someone sees a poor quality brand, they will probably think your products and customer service is low quality, and that they’d be better off spending their money elsewhere.

Your brand should represent the quality of service and products you provide.

If you’re a business that sells high-quality, luxurious products or services, your brand needs to reflect that so your audience feel that you’re a high-quality, luxurious brand.

Don’t confuse the price of your products and services with quality; your brand doesn’t necessarily have to represent the price of your products and services.

Even if your products are cheap, or not the most expensive on the market, you can still offer high-quality products and services. Beauty brands are a great example of this.

Some beauty brands give off a luxurious and high-quality feel, even though they’re not the most expensive offering on the market.

Sanctuary Spa Boots screenshot

Take Sanctuary Spa for example; their skincare and beauty products are not the most expensive, but their brand positions them as higher-quality and more luxurious than other brands which sell similarly priced products.

This makes Sanctuary Spa’s audience happy because they feel that by buying their products they’re getting better value for money.

You need to rebrand if: your brand is making you look low-quality and / or cheap.

 

Your brand makes you look untrustworthy

You know exactly what we mean when we talk about untrustworthy brands. They’re the kind of brands you see on a website and you immediately click back for fear that they’re trying to scam you and take you for all the money in your bank account.

Similarly to brands that look like they provide a poor quality service, you don’t want your brand to give off the vibe that you’re sketchy, are only interested in taking people’s money, and providing no help or support if someone runs into a problem.

A brand that looks trustworthy is especially important if you are an ecommerce website; people don’t want to hand over their bank details to a company that looks untrustworthy.

As well as improving your brand, you can make your business look more credible by:

  • Providing customer service contact information
  • Providing information about returning items, or what to do if you’re unhappy
  • Having an SSL certificate – your domain will start with https://, rather than http://
  • Using a widely recognised payment gateway like PayPal, or SagePay

You need to rebrand if: your brand makes you look untrustworthy.

 

Rebranding can seem like a huge and daunting task, but if your existing brand is causing you any of the above issues, you are missing out on leads and sales.

 

If your brand is holding your business back, call us on 01543 495 752 to find out how we might be able to work together, and arrange a chat to pop into our Burntwood office. Or for more insight into branding you can check out more of our blogs. 

 

9 reasons why people are leaving your website

9 reasons why people are leaving your website

9 reasons why people are leaving your website

The goal of your website is to attract visitors and, eventually, convert them into leads and sales. It’s not straightforward, and there are many reasons why people are leaving your website. 

Due to longer and more complex buyer’s journey, you won’t stop 100% of visitors leaving without converting, but there are plenty of things you can do to improve your website and give visitors the information they need.

 

How do I know how many people are leaving my website?

Your website’s analytics can tell you how many people are leaving your website, and where. There are two important statistics to look at:

  • Bounce rate
  • Exit pages

 

Bounce rate

Bounce rate Google Analytics

Your bounce rate shows you the percentage of people who came to your website, viewed one page, and left before viewing any other pages.

There are many reasons why someone might ‘bounce’, but they can be roughly classified into two buckets:

They weren’t happy with what they found: this could mean your product / service was too expensive, you didn’t convince them to buy it, they’re not sure if it solves their problem, or perhaps your content didn’t answer their questions.

They found what they were looking for: this often happens if someone is looking for specific information; your website provides them with all the information they need for now, so they leave without exploring your website further.

“What’s a good bounce rate?” you might ask; well it varies depending on sector and the type of website you have.

An infographic on bounce rates put together by KissMetrics shows the following average bounce rates:

  • Retail websites: 20-40% bounce rate
  • Simple landing pages: 70-90% bounce rate
  • Portals (MSN, Yahoo groups, etc): 10-30% bounce rate
  • Service websites: 10-30% bounce rate
  • Content websites: 40-60% bounce rate
  • Lead generation: 30-50% bounce rate

 

Exit pages

Google Analytics also allows you to look at where people are leaving your website. It doesn’t give you a huge idea of why they’re leaving though. However, reviewing the copy might help you identify the kind of reasons someone might have exited on that page.

For example, if people are leaving your site on a product page instead of converting, it might be because:

  • It’s not quite what they were looking for – but your content was good and told them it’s not what they need.
  • They’re not sure if it’s what they need – your content isn’t clear enough or telling them whether it can do what the visitor needs it to do.
  • It’s too expensive
  • They’re just looking for now and comparing your product / service to others
  • It’s too expensive – but they’ve bookmarked it and will keep checking back in case the price has gone down
  • You haven’t got the size / colour / version they need in stock right now

As you can see, it’s not easy to identify exactly why someone left. However, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you are providing users with all they need to make an informed decision.

 

Why people are leaving your website 

Let’s look at 9 common reasons why people might be leaving your website and what you can do to make them stay.

 

Your website takes too long to load

We’re all impatient, especially online where we expect things to happen in the click of our fingers.

Studies by Akamai.com and Gomez.com found that 47% of users expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, and 40% will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

If your website takes too long to load, users will leave and visit other websites which load faster.

What to do: Check your website’s loading speed which can help you identify what parts of your website might be slow to load.

 

Your website looks bad or suspicious

Appearance can have a huge effect on perception, and the look of your website can be enough to convince someone that they don’t want to spend their money with you.

When you think about a bad website or a suspicious looking website that looks as if it’s out to scam you, they might look a bit like this:

  • The design is poor
  • The layout is terrible
  • Too many things are fighting for attention and your eyes can’t settle and figure out what you’re supposed to do
  • It instantly looks confusing
  • The text is barely readably
  • Images might not load

Your website should present you as a professional, and trustworthy business, and it’s worth investing in a professional web designer to make sure your website appeals to your target audience and makes you look good.

What to do: Review your website and look at the design and navigation; is it what your target audience want to see? Is it easy to use? You could even ask your customers to fill in feedback forms to find out what they think of your website.

 

It’s not user-friendly

Following on from the point above, don’t make your users click more than they need to.

ASOS homepage usability GIF

Users expect websites to look clean and easy to use now. Even huge ecommerce websites such as ASOS (shown above) manage to keep their website looking simple, and easy to use.

If someone has to visit seven or eight pages to find what they’re looking for, that’s poor user experience.

A few traits of a user friendly website:

  • It loads quickly
  • It’s responsive
  • It has a search bar
  • The navigation is simple
  • The user has no frustrations trying to complete their tasks

What to do: Make your website as easy as possible to use; reduce the number of clicks / things the user has to do to reach the information they’re looking for.

 

It’s not responsive

Rancom Security responsive website

A responsive website will resize and change the layout depending on what device you view it. In the photo above, you can see the same website displaying different to suit each device.

According to globalwebindex, 50% of global internet users accessed Google using a mobile device each month in 2014. That gives you some kind of idea about how many people use mobile devices to search the internet, and how important it is that your website is responsive.

In April this year, Google made mobile-friendly a ranking factor. This means that if your website is not mobile friendly, your rankings in mobile search results may suffer.

Find out how many people visit your website on mobile devices

Desktop, mobile, and tablet traffic in Google Analytics

To find out how many people visit your website on mobile devices:

  1. Log in to Google Analytics
  2. Click on ‘Audience’
  3. Click ‘Mobile’
  4. And select ‘Overview’

You can see the number and percentage of sessions and what kind of device they came from.

Not convinced by responsive websites? Check out our blog post containing 9 reasons why you should have a responsive website.

What to do: Make sure your website is responsive.

 

Your brand is putting them off

We all know the saying “never judge a book by its cover”, but we all do it. If your brand looks outdated or bad, people may perceive you and your products as incompetent, or even as scammers.

Online, people are particularly wary about who they spend money with as they know how easy it is to be scammed. Scam websites often look bad and outdated, so if they perceive you as outdated or suspicious, they will buy from a competitor with a more reputable looking brand.

Another issue you may have with your brand is if it is not quite representing you effectively, and is sending out the wrong message to our clients.

At the end of last year, we rebranded a company whose brand was confusing their target audience and their staff. Their brand was pigeon-holing them because their audience, and existing customers, thought they only offered one type of service, rather than the wide range of services they actually offered.

What to do: Make sure your brand looks professional, is something that appeals to your target audience, and represents you effectively.

 

Your aren’t giving users enough information / you aren’t answering their question

Providing users with as much information as possible helps them to make an informed decision, which is particularly important if you have an ecommerce website.

Think about all the things your audience want to know and provide them with all of the information they need.

Include information about:

  • Sizes – if you’re selling clothing have a size guide with measurements on your website which you can link to
  • Colours
  • How it can be used
  • What it can be used for
  • Have a range of high-quality images of the product from different angles, and in use

If it’s not a product page, you may not be entirely answering users’ questions. Again, think about everything someone would want to know when they visit a page, and link out to other resources which they might need.

What to do: Consider what information your audience want to get from each page and think about any questions they might have and what they might want to know, and provide them with it.

 

You aren’t making your users feel pain

The copy on your website should identify your audience’s pain points and remind them of that. Your copy can then go on to sell the benefits of your product / service and how it can alleviate their pain.

Imagine you sell an online video that helps people to train their dogs to walk properly on the lead. Your audience may have the following pain points:

  • Walking my dog is stressful and sometimes embarrassing because my dog is so badly behaved on the lead and pulls
  • My dog has injured me in the past because of his / her pulling, so I’m hesitant to take him / her out now
  • I’m worried my dog will get injured by pulling into traffic
  • My dog is becoming overweight due to lack of exercise

Your copy should acknowledge those pain points, and you can then inform them of the remedy by selling the benefits of your dog training DVD. You might say something like:

“Our DVD will give you the skills you need to train your dog to walk correctly on the lead, preventing you both from injury. No longer will walking your dog be a stressful or embarrassing situation; you can look forward to walking a well-behaved dog and ensuring he or she gets enough exercise and stays fit and healthy.”

What to do: Write a list of the issues your target audience are facing and make sure your copy is reminding them of their pain, and how you can solve that pain for them.

 

They aren’t convinced your product / service will do the job

Sometimes you can give people all of the information they need, but they still hold back because they aren’t convinced. The phrase “too good to be true” might pop into their head.

Most of us try to be as careful as possible with our money, and the last thing we want is to spend our hard earned cash on something that will disappoint us by not doing the job properly.

What alleviates that worry? Proof that other people have purchased the same product / service and are satisfied with it.

Make use of reviews and testimonials to prove to your audience that you are trustworthy and show how delighted customers have been with their purchases.

Encourage our customers to leave reviews by emailing them a few days after their purchase has arrived and they’ve had chance to use it. You can find out more about how reviews help and how to get them here.

What to do: Remove as much worry as possible by using reviews and testimonials from happy customers.

 

They’re not ready to buy yet

The buyers’ journey isn’t as simple as it used to be. With so many products and services competing for attention, users move all over the place as they thoroughly research the best product / service for their problem.

They might leave your website with the intention of buying from you, but they’re not ready to buy just yet. Maybe they need to save up a little more, perhaps it’s a gift and they want to be sure the recipient hasn’t already got it, or maybe there’s another reason.

What to do: Encourage people to sign up to your email newsletter so that you can remind them of your business / products / services, and encourage them to come back when they’re ready. You could even offer them an incentive, such as 10% off their first order.

 

No matter what you do, it will be near impossible to get a bounce rate of 0%, but doing the above can help you send visitors away with a better idea of what your business offers so that hopefully remember you when they’re ready to buy.

 

If you do require any help or advice with your website, why not speak to the experts? All of our team are friendly, efficient, and have a passion for marketing, so what do you have to lose? Call us today on 01543 495752.

If you want to read more from our website series of blogs, just click here to see what other resources are available.

How integrated marketing can help you spread your message

#ImInWorkJeremy tweet

#ImInWorkJeremy tweet

Integrated marketing has always been important, but even more so in the age of the internet and social media.

Last weekend’s #ImInWorkJeremy campaign demonstrated that there’s a lot you can learn about integrated marketing from campaign groups.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt found himself at the wrong end of a social media trend over the weekend after he suggested that the NHS had a ‘Monday to Friday culture’.

Unsurprisingly, his comments were not well received by thousands of health professionals who work weekends and long shifts.

Lauren Mullen, a trainee doctor, started the #ImInWorkJeremy selfie campaign, and it didn’t take long before thousands of medical professionals joined her in expressing their frustration at the health secretary’s comments.

 

Keep Our NHS Public

We are currently working with campaign group Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) to design and develop a new website, which will help them continue to gain support.

Keep Our NHS Public tweet

Over the weekend KONP retweeted tweets using the #ImInWorkJeremy hashtag. Encouraged people to join in. Shared news articles and useful blog posts, and encouraged people to KONP and show their support.

The privatisation of the NHS is something many people feel very strongly about. KONP’s Campaigns and Media Officer Alan Taman explained that a 360 approach to communications is vital for gaining public support.

“This demonstrates without question the critical importance of having ‘joined-up’ communications and an accompanying strategy to plan them with,” Taman said.

“It’s not about the press release any more; it’s not about the website blogs; it’s not about tweeting and Facebook posts: it’s about ALL of them. If you want to engage the public over something as important and as dear to them as the NHS, you need to take a 360 degree view of communications and craft your messages to fit. This is the NHS we’re trying to save – people need to know every way they can.”

 

Integrated Marketing

We certainly can’t argue with any of that. Whether you are a campaign group, a charity, or a business, you cannot carry out marketing activities in isolation.

All of your social media and marketing efforts need to support each other across all marketing platforms. To get your message and brand across. Whether someone sees you on a TV advert, in a local newspaper, on social media, receives an email from you, or somewhere else.

Taking an integrated approach to marketing means that your marketing efforts are more consistent. They will work more effectively to encourage your audience to do what you want them to do.

In the case of KONP, they are encouraging people to support them and show that they don’t want the NHS to be privatised. They’re doing that by approaching all of their marketing activities with the same message.

To do that properly, you need to have a thorough understanding of your brand, and your key message. Whether that’s fighting to keep the NHS public. Providing your client’s with high-quality training that will help businesses grow. Selling indestructible dog toys. Baking and selling delicious cupcakes, or something else.

To find out more information about KONP and find out how you can show your support, visit their website.

I don’t know how to follow up after an event

I don't know how to follow up after an event

I don't know how to follow up after an event

After a great event or exhibition, you want a great follow up to ensure you have achieved everything you can from the day.

Last week we spoke about how to choose an event that benefits your business, and hopefully that’s helped you pick out a few events that will help you attract new customers, but what about following up after an event? How do you do that? And when should you follow up? Read more I don’t know how to follow up after an event

14 common social media mistakes and what to do instead

14 common social media mistakes and what to do instead

14 common social media mistakes and what to do instead

Social media allows businesses to reach and engage a huge part of their target audience and make a positive impression on them. But a business can just as easily make a poor impression on their audience which could prevent them from becoming customers.

Let’s look at 14 common social media mistakes and what you can do instead to build a positive brand image and reach and engage with your audience.

 

Thinking social media is a magic bullet

To be honest, we don’t entirely blame you for this. We have seen too many self-professed marketing and social media gurus lead businesses to believe that all they need to do is set up a Facebook or Twitter page, send out a few tweets, and the customers come flocking in. That’s not how it works at all.

If used correctly, with a marketing plan and strategy, social media can increase your reach, generate leads and customers, and keep your existing customers happy. But it’s not a straight forward or fast process. It takes time, and the main reason for that is that the way people buy has shifted significantly.

Think about your own buying habits 10 years ago. You probably went to a shop knowing what you wanted, and perhaps the specific model depending on what adverts you might have seen, and picked up what was on offer.

Now, the buyer journey looks something like this:

  • You have a problem or want
  • You do some research, and talk to some friends, and identify the kind of thing you need to resolve this want or problem
  • You do a bit more research; you carry out searches and begin looking at products
  • You do a bit more research; you look at product reviews, see what customers are saying on social media
  • You discover the brand’s social media pages and have a look at that, where you might follow an interesting looking link to a blog post
  • You do some more research; you look around websites, maybe look at some more reviews, and begin comparing options
  • You settle on what looks best for you in terms of your wants, the price, and reviews
  • You buy
  • You might choose to follow the brand on social media, keep up with their blog, sign up to their mailing list
  • Maybe you become a loyal customer

And that’s a fairly simplified buyer journey. There are so many variables that can affect the length of the journey, or exactly how someone ends up at your website.

The point of you using social media is to help your target audience and existing customers by providing them with useful content, interacting with them, and solving customer service issues.

 

Using social networks your target audience don’t use

There are so many social networks around, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to be on all of the popular ones but that’s not true at all. You should use social networks that your target audience use.

Using Facebook because everyone else uses it and it’s the most popular social network is a waste of time and money if your audience don’t use Facebook.

Carry out research and look at what social networks are most popular with your audience and use those, instead of guessing what networks your potential customers are using.

 

Not completing your profile

The first thing you should do when setting up social media profiles, is complete your profile.

Include a company bio, your address, phone number, email address, website, opening hours, and anything else your customers need to know.

It’s easy to forget to add your website to your Facebook page, for example, but it can be a huge help to people who discover your brand through Facebook.

Imagine you are an independent book shop (or any kind of business with a physical presence) and someone discovers you through Facebook. They want to pop in tomorrow and want to know your opening hours. They go to your info tab and they can’t see anything about your opening hours, contact details, or your web address. Feeling that if you can’t be bothered, they can’t either, they open up Amazon, or Waterstones, and you miss out on business.

 

Poor images on your profile

After completing your profile, you should upload high-quality images that are the right size.

All social networks have different sized images, which can be a pain to keep up with, but when the alternative is distorted and poor imagery, it’s worth it.

Visually have an extensive guide to social media image sizes that’s worth bookmarking for reference.

  • Make sure your images are clear and the right size
  • Use PNGs if you’re uploading images with text to Facebook
  • Apply consistent branding and style across all social networks you use

 

Not having a plan

Approaching social media with a spray and pray attitude won’t work.

Take the time to consider your audience, choose the right social networks to be on, set goals, and carefully think about the kind of content you will be producing for social media.

You can then use social media and monitor your efforts and adjust your efforts to see the best results.

 

Not tracking your results

As well as not having a plan, one of the biggest mistakes you can make on social media is failing to track your results.

Without looking at your results, your engagement, the number of visits social media is sending to your website, the number of leads and sales it’s creating, you don’t know whether or not what you’re doing is actually working.

If you track your results you can identify what is working and what isn’t working. You can then tweak the things that aren’t working to try and give you the results you’re looking for.

 

Automatically cross-posting to social networks

We get it, time is money and automatically cross-posting Facebook updates to Twitter will save you time. The only problem is, it looks scruffy and lazy.

Tweets are limited to 140 characters, which means that if you post a 160 character update to Facebook, it will get cut off on Twitter and will display a link to your Facebook page which people will have to follow to read the rest of the update.

Take the time to customise an update for each social network to make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

 

All you do is self-promote

Remember what we said earlier on about providing your customers with useful content? That’s what you should be doing on social media, not sending out a barrage of self-promotion.

It’s recommended that you stick to the 80 / 20 rule, where 20% of what you send out is self-promotional, while the other 80% isn’t.

“What on earth do I talk about then?” you might be asking:

  • Share news stories that relate or resonate with your audience
  • Share hints and tips for getting the best out of something that relates to your audience. E.g. if you’re a beauty brand, you might share tips for making lipstick last longer – it’s not a direct self-promotion, and it provides your audience with something useful
  • Ask questions – find out more about your audience and their likes

If all you do is self-promote, you’ll turn people off and you won’t be able to grow audience.

 

Paying for followers / believing it’s all about numbers

You don’t have to search too hard to find a website willing to sell you a few hundred or few thousand likes for not a huge amount.

The number of followers you have is irrelevant if they aren’t engaging with you. It’s pointless having 10,000 followers, if the majority of them are fake accounts or aren’t engaging with you.

It’s better to organically grow your audience by sharing useful content and engaging with them.

 

Self-promoting in relation to disasters

Newsjacking is when a brand creates content that relates to a popular topic at the time. It can work well and increase their reach as they’re talking about a topic that a lot of people are interested in.

Here are a few examples:

However, there is a time and a place.

During Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, brands came under fire for offering money off beauty products and clothing.

It is never going to go down well if you try to profit from a disaster.

 

Hashtag hijacking

While we’re talking about butting in, trying to create a tenuous link between a popular hashtag and your brand / products / services won’t make you very popular either.

Hashtags are useful for helping people discover other individuals and brands talking about a topic they’re interested in. They are not for stuffing your products under the nose of people talking about something popular but completely unrelated to your product.

Furniture brand Habitat offered up the perfect example of hashtag hijacking in 2009.

Habitat sent out a series of tweets using hashtags that were trending at the time to increase the reach of their tweets. The problem was they decided to use completely unrelated, and distasteful, hashtags such as: #iPhone, #Apple, #TrueBlood, and even decided to get in on the Iranian election hashtag #MOUSAVI.

Needless to say, they were quickly called out for their behaviour, and offered an apology a few days later.

 

Poor customer service

For many people, social media is as another customer service avenue; users often feel they will get a faster response if they complain on social media rather than if they called or emailed the company.

Customers expect a fast response, and to do this you need to set out some rules:

  • How fast will you aim to get back to people?
  • Who will be responsible for replying?
  • Have you got a customer complaints procedure in place?
  • How often will you monitor social media for comments?

If you have a plan in place, you will be well prepared in the event that someone makes a complaint or has a query.

Customer service doesn’t have to be negative. As it’s another opportunity to prove to your customer that they made the right decision in spending their money with you. When it happens publicly on social media, it can improve your brand reputation by showing your care about your customers. If you fail to respond, or offer poor customer service, it can have the opposite effect as people viewing your social media profiles will assume you don’t care about keeping customers happy.

 

Blanket responses

If you’re a business that carries out a lot of customer service on social media, it can be tempting to use blanket responses.

Customers don’t want to see a huge list of copy and pasted responses. It doesn’t make them feel like their concerns are being taken seriously at all.

Yes, it is faster to copy and paste a response. Especially if you’re a huge business that might even have a separate Twitter account for dealing with customer service. However, your customer service channels are an opportunity for you to delight your customers.

If a complaint, no matter how big or small, is dealt with well, you can actually make your customer feel happy about having chosen to spend their money with you. In turn, that can lead to recommendations because they recognise that you care about customers and making them happy even after they have purchased.

Review each tweet and try to personalise it in some way:

  • Include the user’s name
  • Acknowledge their problem
  • Tell them who to contact, or ask further questions

The British Gas Help (@BritishGasHelp) Twitter team do a great job of responding to customers by personalising each response.

They use the person’s name, they acknowledge the problem, their responses are helpful. They create a sense of accountability by signing off each tweet with the name of the person responding.

British Gas Twitter customer service screenshot

Their responses come across as friendly, helpful, and positive. If you wanted to contact British Gas via Twitter and saw their feed, it would probably give you hope that your issue would be dealt with quickly and efficiently.

 

Ignoring negative comments entirely

It might seem easier to bury your head in the sand and ignore a negative comment. Especially if the problem is due to a mistake your business has made. While it might be easier for you, all it will do is frustrate the person who is complaining further and could damage your brand as they may tell people not to use you because of your poor customer service.

If you haven’t got a social media strategy in place yet, take a look at our blog post on creating a social media strategy that works. 
Or if you need a helping hand with you social media, why not take a look at our social media services?